The launch ceremony of "Reporting Changes in a Great Era Via Multimedia" in Beijing, Sept 20, 2018. (Photo/chinadaily.com.cn）
Editor's note: On Thursday, two renowned documentarians shared their perspectives on how to tell China's stories to the world at the launch ceremony of "Reporting Changes in a Great Era Via Multimedia", a series of events hosted by the State Council Information Office from Sept 20 to Nov 20 to mark the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Here are some excerpts:
Oscar-winning British director
My first trip to China was in 1981. In 2013, when I came back, China had undergone a remarkable renaissance. After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China today is very much a global power. And equally when we tell a story about China's remarkable renaissance, we will have to travel around the world to do that. China today is no longer an isolated "middle kingdom" — China is everywhere. So we shot our film Better Angels in Africa, in Europe and in the Middle East, and of course the US and China, and it took almost four years.
Also the more we listened to the opinions of ordinary people, the more we realized the average Chinese person on the street probably understands the US far better than the average American understands China. The information gap could lead to suspicion and fear. Sometimes we fear what we don't understand. It's natural, it's humane. But in the world of geopolitics, fear and distrust can simply and swiftly carry us toward clamorous outcomes. That's why I feel it's increasingly urgent to rebalance this understanding deficit. The rise of China doesn't necessarily mean a foe to the US, or any other countries for that matter. Every country makes mistakes as it develops and grows stronger, and China is no exception. But despite missteps and false starts, it's important to remember how far China has come in a few decades. Today, China feeds 1.3 billion people every day. That single achievement is something China can be proud of. But does the rest of the world know about it? I doubt it. So to help the US and the rest of the world dispel bad feelings about China's rise, China needs to do much more.
There are so many ways that China can do a better job advertising itself — its achievements, its history and culture, science and technology and arts. If China doesn't do it, no one else will. China can't rely on fascinated foreigners to export stories to the wide world, China needs to blaze its own trail and catch the imagination of the world by telling its own emotionally engaging stories that can touch peoples' hearts. Make Chinese films and boldly show the rest of the world what China is. The same way Americans do, because the Americans do it brilliantly. Once the rest of the world realizes that we are all much more like Chinese than different, I believe the misgivings, fears and suspicions will be replaced by admiration about everything China has achieved and the amazing place it has become.