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China's Silent Army    by Juan Pablo Cardenal & Heriberto Araujo order for
China's Silent Army
by Juan Pablo Cardenal
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

While the United States and Europe were trying to cope with a deep recession and economic chaos, another story was quietly unfolding in other parts of the world. The economic crisis allowed China to continue to not only expand its economic influence in developing countries, but the turmoil also created the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities in Western markets.

In China's Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers Who Are Remaking the World in Beijing's Image, Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araujo investigate how China's global economic dominance has taken a giant step forward thanks to the quiet efforts of scores of the country's citizens who have fanned out to places as diverse as Kazakhstan, the Republic of Congo, Egypt and Ecuador to build highways, drill for oil, mine precious metals, and construct dams.

The authors, Spanish journalists working in China, wanted to see up close and personal how the Chinese utilize their financial clout to serve their national strategic objectives. Since they knew the government, banks and international companies based in China would not be forthcoming with answers to their questions, the authors realized they would have to launch a ground level campaign to understand the current scope of the Chinese expansion and the impact it was having at the local and regional level.

What followed was two years of research that involved hundreds of interviews, 235,000 kilometers of air travel, and visits to 25 countries. As they explained, the goal was to witness what was happening with their own eyes and 'give a voice to the main actors in this drama' that was redefining the economic influence China's silent army has created on virtually every continent.

Where has all the money come from that has allowed China to become the biggest lender on the planet? Obviously one source of funds comes from the wealth Chinese exports have created but that's just part of the story.

'The Chinese people save over 40 percent of their earnings,' explain the authors. 'Since they are not allowed to invest all that money outside the country, the savings accounts of the ordinary citizens provide state-owned companies with cheap financing to carry out their global aims. China benefits from an army of astonishing human beings with a limitless capacity for self-sacrifice, who venture out into the world driven only by their dreams of success and who go on to conquer impossible markets which Westerners never dared to tackle or if they did, they failed.'

This is the compelling story of some of the individuals who, in an attempt to improve their own lives, have extended their nation's global influence and reach. From major construction projects and agricultural ventures, to targeting the property market in the United Kingdom and the United States, and investing in French wine and Italian fashion houses, the Chinese are on the move.

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