Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On China's Nationalism

In my conversations with Stone I sometimes find that he can come off as rather demeaning. Not that he is a physically imposing person (in fact, he's quite the opposite), but he's eloquent and has a very harsh tone sometimes that appears a bit condescending.

"You don't know Chinese history, you need to understand Chinese culture." etc.

I don't understand Chinese history or culture? I am Chinese! But am I? Being born and raised in California, I didn't watch CCTV growing up or study Confucius, rather, I grew up on the X-Files and reading Time Magazine/ Economist. But as I grew older, I began to study and appreciate Chinese language, history, and culture. Also, my parents and grandparents raised me with a healthy dose of Chinese culture just by being who they were (immigrants from Taiwan). Surely I know something about China, right?

Over meals we debate Chinese history, politics for hours at a time. I like to interject Stone's purely-Chinese viewpoints with contrasts derived from my perspective of American history. With 5,000 years of history, Stone indeed has a deep well of information to draw from. When the smoke cleared, however, we came to the consensus that Chinese people indeed do have a right to be proud of their history and culture, but the problem with current society lies with those in charge of the country. Are they willing to make the sacrifices necessary to empower the rest of the country, to share their power so that others may also thrive? Or will they continue to hold on their power, make promises of changing things, and then do not a whole lot about it (or even the opposite)? This is the fundamental question.

Given my beliefs, I often tell Stone that the biggest difference between China and the US is America's historical belief in God. Americans historically have tended to believe in (and hence follow, or worship) God, while Chinese people have gotten away from this belief in 上帝 (the ancient Chinese term for God), especially in recent years.

If we are to believe that:

1) God is all-powerful and the creator of all things
2) He loves us and cares for us
3) He sees and knows all things
4) He especially guides and blesses those who choose to love him

then I don't see how my postulate couldn't possibly be true. If you are an unbeliever reading this blurb, then of course this entry probably doesn't make a lot of sense to you. But as a believer, my thoughts are that if indeed God is all-powerful and willing and able to bless others, then its pretty clear a society where the majority adhere to these beliefs will be more 'blessed' or 'civilized' than a country where the majority do not. And these results manifest over time, in many different ways: from prosperity, to innovation, to our ability to help other countries, to culture, to the ways we treat each other.

And that is the fundamental difference between the U.S. and China. At least for now, anyways. Who knows where we'll be in 50 years...

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