Robert Lawrence Kuhn, investment banker and anatomy researcher
Robert Lawrence Kuhn has many titles, ranging from investment banker to anatomy researcher. But he is better known in China as a specialist who knows the country inside out.
Over the past 29 years, he has visited almost every provincial region and spoken with people from all walks of life, including some who have gone on to become State leaders.
"It's been a great gift to my life to be able to learn so much about China's rich civilization, political theories and the whole development," he said.
Kuhn, who is from the United States, learns as an outsider but communicates as an insider. In his talk show Closer to China with R.L. Kuhn on the China Global Television Network, he presents China's complex story to the world through candid, intimate discussions with the country's decision-makers.
In a hotel suite in Wangfujing, downtown Beijing, one busy lunchtime last week, Kuhn shared his thoughts on Chinese politics with China Daily, between exercising and a meeting of the Communist Party of China, which he had been invited to attend as an observer.
He spoke passionately about the 19th CPC National Congress, which was held in Beijing in October, describing it as "a milestone congress that set the agenda for more than 30 years".
The Party proposed two new concepts at the congress－"a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics" and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which has been written into the Party Constitution.
"To understand China today, it is critical to appreciate what the new era means. … I like to understand new era in two categories: its characteristics at home and abroad, and its timeline," Kuhn said.
He has obviously developed his own way of explaining terms with Chinese characteristics. That is to break down the characteristics, domestically and internationally, rather than delve into the term.
He listed a number of challenges in China's new era, from pollution to medical care, among which he said the biggest is the rising expectations of the people at home, because "now that the people have some, they want more".
The complex international environment is the main characteristic of the new era, as the world is fragmented by diverse problems and challenges, he said.
While explaining what he called the timeline of the new era (2017, 2021, 2049) and expounding his understanding of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era－which he broke down into three categories: serve the people, national rejuvenation, and governance modernization－Kuhn showcased his knowledge of the Party's files, which he has clearly learned by heart.
He recited almost every key point of the 68-page report Xi delivered to the congress in October. More important, he made connections between these points, presenting them in a vivid way, seasoned with personal experiences and thinking.
When asked about the effects of the anti-corruption campaign, he immediately listed 10 objectives. That's his style of approaching Chinese issues－divergent thinking and a vigilance not to lose sight of the connections between different points.