Seth Wenig / AP
A electronic billboard promoting China is displayed in Times Square, New York, on Tuesday.
SHANGHAI – Airing 15 times an hour and 300 times a day, a new one-minute-long promotional video about China just made its début in New York’s Times Square in conjunction with President Hu Jintao’s state visit.
Featuring 50 accomplished Chinese celebrities from a variety of industries, the promotional video has been in the works since last year and will dominate the big screen in Time Square through mid-February, when the traditional Chinese New Year is over.
The video is supposed to introduce the U.S. – and the world – to Chinese people who have excelled and brought Chinese citizens a sense of pride.
But it wasn't long before someone posted a discovery on Twitter: At least three celebrities shown in the video are U.S. citizens; even more have permanent residency status in the U.S.
Phoenix TV hostess Chen Luyu, who interviewed Hilary Clinton last year, is an American citizen. So is musician Tan Dun and Kung Fu star Donnie Yan. Others, including volleyball champion Lang Ping, basketball player Yao Ming, and actress Zhang Ziyi, all have American green cards. Pianist Lang Lang and diving queen Guo Jingjing are Hong Kong citizens. (Although Hong Kong is officially part of China, Chinese mainland citizens still need a visa to go to the former British colony). And Asia’s richest man, Li Kai-shing, is a citizen of Hong Kong – but his two sons have Canadian citizenship.
Hong Kong Internet observer Bei Feng joked on his Twitter page: “Everyone misunderstood the promotional video of China. It’s not about China. It only sends one message: The best Chinese talents are being sent to or have been sent to the U.S. The goal of Chinese people: To become an American.” His tweet was soon retweeted, receiving comments and criticism from the Twitterverse.
While the United States and European countries are the No. 1 education destinations for Chinese students, you can barely find a Chinese leader whose children are not seeking foreign permanent resident status or passports outside China, either through education or immigration.
In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, training programs for the GRE exam and the International English Language Testing System are filled with students from all over China spending their time and money preparing to go overseas.
Americans may consider China a threat, but they should not forget that for a great many of China's brightest and smartest, the U.S. is still their dream place to be.