Experience and inspiration of the China model

By Bob Jones
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CRI, October 20, 2016
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If I may begin with a few words about myself. I arrived in China almost one year ago to the day. I have worked as a journalist in British local, national and international broadcasting for the best part of 30 years – not only for the BBC but also for some of the largest public and commercial broadcasters in the UK. I now work for China Radio International as a presenter and journalist for their flagship radio programmes such as The Beijing Hour, but also now for their rapidly expanding new media section.

I will say now, even after 30 years of reporting events, observing change and asking questions – I know there is so much more to learn, and that is why I came here, to China, to Yan'an. To learn.

In the past year I have come to realise that the more I learn about China – the more there is to learn. And that makes me happy and excited. I hope my relationship with China will be a long and informative one.

A few days ago in Beijing, I was honoured to be invited to visit the opening of an exhibition which was commemorating the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March by the Chinese Army, at the Military Museum.

Of course I knew about the Long March. I had read books and articles about this amazing chapter in Chinese history. I thought I knew enough: Why it happened, where it happened, and the meaning it had for the future development of China.

But as I said a few moments ago – the more you learn, the more you realise you don't know.

I think the key factor for me, was seeing the artefacts – the exhibits on show. The little things. Items of clothing, bandages, radios, links from a chain bridge, letters. Little pieces of humanity. Many of the items were also depicted in some staggeringly beautiful and inspiring works of art on show.

Each part of the exhibition told stories of fortitude, pain and suffering, determination, resourcefulness, examples of strategy, and idealism.

Fortitude, Pain and suffering of those soldiers and supporters who had already been fighting for many years in the battle against Japanese aggression and the Nationalists.

Pain and suffering of the year long – longer than a year – journey across a vast swathe of China, crossing swamps and inhospitable mountain passes … with little to eat or keep themselves warm.

The Suffering of those who fell along the way.

The determination shown by those that eventually reached the physical end of the journey, to see the symbolic beginning that it represented.

The resourcefulness and strategic planning of the leaders who guided these pioneers through adversity.

The idealism that carried the venture forward in the first place.

To those values I will add Loyalty. The loyalty of those who have guarded the spirit of the Long March and brought it here to the present.

All these artefacts, all these values, have helped bring the Long March from – almost perhaps from the realms of heroic poetry - into the real world. This happened. This was real. It underlines that it's a story which has ramifications for our lives in China today.

I think sometimes it's too easy to regard history – and indeed journalism - as fiction. Something in a book, or in the media which may or may not have happened. The Long March happened! Fantastic and amazing though it may sound – it is real, tangible, and its effects are still felt profoundly today.

At this stage I would like to mention the full title of the exhibition – The Long March - Heroic Epic and Immortal Milestone.

Perhaps it's worth looking at the definitions of the key words here.

Heroic - admirably brave or determined, grand or grandiose in scale or intention, bold or dramatic. Undeniably the Long March.

Epic - usually used to describe the Greek legends, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation. An exceptionally long and arduous task or activity. That's the Long March.

Immortal - living forever; never dying or decaying. The Long March didn't end in 1936. Its spirit continues.

Milestone - a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place - a significant stage or event in the development of something.

And perhaps that last one is crucial. The Long March is a key moment in a longer journey.

The Long March was a battle for the soul of China. To me, it seems the CPC knows that this soul was hard won and should never be taken for granted, or diminished. The CPC is a custodian of that soul. It's precious because it will define the nation's future. It has a beating heart that strives for better lives, greater justice for all, within a context of peaceful coexistence and respect. The Chinese model!

Speaking from a foreign perspective, and as a journalist…

The parallels are clearly seen with the changes that I see here in China today.

I arrived here a year ago this week … China was not completely unknown to me. I had my own epic journey to get here. 40 years ago, growing up in an industrial town in South Wales, next to a steel works which showered dust and pollution onto us on a daily basis as we played in the streets, I was introduced to the outside world by short wave radio. One of the stations I listened to most was Radio Peking, the forerunner of my current employer China Radio International. Did I think I would ever work in Beijing? I hoped I would. And here I am. Sometimes dreams come true.

But the world I was listening to was a divided world. It was a fractured world, filled with mistrust and competing ideologies.

Remarkably now, I believe there has never been so much consensus in the world. Beneath the bluster of the headlines – nations are speaking peace to other nations through co-operation and trade.

And China is at the head of that movement – through collaboration via the China inspired Belt and Road initiative. Through respect for the dialogue encouraged by international bodies like the UN, G20 and ASEAN. Through the hand of genuine economic friendship extended to other developing and third world nations.

I was struck by the words of Chairman Mao Zedong, quoted at the exhibition in Beijing.

"The Long March is a declaration, and is a publicity team, as well as a seeding machine."

I believe sometimes that too much emphasis is placed on the Declaration part of the quote. Now it's time to engage the publicity team and the seeding machine.

I believe that China has a story to tell. Many amazing stories. 5000 years of culture to reveal.

There is a present day Long March – a National Rejuvenation.

It's a journey fraught with dangers…

Fortitude, Pain, suffering, determination, resourcefulness, strategy, idealism, loyalty – where have we heard those words before?

China has a plan, and an ideology. Advancement in economics, politics, culture, social change, and ecological development. A four pronged comprehensive strategy to achieve this in a holistic way.

The Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.

You are lucky, because you have the inspiration of the Long March to guide you. Many nations don't have that. Either because they are too young, or have forgotten their own history.

They say we should always learn from history – learn from our mistakes – but also learn through example. China has plenty of history. And from my own personal experience of living and working in China over the last year, I feel you have an immense capacity to learn, adapt and achieve.

So, in conclusion, I would say – Congratulations for all that.

And thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today, and experience more of China.

I pledge that I would continue to learn, and to help spread China's message, the Chinese Model, to the world.

Born and brought up in Wales (UK), Bob Jones has a thirty year career in national and international news broadcasting in the UK, working for the BBC, British Forces Radio and several major commercial radio stations. He was Classic FM's first Multi Media reporter.

At college he studied European Politics, focusing on Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg; German, French and Italian politics since the second world war; and the development of the European Union. He holds two post-graduate diplomas - in Radio Journalism and Photojournalism, and a certificate in Genealogy. He is also a keen writer and is pursuing an MA in Crime Fiction Writing.

Bob is currently a news and discussion programme presenter at China Radio International.

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