The night before i was heading for scotland, I was invited to host the final of “china’s got talent” show in shanghai with the 80,000 live audience in the stadium. guess who was the performing guest? susan boyle. and i told her, “i’m going to scotland the next day.” she sang beautifully, and she even managed to say a few words in chinese. [chinese] soit’s not like “hello” or “thank you,” that ordinary stuff. it means “greenonion for free.” why did she say that? because it was a line from our chinese parallel susan boyle — a 50-some year-old woman, a vegetable vendor inshanghai, who loves singing western opera, but she didn’t understand anyenglish or french or italian, so she managed to fill in the lyrics with vegetable names in chinese. (laughter) and the last sentence of nessun dormathat she was singing in the stadium was “green onion for free.” so [as] susanboyle was saying that, 80,000 live audience sang together. that was hilarious.

来苏格兰(做ted讲演)的前夜,我被邀请去上海做”中国达人秀“决赛的评委。在装有八万现场观众的演播厅里,在台上的表演嘉宾居然是(来自苏格兰的,因参加英国达人秀走红的)苏珊大妈(susan boyle)。我告诉她,“我明天就要启程去苏格兰。” 她唱得很动听,还对观众说了几句中文,她并没有说简单的”你好“或者”谢谢“,她说的是——“送你葱”。为什么?这句话其实来源于中国版的“苏珊大妈”——一位五十岁的以卖菜为生,却对西方歌剧有出奇爱好的上海中年妇女(蔡洪平)。这位中国的苏珊大妈并不懂英文,法语或意大利文,所以她将歌剧中的词汇都换做中文中的蔬菜名,并且演唱出来。在她口中,歌剧《图兰朵》的最后一句便是“song ni cong”。当真正的英国苏珊大妈唱出这一句“中文的”《图兰朵》时,全场的八万观众也一起高声歌唱,场面的确有些滑稽。

  So I guess both susan boyle and this vegetable vendor in shanghai belonged to otherness. they were the least expected to be successful in the business called entertainment, yet their courage and talent brought themthrough. and a show and a platform gave them the stage to realize their dreams.well, being different is not that difficult. we are all different from different perspectives. but i think being different is good, because you present a different point of view. you may have the chance to make a difference.

我想susan boyle和这位上海的买菜农妇的确属于人群中的少数。她们是最不可能在演艺界成功的,而她们的勇气和才华让她们成功了,这个节目和舞台给予了她们一个实现个人梦想的机会。这样看来,与众不同好像没有那么难。从不同的方面审视,我们每个人都是不同的。但是我想,与众不同是一件好事,因为你代表了不一样的观点,你拥有了做改变的机会。

  My generation has been very fortunate to witness and participate in the historic transformation of china that has made so many changes in the past 20, 30 years. i remember that in the year of 1990, when i was graduating from college, i was applying for a job in the sales department of the first five-star hotel in beijing, great wall sheraton — it’s still there. so after being interrogated by this japanese manager for a half an hour,he finally said, “so, miss yang, do you have any questions to ask me?” i summoned my courage and poise and said, “yes, but could you let me know, what actually do you sell?” i didn’t have a clue what a sales department was about in a five-star hotel. that was the first day i set my foot in a five-star hotel.

 我这一代中国人很幸运的目睹并且参与了中国在过去二三十年中经历的巨变。我记得1990年,当我刚大学毕业时,我申请了当时北京的第一家五星级酒店——长城喜来登酒店的销售部门的工作。这家酒店现在仍在北京。当我被一位日本籍经理面试了一个半小时之后,他问到,“杨小姐,你有什么想问我的吗?”,我屏住呼吸,问道“是的,你能告诉我,具体我需要销售些什么吗?” 当时的我,对五星级酒店的销售部门没有任何概念,事实上,那是我第一次进到一家五星级酒店。

  Around the same time, i was going through an audition —the first ever open audition by national television in china — with another thousand college girls. the producer told us they were looking for some sweet,innocent and beautiful fresh face. so when it was my turn, i stood up and said,“why [do] women’s personalities on television always have to be beautiful,sweet, innocent and, you know, supportive? why can’t they have their own ideas and their own voice?” i thought i kind of offended them. but actually, they were impressed by my words. and so i was in the second round of competition,and then the third and the fourth. after seven rounds of competition, i was the last one to survive it. so i was on a national television prime-time show. and believe it or not, that was the first show on chinese television that allowed its hosts to speak out of their own minds without reading an approved script.(applause) and my weekly audience at that time was between 200 to 300 million people.


  Well after a few years, i decided to go to the u.s. and columbia university to pursue my postgraduate studies, and then started my ownmedia company, which was unthought of during the years that i started mycareer. so we do a lot of things. i’ve interviewed more than a thousand peoplein the past. and sometimes i have young people approaching me say, “lan, you changed my life,” and i feel proud of that. but then we are also so fortunate to witness the transformation of the whole country. i was in beijing’s bidding for the olympic games. i was representing the shanghai expo. i saw china embracing the world and vice versa. but then sometimes i’m thinking, what are today’s young generation up to? how are they different, and what are the differences they are going to make to shape the future of china, or at large,the world?


  So today i want to talk about young people through the platform of social media. first of all, who are they? [what] do they look like?well this is a girl called guo meimei — 20 years old, beautiful. she showed offher expensive bags, clothes and car on her microblog, which is the chinese version of twitter. and she claimed to be the general manager of red cross at the chamber of commerce. she didn’t realize that she stepped on a sensitive nerve and aroused national questioning, almost a turmoil, against the credibility of red cross. the controversy was so heated that the red cross had to open a press conference to clarify it, and the investigation is going on.


  So far, as of today, we know that she herself made up that title — probably because she feels proud to be associated with charity.all those expensive items were given to her as gifts by her boyfriend, who used to be a board member in a subdivision of red cross at chamber of commerce. it’s very complicated to explain. but anyway, the public still doesn’t buy it. it is still boiling. it shows us a general mistrust of government or government-backed institutions, which lacked transparency in the past. and also it showed us the power and the impact of social media as microblog.

时至今日,我们所知道的事实是,她谎报了她的头衔,可能是因为她的虚荣心,希望把自己和慈善机构联系起来。所有那些奢侈品都是她的男朋友给她买的,而那位”男朋友 “的确曾经是红十字会的工作人员。这解释起来很复杂,总之,公众对他们的解释仍然不满意,这仍然是在风口浪尖的一件事。这件事体现出(中国社会)对长期不透明的政府机关的不信任,同时也表现出社交媒体(微博)巨大的社会影响力。

  Microblog boomed in the year of XX, with visitors doubled and time spent on it tripled. sina.com, a major news portal, alone hasmore than 140 million microbloggers. on tencent, 200 million. the most popular blogger — it’s not me — it’s a movie star, and she has more than 9.5 million followers, or fans. about 80 percent of those microbloggers are young people,under 30 years old. and because, as you know, the traditional media is still heavily controlled by the government, social media offers an opening to let thesteam out a little bit. but because you don’t have many other openings, theheat coming out of this opening is sometimes very strong, active and even violent.

 微博在XX年得到了爆炸性的增长,微博的访问用户增长了一倍,用户的访问时间是XX年的三倍。新浪(sina.com),一个最主要的微博平台,拥有 1.4亿的微博用户,而腾讯拥有两亿用户。(在中国)最有名的微博主——不是我——是一位电影明星,她拥有近九百五十万”粉丝“。接近80%的微博用户是年轻人,三十岁以下。因为传统媒体还在政府的强力控制之下,社交媒体提供了一个开放的平台进行了一些(民众观点的)分流。因为这样分流的渠道并不多,从这个平台上爆发出的能量往往非常强烈,有时候甚至过于强烈。

  So through microblogging, we are able to understand chinese youth even better. so how are they different? first of all, most of them were born in the 80s and 90s, under the one-child policy. and because of selected abortion by families who favored boys to girls, now we have ended up with 30 million more young men than women. that could pose a potential danger to the society, but who knows; we’re in a globalized world, so they can look for girlfriends from other countries. most of them have fairly good education.the illiteracy rate in china among this generation is under one percent. incities, 80 percent of kids go to college. but they are facing an aging china with a population above 65 years old coming up with seven-point-some percent this year, and about to be 15 percent by the year of 2030. and you know we have the tradition that younger generations support the elders financially, and taking care of them when they’re sick. so it means young couples will have to support four parents who have a life expectancy of 73 years old.


  So making a living is not that easy for young people.college graduates are not in short supply. in urban areas, college graduates find the starting salary is about 400 u.s. dollars a month, while the average rent is above $500. so what do they do? they have to share space — squeezed invery limited space to save money — and they call themselves “tribe of ants.”and for those who are ready to get married and buy their apartment, they figured out they have to work for 30 to 40 years to afford their firstapartment. that ratio in america would only cost a couple five years to earn,but in china it’s 30 to 40 years with the skyrocketing real estate price.

所以对于年轻人而言,生活并不是容易。本科毕业生也不在是紧缺资源。在城市中,本科生的月起薪通常是400美元(2500人民币),而公寓的平均月租金却是500美元。所以他们的解决方式是合租——挤在有限的空间中以节省开支,他们叫自己”蚁族。“ 对于那些准备好结婚并希望购买一套公寓的中国年轻夫妇而言,他们发现他们必须要不间断的工作30到40年才可以负担得起一套公寓。对于同样的美国年轻夫妇而言,他们只需要五年时间。

  Among the 200 million migrant workers, 60 percent of them are young people. they find themselves sort of sandwiched between the urban areas and the rural areas. most of them don’t want to go back to the countryside, but they don’t have the sense of belonging. they work for longer hours with less income, less social welfare. and they’re more vulnerable to joblosses, subject to inflation, tightening loans from banks, appreciation of the renminbi, or decline of demand from europe or america for the products theyproduce. last year, though, an appalling incident in a southern oemmanufacturing compound in china: 13 young workers in their late teens and early 20s committed suicide, just one by one like causing a contagious disease. but they died because of all different personal reasons. but this whole incident aroused a huge outcry from society about the isolation, both physical and mental, ofthese migrant workers.


  For those who do return back to the countryside, they find themselves very welcome locally, because with the knowledge, skills and networks they have learned in the cities, with the assistance of the internet,they’re able to create more jobs, upgrade local agriculture and create newbusiness in the less developed market. so for the past few years, the coastal areas, they found themselves in a shortage of labor.


  These diagrams show a more general social background. the first one is the engels coefficient, which explains that the cost of dailynecessities has dropped its percentage all through the past decade, in terms offamily income, to about 37-some percent. but then in the last two years, it goes up again to 39 percent, indicating a rising living cost. the gini coefficient has already passed the dangerous line of 0.4. now it’s 0.5 — even worse than that in america — showing us the income inequality. and so you see this whole society getting frustrated about losing some of its mobility. and also, the bitterness and even resentment towards the rich and the powerful isquite widespread. so any accusations of corruption or backdoor dealings between authorities or business would arouse a social outcry or even unrest.


  So through some of the hottest topics on microblogging,we can see what young people care most about. social justice and governmentaccountability runs the first in what they demand. for the past decade or so, amassive urbanization and development have let us witness a lot of reports onthe forced demolition of private property. and it has aroused huge anger and frustration among our young generation. sometimes people get killed, and sometimes people set themselves on fire to protest. so when these incidents are reported more and more frequently on the internet, people cry for thegovernment to take actions to stop this.


  So the good news is that earlier this year, the state council passed a new regulation on house requisition and demolition and passedthe right to order forced demolition from local governments to the court.similarly, many other issues concerning public safety is a hot topic on the internet. we heard about polluted air, polluted water, poisoned food. and guesswhat, we have faked beef. they have sorts of ingredients that you brush on apiece of chicken or fish, and it turns it to look like beef. and then lately,people are very concerned about cooking oil, because thousands of people have been found [refining] cooking oil from restaurant slop. so all these things have aroused a huge outcry from the internet. and fortunately, we have seen the government responding more timely and also more frequently to the public concerns.


  While young people seem to be very sure about their participation in public policy-making, but sometimes they’re a little bit lost in terms of what they want for their personal life. china is soon to pass the u.s. as the number one market for luxury brands — that’s not including the chinese expenditures in europe and elsewhere. but you know what, half of those consumers are earning a salary below 2,000 u.s. dollars. they’re not rich atall. they’re taking those bags and clothes as a sense of identity and social status. and this is a girl explicitly saying on a tv dating show that she would rather cry in a bmw than smile on a bicycle. but of course, we do have young people who would still prefer to smile, whether in a bmw or [on] a bicycle.


  So in the next picture, you see a very popular phenomenon called “naked” wedding, or “naked” marriage. it does not mean they will wear nothing in the wedding, but it shows that these young couples are ready to get married without a house, without a car, without a diamond ring and without a wedding banquet, to show their commitment to true love. and also, people are doing good through social media. and the first picture showed us that a truck caging 500 homeless and kidnapped dogs for food processing was spotted andstopped on the highway with the whole country watching through microblogging.people were donating money, dog food and offering volunteer work to stop that truck. and after hours of negotiation, 500 dogs were rescued. and here also people are helping to find missing children. a father posted his son’s picture onto the internet. after thousands of [unclear], the child was found, and we witnessed the reunion of the family through microblogging.


  So happiness is the most popular word we have heardthrough the past two years. happiness is not only related to personal experiences and personal values, but also, it’s about the environment. people are thinking about the following questions: are we going to sacrifice our environment further to produce higher gdp? how are we going to perform our social and political reform to keep pace with economic growth, to keep sustainability and stability? and also, how capable is the system ofself-correctness to keep more people content with all sorts of friction goingon at the same time? i guess these are the questions people are going to answer. and our younger generation are going to transform this country while at the same time being transformed themselves.


  Thank you very much.


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    The young people in China should also take the responsibility to empower the country.

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