The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China – David Eimer
In 1949, Mao Zedong announced the birth of the People’s Republic of China, a proclamation to the world that, after centuries of war and social conflict, China had emerged as one nation. Since then, this idea has been constantly propagated for the benefit of the international community. For many living in the vast country, however, the old Chinese adage holds true: “the mountains are high and the emperor is far away.”
Few Westerners make it far beyond the major cities—the Chinese government has made it difficult to do so. David Eimer undertook a dangerous journey to China’s unexplored frontiers (it borders on fourteen other countries), to the outer reaches where Beijing’s power has little influence.
His chronicle shines new light on the world’s most populous nation, showing clearly that China remains in many ways a divided state. Traveling through the Islamic areas of Xinjiang province, into the forbidden zone of Tibet and across Route 219, which runs the rough boundary shared with India, the only disputed frontier in China, Eimer exposes the country’s inner conflict. All the tensions in China today—from its war against drugs and terrorism and the unstable relationships it maintains with Russia and Korea to its internal social issues—take on new meaning when seen from China’s most remote corners. A brilliant melding of journalism and history, The Emperor Far Away is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary China.