China Strives To Be Understood

One would be surprised at how swiftly China’s tattered image which resulted from the Tibet and Olympics torch relay issues has been on the mend, all thanks to the affable Premier Wen Jiabao. He came across not only as a deeply compassionate and caring individual, but also as a respectable cool-headed leader who knows his priorities, exhibiting superb disaster control and leadership skills at a time of crisis, as is evident in two recent press interviews. As much as his answers to pointed questions were given with a public relations slant, they nonetheless displayed candidness and expressed a deep desire to reach out and connect with people inside and outside of China.

Here is the interview report by a Phoenix TV editor (Rose Luqiu) in Chinese with English translation (courtesy of John Kennedy at Global Voices Online) and here is the one by a Times correspondent (Jane Macartney).

Whether this signifies a more profound change going forward in China’s handling of the media, opting for more openness and transparency, it remains to be seen. At this point, I only feel like saying: “溫總理, 加油” (“Go, Premier Wen, go”).

Having said that, I think the world certainly needs less publicly made insensitive comments about the Sichuan tragedy such as those coming from actress Sharon Stone. Such thoughtless comments are not helpful at all towards bridging the cultural and communication gap between China and the West, not to mention they represent a distasteful and obtuse choice of words by the speaker as a human being. I’m inclined to think that she, like many Westerners, may have been misinformed or uninformed about many issues surrounding China. Not that I want to assign blame to anyone – I just hope her comments won’t inflame the ultra-patriots’ anti-West sentiment again, lest poor old Premier Wen’s efforts at easing the China-West tensions will all be futile.