As its title implies, the book has a litany of grievances about how China was treated with disdain by the West in recent years. It cites the international protests along the Olympic flame's route, the Western sympathy for the Dalai Lama, the complaints about pollution in China by Western nations that consume far more resources per capita and the West's unwillingness to share key technology.
The book reserves its strongest criticism for the United States, blaming it for the subprime mortgages that sparked the global financial crisis. It argues that the American people "were not entirely duped, they simply wanted big houses without working for them." It asserts that the crisis "exposes the degeneration of U.S. society from top to bottom."
In one passage, it compares the United States to "the Mafia don in a market, handing out IOUs to every stall and then carting off their stuff.
"The old Mafia don, the U.S., is already incapable of repaying all these IOUs, which are turning to scrap paper before our own eyes. But people have no choice for now but to protect them," the passage goes.
In a derisive tone, the book says the United States. is not a "paper tiger" but a "decaying cucumber covered with a fresh coat of green paint" to make it look fresh again.
"If China stood as the world's top country," according to another passage in the book, "it would not act like the U.S., which has been irresponsible, lazy and greedy and engaged in robbery and cheating. It has brought economic recession to the whole world."
France also bears the brunt of criticism for President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in December. "We should incorporate retribution and punishment in our diplomatic strategy," the book says as it calls for lowering the status of France in China's foreign policy.
The book also takes aim at the Chinese leadership, calling its obsession with the Beijing Olympics a manifestation of a "weak nation's psychology" and criticizing its handling of the milk powder scandal.
"Here in the 21st century, we have this vast government apparatus and everyone says we have an authoritarian government. But actually it can't even swiftly handle this problem," referring to the tainted milk. "This reflects the decline and fall of Chinese civilization."
The book is a compilation of essays by five writers with considerable media experience who don't occupy official positions in universities or government think-tanks. So some Chinese intellectuals view these writers with a tinge of condescension, calling them "grassroots intellectuals."
In an indication of its popularity, "Unhappy China" jumped to the top of the bestseller list in the Chinese online bookstore, Dangdang.com. The initial copies of the book sold out quickly after its release earlier this month and the publisher has already printed a total of 270,000 copies.
The major Chinese Web sites, like Sina.com and Sohu.com, have put up special "Unhappy China" pages where supporters and critics post their reviews and comments on the book. A report on the Chinese Internet said at one point the book elicited 10,000 comments from bloggers in a single day.