Chinese State-Run Paper Tries, Fails to Grasp Tom Friedman

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New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has his share of critics, and his sometimes unusual arguments--for example, that the world would benefit from a global "Muslim civil war"--can generate controversy. So perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that, with so many Americans unable to understand Friedman, China's state-run newspaper, the People's Daily, was unable to bridge the cultural divide and make sense of Friedman's work.

In an article headlined "More flat world calls for more 'flat' Sino-US cooperation," the People's Daily appears to report at a Center for American Progress event at which Friedman spoke. Here's your scene-setter:

Since the start of fall this year, "China topics" have continued to "heat up" in Washington D.C., where a series of symposiums, forums and other activities relating to China have been taken place one after another.

And here's the notorious propaganda arm of one of the world's largest governments struggling to contextualize and explain Friedman's address:

Meanwhile, at a seminar held at the Center for American Progress, an echo chamber or think tank of Democratic Party, focused on enhancing American creativity, Thomas Lauren Friedman, an American journalist and author of the 2005 best-selling book" The World is Flat", concentrated on the China topic again. The global best seller "The World is Flat" has so far helped millions of readers worldwide see and understand globalization in a new way.

... However, the book "The World is Flat" has a blemish, said its author Friedman lately, because, he noted, the world today he imagined was "much more flat". In such a comprehensive world getting each other ever closer today, it is hard to avoid new conflicts and new issues among nations, and what is of vital importance is to dissolve these conflicts and tackle these issues with a good political will. So, a popular Chinese saying that "harmony benefits both, strife harms both" is not only applicable to Sino-U.S. political ties but to bilateral economic and trade ties as well.

The papers' definition of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, as "an echo chamber or think tank of Democratic Party," will no doubt raise snickers from CAP's counterparts at conservative organizations and from anyone who is generally distrustful of the political party-think tank relationship.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.