In other words, the rise of China could weaken and relativise the hitherto overwhelming global dominance of the European-designed Westphalian system. This is in stark contrast to the other most populous nations in the world, such as India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil, which believe themselves to be multiracial. The Chinese attitude is primarily the product of its extraordinarily long history as a civilisation state, which has led to a long history of the mixing and melding of races and engendered a powerful sense of Chinese identity.
This is reinforced by a widespread belief in polygenism , that the Chinese are a separate branch of humanity rather than sharing a common origin with the rest of us in Africa. The Chinese sense of superiority is thus rooted in biological, as well as cultural, attitudes and beliefs.
One consequence is that the Chinese have little conception of difference, which is clearly manifest in their attitude towards Tibet and Xinjiang. These attitudes are age-old and are bound to influence Chinese perceptions and behaviour as a global power. The Chinese state is constructed in an entirely different way from western states.
Unlike European states, for over a millennium the Chinese state has not been obliged to compete for power with rivals such as the church, the aristocracy or merchants. The state stands extant in society, with no competitors and no clear boundaries to its power: rather than negotiating collectively with the state, other groups have instead traditionally sought favour and advantage on an individual basis.
The fact, furthermore, that modern China dates back to BC means that the state has enjoyed an extremely long history. For much of that period, it was explicitly based on Confucian ideas that, for their time, were very advanced: it is no exaggeration to suggest that China is the home of statecraft and, to this day, still possesses a very sophisticated state albeit one that has never been directly answerable to the people but rather to a set of values, for the most part Confucian, more recently communist. With the rise of China, the Chinese state will come to exercise a growing influence on the world as a model to be understood and emulated.
In an era when the European communist tradition imploded, the opposite has happened in China: contrary to almost universal western expectations after Tiananmen Square in , the Communist party not only survived but reinvented itself and, over the last 30 years, has presided over the most remarkable economic transformation in human history. Nor should we expect to witness its imminent demise; it probably enjoys greater prestige than at any time since The rise of China, therefore, obliges us to return to an issue which was regarded as closed after , namely the nature of the communist tradition.
In this context, rather than emphasising its differences, I would stress the lines of continuity between Confucianism and Chinese communism. Indeed, it is the Confucian, rather than the communist, tradition that remains by far the more important influence in shaping contemporary Chinese politics and attitudes. According to Goldman Sachs projections , the Chinese economy will overtake that of the United States in , and by will be almost twice the size. This — together with the rise of India, in particular — will bring down the curtain on the age of the west, which began around Instead of western universalism, we will find ourselves living in an increasingly unfamiliar world in which non-western cultures, and above all China, will be the dominant influences.
So what will be some of the key distinguishing characteristics of Chinese modernity? Topics China Will China rule the world?go
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In her place is a nice, but ineffectual, graduate student who tells us that he hates the opera, which, of course, makes us feel good. He said he took part in demonstrations early on, but now its too dangerous to his future and that politics is very important in China. The temperature is 10, degrees and the thing goes on forever. The first opera was one of the fairly interesting acrobatic ones.
The second one, a long drawn-out affair concerning interpersonal arguments, ends with a maroon magistrate meting out justice, people being led off in chains still arguing with each other, others are being whipped. I had several naps from which I was awoken occasionally by Stephanie-wielded elbows. Back to the car and back to the "Friendship" Hotel.
We go right through the Square this time. It's a different scene at The activity level is up, loudspeakers are blaring from both sides, the government and students. People are standing around listening, laughing occasionally. I tried to get the car to stop so that we could get out and look around, but was told that this was much too dangerous.
There is no apparent danger and certainly no danger to us. Whether there is danger to them, if we get caught, or apprehended, or observed, or whatever, I'm not sure. I suppose there is.
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Steph and I are full of plans to get back down here on our own, but I suspect that we will be carefully cosseted and not allowed to do it. Wang calls about with the news that his visa application has gone well and that he'll know tomorrow, which is today, whether he gets international airplane money. He tells me that I'm the first foreign visitor to the Chemistry Department, perhaps to the University, in Urumqi, just as I was the first to Fudan in We're up this morning at after a night filled with not much sleep to catch the honkmobile at for the Great Wall.
Perhaps in this city which is now somewhat divested of its usual tourist hordes, it won't be as quite the usual madhouse. We'll see. This is Sunday, June 4. Yesterday was a typical tourist day in old Beijing. While the whole city is going to hell in a handbag, Mait and Stephanie are shuttled off to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs. We managed to scrounge a little breakfast and then met Chan at about She started off with a suggestion that we not go out of town, but instead stay in town and try to determine what the airplane price from Urumqi to Kashgar is. She's been unable to figure that out and clearly isn't willing or able to do it by telephone.
It's one of those unbelievably infuriating things about China, which is compounded by about one-third misunderstanding of the situation on our part, one-third uncooperative bureaucracy on the part of the Chinese who simply don't want to tell you anything unless you have some kind of official authorization to know it and that includes things like airplane prices and one-third incompetence on the part of our Chinese keepers and guides who don't know how to operate in a system in which that kind of information is really available if you dig hard enough.
However, we've been assured that they are going to pay for my ticket and that the distance from Urumqi to Kashgar is much smaller than the distance from Beijing to Urumqi, so even if they double the price, it shouldn't be so bad. However, I could counter, if I could make them understand it, with the fact that in New York the price from Beijing to Urumqi was identical from that from Urumqi to Kashgar.
If they doubled one, they've probably doubled or tripled the other. But it seems there's little to be done about it except simply take the chance. The road out to the Wall and Ming Tombs takes less than an hour now. No more winding through little villages, but super highway all the way, at least super highway Chinese style.
There's also no traffic early in the morning on a Saturday. That's very unusual and either everyone's staying in town or no one's in town, which is the more likely reason. Fifty thousand tourists are rumored to have canceled trips to Beijing. More on rumors later. It's a coolish, foggy day and we arrive at the Great Wall at about There's very few people there, just a few Chinese Army louts and the odd tourist.
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We start up to the left as usual, because Nixon went to the right and in 15 minutes or so, Steph and I have hiked up to the top. Chan hangs back running out of gas. The few Chinese on the Wall compete with us when they see us. Their response to seeing a Westerner climbing the very steep slippery steps is to speed up and pass us and then later to be found gasping against a side rail.
We walk well past the last person. No longer is it easy to walk out on to the real wall, the unreconstructed wall, because they've extended the renovation another half-mile or so.
But you can now sit up here, at least on a day like today, look off towards Mongolia and imagine what it was like years and years ago. We take a few tourist pictures, reconnect with Chan and down we go, a much harder trip.
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At the bottom, Chan buys Stephanie and her nephew, or something like that, a t-shirt. We reciprocate with juice, which is, alas, absolutely undrinkably bad, and off we go jiggity jog to the Ming Tombs. These have been spruced up a lot. Again, today there are no crowds or at least not the usual style of crowds. Stephanie says there are "six trillion thousand people," but there really weren't.
The museum part has been moved out of its tiny little shed into a rather nicely done great hall. Immense camphor trees, I think, are holding up the ceiling, all now protected from the tourists by plastic shields. There are well lit cases showing the gold and silver objects found in the Ding Ling Tomb. My favorite object was a yellow robe in which I would like to lecture organic chemistry.
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On walking about we acquired a pine cone or two and then we are off to the second site which traditionally is the excavated mound from which these objects were taken. First we stop for lunch in the same place I've had lunch twice before and it was a vast, rather good affair.