benpenguin wrote:I think it is similar to my experience with a lot of westernized liberals. Both sides are pretty darn stubborn and I never try to argue if they are not ready to listen. But to be frank I don't think the "universal progressive values" are any less flawed than Chinese ones.
Let me play the devil's advocate here - I think these kind of discussions mostly misses the point. China will change the global decision structure and challenge a lot of "universal values" dictated by progressive/liberals, but never, ever displace or replace western dominance, nor intend to. Anyone who tells you otherwise, including the patriotic Chinese mob, is delusional.
But to actually understand China, you will need to change your cultural lens, and stop trying to label China in good / evil, democratic / tyrannical dimensions. This is the whole reason why "experts" have been predicting the fall of China 50 years straight and kept failing. Some of the posters I see here just cannot resist insulting China, "expressing concerns about human rights", put China in the same group with N Korea/Iran for easy basket hatred... so on and so forth, and fail their predictions every time.
A fundamental source of conflict is that the social contract between the Government and the people is different. In a Westernized government, a government is supposed to just be a caretaker of public services, and the private sector ("The people") take the reins. A government's main focus should be balancing acts between different parties. In collective/authoritarian settings, government is the main planner of the development of the entire nation, and holds significant resources in the form of taxes, information and the SOE dominated economy. They play a game of "Simon says", where the private sector will try to understand and sometimes influence government objectives, then place bets on it.
A Westernized bureaucrat will look at the Chinese government and think "Wow, what a load of crazy slogans", and a Chinese bureaucrat will look back and think "So what do you guys even do at work?" They will never agree with each other on how to rule.
But the fact remains, authoritarianism works in large developing countries, when you need to consolidate great power to achieve great nation building projects. When you need to build a railway, you don't discuss and vote with each district you pass through, you build it. When you pursue environmental reforms, polluting factories cannot escape to another province with a different set of policy. Everything is planned and done on a great scale, and with the great scale there are often failed projects here and there, which is often used as basket dismissal for the entire system by liberals. It's not a perfect system, but if you dismiss its merits entirely, you will never understand China (Or any authoritarian country on that regard). Look no further to India, who had a much more advanced economy than China before the cultural revolution. Mao even gave them another 20 years head start - and look where we stand now. I believe it is because of a relatively lack of central power, their system often hit gridlocks and is unable to effectively execute many needed reforms. Sorry @fuser .
However, a system like that works only with society engineered to support it. Of my years spent in China, most Chinese are not people that I share similar values with. They worship authorities (Experts, experienced people, elders, organizations with a serious name... etc), they mostly believe that good governance includes the responsibility to provide moral guidance, including censorship to undesirable morals (Most westerners would have said "put your goddamn nose out of my business you government wankers"), they also criticize the government often but can be incredibly hostile to rival countries. In short, commoners are a bit similar to drones in a bee colony - but elites are a different story. Of all the nationalities I spoke to, it is often the small handful of Chinese elites that have deepest insights on any topic I want to talk about, and I continue to learn from them and manage to amaze people just by showing scraps of their wisdom - without telling them that's from mainland China. (Spoken from experience at work...) It had been like that for various industries I worked with.
Putting it together, is a highly collective system with incredibly smart, small handful of super elites up top and equally powerful and unquestioning execution below. It has been a similar system for thousands of years, when you look at historical teachings and their education system - the Chinese had not changed that much. Democracy, on the other hand, is a beautiful ideal that doesn't seem to fit anywhere in this grand picture.
(TL:DR) That finally brought me back on topic why China will never dominate. China is very much an inward looking nation that is able to execute on an amazing scale, because of its relatively homogeneous population. It's one of the hardest culture to integrate to, which is why they will never be able to win the hearts and minds of other countries, nor collaborate with them easily - both essential elements to dominate. But they will win on nation building initiatives within its own borders. I think notwithstanding any catastrophe, China will remain a strong regional power, but unlikely a global one for the foreseeable future.
Same as I expected, as a person with deeper experience in mainland China, you won't easily trust Martin Jacques' assertion. The term "worship" you used appears very accurate to describe Chinese. Indeed even they criticize the communist regime, still they consider that government the people of themselves, by contrast westerners are "outsiders", no matter how reasonable your words are, they keep hostile to you. That fundamentally stems from a racism based class system. On the other hand they would undoubtedly condemn people like me - who are identified as a traitor of their race, no matter how reasonable my thought is, because from their perspective, I can't change my skin color, my birth place, thus the loyalty. If they see another white/Japanese guy saying the same words, it might be "OK", whereas I would be unforgivable. The most openly racist people in the world. That's why I never concern about racial discrimination in the West, knowing that no people are more racist than Chinese.
"Putting it together, is a highly collective system with incredibly smart, small handful of super elites up top and equally powerful and unquestioning execution below. It has been a similar system for thousands of years, when you look at historical teachings and their education system - the Chinese had not changed that much. Democracy, on the other hand, is a beautiful ideal that doesn't seem to fit anywhere in this grand picture."
How do you think about people in Taiwan, who are equally ethnic Chinese people. I don't think it's all about Chinese culture or East Asian culture. And Chinese people in biologically are not so homogeneous as it appear, rather they are deliberately educated like that. Racism is the core part of Chinese nationalism/patriotism.