US Embassy - Beijing
Our first stop on our second full day in China was at the US embassy.
I’ve rarely felt as privileged as I did when I stood outside and watched 500 Chinese people waited in lines with visa applications.
Prior to arriving at the embassy, we’d been given strict guidelines to bring out passports. We’d even had to return to the hotel because one person forgot there’s.
Instead, we bypassed the extremely long lines and walked directly into the embassy through a side security entrance. Inside we were run through a metal detector, but not once were our passports checked.
I was the first student delegate inside and was able to speak to our host David, who happened to be a fellow ISU alum!
He and I chatted about ISU, DC and Iowa for several minutes until everyone else arrived. He shared that the Chinese ambassador (aka Governor Terry Branstad) loves to talk about Iowa, especially with David; and that David was headed to a lunch meeting with the ambassador right after his meeting with us!
Our second stop was lunch with the former editor-in-chief of the China Daily, Zhu Yinghuang. We would learn later that he is also the founding father of the paper’s online edition.
This was a delightful lunch, especially because Mr. Zhu was an eloquent speaker who has decades of experience with Chinese media. Listening to his perspectives helped me further grasp the Chinese understanding about the role of journalism.
After lunch, we took our shortest bus ride of the trip down the street to the China Daily offices.
Best meeting ever!
After working on a project analyzing China for a semester, I was quite familiar with China Daily’s work. Actually, going and speaking with their reporters was amazing!
Again, it was fascinating to speak with Chinese journalists who work within the state-run platform about covering potentially controversial topics.
One of my biggest takeaways from both meetings was that we cannot use Western definitions of journalism and the role of the media to understand Chinese media. The Chinese understanding of journalism’s purpose is very different than the American understanding (even in our tumultuous climate where opposite ends of the political spectrum disagree about the media).
We learned that the China Daily English addition is specifically tailored to target a foreign audience – which makes sense because the majority of Chinese people do not speak English – but this goes beyond translating Chinese articles to English. Instead, the English addition of the China Daily is written for English speakers. Additionally, we learned that the articles in the print addition differ from the online addition and in essence are different papers.
The China Daily meeting blew my mind in ways I’m still struggling to put on paper. It was an incredible experience and one that I would highly recommend if you are ever given the chance to visit their offices in Beijing.
Second Alum of the Day!
Our final stop of the day was at Caixin Media. Another media group based out of China that focuses on economic and financial news.
At Caixin I met an American University alum and learned more about how non-state funded Chinese publications function under strict regulations. It was great to see how other AU students are using their degrees.
Dinner with Mr. Wong
Upon returning to the hotel, we were treated to a lovely dinner with Alan Wong, the executive director of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (our sponsor organization). The discussion was lively and informative.
Even as I almost nodded off in my vegetarian paella, I asked him about Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty back to China and if he could compare and contrast with Taiwan. His insight was most insightful.
Side note about this dinner: I was asked about my allergies (i.e. nuts) and then given a special dessert nut free! This was awesome because at most fancy restaurants I can never eat dessert because for some reason people think nuts are fancy. [For the record, they’re not.]
But I appreciated the restaurant’s care and forethought in providing me safe and delicious food.
Next post: Climbing the Great Wall!
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.