In 1946, George Orwell articulated the reasons why he put pen to paper in an essay entitled Why I Write.
In this Web series, authors talk about their literary habits and reading preferences,
and examine Orwell's question that lies at the heart of being an author—why they write.

Gordon G. Chang

The Coming Collapse of China


Gordon G. Chang is the author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World (2006) and The Coming Collapse of China (2001). He is a columnist at and blogs at World Affairs Journal.


He lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.


Why I write
I write because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that what I have to say is important. And whether I am right or wrong – and I know many disagree with me – what I write is not influenced by any government, institution, or employer. I call them as I see them. China analysis is dominated by those writing to please constituencies.


Do you write every day?
I write almost every day. If I am not writing, I am on the road, giving a talk, or ill. If so, how many hours? I work about 13 hours a day. About half of that time is spent writing.


Worst source of distraction?
My wife.


Best source of inspiration?
My wife.


How often do you get writers’ block / doubt your own ability?
I get writers’ block about twice a year, but only for an hour or so. And I never doubt my own ability. I leave the doubting to others.


Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
Thomas Friedman, because he is invariably shallow and usually wrong.


Favorite Chinese writer?
Ha Jin.


Best book about China?
The ‘Best Book about China’ has yet to be written.


Favorite book?


Favorite writer?
Arthur Waldron.


The book you should have read but haven’t?
That would be the Bible. After the Bible, it would be Cleo Paskal’s Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map.


You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
I don’t write like that any more. The first book I published was The Coming Collapse of China. It was powered by emotion. Even though I stand by my prediction, I have toned down my style since then.


How did you get started writing?
The legendary Jerry Cohen encouraged me to write articles on legal topics when I was practicing law in China at Paul, Weiss. I guess I enjoyed writing too much because I gave up legal practice to work on my first book.


Does writing change anything?
Sometimes, yes. Writing can change the world. It certainly changed me.


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Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by JFK Miller No Comments