On Kevin Rudd in China: Geremie R. Barme and Paul Monk on Lateline

11 Apr

If you want an extraordinarily well-informed view, visit Lateline where you may watch the segment or read the transcript.

I encountered Geremie Barme’s work in the early 1990s when I was preparing my book From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt; I subsequently met him through Nicholas Jose and Claire Roberts — that in turn through M. (I also met Sang Ye, mentioned below.) From  Geremie Barme’s ANU profile:

Biographical Statement

Geremie R. Barme; head and shoulders

After graduating in Asian Studies from the ANU (majoring in Chinese and Sanskrit), I studied at universities in the People’s Republic of China (1974-77) and Japan (1980-83), with periods working as a journalist, freelance writer and translator in Hong Kong and China. My research work in Chinese culture and intellectual history has been interspersed with film, web site and writing projects in the United States, China and Hong Kong.

Research Interests

20th century Chinese intellectual and cultural history; contemporary Chinese cultural and intellectual debates; modern historiography; Ming-Qing literature and aesthetics; Cultural Revolution history (1950s-70s) and Beijing, its history and reconstruction.

Key Publications
  • The Gate of Heavenly Peace, three-hour documentary film (associate director and main writer), 1995.
  • Shades of Mao: The Posthumous Cult of the Great Leader, Armonk, NY, M.E. Sharpe, 1996.
  • In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture, New York, Columbia University Press, 1999.
  • An Artistic Exile: A life of Feng Zikai (1898-1975), Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002, awarded the Joseph Levenson Prize for Modern China, 2004.
  • Morning Sun, two-hour documentary film (co-directed and co-produced with Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon; co-written with Carma Hinton), 2003, awarded the John E. O’Conner Film Award, The American Historical Association, 2005.
  • (ed. with Miriam Lang) China Candid: The People on the People’s Republic, by Sang Ye, University of California Press, 2006.
  • (ed. with Claire Roberts) The Great Wall of China, Sydney, Powerhouse Museum, 2006.

What I deduce from looking again at the transcript of last night’s interview is that, according to Geremie Barme who really is in a position to know, Kevin Rudd’s skills are more than linguistic; he has more than any other person high up in Australian politics before him a very high level of cultural understanding, of negotiating the subtleties of cross-cultural communication in dealing with China. I have encountered such things in a much smaller way myself, but enough to appreciate their importance. This must do us good in comparison with other players, and may even lead to a degree of movement in China itself, especially if a future leadership — such as those currently at Beijing University — have indeed taken in the subtle messages Barme mentions.

YouTube from Lateline 10 April. This is a correspondent’s report, not the interview mentioned above.

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Posted by on April 11, 2008 in Chinese and China, current affairs, human rights, Kevin Rudd



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