Watch this 20 minute TEDtalk by Martin Jacques, which gives some wonderful insight into China and how Westerners can better understand China and its growth. Jacques identifies some key points of Easterners being more knowledgable of the West because they have been forced to learn from these powerful, developed countries. In the time that I’ve been in China, I could not agree more. I’m often feeling ignorant about Chinese history. Whereas when talking to the Chinese, they are very aware and informed about the West. Here are some quick facts:
- The founding of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) was October 1, 1949
- The population of China is 1.3 Billion (The US is 300 Million)
- China has 55 ethnic minority groups, in addition to the ethnic majority, Han
- Shanghai (18 Million) and Beijing (20 Million) are 2 of the most populated cities in the world
- The Chinese language uses 4 tones for speaking has over 20,000 written characters
Jacques touches on many points, including cultural identity, where 90% of China’s population identifies themselves as the Han race. In addition, “China is shaped by its sense as a civilization-state not a nation-state” of Western countries. And as a result, citizens of China view their government as a guardian of their civilization with legitimacy and authority, as opposed to the challenged State power in the West. Of course we know about the Chinese government’s censorship of news and media, including websites, but it’s completely true that the average Chinese believe everything that the media reports and they just accept that certain websites are not accessible. Perhaps it has much to do with the Chinese’s resilience and adaptability. Or is it cultural ingrainment of avoiding problems? Where no one claims responsibility, therefore just avoids any situation all together. Or like many discussions about education lately, are many Chinese not taught to think for themselves and challenge ideas? Jacques points out that there are no serious rivals to the Chinese State power and that there is a different construction of power embedded in society resulting from the Patriarchal family structure.
As you can see, I’m personally struggling with understanding many of these issues as well, but I’m here to learn more!
We know that the Chinese invented a lot of things and that recently, this sense of innovation is more than encouraged. So really, the most important take away from this video is that “China is going to change the world.” And “if you want to feel the future, if you want to taste the future–try China.”
What are your thoughts? :)