Last night I spent more than an hour listening to a speech Kaiser Kuo gave at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln on what the Internet has meant for China, and for US-Chinese relations. I was thinking about breaking the speech down, but then saw that a friend of mine had already done so, with greater patience and diligence than I would have mustered. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you listen to the speech and read my friend’s response and partial transcript.
Kaiser and I don’t always see eye to eye on China. But I thought this speech was practically perfect, elucidating how Chinese “netizens” perceive their American counterparts and visa versa, and giving the students in the audience more insight into today’s Chinese youth than they’d get from reading a hundred articles (or even blog posts). His love of China is always evident, but so is his clear-headedness and lack of prejudice, insisting that we see the situation from both Chinese and American eyes, and showing compassion for both sides. We need to remember, there is no black and white, that there are always two sides to the equation. What sometimes seems so obvious to us – raging nationalism, defense of a ruthless one-party system – cannot be understood without context and an understanding of the kind of world in which these people grew up and the extraordinary evolution of their country. And we need to understand how they see us, too, and why.
A beautiful job, and the best single discussion I’ve ever heard of the Internet in China.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.