tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN January 27, 2016 9:52am-11:53am EST
mea msnbc and the networks. that's what they did. they bequeathed the ability to those people to say who will be in the debates. you haven't seen me in the debates. freezing out a candidate means he doesn't get the exposure, the poll numbers, the exposure, donations and they know this. they know this. this is a distortion of the political system. look at one of our candidates the other day taunted people. actually taunted people and said i don't have to spend money. i'm getting free broadcast time. that's the reality of what we are see ing in america today. i tell you now, it ises wrong for the mass media to donate to any candidate and give them free money without regulations when we americans are limited in what we can do. that has to change. [ applause ] here's the story.
the two ballots that excluded me -- maryland and michigan -- and when i called and said, what gives? i'm all the country campaigning for president of the united states. they said, our standard is who the national media generally recognizes as a candidate. that's what they said. you see, folks, what i have described to you is a distortion of the politics of this country. i'm telling you it is becoming official in many of the states. this is wrong and it will change when i am president of the united states. but there is a way. there is a way. there ises still a way. still a way. we can restore democracy in this country and it is the new hampshire primary. it is still here, still a part of things. you have the power to change. you as leaders of the republican party of new hampshire and people respected in your community and people will follow
your leadership on this, you don't have to have your choices limited by the mass media and the national party. you can choose. you still have the right to pick your candidate. i'm asking you to support me. i want you to tell your friends. i want you to vote for me. it makes a difference in this race. it can make a big difference. with this scattered field, a large number of votes can send a message. that's what i intend to do. but i'm not in it to send a message. i'm in it to win. always have been and always will be. ladies and gentlemen, i'm asking you now. support me. join my committee. speak to your friends. i tell you now on the basis of what i have specifically told you today, we will rebuild this country. we will rebuild it.
it will be a freer country and a safer country. thank you very much for the chance to be with you here today. [ applause ] >> thank you. now i've still got laila aa lit time. yes, sir? >> governor, as the only candidate running that's served in the military, first i would like to thank you for your service. >> thank you. >> now, my question is where do you believe the military needs to be to defeat not only isis but to re-establish yourself as the most dominant military force in the world. >> this young man is ready to become a naval aviator, thank
you very much. [ applause ] >> congratulations. i don't need congratulations for serving in the united states military. the country called me when i finished uva and i went. i don't expect anybody to pat me on the back and i don't think vet rans expect that either. i talked to one yesterday. he had his arm missing because he had gone out of a b-17 in world war ii, no less. he didn't need thanks. he served his country. that's what our veterans have done. isis has to be understood as something much larger. this is a global problem we are facing radical islam. we have to join a lot of people together with us, not just our i will tear. i have told you specifically what we are going to do. i will rebuild the united states military so we are able to defend ourselves and people around the world know we will defend ourselves. at the end of the today, radical islamism has to be defeated by the ideology.
we have to recognize we defeated naziism, soc.lism in russia and we'll defeat this and win. it means we have to say what's right and what's wrong. we have to say that people who do pot bombs in boston are wrong and evil. people who shoot people in san bernardino are wrong and evil. people who misuse their uniform at ft. hood are wrong and evil. it is global and worldwide. specificallile we squeeze people back militarily and eliminate the sources of strength and ability. we'll deal with the russian situation over there. it's more complicated and i assure you based on my experiences this ises no place to play games. i can tell you we will squeeze back isis, but the bigger issue is we have to defeat radical islamism world wide. i have spoken to some of the muslimss in the united states of america. they have told me they are afraid of the republican party
right now which i think is a damn shame, frankly. that being said, they don't believe in this radical islamism. they are prepared to join forces with their fellow americans to stand up for us. that's what i intend to lead as the president of the united states. [ applause ] [ inaudible ] >> i wish i had more. i'll be quick. >> governor gilmore. my name is wendy. i'm a nurse in new hampshire. will you talk about how you will support nurses within the medical system? i work at a community health center and i'm concerned that nurses nationally aren't able to work to the full scope of our licenses. >> i think that's part and parcel of the health care revolution we are in now. there are a couple of good things like pre-existing conditions and so on with
obamacare that are appropriate. we have nationalized the system now. it will be more and more that the nurses and doctors will be clamped down on by more and more regulations. we should give nurses and physicians the ability within a more free market system. to provide real care within the construct also of medicaid and medicare. and the veterans services. i believe that we need to enable nurses to do their jobs and that means a general reduction of regulation which is what i was talking about a few minutes ago. sure, we have time. it's not over yet. >> i'm from massachusetts. i want the people of new hampshire to know that our prayers are with you to be given wisdom to make the next decisions you make. we need it. i hope the good lord hasn't turned his back on us with 54 million abortions. set that aside. i would ask, governor, what do
you think is the most dangerous, most destructive force challenging this country right now? and then i have a quick follow up. >> the most destructive force facing this country? the most destructive force is the fact that we have a dual military challenge facing this country. nation states beginning to impinge upon the national interests of the united states and create a dangerous situation. north koreans just captured a young virginia student today. the iranians doing what they are doing with a nuclear weapon to set off a worldwide or middle east nuclear arms race. the russians who now conquered the crime i can't are fighting in the ukraine into syria. the chinese are beginning to threaten the sea lanes and allies in the pacific. danger is rising. we are going to offer a candidate that doesn't know anything about foreign policy. this is no time to put an amateur in the white house.
the second problem, sir, is the fact that we don't understand what we are in in terms of this regulated society. rights are subordinated to regulation. that has to change and under a gilmore presidency it will change. >> i would like to indicate that i believe the most destructive force in this country today is the mainstream media and press. they created obama. obama created isis and people are dying because of that decision. that error in judgment. so i believe they have made it almost impossible to govern this country because they put the blame on the republicans and the legislature. >> thank you. i think i have been as el eloquent as i can be about that in my talk. the red light is on. if you have time for one more. ladies and gentlemen, thank you for welcoming me to this wonderful state. [ applause ] >> thank you.
>> we offer a flower to all presidents so when you become president that you have a peaceful term. >> thank you. our road to the white house coveragele will focus largely on iowa today across the c-span networks. we are five days to the iowa caucuses. mike huckabee at ames, iowa at jeff's pizza shop. we'll be there live on c-span. coming up tonight, three events from iowa. first senator ted cruz with a pro-life rally in des moines. former candidate rick perry is expected to attend and speak at the event. lt that gets under way at 7:00
eastern on c-span. at 8:00 on c-span 2 bernie sanders holding a town hall and at 8:30 carl fiorina will talk to voters at rube's steakhouse in waukee. that event live on c-span. >> c-span's campaign 2016 is taking you on the road to the white house for the iowa caucuses. monday, february, 1, our live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span 2. taking your phone calls, tweets and texts. at 8:00 p.m. to our republican caucus on c-span and a democratic caucus on c-span 2. see the event live. stay with c-span and join in on the conversation on c-span radio and at c-span.org. now a look back at four decades of reporting on china.
several correspondents who have covered china for two generations talk about their reporting and perceptions of each other. good evening, everyone. good evening. tonight is a sellout and it's so great to have you all here on this rainy and cold but very festive time in new york. and for a really fabulous evening. this evening the "new yorker" on china, a look back at four decades of reporting on china is
indeed a special night and also a convergence of two anniversaries. the "new yorker" is celebrating its 90th this year. it was one of the first western media to have access to china after the revolution? 1949. and of our five distinguished guest panelists tonight, one who is not a guest, our own orville schell, they have collectively over 100 years of observation and writing on china. and i think you will all find this very enlightening and no doubt entertaining. this includes of course our own orville schell whose asia societies center on u.s.-china relations, arthur ross director and the founder districter. we're pleased to have janet ross here with us tonight. hello, janet. i've learned that orville's first contribution to if "new yorker" was in the '70s. almost whole issues on china solely devoted, quite a thing in the '70s. i've also learned that orville
was so delighted with his first paycheck that he went and bought a tractor for his ranch in california and this was following the directive in the cultural to head to the countryside. orville, good. for asia society it's our 60th anniversary since our founding by john d. rockefeller, iii. i've been up to the or archives and i became interested in one question. the route took me back to 1863 or '64 when the original john d. rockefeller, a very poor man at the time, 25 years old, sent half his monthly sally as a store clerk, which was all of about $24 a month, half of that
to china to help malnourished children. from that you see a family's interest in the development of china, including the founding of the china medical board in 1914, and then of course john d. rockefeller, iii, following world war ii really felt that the world needed a center to focus on u.s.-asia relations and in his mind if there were great troubles in the future and great opportunity, it would come from the east. so created the asia society at the time. two important landmarks. this event in particular is part of our china file presents program. it's an onloin magazine that we started about three years ago. editors and staff are here. just raise your hands. an amazing team of people. and we have done a series of these.
so we brought in a generation of "the new york times" reporters on choo that, seven correspondents including seymour topping who reported on the chinese civil war and also "the wall street journal" come in and the financial times and now of course the "new yorker." usually orville is the moderator. tonight he'll be a panelist talking about his experience and his continued writing with the "new yorker." david, this is all yours. i will say to everyone we have an online audience. they can join the conversation with #asiasocietylive on twitter and ask questions of the panelists. you'll be getting an ipad with the questions. welcome everyone and please welcome david remnick, the editor of the "new yorker."
questions. i'm going to do the best i can. but they are questions that are editor questions too. the kind of things i want to know from writers out in the field, whether they're writing from beijing, shanghai, hong kong or chinese american institutions right down the treat, to begin with. i'm sure she'll be writing some day more frequently from china. let me introduce our panelists top jiayang fan moved to the united states at the age of eight. she blogs frequently about current events on newyorker.com about china. she quote has yet to publish any prize-winning books on her homeland unlike her come patriots up and down the table. she's produced a terrific piece on a bank in chinatown that was weirdly the one bank that was prosecuted in the financial catastrophe. we're doing this slightly in age. evan oshos lived in beijing from 2005 to 2013. he was a staff writer for the
chicago tribune and i stole him in 2008. his first piece in china for us was about an gold medalist in boxing. for years he's written about a barber who beat the house and the cow and the triad gangs that tried to extract the money from him in all of the ways you can predict, as well as profiles of influential people. and earlier this year the president of china, an absolutely remarkable fete of reporting especially when you don't have access to the subject. last year he published a book
called "the age of ambition" which basically won every award under the sun. peter hessler, to my far right drinking some mountain dew which they have in china? they have everything in china. he first went to live in china with the peace corps which sent him to teach english at a teacher's college in a small city in the southwest from 1996 to 1998. and that became the subject of his astonishing first book "river town." in 1999 he moved to beijing to become a freelancer and the following year he started writing, thank god, for the "new yorker." he wrote a trilogy of books about the country and the other two are oracle bones and country driving. he's published a collection of pieces of china from the american west and other places like nepal and japan called "strange stones, dispatches from
east to west." he now lives with his wife and 5-year-old twins in an equally gentle and calming and under j@f populated place, cairo. jianying zha was born in beijing and has lived in the united states and china over the years. and writes -- i don't know how she does this -- fluidly and elegantly in both languages. not that i would know about chinese but i'm absolutely sure that's the case. her books are best sellers transforming a country antide players, the movers and shakers of a rising china. and finally really in the case, the grand old man of china writing for the "new yorker" -- i mean that with love. he is an astonishment. a pioneer in the writing about china. he served as the deen of the
university of california berkeley graduate school of journalism, a scholar, a writer, a producer and a teacher and he's written and edited a wrath of books on china. and i want to start with orville. you went to china for the "new yorker" for the first time in the '70s. just to lay the ground work, not that the whole world is about what it's like for reporters but since the evening is dedicated to that at least in part, what was it like to arrive in china
as a reporter? what were you able to do? what were you not able to do? how did you live? what did you eat? who did you know? who did you not know? what was it like? >> well, it was literally i could say another worldly experience. because like others who had been trying to make sense out of china, we had to peer in at it from the outside. and it became something of a tremendous lure precisely because of its refusing to accept us. and its sort of unavailability and willingness to assimilate. when i finally got there was something of a moment of, you know, a trip to the holy land if you will. but once there i was pretty perplexed because i spoke chinese. i had lived with chinese. i thought i had a rudimentary understanding of how to get
along. and yet when confronted as a foreigner was kind of a profound indigestability. one was really shut out. nobody felt comfortable having an informal conversation with you, much les inviting you to their house or allowing any kind of unauthorized interaction. it was very much of -- i was on a youth work brigades working on a commune and then an in electrical machine factory in shanghai. i was very ritualized and very perplexing leaving me to wonder what to make of this place. >> next week i'm going to israel and palestine to do a story. when i arrive at the hotel, my phone already starts ringing. not that i'm such a lure but this is the style.
>> right. >> right? it's a democracy, all kinds of problems, palestinians are all kinds of things to say. but it is a -- it's easy. i have to admit, it's very easy. russia is easy. if you can't find a story there, you should go do something else. how did you -- so you're on a work brigade. so in other words you're not there to write about politics. you're there to do what? how were you beginning to see a story to write about what the "new yorker" expects what? i can't even imagine this. >> well, i remember sitting in any room in the beijing hotel which had just gone up. it was the only high-rise building in all of beijing. and any of you who have been there recently will know, it's quite a step since then.
but looking at the telephone and thinking, you know, there's literally nobody to call. and the phone was not going to ring. so i think in those days you pretty much had to resign yourself that the story was not to find out things through investigative reporting and interviews. the story was what china wanted to present itself as, what it wanted you to see, what it sort of stage craft was all about. >> when you look back at what you were write in the '70s now that you know the country, you've been there a million times, it's much more penetrable
to you. there's a giant literature you've availed yourself to by chinese writers and western writers and the rest. what did you get right? what was off? >> one thing i have to say being there while mao was still alive and the cultural revolution was still going on, there was not one single scintilla of evidence that this place would change. you looked at it and you could not see easily the fracture points. you could not see the contradictions. you saw what you were enabled to see. and i think it was very difficult -- the part that was with hard to get right was what were the, sort of the internal forces that would ultimately drive this country in the way it would go. and i think it was a profound lesson for me because what it suggested was why that does often undergo tech tonic changes almost none of which are predictable or visible.
>> you grew up there obviously. tell us how you first decide to write about this place from a very different angle of vision of orville schell who grow up in new york with a remarkably different job than you. >> as orville was telling his story about his first encounter with china, i was reminiscing about any first encounter with america. a decade later, in the early 1980s i came to the states as a student and i ended up in, of all places, south carolina. it was the state capital but when i arrived i felt this was nothing like i expected. it was like out in the booneys. >> were you on a work brigade? >> i was just a student in scholarship. and i was actually shown around campus by the chairman of the english department, which i was a graduate student in.
testifying, this is really someone from red china. and the first american friend i made was actually apologizing to me like we really don't know anything about china. do you have electricity. and then he actually asked me things like, is your delicacy something like grasshopper dipped in chocolate sauce? that was all he could think of. then there's very really little contact between the two county tris. when my classmates called me a year later -- because you didn't have any money to write or call. so my classmates in china would be saying, so, you're in america aren't you in. >> they got that right. >> so we have this mutual kind
of, i think, ignorance or maybe suspicion or misconception of each other. >> if i can interrupt, when you're picking up the "the new york times" in the '80s or maybe the "new yorker," and you're reading about china in english, did it resemble reality to you in any way or was it like reading about the other side of the moon? >> in the '80s when i was a student, this was before my "new yorker" ratings days. >> we can forget about that. okay. let's try the "the new york times." >> both i became addicted to later. after i went back to china and came back again. the "new yorker" was such an icon in china. but it was literally amiss. it was was kind of cool when i first published my piece in the "new yorker." people thought this was the sort of place that you could have, you know, good writing an in-depth, quirky takes on china. it's viewed as a writers magazine. and the fact that i decided to write in english. that was a long story. had something to do with returning to the states again. and that was one of the first subject of my first book, about
the transition after tiananmen. that was a confusing period when my generation of chinese sort of had this very romantic idea about the states, not just about the wealth but as icon of free speech and all that. >> and did we disappoint you? i'm not joking. >> this is a sober subject now. because i think since then the vision has changed a lot on both sides. i was watching the republican debate the other day, and then, and i say china bashing -- >> can i just say i'm sorry? i begin every day, i wake up and turn to my wife and just say i repoll jazz. and for the republican debate, i apologize. >> and i think it really hasn't come out of nowhere. if you look at the u.s. reporting of the last 15 years or a decade, there's basically two kinds of china bashing going on regularly. one lie is this image of china
as this ominous giant that's been playing unfairly with us and eating our lunch, stealing or jobs and it's going to crush us. the other lie is this paper tiger that's on the verge of imminent collapse. you have people like gordon chung and jim channels and all of those people always betting short on china. but i think the reality is somewhere in between. that's where most chinese i know sit. people are really proud of chinese achievement but also very worried. unfortunately i think america now is also worried. so you know, looking at china from outside, most americans tend to see strength and they see this unstoppable march. in fact there's like a recent
pew survey that says more than 50% of americans see china, not america, as the number one super power. that's amazing. when the chinese hear about this, they're taken aback. there's a joke in beijing that goes something like this is a western conspiracy. they're trying to kill us by overpraise. you get praise to the skies and you lose your heads and act stupidly and you fall. but in fact most chinese think that's because americans don't like us and they're trying to push us back and contain us. but i think the danger is, there's the perceptions that are mutually reinforcing.
in fact, that's where some of these "new yorker" balance and subtle journalism of china do a lot of good. >> peter, you came to china in a highly -- not the usual way. you weren't sent by a bureau. you came as a peace corps volunteer. you were interested in writing at princeton. we're both students of john mcphie. and i think was were interested in writing from the get-go. but you didn't land in beijing or shanghai. you started from a very different place. i would love to know what restrictions if any you felt when you got there. it obviously couldn't have felt
in orville's way. and you spoke good chinese. did it seem impenetrable to you or so changed that you could dig in in a human way that was very difficult 15, 20 years before? >> because i arrived in the peace corps, i didn't see myself as a writer. i did have an interest in writing but in college i majored in fiction a and when i showed up i was thinking more of becoming a fiction writer. my first semester there i was writing a short story, wasn't about china at all. i was trying to engage with the place. it didn't feel impenetrable. it was difficult. the main difficulty was the language. i showed up with no chinese. >> you had none. >> none of us in the peace corps had it. >> i hear it's an easy language. >> it's easy if you're in a town with a couple hundred thousand and there's only one other foreigner. there was no internet. we didn't have cell phones. you know, we couldn't travel. >> so in other words that time that you weren't spent teaching or working for the peace corps,
you were studying the language? >> i studied like crazy. it was really hard. people would laugh at you. you were a freak. there would be a crowd of 20 watching you which is entertaining for a little while but it becoming weary. i wasn't thinking of myself as a writer. i was a teacher. and one of the first things i saw was the way that the u.s. looked to my students. my students who are all from rural, poor backgrounds. they were good students and it was hard to get into college those days. there was a textbook that we posted, the culture of america. it was almost ridiculous thing. they would have a section on college life in america and they would have all of these things like there were 15 students raped at the university of south carolina and then you know, students were robbed at the university of southern california. it was all over the place. just random facts. and then they had a big section on homosexuality and how capitalism causing homosexuality. they didn't get to the point that maybe gay people have a lot of money. maybe my students would have started to think about that. it was hard to teach this stuff. meanwhile people in town would be like, you know, you would have a farmer say i hear in america they use airplanes to farm.
to sow the seed. >> like flying northwest. they do. >> they do somewhat. i remember i had a student -- my students were from rural, remote areas. they all had crazy names like daisy. another kid named north which was the kanye west name. but some kid used to ask me questions, he's like, i heard that the washington bullets had to change their name because of all of the gun violence in america. that's a true fact, right? why do you know that? your name is daisy, right? but you know this thing about the washington bullets. a lot of people probably don't know that in this room. it was frustrating but it was kind of personal because you're the representative. i was with the peace corps, of course. i was the only foreigner. so when it did come time to
writing about china, i felt conscious of not doing the same thing in the opposite direction. i just felt like people need some context. that's what my students needed. not the most extreme stories. that's what the book had done. it took headlines basically. >> what's bad writing about china? what are you fighting against? i think you're trying to say -- >> how much time do we have? >> we have plenty of time. it's raining and cold outside. >> i think that, you know, i think it's the extremes. it's the same thing about the bad writing of america. you know, my students -- either america is a place of constant crime or a place where everybody is rich. this is not it. you should know something in the middle. >> is that influenced by starting to write not from beijing or shanghai? >> it's the way you write about your local community.
foreign coverage follows the same patterns as local coverage basically. you can't just write about average life in new york city for the new york times. you can do some. the people who read your paper who live here, they know what it's like. you do have to find the extremes and the things that are messed up that have to be fixed. it's an appropriate point of coverage. but i think the problem is that tradition is deeply entrenched in american journalism and foreign correspondent arrive in another country and do the same thing. they find the extreme cases in china that need to be fixed. but if there's no context, it confuses the americans. it doesn't end up fixing the problem anyway. so i think the foreign reporter has to serve a different function than a domestic reporter. i think not everybody would agree with me. i was criticized a fair amount. >> when you're reading stuff that comes out of the bureaus by
intelligent people, what are your frustrations with that? >> you know, i guess that often it seems overly political whereas i think often the social, you know, maybe looking more to social frame reference helps. trying to give some sense to how people interact. sometimes rather than just picking one issue and one point in time, you need to show the trajectory of things. >> we should be honest. this is a conversation that peter and i have had for years because i tend to come at things maybe more politically, you come at things for socially. and at the tradition of the "new yorker" is that the writer wins. i'm still alive. but the writer does win.
and the idea is that you're there and i'm not. and that every writer -- it's meant to be a writer's magazine, that deeply influences what we do. although there are times in a highly politicized moment, as when during arab spring, you know during egyptian counter, you wrote politically. but it's not your go. to thing. you would usually be more comfortable writing about the social. now evan comes from a newspaper background. might see this 15 degrees differently. writers are different. they come at things differently. give me a sense when you land in china, again, what the restrictions are, what your approach is and the rest. >> well i was thinking, you know, as pete was describing the experience of going there, how different it is than being the local paper. i had that experience in the united states before because i was a correspondent for the "chicago tribune" based in new york.
i was sent to new york as a new york correspondent. for a couple of years i wrote stories about -- they are a proud people and they have taken me in as one of their own. the food is exquisite. and that actually was a useful function because in some ways, you knows with that's what you're trying to do as a correspondent in a place. but there is that danger of essentializing people to one element. and that's true whether you're writing about new york or china. i should say i was informed -- by the time i set foot in china, i had been shaped as a writer by orville, you know, by pete. in fact i had read jiayang's book. by the time i got there was a literature of china that didn't exist. they had to create a literature
and i was the beneficiary of that. by the time i got there, the idea of the depravation that orville was dealing with on a lifestyle basis, it was different in 2005. i remember once that the restaurant ran out of pate. it was brief but it was very unpleasant. and the idea that china wasn't change, everything had flipped on its head. the default position was that china was constantly changing and moving in this direction of we didn't know what. we had an outline in our minds that it was going to be similarish to something that we would recognize in the west. >> was that a mistake? >> it was a mistake. when i think back to that period, one of the things that i think we -- certainly that i came to assume about china was that it would move down this path where every year it would get a little more open and there
would be moments where it could step back. but it would ultimately keep moving in that direction. and i think fundamentally this is a slightly different conversation, but fundamentally that's probably true but i think we need to talk for seriously today and in our writing about what's going on at the moment. >> was that a historical moment in time, in other words, the '90s, the collapse of communism, the collapse of the soviet union, the moment in 1989 in china gave the united states that everything was moving in terms of political, culturally, universal americaism with chinese characteristics or latin america characteristics. a colossal delusion. >> and orville has written the text on that subject. that was a failure of our expectation of china.
>> but i think we are western and we look at china through our western eyes. history is moving in a direction towards openness and freedom. i think what's so interesting about china now, as evan suggested, maybe that's at least for the moment called into question. maybe mr.'s a different direction that they want to move in a different goal. >> you left china when you were young but you've lived inside -- you're a new yorker but you read chinese, you read chinese newspapers. you've been involved, in fact you i've been a researcher and fact-checker for both of these guys up heap and have then started writing for us. i can imagine there will come a time when you might write from china. how do you seeing this now in 2015 and moving forward, what is the next step?
how do you look at it in a future oriented way? what's missing too? >> i think the question you posed earlier to jiayang as what it feels like to read western reporting as a native chinese is an interesting one. for me i remember when i was able to read the "the new york times," when i read reports on china, it felt like seeing an x-ray of china. and what i mean by that is the bones all seemed to be in the right place, but what i had in my head with the flesh and the veins, all of that seemed -- it seemed all very accurate. i felt like western reporters
must have done a conscientious job. i spent first and second grade in china and was exceptionally show as an english learner. so was very much, you know -- still felt very much nobody could truly -- with a child's sense of stubbornness, nobody can understand china the way i do. and i spent, you know, the past, i think, two decades trying to reconcile that visceral sense of loyalty to this country and that feeling that i get it in a way that no one else does, maybe the way that, you know, a child feels about her mother. >> even though you're here. no, no.
i think it's a profound difficulty that any immigrant has, no? >> even though i'm here. i find myself in the strange position of oftentimes defending china to western friends and then defending, you know, western perceptions of china to my chinese friends and feeling like i'm somehow in everybody's bad books but that somehow i'm trying to find -- >> that's you're implicated somehow. you feel the same way? >> that's the story of my life and now beginning to be my daughter's story. >> how does that influence your writing in a way that evan, orville and peter probably cannot? >> yeah.
i think it could be a very, you know, fruitful that you wrestle with these pains. after i've been in the states for some years, that beijing seemed to become like a skin rash for me. every time i return, you know, i feel this horrible itch to scratch it because everything is irritating. and you know, i get into this wild mood swings and i would pick a fight with, you know, my parents, my friends, all this. they all seem to don't understand america. and was very consciously not slip into any english phrase because i would be charged -- >> you would be giving yourself away. >> a sellout. you know, they called it -- [ speaking in a foreign language ] -- fake foreign devils. but i have that dual loyalty issue all the time. but i think ultimately that, you
know, kind of insider/outside position and tension also have serve great advantages for writing. because you do have that kind of intimacy with the home scene. and because you're outside, you'll also gain some distance to have certain objectivity. you're removed. i used to say in order to get over the skin rash, i need to run away and go to america and grow some new skin so i can look at what i'm writing in china with a more clear eye. >> i want to talk about the subject of being wrong, the anxiety of being wrong either as a diplomat or a journalist. edgar snow during the familiar -- famine that killed up to 30 million people said, quote , i saw no starving people in china. i was on a reporting trip to the middle east and talking to an american diplomat who said, we really -- we knew about this affection and unemployment but
we didn't see this coming in any way. the cia, daniel patrick moynihan thought the cia should have been closed for not being able to see the collapse of the soviet union coming. this diplomat was saying one of the problems since 9/11 is that we're hunkered down, we are restricted in certain ways, but also there's the netflix phenomenon. we bring our western culture with us and we have our comforts. this would not have been the life of harrison salisbury or the chinese equivalent. some people don't get out. we make mistakes about it. what are we missing now. if you had to guess -- we're thinking about china, all of you. what are we missing and why? what should be our anxiety about knowledge in china now.
orville, you want to take a crack? >> oh, boy. you know, i think we miss so many things that the longer i try to parse through china, ther experience keeps acting out its deportment. and i think we often, when we understand it, it's a rather simple minded version of history. and i think china too doesn't do a great job of understanding its own history because they're actually frightened of their own history, because it's pretty devastating and there's lots of no-fly zones. but be that as it may -- it keeps expressing itself. >> what are the no-fly zones. beside it is obvious 1989. >> you mentioned the famine where 30 million people died. the whole communist party history is so fraught with problems and brutality and failures that to actually do an
honest assessment of it would be devastating. but that's all part of what is in the being of chinese. and i think it's very difficult for an american or foreigner to have anything more than a very cursory understanding of that. >> pete? >> what are we missing? >> yeah. >> i think the reporting is too focused on beijing and shanghai. we miss a lot from the interior. it's geographically hard for reporter to spend a lot of time there. >> why? >> because they all live in beijing and shanghai. they have to. >> it's not that hard to get around, is it? >> no, it isn't. but it makes life harder if you're going to these places. i did a project that became part of my last book, a place in
judge on province and a factory town, i went there over a period of two years. it was more than 100 days on the ground there. and you know, it's hard to find that kind of time basically. i could do that because i was doing a story for "national geographic," i was doing a piece for you guys on it and i was working on my book. that kind of justified this amount of time. but it's -- you know, that's not -- a newspaper person can't do that. and so i think also -- i guess for me personally, the thing i like to do is to find a place, instead of an issue or an event or even a person. i think sometimes -- i think a lot about met dolling. my father is a sociology -- i think journalism is weak on. it's a product oriented field, not process oriented. you don't footnote. you don't tell how you got started. and i think you have to be deliberate sometimes in you research structure and your decisions. and like if you're covering, you know, an event, then of course that's what you're going to do.
and sometimes an event can muddy the waters in a place. >> for example? >> it muddies the waters because police are on alert. if something is happening in this place, you can't hang out there for 100 days. in that town i went to, i never got hassled by the police. in egypt, i've been going there for two years and i can do that because nothing is going on. there are lots of things going on. you notice them. >> journalists are addicts of things going on. >> sometimes you just go to a place that may be representative. and statistically speaking with the odds are that it is unless you've chosen something extreme. there are things going on. there's always stuff going on. the factory town i went to, i witnessed the tax official shaking down entrepreneurs. i was in the room while they did it. watching how they negotiated the bribe. i saw workers applying for jobs. i saw how they use their children to get positions for
the whole family. there's lots of stuff you can witness. >> in my extensive research at your dinner table in beijing, it seemed that the conversation always gets down to the push and pull of the following, the fact that the beijing government and the entire power structure has willy nilly at tremendous cost to the environment and much else lifted 500 million people out of poverty versus all the ugly features of an authoritarian state. it seems to me constant discussion, are we doing too much of one, not enough of the other, i assume this is a dynamic that goes on all the time. is there such a thing as a happy medium? how do you do this -- how do you judge your own performance in
ferms of what you're balancing the picture of what's happening when it's so vast, so complicated, so populous and possibly some things might even be hidden from you. >> well, i mean, the hardest problem of writing about china is figuring out what are the proportions of the portrait. because any portrait has a certain composition of light and dark in china. and you can, depending on where you focus your attention, you can find a story that is uplifting and is a sign of this extraordinary human project of what has occurred over the course of the last 40 years of transforming the country and its human development. or you can shift your attention 20 degrees and get a completely different story, one that is really concern about the political character of the place and the effect on individual people. and the struggle, i would say, this will ring hollow to people that will write a thousand words i've done it in a newspaper, but when you're trying to squeeze into 10,000 words and editors are telling you they've got to trim 100 words and you're like
what's the point of doing it. it's now down to 9,900 and i can't convey the complexity. i mean that sort of, you know, it's a constant struggle becaus. it's a constant struggle, you're trying to tweak the tolerances of the piece to get the portrait right. i'll give you an example of a way in which i think we may miss something these days. is that we already sense that we're moving in the american narrative of china, certainly in the political narrative. that china is becoming more nationalistic, perhaps. you read about the idea that the government is certainly cultivating that spirit and every couple of years with some regularity, there will be a protest in the streets and people will come into the streets and say down with the united states, usually not that harsh. the truth is, one of the first stories i did at the "new
yorker" was to go and find those guys. the ideologists of the nationalist moment and hang out with them. and one of the things you discover is they're incredibly happy that you called, actually. they do want to chat. in some ways that's the thing they want most of all. i spent a lot of time over the next few years, what you discovered they could hold two thoughts in their head at the same time even if we were having trouble doing that about china. they could on the one hand be enraged about a certain feature of american policy. at the same time have genuine respect for elements of american life. these two things could co-existent. i said what's going on. he said i'm in germany. he had been tough on the west. but he was now studying in germany. and was going back to china, starting a company. so i think as we anticipate over the course of the next few years, that there will be this, this underlying momentum and the
american political culture to try to create china as an enemy. when you scratch, you discover, you don't have to scratch very far beneath the surface, you'll find that the individual participants, the chip he's people who are swept up in this, have much more interested and complicated feelings than you will see when you flip on a cnn report. >> i was thinks as people were doing a form of self-criticism, that somehow america missed out on all of these things. >> that's, a lot of chinese people feel that way. that we missed out, on the direction where china is going. >> there's a lot of people who are shock in china about the certain regressive movements in the political sphere. for example. i think we ought to be careful not to fall back into this old banlter of east and west. china is yin and we're yang.
we're totally different animals and let's not even touch it you're talking about rising nationalism in china. i think it's a mirror image of american rising nationalism. i think it's not that different when you boil it down. >> when you say rising nationalism in america, that's the portrait derived from the republican debate the other night? i'm not kidding around. >> let me just say this, because -- >> here's, where i slightly disagree or put a little pressure on the point. nationalism is firmly in power in china. and unless you think barack obama is a hypernationalist -- >> no, he's not. >> you probably don't. i think he's the, the person to blame for not being nationalistic enough. for being too weak for example and being too soft on muslims and all this.
what i'm saying is that i think you know, let's bring back the republican debate. i was a little troubled by for example, senator rand paul, tuesday was saying something like spreading democracy is a utopian project. and that is troubling to me. because i think while there is a sobering lesson that americans try to learn about in the middle east. china is a very different story. and it would be overkill -- no one first of all ever talked about regime change in china. it's just unthinkable. but i think it's very important for the americans to continue to see china as you know, having lots of overlapping on similar aspirations, both economically and politically. it's important to keep on paying attention and supporting those
few individuals who are maybe marginalized. they have been marginalized systemically. but they are still enjoying the sympathy and the support sometimes silence, is sometimes not so silent. >> this is a constant argument certainly it applied to the soviet union that somehow the dissidents got too much attention. that if you did a read-out of numbers of stories by "the new york times" or somebody, they're way too much on aiweiwei. >> i definitely see pete's point earlier about focusing on a
place and perhaps social issues that exist a little bit outside of the kind of the political hot spot. >> i think a lot of times there's so much -- they're still the sense that china is a bit of an unknown quantity. so fear-mongering becomes very easy. and you know, when china exists as the other, then anything that happens, any phenomenon that happens in china becomes well that's so chinese. whether it's the nationalists or a group of really rich chinese, that's so specifically chinese. rather than contexturalizing it, within social and economic terms. seeing that this is an outgrowth. has culture elements, and you know -- >> those impulses are, are universal. >> pete, how did it feel about
the dissident problem as it were in reporting? >> i mean i guess you know, i was somebody who didn't write about high profile dissidents there are basically three places over the course of my 11 years that i focused on long periods of time. one was on a small village outside of beijing and the other was a factory town that i mentioned. they're fairly different places geographically. i did see the same dynamic in each place. >> was that a lot of the talented people were recruited within the party. certainly that was the case with my students. lot of the best students became party members. i had this idea that the smartest kids are going to be dissidents. i had read all the '89 stuff. but the best kid, the class monitor, a sharp kid. he was a party member, right. and the kids, there were a group of small kids who didn't want to do that. they went off in a different
direction. they had other outlets. and the people who in all of these communities who ended up actively resisting were the ones who kind of ran out of options or connections. this was a very striking pattern. i saw it in all three places, another one was in '96, '98 another was in a small village. another one was in a factory town. i had to feel like this makes sense to me, why this place has not been changing. the talent is recruited, co-opted or finding other outlets. the people that are most likely to resist, are often the ones that are somewhat desperate. i remember a really sad scene when i was reporting to the factory town they were building a dam and there were people who were protesting, who were unhappy about the dam and they were showing me you know all of these documents and they're kind of making their case in a very clumsy way. at some point they're like --
you write for foreign magazine. yeah, i gave you my card, i showed you. and they're like oh no, we're selling the country out, we can't do this. they totally flipped out and i ended up having to tear my pages out of the notebook, and give it to them. i felt bad, they had enough to worry about. it was sad, how are they going to deal with this problem? how are they going to get any traction against the party when they can't even communicate with me, a sympathetic journalist? the only guy of this group who sort of became very competent. i was impressed, he's like who do you write for? let me see your journalist also. i was impressed with this guy. at the end of the conversation i asked him, what do you do here? and he said i also sell tiles. he had hedged his bets, he was selling new building materials for the new dam they were building. you see this kind of thing a
lot. one of the dynamics in journalism, foreign correspondents, is how the stuff plays back in the country you are. in the '80s, the way that things got played back was through radio. and when you started going to china and publishing in the new yorker, did you have any resonance whatsoever sitting in china. that what you pib lished, thousands of miles away. somehow got back to china at all? how did that affect your life as a writer? >> well in the '70s, no. i after the cultural revolution ended, mao died and deng xiaoping came back into power and everything changed. you have to look at it as a play with different acts, when you
get a very different persona expressing itself. it isn't as if china actually changes, it's a different aspect comes to the fore. the 1980s were an incredible period of openness. when people were publishing translations of philosophy, they were looking at new kinds of political structures, laws that would enthrone journalists as having legal rights. it was incredible. at that point, what one wrote came back with a vengeance. >> in what form? they had a couple of publications which translated things, which chinese could read them in chinese language. >> hedeger was a big seller. western philosophy. translated into chinese. sold tens of thousands. >> heideger was a best seller.
>> sadly, that ended in 1989. and china started to become a little more open for a while and then well it's a long complicated story. you have to look at the decade, look at the period to know what the interaction is with the foreign press, whether there's an interest in it. i think it's important to say that what we see now in china is not the whole story. it's a period. it is a deeply evolved tradition in chinese political philosophy. thinking, activism, that's very democratic. we shouldn't assume just because the party doesn't really want to hear about it. that that is erase, it's just expressing a different side. >> how are the currents expressed in contemporary life. >> how are those currents expressed revealed and read about and exchanged in contemporary life? >> again, on the period now, you
hear it in private conversations. you won't see it so much in public media, certainly not in television. those things are quite well controlled. and there is a very utilitarian streak, i think in chinese sort of culture and society. people tend to go where they're not going to get in trouble. so the terms of the game are set. and it's sort of determines where as pete you said, most people are going to go, the tile business, good. if going into politics and running for office is going to get you into trouble? no. it's true in every country, but i think china has a particular version of it. >> one of the things i think was specific about this period that orville was expressing, is there are not the political lines between who was political and who was not. if you made a choice to become political, like one of my favorite pieces in the "new
yorker," about being as a dissident. the period i was living there in 2005. there was a very interesting time when people were self-politicizing. the technology was changing. all of a sudden could you go online and you could have a voice. you could say something and could you identify, find people who agreed or disagreed with you. you could fight bitterly with them. you could choose your tribe, choose your values and express them. there was a time when i think we used to assume that most people had been so poor so recently that they didn't care about politics. that sort of -- it was true, actually for a lot of people it had been so bitterly hard. concerning yourselves with abstract notions was a value that people couldn't afford. there was a guy i wrote about the last blog post i wrote about china before coming home was about a street sweeper on the street where we lived. who when i met him.
i sort of thought i understood the contours of his life. he wears a suit and has a straw hat on. i started talking to him and he said people here think i have no cultu culture, no education. what they don't know is i'm a poet and i moderate an online about contemporary chinese poetry. thought he was bonkers. >> there he was online. >> he was a celebrity online. he was a figure with authority and he had an identity that was completely detached from what would be visible to you if you just showed up and looked at him. in that way this period was this extraordinary time in which people were developing additional lives and that was kind of thrilling to describe. >> what's it like for you to be sitting here in new york and trying to follow china and
chineseness and chinese life through the various online -- if you could describe what those mechanisms are. where they're limited, where they're exciting, where we'd be -- this is such a sophisticated group, they already know. but tell me what online life is like? >> well i constantly suffer from fear of missing out when i'm, when i'm reading whether you know, through weibo or wei-chat, it feels like an urban. it feels like an urban metropolis. that's building and you don't quite know what neighborhoods are going to flourish. and i'm always, i mean a lot of times it's a subject that i am interested in and i'll search for it and see what the conversation is like. and who is talking about it.
and what prompters of that conversation are. and what i find that is oftentimes is not you know, it's oftentimes not what i expect. earlier we were talking about distance. i think for a lot of whenever i talk to chinese friends about the idea of this, distance abroad or you know, what their significance is, i often sense a defensiveness on their part. well that's what westerners focus on. that's what your reporting is on and your narrative, is that they are always heroes, because they're not part of the mainstream, that they somehow are better than the rest of us. >> and when i ask them you know, what you know, what concerns them, i mean their idea of what's relevant to their lives is oftentimes so different than
in western media. online i find not all threads are fruitful. but sometimes when they talk about a book that's particularly appealing. it's not always the book itself i think is interesting, but how they see that book. and how their vision of china sort of co-heres with what they see as the themes in that book. >> do you follow online life? >> a lot. what do you derive from it? >> there's a wild kind of creative energy, if you surf the internet, chinese, and there are thousands, they're just like 70,000 you know, silos of bloggers making all kinds of noises in all directions. when i talk about beijing feels like a skin rash to me, it
irritates when i'm there. as soon as i leave, i come back and i have this itch to go back. because as soon as you have a distance and you read and you realize, they're all of these possibilities and people walking around with multiple masks on. they have multiple lives. like what evan was just saying. >> like complex human beings, what is being shut out of the internet at this point? >> of course -- there is an ongoing and intensifying recently censorship of the direct political commentary. it's still going on, because a lot of people post with pseudonyms and then they, a lot of them moved out of the public space, which is this chinese form of twitter, weibo, which is wei-chat, which is more private and harder to track. >> reliably private?
>> well not rely bly, because if the group becomes too big, they become a target. there's thousands of professional deleters, who sit in these portals and that's their job, to delete, delete. i think the dissidents are not just out in the open. there's potential dissidents in a lot of these chinese will mask themselves, as you know, good citizens, because they know that's too dangerous. and let's face it. everybody is a self interest. people want to show at some point when it's not too risky. that they also have a heart. care about certain issues, too. but they do get defensive like, like jai yung is saying when they get accused of being a coward. if you read the chinese internet, there's a lot of talk about this i don't know, cynical
kind of little person who can you know, hide so much in the inside that it becomes a fake person. so there's a lot of double-talk going on. there's a lot of guilty conscience going on. i think we should always remember what orville said earlier. when he went there in the mass period of the cultural -- he had no clue that something might happen, which did happen. majorly. just a few years later. so is that unpredictability about a place so vast and so complex. and the space is constantly fluid. i mean it's evolving. so we shouldn't have any, i think conclusion at this point. it's just another chapter. >> this is a moment, the evening such as this is always a slightly uncomfortable hinge when you have to have a
question, but you have to have the first question. we do want to have questions from you, so feel free to fire away. there's microphones, there's a happy volunteer right here, excellent. >> not you, steve? not you. up there. you're next. i promise. okay. excellent. stand. stand and deliver. >> hi, thank you guys for the great presentation. >> i can't hear you, sir. >> thank you for the great presentation. >> my question is -- >> i just wanted to hear the compliment twice. >> my question is, so for, for those that aren't native chinese, why did you leave china. and for those who were born in china, why haven't you gone back to live in china? is china compelling enough for to you go back and live at this stage? >> it's a personal question, but
okay. >> i did not have a choice on leaving china. i was following my parents, in terms of why i haven't -- i very much do want to go back to china. but i am still figuring out a way to do that. that could make sense in all arenas of my life at this point. >> huh? was that a question for me, too? >> i think a little bit. >> why do i -- >> maybe you should explain how do you this. >> i actually well i was born and raised in beijing and came as a student. and then returned to live in china. and that was still you know, i was actually there during tiananmen. and afterwards, i moved back again. and ever since i've been going back and forth. so currently i actually divide my year half and half between
china and u.s. so i'm you know, making a home here and there. >> excellent. this gentleman here? >> you, hang on, wait for the microphone loxt it doesn't seem like you need it. >> thank you. i'm kind of curious about this trans-pacific partnership. which president obama says or he seems to imply that he wants to contain china economically. you know, why not engage china or encourage china to join the tpp? and if so, would china be receptive to joining that? so we could have some universal rules of international trade and finance? everybody playing by the same rules. >> evan, why don't you take a grab at that. >> it's interesting in your question when you said that
obama says this is -- i think obama is pretty emphatic about not using that kind of language. he tries to avoid. there's an impression among some in the u.s./china relationship that that's the intent of the tpp. if you look at it a slightly different way, look, let's talk frankly, the tpp was designed to enhance the american relationship with other countries in asia china was not one of the first countries involved. it's possible china may in fact be a member in the future. and the beginning, chinese trade and foreign policy officials were opposed to the idea. they interpreted this is a hostile act. today if you talk to people in beijing, people come to washington, they say we recognize in the long run this isn't all that bad. one of the reasons it's not all that bad is if the united states had not signed a trade deal with asia the so-called pivot to asia would have really just been a military exercise. would have been all about security. this says look, let's remind ourselves. this is a much broader
relationship than just security and we need to be there for all kinds of reasons. so i wouldn't count out the idea that in the future we may find ourselves, china may be in the tpp. >> i'm going to make you run right over there, if you don't mind. >> can you go first and then this woman. >> my question is that it's about writing. >> it's about? >> writing. >> uh-huh. >> like when -- i'm left china when i was young and right now i'm trying to write about china. it turns out there's a lot of cultural subtleties. it turns out to be very difficult to write about. sometimes i get a feeling that a western americans might not even care. how do you bring the make the strangeness relatable to american readers? >> how do you make the
strangeness relatable to american audiences? >> yes. >> is that the question? >> yes. >> you could say that about the gop debate. >> peter, you want to take a crack at that? >> i mean i guess you know i don't know exactly how to answer. i think knowing your subject obviously is important. when it's no longer strange to you, it's a lot easier to convey it in a way that isn't so you know, outlandish or unfamiliar. but i think that the basically writing about china is fundamentally the same as writing about you know, america or, most of us here have written about lots of other subjects, after china i was in colorado and now i'm in cairo. and you know i'm writing about things in egypt. these are all really different places. it's fundamentally the same act basically. and it requires the same kind of legwork and the same writing
tools. so i think in that sense there's really nothing special about china. maybe it's a little harder to penetrate. the same tools that you approach any other place are necessary there. >> next question was down here. clearly very bad at this. >> thank you. my name is xao ming. we discussed how the "new yorker" covered china. but i want to mention how the "new yorker" changed china. one of the many changes i think is the wave of nonfiction writing in china. "new yorker" inspired a lot of chinese writers to write nonfiction. i wonder for the panelists tonight. i don't know how much you read about chinese writer, cover china in nonfiction style. what do you think i'm missing in
those pieces? and what makes a good writer in nonfiction writing? it's not a question you could answer in one minute. but i wonder if you could boil it down. >> i think it's true that there are a lot of magazines and periodicals that have sprung up. that i think have been very much inspired by the new yorker. i can think of two that i know, that sort of narrative form where you are given enough time, to sort of make your case. the when i first started with the magazine, josette mentioned, it was quite astounding, it was five consecutive issues. you had a chance to feel, it wasn't like evan described, the 9,999 words. i think the challenge is they're confronting and trying to be more innovative in every other
field is the controls. you want to be in public otherwise you're just writing for this tradition of drawer literature in china, but nobody reads it. that can be very inhibiting for the kind of writing the "new yorker" does, where as david says, you have to let the writer write and the editor can help him say what he wants. >> i think there's also a technical, an admiration for the technical experience of writing this kind of work. i remember i got a chinese writer friend of mine said do you want to come talk about the fact-checking process. and i made zai yang a celebrity in china about writing about this i show up, it had nothing
to do with me. it was about the "new yorker." i show up and it was standing room only there were kids sitting in the aisles, all of them working journalists, young journalists. i was genuinely moved by their interest in fact-checking. it's more than just a technical process, it's, it really is an ethic, it's about a belief that there are facts and you can ascertain them and they matter and you should fight hard to document them. this idea for a lot of reporters working in chinese media it was an exotic experience. to the point there was a chinese editor -- he had when he was fact-checked, when xai ying called him. wrote a piece i was fact-checked by the chinese "new yorker." >> we have questions from our brothers and sisters on the
internet. this is from jonathan in new york. how is it possible to be as good-looking as you are? no, that's not the question. >> i think it's my wife. >> that's angelica tang's question. no, is it necessary today for a good china correspondent to have chinese language ability? and what will they miss if they don't? this seems a pretty straightforward question that i think you can all punt right out of the stadium. >> even if you do have chinese language, chinese as a language is so sort of profoundly boundless. you still miss an enormous amount. because there's classical, there's history, there's -- >> can i, let you two should pretend that we're not here is it really impossible for people to know, who aren't native chinese speakers, to know chinese efficiently to get around as well as they think they are?
>> i have two points on this. one, i found having worked with both evan and pete are very fluent in chinese, but are not native speakers, that i find that almost to be somewhat of an advantage. in a sense. because they're both so exceptionally scrupulous when it comes to making sure they have everything right. and sometimes i think if it were native chinese journalists, perhaps she would think well you know, like this is like i know this terrain you know, like i just sort of i don't need to check like that the 99th degree. that's part of what i learned about being a foreign person. because they both are so aware of being a foreign presence in
china, think they go out of their way to make sure that literally every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted. >> i don't have the nonnative speaker problem. but i do have also an experience jai yung, when she was checking my piece on wang mang, who is a cultural minister. when i looked at the pages she was working on, i saw a field of massacres, she had a method of checking line by line, blocking them out with red ink and i only had that experience with chinese censors. they would actually mark also with red ink. and -- >> she's brutal, she's brutal. i've had that experience, too. >> even someone like wong mong, who is a very high-profile
writer, was a little bit shocked of getting this phone call from jai yung, all the way from new york. just checking whether he said that or not. that's a message for a lot of chinese journalists that's new, because when nonfiction started in china and in the 1980s, it wasn't called nonfiction, it's called -- [ speaking chinese ] which means literally reportage. usually the journalists sitting on top of the olympic mountain opines on the subject he writes. so it's very opinionated, very subjective. and was very little regard for the facts. so this was a totally different era about you know, nonfiction writing. i think today you know, new yorkers probably a leading kind of magazine that's you know, showing example how important fact-checking is.
is important. i think orville is right, that's going to be very hard to accomplish. >> we sadly have only a couple more minutes, i want to, this is the season of lists. anybody that runs an internet operation knows the best way to get traffic is top ten lists. you know top ten bagels or films or whatever for the year. whatever. not long ago i read a, i tried to read chinese history with some volume and i read henry kissinger's book on china and discovered the most important person in the history of china is henry kissinger. and i -- may or may not be accurate. what i want selfishly. is a recommendation from each of you on a book that i may not have read about china, that i can read in translation preferably, that's not by one of the distinguished panelists here. if, it doesn't have to be desert
island type of thing. >> please don't start with me, david. >> pete centre. >> i don't know if i can remember a title, but there's a history book called, 1522, a year of no significance. what's the year? or is it just "the year of no significance." >> it's the ming dynasty. >> it's a great history book. just picking a random year in the ming, which is not very important. as you see there's all kinds of things going on and it's a fascinating glimpse. it's a nice way to put history into perspective and to put what we do into perspective as well. >> you? >> i'm also blanking out on the name of the book, but it was memorable. just not its name. i think it was, it's by a british-american, british-chinese author, susan barker. if anyone -- "carnations". >> with we've turned this into a
quiz show. >> what is the "incarnations" about? >> it follows a beijing taxi driver, except he's had six lives before the present one. and it basically takes you through 1500 years of chinese history. he was a palace maid who was raped at one point. and he was a young bride sold into prostitution. so you know, in fiction form, it was a great way of taking you through the darknesses in chinese history. >> i'm going to say this book by a french historian diplomat, i think his name is jean palfrey. the title of the book is "immobile empire." a big fat tome of a book. really about this moment in late
ching dynasty when the british sent a ship and an ambassador, i think lord mccartney was sent to meet with emperor chan long to meet -- >> a famous episode. >> yeah. and the whole mission failed. and was one of the sticking points was that the british refused, and lord mccartney refused to kneel down. >> lay prostate. >> the chinese had to explain to them that the british had a different knee, there's a bone problem. anyway it's full of really colorful and revealing stories. both about the court and because the sailors on the ship really saw a lot of ordinary lives en route, because it was a slow travel to beijing from canton. it was a very revealing portrait of china in that critical point.
it could have be read as a missed opportunity. but you know, it tells a lot about chinese history. the fallout on that is actually called "restless empire" which i think start with the first one. >> there's a book that i love called "deep china" edited by an anthropologist. he edited a book of essays by his chinese students who have gone on to be anthropologists and amazing scholars of one kind or another. it gets to what pete was mentioning before, butabout they have this rigor in their work and they come at it with a chinese, their chinese sensibility. you get these extraordinary essays, the things that chief chose ton write about. one of the pieces in there is how china went from a society in which you bought and sold blood donations. people had to be paid to donate blood. to a society in which people choose to donate blood. those things that we would never
notice, but are profound in their own way. "deep china" is the name of the book and i really think it's terrific. >> orville? >> simon leis, pierre rickmans, who was a belgian diplomat. who wrote wonderful, wry, insightful and often quite dark accounts of china. the person he loved most of all in chinese literature was a writer, lucien. who wrote in the '20s, died in the '30s who also is incomparable. in that he deeply loved china. but he was deeply dark. sardonic. wry. and critical. but i think he had it right. he understood the great state of contradiction in which his country existed and i think it
continues to exist in this great state of contradiction. it needs illusion now to go at it in a similar way. >> want to thank the panelists. you've been extraordinary, thank you very much. and thank you. [ applause ] five days to the iowa caucuses next monday. loads of precaucus coverage across the c-span networks today. including former iowa caucus's winner, mike huckabee, campaigning in ames iowa, at jeff's pizza shop. and our road to the white house coverage continues tonight with three events from iowa. first up, ted cruz, senator ted cruz holding a pro life rally in des moines. joined by former texas governor, former candidate rick perry at
7:00 p.m. eastern. now over on c-span 2, senator bernie sanders holding a town hall meeting in mason city, iowa, about two hours from des moines. and still more live coverage tonight. back on c-span at 8:30 eastern, carly fiorina talking to voters at rube's stakehouse in walkee. >> c-span is talking you on the race for the white house. we'll bring you live precaucus coverage. taking your phone calls, tweets and texts, and then at 8:00 p.m., we take to you the republican caucus on c-span and a democratic caucus on c-span 2. see the event live in its entirety. stay with c-span and join in the conversation on c-span radio and at cspan.org. >> tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle
"challenger" explosion, the disaster was viewed by millions of school children who were watching the launch that morning because the clue included the first schoolteacher to participate in the mission. part of our presentation includes president reagan's address to the nation after the accident. it included these comments. >> there's a coincidence today. on this day, 390 years ago, the great explorer sir francis drake died aboard ship off the coast of panama. in his lifetime, the great frontiers were the oceans. and historian later today. died on it, and was buried in it. well today, we can say of the challenger crew, their dedication was like drake's complete. the crew of the space shuttle "challenger" honored us with the manner in which they lived their lives. we will never forget them nor the last time we saw them this
morning as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god. >> and all of president reagan's remarks and tributes to the crew by members of the house floor part of our special programming tonight on the 30th anniversary of space shuttle challenge err explosion. at 10:00 p.m. eastern. san francisco writer and radio host wanda sabir interviewed sonia williams about her recent book, "ward warrior." the museum of the african-american diaspora hosted this conversation about black journalism in history. >> so very happy to be presenting voices of freedom, black journalism in history and literature. i hope most of you know that we regret due to a family emergency, la shonda patrice
barnett was unable to be here tonight. we're thrilled to have sonia williams in conversation with wanda sabair. sonia williams is the author of "word warrior" richard durham, radio and freedom which draws on archives and family records, as well as interviews with family and colleagues like studs terkel and tone toni morrison. a star investigative reporter and editor for the pioneering black newspapers like "chicago defender" and "mohammed speaks." "word warrior" tells the story of a champion of african-american freedom, equality and justice during an epoch that forever changed a nation. sonia williams is a professor in the department of media, journalism and film at howard university and the winner of three george foster peabody
awards as a radio producer. her credits include "wade in the water" african-american sacred music tradition. telling it like it was, and jazz profiles. she'll be interviewed tonight by wanda sabir mpblt a senior writer for the "san francisco bay view newspaper." a radio host and writing professor, she was raised in san francisco and is a new orleans native. we do have copies of "word warrior" as well as ms. barnett's book jam on the vine that will be for sale after the program. and i know that sonia would be happy to sign copies of the book as well. so please join me in welcoming sonia williams and wanda sabir. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. i have a few preamble words before we get into the questions. author sonia williams poetic
rendering of race man richard durham is within itself a masterpiece. the combination of story telling and research from the opening pages of the delightful short 182 pages, adventure tale makes one want to know more about the man and his work. i think he tells a family member early on in his life they had a lot to accomplish and not a lot of time to get his work done. his time shows destination freedom, the finale which captured the author's attention when she was at the smithsonian institute is a show that is available to us also to listen to is an added bonus. the live broadcast now archived show that one's work, especially artistic work extends one's life beyond a temporal dimension. the shows broadcast so long ago addressed topics americans are still addressing today.
family, community and the black american place in a nation which often forgets the stories of men like knock-kneed man, the first to die for our democracy, or the blacks cinderella story, that of lena horne, whose step sisters were racism, prejudice and inequality. i listened in delight to these gems. another favorite was railroad to freedom, the story of gentle harriet tubman. richard durham was summer a word warrior. a soldier who used his pen as his sword. you mention in your book that he was a pragmatic optimist. what do you mean by that? >> good question. richard durham really was an optimist. he saw the whole idea that even though freedom, justice and equality were principles that had to be continually fought for, but he felt that once people came together and organized and consistently worked for those principles or towards those principles, that
it was attainable. that was his optimism. he was pragmatic that had you to work. it wasn't going to just come because we wanted or people needed it. it was something that had to be fought for and you could fight for it through your words. and through organization and action. >> i was going to ask you a little later on. i'm thinking this leads to people wonder well how do you get like that? who was his family? where did he come from? >> he was born in mississippi, he was born in mississippi in 1917. and his family was part of the great migration. they, they eventually moved from mississippi, rural mississippi. they were actually kind of unique. his father owned the farm that they lived on. and if you're looking at mississippi in the early 20th century, the number of black people own their own land in the south was minuscule. he was pretty unique in that
regard. and also both his father and his mother were dedicated educational advocates. they love to immediate, they love information and they love sharing it. they share that love with their children. they had eight children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. he comes out of that tradition. i say in the book, education was almost like a mantra in the durham family. that you were going to get educated and use that dedication to move forward. >> he's the most famous and that he was the most public figure within the family. but his siblings were pretty notable as well, right? >> his youngest brother, whose name is earl durham. he became a professor at the university of chicago. he claimed that his brother was the most famous. but they all were accomplished. his older sister became a supervisor at providence hospital. which was the all-black hospital
in chicago. his younger brother, caldwell, became an engineer and worked here in l.a. and he's living in l.a. today. his next oldest sister actually worked in the building that i teach in. at howard university. because she moved to washington, d.c. and worked at howard hospital as a supervisor in bacteriology. so she was really into science. another sister taught in the public school system in chicago. and so you know you had sibling who is may have not gone into the media and been as public. but they were accomplished. >> the book reminds me in this presentation of james bald win's "the price of a ticket" which begins with a ceremony, a funeral at the st. john the divine. tell bus your rhetorical choices and the drama and poetry which
begins most of the chapters and you can start with durham's many names, if not faces. >> richard durham was not born richard durham. he was born isadore durham. but he told his sister once that he really didn't like his birth name. they call them izzy, when he was growing up, or iz. by the time he became a teenager, when he started writing, he took on different pen names. he was verne durham for a while. people ask where did that come from? >> when he was about i think about 13, 14 somewhere in there, he joined a boxing club. he was going to become the next heavyweight boxer of the world. at least that's whey told everyone. there was a guy, a young kid who was on the boxing team. who was the best. he was the best boxer. his name was verne. verne patterson. so i think when he started writing he figured this guy is the best and i want to be the
best. that maybe i'll use this as my pen name. well something happened with that. because he wrote to langston hughes, who buy this point, we're talking about the 1930s, the mid 1930s. langston hughes was world-renowned at this point. he writes to him and sends langston hughes copies of his poems. and says hey can you please critique and let me know what you think. amazingly enough langston wrote him back. even though langston said i've been to paris and i went to hollywood and back to new york and then hollywood. and i've been carrying around all of these letters with me. but he finally sat down, read the poems and literally critiqued them in the margins and said here's what you can do to make them better. the other thing he said in his letter, langston hughes, he said verne, verne durham, are you a boy or a girl? i can't tell from your name.
so my conjecture is that richard durham looked at that and said i need to be more definitive about this. then he started using the name richard. his siblings said they thought it was because he was fascinated by king richard 1st, the english king known as the warrior king or richard the lionhearted. they think that's why he chose richard as the name he adopted. >> if you look at the book you'll notice at the end there are quite of few interviews. look how slender, you could read this in a couple of, maybe a full day or two days. but it's a good read, you want to read it again after you finish it, because it's so wonderful. so tell us about your research process and how you found out about this man.
i found out about him because i had the fortune to work for the smithsonian institution on a program called black radio, telling it like it was. it was a 13-part series for public radio. one of the shows he i was responsible for writing and producing was about blacks in radio during the '30s and '40s. so two of my colleagues who had worked with some of the durham's plays before i got to howard said well if you're going to do something about that period you're going to have to include richard durham's work on destination freedom. the series that aired on wmaq in chicago, still the nbc affiliate. and you have to include that. so when i listened to the tapes, i was blown away. that's what got me started on this the more research i did about this, not just destination freedom, the series, but about richard durham.
i was like why hasn't anything been written about this man. and most of the things that i did find about him, were about destination freedom and his radio accomplishments, but very little about what happened either before or after that point. so that's what led me on the path. and in terms of the choices, richard durham really was a poet. he started out in writing poetry. when he started writing. and he was really a good poet. it was trying to figure out how do i incorporate his poetry in the writing of the book? and so one of the ways was to start the early chapters with that because he, he really did talk about city life in mississippi. and then when they moved up to chicago, what that was like for the family and for him. >> he had other shows besides the concluding one. destination freedom.
i want you to tell our audience about some of the other shows, particularly those that had -- sort of inspired current shows. and some of the shows he worked on that continued until recently. >> he got into radio because he was a child of the depression. the depression hit, i think he was a preteen when depression actually hit. so by the time he was able to work, to help the family, one of the things he did was he applied to the wpa's illinois writers project. there were writers projects around the country. with the idea that writers, artists, could document what was happening in america during the depression. so he then works for the illinois writers project and that's how he gets into radio. because there was a radio
division in that project. where every single week these men and women would write script s for radio shows and they were dramas, that's how they get into it and he develops his skill when the writer's project ends. he decides i want to make a living as a radio writer, a script writer. he then applies to various programs. he applied to write for the lone ranger. and his family and friends said, are you crazy? are you crazy? you're a black man trying to write for this major series. at time when very few blacks worked in the media. radio may have been the most popular medium at that time. but you could count on very few hands the number of black american who is worked as writers and producers and directors. so he applied his skill was enough so that he was hired as a freelancer and he writes for the
"lone ranger" and another soap opera called "ma perkins." the thing is i guess even with my students, i have to keep saying that a lot of the soap a soap operas that you see has the video back in the '30s, '40s and '50s. he got into that and then eventually in the '40s he dropped his own all black soap opera that was unique for the time. >> and soap opera you probably recognize the cast. the head of the house was a physician and the wife, she was a stay-at-home mother and they had -- did they have three children in. >> they had three children. >> does that sound like a familiar show? huxtable, anyone? that is so amazing.
so, i don't know if they gave him any credit. >> no, they didn't. >> and actually that show, it was called here comes tomorrow. so durham wrote that in 1946, '47. so we're talking about, you know, going back in time. but yeah, that theme kind of carries forward to today. >> and then i thought it was really fascinating when you tell us through one of the other persons in the story that he wrote for why soap operas are called soap operas. could you tell us the name of the woman who he wrote for, she had a home office that was, i think it had a view of lake michigan. >> it did. >> and she -- there were like five soap operas that she was sort of managing writing for. >> her name was erna phillips and she was called the queen of the soaps. literally back in the '40s she started these soap operas that became so popular on radio that
they wanted more. so at one point she had four or five different soap operas, "general hospital", "one life to live." these were soaps that became so popular and the networks wanted more so that she had to write all of these scripts. but think about it. if you're writing for a daily or weekly show and it's one, that's massive enough. you have five or six that are on different networks at different times, you need help. you can't do that by yourself. so she hired writers to -- she called them dialoguers and they would take her concepts and then create the scripts and the actors would perform it. durham became one of her dialoguers. none of them got on-air credit but they were the ones who took her ideas