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CHINA IS A CULTURAL STATE NOT A POLITICAL STATE China is an ancient country with 5000 years of continuous history and tradition bound. (See Appendix A) This is unique among modern nation states. Notwithstanding the present Chinese government has made changes on the political scene, the Chinese remain cultural bound and strongly influenced by Confucius teaching. The idea of mandate from heaven and in family and nation there is always a central authority only weakened by outside influence is still alive today. Most Chinese basically are not political activists as long as the government is doing a good job in performance. Chinese people appear to be less politically active wherever they are. This appears o be true in China as well as most Chinese overseas communities including San Francisco, where the population is 40% or more. However the mandate of heaven is not irrevocable. This is evident as we witness the rise of peasant revolts to overthrow the Emperors in the changing of non performing emperors in history. This right to overthrow the non performing authority is also taught by Mencius the most renowned Confucius disciple. In Chinese the word country has the duet meaning of nation and family. So the connection of the concepts of family and country is strong. An authority establishing social and family order is acceptable based on performance. As a cultural state China can accept different religious and political entities to exist in different parts of China. That is why Deng Xiaoping’s proposal of one nation different systems for Hong Kong’s return went off without a hitch. This idea of multi religions and political systems can work in a cultural state and not necessary in a centralized political state. China as an ancient culture never created a national religion of her own, instead she accepted all outside religions. Most notably China merged Buddhism from India with Confucius and Daoism philosophy into various forms of coexisting Buddhism. In time China will develop her top down and bottom up converging democracy. It has to be in her way and on her own priority. It is already happening according to John and Doris Niasbitt in their book Megatrends of China. Outside pressure will only unite the Chinese people behind her government. This is witnessed by the incident of U.S. bombing of the Chinese Yugoslavia Embassy and the current dispute over U.S. arm sales to Taiwan. Millions of net citizens are writing in to support the government. As a cultural state, China will move towards modernity in a very unique fashion. It will adopt western technology and modern management but she will retain her long traditional culture. Like manner, in the future, large developing nations will modernize within the context of their own ancient culture. The rise of China after the 2008 financial crises becomes that much more dramatic. We will find China reach out to the world with her
traditional friendship and harmony. Her way of harmony diplomacy will stand in stark contrast to American aggressive Smart Diplomacy. The world watched our War on Terror, Neo Conservatism and other foreign policies during the last decade as obvious excessive use of military power. It is time to understand China as a cultural state and not a political state and turn a softer side in reaching out to China. We are the most powerful nation in the world we can afford to show our magnanimity without appearing weak. President Obama with his diverse background has a unique and final opportunity. Laotzu has said “The more powerful the more one should be humble”. Let us hope U.S. and China can reach harmony consensus through better understanding. CHINA’S UNSTOPPABLE MOVE TO MODERNITY AS A CULTURAL STATE China missed out on the 19th Century industrialization. This time it is moving with determination as a Cultural State and not a political Nation State. Soon President Obama will go to Indonesia and Australia for state visit. He will be likely welcomed as a return of the favorite son and will be told that China’s growth is good for Indonesia. In Australia he will hear that for the first time, a white Anglo-Saxon nation state’s continuing growth is dependent on China. Despite China’s current economic success, according to Zhao Qizheng’s Feb.4, 2010 article, China has no desire to export her yet developing model (See following Appendix B) Before we go to the story of China’s unstoppable growth, let’s break for the educated observation from Larry Summer, our preeminent economic adviser to President Obama. In a Feb 1, 2010 PBS Charlie Rose interview, Larry offered the following three summary of his view on the 21st Century. First, the most momentous event in the 21st Century is the rise of the developing world, not the current financial crises, as devastating as it may seem. Second, the most important thing a major nation must do is to empower the growth of the vast middle class. Without growth and hope of the middle class no matter how well a nation does in policy and strategy will be in vain. The U.S. middle class living standard has been in decline relative to many nations during the last five decades except brief intervals. Third, in the 21st Century we must know how to harmonize with the developing world, most of all with China. Above vision seem in all respect a fit description of China’s growing momentum as analyzed in resplendent detail also by Martin Jacques’s book “When China Rules the World” just freshly out of the press. Contrary to the title of the book, Jacques's final conclusion is that China will not rule the world. He believes the rise of China will be the revival of the Chinese culture, and China will resume its heritage as one of the magnificent civilizations as a Cultural State. One is advised to refer to the book for more details. Martin Jacques also argued strongly that modernity is not necessarily Westernization specifically in reference to China albeit in the 21st Century the developing world will move towards modernity in their own way according to their own unique tradition and stage of development. China is so immense, she will continue her development with the major cities and regions as developed and the rural areas continue as developing regions.
Jacques with in depth analysis to differentiate China from the European Political States, also defined China as a Cultural State and not a Political State because of her long civilization. Of interest, Jaques pointed out that China as a Cultural State in her development will revisit her ancient cultural heritage and rediscover her cultural roots such as Confucianism and Daoism and all their glorious teaching of Harmony. Also China in her move towards pluralism will invent her own democracy. This is supported by John and Doris Naisbitt, in their 2009 book China’s Megatrends .John and Doris detailed in their book that a top down and bottom up convergence democracy is emerging in China that is holding the government accountable. The readers are highly recommended to refer to China’s Megatrends for an in depth objective and informative analysis of modern China development. Here we will only venture to tell a short story of why China’s move to modernity is now unstoppable despite America’s intervention with the so called Smart Diplomacy. China’s growth will benefit not only her but the whole world. Further, China can never challenge America in military hard power rather in soft power because she is a cultural state not a political nation state. Within China as a cultural state various political system is allowed. That is the terms Hong Kong returned to China as one country two systems. In the same way China extends her hand to Taiwan for reconciliation. The world of China’s growth is unstoppable because the momentum she has generated and the vast potential she has created for her continuing growth. Why does it happen so fast without us acquiring the right perspective and catch us unprepared? Our hubris belief, that the so called Communist China sooner or later will self destruct, is largely to blame. The Western media in its eagerness to be politically correct is still writes with deep rooted Cold War mentality. Haven’t we seen the fall of Soviet Russia so recently? Is China really communist according to our Cold War definition? Will bring back the Cold War work to bring down China? The truth of the matter is American took our eyes off the ball because of our preoccupation with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during the last ten years, during that time China achieved unprecedented growth in human history in scale and speed. Now for our future we have no choice but to harmonize with China for win-win mutual growth from here on as implied by Larry Summer. In fact, any Smart Diplomacy in criticizing China’s Internet management, selling Arms to Taiwan and granting Dalai Lama audience by Obama will only demonstrate to the developing world that we are interfering in China’s internal affairs. Such is the affinity of the developing world with China as the leading developing nation. We should learn that we are also losing the U.N. debate on Human Rights. America in her Constitution upheld Freedom of speech as an absolute standard. Whereas Chinese Constitution the rights of livelihood, education and medical services is also included which was regarded by Americans as opportunities. In developing countries all those so called opportunities are very necessary rights that the government should guarantee the citizens. America holds the original Constitution as sacred and not easily amendable and proud of its heritage as one the earliest Constitution. China allows periodic amendment to keep up with her development needs and is thus more flexible.
Instead, the story of China’s growth for our own healthy perspective should be seen as the simultaneous growth of a massive collection of Chinese regions of Pearl Delta, Yangtze Delta, Beihai Delta and cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Jilin, Xian and even Urumqi among many. Imagine, these incredibly large number of formidable regions and cities are growing in the tradition of Japan and the four Asian Tigers with Confucian work ethics? As if this is not enough, the powerful Chinese government today sans any political agenda, is single mindedly focused on bringing 1.3 billion citizens to the goal of reasonable well being. Their Motto is to follow Deng Xiaoping’s teaching “Crossing the River by Testing the Stones”. They have no political agenda or any pretention of offering a model to the world but develop with Chinese characteristics. They are moving as a huge cultural state rich in 5000 years of continuous history. That is what we need to prepare for. If the most momentum event is the rise of the developing nations according to Larry Summer then China is their shinning star. Our most pressing national priority is to turn around our Middle Class slide into poverty but not to contain China as our dedicated goal. China’s move to modernity will benefit the whole world as we can see. By harmonizing with China we open up vast opportunity for us to grow also. Or else we will be isolated outside the greatest movement in the 21st Century, the rise of the developing world. All nations have different forms of prejudices, Black, White, Yellow or Brown. President Obama has a unique chance to show the world that America is less prejudiced. Deploying Smart Diplomacy to confront China not only will not work, it will actually back fire. The developing world will see it as a powerful developed country practicing information and value hegemony and not harmony. There has been heavy criticism by Western media that China’s economy grows by less desirable autocratic capitalism because the West believes modernization means Westernization. There is no other viable mode of modernization. This is our double standard of passing our judgment onto China when the Chinese move towards modernity is actually very similar to the way Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in their move to modernity during the 20th Century. They all follow Confucius tradition with heavy borrowing of technology from the West. Their individual central government exercises strong influence on the global development and some industries. Chinese government may still draft 5 year plans but the actual administration is passed down to the provinces and cities as the case may be. In China’s case however, their development consists of a hybrid system of government guiding both State and private industries according to Martin Jacques. The Chinese innovation and success is remarkable due to the ability of the State owned enterprises can also go public and raise private capital and the private industries at times also get federal funding. This two way flexibility is what turned around the failing Chinese State Owned Enterprises and helped many private industries to flourish. This flexibility is what Deng Xiaoping called “Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones” and is quite a stroke of Chinese genius.
We routinely attack China as having an undesirable political system. But we are off the target. China is not a political nation state. She is a cultural state. She goes through all measures to prove non interference in other nation’s politics or domestic affairs. She has neither political agenda nor a development model to enforce on others. China is a cultural state with 5000 years of inscrutable tradition and preeminence. Her ancient cultural influence was extended mostly through harmony rather than outright conquest. A long lasting continuous culture like China’s cannot be subject to broad criticism from a young dynamic country without appearing rude and hubris to other developing ancient cultures. Particularly China is moving towards modernity in her own way and paces by satisfying her vast middle class population. On record, China has lifted over 500 million poverty stricken citizens to a reasonable life from a hopeless state and desperately in need of livelihood in the shortest time in human history. That is quite an impressive miracle for the entire developing world to see. The relation of China with African developing nations is particularly worth mentioning. Today China is the largest investor in Africa according to Martin Jacques. China’s labor and technical teams are also busy working to build badly needed infrastructure in Africa. Her help to African nations usually have no strings attached. Unlike China, Western help generally follows with political agenda. Despite Western media’s unfair suggestion of Chinese Neocolonialism, China’s economy is very complementary to African developing economies. That is why African nations will be more likely to side with China in the event of any show down between China and America. Traditionally African nations consider China as their trusted friend because China delivers what she promises. This is unlikely to ever change. It makes undeniable logic that America best harmonize with China in our joint efforts for three way win-win development for all parties concerned to help Africa modernize. Unity in diversity and win win mutual development is the inevitable tide of the 21st century developing movement. So far for the last 30 years U.S. and China have been operated on the principle of cooperation. and not confrontation.. In future it is advisable for both nations to continue their Harmony Consensus and share in the win-win development according to the “Summer Trend” as suggested at the beginning of this essay. Otherwise America may face being isolated by the developing world when China plays her developing world card. Currently, U.S. media is debating who is more dependent on the other. Notwithstanding that China is our biggest lender of our National debt; invariable continuing our hubris, the media conclusion is that China is more dependent on the U.S. So America will continue our China bashing and why not, we have kept China at bay for the last 30 years since her reform and open up. Jacques in his book proved conclusively that the developing world in Asia and China now understands China’s peaceful intention and their needs are complementary with China’s needs. It is well known to the Asian and African nations, Zheng He, the Chinese Muslim Admiral sailed the seven seas during the early 1400’s in seven expeditions. At the time China had the mightiest and most sophisticate navy compared to Europe. Zheng He’s landings at Asia and Africa were friendly ceremonial gift exchanges and ambassador exchanges with the visited nations. The mighty expeditions never led to occupation and
colonizing of the lands visited. These expeditions deeply impressed Asian and African nations today that China’s peaceful mentality. Although the West prefers not to give Zheng He the credit of his achievements in comparison to Columbus, his remarkable voyages of the seven seas finally is well recorded by Gavin Menzies, in his book “1421, The Year China Discovered America”. U.S. out spends the world combined on armament for the last 30 years after the Cold War. In the 2010 budget, President Obama again escalated defense spending to increase missiles and F35 fighter aircrafts for ‘security reasons’. This is very disappointing in view that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Fortunately all Chinese leaders read Sun Zi, follow the Deng Xiaoping teaching for China “Observe developments soberly, maintain our position, meet challenges calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, remain free of ambition, never claim leadership” and avoid serious confrontations. China is a cultural state for the last 5000 years of continuing history. Rich in Harmony Philosophy as taught by Confucius and Lao-tzu, even Sun Zi advised to win any confrontation without the necessity of war. Hopefully, the current disputes between U.S. and China created by U.S. arm sales to Taiwan, President Obama’s coming meeting with Dalai Lama and the Google incited charge and counter charge of “Internet Freedom” and “Information Imperialism” will not get out of hand. World Harmony can be practiced between America and China through Harmony Diplomacy will not only minimize conflicts between the two leading powers but is essential for world peace. In conclusion, Jacques summarized in his book “The West will progressively discover, it will increasingly find itself in the same position as the rest of the world was during the West’s long era of supremacy, namely being obliged to learn from and live on the terms of the West. For the first time, a declining West will be required to engage other cultures and countries and learn from their strengths. The United States is entering a protracted period of economic, political and military trauma. It finds itself on the eve of a psychological, emotional and existential crisis. Its medium-term reaction is unlikely to be pretty: the world must hope it is not too ugly.” Hopefully, Obama will be the harmony president we elected him for. Francis C W Fung, Ph.D. Director General World Harmony Organization email@example.com San Francisco, Feb. 2010 Edited by James C Townsend
APPENDIX A (From China Daily) The natural way is to rule by morals
He who rules by the law dies by the law He who rules by the sword die by the sword The natural way is to rule by morals The Chinese civilization is an experiment in ruling by wisdom and by morality. Some times we fail, some times we succeed When we fail, dynasties fall and there is much sufferings. But this spirit has sustained us for 5000 years and will continue to sustain us. We must not give up trying. The American revolution started a new force There, they believe in democracies, fightings, forming cliques and parties. Of laws and of the sword. Of checks and balances and of lobby groups. Theirs are born of a firm conviction of the fallen man...that men are inherently evil born with the original sin. But, Confucius teach that men are born good and innocent It is our duty to build a society based on morality, wisdom, trust and relationships. Tyranny of the majority is not the aim Unity is the aim for divided the nation will fall. Ours is an onerous task. In the pursuance of unity We aim for 100% agreement through negotiations and harmony. 51% is not enough We need to control the flow of information The propaganda department has the key role to play Unhealthy influences will be blocked As food is nutrition of the body Good quality information is the food of the mind. The temple of the mind should be protected.
2010-1-30 03:02 PM
Scope of 'Chinese model' too wide
By Zhao Qizheng (China Daily) Updated: 2010-02-04 07:48
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China's development in the last three decades has been an enticing topic for the international community. Joshua Cooper Ramo, an expert on contemporary China, was a pioneer who summarized the reasons for China's economic success. He believed China had a developmental route that suited the conditions of the nation and the needs of society, and it sought fairness and growth of quality. His "Beijing consensus" explanation cited hard work, active innovation, bold experimentation, incremental progress, accumulation of talent, and resolute defense of the national sovereignty and interests as the keys to success. "Commitment to innovation and constant experimentation" was the soul of his Beijing consensus theory that advocates dealing with problems in a flexible and case-by-case manner. Many comments since then have extended the "Beijing consensus" to a "Chinese model", and many works on this theme have emerged. Those authors give different accounts of the so-called Chinese model from various perspectives. Many of them are fairly objective, but there are also malicious voices from ideologues who preach the platitude of the "China threat" and warn of the export of the Chinese model. In fact, neither the "Beijing consensus" nor the "Chinese model" is brought up by China.
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The word "model" has an implication of pattern, and may imply that China is to teach other countries. China does not have that intention, however. Hence, we must be very cautious when using the phrase "Chinese model". I would prefer to use "Chinese case" and
include the ideas, policies, practices, achievements and problems in the process of China's development since the foundation of the People's Republic, especially in the last three decades. It combines a socialist system and a market economy. It is a process rather than a status, since it is still developing. Some Westerners comment that the 19th century was the British century, since Great Britain was the master of the ocean. The 20th century was the Americans' century due to the US' military and economic supremacy. But the 21st century will be China's century, or at least the Asian century. If the Chinese century or Asian century means that China and Asia is to revive economically and culturally, it is a probable scenario. If it implies China is to dominate the world just like the UK and the US did, then it is a false judgment. Considering China's cultural tradition, contemporary foreign policies, national power and the will of the people, Chinese hegemony in the 21st century is merely a fantasy and will never come true. The international surroundings do not allow for another hegemonic nation. Last year, Martin Jacques, a British columnist and academic, published a book named "When China Rules the World" in which he forecasted that China will be the largest economy in the world by 2050. Goldman Sachs made an even bolder projection that China's GDP will be twice as large as the US GDP in 2050. These prophecies, however, are far too optimistic. Even if they are fulfilled, per capita output of China will still be much lower than in the US. But contrary to the appalling title of his
book, Jacques's final conclusion is that China will not rule the world. He believes the rise of China will be the revival of the Chinese culture, and China will resume its position as one of the magnificent civilizations. China does not have any motive to export the so-called Chinese model. Any developing country, in its development strategy, must account for its own national conditions. The socalled Chinese model is not universally applicable, nor is the development model of any industrialized country. Comprehensiveness can only be valid when it is subjected to cultural diversity. For instance, fraternity, liberty, peace and democracy are universal values. But for different nations and cultures in different historical stages, specific forms of these values can be quite different. Francis Fukuyama, the author of The End of History and the Last Man, once believed that the contemporary Western political and economic system is the acme and the finality of human history, and consequently, that history has ended. He did not consider prospective innovations in the Western system, and denied the values of the current and future systems of other countries. Using the Western democracy and free market as the only benchmark, he ignored varied historical and cultural backgrounds of humanity, and rejected the fact that the world is diverse. Therefore, his theory does not stand the test of time. The Chinese case theory is an ongoing process and will be developed and completed. Though China has achieved a lot, difficulties have mounted, too. Economic growth has pushed China's environment to the
brink of collapse. Economic and social development is not balanced between urban and rural areas, and among different regions. The economic structure is too export-driven. Stable development of agriculture and sustainable growth of rural residents' income have become even more difficult. Many problems dealing with employment, the social safety net, income distribution, education, healthcare, judicial justice, public order and others, are yet to be solved. Corruption is still very severe. In face of numerous thorny domestic problems, China will continue to give priority to its internal affairs. China does not admire or expect the status of a superpower. For many years, it has focused on promoting domestic development and solving its own problems. Along with ascending national power, China is willing to undertake international responsibility matching its capability. For example, in the past China had not participated in the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations. Now China has offered more UN peacekeepers than any other Security Council permanent member. China has increased its engagement in dealing with the global challenges such as climate change, environment pollution, natural disasters, terrorism, cross-border crimes, drug smuggling and epidemics. Perhaps by the middle of this century, when China has become a developed country, it can offer a more profound understanding of the Chinese case and contribute more to the international community. The author is director of the foreign affairs committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The
article was originally published in the latest issue of China Reform. (China Daily 02/04/2010 page8)