China’s tech innovation will change the world and correct Western bias
Published: Jul 12, 2022 09:36 PM
Photo shows China's new maglev transportation system in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. It is currently the world's fastest ground vehicle. Photo: cnsphoto

Photo shows China's new maglev transportation system in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. It is currently the world's fastest ground vehicle. Photo: cnsphoto

Editor's Note:   

For the Chinese people, the past decade has been epic and inspirational. The country, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Xi Jinping at its core, has made great endeavors in boosting its economy, deepening reforms, improving the rights of its people and acting as a responsible power globally.

Thomas Weir Pauken II (Pauken II), a Beijing-based commentator on Asia-Pacific affairs, and one of the American guests who were invited to the opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Olympic Games, said that many Westerners don't know the real China, but after he landed in the country about a decade ago, he feels at home now. Pauken II shared with the Global Times (GT) his thoughts on great changes in China that he has witnessed.

This is the 13th article of the series about this special decade. 

GT: Can you remember the day you landed in China? Compared with the first time you came here a decade ago, what do you think is the greatest change that has taken place in China? 

Pauken II:
was nervous on the first day. I grew up as an American, so I was accustomed to hearing a lot of bad news about China. What happened was that I was offered a job here in China. At the time, I wanted to start my life all over again, so I took up a job. My first job in China was working for CRI (China Radio International) as a copy-editor. I was 35-years-old when I first arrived in October 2010. It took me some time to adjust to China, but after getting used to the country I felt much more at home here. 

At the moment, the great change is the impact of COVID. Hopefully the Chinese government can demonstrate more empathy for foreigners and hopefully we move around with more freedom of movement, go places and visit our families back in our home countries. 

On something positive, I would say the great change is the scientific and urban development of the country. It's certainly much more developed than when I first came here in 2010. For example, in Beijing, there are many more luxury cars in the country. When I first came to the country, the cars were more average and ordinary. 

I have written a book on Shenzhen, called Shenzhen Rising, published by Foreign Language Press based here in Beijing, one of China's largest book publishers. The book will go on sale this October. Regarding technological issues, China has promoted an innovation culture. There are so many technological changes and innovations that are coming out of Shenzhen and many other parts of China. 

It's not just about the technological issues, but also about tourism and history in China and how the nation has developed from basically a largely rural society to become more modernized. I first met my wife here in China and we met each other in Beijing but she had come from a small rural village in Fufeng in western China's Shaanxi Province, about 100-km southwest of the provincial capital - Xi'an. When I first visited her hometown it was a small farming village but now it's transformed into a boomtown with over 100,000 moving there and it's great. 

Additionally, I have a chapter in Shenzhen Rising about some of the major companies, Tencent, Ping An, DJI drones, and Huawei as well. 

GT: Did you expect these changes when you first came? 

Pauken II:
 I did know that there would be a lot of dramatic changes in the country. But in recent years, let's take a closer look 5G and 6G wireless networks and that's going to make some major differences for our world. You're going to have more innovations in China, such as in artificial intelligence and automated manufacturing. And this is going to be a dramatic change to our world in the next few years ahead. 

5G and 6G development is going to be very transformational in China and our world at large. The European and American governments are pushing against it, but they are not even close to the development in 5G and 6G that China has already achieved. Meanwhile, I anticipate that eventually when the economic situation gets worse worldwide, which may take one or two years or even longer, countries will start to realize that in order to recover and rebound their respective economies, as well as to upgrade their science and technology innovations, they will have to turn back to China and find better ways to cooperate with Beijing. 

But right now, that's not happening. But sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize that you need to make a dramatic change. For the West, maybe they have to suffer more before Westerners will realize that they're going to need China's help. And it's better to cooperate rather than to be confrontational. 

GT: There are quite some bias and accusations against the Chinese political system among some Western politicians and media outlets. You've been here for over a decade. What do you think of China's governance? 

Pauken II:
China has its own type of governance. I came here because of China's reforms and opening-up. I did know that there's difference between the Chinese government and the US, the country I came from. But the economy here is doing better than most other countries around the world. 

Every country and government has their own differences and how they treat their own citizens. China is different and in how it conducts its diplomacy and boosting prosperity. Meanwhile, I don't focus too much over whether one country has more democracy than another and if one country does better with a democracy. I'm more concerned with economic issues and diplomacy and how geopolitics impacts business trends and how that affects people's livelihoods. 

GT: In terms of governance, do you think there may be something in China that is worthy of learning from by the US or other Western countries? 

Pauken II:
 Stability. You don't have the crime problem in China that you have in many Western countries. There's a rule-based society here. I don't have to worry so much about walking down the street and thinking I might get mugged or assaulted. Of course, every country has crime and its problems. But I would say overall, the stability here is pretty good. 

GT: In previous interview, you said that "The media in the West is lying. They have depicted China as a horrible, terrible country." Why do they lie about China? Do you think the situation might change in the future? 

Pauken II:
The anti-China sentiment largely stems from simple ignorance. Many Westerners don't know the real China. In schools, like I was in the US, I learned scary stories about China, such as about the Cultural Revolution. We were taught that China was an evil country and that if you visit there, you could be arrested and sent to re-education camps and forced to read Mao's Red Book. So until I was about 25, I thought this was China so I concluded it was a nightmare country. 

But I lived and worked in South Korea from 2001 to 2007 and met many South Korean business people. They told me they loved visiting China and in 2005, I met a British reporter working for the Korea Times, an English-language newspaper. He invited me for beers on a weekend and he told me stories about working in China and for the Chinese media and he loved it. So I went ahead and visited China for the first time and visited Shanghai for a weekend trip. I discovered the Chinese were really cool people. I had an amazing visit. And after that time, I became more interested in China and finally moved there in 2010. 

I don't regret my move and feel happy to be here. And in regards to the media lying, well many reporters don't bother interviewing ordinary people in China. They just want to interview officials and super-rich businesspeople, so they remain ignorant of the real China. When there's a global economic downturn, Westerners will see China's economy as doing better and get curious. They might even move to China a few years later in search of more opportunities. And when China's economy stays strong while many other countries are struggling, they will see China acting cooperative and helpful, they will begin to see a more positive side to China and they will embrace the country.