Betrayal in Paris by Paul French Penguin 4 stars Liu Kin-ming To understand the "Chinese dream" - described by President Xi Jinping as a "national rejuvenation" - one must learn about the "century of humiliation", the period between 1839 on the eve of the first Opium War and 1949 with the founding of the People's Republic, when China suffered at the hands of the Western powers and Japan. While these events (including two Opium Wars, the invasion of Peking by the Eight-Nation Alliance, and two wars with Japan) are sealed in the hearts and minds of most Chinese and are somewhat known in the West, one episode - that, arguably, carried the most far-reaching ramifications to the present day - is almost off the Western radar. Paul French is doing the non-Chinese speaking world a service in filling in the gap, as suggested by the subtitle of his book Betrayal in Paris: How the Treaty of Versailles Led to China's Long Revolution . After Germany's defeat in the first world war in 1918, the Paris Peace Conference was held the following year. China sent a team of its best diplomats (including V.K. Wellington Koo, a hero in the book) whose task was to recover Shandong, a German concession captured by Japan during the war. Encouraged by then US president Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" statement, China went with high hopes - only to be deserted by the powers, which sided with Japan. China, Koo said, was "betrayed in the house of our only friend". On June 28, 1919 - "the day of sorrow" - China's diplomats refused to sign the treaty in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. They returned home bitter. Among the casualties were China's trust in the West. It also forged an enmity between China and Japan that persists to this day. On May 4, triggered by the news of China's betrayal, thousands of students protested in Peking. That day, now revered as the May 4 Movement, changed China. French writes: "China's 'long revolution', which culminated in 1949, and arguably continues today, began in the aftermath of the betrayal in Paris."