Peter Hessler, a former Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, spent years in China before he decided to get a driver’s license. Then, license in hand, Hessler planned a road trip that followed the Great Wall. His new book, Country Driving: a Journey through China from Farm to Factory, is a memoir about his extended trip.
Hessler spoke with Emily Parker, a fellow at the Center on U.S.-China Relations, about the experience at an event for The Asia Society.
Stream and download the talk here for free.
On Cops in China: "You never see highway patrolmen, or police. There’s nobody monitoring the roads…and in Inner Mongolia their solution to this was to put statues of cops along the road, I guess to sort of inspire people to drive better."
On First Moving to China: "I felt just overwhelmed by trying to learn the language and... how things worked. Then, once I got a foothold, I realized that Chinese people often feel the same way, not as lost as me, but they have a lot of stuff they have to figure out. It’s a new country for them as well."
On Factory Towns: "This was a place where people are very open. They were open because they were all outsiders."