China Vision

Friday, January 02, 2009


How the world sees China, and how China thinks it is seen by the world may make all the difference as time marches on. The West cannot afford to hold on to kung fu, Confucius, and chopsticks as our big ideas about China. Modern art, fashion, and the young urban elite have a new story to tell; if anyone’s listening. Plus, Brooke talks with the author of “Wolf Totem,” a best-selling novel and Chinese conversation piece about resisting and revering Mongolian wolves during the Cultural Revolution.

Comments [5]

Chris Gray from New Haven

It is becoming clear that the promise of good jobs in the cities, which earlier had enticed rural peasants into them, and the disappearance of those jobs is going to provide ripe conditions for urban anarchy that all the monkey dancing in the world won’t prevent from becoming massive social or political unrest. One has to wonder whether a so far unresponsive State and even a Peoples’ Liberation Army will be able to maintain order throughout the massive country and what the result might be should it fail to be able do so.

We worry about the consequences of political unrest in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. Imagine it in a nuclear-armed China, which also holds the notes on our massive national debt!

Jan. 08 2009 02:32 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven

Chinese Journalism with English Characteristics

A Russian expert on the U.S. is going around the Russian talk show circuit predicting the break-up of America, as if we were the post-Chernobyl Soviet Union. As there was so little history of our individual states being un-unified I don’t see his scenario as actually playing out.

China’s situation is entirely different.

Last evening, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer carried a report by ITN on the drastic downturn in business as it effects workers in China. Focusing, first, on two toy factories in one Chinese city, it showed the horrible conditions facing former employees at one factory who no longer have work, nor housing (as the lived in dormitories on the premises), nor food (which was provided in the factory commissary). They had not eaten in the two days since the factory closed and had ravaged the building in their frustration. Moreover, they physically prevented the police from stopping the Western reporters and their camera crew from filming their plight and forced them to simply stand aside and observe. The same crew presented the results of worker rage at police at the other factory, a burned out, overturned police van. Next, they showed a job fair where crowds of unemployed Chinese went through the motions of applying for what turned out to be a handful of jobs.

Jan. 08 2009 02:31 PM
derek monroe from round lake , il

I think Mr Milu's criticism is right on the spot. I think that the biggest problem facing American journalism covering foreign countries is the lowest common denominator of information categorization. It suppouse to dumb down the coverage to the level that average American listener can understand and relate to, irrespective of real cultural issues, history, economy of the place and other "baggage." This is one of the problems that all newsmedia, including NPR faces with few exception of (A. Hune, R.Gifford, G. Pfeiffer who cover China and Russia respectively and who know the language and culture fluently to relate to it) Unfortunately all others , including Ms Brooks can only see things through her American lens with the help of interpreter and categorize the problems that can relate to her understanding of the issues honed by her own cultural upbringing and train of thought. I think this is really one of the most troubling aspects of journalistic blindness in America and I think that this is an excellent topic OTM could cover if it had enough guts. For example, why the War in Iraq is not covered by Iraqi journalists who are fluent in English and their own language and have an intricate understanding of their own culture and represent sentiment of Iraqi people toward the whole occupation business? Because, the powers that be do not want American people to know how the reality is on the ground. The same can be said about Gaza and other issues.
As for getting full journalistic picture I suggest readers read up on foreign news: Corriere della Sera, Die Zeit, Guardian, Trybuna, El Pais are few mainstream papers that give a much more realistic view of world affairs without too much of corporate spin and self-censorship by American style journalism.

Jan. 08 2009 10:25 AM
bob minder from wumb boston

my goodness, we are touting learning to be a good consumer of more and more and learning to pull out of harmony with the whole in order to develop a stronger sense of being other than you with some sense of also being in that ole darwinian struggle with you for a bigger slice of the pie. but but but, i sputter, i thought we needed to consume less and develop a much stronger sensitivity to our essential unity? i thought such was not only a heavenly ideal, for simplicity and brotherhood, but had become kind of an understanding of what we quite practically need as citizens of the planet and fellow social creatures? china, it seems to me, was the ideal as a new world power to show the way to both simplicity and brotherhood; but it seems the cards are playing it where china is intent on being more like america? and that's probably just the problem: that we let the cards direct rather than a strong ethical human will and resolve to get living right. sad is far too mild a word. bob minder

Jan. 05 2009 02:01 AM
B. H. Milu from Shanghai, China

I believe this piece of interview of many youngsters in Shanghai lacks both depth as well as a proper understanding of the Chinese culture as its backdrop.

Being a Chinese American with some forty five years of living experience in the United States, I get the sense that this piece was meant to reinforce the traditional and mainstream impressions the Westerners have about China and its future. By simply asking the subjects to answer some fairly superficial questions without probing their family, cultural and educational backgrounds, one can only give the listeners the impressions that their existing impressions about the subject is correct.

To understanding what I am talking about, one only needs to read the Chinese literary classics - Jia, Chun and Jiu by Ba Jin , a trilogy written while the authors was in his thirties and a firebrand detesting and despising the traditional Chinese culture. If one then read Ba Jin's later recollection of his life and regrets, written after the author had spent the latter half of his life in power through the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, the interviewer may wish to ask herself the question: "How do I know that I am not interviewing the young Ba Jin in this piece?"

Jan. 03 2009 08:56 AM

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