By Gao Lu
HOUSTON, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- China and the United States vowed to promote cultural exchanges between the two peoples during first China-U.S. Social and People-to-People Dialogue held on Thursday in Washington. American professor Jon R. Taylor believes that there needs to be more intensive cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Taylor, political science professor of University of St. Thomas in Houston, made such comment in an exclusive interview with Xinhua recently.
From his own teaching experience, Taylor said not so many young American students are familiar with modern China. He said the Americans might only know tier one Chinese cities like Beijing or Shanghai, but have no knowledge of other big cities in China.
"That's where I think China needs to step in and really push the idea that these cities are not just for business purposes. They're for educational and cultural purposes as well," he emphasized, adding that "there needs to be, I think, more than Panda diplomacy. There needs to be much more extensive cultural exchanges."
A fan of Chinese heavy metal rock, Taylor said he would love to see more Chinese contemporary art shows in the U.S. "There is the rise of Chinese hip-hop culture, Chinese rap. Why not more of those kinds of exchanges?"
He gave an example of early-age cultural exchange that the then-Chinese top leader Deng Xiaoping went to a rodeo in Houston when he visited the U.S. in 1979.
"I would love to see a cultural exchange with our Houston livestock show and rodeo people," said Taylor.
The Chinese people can not only have a full-blown rodeo like we have here in Houston, but also the kind of American culture, western culture, Texas culture that were not much known in China, he noted.
On the other hand, the professor said Texas people could be interested to find some similarities with Chinese culture. Those similarities are things that connect two peoples together,
"I think Texans, for example, might be very surprised that they have inner Mongolian barbecue and notice that it might be a little bit similar to Texas barbecue. Those are the kind of cultural things that are important, that we need to expand upon."
The professor agreed that some of the Chinese culture might be difficult for Americans to understand, but "there are some things that if you open your mind -- acrobatics, music, art -- that it might actually make for not only a very interesting experience but a profoundly impactful experience that might stay with somebody for a long time."
Taylor agreed with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Sino-U.S. relations started off as a strategic partnership with geopolitical concern, but turned into much more than that. It is important for China and the U.S. not only to get along, but to cooperate and to have collegiality.
He attached great importance to people-to-people exchange between the two countries, saying leaders of both countries are creating a sense of continuity of bilateral relations and expanding that continuity into different cultural programs and educational opportunities.
"The robustness, the depth of understanding, is incredibly increased by having these exchanges," he said, adding "understanding each other is better than not understanding who and what we are and where we are coming from."
He also expressed hope for more scholarship for American students to have the chance to visit China.
"To me, if you're going to understand not just China, not just China-U.S. relations but to understand the world that they're going to live in the 21st century, you need to be able to understand China among other places. And to be in China three months, six months or a year, is incredibly important," he noted.