The Closing of Chinese Minds

At Caixin online, Nailene Chou Wiest suggests that China is running an “intellectual trade deficit” with the United States, to the detriment of both.

In 1979, a group of Chinese editors was about to visit the United States. Asked what they would like to see, one solemnly replied: “We want to know how the party secretary of New York controls The New York Times ….”

Fast forward some 30 years, and the state-run Xinhua News Agency is flashing its logo on a giant billboard in Times Square. The swagger and deep pockets that enable official media to take on such visibility belie a serious lack of understanding of what makes the Americans tick.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences inaugurated the Institute of American Studies in 1981. In the interests of modernization, China was eager to learn from the U.S. and the Americans reciprocated by providing generous funding and resources to facilitate the discovery. In the 1990s, however, the progress stalled and the interest has narrowed to Sino-American diplomatic relations; experts from both sides are concerned with the stagnation, if not backsliding, of American Studies in China ….

Terry Lautz, a former program director for Asia at the Henry Luce Foundation, wrote last year in the Chronicle of Higher Education that China has a deficit in the “intellectual trade” with the United States. In short, Chinese people know less about the United States than Americans know about China.

December 24, 2011 12:54 AM
Posted By: