The West need to make up the missed lessons of Chinese history and culture

Article from People’s Daily. Opinions published in PD are usually translated from the Chinese version and therefore the prose appear to be akward at times.  Since PD is the mouth piece of the Chinese government or governing party (CCP), this article does serve to air the view of those in the government. 
 May 04, 2008
In recent days, the Western public opinion seems to be misled into a grey area, as some anti-China forces in the West seize on the Beijing Olympic Games to vilify and denigrate China. The din from some Western forces and people sent us again into pondering: Why so?
Many Westerners have long developed a habit of thoughts, and always deem it a fact that others should follow in their footsteps. In a long run, they could keep blind to the history of other countries, especially that of developing countries. They could conceive or even ‘fabricate’ the historical views of their own, and look on the world in their own perspectives, which can easily descend into the pitfall of egoism. Some of them even go so far as to be abnormal in thinking, either pretending to know all in the milder cases, or developing paranoia in some more severe cases. To be exact, some people cannot stand the Chinese patriotism, saying they feel sick of the patriotic enthusiasm. For those people, the only curative medicine is, perhaps, to get in touch with some Chinese history.
Take ‘Tibet Issue’ for instance: China is a multi-ethnic nation, and the ‘Chinese’ are in essence made up of all of the ethnic groups inhabited in the domain of China. The various ethnic groups have all along been influencing each other in politics, economy, culture and many other fields. The Han ethnic group, for example, is a product of mixing different cultures of other ethnic groups, and with impressive markings of influence left by combining different ethnic cultures. The Han people originated form Central Plains, namely an area comprising the middle and lower reaches of the Huanghe River, and were addressed as Han in the Han Dynasty. In its development, the Han people assimilated with other ethnic groups and turned out to be the Han today. Those who have little knowledge of the ethnic structure of the ‘Chinese’ will have no access to the true essence of ‘Tibet Issue’, and thus they will cut the tie between Han and Tibetans, and will be probably taken in by some people or groups with ulterior motives like the Dalai clique.
Take the Chinese patriotism for another example: Indeed, it is the first time for china to host the Olympic Games, which may be different in its significance from those Western countries who have hosted the sports gala many times. More important, ‘the first time’ to most Chinese people seems a reminder of the national humiliation in the country’s modern history. That is why ‘the first time’ to be the host means so much to the Chinese, for it reminds them of the state power and national dignity. Only if you learn something about the Chinese modern history, you can understand why the Chinese at home and abroad have been looking forward to hosting the Olympic Games, and then you will understand that the Chinese patriotism is in nature totally different from the politicalization of Olympics instigated by some Westerners.
Ignorance is the hotbed to breed prejudice, and to understand history will be an adequate remedy for bias. China has witnessed a radical change for consecutive 30 years since its reform and opening up to the outside world. The country feeding 1/5 of the world’s population has basically solved the problems of enough food and clothing, which marks a substantial progress in the human history of development. Nevertheless, to get a full picture of the present China, one has to not only observe China’s ongoing development and change, but also learn something about the process of its development, as the latter is the basis for a sound understanding of the former.
Many Western scholars agree that the development of China will bring about a major influence to the world history in the 21 century. Then why not try to learn something about the Chinese history so as to understand the country with potentially major influence? There exists a danger that those who always keep blind to the Chinese history and keep to their own rigid perspectives will make more serious mistakes of misreading China in future.
By People’s Daily Online

About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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