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Towards a More Sophisticated Study of China

There's nothing perfect about China, but it sure is inspiring. For people in the world who know underdevelopment, gentrification or the economics of oppression it is at least worth a look.  At the least China's development suggests a alternative to the methods promoted in the West.  Chinese development is based primarily on internal dynamics that seem to leverage the country's massive population.  There are of other dimensions, but even they contrast with the use of military force and the presence of troops the West is known for.  The problem with understanding the dynamics of is that China is shrouded in mystery with a sophisticated culture that exists beyond the imagination of most Western minds.  China is also a country with a long history of strategic thought that borders on riddles, aphorisms, and the idea of hiding strength.  For instance, the gua for water in the pagua presents to yin lines around a yang line.  The Tao Te Ching says, "The best of men is like water."  One can interpret this as yin on the outside and yang on the inside, soft on the outside, strong on the inside.  There is great contrast between this concept of power in the East and what we are used to in the West.  One could also even add, the Chinese down fear yang on the outside in the same way those in the West do.  Mao's famous "paper tiger" metaphor to describe the U.S. is just one popular example.  For those in the black, it is probably even more perplexing.  For White Supremacy as jacked up as it may sound, is in our comfort zone.  In spite of our efforts to eradicate or even render ourselves free from its influence, we imagine it as a constant in the world, and along with all the other things white supremacy is, it is unquestionably an aggressive yang force that is at least part of our conceptual reality. 

Pollution, Human Right's violations,  and the absence of democracy are the most common criticisms I have heard Westerner's apply to China.  One could also add the manipulation of financial data.  Many imagine China to be a financial bubble, citing corruption and the state's ownership of major companies as the reason. Just recently, as I talked about investing with a friend and his father outside of my local Starbucks, they both reminded me they never really seem to make money in China.  Admittedly, they were beginning investors, but seemed to have figured out the stocks they lost money on in China were somehow the result of false results and government manipulation of the GDP. 

While I doubt that any of the criticisms are true, I would have to add context.  As an African-America, I am always a bit amazed by the strange dialog over Human Right's abuse in the face of the War in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the long history of American Wars, or the Prison Industrial Complex highlighted by the literary currency of The New Jim Crow.  One could even add, Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me as a popular indictment of the American record on Human Right's.  If one disagrees, perhaps they should think about how many American Wars are linked to the idea of protecting someone from becoming a dictator or communist.  Many Chinese find America's suggestion that their Human Right's record is terrible laughable in the face of America's own record.  No matter the debate, Americans should realize that the stability of American power exist in spite of its Human Right's Record.  Almost all of the above criticisms can be addressed piece by piece in the same way.  If we were to address the manipulation of financial markets, one must at least explain the almost trillion dollar loan given to banks, who admittedly created a financial disaster in 2008, by the U.S. Government.  Though America is not a communist country and does not believe in state ownership of business, the argument put forward to the American public was the need to help the rich within the interest of the entire country.  At the least, it was a capitalist communist move played from the other side of fence.  If one adds that no one was punished, you could easily apply the word corruption.

Where one stands in the political arena or in the case, what country one lives in, will often account for much of the differences in response.  In the end some rhetoric and debate are the extension of power.  China's increase in power has increased the range of rhetoric they engage in.  There rhetroic does not rest on a certain stability, but neither does anybody else.  Chinese progress is real and changing the face of the world.

There are outliers in both camps who contradict the norms, though here it must be said folks in the Western camp who admire and respect China do so, simply because it is becoming a fact of life.  America earned such respect many years ago and on the back of that progress has long promoted itself as a democracy in the cultural wars.  People all over the world know that America stands for freedom or at the least that Americans imagine themselves as standing for freedom.  Whether it is true or not, is up for debate.  China's profile is much more difficult to discern.  Take for instance the role of the country throughout Africa, The Win-Win Policy, or the One Belt One Road Initiative, which links ancient China's past with current involvement in the global economy and proposes at least a trillion dollars (many estimates are higher) towards linking Eurasian trade.  Even newcomers to the China stage know to use the term "soft power" to describe China's international influence.  China's global influence is increasing and the methods demand a sophisticated approach.

China moves so fast, it is difficult to figure out what is going on.  One could even add, if one had had an idea of what was going on, it might not have happened.  Though I have even met some people who are skeptical of this view.  They suggest China's markets of 1.3 to 1.6 billion people are so lucrative that Western Capital and the big rich have opened China up in order to get their piece of the pie.  While I do not doubt the dance of global power or underestimate it, there is obviously some Chinese agency in the mix. 

The point stressed here on Free Black Space is a more thorough investigation of Chinese culture and its place in the contemporary world.  While the learning curve is long, in the end everyone will have to learn more about China.  It seems now is the best time to begin.

This post first appeared on Free Black Space, please read the originial post: here

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Towards a More Sophisticated Study of China


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