Understanding China through videos and speeches

2022-12-01 16:07:16CGTN Editor : Xue Lingqiao ECNS App Download

A string of TED talks that can enable international audiences to better understand China recently went online. Political science scholars Professor Daniel A. Bell, Professor Zheng Yongnian, basketball legend Stephon Marbury, Oscar-winning director Malcolm Clarke and cultural icon Shan Jixiang shared their stories about China, igniting cordial discussion in the international community.

Professor Daniel A. Bell, dean of Shandong University's School of Political Science and Public Administration, who has long observed democracy in the East and the West, questions the increasingly dichotomic definition of democracy in the post-war Western world. In his talk, he cites that China's political reform exemplifies the diversity of contemporary political civilization. Through first-hand observation and theoretical study, Professor Bell addresses the ingrained presuppositions and misunderstandings of the Western world about creating a political system with Chinese characteristics. Given China's unique cultural background, the psychological preferences of its people and the size of the country, he suggests that Political Meritocracy from Confucianism should be emphasized and passed down in the country's democratic process. 

Regarding the long-existed misunderstanding and even stigmatized perceptions of centralization and one-party leadership, Zheng Yongnian, Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and President of the Institute for International Affairs, Qianhai, responds directly through an all-round analysis covering the Chinese civilization, culture, and national conditions. He praises the contributions that China's steadily carried-out political reforms made to the contemporary world, recounting his personal experiences that prove the efficacy of China's political reforms, including those regarding the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the medium- to long-term planning. In the concluding remarks, he notes that the development of the contemporary world lies in the mutual understanding among civilizations, and nations should set aside prejudices, embrace diversity and learn from one another.

Malcolm Clarke, a two-time Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, embraced Baudelaire's "Flanuer", a wanderer as his guiding principle in practices: seeing the world and yet remaining hidden from the world. Puzzled at the easy-to-digest confection of Chinese stories in Western media, he found his new multitude in China, to tell China stories from an unbiased perspective and decided to spend significant time in China making documentaries. He conveys his enthusiasm for the Chinese people and appreciation of China's favorable reaction to global change by weaving together four documentaries.

Stephon Marbury narrates his life journey from being the "Lone Wolf" in NBA, and became the "Ma Zhengwei" in CBA. Basketball helped Marbury lift his family out of hardship as he transformed from a prodigy in Brooklyn to an All-Star player for New York Knicks. At the same time, basketball and "winning" alienated him from his "herd" daily. When he first came to China, he was deeply touched by the warmth of the Chinese people. The pure cordiality dispelled his hesitations. "China has won my heart," he said in the speech and told the audience that he constantly gains inner power from Bruce Lee's Philosophy of water and refines his doctrines of competition and life.

Shan Jixiang, director of the Academic Committee of the Palace Museum and chairman of China Cultural Relics Academy, illustrates the arduous journey of China in preserving its cultural heritages: the 5,000-year-old civilization is advancing quickly toward modernity, and cultural heritage is both a "silent witness" to history and an "endangered species" in the present. Through the restoration of artifacts and cultural legacy, Chinese culture and museum professionals have significantly contributed to preserving Chinese history and the diversity of world civilization over decades. Shan also thinks that the persistence of Chinese culture's idea of "harmony" is crucial to the advancement of human society and is sure to have a favorable influence on cultural diversity.

With distinctive backgrounds and perspectives, these five stories share the common traits of sincerity and vividness in revealing the authentic development of China. Out of their own life experiences, speakers vindicate a commonly-known but seldom-practiced truth in their speeches: to truly understand each other and promote communication and cooperation, we must set aside prejudices, and apply an open mind, an objective perspective, and diversified values.


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