Thursday, December 10, 2009
America: Sometimes you gotta be proud!
Living in a country run by a very authoritarian government can, at times, makes me appreciate some of the things America and the West actually does right.
On Monday I was watching This Week with George Stephanopoulos (my favorite news show and one I NEVER miss) and he had on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. As these two sat side by side fielding questions from Stephanopoulos a thought struck me, "Two of the most powerful and influential leaders in our country have given up their Sunday morning to answer questions (and some hard questions) from a journalist, and those answers are being broadcast LIVE across the nation.
What we take for granted in the States would be anathema here in China. A national figure fielding live questions broadcast to the populous? Unthinkable! The nations leaders going on TV and giving a very frank and transparent description of situations facing the nation. Wow!
When President Obama arrived for a visit here last month he expected to have an open forum for a town hall meeting on a University campus in Shanghai. Instead, he found 400 handpicked students that were only allowed to ask "softball" questions. He naively assumed that there would be a frank and open exchange of ideas. He quickly learned in China, ideas flow in only one direction.
Jake Tapper, from ABC NEWS who was travelling with the President was surprised that his own blog was blocked here in China. (Not so surprising to us living here, I'm writing to you on this blog via a proxy server as my blog is blocked as well). In the video I include he is even stopped from asking questions of the students by a government official. When he asks "Why?" the government official simply responds, "There is no why?"
See the video here: Jake Tapper on Obama in China
Could you imagine the uproar that would occur in the States if a government official stopped you from speaking with the press? Especially on a college campus in front of everyone at a lecture? Good Lord, there would probably be a riot. But in China, such actions are normative and so tolerated by the public.
So as I sat watching Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates answering very difficult live questions on TV for the American people, a wonderful feeling came over me;
I was proud of my country!