Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Return of China

I've had a fascination with Asia for decades now-a fascination that eventually led me to move, work and marry in the Orient, although I have since relocated back to the US. Of the many cultures I encountered in Asia, the one that most captivated my attention was that of China. Of course, in order to learn, I first had to unlearn my assumptions. China was not a backward country full of starving communist peasants, rather the culture is one of the oldest still surviving on the earth, binding many people together in country or scattered throughout the world, and the people within the culture are as diverse as those you find in the west.

I won't spend too much time on the history, both due to its length and my lack of expertise, except to make a few points. China has gone through many phases of organization, vacillating between periods of no central authority to strong centrally run governments. Within those phases China has at times been engaged with the outside world and at times closed to it. The current opening of China to trade, if one ignores the forced opening by the West during the latter stages of the Manchu Dynasty, is the first since the early stages of the Ming Dynasty (early 15th century). At that point in time, as the story of Zheng He attests, China was the dominant maritime, if not other respects, power on the earth-a fact which is part of the secondary school curriculum in China. That is, there is both a precedent for a dominant China on the world stage and an awareness of the fact among the population, in stark contrast to the lack of awareness of that history during the Manchu or early communist government.

a power outage interrupted today's work, I should have the rest of this post up tomorrow


Toff said...

Yes, indeed...I tend to compare China to a kind of "heartbeat"...(sometimes its expanding, and sometimes depends on the complex internal & social evolutions that were going on) now, i guess, the time has come for the "neo-mao-or-is-it-neo-tang-dynasty?" expansionary phase...(see e.g. chinese investments in africa, and btw, not only there...)

Anyway, its a long unwritten and yet not finished story...

Best wishes