Leonard has opened up the Western press to the previously unknown world of Chinese intellectual debate–political, economic, and social. Absolutely mind blowing.
You can read a summary of his book in this article for Prospect.
–Arguments between a Chinese “New Right” (think Grover Norquist and economic libertarians) calling for the weakening of the already de-centralized Chinese government and a Chinese new left (social contract/progressive wing not like an old statist Left).
–China as the World’s Globalizer (and pusher of vision for globalization contra the US?):
As it creates these zones, Beijing is embarking on a building spree, criss-crossing the African continent with new roads and railways—investing far more than the old colonial powers ever did. Moreover, China’s presence is changing the rules of economic development. The IMF and the World Bank used to drive the fear of God into government officials and elected leaders, but today they struggle to be listened to even by the poorest countries of Africa. The IMF spent years negotiating a transparency agreement with the Angolan government only to be told hours before the deal was due to be signed, in March 2004, that the authorities in Luanda were no longer interested in the money: they had secured a $2bn soft loan from China. This tale has been repeated across the continent—from Chad to Nigeria, Sudan to Algeria, Ethiopia and Uganda to Zimbabwe.
–In foreign policy, battles between liberal internationalists (the Chinese versions of Fareed Zakaria in a sense) and their own neo-conservatism (what Leonard calls neo-commies)