Chat with Helen Wang on Chinese Dream


Helen is a great person. She writes blog at Actually, she has two blogs. .One is Across the Pacific and the other is A Taste for Good Life. She seems doing similar thing as I am doing – to setup a bridge between China and the rest of the world. In her case, with America.

Helen is preparing her book about China – The Chinese Dream. Helen aims to profile the middle class of China. Our conversation started with the size of the middle class. We agreed that the middle class of China is not big, but it is almost 100% of who foreigners have access to. More importantly, this segment will grow to the majority of China (to 700 million according McKensy estimate). That is the significance of this group of people, and why it is a good idea to write a book about it.

Then we talked about the questions Americans concerns about China. I laughed where Helen talked about the little survey she did in on MySpace about the questions people have about China. They are exactly the same questions I receive every time I meet with first time visitors to China. To name a few of the FAQs:

  • Censorship
  • One Child Policy
  • Pollution
  • Communism
  • Human Rights

I laughed because these are the exact questions (and some in the exact order) the people in the Mayor’s delegation asked me during our dinner, and how the U.S. Congress Delegation asks. It seems the great way to tell foreigners’ knowledge about China is by checking whether they ask “censorship” as the first question. Why? Because if they have talked with someone from China, the chances are, they may already have asked this must-ask question.

Well. I would say there is nothing wrong to ask these questions. No offense. It is exactly the normal question to ask, but this reveals what is in the media in the U.S., because people will ask questions about what they see on TV.

We are the same. When we meet people in Japan, we ask about the text book, or ask about war for people from Iraq. It is just as natural as it is, but the problem is, there are much more than text book in Japanese life, or war in Iraq. In the Japan case, it is even out of the mind of almost everyone. That is the exactly the problem, just as censorship or human right is not the concern for most people in China.

Then, we talked a lot about my take to the following issue: one child policy, censorship, future of China, concerns, dreams, the moral standard in China, pollution, difference between U.S. and China, and my own story… (NOTE: Although I provided some links to the topics, my blog entries were written (maybe) long time ago, and my current thinking may change dramatically in the last few years.) It seems this article is too short for me to write everything we talked about. Maybe you can either wait for one year or two after Helen’s book comes out, or let me write more about these “sensitive” topics in the future.


P.S. Tomorrow, the National Public Radio will conduct a short interview with me on censorship. I hesitated and finally agreed, because I know the reporter long time ago. She interviewed me twice on the Bill Gates Murdered event and on my photo exhibition. I doubled checked to make sure I have enough time to talk, and the BBC’s interview situation does not happen. I am comfortable to talk about censorship but not comfortable for what BBC did for me – twice. Once broadcast 5 seconds out of my 30 minutes interview and the other time, cut one sentence out of my two page blog. Hope this time is better. Let me try.

3 thoughts on “Chat with Helen Wang on Chinese Dream

  1. The best book I have found on this is Tom Doctoroff’s “Billions: Marketing to the new Chinese consumer”. It is an absolute treasure-trove of insights about the mind of the Chinese consumer class. It is amazingly insightful based on my understanding of Cinese people, and I also have heard the same from many Chinese natives who have read the book. He estimates 100 million Chinese have enough money to buy more than the essentials; this will be 200 million by 2010.

    BTW, I would not recommend talking to BBC. Reporters do not care what you say — they have already decided what they want to be said, and they will try to trick you into making a comment that they can take out of context to claim you said it. Currently U.S. and Britain are in a propaganda campaign against China, and politics are very bad. BBC is not a friend of China, and not a friend of you. You have already seen you cannot trust them. Don’t take a risk.

  2. BTW, same with NPR. NPR is liberal, but both political parties in U.S. are cooperating on the propaganda campaign against China. The republicans publish articles about Chinese military, and the liberals (NPR) publish accusing China of censorship, pollution. Both parties publish articles claiming Chinese products are unsafe. The current time is the worst anti-China environment that has ever existed in the American press, and NPR is NOT being unbiased. I don’t know why you would want to let them use your words against you.

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