Jane Hutcheon's connection to China goes back more than one hundred and fifty years, when her great-great-grand-uncle Phineas, a Scottish tea merchant, was drawn to its shores. When Jane became the ABC's China correspondent in 1995, she began her own journey through an ancient and intriguing culture that is undergoing rapid change.
Like learning to eat a dish of slippery braised pig's face, Jane had to learn the etiquette of reporting in China-a country where people often give interviews in lowered voices, or with a glance over their shoulders to see who might be listening. Though China has transformed itself into a heady capitalist republic, the country's new facade covers up a multitude of the same old problems. And in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the clash between new and old is more pronounced than ever.
By talking with ordinary people-a glamorous Amway couple, a traffic cop, a rubbish collector and members of the Falun Gong, among others-Jane provides intimate insights into China's radical transformation. In the process, she discovers that the real China is intense, humorous, cynical and, quite often, bizarre. Travelling with a television crew, coping with a serious bout of 'banquet intolerance' and dealing with the frustration caused by Chinese bureaucracy, Jane takes us on a bumpy ride across a country the world is fascinated with, and that everyone is dying to get their chopsticks into.