Friday, October 16, 2009

Victor Navasky Surprised by China

The website of CJR Chinese

Victor Navasky, the Director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University and chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, recently talked with me about his trip to China last year.

Navasky went to China to celebrate the launch of the Chinese edition of the CJR, which was his first visit to the country.

While driving into Beijing, Navasky says he got the sense of a modern city filled with glass buildings, which “struck me as more modern than New York City.”

The next day, he discovered that just a couple of blocks away from the very modern city where his hotel was located, was the Forbidden City. Then he got a chance to visit the Great Wall, and saw pictures of poverty on the outskirts of Beijing. “It is the contrast that sums up the society,” Navasky says.

Besides the modernity and sharp contrasts in Beijing, Navasky says he was also surprised by two political phenomena. He had assumed that Chinese people would view America as the enemy. “But what I left with was the impression that Japan was still the enemy,” he says. During last year’s trip, he also visited the Nanjing Massacre Museum. “It is as powerful as the Yad Veshem, the Israeli museum of the Holocaust,” he says. “I would hate to be a Japanese person going through there.”

The second surprise had to do with mainlanders’ attitudes toward Taiwan. “I just assumed that the attitude towards Taiwan would be like the Miami Cubans’ attitude toward Castro’s Cuba, that they want nothing to do with it, that it is an illegal, undesirable society,” Navasky says. Once he was in China, he soon realized that was not the case. Instead, he said he saw a very active exchange, cultural and personal, between Taiwan and mainland China, with political disagreements.

Navasky, 77, is also the publisher emeritus of The Nation, for which he served as an editor and publisher for many years.

See the full article on
China Digital Times.