I am just so glad James Fallows is writing about China. One hundred years from now, when the West is looking at why China is where it is, historians will read Fallows.
In the most recent issue of Atlantic Monthly, in an article entitled, Their Own Worst Enemy, Fallows explains the disconnect between how the West sees China and how it really is. The article’s subtitle is “As China prepares to take its place as the world’s dominant power, it faces confounding obstacles: its insularity and sheer stupidity in delivering the genuine good news about its own progress.”
China PR guru, ImageThief, in his post, The tragedy of China’s international communication, [link no longer exists] has this to say about Fallows’ article and about China’s lack of PR prowess:
Fallows’ point –and I agree with it– is that the great tragedy of this is that there is much positive happening in China and many good stories to tell, but that they often get lost among the time-warp rhetoric, self-destructive mistakes and ham-fisted attempts at total control. That’s a shame, because the essence of good PR is to find the good stories and tell them well. Fallows also points out that the government’s domestic communication abilities far outstrip its international ones. As someone who lives in China and likes it, I sympathize with the need for better external communication. As a PR man, however, I often cringe at the attempts.
I agree and will raise both Fallows and ImageThief one by pointing out how ultimately dangerous Western misconceptions of China can be. The US needs allies in the world right now and we should be making nice with countries that are seeking to build, rather than destroy, seeking to grow their wealth, rather than to terrorize others, and seeking to move towards freedom, rather than towards increasing repression. For all its faults, China is moving (yes, very slowly, I know) on the right path and we should be working WITH it as it does so.
Oh, and the reason I titled this post as I have is because I have yet to speak with someone who has gone to China who was not shocked at how much “better” and “freer” it is than they expected.
Please read Fallows and then let us know what you think.