Victor Gao: every day is a day of gratitude
Victor Gao has many roles to play in his life: he's a current affairs commentator, a policy advisor, and a lawyer. His diverse career started back when he joined China's foreign service in his 20s as an English interpreter. That job gave him rare opportunities to work with some of the world's great leaders, including late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and veteran U.S. politicians George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Henry Kissinger. How did those great figures influence his vision of the world and his career? Gao shares his memories with us in our series "Deep Dive: Talks with Chinese Internationals".
Victor Gao, a current affairs commentator, takes an interview from China Plus on Dec. 7, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]
Every Day Is A Day of Gratitude
by Manling, host of China Plus
More than a decade and a half ago, I was asked by a BBC news anchorperson that if I were allowed to go back in time to meet and talk to a renowned influential person, who would it be. Without hesitation, I answered that I'd love to talk to late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and thank him in person for what he did for China, for its people, and especially for resuming Gaokao, which changed my life completely and also the lives of millions of Chinese youth.
This is the question I would never miss the opportunity to ask Victor Gao, a well-established, current affairs commentator and "a Jack of all trades," as he mockingly called himself during our interview, simply because he had met this great man in person by working as an interpreter for Chinese top leaders back then. Being such a multifaceted man, for almost four decades, has provided him a barrage of employment opportunities and roles, where he shows no signs of stepping down from this fast track treadmill of life. Before we started, I warned him that the interview would be a long one. Instead of commenting on current affairs which usually takes no more than 10 minutes, this time we are going to talk about his life stories, his encounters with world leaders and dignitaries, and how he has grown to be what he is today.
Victor Gao spent the first five years of his career as an interpreter in the Chinese Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1988 and had the opportunity to work in close range with many top Chinese leaders and world dignitaries including Deng Xiaoping.
When asked if he was grateful to the former leader, he responded without reluctance saying that every day is a day of gratitude. His answer echoed my deepest wish in heart. Like many of my peers, the more I achieve in life and career, the deeper this gratitude to Deng Xiaoping becomes. Without him, Victor and I would never be able to sit across from each other and do this show in English. Deng's decision to resume Gaokao, or China's national college entrance exam in 1977, had a huge impact on every Chinese citizen and the geopolitical system of the world. Without any applicable knowledge learned in high school, with teachers dispersed into every walk of life, he decided to resume Gaokao immediately, with no more time wasted. Victor and I recalled the middle school of our generation, where we didn't really learn much. Nobody was ready for Gaokao but Deng feverishly encouraged it. After so many years, we still marveled at how fate had changed us due to his decision. We knew without his wisdom and vision, we would never have grown up educated nor would be doing what we are doing today.