Make friends with Chinese to know real China, US influencer says

Xinhua | May 20, 2024


Kyle Obermann's photo from his personal website. (Handout via Xinhua)

The only way to get a whole picture of China or know the real face of China is to go to China and make friends there, said a young U.S. influencer.

"The China you know through news might not represent the whole China or the real face of China," said Kyle Obermann, a photographer, filmmaker and writer, who studied and worked in China for over five years.

Raised in Austin, Texas, Obermann now lives in New York City and enjoys talking with Chinese friends and having Chinese food.

Speaking in a recent interview with Xinhua, Obermann said when you are in China physically, you would realize that China means real persons rather than a political system.

"It's very hard for you to realize that Chinese people also pursue stability and a happy family life just like yourself when you only read news," he said.

The only way is to go to China and make friends with Chinese people and savour all of their thoughts, said Obermann, stressing the necessity to do it this way.

Obermann completed a postgraduate program on Chinese language in Peking University and worked in China later.

"I really hope people-to-people exchange, especially exchange between Chinese and U.S. youth, could restart after the pandemic has ended," Obermann told Xinhua.

Before the pandemic, many American students studied in China and a lot of Chinese students were in the United States, he noted.

Though bilateral exchange between the United States and China picked up pace, "there is a need for more, and the more, the better," said Obermann.

There is really a need for more Americans to learn Chinese and understand China, which is very necessary, Obermann said in fluent Chinese.

Obermann said his whole life was changed because of learning Chinese and his life now is just associated with China.

"Over ten years ago, I felt I would always live in the United States, but studying Chinese opened a door for me," he said.

As a conservation and climate photographer, Obermann traveled broadly in China, especially the less traversed protection areas and national parks.

China has undergone big changes in environment and environmental protection in the last ten years, according to Obermann.

Now, economic development and environmental protection are closely interconnected, as it represents China's new approach and philosophy in the new era, said Obermann.

"You can see the accomplishment in this regard in Qinghai Province, Hainan Province and Sichuan Province," he added.

Obermann has recently finished a documentary on U.S. efforts to achieve net zero while collaborating with China on climate.

"We must reduce emission of carbon dioxide as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible ... Without solar panels or electric vehicles from China, we can't make progress so fast," said Obermann.

Obermann said he plans to write a book in English on China's accomplishment and development in protection of nature in the last decade.

The book could include his personal stories and the stories of people on the ground which are less reported, but very important and moving, he said.