Wang Wen Visits Harvard

In November 2012, Wang Wen, an opinion editor at the Global Times, PhD candidate at Peking University and a frequent commentator on international relations, visited the United States.

He wrote up his observations in a series of dispatches published in the Global Times newspaper. One piece was written after he spoke at Harvard University about political governance in the microblog era. His first observation was that Harvard was much smaller than he had imagined. But what really disappointed him was what he felt was a conspicuous lack of Chinese voices in the field of China Studies in the West. Wang’s article noted that none of the six lectures on Chinese topics scheduled at Harvard for that month was to be given by a speaker from the Mainland, even though officials and diplomats from Singapore, Korea and India were among those who had spoken there on Asian issues in the past.

Based on conversations with Chinese students he met there, Wang observed that when talented Chinese academics go overseas, they tend to embrace Western perspectives on China, fall out of touch with mainland realities and thus fail to present a more confident and genuine Chinese perspective. A translated version of Wang’s essay that subsequently ran in the English-language version of Global Times concludes:

The real gap is in the power of discourse. In a global information war, it seems China have [sic] abandoned its fronts, and surrendered its fortresses.