Stepping Out Of the Box
British people are understanding China through innovative ways
British professor Hugo de Burgh dons a flowery T-shirt as he sits comfortably in his office at the China Media Center, which is affiliated with the University of Westminster, where he told Beijing Review there are many things about Chinese society that attract him.
Flexibility is one admirable trait de Burgh attributes to Chinese people. In his opinion, British and U.S. people are very often bound by rules and conventions.
“Chinese people are more flexible,” he said. “This also has its disadvantages, but I think this is the pragmatism and flexibility of Chinese thinking.”
“This is why China is so successful economi- cally,” he added.
De Burgh started his exploration of China as a reporter in the 1970s, making him the envy of many Europeans. At the time, however, China left him with an impression of being very slow.
“The drivers drove slowly. Everybody bicycled slowly. Everything was slow, completely opposite to today,” de Burgh told Beijing Review.
This impression lasted until the 1990s when he went back to school to study Chinese media, a subject that attracted few scholars at the time. With more access to China, he became more interested in the immense country and in 2005, he started the China Media Center.
Usually, de Burgh starts his day by spending about an hour watching Chinese TV programs and reading Chinese novels to practice his Chinese. And then, the English part of his day begins.
De Burgh said he thinks he’s lucky because he learned to adapt to different cultures ever since he was young. He spent his early childhood in Turkey and Italy, where he began to realize there were great differences between people from different countries.
“I slowly learned that there were different ways of looking at the world. So when I started to become interested in China, I suppose what I
Professor Hugo de Burgh gives a lecture about China’s image in the Western world in November 2018