Sunday, December 23, 2007

China: No Longer The Beaten, Trampled and Sleeping Giant

Authors Note: The first time I went to China was 1984. I was bright enough to see the opportunities that were developing and made the choice to be a part of it. Since then I have been more than 40 times. I am known to many there as the "Shanghai Lady".

Having grown up in Asia and lived in the West gave me an advantage in knowing how and what to do to help bring about this change. As a result I was able to help broker more than 20 major joint ventures between leading European companies and the Chinese.

The success of China's economy is now widely known … but I predict this will only be the beginning of their influence, an influence that will find a growing audience. One thing is for sure, never underestimate the Chinese.

Here is an essay I put forth for your consideration, entitled:


How shall an Occidental ever understand the Orient? Not even a lifetime of devoted scholarship would suffice to initiate a Western “student” into the subtle and labyrinthine character to say nothing of the secret lore of the East.

It is important to note that less than sixty years ago, China belonged to everyone except to herself. Every country that could afford to send armed contingents into China did so and sliced a piece of her. Adventurers, mercenaries, gangsters and thieves of the most rapacious sort left Europe, America and Asia to make their fortunes in China - mostly in the Shanghai Concessions where true laissez faire capitalism was given free reign. Filled with self-hate and loathing, the Chinese vented their impotence and rage against themselves as well as against the gwailo-foreign devil.

Behind China’s political chaos, their natural disasters, their eternal struggles without and within, their fearsome wars; behind this surface that now appears to alien eyes, is the oldest and richest of living civilizations: a long record of philosophy - practical, yet idealistic; profound yet intelligible; a tradition of poetry from 1700 years before the birth of Christ, the most effective morality to be found among the peoples of anytime, a social organization that has held together more human beings and has endured upheavals through more centuries than any other known to history. They survived Jingis - Genghis Khan and captivated him so completely that his nephew Kublai Khan reigned over the Middle Kingdom.

China is the Middle Kingdom because the Chinese believe that their Kingdom is between Heaven and Earth.

Their mastery of Painting and Ceramics is unequalled to their kind. They have always displayed an easy perfection in all the Minor Arts. Try as they will, the potters in the West have been unable to equal the ethereal forms of Chinese porcelain. Anyone who has felt with eyes and fingers and every nerve of Beauty of Chinese porcelain will understand these valuations and not consider them as sacrilege.

“Chinese porcelain is one of the noblest things men have created to make their species forgivable on earth,” said historian Will Durant.

What is the secret of this durability of government, this poise and depth of soul, this artistry of hand? There is no people in the world more vigorous or more intelligent; no other people so adaptable to circumstance, so resistant to disease, so resilient after disaster and suffering, so trained by History to endurance and patient recovery. There is no nation so familiar with Time. What are centuries of pain and anguish? It will pass. Everything passes.

In the Third Millennium, Leadership is Leadership, wherever it is found. Emerging leaders are in all ranks of Society, most particularly if they have unequivocal links to Shanghai the Great. We should have continuous dialogue between Ling Tao (in the modern sense of Leader) from China, Singapore, and the Hoa Qiao - the Overseas Chinese Community in Asia as well as in the United States, Europe, South America and Africa.

Meetings and Conferences for Dialogue between China and the West should be dictated by Prudence - as in the sense of judgment and not in the sense of caution.

Everyone and his great-grandmother are now in China, talking Money. Is that enough? My answer is a resounding No! Now is the time to exchange cultural ideas, morals, values, music and other tenets of Knowledge. We should tread respectfully and softly after our history of brutality and rapacity. It will not be an easy undertaking. They have good reasons for their suspicion and distrust.

Our ideas are not original. What after all is Originality? Does it exist in any absolute sense? Is it not a simple ability to give freshness to what is old?

As the world stands at a crossroad in a dynamic world economy fueled by China and South and East Asia, and also stoked by India, unprecedented opportunities are emerging. The events unfolding in Russia too will influence political, economic and cultural movements throughout the planet.

Imagination cannot describe the possibilities of China mixing the physical, natural and mental resources with the technological and scientific discoveries of the 21st century. Very probably such wealth will be produced in China as well as the other countries in the Asia Pacific Rim, as even the United States and the European Union has never known.

Will China opt for Hegemony in the Pacific? In many ways she is already The Hegemon. She looks up to Europe despite our past wrongdoings because she unashamedly admires our Culture. In this respect, it is well known that China takes off her hat to German technology and engineering. This is not a new discovery. It has always been thus.

The military and political leaders in the United States have begun to experience difficulties in adjusting to this picture. Will these difficulties prove to be insurmountable? It is too early to make even informed predictions. But I will say this. I would not count on tiny Japan even with her millions of soldiers and other military bonbons to stand up and die for the “Gaijin” Outsider. Anyone who is not Japanese is defined and considered a Gaijin, even a most powerful ally such as the United States. They are not a forgiving people, nor will they ever forget. The Holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are burned into their DNA. It is worth pointing out that both cities were also predominantly Catholic. Catholicism in Japan is vibrant and growing exponentially.

I knew the Superior General of the Jesuits, the late Pedro Arrupe. A formidable Basque. He was not only a learned man; he was also a medical doctor by profession. He happened to be in Hiroshima on that fateful day because the Jesuits had a novitiate where Arrupe was training young Japanese men as Jesuits. He saw the fiery mushroom cloud from his classroom. He headed the first rescue team to enter the most dangerous perimeter. His survival is one of those mysteries since the perimeter held what was left of the 150,000 people burned to a crisp within minutes if not seconds. He had pernicious anemia all his life, developed asthma and emphysema. In his thirties he had hypertension and arrhythmia. He claimed that meditation of Zen Buddhism helped him overcome many of his physical hardships.

No war, or financial manipulations on the West’s part can long suppress a “Planet” so rich in human resources. Her enemies and detractors will lose money and patience before the Chinese in China or elsewhere in the world will lose virility.

So far China the Chinese have been content to do what the West had been doing – better, cheaper, more efficiently. But soon we see China begin to lead the world in innovation, and one day they will realize that even more than materiality, they have something rich to offer the world.

China has died many times before, and many times she has been reborn.
“What the Chinese best know, cultivate the best and have brought to the greatest perfection is Morality,” said Voltaire who admitted freely his debt to Confucius.

To many disillusioned by the depravity in the West – who are tired of living in fear – I predict the middle way and morality of the Chinese will gain many adherents. I also predict the Vatican will play a key role influencing how this will come about. The rapidly growing number of Christians in China will help facilitate a more open exchange of ideas and values between the East and the West.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Isabel Van Fechtmann

Create Your Badge