At Tina Brown’s Women in the World conference Friday afternoon, Charlie Rose hosted a session called “China: What Women Want.”
“How would you answer the question ‘China, what do Chinese women want?'” Rose asked his panelists. On stage were Wendi Murdoch, “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua and Newsweek Beijing bureau chief Melinda Liu. Rupert Murdoch sat in the third row. It was his 80th birthday (and, across town, Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson’s 40th). Nobody onstage was interested in Rose’s question.
“My book, ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,’ its being marketed as a book about strict parenting in this country,” Chua answered. “It’s being pitched in the exact opposite way in China.” “When I got the Chinese edition of my book,” she continued, “I was horrified, I actually thought I have to bring a lawsuit, because the title was translated into ‘Parenting by a Yale Law Professor.'” Everyone laughed.
Murdoch was talking about her own project, the forthcoming film “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which she produced. The trailer played before the panel, and she said it will be the first film to open at the same time in China and the U.S. “For our children — Rupert’s here in the audience — we call it tough love,” Murdoch said. “Our children sort of combine the best of Chinese and the best of American methods to teach them. We want them hard-working, disciplined.” She said she used methodical training, including flashcards, to make sure each of her children speak perfect Chinese, “but that didn’t work on Rupert.”
At the end of the panel an Australian woman in the front row asked Murdoch to reflect on being the “Versace of China.” “When I go back to China,” Murdoch answered, “I have a lot of relatives I didn’t know I had before.”