CONTACT US Wed Nov. 13, 2013

CASS 中国社会科学网(中文) Français


Gustavo Ng: Building a bridge between China and Argentina

Author  :  WAN DAI     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2022-10-30


Gustavo Ng is a renowned Argentine expert on Chinese issues, writer, journalist, editor-in-chief of Dang Dai magazine, and a researcher at the University of Congress (Universidad de Congreso) in Argentina. Born in Argentina in 1962, Ng is a descendant of early Chinese immigrants. His father is Chinese and his mother is Argentine. Photo: COURTESY OF GUSTAVO NG

Gustavo Ng, who has been in China six times, set off again for his father’s hometown in China, at a time when the global situation remains highly unstable. In a recent interview with Wan Dai, a journalist from the China Media Group, Ng shared his feelings and understanding of China.

Wan: Unique among other Latin American journalists and researchers who focus on China, you have half Chinese ancestry. Does this give you a special motivation and perspective to understand China?

Ng: I have an intrinsic motivation and an extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation to understand China is related to my demand to achieve my own integrity and inner harmony. I need to know my roots. From this point of view, knowing China is respecting and loving my father and ancestors. The extrinsic motivation is the foreign exploitation that my country has suffered. I’m committed to making a difference to liberate Argentina from imperial oppression, as Cuba has done on our continent, as China has done. China offers an alternative to this liberation. One of our leaders, Juan Domingo Perón, has thought deeply about this issue, and his thoughts represent the thinking of Argentines like me. Perón adopted the doctrine of the Third Position, an attempt to find an alternative to the opposition between the USA and the Soviet Union. He agreed with Mao Zedong’s thought.

The relationship between Argentina and China is beneficial to both sides, mainly because of the high degree of economic complementarity between the two countries, but above all because of the possibility for cooperation in the two cultures.

Wan: Your first visit to China can be viewed as “a trip to seek your roots” in a Chinese way, and you wrote the book 10134 kilómetros a través de China (2021). What do you want to express in this work?

Ng: I wasn’t born in China, so I can’t say that I went back to China. However, my bloodline took me back to where it came from. This was the reason behind my first visit to China in 2015. At that time, instead of starting with the areas that were easier [for foreigners to understand], I dived deep into China, just like diving into the sea. My first trip to China was a typical adventure. Without knowing the Chinese language, I traveled more than 10,000 kilometers by train and went deep into every street corner of this wonderful country.

I was shocked by the kindness of the Chinese people. Their kindness is unconditional. In Argentina and Western countries, such a kind of emotion is believed to exist only in family relationships. What shocked me even more was that I encountered a civilization. I was also impressed by the sheer scale of China’s infrastructure.

When I was in China, I fully realized that the planet would be another world without China. In Latin America, we rarely think of China. It is for this reason that we have a completely distorted perception of the world.

Wan: After this trip, you began to research specific issues, one of which is poverty alleviation. What do you think about China’s policies and practice of poverty alleviation?

Ng: During my six visits to China, I’ve paid close attention to the issue of poverty alleviation, because I feel that building a country without poverty is the real purpose of China’s economic development. In this way, I started to understand the statement issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders—“People centered.”

I came into contact with Chinese descendants who were deported from Indonesia and lived as refugees in Guangdong Province, several Qiang ethnic villages hit by the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, Tibetans in Qinghai, Sichuan provinces, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Everywhere I’ve been, I was struck by an astonishing result: people who seem to have been impoverished forever are getting out of that poverty. I understand that the reason for this is socialism. Raising people from poverty via targeted measures in the largest society on the planet is the victory of socialism over capitalism in a competition that has lasted more than two centuries.

Wan: What have you learned from the days in the Tibetan areas [including the Tibet Autonomous Region, ten Tibetan autonomous prefectures, and two Tibetan autonomous counties]?

Ng: I have entered the Tibetan areas through different entrances.

Once, a friend drove from the north through the Gannan [Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture] and led me into the lakeside area of northern Qinghai Province. This friend was a fan of Tibetan culture. He had been in contact with Tibetan people many years ago, running a tourism business with them together, and incorporating the business into the framework of the poverty alleviation industry. He had many close Tibetan friends. With great kindness, he introduced me to these friends. He took me to the camps of those Tibetan friends in the mountains, introduced me to the small villages where they lived, showed me some temples, and introduced me to monks. Therefore, I was able to conduct detailed interviews with these people. My friend took me to places that were too beautiful to be real: the entire hillside was covered with colorful flags, forming the shape of flowers, fish-scale-shaped petals dancing in the eternal wind on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. I was also taken to their sacred places and even invited to intimate celebrations that were not open to foreigners, such as horse racing, bachelorette parties, and primitive ceremonies intertwined between Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, which is even older.

Another entrance to the Tibetan areas is Yushu City [a city of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province]. There I witnessed the massive work done by the central government to rebuild the city after the 2010 earthquake. It not only rebuilt the toppled buildings, but also equipped the city with tourist infrastructure and a large number of comfortable residential areas, making life more comfortable for the local residents who were very poor in the past. The government also cooperated with religious leaders and rebuilt a large temple that had been badly damaged.

I found that the world of the Tibetan people is another world altogether. For them, the real world is created by gods, and their understanding of the material world exists in another way: time, life, and relationships vary every day. Their understanding of life, desire, and vision of the world are very unique. I have witnessed the respect and protection of this way of life by the Chinese government.

Wan: Can you introduce your overall view of China?

Ng: Sure. I have a panoramic view of some of China’s key issues. I have seen a civilized nation achieve milestones in its development to regain its status in history. This is not exactly back to its previous status, but there does exist a cyclical nature of history in China: back to the same position, at another magnitude. In this case, because of the unprecedented scale of the economy and poverty eradication at the social level, China has reached a higher level than that of the last time when it was a major power in the world.

Another key factor shaping China is that the country is in the stage of opening up, which is one of two stages China has gone through in its historic development. This is a special form of opening up, because it is a decision made in the process of intense and high-speed globalization. In this way, China’s opening up is an invitation to all countries in the world to establish a cooperative community.

Another key factor is the deep humanitarianism that supports from the bottom up. This factor has historical origins and a solid realistic foundation, that is, the Chinese people have chosen socialism as their way of life. Humanism means that humans are a superior priority to everything else. Despite the illusion of economism, China’s high-quality economic development aims at enabling all people to live a dignified life.

Wan: Why did you found Dang Dai? What role does this magazine play in Argentina?

Ng: Dang Dai was founded by three journalists interested in China—Camilo Sánchez, Néstor Restivo, and myself in 2011, a year when the Strategic Partnership between Argentina and China had been established for seven years. At that time, we felt that China’s influence on the world stage would continue to grow, and its relationship with our country would become increasingly important. In addition, the three of us were already mature journalists who had worked hard in the media industry for many years, and were looking to create our own media. In Argentina, we are the only media dedicated to covering China.

The contribution of Dang Dai magazine is to provide relevant information for various institutions in Argentina when they begin to cooperate with China or intend to do so. To begin with, all the companies, large or micro, understand that building a relationship with China is important. Furthermore, government officials from the national level to the provincial level, whether from diplomacy, trade, agriculture, science and technology, industry, finance, culture or other fields, are cooperating with China. Our readers also include think tanks and other research institutions dedicated to international relations study, especially relations with China. Researchers and teachers in universities and other academic institutions, especially in the fields of economics, international relations, social sciences, and technology, are our audience too. In addition, people in the cultural and educational fields, who are interested in understanding China, as well as the public interested in many Chinese topics, can learn about relevant information through our magazine, including sports, martial arts, cooking, fashion, and more.

Wan: What do you plan to do in the future?

Ng: I belong to a generation of Latinos who believe that a person’s life has meaning only when he or she finds a purpose and devotes himself or herself to it. My mission is to share my experience and understanding of China with Argentines and pass it on to my children.

I regard my work as building a bridge between the fields of communication, literature, and education, where I am capable of doing this. I provide the bridge to government agencies, universities, enterprises, and social organizations in Argentina and China, both of which are seeking to connect with each other. My plan is to keep running Dang Dai, keep writing books on China and China-Argentina relations, try to create other media, keep training businessmen, civil servants, journalists, and scholars, and ultimately build a larger team of journalists related to China and to the relations with China in Argentina and Latin America.

Editor: Yu Hui

>> View All

Ye Shengtao made Chinese fairy tales from a wilderness

Ye Shengtao (1894–1988) created the first collection of fairy tales in the history of Chinese children’s literature...

>> View All