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406 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 1995 The Myth ofNeighborhood Mutual Help is a well-written, complexly presented , and important book. It makes a fine contribution to the understanding of the helping system in China. However, there are a few cautions for the reader. One needs to have some knowledge ofor experience in China to understand the complexity of the system, because although Dr. Chan's writing is very clear, the system is complex. Without a background knowledge of China's history or a familiarity with government structure, the reader will become lost. The strength of the book is the case studies ofthe three individuals, because the reader gets an intimate glimpse of the lives of needy individuals and the ways that they are affected by China's bureaucratic system. Rowena Fong University ofHawai'i Ming K. Chan, editor, with the collaboration of John D. Young. Precarious Balance: Hong Kong between China and Britain, 1942-1992. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1994. xi, 235 pp. Hardcover $55.00. Paperback $22.00. One approaches such a book with some trepidation. The saga of Hong Kong as it approaches 1997 is a great human drama, a huge potential tragedy, an ongoing news story with daily twists and turns and a situation unique to history—the handover of a colony, not to democratic independence, but to communist rule. One could be forgiven for doubting whether an academic study ofSino-British links involving the Crown Colony going back to World War II and breaking offat a couple ofyears ago can throw any fresh light on what is happening and will happen as Hong Kong is transmogrified from capitalist success story to a Special Administrative Region within the market Marxism or laissez-faire Leninism of today's China. One's expectations are further lowered by the fact that the book is a collection of essays from several pens, which often means a hodgepodge of contradictory and overlapping contributions, and lowered still further on one's learning that "earlier drafts ofsome ofthe chapters in this volume were first presented in a© 1995 by University ^P0™" heMin ???d Kongbackin 1987" ofHawai'iPress^n ^act' ^e ecutor, Ming K. Chan, has elicited from (or imposed on) his collaborators an admirable unity, a judicious updating, and a contemporary relevance . Only on a few occasions does the text reveal any objectionable outdated- Reviews 407 ness. Further, many ofthe contributions manage to maintain academic balance while quite vividly communicating the dilemma ofthe people ofHong Kong, who, as this book shows, have managed on several occasions to influence the policies ofboth Britain and China, but who mainly have had to stand by impotently while the two parties, neither ofwhom they trust, have bargained away their future behind closed doors. Ming K. Chan stresses the book's recurrent theme ofthe betrayed people of Hong Kong in an introduction where he unfortunately refers to "Richard Hughe's [sic] well-known description of Hong Kong's development under rather unique [sic] circumstances as 'a borrowed place on borrowed time.'" In fact, Richard Hughes ascribed his book's title, Borrowed Place—Borrowed Time, to Han Suyin, who in Life magazine had written: "Squeezed between giant antagonists crunching huge bones of contention, Hong Kong had achieved within its own narrow territories a co-existence which is baffling, incomprehensible, and works splendidly—on borrowed time in a borrowed place." In fact, Han Suyin herself attributed the phrase to a Hong Kong resident named Tom Wu, a businessman from Shanghai, also "a gourmet and something of a poet," whose exact words had been: "Prosperous but precarious, energetic on borrowed time in a borrowed place, that is Hong Kong." Because ofits people's contribution to the territory's success, Ming K. Chan very justly suggests that to his words should be added the phrase "with borrowed people." Ming K. Chan's own contribution and that ofJung-fang Tsai deal with the emergence of an embryonic sense of Hong Kong identity over the first century of British rule as the population gained courage in its intermittent protests against the inequalities of colonial discrimination and exploitation, although both are occasionally guilty ofapplying late twentieth-century standards in judging nineteenth -century...


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