A renowned U.S. economist blamed the structure of the U.S. media industry on Sunday for the limited access of young Americans in understanding the real China.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Dr. John Rutledge, a leading economist who has advised several U. S. presidents, said it would be "a shame" if the disturbances around the Beijing Olympics hid the true value of the story of the growth in China.
"It (2008 Beijing Olympics) is one of the best opportunity for people in Europe and America to learn more about China. I fear there are people taking that advantage to make news," he said on the sidelines of the two-day Boao Forum for Asia in this tropical town in southern China's Hainan Province.
Since late March when China launched the longest-ever Olympic torch relay scheduled to last 130 days and cover 137,000 kilometers, a handful of Tibet separatists and protestors have tried to disrupt the event and snatch the torch. Many foreign media organizations have taken up the issue as good fodder.
Citing U.S. television shows as an example, Rutledge, a visiting professor at Beijing's Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained it was the commercial pressure in the media that forced producers to focus on negative information. "If I can do something to frighten you, you will watch my show. So almost all of the American television shows are designed to keep the viewers afraid."
As China has maintained a double-digit economic growth for five consecutive years and elevated its gross domestic product (GDP) to 24.953 trillion yuan (about 3.56 trillion U.S. dollars) last year, the world has responded with mixed feelings.
Some hailed the economy solely responsible for 35 percent of the growth of the entire global economy last year, hailing it as "a new powerful engine". Others regarded it more of a potential menace.
"The growth is very good. The resource conflict between old economies and the emerging economies is real," Rutledge said. "The relationship and friendship will depend on information flow."
An "unhealthy situation" concerning the economy, however, was that young people in China were "very friendly and knowledgeable" about America. In contrast, young people in America didn't know much about China.
"For 50 years, our communication was almost closed. In recent years in America, the only stories people saw about China were negative stories," Rutledge said.
The economist maintained it was very important for people to "do everything possible" to build a pipeline of information between these countries, because close friends would talk about their problems and put their resources together. "If you are strangers, and then you have a conflict, you fight with each other."
Rutledge stressed the move was especially crucial for the younger generation as they would be the future leaders.
He pointed out that policies of the U.S. government could be very unstable in the short term as they very much reflected the short-term emotions of media. "To sell newspapers or TV shows, the media are very much listening to the emotions of the people."
Professor Kenneth Morgan of the University of Western Australia echoed Rutledge by saying the world should open its mind to understand the transition China had made. "China is a modern country. It's not a country to be feared."