News Thinking

For the past few years, I have been troubled by the fact that I read a lot of news, but am not able to deeply process or retain the intelligence. I have been reading passively, letting the media shape my mind. Enough of that. So from now on, I will periodically pick out interesting news, and write down my reflections and analysis. Let's call it the "News Thinking" series.  This habit should help me read proactively, think deeply, and communicate wisely.

I asked some people I respected how they read news. One said, "I look for the trends, the emerging issues, the fundamental shifts." Another said, "I look at who did what to whom --- the politics." Both are great perspectives. How do you read news? What questions do you have in your mind while reading news?

So let the News Thinking start today.

One piece really caught my eyes: A Chinese coal mine supervisor in Zambia was killed by local workers demanding higher wages.

First, imperialist symptom is knocking on China's door. I still believe that China does not harbor imperial ambition at this point. But China's national interests and commercial footprint have extended so widely that it's impossible for China not to fall into imperial dilemma.

Second, China is not fully prepared, from top to bottom, to face this new landscape. How to operate in other countries? How to treat foreigners in China? There is no high-level national strategy, nor is there awareness among the individuals facing the daily interactions.

Finally, China will face a long and steep learning curve. As China learns and finds strategies, it will make decisions that would determine whether China is a force of peace and enlightenment for all sentient beings, or the return of an old empire. I believe the Chinese students overseas today will play a crucial role in making China a truly responsible global player.


Anonymous said...

Its a good article but I still have my reservations concerning China not having imperial ambitions. Maybe not from China's point of view but from other neighboring countries the story is different. Not that it is a bad thing given Asia in general needs a superpower in its own region to balance western imperialism. But Chinese who studied outside China would definitely be the driving force for China in the 21st century. Nice article :)

Anonymous said...

China is not an imperialist power(in the mold of western powers) YET but it damn sure does have imperial ambitions that its acting on. You seem to be ignoring the meteoric rise of the chinese military, its ever increasing economic ambitions(see africa), etc.

Unknown said...

Intriguing post, Zilong, as always. The eloquence and brevity in your writing is perhaps a reflection of your clear thinking.

I remember talking about what one might call an increasingly anti-intellectual approach/trend to news reading. Or, with the explosion of media serving to disseminate information to an exceptionally large audience, maybe this relates to the way in which we understand the world (and our place in it) in general. I see it in me too – I'm in too many places to even give an article in The Economist (a publication I'm growing increasingly critical of) the attention it deserves.

A question I ask myself is why I read the news at all; why stay up to date? Why know what's happening in Syria? Amongst competing uses of my time, why is that important?

And I think that that motivation—the why—is important in trying to understanding how we chose to read the news.

As for China's imperialistic tendencies, I can't say much, except I think you're right that as China finds itself with more and more influence (and, consequently, power) in the world, the more it's having to navigate through previously uncharted waters; the more it's finding its presence in all manner of places (both figuratively and literally) scrutinized internationally.

With great power comes... spiderman.

Finally, I couldn't agree with your more re: international students. I think they're a VERY important means of both cultural empire-building AND adjustment at the international level. China is inching closer to becoming a "truly responsible global player" (as you call it), and its greatest challenges, I think, will be cultural.

Enjoyed your post!

matt yu said...

Before your post, I have never even thought about the "passive reading" as you said. What causes passive reading is that information are pouring at us and we have no place to hide(you unlock your phone and there are several pop-ups about "breaking news"). But why should we disregard passive reading? I think there are differences between leisure reading (passive reading)and serious reading. Leisure reading serves as a way of relax and the construction of inspiration pool. Serious reading is like what you said, is more orientated by your interests. So I think we need both of them because we can not be serious all the time:) Last, I have a good way to make passive reading a little less passive for your consideration. You can save every articles that you have read. And they will gradually become a huge private information data base where you can get back to them and search for them.
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday :)
Enjoyed your post as always.