When I close my eyes and think of China, I see images of a country rich in beauty—
I see emerald gorges, the vast prairies of inner Mongolia, the snowcapped mountains of the north, mist rising from the Yangtze river, and the huge ports and chaotic markets of Shanghai.
But there is more—
My mind is clouded by the fearful images the US and other Western media outlets construct and circulate. I see a vivid picture of a behemoth that is consuming the world's resources, propping up dictators, dominating world currencies, stripping human rights, and ravaging the environment.
But, now, with the wave of voices brought forth by our editors in this edition, a new image of China is emerging beneath my eyelids.
I have heard the wisdom of China's women leaders who are building models that will inspire the world: models of participatory community development, green energy, empowering media, migrant labor advocacy, and village healthcare. As many wring their hands wondering how we can 'pressure' and 'convince' China to change its ways, I see strong women across China using their voices to flexibly and often successfully pressure the Chinese government to embrace and advance their innovative ideas for change from the inside out.
Listening to their voices I see now a complex, honest, and dynamic picture that reveals where the untapped levers for change in China lie—a picture where hope and courage grows and blossoms.
There is no doubt that China's women are uniquely positioned to lead the world into a new era of possibility.
We cannot turn away from China. With the fastest growing economy of any country, and more than a fifth of the world's population living in her borders, the potential of China's women is enormous and the pace of change is unprecedented.
Today many women are living through a light speed transformation that includes industrialization, urbanization, and new opportunities.
However, we cannot gloss over an international record which includes economic and military support of the Burmese and Sudanese regimes, and domestic policies that restrict media freedom, labor rights, and is responsible for 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities. This is a record that rivals that of my own country, the US, and both of our powerful nations must be held accountable, together, to universal human rights and environmental standards.
Yet, as China's influence increases, we must not fall prey to one-sided blame and narrow diatribes, which only alienate her people. We must instead embrace this opportunity to start a new conversation with China's citizens. Let us break though our own internalized fear that is holding us back from profound dialogue.
Myself, I feel as though I have just shared tea with a roundtable of women deeply in love with their country.These are strong women, willing to go all the way to realize China's great possibility as a genuinely admired world leader, and they have woven a new story for China in my soul.
By joining hands with them, the great possibility of China just got a whole lot greater.