Pin It

Book Review 

by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & China Road

by Rob Gifford

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & hree years ago National Public Radio correspondent Rob Gifford took what, for him, was the ultimate road trip. He'd spent much of his last 17 years in China, but felt he'd seen little of the country. So Gifford decided to travel from one side of the nation to the other, 3,000 miles east to west, following one of China's main highways, Route 312. He started in Shanghai, the huge metropolis on the eastern coast, working his way through industrial and agricultural areas, finishing in the little town of Korgaz, on the Chinese border with Kazahkstan. Gifford hired taxis, hopped aboard trucks and other vehicles when people would agree to take him and stopped when he felt like it.

It's a trip that doesn't have an easy U.S. equivalent. In terms of distance, it's like traveling Interstate 90 from Seattle to Boston. In terms of getting a feel for the country, though, Route 312 is closer to America's old Route 66, winding through and celebrating cities and towns, instead of just speeding past them. "The road itself is a crazy m & eacute;lange of mobile humanity," writes Gifford. "Every type of human land transportation is here, heading in both directions," from people on old bicycles to tycoons in BMWs.

"In China, traveling by highway is a very new phenomenon, and Chinese people have not yet fallen in love with the open road," he says. "Rather, it is a marriage of convenience. They are traveling mostly out of necessity, to find work, in order to feed themselves and their families."

Gifford compares the mass migration of Chinese families -- from the rural areas to the cities, where the majority of the country's growth is taking place -- to the migration of the dirt farmers from Oklahoma to California after the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. And he warns that China, with its modified version of market-based communism, faces huge problems caring for its rural poor.

As a nation, China is gradually opening itself to the world, but at its own pace. Gifford's book opens the door a little wider and gives us a chance to see parts of the country that few of us will ever get a chance to experience.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • From Doctor to Drug Dealer
  • From Doctor to Drug Dealer

    Rafael Beier was living two lives. One of them consumed the other
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • 'Seek and Destroy'
  • 'Seek and Destroy'

    In his final days as state superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn keeps shouting on behalf of schools. Has anyone listened?
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • All Aboard!
  • All Aboard!

    Stuckart reverses course on fining coal and oil trains; plus, which students will a proposed CdA magnet school attract?
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Free State Parks Day

Free State Parks Day @ Riverside State Park

Thu., Aug. 25

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Doug Nadvornick

  • Mmm...Chemicals

    Those things you
    • May 21, 2008
  • New Year, New Ideas

    by JOEL SMITH, MICK LLOYD-OWEN, JACOB FRIES and DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & Y & lt;/span & ou've already abandoned your slim-by-spring diet, haven't you? And that resolution to cut down on the cigs died three packs ago, no? Well, it's late Janua
    • Jan 30, 2008
  • Teed Off in the Palouse

    This week t
    • Jan 24, 2008
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • A New Voice
  • A New Voice

    The Black Lens, continues Spokane's long tradition of African-American publications
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation