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Publisher's Summary

A thrilling and provocative account of unfolding tensions between China and the West, filled with the people, stories and sticky situations from Bill Birtles' five years as an ABC correspondent. 

'People abroad always thought things were much scarier in China than they really were. What threw me, though, was the urgency of the diplomats in Beijing. They live it; they get it. And they wanted me out.'

Bill Birtles was rushed out of China in September 2020, forced to seek refuge in the Australian Embassy in Beijing while diplomats delicately negotiated his departure in an unprecedented standoff with China's government. Five days later, he was on a flight back to Sydney, leaving China without any Australian foreign correspondents on the ground for the first time in decades.

A journalist's perspective on this rising global power has never been more important, as Australia's relationship with China undergoes an extraordinary change that's seen the detention of journalist Cheng Lei, Canberra's criticism of Beijing's efforts to crush Hong Kong's freedoms, as well as China's military activity in the South China Sea and its human rights violations targeting the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang province. Chronicling his five-year stint in China as he criss-crossed the country, Birtles reveals why the historic unravelling of China's relations with the West is perceived very differently inside the country.

The Truth About China is a compelling and candid examination of China, one that takes a magnifying glass to recent events and looks through a telescope at what is yet to come.

©2021 Bill Birtles (P)2021 W F Howes

Critic Reviews

"A compelling, clear-eyed yet colourful take of a changing china...riveting." (Fran Kelly)

What listeners say about The Truth About China

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Like a war correspondent

At first as i listened it seemed so frontline as to lack in depth analysis but that soon changed. it has both,, the Hong Kong parts are like a war correspondents report and yet there is plenty of interpretation of sometimes random and surprising events. The author does a fine job of narrating but not perfect for my ear lLstening to this will give you the truth about China and it's not pretty. Certainly not a dry essay and thoroughly listenable while still giving you the back story.

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Up to date and enjoyable analysis

Thanks to Bill Birtles for his part serious, part humorous analysis of present day China

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.