Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Yesterday morning on Dialogue, Yang Rui was interviewing some university students from the university district here in Haidian. The Haidian District has more than 50 universities, including the many of what are called the "Key Universities."

The young people were talking about the change in relationship between the United States and China after the Iraq war. I wish the world could hear these young people. I think the world would be a better place.

Some would question their objectivity, since they live in a country where the media is supervised by the government. But ironically, these young people are not less informed than their counterparts in countries like America. If anything, they are quite significantly better informed.

I missed this program when I was in Guangzhou. I had to settle for the CBS Evening News, which plays the Hong Kong stations at 7:30 in the morning. It was handy, I guess, in a way, because the American stations probably gave better coverage of the Pope's funeral than I would have gotten from CCTV. (China refused to send a delegation, because the Vatican still holds to the pre-seventies status quo, where Taiwan was the "real" China.) But I would not want a steady diet of Western television.

I saw a couple of those "reality shows" when I was in Guangzhou. I never watched those things when I was in the States, but I had heard of them. I watched a few of them until I reached the "gag me" point five or ten minutes later. They are sensational, but not informing. But this is just one example. When I visited the States a couple months ago, I was struck by the lack of genuine information which characterized American television. Maybe that's because China has only one English channel, which is similar to public television in the US. I don't watch much television, but when I do, it is educational.

Of course, with all the variety available in an open society, there is certainly a greater opportunity for information than would be true in China. Right now, I am sitting here at the Thinker coffee bar watching the McLaughlin Group on my laptop via the high speed wireless LAN. John McLaughlin is arguing with Pat Buchanan about the legacy of John Paul. McLaughlin, of course, is a former Catholic priest, and Buchanan is a Jesuit trained commentator who has no hesitation espousing his conservative Catholic beliefs. This kind of stuff you don't see on Chinese television. It would be fair to say that most Chinese young people have never seen anything like this. But that gets back to my point--most young people in America don't see this stuff either. They have way, way to much junk coming at them to sift through and find that which is truly informative. American you ng people do have a larger "buffet" of entertainment available to them. But when it comes to having a balanced, informed global perspective, American young people are horribly undernourished and underdeveloped.

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