具有中国特色的政府行为和政治组织，作为一种稳定、有序且可持续的增长模式，逐渐在国际上获得信誉。虽然美国政策制定者与知识分子（以及青少年）尚未做好承认的准备，但他们已经开始意识到，控制个人不理智和充满短见的贪欲，是未来集体政治行为和全球伦理的根本, 对中国是如此， 对整个世界也是如此。无论如何称呼中国的新型意识形态，集体主义，社会主义，或是带有市场特色的社会主义，有一点是肯定的：单凭自由市场这只“看不见的手”，是无法使人类实现一切抱负的。这种市场万能理论我想已经失效了。
China Seeks to Create a Sustainable Environment through Galvanising Nation
Slowly but surely, China’s brand of governmental action and political organisation is gaining increased international credence as a model for stable, orderly and sustainable growth. Many surmise (though they may not yet be ready to admit it) that American policy-makers and intellectuals (and certainly American youth) are beginning to realise that finding ways to temper the irrational and shortsighted greed of the individual is the very soul of future collective political action and global ethics, for China and the World. By whatever name we choose to call it: collectivism, socialism, socialism with market characteristics. The notion that the invisible hand of free markets alone will hold our species’ aspirations in good stead, is a theory that has outlived its usefulness.
In the West, and particularly in the United States, older cohorts maintain their adherence to the notion that the individual can and should subsist without obligation to the collective. This is to be expected given lifelong indoctrination. But what of today’s American youth who have experienced the invective-filled nature of the Internet and our capital markets? How do they feel? The results may surprise you.
The most critical lesson I have learned in the past 15 years living and participating in Mainland China’s growth and its growing pains, is simple, yet profound: collective spirit, collectively indicated goals, and noble collective effort, are just as and perhaps in the future more indispensable to our posterity given society’s current circumstance, than the European enlightenment’s focus on individual “freedom” and agency in lieu of collective dialogue, justice, and advance; it is a school of thought that survives as the dominant social construct in the West to this day, note America’s current presidential race, with demonisation aplenty but very little in the way of substantive policies that better real American lives.
In a sense Classical Liberal theory, where individual want and whim supersede that of the collective is dying by virtue of the very gargantuan corporations and, capitalism that liberal thought first inspired. We now have corporations with the economic power and status as genuine public utilities (Facebook, Google, and others) that are stateless and in general thus unregulated. As the need to control these stateless, cloud-based, multinational corporations that abet the pollution our virtual environment becomes obvious, so does the need to control the corporations that pollute our real environment. Technology’s and corporate potential wonder and danger become self-evident. The danger is the wholesale erosion of privacy, and proliferation of divisive, unwholesome and unsubstantiated myth (often called “astroturfing”). With these dangers we realize that our actions in markets, social networks, and mass publishing in which we habitually engage are not confined, rather their effects are universal because they are universally accessible. These media technology and publishing firms danger is superseded only by the danger posed by MNC industrial juggernauts whose pollutive affect is an abomination. It follows then that our prosperity, security, morality and human rights depend on collectively formed understandings, guidelines, goals and action, born of purpose rising beyond the banal profit motive or crass, numbing glossy entertainment available as opiates on our device screens.
And thus Classical Liberal theory, which says unfettered market-based resource allocation is the natural state of man, has by virtue of technology and the multi-national corporation robbed the common man of his true environment, his privacy and his personal, generational and economic security. This is clearly a theory showing signs of obsolescence. As polls of youth demonstrate across the globe, I am not alone in the belief in the need for renewed collective spirit, direction, and inspiration, for and towards each other, not merely for ourselves. I have come as many others must, to a deeply ingrained belief in the power of collective communities, nations and groups of nations to maintain their own identity but act with common purpose, mobilised by noble intent fomented by the People. People joining with one another to form a new and more harmonious basis for humanity’s traverse of the economic, resource scarcity, conflict and environmental challenges and opportunities sure to come.
I unabashedly support substantive, communal, supranational, and enforceable acts of collective sanity like the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. China and America’s ratification is a step in the right direction. Agreements like these transcend Classical Liberalism’s transient economic units of measure of (empty) happiness and boldly look toward healing the planet; weaning big gas and oil interests off of death-dealing fossil fuels and bringing a halting (from the Middle East to Venzuela) to the wars started ad nauseam to acquire and control them. Agreements like the Paris Accords prove that humanity’s nascent recognition that every human action now tangibly affects the life outcomes of every other, that I cannot be all that I am to be unless and until you are all that you ought to be– this is the very definition of a collective organism, and as MLK Junior said, this is the true nature of reality, not a rat race toward the debasement of a morality based purely on capital accrual. I am hopeful this landmark agreement and others like it signal the end of adherence to outdated economic and social modalities that place growth (capital accumulation) above justice, the environment, and species survival. Sanity and consciousness of our heightened connectedness may yet rule the day.
Many will disagree with my thesis, but I am convinced that history will exonerate the primacy of my belief in our collective inter-connectedness over individual whim and opportunistic greed. China is obviously the nation who has remained committed to the ideals of social collectivism, come what may, as the apogee of human order, justice, and development. While I cannot advocate for all their policies and certainly not their every action, my passion is to facilitate candid cultural understanding to help paint a clearer picture of China’s developmental goals, rich history, and where possible, to dispel some of the misperceptions that currently drive (and often misdirect) America and the West’s China policy. China and America will together in the coming decades, either destroy the world via armed conflict, the unchecked spread of terror, and willful ignorance of the existential threat posed by climate change. They will do that or rather save the world by jointly eradicating these scourges permanently.
Never have two more powerful nations intersected at one point on the world stage. Yet, never have two so interconnected people, trusted or known less about each other. And while this endemic misunderstanding goes both ways, this is largely an American malady born of a parochial world-view and the incessant grandstanding made necessary by the prolonged quadrennial spectacle that are America’s presidential elections. A time in American politics when demonization is the rule of the game, the goal being the collection of votes with very little thought of how pragmatic policies will be implemented once the winning candidate is actually elected. Democracy has many strengths, but this vituperative public grandstanding, backbiting and name calling, in the American context, is almost certainly one of democracy’s most debilitating weaknesses.
We must bridge the gap in trust, knowledge and rational discourse, truth speaking to other valid truth with candid but gentle tongues because we (China and America) are the largest siblings in a global family. We share a common destiny and single home whether our moral intelligence is ready to accept this fact or not. We are One. We know today with scientific certainty that our only habitable home- the earth- has been scorched by a European-spawned “industrial revolution” that like many things one may consider contagion has gone global. Assessing blame is not important, recognising the emergency and its existential threat is critical. The people of China and America along with all the peoples of the world have a joint (dare I say “collective”) responsibility to put the house fire out, and draw humanity back from the precipice of self-inflicted destruction. We have less than 10–15 years (assuming drastic measures to increase renewable and green economic growth while bringing ozone depleting and earth-warming carbon emissions of the 180-year industrial age to an abrupt end. As an example, curbing carbon emissions in order to maintain no more than a 1.5 degree Celsius increase above pre-industrial temperature averages in any given year must be adhered to or many of the effects of climate change will soon become irreversible. At the current 3–5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial norms, we can expect a 10-meter rise in sea levels, yearly super storms, anthrax epidemics caused by their release from deer carcasses long-frozen and buried beneath Siberia’s melting permafrost. In addition, massive droughts, drastic decreases in water supply especially in the Middle East and central Asia, as well as food supply. The planet if affected by drought and water shortages will not be able to feed the 10 billion inhabitants of Earth estimated to be alive in 2050. All leading predictably to unbridled conflict and misery. This is a fight for our children and their children’s very existence. 1.5 degrees Celsius, that is the golden number, we as a collective community, not whimsical abstracted individuals must together fight to reach.
We have no time for war, be it economic, cyber, conventional or otherwise. This moment and the concomitant collective human responsibility to save our planet, are a unique moment in our species’ and planet’s history.
China is the first superpower in the modern era not of European origin, and China- in a sharp rap to the heads of almost every European economic theorist- plans, controls and subsidizes almost all of its large indigenous corporations (public and private) as well as its currency (many say, China to stimulate growth, manipulates both) while China would argue her economic policies area means of regulating and tempering the indelible exuberance of global market forces. Opinions will differ, but there is broad agreement that the siblings must together save the home from inferno.
And so as the fire blazes, in our sister China we are presented with a new type of sibling rivalry. She is at once our largest trading partner, providing most of the goods, at low cost, the American consumer takes for granted today. She provides a sharp counter-proposal about how limited global resources, social justice and governmental regulation and collective will and self-sacrifice for a larger good can make optimal use of the planet’s resources for the betterment of the collective human family. China is also our largest source of IP loss and her markets at times seem impenetrable, she is the largest locus of corporate manufacturing “offshoring”, and our largest foreign creditor. China represents all these things and no invective-laced twitter soundbite from our presidential candidates can encompass either the gravity or the opportunity this intermingling of two great nations represents. We must speak in substance not soundbite. Democracy is a mere semantic, and semantic understandings are not owned by any one nation, the word democracy itself is not a social good, it is not an action, and it means absolutely nothing without an informed, educated, self-sacrificing public engaged in rational discourse about the matters that affect our species’ advance. This we must remember for a thousand years. Semantic flourish does in any way equate to good government, collective progress in economic justice, stability, education and peaceful scientific and cultural advance are the only ways I believe government’s performance can be objectively measured
And while their governmental policies broadly differ, the relationship between the US and China could not be more close-knit, whether we today feel we like everything about each other or not. It is important to bear in mind, given the minuscule size of earth, that China and America ARE siblings, of one family. Tied inexorably by destiny. It can not be otherwise, and this we shall realize as our moral facilities continue to develop. One great American president Abraham Lincoln’s words echo, “We must not be aliens or enemies, we must be friends.”
The Sino/US partnership is a new, uniquely 21st Century relationship. It breaks the mold. We can not skip out on one another, the tethers that bind us one to another can not be untied. We are Siamese twins, joined at the heart, lung, and hip. Will there be squabbles? Yes, but which of us shall incite the insane and do indelible harm to our blood sibling on whom our own life depends? Sanity demands that the answer be- no one will. The only sane, viable choice is comprehensive cooperation. Healthy sibling rivalry may begin with intense competition about who is taller, prettier, or stronger, but it can not end there. Good siblings ultimately learn that their most fundamental responsibility is to take care of their mother and father- mother Earth and Father time. Good siblings grow in the collective realisation that love, comprehensive cooperation, and enduring compromise is not diplomatic platitude, it is the only viable answer we have as sentient beings, gifted this gorgeous blue planet. An answer we must reflect on and mightily strive to turn into reality. The stakes could not be higher.
This is a story and history that is not being told in America.
From my vantage point, it is The Story of our Age. Will the United States and China decide to engage in petty squabbles for spheres of influence in the 21st Century or will they join together to sustain our tiny planet’s critical biosphere? The choice is stark, binary and will require a paradigmatic leap of love over the notional fiscal quarter, trade surplus/deficit, job offshoring, irrational containment or currency manipulation, and notions of collective versus individual rights and freedoms; all conversations that, along with false narratives about zero-sum (status and war) games, while perhaps necessary are dilatory at precisely the moment in history where every cooperative second counts, for the sake of our dying mother.
Having built TV programs and businesses in China for 15 years, I have of late born witness to China’s metamorphosis from the more gentle rhetoric of “Peaceful Rise” to the increasingly bombastic rhetoric, “Asia is our yard, and we do intend to be its primary player.” This change in tone, while the subject of much media speculation in the West is not at all different from America’s Monroe Doctrine of 1823. It defies logic that a nation (America) that used to count the Philippines as a colony finds it necessary to use military muscle and the role of self-anointed ombudsman and moral high-hand to adjudicate China’s own complex and natural rise in its own Asian neighbourhood.
The goal of the American Monroe doctrine, as stated, was to enable peace through delineating spheres of influence and keep a mercantilistic and war-like Europe out of the Americas. This made sense after an American revolution to throw tyranny back across the Atlantic. So it is somewhat hypocritical for a nation whose Western boundaries to this day extend beyond the formerly sovereign Hawaiian Islands and all the way to Guam, Saipan and beyond to claim that a rising power and the world’s most populous nation should not undergo a similar dialogue, sans outside interference, with its neighbours. Indeed the dialogue seems natural, and our own occasional crime-abetting history from Shanghai’s concessions to the Rhee regime in South Korea and the Marcos regime in the Philippines post-colonisation should chasten America’s desire to dictate how Asia pursues this conversation today.
More to the point, while many in the West find this new Chinese assertiveness lamentable, they should in no way have found it unexpected. The rise in national pride and nationalist tenor since 2012, rising to a crescendo post the recent Hague ruling came in tandem with China’s “surge” in what it terms “Comprehensive National Power” (CNP) to wit: the theory that China, in order to be heard and dealt with equably as a great power, will need to harness its full media/cyber/public opinion, economic, and military power, mobilized, managed and leveraged by the ruling Party to “wage and win regional conflicts under informatization conditions,” conflicts that extend beyond the traditional battlefield. Why this focus on CNP? Because after The Century of Humiliation (something Western schoolchildren learn far too little about) foreign concessions, genocide, the forced sale of opium to China’s citizenry by the British Empire, followed by China’s liberation from unprecedented foreign incursion and injustice, the Chinese people believe that if they remain united, and reclaim their cultural birthright now, especially as historic technological and environmental challenges loom on the horizon, then she will have earned her place renowned British Sinologist Joseph Needham theorized China has naturally enjoyed for most of the last 20 millennia: a place of trade (not conquest) based economic and cultural pre-eminence among its sister nations.
Does this mean war? To that I would say no, certainly not high intensity conflicts, unless the West or its Asian alliance partners totally misperceive China’s intent or vice versa. For the Chinese CCP armed conflict has first always been about the preservation of territorial integrity post Century of Humiliation and the sustenance of the Party as a guiding force of administration and order in a nation larger than any history has yet countenanced.
While perspectives certainly may differ, China has found that in the world’s most populous country, a strong, unified central government has provided the environ for rapid, peaceful development without the fear of foreign meddling and incursion. Again one need only view China’s history since the 18th Century to understand why this concern is not mere theory, it is a hard lesson learned time and time again: when China’s central government is weak, its borders and then its mainland have been encroached upon, its resources both natural and human treasure ignominiously drained. With that historical marker as the lodestar, it is quite easy to see why China’s territorial integrity and maintenance of Central Government (Party) rule are beyond reproach from a rational Chinese perspective.
It is noteworthy that China, which is often the subject of sharp criticism for sitting on the sidelines of global conflict, has extended its firm principle of non-interference/non-intervention in the domestic norms and politics of the nations with which it engages, I liken this to Star Trek’s prime directive, and though an imperfect policy, I find it the much better choice when compared to America’s determination to interpose itself and its values wherever and whenever it deems prudent. Perhaps American’s should watch more Star Trek. Though China peacekeeping missions are on the rise, China, as a rule still refrains from inserting itself into the domestic politics of the nations of Africa, ASEAN, NE Asia, Europe, and Latin America except in matters of bilateral trade and investment. The same surely cannot be said for European and American Corporate and Government entities whose 4 centuries of interventions and conquest are well documented. While the principle of non-interference in places like Darfur may give rise to critique, it is hard to imagine a more stable and even-handed policy by a great power in the wake of the misery colonialism and the supposed superiority of European paradigms over indigenous people’s has left the world in Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the horrors visited on China in the past itself. China looks inward to guide internal development and looks outward with a restraint and humility that must be recognized as a new and laudable paradigm on the world stage. China is not looking to impose its morals, values or economic system on anyone. That sentence alone is revolutionary in the history of post-renaissance great power world affairs.
At the same time, China’s become the world’s leader by example in making the difficult transition from fossil fuel to a renewable and green technology economy (see graph below), and in doing so has risked its traditional economic pillars of easy reliance on fossil fuels to power its domestic manufacture for export. This is an extremely laudable long-term environmental protection strategy, as demonstrated in China and America’s signing of the Paris Agreement. This dramatic shift, given China’s historical reliance on fossil fuel powered manufacture and export, is a clarion call that China’s leadership is ready to trade some short-term growth and countenance millions of short-term layoffs for the sake of the entire planet’s long-term prosperity. Given its progressive arms development, China no longer fears ruinous land invasion from any quarter, it only fears fracturing and fissures from within, and this it is fair to say, China and the Party will stop at nothing to avoid.
So Why the Sudden Shift in China Policy, and Why Now?
A reassessment of China’s seemingly bombastic nationalist stance with regard to various territorial disputes and foreign investment must be engendered. Demonising new paradigms is as old as the welcome Copernicus and Confucius’ ideas first received, but a bold new context for viewing China’s advancing nationalist rhetoric and earned national pride of place as the world’s second (and soon to be first) largest economy can make sense of the uptick in nationalist sentiment, encouraged by the government. What we see in the upswing in Chinese nationalism and economic protectionism today is not a China looking for conflict, rather what we should see, is a China preparing to exhibit strength and galvanise national will for the challenging economic, cultural and lifestyle transformation that is inevitable if China’s “green Revolution” is to find grassroots support and success, and the planet is to survive.
China is taking the measure of what it will take to achieve true sustainability, sans neo-liberal legislative gridlock, and the diktat of multinational corporations who, if unregulated, will always put shareholder interests before sound environmental policy or posterity. China is mentally preparing its citizens to make sacrifice, if needed, for the collective, via a rapid transition toward sustainable growth.
A Nation that is prepared when necessary to say “No”
A non-aligned nation saying “no” to the West and its 3 century-long dominant economic and sociocultural paradigms is a new phenomenon to anyone alive today. So why, we might ask has China seen fit to do so? I think there are two primary reasons: First, China is beginning to say no to certain conditions placed on it from the outside, because they have a different construct for internal stability and global cooperation in mind and feel ready to articulate it, their construct is less reliant on fixed alliances and more on dynamic, bilateral assessments of cultural, economic and environmental circumstance. Secondly, China is prepared to say no because China believes if she maintains domestic solidarity, and if she demonstrates that she can move from the one of the two largest emitter of carbon to the most avid green tech catalyst, she can again create a transformation that will shock the world just as her economic growth has. And while the transition China has planned will inevitably put great pressure on both the Party and the people to do the hard but necessary transformative work, the leadership’s calculus is that receiving the some ire today, in an effort to galvanise the populous, is well worth the long-term return in a world transformed and a China recognized for its willingness and ability to again change and lead by example.
China views its position and its place in history not in the 4 or 6 year units liberal democracy uses as the lens of progress. China views its evolving and changing role over the course of millennia. The territorial disputes are a shell game, that will be resolved by shared utilisation of the resources via bilateral negotiations at some later date. China understands the nations surrounding it are worried and these issues, which China does not view as hypercritical, but does view as historically and nationally galvanising, will need to be addressed, but for today the nationalist rhetoric serves another purpose. The purpose of imbuing in their nation a greater “sense of purpose.” a national galvaniser. And while the short-term rancor and even possible low-level conflict is a possibility, China, in taking the long view believes that using these territorial claims as a foil to prepare its collective community for the radical environmental, culturally deep and economic transition ahead, is the right move and will bear ultimate proof of China’s scientific ingenuity, altruism, example based leadership, and perhaps, national greatness.
China’s change in tone was inevitable, the West’s misread of it in the run-up to the G20 summit and Paris Agreement ratification was not.
We must learn to learn about China’s future, by living among its people, hearing the stories of their present, the hopes of their future and the echoes of generations past and their rediscovered collective ethos. If that deep, soulful, ethos is returned to by young and old alike, I have no doubt China will play a decisive role in saving and more vitally, renewing this planet and her inhabitants