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November 21, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright November 21, 2008 Jeffrey Wasserstrom. Used by permission.


As regular readers of this blog already know, I recently crossed the Pacific to take part in the Beijing Forum, a fascinating if sometimes hard to figure out event that was valuable in part simply because of how many different countries were represented by at least one presenter. How often, after all, does an American academic find himself or herself in a room where there is an exchange of opinions going on between a scholar based in Moscow and a scholar based in Cairo, or hears an administrator from a university in Nairobi respond to comments his counterparts from Sri Lankan and Australian institutions have been making? (I know that dog and cat lovers may be getting impatient with this lead-up, but I promise I will get to animals and politics eventually, so feel free to skip to the final paragraphs.)

After the Forum concluded on November 9, as followers ofChina Beat also know, I had the opportunity to give a talk at the Beijing Foreign Correspondents Club of China. This was memorable for various reasons. One was that just before, during and after the formal event, I got to take thoughtful questions from and exchange ideas with a mixture of both people whose bylines I often come across, such as Mark Magnier (who writes for the Los Angeles Times, the paper I read with my morning coffee) and Melinda Liu of Newsweek (who graciously hosted the event), and journalists I hadn’t known of before (but will now look out for on the web). Another thing that made it memorable was that the talk’s setting afforded a great bird’s eye view of part of the city, which according to local residents is still enjoying post-Olympic reduced smog levels. And, finally, the talk led to me being quoted, for the first time ever I think (and quoted very appropriately at that), in an Indian newspaper.