China: Beyond Confidence

In the Hutong
Please, Not Another Crisis
1642 hrs.

John Pomfret notes in this recent article in The Washington Post:

“The Chinese people are no longer embarrassed about being Chinese,” said Wang Xiaodong, a leading nationalist writer who has co-authored a series of popular books with titles such as “China Is Unhappy,” which capitalized on the growing anti-Western trend. “The time when China worshipped the West is over. We have a rightful sense of superiority.”

There is nothing wrong with a sense of national self-confidence. It is, after all, long past the time for China and the Chinese people to take deserved pride in the positive things the nation and the culture have accomplished. Unfortunately, we appear to have moved well past that.

China has swung from one extreme to another. It has gone from worshipping the west and deprecating it’s own culture to believing in the innate superiority of things Chinese and a dismissing the value of all things western.

In truth, neither position is correct. Sadly, the nation has spent most of its modern history lurching between these extremes of xenophilia and xenophobia. And it has to end.

China will reach maturity not when returns the the hubristic self-audulation of The Qing emperors, but when it learns to walk a middle path in its approach to things foreign, assigning value to ideas, innovations, systems and people based not on their origin, but on their intrinsic merits. The country could once afford to forego this middle path, but today it is at odds with everything China seeks to accomplish in a global economy, polity, and society.

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