Sitting in the U.S., it’s easy to get caught up in the China rhetoric emanating from the White House and the latest if-you-do-that-we’ll-do-this missives.
President Trump would have us believe that the global economy is a zero sum game, that every dollar gained by China leads to a loss of a buck in the U.S.
While the black-and-white narrative serves up easy soundbites, they’re not reality. I don’t pretend to be a scholar in Chinese society and the surrounding geopolitics. I’ll leave it to the likes of Thomas Friedman to pontificate on a path to sane trade relations between the U.S. and China.
What I can say is my experiences in China (50+ trips to China since my first one in 1999) reveal people with similar points of joy to Americans — family, friendship and food.
Recently, I had an exchange with one of the interns in our Beijing office. His name is Lucas Lu. Check out his aspirations (keep in mind he’s writing in his second language):
I am majoring in public administration. I also like communications and journalism. These areas are my interests. In my university courses, we have discussed a lot of topics about how the public sector should interact with the citizens. In China, the lack of experience in this field of administration especially the local governments has caused many quarrels and even crises between government and public opinion.
As a public organization, how to better tell your own story, better close the distance with the people and reduce unnecessary misunderstandings and contradictions. These are all my special interests.
I always believe that the value of the PR industry is to help our clients eliminate misunderstandings and incomprehension. PR can contribute to the elimination of misunderstandings between the people and the government, to avoid possible public opinion risks, and to block the emotional interference of populism.
This is a 22-year-old college student talking. He views communications as a way to help society.
His closing words:
I very much look forward to have the ability and opportunity to help more foreign clients understand and take root in the Chinese market and help more outstanding Chinese companies to go overseas. When the wind comes, some people choose to build a wall, and some choose to build a windmill. Today, as the anti-globalization trend continues to develop and populism continues to grow, I hope that I can become a lubricant to eliminate prejudice and misunderstanding between different cultures and countries. I grew up in the age which China had already begun to reform and open up. So I know the progress, benefits and changes that globalization has brought to China. Not only for China but also for the world, pushing not building the wall is the best choice. I want to be one of the powers to push the wall down in this era.
“When the wind comes, some people choose to build a wall and some choose to build a windmill.”
Lucas hopes to attend grad school overseas, part of his master plan to expand his international perspective. The shot below shows Lucas on his last day in our Beijing office with his manager, Sharon Chen.
I know this isn’t exactly scientific research. Still, I get the vibe that the younger generations in China will reshape society over time in a way that has yet to register on the radar.
Note: For more on this issue, check out “Bridging the Communications Gap Between China and the U.S.” and “Venture Capitalist Calls Silicon Valley Lazy.”