A book for the West to get real on China

A book for the West to get real on China
Fokke Obbema shared his own China experience during the book launching event Monday night in Bookworm, a literary hangout in Beijing's trendy Sanlitun entertainment area. [Gao Yinan/People's Daily]

Why the West should stop worrying and learn to love China? Veteran reporter Fokke Obbema from Holland gave his answer to this question in his newly published book - China and the West.

He shared his own China experience during the book launching event Monday night in Bookworm, a literary hangout in Beijing's trendy Sanlitun entertainment area.

Fokke Obbema is the former economic editor and current foreign affairs editor for the major Dutch newspaper de Volksrant, and is a China expert who has traveled extensively throughout the country.

He became fascinated by China in 2008 when visiting the country for the first time, saying he felt the completely different atmosphere in China.

At that time, the US subprime mortgage crisis had just begun. The whole Europe was devastated, and people were pessimistic about the future. In contrast, China was hosting the Olympic Games and people were in whelming proundness and optimism about their country.

Fokke was curious about the country’s rise and its political and economic implications for Europe. Therefore he spent over a year flying between Europe and China.

He visited China’s major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Moreover, he took a four hour flight to the southwest mountain area from Shanghai to experience real life there.

"When I was in the mountain, I understood that China is still a developing country. From the city to the countryside, the trip was like a time travel from the 21st century back to the Middle Ages." Fokke recalled.

The real China is different from what European people read from their newspapers. "European journalists have a negative bias towards China," Fokke said.

In his perspective, Journalists in the West are seen as playing into hidden fears and prejudices about China in Europe, and as not playing a positive role in promoting the much needed European understanding of the different nature of China, and of the tremendous transformation China is going through.

Therefore, his combined the experiences which inspired him to write this book with a relatively balanced approach to introduce China to the Dutch people. He published the book in English so that more westerners might understand China through his book and get to know a real China.