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Transcriber: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez
Helen Walters: Huang, it's so good to see you.
Thank you for joining us. How's your 2020 been?
Huang Hung: My 2020 started totally normal.
In January, I went to Paris,
did my interview for the fashion week there,
came back to Beijing on January 22nd,
and finding things a little bit tense
because there were a lot of rumors.
Having lived through SARS,
I wasn't that concerned.
And on the 23rd, I had a friend of mine from New York come to my house
who had a flu,
and we had dinner together,
and another friend who came,
who left the next day for Australia for vacation on an airplane.
So we were not taking this terribly seriously
until there was a lockdown.
HW: And we've seen that echo around the world.
I think still some people find it hard to understand the magnitude
of some of the measures that China took.
I mean -- what else are we missing about China's response in all of this?
HH: You know, historically,
we're just two very different countries
in terms of culture and history.
I mean, these are two completely different human experiences for its people.
So, for China,
when the lockdown happens,
people are OK.
People are OK with it,
because they think that's what a good parent should do.
You know, if a kid gets sick,
you put him in the other room,
and you lock him up and make sure that the other kids don't get sick.
And they expect that out of the government.
But when it is outside of China, from America, it becomes a huge issue
of the right political thing to do
and whether it's infringing on personal freedom.
So the issues that you have to deal with in a democratic society
are issues that one does not have to deal with in China.
I have to say that there's a word in Chinese
that doesn't exist in any other language,
and the word is called "guāi."
It is what you call a kid
who listens to his or her parents.
So I think, as a people, we are very "guāi."
We have this sort of authoritarian figure
that Chinese always look up to,
and they do expect the government to actually take the actions,
and they will deal with it.
However much suffering there is,
they feel that, OK, if big brother says that this has to be done,
then it must be done.
And that really defines China as a separate mentality,
Chinese has a separate mentality,
as, say, people in Europe and America.
HW: That sense of collective responsibility
sometimes feels a little absent from this culture.
At the same time, there are, I think, valid concerns
around surveillance and data privacy, things like that.
What is the balance here,
and what is the right trade-off between surveillance and freedom?
HH: I think in the internet age,
it is somewhere between China and the US.
I think when you take individual freedom
versus collective safety,
there has to be a balance somewhere there.
With surveillance, the head of Baidu, Robin Li, once said
the Chinese people are quite willing to give up certain individual rights
in exchange for convenience.
Actually, he was completely criticized on Chinese social media,
but I think he is right.
Chinese people are willing to give up certain rights.
For example, we have ...
Chinese mostly are very proud of the payment system we have,
which is you can go anywhere just with your iPhone
and pay for everything,
and all they do is face-scan.
I think that probably freaks Americans out.
You know, China right now, we're still under semi-lockdown,
so if you go anywhere, there's an app where you scan
and you input your mobile phone number,
and the app will tell the guard at the entrance of the mall, for example,
where you have been for the past 14 days.
Now, when I told that to an American,
she was horrified,
and she thought it was such an invasion of privacy.
On the other hand,
as someone who is Chinese
and has lived in China for the past 20 years,
although I understand that American mentality,
I still find I'm Chinese enough to think, "I don't mind this,
and I am better, I feel safer entering the mall
because everybody has been scanned,"
whereas, I think individual freedom as an abstract concept
in a pandemic like this
is actually really meaningless.
So I think the West really needs to move a step towards the East
and to think about the collective as a whole
rather than only think about oneself as an individual.
HW: The rise of antagonistic rhetoric between the US and China
is obviously troubling,
and the thing is, the countries are interlinked
whether people understand global supply chains or not.
Where do you think we head next?
HH: You know, this is the most horrifying thing that came out of this,
the kind of nationalistic sentiments on both sides in this pandemic.
Because I'm an optimist,
I think what will come out of this
is that both sides will realize that this is a fight
that the entire human race has to do together and not apart.
Despite the rhetoric,
the global economy has grown to such an integration
that decoupling will be extremely costly and painful
for both the United States and China.
HW: It's also been interesting to me
to see the criticism that China has received quite vocally.
For instance, they've been criticized for downplaying the death toll,
arguably,
also for trying to demonize Dr. Li,
the Wuhan doctor who first raised the alarm about the coronavirus.
I just saw a report in "The New York Times"
that Weibo users have been posting repeatedly on the last post of Dr. Li
and using this as kind of a living memorial to him,
chatting to him.
There's something like 870,000 comments and growing
on that last post.
Do you see a change in the media?
Do you see a change in the approach to Chinese leadership
that actually could lead to China swinging perhaps more to the center,
just as perhaps America needs to swing more towards a Chinese model?
HH: Unfortunately, not really,
because I think there is a way
between authoritarian governments and its people to communicate.
The night that Dr. Li died,
when it was announced that he died,
the Chinese social media just blew up.
Even though he was unjustly treated as a whistleblower,
he still went to work in the hospital
and tried to save lives as a doctor,
and then he died
because he contracted the disease.
So there was anger, frustration,
and all of that came out
in kind of commemorating a figure
that they feel that the government had wronged.
The verdict
and sort of the official voice on:
"Who is Dr. Li? Is he a good guy or a bad guy?"
completely changed 180 degrees.
He went from a doctor who misbehaved
to the hero who warned the people.
So under authoritarian government,
they still are very aware of public opinion,
but, on the other hand,
when people complain and when they commemorate Dr. Li,
do they really want to change the system?
And my answer is no,
because they don't like that particular decision,
but they don't want to change the system.
And one of the reasons is because
they have never, ever known another system.
This is the system they know how to work.
HW: What is wok-throwing, Huang?
HH: Oh, wok-throwing is when you blame somebody else.
Basically, someone who is responsible in a slang Chinese
is someone who carries a black wok.
You are made to be the scapegoat for something that is bad.
So basically, Trump started calling it the "Chinese virus,"
the "Wuhan virus,"
and trying to blame the entire coronavirus pandemic
on the Chinese.
And then the Chinese, I think, threw the wok back at the Americans.
So it was a very funny joke on Chinese social media,
that wok-throwing.
There's a wok-throwing gymnastics aerobics exercise video that went viral.
HW: But tell us, Huang:
You're also doing dances on TikTok, right?
HH: Oh, of course.
I'm doing a lot of wok-throwing aerobics on TikTok.
HW: I mean, a potential silver lining of all of this is that it has laid bare
some of the inequities, inequalities in the system,
some of the broken structures that we have,
and if we're smart, we can rebuild better.
HH: Yes. I think one of the silver linings of this pandemic
is that we do realize
that the human race has to do something together
rather than to be distinguished by our race, by the color of our skin
or by our nationality;
that this virus obviously is not discriminating against anyone,
whether you are rich or poor,
important or not important
or whatever skin color or nationality you are.
So it is a time to be together,
rather than to try to pull the world apart
and crawl back to our own nationalistic shells.
HW: It's a beautiful sentiment.
Huang Hung, thank you so much for joining us from Beijing.
Stay well, please.
HH: Thank you, Helen, and you stay well as well.
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How American and Chinese values shaped the coronavirus response | Huang Hung

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林宜悉 2020 年 7 月 3 日 に公開
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