Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China





Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China

The book Tide Players by Jianying Zha gives us a look a modern day China though the eyes of her different characters. The characters sketched out in the book are not ordinary people but rather the author presents the characters as people who are most significant in bringing reform policies in China. The book is divided into two sections with the first section talking about the businesspersons and great thinkers and the second part is dedicated to the educated class in Beida University who are needed to portray the intended message concisely. These two groups of people are necessary to the shaping of the present day China.

The book opens with Jianying Zha a Chinese national who arrives in America (Zha, 1), and although not stated until later, she happens to be the sister to the founder of the doomed China Democracy Party. Living in America, she comes up with the theory that there are two schools of thought when it comes to America’s perception of China, there are those who are fearful and stirred up by Chinas growth and there are those that are embrace China. Zha’s actions and speech seem to be inspired by the philosopher Confucius who we see she looks up to numerously in the book. She vigilantly reviews the pros and cons of her undertakings.

In the book, the character of Zhang Dazhong, is depicted as a kind businessperson who dominates the household appliances market (Zha, 66). He who is presented as an individual with a single overriding thought of business excellence. He is constantly trying to save the reputation of his mother who was murdered sometime in 1970 and with some reports indicating that she may have been mentality handicapped, which is a particularly damaging dent to have since mentally challenged people, are highly stigmatized in the East (Zha, 90). His is shown to have suffered during China’s era of Cultural Revolution, which is the period in which his mother dies and openly questions whether the history recorded since the Communist takeover is accurate.

The book also speaks of Pan Shiyi who is romantically linked to Zhang Xin who together built Soho Complex located in the capital (Zha, 103). The latter is a proponent of the British style of politics and having studies at Sussex University. The author also writes about Sun Lizhe, a capitalist but gives him a brief review describing a person whose true intentions are indecipherable. Part 2 also describes the academic Zhang Weiying who is in frantic efforts to revamp the current education system to international standards. Weiying is a reformist who, educated in the UK. Seeing the quality of education offered there, he wishes to improve the lives of his own fellow citizens. The challenges he faces, as well as the challenges of ones who tried to do the same before him are chronicled by the author (Zha, 120).

The book makes a good attempt at describing the China through the eyes of a few limited individuals. What makes the book so pointedly accurate is that the author avoids people or situations with which she is not familiar. She rarely mentions people with whom she has not had personal contact. Interestingly though, there is also one other woman mentioned in the book who is Zhang Xin which leads one to question if she could concisely portray the role of the woman in this contemporary Chinese setting.


Zha, Jianying. Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China. New York: New Press, 2011. Print.