Wild Ride: A Short History of the Opening and Closing of the Chinese Economy

Book talk: Wild Ride: A Short History of the Opening and Closing of the Chinese Economy.

Wild Ride is a tour-de-force journey through the rise and fall of the Chinese economy since the 1980s from a writer who witnessed it all up close. From the early transition of stagnation of the 1980s to the euphoria of the 1990s when investors hankered after a market of a billion people to the closing of the economy in the past decade, Anne Stevenson-Yang reveals the challenges of doing business in China.

Stevenson-Yang started her career in China in the 1980s as a ‘foreign expert’ at a government magazine, when the vision of a dynamic China had yet to emerge. Returning in the 1990s with the US-China Business Council, she got a close-up view of the heady years in which foreign investment flooded into a country that appeared eager to change. Not everything was what it seemed.

From the euphoria of the early opening up to the tensions of recent years, Wild Ride is based on decades navigating the hall of mirrors that is the Chinese economic and political world. ‘It took me years to understand that I was an unwitting player in an elaborate dramatic confection. This country, which had seemed so malleable, so interested in change, was actually a sprawling, ancient kingdom with deeply ingrained traditions indifferent to the proselytisers of capitalism.’

Stevenson-Yang, fluent in Mandarin, started three businesses in China working in technology and media, and for the past two decades has run an economic consultancy focused on China’s economy and on stock market fraud. In 2014, Stevenson-Yang was one of the first people to question the solvency of the property giant China Evergrande Group. Last year, the company filed for bankruptcy. The glory days of the Chinese economy are over, and China is returning to its isolationist past, she argues.

Anne Stevenson-Yang first went to China in 1985. She started out as a journalist, then moved into publishing, software and on line media. Today, she is the co-founder of J Capital Research Ltd, an investment advisory service, and the author of China Alone: China’s Emergence and Potential Return to Isolation.