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【强烈推荐】中国是地球的救世主

在观察者网看见这篇文章,作者名叫博大龙,是普林斯顿大学伍德罗·威尔逊学者,电视节目制作人。用老外的视角看中国,值得深思。

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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。

在西方,特别是美国,老一代的人拘泥于旧观念,认为个人能够而且应该免于承担集体义务,生存下去。鉴于西方人长年累月耳濡目染受到的影响,他们这样想无可厚非。但今天的美国年轻一代,他们生活在网络和资本市场充斥着暴力的时代,又如何看待这个问题?真相可能会让你感到诧异。

30岁以下美国人更赞同社会主义而非资本主义(蓝柱为社会主义,红柱为资本主义),来源:YouGov调查网

在过去15年里,我不仅生活在中国大陆,而且亲历了这个国家成长以及改革所经历的阵痛,我在这里学到的最简单、也最深刻的一课是:集体主义精神,集体目标和集体努力,对未来人类繁衍生存不可或缺。鉴于当前的社会环境,它们的重要性不亚于、甚至已经超过欧洲启蒙哲学强调的个人自由与能动性。在西方社会建构过程中,备受推崇的主流思想是以个人替代集体对话、集体正义和集体进步。从当前的美国总统竞选就能看出,双方极尽妖魔化彼此之能事,但很少拿得出改善美国民生状况的实质性政策。

在某种意义上,个人欲望和想法凌驾于集体之上的古典自由主义理论,助长了企业资本主义,而后者的巨幅扩张,反而开始扼杀自由主义思想。如今,大公司掌握着经济权力,成为公共服务的供应商(Facebook、Google等),但却摆脱了国家政府的约束和管控。随着公司越来越无国籍,越来越向云端发展,运营越来越跨境化,我们虚拟环境的污染问题也越来越突出,因此监管的必要性也越来越显而易见。人们越来越清楚地意识到,科技不但能创造新的奇迹,也会带来新的危险。当科技开始普遍侵犯人们的隐私,当科技开始传播不和谐的、片面的、缺乏根据的故事,我们意识到市场、社交网络、大众出版是全球互联互通的,在这些领域里人们的行为不再限于个体空间,而能够影响全世界。比这些媒体技术和出版公司更危险的,只有跨国工业巨头们可憎的污染行径了。

因此,我们的繁荣、安全、道德和人权,都有赖于集体达成的谅解、守则、目标和行动。这些更高尚的目的,超越了平庸的利润追求,或者科技带给我们的麻木、浮华的享乐。

古典自由主义理论认为,不受约束的、以市场为基础的资源配置是人的自然状态,然而正是在这种思想的指导下,科技和跨国公司破坏了普通人的环境、隐私、个人,世代以及经济安全。显然,这是一种过时的理论。世界各地的青年民意调查表明,人们都在呼唤新的集体精神、集体方向和集体灵感,不光为自己,也是为彼此、为大家。我坚信,在人民的推动下,社群、国家、国际社会完全可以在保持固有身份的同时,朝着高尚的共同目标迈进。为了跨越经济障碍,克服资源匮乏,解决冲突,以及应对迫在眉睫的挑战和机遇,人类必须结合为一个整体,形成更和谐的崭新基础。

中美两国批准《巴黎协定》,是朝正确方向迈出的一步。我支持此类由集体理智产生的行为,因为它们是实质性的、公有的、超国家的、可执行的。《巴黎协定》的意义,远非古典自由主义短暂的经济单位所带来的(空洞的)快乐能够度量的,它不但能治疗地球的创伤,更可以迫使油气利益集团减少对化石燃料的依赖,终止没完没了的能源战争(从中东到委内瑞拉)。此类协定证明人类开始意识到,每个人的行动都将给其他人的生活造成实际的影响,人与人之间存在依存关系,只有当每个人都做好自己份内的事,所有人才能过上共同憧憬的生活—这才是一个有机的集体,就像马丁·路德·金说的, 这才是现实的本质,而非一场纯粹基于资本收益的道德竞次。我希望诸如《巴黎协定》之类的协议能传递一种信号:是时候与过时的经济和社会形态说再见了,过去那种把增长(资本积累)置于正义、环境和物种生存之上的模式应该终结了。目前最重要的,是清楚地意识到人与人之间与日俱增的连通性。

很多人不会同意我的观点,但我相信历史将证明,集体主义的互通性拥有我所信仰的超越个人主义奇想和机会主义贪婪的重要地位。不管发生什么事,中国都一直致力于实现社会集体主义理想,并视其为人类秩序、正义、发展的顶点。虽然我不一定支持中国所有的政策、所有的行动,但我致力于推动东西方文化之间坦率的对话理解,为中国在国际上勾勒一幅更清晰的图景,向世界展示中国的发展目标和悠久历史,并尽可能消除美国和西方对中国的一些误会,便于制定更合理的对华政策。在未来的几十年中,中美如果爆发武装冲突,或任凭恐怖主义肆虐,或刻意无视气候变化对人类生存造成的威胁,都可能毁灭世界。当然,它们如果能合作攻克这些难题,也必将拯救世界。

在世界历史上,从没出现过中美这样强大的国家彼此交会;也从未有过两个如此命运与共的国家,人民却如此互不了解、互不信任。虽然中美双方都怀着难以根除的疑虑, 美国人的弊端是他们狭隘的世界观,以及四年一度、无休止的政治大秀——总统选举。在美国政治里,妖魔化对手已经成为游戏的规则,政客的目的是捞选票,而不是考虑如何让政策落地实施。民主制度有许多优点,但靠相互辱骂、诽谤中伤、人身攻击来哗众取宠,一定是民主制度最致命的弱点。

中美两国必须搭建起一座互信、互知、互通的桥梁,双方在沟通时既要开诚布公的同时,也须注意方式方法,因为我们是全球大家庭中最年长的成员。无论道德智慧是否已经做好准备,不可否认,我们是同呼吸、共命运的一家人。科学研究清楚地显示,唯一适合人类居住的星球——地球——已被一场源于欧洲的“工业革命”严重破坏。现在与其讨论环境问题是谁的错,不如共同面对人类生存的严重威胁。中国人、美国人以及全世界人民,如今有一种共同的(或者说“集体的”)责任,那就是帮助地球“灭火”,防止人类走向自我毁灭。我们只有10-15年的时间(采取极端措施来刺激可再生经济和绿色经济的增长,减少臭氧层空洞,以及遏止工业时代180年来的碳排放)。例如,必须限制碳排放,控制全球温度较前工业时代水平不超过1.5摄氏度,否则全球变暖将造成不可逆转的后果。当前温度较前工业时代上升了3~5摄氏度,可以预期海平面将上升10米左右,每年都将产生巨型风暴,西伯利亚永冻层融化,暴露生物尸体,传播炭疽病。此外还将出现大规模旱灾、水资源匮竭(尤其是中东和中亚地区),粮食严重歉收。到2050年, 一个干旱缺水的地球,是无法养活全球100亿人口的。任由这些趋势继续,人类必将陷入冲突和灾祸。1.5摄氏度,这是一场关乎子孙后代的斗争。人类必须停止各自为政,而要作为一个集体投入斗争,才能取得胜利。

如不控制温室气体排放,21世纪气温将上升4.5摄氏度,来源:climatescoreboard.org

我们没有时间耗在任何战争上,无论是经济战争、网络战争,还是其他战争。此时此刻,人类处于历史上前所未见的关头,每个人都肩负着拯救地球的集体责任,以应对关乎全人类存亡的真正威胁。

中国是现代史上头一个欧美之外的超级大国。中国规划、控制和资助几乎所有本土大型公司(包括国企和私企),而且操控货币,因此饱受欧美经济理论学家诟病。但中国认为,其经济政策是监管调节国际市场力量的方式。亲兄弟可以意见不同,但一旦家中失火,大家必须齐心协力拯救这个家。

经济挑战当前,中美却进入了一段相爱相杀的关系。中国成为美国最大的贸易伙伴,以极低的价格向我们提供了几乎所有商品,使美国消费者对低价商品习以为常。为了人类的集体利益,中国提出了一条迥异于美国的新路:汇集有限的全球资源、社会正义和政府管控,集体意识以及为了更大的利益而牺牲自己,更好地利用地球资源。对美国来说,中国是知识产权的黑洞,是有时难以打入的市场,是最大的离岸外包“制造厂”,以及最大的债权国。中国有着多层意义重大的身份,可是我们的总统候选人却只顾在竞选宣传中彼此诋毁和咒骂,对中美关系的重要性和随之而来的机遇缺乏认识。如果没有行动,没有信息灵通、教育程度良好、甘愿奉献的民众,没有人在重大议题上进行理性讨论。那么民主便只是一个词语,而词语的解读权并不为任何国家所专有,民主这个词本身不是一种行动,它不能造福社会。我们必须铭记在心。语义的蓬勃发展从某些方面来说等于优秀的政府, 经济正义、、稳定、教育和和平、科学和文化的集体进步是唯一的方法,我相信政府的表现是可以客观地衡量的。

虽然中美两国的政策方针有很大的不同,无论我们喜欢还是厌恶彼此,事实就是中美两国人民已经紧密相连。我们一定要随时记住,地球就这么小,身处其中的中国和美国无疑是亲兄弟,是休戚相关的一家人。我们可以各自发展道德观,但命运已把我们连在一起,这个趋势是不可改变的。伟大的美国前总统亚伯拉罕·林肯的箴言还萦绕在耳边:“我们不能成为陌生人或者敌人,我们要成为朋友。”

中美伙伴关系才刚起步,是21世纪的特殊关系。它打破窠臼,冲破旧世界的限制。我们再也不能忽视彼此,我们之间的线已牢牢拴紧无法解开,就像连体婴一样,从头到尾都连在了一起。我们之间会发生摩擦和口角吗?当然,但是谁会失心疯,对命运与共的兄弟起歹意呢?头脑清醒的人都会回答说“没人会”。真正理智、可行的方案,是中美全方位合作。兄弟之间存在健康的竞争关系,其初期表现可能是兄弟俩比谁个子高、谁更漂亮或者强壮,但是他们不会永远都在这些事上较真。当他们逐渐长大,会意识到最重要的责任是一起照顾好父母——地球为母,时代为父。良好的兄弟关系必须建立在双方对爱、全面合作和长期承诺的共同认识之上,这绝不是外交上的陈词滥调,而是人类作为感情生物,对地球上诸多问题的唯一解决方式,也是我们必须深思并为之努力的答案。这一点至关重要。

在美国未被传颂的故事和历史

在21世纪,美国和中国会因争夺势力范围,在繁杂的小矛盾中争论不休;还是携手并肩,共同维护地球的生态呢?这个双向选择简单直白,但是我们必须超越短期经贸盈亏、就业岗位流失、非理性遏制和货币操纵;必须超越集体vs.个人权利自由的表述;摒弃关于零和博弈的错误叙事。我们必须快速做出团结合作的选择,因为地球危机不等人,人类需要分秒必争 。

我在中国拍摄电视节目和开展商业活动已经有十五年了,亲历了中国的蜕变。中国话语从温和的“和平崛起”,到更强势的表述。这种语气变化,跟美国1823年宣布门罗主义并无太大不同。美国这个曾经殖民过菲律宾的国家,在面对中国崛起时,竟自封“亚洲监察员”,一边秀军事肌肉,一边占据道德制高点,对中国自然而然的崛起指手画脚。

美国门罗主义的目标本来是通过划分势力范围,保护南北美洲免受重商而好战的欧洲势力侵扰。结合当时的时代背景来看,即美国通过独立战争把英国殖民者赶回大西洋彼岸,门罗主义是有道理的。但是放在今天,美国自己的势力范围超过夏威夷群岛,一直延伸到关岛和塞班岛,却跑去规定另一个崛起大国(也是世界人口最多的国家)不得与其邻国提出类似的双边对话,不免显得有些虚伪。更何况,中国和邻国的对话,并没有什么逾矩的地方。回顾美国种种“助纣为虐”的历史,从在上海划分租界,到韩国的李承晚政权,再到菲律宾的马科斯政权,应该时刻警戒我们不要再犯相同的错误,别再想着要美国去指挥亚洲如何正确地开展地区内对话。

西方很多人为中国新展现出的强硬态度感到惋惜,但他们不应觉得太意外。自2012年来,随着中国综合国力的提升,中国人的民族自豪感和民族主义情绪越来越强烈,在最近的南海仲裁案后达到高点 。中国为了让世界听到她的诉求以及被平等地对待,共产党需要动员和利用一切媒体/网络/舆论、经济、军事力量,来“争取信息时代传统战场以外的地区冲突的胜利”。为什么要聚焦于综合国力?在中国的“屈辱百年”(关于这段历史西方学生知之甚少)中,她饱受外国列强铁蹄蹂躏,被大英帝国的鸦片毒害,终于挣脱了桎梏。中国人坚信,在历史性的科技和环境挑战面前,如果保持团结,捍卫中华文明的权利,便能守卫住自己的历史地位——也就是英国汉学家李约瑟所说的,中国过去两千年靠贸易(而非征服),取得的卓越经济文化成就。

开战的理由?

中国崛起意味着中美之间必有一战吗?我不这么认为。除非西方(及其盟国)与中国严重误判对方,或因情绪过激导致对话退化,否则中美之间不会发生高强度冲突。对中共而言,介入武装冲突的前提必须是为了捍卫领土完整;或者是为了维护执政党的地位和秩序。

虽然许多人可能有不同意见,但中国这个人口最多的国家要快速和平地发展,不用担忧外国势力干涉或入侵,就必须拥有强大而统一的中央政府。看看18世纪以后的中国历史,你会发现中国人的这种观念不是凭空出现的理论,而是在一次次汲取经验教训之后总结出来的。当中央政府软弱无能时,山河破碎、生灵涂炭、文化瑰宝被洗劫。中国人以史为鉴,自然将中央政府(中国共产党)的统治视为国家领土完整的保证。从理性角度来看,这种看法无可指摘。

值得注意的是,中国在国际上打交道时,经常被指责在全球冲突中作壁上观。虽然中国越来越多地参加维和行动,但中国一直遵守不干涉别国内政的原则,在非洲、东盟和欧洲均是如此。虽然这条原则不无值得商榷的地方,但是我们很难想象一个遭受过被殖民苦难的大国,面对西方在亚非拉等地留下的所谓“更优越”的旧范式,能够立即推出更加稳定、更公平的政策。中国对内重视发展,对外表现得谦谨克制(除了在南海问题上——但即使如此也比殖民时代的西方列强温和得多),这种做法应该得到国际社会的高度肯定。中国不打算把自身的道德标准、价值观或经济制度强加于人,仅这一点,对文艺复兴之后的世界事务来说,便是革命性的。

与此同时,中国以身作则,领导世界经济从化石燃料向绿色可再生能源转型。这样一来,中国的传统经济支柱——靠化石燃料推动的出口制造业——便面临风险。从长远来看,中国在环保战略上迈出重要一步,应该得到肯定。这种巨大的转型,意味着中国领导层决定牺牲部分短期增长,换取全世界的长期繁荣。

政策风向为何突然转变?为什么是现在?

在领土争端和外国投资问题上,西方必须重新审视中国看似夸张的民族主义立场。就像哥白尼的“日心说”和孔子的儒家学说刚问世时,都饱受质疑和评判,我们需要一种全新又大胆的眼界来看待中国越来越高涨的民族主义。中国成为世界第二大经济体(很快将成为第一大经济体)的事实,以及由此而来的民族自豪感,以及政府引导,足以解释民族主义情绪的上升。今天我们看到的中国,不是个主动制造争端的国家,而是个为了经济、文化、生活方式,为了让“绿色革命”争取到群众基础,为了地球的生存而勇敢转型的国家。面对如此巨大的挑战,她自然要展示实力、激励国家意志。

中国正在积极采取措施,努力实现可持续发展,摆脱新自由主义的约束,推翻跨国企业来的苛刻条款,建立监管制度约束企业股东利益不损害环境和人类长远利益。向可持续发展快速转型注定需要部分人做出牺牲,中国已经开始为公众做这方面的心里铺垫。

中国可以说“不”

中国是一个坚持不结盟政策的国家,她敢于对西方国家说“不”,并且在过去三百年里形成了一套独特的经济和社会文化范式。对所有人来说,中国代表着一个前所未有的新现象。中国为什么这样做?我认为有两大原因:其一,中国开始向外部强加于她的条款说“不”,因为中国另有一套维护内部稳定和开展国际合作的方法,并且也能够在国际上表述这套方法。中国不依赖固定的盟友,更注重不断变化的双边文化、经济和环境交流状况。其次,中国认为只要维持内部团结,从碳排放大国转为绿色科技先锋,她定能再次完成令世界震撼的转型。必要的转型将无可避免地给执政党和人民造成压力,但中国意识到,转型的长期回报值得当前的付出,因此她在变革道路上作出表率。

与自由主义民主国家4到6年的选举周期不同,中国以一种长远眼光看待自身国家和历史地位。数千年来,中国看待自身角色的方法在不断演化。领土争端只不过是个表象,共同利用资源的问题终究会通过双边谈判得到解决。邻国们担心中国很明白,中国也同样希望解决这些问题,振奋国民精神。民族主义话语能为国家注入更大的“方向感”,凝聚民族精神。虽然短期内不免招来邻国的怨恨,甚至可能产生低强度冲突,但中国在领土问题上站稳脚跟,是为了让社会团结一致,更持久地发力,解决更尖锐的转型问题。中国选择了一条智慧而正确的道路,在民族复兴和以身作则的基础上,无私地迎接中国及全世界的理想及担负拯救环境的责任。

2009年,中国对清洁能源投资346亿美元,据世界首位,来源:皮尤慈善信托组织

中国话语转变调门是必然的,西方却没能理解其背后的原因。

我们必须贴近中国人民、聆听中国的故事,认识中国的未来,站在他们历史与未来的交汇处,重新发现人类过往至今的集体精神。如果这个深入灵魂的精神得到不同年龄层次的认同与接受,无疑中国将在环保战略中发挥决定性作用,拯救地球并让其重焕生命光彩。

(翻页阅读英文原文)

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.

Casus Bellis

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

(青年观察者胡怡莹译,杨晗轶校)