Wen Jiabao is the Premier of China, making him one of the most influential international figures of this generation. Today on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS – one of the best shows on TV, we are hearing from Wen Jiabao on several topics of extreme relevance to the global community.
I can’t compliment Zakaria enough for a journalistic style that does two things I’d argue are necessary to get *access to people* while at the same time getting real rather than canned insights. First, he’s polite, which gets access and creates a relaxed atmosphere where real dialog can take place. Second, he asks the *big* questions in a way that brings us real insights into the thinking patterns of the key political and thought leaders he interviews.
Rather than summarize things here I want to link to CNN’s GPS page where I think they will post the interview, because anybody with an interest in where things are going should be paying very close attention.
Much of the current debate in this country about China (as well as many things) takes a sort of cartoon form, where people are stuck on oversimplifying a handful of complex talking points like China’s economic relationship to the USA and China’s Tibet policy (which in my view could largely be solved by shifting treatment of Tibet to an autonomous region like Hong Kong, a relationship that is working fairly well).
Asked about the prevailing economic philosophy who did Wen Jiabao quote? None other than Adam Smith, suggesting that the free hand of capitalism should be balanced by Government regulations to keep things fair and orderly (FYI he’s right that Smith was an advocate of some regulation and application of “morality” to free markets – a historical point often lost in debates here over free market virtues).
What’s Wen Jiabao reading? Stoic Marcus Aurelius apparently is one of his favorite philosophers, a thoughtful but sometimes ruthless Roman emperor who advocated social responsibility and internal progressive social reforms even as he persecuted wars and treated some dissenters ruthlessly.