Dr Tsu Yao came to the U.S. in 1949 as a young man of seventeen. He had spent all of his youth moving from one safe location to another, as the Japanese attacked his homeland, and WWII ensued: from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong to Shanghai to the interior of China. He said nothing--nothing--prepared him for the interior. In fact, coming to the U.S. was not as much of a shock as the interior had been. (See posts one, two, three, four.)
When he came to the U.S., China closed its doors to the outside world for the next thirty years. There was little information in the media. That all changed with Nixon's visit in 1972.
Dr. Yao returned to China in 1995 for the first time. He was amazed by all the changes, changes that multiplied with each successive visit. (See post five.)
The media had also blossomed, not always in a good sense. Dr. Yao said that media tended to harp on the negative aspects of China, rather than pointing out the positive. (See posts six, seven.)
The media hasn't been doing their job as educators.
“Like in most countries, the general public is not that interested (in politics.) Their analytic abilities are pretty low. They cannot see what’s presented to them or what’s behind it or what that may lead to. So that’s the problem. I would say that’s true of both countries—U.S. and China. China even more so. In the first place I would say that the Chinese population overall is definitely not as well educated.”
Really??? Everywhere in the U.S. the Chinese are outperforming everyone else.
“Well, I’m talking about China as a whole. If you’re talking about Shanghai and Bejing that’s a different ball game. The people in the interior of China –those in their 40s and up-- if they had a junior-high education, they regard themselves as educated.
“Strictly speaking, they can read the newspaper. But they don’t have the analytic skill to follow through...
“The educated are the ones who are in the government or in the party or in the private government—but they are still a relatively small class. In China those are the people who run the society, because they have the contacts, they have the knowledge, they have the ability.
If only a handful of people are in charge, what does that mean for U.S./China relations? How do we continue to get along?
“That is the next major problem for the next 30-40 years. It will be a period of high tensions, I would say, because the ideologies of the countries are so different."
Still, similar ideologies didn't always guarantee peace, he pointed out.
"Just look at what happened before the First World War: USA, Germany, France, and Britain—they were not all that different. They were all western, all more or less the same background. Germany and Britain—the royal families were even related. How could you have something like the First World War happening? It’s almost impossible to imagine.”