Malcolm Clarke, a British director and two-time Best Documentary Short Subject Academy Award winner (WEI YAO)
Malcolm Clarke, a British director and two-time Best Documentary Short Subject Academy Award winner, has been filming in China since 2013. In a recent interview with Beijing Review reporter Li Nan, he shared his views on the Western misunderstanding of China's rise and why he is interested in China-related topics. This is an edited excerpt of his views:
A lot of people see the rise of China as a threat. Western powers, most specifically America, are used to being in the front row seats. And suddenly, the front row seats are occupied by people who are different, the Asians. This is the first time in history that the power center of the planet is not in the West.
China will be the preeminent economic power and a very strong military power, too. And it takes some getting used to. When you're number one in class and suddenly a smarter kid comes and gets all the prizes, it's a blow to the ego. So the Western powers need to share.
I don't think China has a particular philosophy of domination. I don't see China ever wanting to be the dominant power and trying to convince people to live the Chinese way. It's not in the Chinese DNA.
But I do feel that China needs to do a better job, through soft power, of convincing the world that it's not a threat. It's a partner. It wants to be a member of the community of nations. China and Western powers should figure out ways to settle their differences, or at least, respect each other's differences.
One of the reasons I'm in China is because I feel a tremendous amount of admiration for what China has achieved, but I also see dangers. When I go back I see the way people treat me. Because they think I'm, I wouldn't say, a traitor. It's too big to say that, but they don't understand my fascination.
I'm interested in making films about China because nobody else is doing it. I wish I was less necessary to the Chinese soft power initiative. I'm not saying that I'm a one-man answer to the problem. But so many people in the West have bought the notion that China is wicked or evil, which I think is just idiotic, frankly.
I think the China renaissance is the biggest news story of the 21st century. There's only one subject that gets into the news every single day, all around the world, and it's China, because China is an engine which is creating new material. It's the gift that keeps on giving. I am very fond of the Chinese people. There are 1.4 billion Chinese people and that's 1.4 billion potential human stories to tell. I'm privileged to be able to be here and to keep making films about China.
I'm trying to, in a sense, build a business here of telling Chinese stories to a Western audience. I hope on a psychological level I can change the way people look at China. It's hugely important.
I'm not a propagandist. I'm not a China right or wrong adherent. And I'm not a zealot. I am a working filmmaker who recognizes a great subject when he sees one.
Copyedited by Ryan Perkins
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