a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Politics Over Pragmatism

Evan Osnos

Posted June 4, 2016

“Anybody who is interested in China, who’s developing things in China, who’s doing business with China needs to be thinking about the instinct towards politics over pragmatism”, argues New Yorker staff writer (and former Beijing resident) Evan Osnos. “It will affect your operations there. It’s not the kind of thing where you can be, ‘Well, look, we’re not interested in politics.'”

Osnos, who also wrote the award-winning book The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, shares experiences and views on the tension between one of the oldest civilizations in the world and newer story of nation-building (is it, like the buildings being built, structurally sound?); an evolving demographic (where “kids you have no idea how good you have it” may no longer be a hedge against politics); and middle-class Chinese, not just outside or elite, complaints about pollution (especially since “environmentalism has often been the front edge of a deeper change in political consciousness”).

And speaking of political consciousness and complaints, what of the Trump phenomenon? In this episode of the a16z Podcast — continuing our recent tech/policy/innovation D.C. on-the-road trip — Osnos, who is based in Washington, D.C., shares field observations from Charleston, South Carolina to West Virginia. And from Silicon Valley, where technologists might be able to do something about the largely public health, political, and economic problem of gun violence.