East West question | Deng Jianguo: under the great changes, why does the exchange of Chinese and Western Civilizations “go to the frontier to seek communication”?

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(East West question) Deng Jianguo: under the great changes, why did the exchange of Chinese and Western Civilizations “go to the frontier to seek communication”

China News Agency, Shanghai, November 1 – question: under the great changes, why do Chinese and Western civilization exchanges “go to the frontier to seek communication”

— an exclusive interview with Deng Jianguo, Professor of School of Journalism and director of Department of communication, Fudan University

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why is it particularly difficult for China and the west, which have a long history of communication, to break through the “communication barrier”? Is the ever-changing modern media technology a shackle or an opportunity for China and the west to “understand each other”? How should we view the collision of eastern and Western civilizations behind the appearance of communication

Deng Jianguo, Professor of the school of Journalism and director of the Department of communication of Fudan University, said in an exclusive interview with the China News Agency “East West question” a few days ago that throughout history, the “smooth” exchanges between China and the West are far more than “poor”. Behind the appearance of communication is the multiple turns of the flow of eastern and Western civilizations, and its motivation is the internal driving force of mutual hope to learn from each other

East West question | Deng Jianguo: under the great changes, why does the exchange of Chinese and Western Civilizations “go to the frontier to seek communication”?

now the interview is summarized as follows:

China News Agency reporter: the civilization exchange between China and the West has a history of more than 1000 years. Is “poor” normal

Deng Jianguo: looking back at history, the exchanges between China and the West have not always been “sluggish”. As early as the 13th century, Italian businessman Marco Polo brought the picture of Chinese civilization back to the West. His description of the prosperity of Chinese commercial ports and big cities in the early Yuan Dynasty formed the background of the western “Chinese imagination” for a long time

from 1405, Zheng He went to the west to actively spread Chinese culture and had a far-reaching impact. The Asian and African countries he traveled through were amazed by the majesty of the ships, the abundance of people, the cleverness of talents and skills of the Ming fleet, and the specific, meticulous and orderly etiquette culture of the Ming Dynasty. These far better than the local material and civilization made the countries along the route yearn for China in the Ming Dynasty, and took the initiative to send envoys to learn and emulate the advanced culture, technology and even system of the Ming Dynasty, which promoted their own development

with the opening of new routes, a large number of European businessmen and missionaries came to China in the 16th and 17th centuries and brought back what they saw and heard in China and even Sinological classics to the West. One of the more representative is Ricci, an Italian missionary. He is proficient in Chinese, translates the four books into Latin, and introduces China in detail in his works, which makes the European people more positive and optimistic about China

at that time, the West had always admired and yearned for Chinese civilization, and Europe even formed a “China fever” for nearly a century in the 18th century. From the royal family to the common people, there is a heated discussion about Chinese opera, porcelain, gardens, customs and culture

more importantly, Chinese traditional Confucianism, Taoism and other thoughts, as well as the picture of a civilized, stable and prosperous country, are yearned for by Europe, which has experienced the dark middle ages and continuous wars and is eager to find the export of a new political system. Voltaire was keen to praise Chinese morality and law and regarded Confucius as an “interpreter” of “rationality” and “wisdom”. He borrowed the ideology and culture of China and other Eastern countries, expanded his vision, and gradually formed his enlightenment ideological system

therefore, before modern times, China’s splendid civilization had been exported to the West. Although it was a trickle limited by the communication tools and geographical space at that time, on the whole, the Chinese civilization had a far-reaching impact on the western world

East West question | Deng Jianguo: under the great changes, why does the exchange of Chinese and Western Civilizations “go to the frontier to seek communication”?(1)

China News Agency reporter: what factors have led to the “poor communication” between China and the West since modern times

Deng Jianguo: the most fundamental reason is that since the 18th century, there has been a great distinction between Chinese and western social development. At that time, China was still in the slow development mode of agricultural society, while the West experienced the Renaissance, the great development of natural science further gave birth to the industrial revolution and greatly improved the productivity. On the one hand, with the rapid development of social economy and ideological and cultural progress, the modern production system, system and law system began to be gradually established; On the other hand, overproduction makes its domestic market oversupply. At this time, according to the “Chinese imagination” formed in the past, the West began to desire to establish trade relations with large countries far away in the East

this formed a “big collision” that overturned the imagination of modern Chinese and Western civilizations. In 1793, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, a delegation of more than 800 people led by the British Macartney came to China to negotiate trade and trade, which was rejected by Emperor Qianlong. After experiencing the “kneeling dispute”, he also saw the real China that lagged behind the west at that time

the British came to China to seek trade opportunities, which was an opportunity for in-depth exchanges between China and the west, but because there was a great difference in ideas and social development between China and the west, they bounced apart after the collision. Since then, Britain began the opium trade with China, which eventually led to the Opium War, and China began to enter the historical period of saving the nation from subjugation and survival. Because the urgency of “saving the nation” is far greater than the revival and Enlightenment of culture, the Chinese began to learn western advanced ideas and technologies to quickly change the backward China. At this time, the ideas of “learning from foreigners and mastering skills to control foreigners” became the mainstream. As a result, the flow of information between China and the West has undergone a complete turn

in the same period, starting with the invention of the telegraph, modern media technology appeared in the west, supporting its ubiquitous colonial rule and value output, which made the West further control the discourse power of international communication since modern times

therefore, it can also be said that the “communication between China and the west” is not always smooth, but the flow of information has changed. From the perspective of China, the transition from “transmitter” to “receiver” is caused by the distinction between Chinese and western modern economic and social development. In the Western perspective, after the “imaginary China” was broken, China has become a “natural” passive “audience” in terms of communication technology and modern civilization for a long time

China News Agency reporter: at present, China’s economy has risen. With the revival of culture and the return of cultural self-confidence, China’s mobile Internet is becoming more and more developed. What is the new trend of Sino Western exchanges

Deng Jianguo: first of all, we must realize that today the west is still a strong voice, and the global political and economic structure has not fundamentally changed. In addition, China’s developed mobile Internet is mostly reflected in applications such as consumption and services, and the global utilization rate of the three major social media in the United States is still very dominant

on the other hand, a country’s economic hard power can affect its soft power. The rising China represents the revival of Chinese civilization different from the West. Cultural contact between China and the west is inevitable, but its flow direction will show a two-way trend. “How to do” is more important than “how to say” in the smaller and smaller “global village”

therefore, I believe that China should take both action and communication. For example, China has achieved the largest scale of poverty alleviation in human history. China has fulfilled its commitment to “open the door wider and wider” through various paths. China has effectively controlled the epidemic and become the world’s only major economy with positive economic growth in 2020. These actions and facts are obvious to the world, and can flow to the west through the infrastructure and content of communication. As long as a country’s words and deeds are consistent, its credibility will naturally be established and won global recognition

East West question | Deng Jianguo: under the great changes, why does the exchange of Chinese and Western Civilizations “go to the frontier to seek communication”?(2)

China News Agency reporter: facing the current situation of Sino Western exchanges, what can China take the initiative to do in international communication

Deng Jianguo: on the one hand, it is a change in macro ideas. China should open itself more fully and let the West know more about concrete China

this “opening” includes a new understanding of what information can lead to identity. There is a concept of “knowledge bias” in persuasion theory, that is, when the public decides whether to trust a speaker, it will compare the content of his speech with the identity of the speaker (and its underlying interests). Therefore, Chinese self-criticism and criticism of foreigners have completely different effects on their own credibility; Secondly, China’s external communication should show more real people and the country they constitute. Countries with many advantages but some disadvantages will appear more real, friendly and attractive

on the other hand, we should “seek common ground” rather than emphasize differences in international communication. The heterogeneity of civilization may result from the isolation and difference of geographical environment, but when it comes to the audience’s individual desire for information, it is roughly the same in both East and West. This “identity” is the nature that Chinese and Western audiences can understand each other as “people”

although the current media forms are diversified, it is still the key to find suitable information for different media to spread. Non fiction writing is a genre other than hard news. It tells ordinary people’s stories to ordinary people, uses a large number of good-looking film narrative techniques, and connects Chinese and Western audiences at the sexual level of people, so as to make them empathy and understand each other. Facts have proved that both Chinese and Western audiences are interested in this kind of human and immersive news genre

in addition to making the audience susceptible in details, a civilization should also be attractive in values. The combination of the two has strong communication power

this requires that the values based on civilization should be further divorced from its concrete consciousness and have more universality and even abstraction. The concept it conveys can be actively interpreted by different people all over the world from different angles and transformed into “self ideal”. For Western audiences, this is different from the fragile “Chinese imagination” constructed in the era of geographical isolation. This recognition is the unity of three groups of tension between a country’s words and deeds, reality and ideal, ancient and today in the era of developed media, and has the charm of idealism based on authenticity. (end)

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Deng Jianguo, Professor, doctoral advisor, director of communication department and doctor of communication, School of journalism, Fudan University, was once a reporter and editor of Shanghai Daily. Visiting scholar of Columbia University School of international and public affairs and School of journalism, judge of China News Award network news and international news, Shanghai Shuguang scholar, sixhtone senior consultant, etc. His research fields include communication theory, Chinese and foreign communication ideas, media integration, etc. He has published more than 60 Chinese and English papers in domestic and foreign academic journals, published two monographs, translated many works, and completed two national social science projects