Matt Cuddy is the CNBC Washington Bureau News Director on assignment in China with "Squawk Box" host Carl Quintanilla--covering the U.S. and Chinese economic talks. Here are his "behind the scene" impressions of the trip so far:
On our first night in Beijing we walked around Tiananmen Square to burn off some jet lag. We met a couple young elementary school teachers who heard us speaking English and were eager to demonstrate their command of the language, and also ask a hundred questions about America.
Besides their enthusiasm, and clear interest in the United States I was particularly surprised when one of them said, "you know on Monday we had a very big holiday here in China." I was pretty jet lagged and tried to jog my memory about anything I read about China holidays - I couldn't. She then volunteers, "Monday was our fifth anniversary for being in the WTO." I had not told her why we were in China, she assumed we were tourists and I was amazed that a "20-something" elementary school teacher talks about WTO accession as a major national "holiday."
Later a big U.S. based venture capitalists we run into in the lobby of our hotel can't contain his enthusiasm about the prospects for this country and his focus is almost entirely about the youth culture. He explains that he gave a series of five speeches in the last month in Beijing on entrepreneurship and there were over a 1,000 kids there every time. He says it is commonly said that December 11th (China's WTO anniversary) is more important in this country then September 11th. His excitement about the future of the country and it's next generation of leaders was boundless.
Finally, the flip side of the story in China. We are in Tiananmen Square shooting material for our coverage here this week. We have gotten written permission to be in the Square for 40 minutes. (11 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.). Though we have moved around the Square a lot and no one appears to be paying much attention to us, except the Chinese tourists, at 11:39 a.m. the armed guards start telling us we have one minute and we must go. They are exceptionally firm, not willing to give another minute to wrap up our work.
The local NBC producer later explained, they don't care we are there or that we will shoot something we shouldn't - it is just a bunch of monuments and buildings -- the guards are concerned that our camera will spark someone in the crowd of Chinese tourists to make some sort of statement or protest. The Chinese are very aware of how those images get magnified by television cameras.