I was one of the five students who were assigned Asia as a region to focus on for the International Observatory class and we were told to interview somebody who is related to that region. So I thought that there was no better person to interview than my Mandarin teacher at the Universidad Europea de Madrid, with who I have had the privilege of learning such a difficult yet wonderful language during the second trimester. Her name is Ping Shih Hu Sun and she was born in Taiwan.
I asked her ten general questions about various different topics regarding the region, focusing mainly on China, but also looking at events that have had an effect on China and vice versa.
I am very interested in the whole story about the crisis of the two Koreas, especially the North. Therefore, as an opening question, we can say I was “forced” to ask her about the relationship that exists between China and North Korea.
She said “I think that since they are neighbors, China wants to avoid divergences with North Korea, also because they share a similar political system, Communism, and there aren’t many other Communist states nowadays, so it is important to keep a relationship with them.”
I then continued with a question related to Taiwan, I asked her about the movement that has been going on for years about the complete sovereignty and independence and of Taiwan from China. It is always interesting to hear a personal opinion from somebody who is actually from there.
She said “As a matter of fact, politically and economically Taiwan is totally independent, but I don’t think that Taiwan is capable nor should become a completely independent country because it has been part of Chinese territory for five centuries and due to extraordinary circumstances it finds itself in such situation. No one will ever recognize them as an independent territory and state”.
That question led me to ask her about the Chinese community abroad, specifically in Spain, I was aware of the fact that she was born in Taiwan but I thought that since they are related she could give me an interesting answer, and she did.
She said that “The Chinese community in Spain is like most of the Chinese people, confident about the idea that putting effort into things will lead people to achieve what they aspire.” I immediately agreed with that inspiring statement, because every Chinese person that I know is a very hardworking person.
After that, I asked her a question that would have taken her ages to answer since it was such an open question therefore she replied in a brief sentence, which made total sense to me. I asked her about some similarities and differences between China and Spain and she replied “Both countries are very hospitable, and are friends of their friends; generally speaking the people are very sociable”.
I then though it was time to move on to talk about more serious issues, so I went back to the North Korea topic, I asked her about the public opinion of the Chinese population about North Korea and its actions whether they support it or oppose it, or whether they just follow what the government says. She gave me a wise answer: “I believe that the people neither support nor oppose the North Korean regime, because the Chinese know that they have their own problems to take care of, they don’t want to pay attention to external problems”.
The next question was along the lines of the previous one. I was skeptical when thinking about asking this question because it involved a very personal answer which many people refuse to give. I asked Ping if she thought that the Chinese regime was too oppressive or if it was improving in terms of democracy, and she said “China is a Communist country, but in some aspects it is improving. However you cannot ask such a big country to make such a drastic change, which would cause chaos like it happened in Russia. China has to make slow progress and the population has to comprehend the real meaning of democracy”.
It seems that the debate about the Tibetan sovereignty has lost media attention years ago, so I thought that it would be interesting to bring it up in my interview, so I asked Ping about her personal opinion on the matter.
She replied by saying that “Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China since many centuries ago. Nevertheless, the international media tends to twist the truth and misreport the facts. I that think what really matters at the end of the day is what the Tibetans want”.
It seems by the type of questions that I am asking her that I am criticizing China by focusing on the saddest happenings, but the fact of the matter is that I love China, its history, culture, language and people. I just focused on those topics because they have created heated debates for years. So, to continue I asked her about the freedom of the press in China. She thinks that “in today’s political system in China, the press does not have total freedom. Freedom is conceded depending on the topic, those topics which are critical about the regime are promptly censured, but those which aren’t are disclosed normally”.
The last two questions could not have been left aside. I had to talk about the economy, so I asked Ping whether this boost of the economy is the right path for China or if it would be better if they slowed down a little, thus respecting some human rights that some workers had had consequently violated due to that boost.
She said that “human rights of the workers are achievements that characterize developed countries. In a society like the Chinese one the rural population moves to the cities looking for jobs wherever employment is offered, so this is the result when there is more demand than supply. The governments may set the rules, but in the end it the companies who really decide”.
I saved the following questions for the end because it is a question that a lot of people ask themselves. I have to say… I did not expect that answer at all, but I have learned to respect all opinions. I asked Ping whether she thought there would be more competition or cooperation between China and the West, especially the United States.
She firmly said “I supposed there will be more competition with the United States because the Americans don’t want China to be on their level, and will make up stories to show that China is not trustworthy.
I enjoyed this interview with Ping, it was nice to know her opinion on these topics of such importance at the international level.
By Emanuele del Tufo