American recipient of reform friendship medal explains a ‘real’ China
importantly is this bigger picture of what is happening in China.
The other part of what needs to happen is some deep private reflection on why there’s been this change in recent years? Why that is the case?
And if you assume that the only reason is that everybody in America wants to suppress China, you will not find the right answer. You have to understand a deeper kind of analysis. GT: What are the most common misunderstandings of China in the West? Kuhn: What is wrong [about Western media] is that it gives the impression that it’s 90 percent or even 95 percent of the story, when in fact, it may be 10 percent of the story. All the other things that are going on in China are not reported. So, the issues that are reported are problematic and difficult issues. Although there are some people who make a profession out of attacking China, those people are not very many and they’re not very well respected. In the media, they don’t tell the kinds of stories that I like to try to tell, because [our stories] don’t have the snap of scandal or some big problem. But to me, those are the things that are an important part of the stories. So, just for example, we did a television series of Closer to China with R. L. Kuhn(2015) a couple of years ago. None of that was very scandalous. So, it’s not going to be picked up by the international media. That’s an example of the big part of China that’s not reflected in Western media, because that’s not part of their way of thinking. But that’s what we try to do. I think we’ve reached a lot of people who recognize that those big stories are a very legitimate part of the way to understand China. The large majority of people GT: Could you use three simple words to describe the changes or the current situation in China? Kuhn: I would say “courage” in terms of change. The courage needed for change that has been in the past and in the future.
“Experimentation” has been a critical strategy that China has used in the past in terms of experimenting with new things like free trade zones. China piloted a free trade zone in Shanghai for three years before they expanded at the 12 [trade zones]. That’s a good principle that China uses.
“Bold” or things are needed going forward that don’t necessarily always reflect the past.
A classic mistake of planners, corporate planners, strategic planners, is to extrapolate. To assume the future will be an extrapolation or a trend line from the past. That it won’t be. There will be sudden changes that one must prepare for. On a going forward basis,it’s “expecting uncertainties.” GT: Why did you decide to start a new program focusing on an anti-poverty campaign? Kuhn: China has been talking about the anti-poverty campaign a lot, but the awareness of foreigners, especially very sophisticated foreigners is almost zero. Actually, it is not something that I would have frankly picked myself to do, because it is physically difficult. We recognize that the leadership wanted to do that. We should do that. We’ve done several programs and I began to learn and to see its importance. So, we created a documentary concept to present to the world what China is doing for its anti-poverty campaign. We focus on five ways, including industry, education, relocation, eco-compensation and social security.