'I try to tell the truth about China': Robert Lawrence Kuhn

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Robert Lawrence Kuhn, the author of "How China' s Leaders Think," said at the ongoing Fourth World Forum of China Studies that as a China scholar, he tries to speak truthfully about China.

"I am often in the Western media, and because I describe the ideas and policies of China' s leaders, I am asked whether I try to be 'balanced' about China. I say, 'No. I do not try to be balanced about China. I try to tell the truth about China'," he said in a speech at the forum Saturday.

"Now, maybe I differ with some over what is truth about China. Maybe I do not have all the facts about China. But I really try to tell the truth," he said.

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, wrote a biography of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin. He recently wrote his new book, "How China's Leaders Think."

"I have learned to appreciate the significance of Chinese political philosophy, including the semiotics of slogans such as President Jiang Zemin's 'Three Represents' (San Ge Daibiao) and President Hu Jintao's 'Scientific Outlook on Development' (Kexue Fazhan Guan).

"Such slogans can be deep probes of social context, economic conditions, and political development," Kuhn said.

In his speech "How China Scholars Facilitate China's Development," Kuhn said the World Forum of China Studies plays a unique role in facilitating China's integration into the global community of nations, one of humanity's great goals in the early 21st century.

"We foreigners are pleased to participate in this historic process," he said.

The two-day Fourth World Forum on China Studies is being held in Shanghai under the theme "Living Together, Growing Together: China and the World Integrate." The forum attracted more than 280 China scholars from over 20 countries and regions.

Kuhn said scholars are essential for the flourishing of civilization, and that scholars were especially respected and honored in Chinese history.

"Scholars seek truth, and because truth is elusive and often disputed, it is incumbent on scholars to present their views without fear or favor. Scholars also have a corollary responsibility: they should not distort or mislead - but an absolute standard of what is, or is not, distortion or misdirection can be challenging to set," he continued.

Kuhn said China scholars have multiple functions and he listed five in his speech: pure scholarship; generating intellectual energy and expressing scholarly passion; articulating critical issues; creating a market place of ideas; and distinguishing between fact and opinion.

Ideally, he said, scholars should be individuals more loyal to their own intellectual integrity than to groups they may belong to.

Kuhn also congratulated Shanghai on its successful hosting of the the Expo. He said the Shanghai World Expo focused the world's attention on two imperatives: the urgent need for cities to develop new, green technologies, because the world, especially the developing world, is urbanizing; and the emergence of China as a distinguished and responsible nation.

"I was proud to participate in the Expo by creating, writing and presenting China Central Television's (CCTV) series on Expo and the future of Shanghai, called 'Expo's Meaning, Shanghai' s Mission'," he said.

There was international interest in this series because there is great hunger in the world for information about China, he said.

"This heightens our responsibility. As China scholars, it is our responsibility to make sure our information is accurate, even if our understandings differ. Much depends on our work."

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