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Op-Ed Contributors

China's unstoppable move to

modernity as a cultural state
By Francis C W Fung (
Updated: 2010-03-02 09:29
China missed out on the 19th Century industrialization. This time she is moving
towards modernity with determination as a Cultural State. Soon President Obama
will go to Indonesia and Australia for state visits. 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.
In a Feb 1, 2010 PBS Charlie Rose interview, Larry Summers, economic adviser to
President Obama, offered the following 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. Second, the most important thing a major
nation must do is to empower the growth of the vast middle class. Third, in the 21st
Century we must know how to harmonize with the developing world, most of all with
Above vision seem in all respect a fit description of China's growing momentum as
analyzed in detail by Martin Jacques's book "When China Rules the World". 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 of a magnificent civilization as a Cultural State.
Martin Jacques also argued strongly that modernity is not necessarily Westernization
specifically in reference to China. China is so immense, following her major
developed cities and regions, her rural areas still have a lot of room to grow. 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, Jacques 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 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.
China's move to modernity is 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 will not challenge America's military hard power rather in soft power
because she is a cultural state. Within China as a cultural state various political
systems are allowed. That was the terms on which Hong Kong returned to China as
one country two systems. In the same way the mainland extends her hand to Taiwan
for reconciliation.
China's growth is unstoppable because the momentum she has generated within
and the vast potential she has created for her continuing growth together with the
world. The Western media in its eagerness to be politically correct still writes with
deep rooted Cold War mentality. Is China really a communist state according to our
Cold War definition? Will bring back the Cold War work to stop China growth?
America took her eyes off the ball because of 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. In the future we have no
choice but to harmonize with China for win-win mutual growth as implied by Larry
Summers. Any Smart Diplomacy in criticizing China's Internet management, selling
Arms to Taiwan and meeting with Dalai Lama 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.
China's growth for our own healthy perspective should be seen as the simultaneous
growth of a massive collection of Chinese regions such as Pearl Delta, Yangtze
Delta, Beihai Delta and cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin,
Wuhan, Jilin, Xian and even Urumqi among many. Imagine this incredibly large
number of formidable regions and cities are growing in the tradition of Japan and the
four Asian Tigers with Confucian work ethics? The Chinese government today sans
any political agenda, is single mindedly focused on bringing 1.3 billion citizens to the
goal of better life with dignity according to Chinese Premier Wen JiaBao in a recent
chat with Chinese net citizens. China is developing with the concept of scientific
development towards a harmonious society. Harmony Renaissance is China's
development as a cultural state.
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. This is our double standard of passing our judgment onto China
when the Chinese move towards modernity is actually very similar to the way the
four Asian Tigers in their move to modernity during the 20th Century. They all follow
Confucius tradition with heavy borrowing of technology from the West. In China's
case however, her development model consists of a hybrid system of government
guiding both State and private industries according to Martin Jacques. This 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.
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. She has neither
political agenda nor a development model to enforce on others. This is what makes
her attractive to developing nations as a partner. China has 5,000 years of cultural
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 such as
America without America appearing rude and hubris to other developing ancient
China development in harmony with Asian, African and developing nations of the
world is particularly worth mentioning. Today China is the largest investor in Asia and
Africa according to Martin Jacques. China's labor and technical teams are also busy
working to build badly needed infrastructure in Africa. China's complementary
development and affinity with the developing world will thus continue to grow with the
rise of the developing world during the 21st Century. This move towards world
harmony and mutual development is totally unstoppable.
The author is the General Director of World Harmony Organization. The opinions
expressed are his own.