Brian Linden: Surprising Optimism After U.S. Visit and Need for a More Balanced Understanding of China
With the eyes of an outsider, I returned to the US last month to participate in my son’s graduation from the University of Wisconsin. For nearly three years, I had been away from the US, interacting with my home via Skype calls and online media. I was preparing for a country in shambles, full of class and ethnic divisions. Throughout our five weeks in the US, which included nearly 4,000 miles of back roads from Chicago to San Francisco, I was re-charmed by the friendliness and inclusiveness of the American people. Even with the divisions that seem to be the major news stories I see coming across the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by the optimism and acceptance of my home country.
There are major parallels with how the world sees China. My adopted country is full of positive stories and miraculous changes. I am proud to be a part of this nation that has lifted so many people out of poverty and continues to provide a safe and stable platform for its citizens to optimistically pursue their dreams. Human rights and pollution, while still concerns, should not be the only narratives through which we understand this great country.
If I believed the news I receive daily via the American media, I would never have ventured back to the States. I encourage those who would like to come to China to look beyond the limited accounts of this country presented by that same media.
We hosted US Ambassador Branstad here at the Centre last week. I was honored to interact with a man who sees the positives of China while acknowledging that progress in certain areas may still happen in the near future. As a resident of China off-and-on since 1984, I am confident that promising changes will continue to occur in this country.
I am proud to be an American and equally proud to be a resident and heartfelt fan of China. There is no conflict in holding said feelings. The relationship between our two countries is so important. Approaching this relationship with as few biases and preconceived impressions will lead to more mutual respect and friendship. This mission forms the foundation of all our efforts here in rural Yunnan. We encourage all of you to venture beyond your reservations and fears and experience China with us in the near future.
This post was written by Brian Linden.