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  • 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:

  • 送你葱

  • So it's not like "hello" or "thank you,"

  • that ordinary stuff.

  • It means "green onion 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 in Shanghai,

  • who loves singing Western opera,

  • but she didn't understand

  • any English or French or Italian,

  • so she managed to fill in the lyrics

  • with vegetable names in Chinese.

  • (Laughter)

  • And the last sentence of Nessun Dorma

  • that she was singing in the stadium

  • was "green onion for free."

  • So [as] Susan Boyle was saying that,

  • 80,000 live audience sang together.

  • That was hilarious.

  • 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 them through.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 own media company,

  • which was unthought of

  • during the years that I started my career.

  • So we do a lot of things.

  • I've interviewed more than a thousand people in 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 off her 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.

  • Microblog boomed in the year of 2010,

  • with visitors doubled

  • and time spent on it tripled.

  • Sina.com, a major news portal,

  • alone has more 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 the steam out a little bit.

  • But because you don't have many other openings,

  • the heat coming out of this opening

  • is sometimes very strong, active

  • and even violent.

  • 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.

  • In cities, 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 in very 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 first apartment.

  • 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.

  • 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 job losses,

  • subject to inflation,

  • tightening loans from banks,

  • appreciation of the renminbi,

  • or decline of demand

  • from Europe or America

  • for the products they produce.

  • Last year, though,

  • an appalling incident

  • in a southern OEM manufacturing 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,

  • of these 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 new business

  • in the less developed market.

  • So for the past few years, the coastal areas,

  • they found themselves in a shortage of labor.