Yang Lan, often called the "Oprah of China," was also a speaker in my "Embracing Otherness" line-up at TEDGlobal. As a media personality with audiences of tens of millions every day, and as Chair of her own independent, private media company, Lan offers a special lens on a country that is often "otherized." Yes, we know more about China now than in the past, but much of what is really going on inside the world's most populous country with the most explosive economic development is not well understand.
Lan's talk gave us a look at the "Other China." She began with the China of her youth and then offered new images and perspectives on today's Chinese youth...the generation whom will surely shape a different future for that country, and the world beyond. Her talk was full of surprises and new images of a China we need to understand in order to embrace and engage as it, too, feels the transformative impact of new media's power to connect and communicate. There are still strong dividing lines of "otherness" in China—rich and poor, private and public, personal freedoms and state control, men and women. All of these are very real, Lan confirmed, but also represent opportunities for dangerous "otherizing" on the part of those who don't have the multilayered picture in mind. Lan's talk was a reminder that, as informed as we may be, we don't know China's whole story. Even China is still writing it.
And here at the Paley Center & TED, we are all still writing the developing story of this year's dynamic TEDxWomen program. Join us!