China Seminar | 12 December 2013

Peeking Past Peking?

Jay Henderson Jay Henderson

Areas deep inside China where Muslim and Tibetan minorities begin to outnumber the Han are normally too far off the beaten track for Americans to visit. Hence what goes on in these remote areas is something of a mystery, and we are forced to rely on reporting from major cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai for information. The general impression is one of uneven development and rapacious profit seeking by the Han at the expense of the minorities. Yet these areas are vital to the success of China’s efforts to narrow income disparities and rebalance away from inefficient investment-driven growth toward greater domestic consumption. The speaker will share his photos and on-the-ground experiences. Traveling on his own, mostly by train and public bus, he gained some surprising insights to this largely unobserved and often misunderstood region. China is far too complex for easy answers to questions about its future, but “Peeking Past Peking” will provide a unique perspective on the amazing changes taking place in the interior.

Jay Henderson has been to China 100+ times since his first trip in 1977 sent by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. His 1978 book on China’s Schools in Flux reported the sorry state of China’s education system in urban and rural areas immediately after the end of the Cultural Revolution, when a trip to a school outside Chengdu took 4 hours over bumpy roads. China’s transformation since then is well understood in coastal areas. But curiosity got the best of him when he retired from being the Chief of the East Asia & Pacific Division of the Voice of America in 2010, and he began traveling regularly to remote provinces. Born in Kansas with an MA in Chinese History from UH, Jay currently lives in Hawaii and works occasionally for the National Committee and Sinomedia, China’s largest international publisher.