Is the key to resolving the world's most

vexing problems to follow what is known

as the 'harmonious middle way' of China's

ancient Book of Changes?



Global Geographic Times, Peoples' Republic of China

For Humanity's Sake, Put an End to Western Hegemony


Is the very nature of Western civilization at the heart of the global financial crisis, the Iraq War, and the failure of Western culture to take hold in much of the world? According to Zhang Wei, the writer of this article from China's state-controlled Global Geographic Times, the Occident had better learn to adopt what is good from other cultures, particularly China's - otherwise the West's 'me-first-ism' could bring disaster upon humanity.


By Zhang Wei [张维为]


Translated By Mark Klingman


May 10, 2009


People's Republic of China - Global Geographic Times - Original Article (Chinese)


The words of the Book of Changes carved in stone between A.D. 172 and 178 by the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi-huang. Could these words be a key to the problems confronting humanity today?


BBC NEWSNIGHT: Special report from 1989 on the changing face of China and how that nation has integrated socialism and capitalism, 00:13:50RealVideo

Western culture has its strong points, but also its weaknesses - perhaps its greatest weakness being its tendency toward haughtiness. It lacks the Chinese idea of a "harmonious middle way." Some Westerners believe that human history will eventually fall completely into a Western pattern and that in the future, the West will unquestionably lead the world. The truth is that any religion, theory, or ideology - including democracy and market capitalism - once it's pushed to the extreme and regarded as fundamental to all else, triggers an irrational response by its followers. The outcome of this is never good, and is often crushing defeat.


That is the position the West confronts today, with the plight of the Iraq War, the failure of the "color revolutions" and the financial tsunami. How can world history possibly end up following the Western model? Developing countries that choose to imitate the West have seen almost all their attempts fail. The world's peoples continue to explore and test alternatives to development, and humanity's exploration of the political future is far from exhausted. The West bears its own heavy responsibility to reform itself - otherwise, how could we have had the bankruptcy of Iceland and the financial corruption at the highest levels of America, and on top of that, such a serious economic crisis?



Insightful people in the West are in a state of profound reflection over these questions. People like Britain's former culture minister Chris Smith and writer Richard Cork, author of the article Western Civilization is Confronted with a Severe Choice [translated headline and quotes]. As he points out: "Western civilization has arrived at a crossroads. One road leads to a resentment of the world, aggression, indifference, neo-conservatism and violent liberalism. And the other road ... to the building up of oneself through diligent striving, optimism, rationality, sympathy, equality, and a coherent, mutually-affirming society." It so happens that this other road coincides with the idea of the "harmonious middle way" advocated by the Chinese. If the major powers of the West can reflect on themselves in this manner, the future of humanity could be a much brighter one; otherwise the world's differing civilizations will be put on an even sharper collision course. We cannot lower our guard to this. The struggle for harmony may be against the current trend of history, but it is something we must pursue.


The concept of the Chinese "harmonious middle way" can be traced back to the pre-Confucian, Book of Changes. It is generally believed that the very idea of "harmony" is derived from the metaphor of the "middle way." Taking the "harmonious middle way" does not imply the passive acceptance of a negative compromise,  but the "seeking of common ground while reserving minor differences" to achieve "cordial friendship without sacrificing principles." These ideas are what allowed China to avoid Europe's millennium of continuous religious war - war which came close to destroying Western civilization. Looking back at the success China has enjoyed over the past 30 years, its central characteristics have been rationality and prudence in following a middle path, rather than prejudice and extremism. This is what has allowed China's rapid rise.


Of course, this rise has brought with it new contradictions and questions, yet the majority of Chinese people think these too should be solved through the "harmonious middle way." It's like opening a door: the door can be pushed open, or pulled open. Western culture is accustomed to "pushing," emphasizing the discrepancies and contentiousness among various interest groups and a preference for the philosophy of struggle. Chinese culture, on the other hand, is accustomed to "pulling," emphasizing the symbiosis and integration of divergent interests, advocating a philosophy of harmony, and always looking toward practical solutions to problems. The model of Western culture has an extremely low success rate in non-Western countries and its philosophy of struggle has torn a number of countries apart. Therefore, China will continue on its own path, while drawing upon all of the best methods from others.


With the development of globalization, the problems associated with global governance are increasing by the day - from counter-terrorism to global warming, from environmental management to eradicating poverty, from preventing epidemic disease to reforming the global financial system. Only if each and every country values peace above all, cooperates fully with its neighbors and makes up for its own deficiencies by learning from the strengths of the others will we be able to confront these challenges. Although the Berlin Wall has been torn down, there are many other walls; the wall between poor countries and rich; between strong countries and weak; and between religions and different civilizations, the walls have all been getting higher and higher. This has been largely due to the rising tide of fundamentalist Western democratic and free-market preaching- but also because of the difficulties of the Iraq War and the deepening American economic crisis. Day by day, people have become increasingly aware of the foolishness of this fundamentalism. Chinese people today would like to see two ideas influence the world: the "harmonious middle way" and "peace achieved through respect for differences."    



We wish to expose the stupidity of ideological monomania and point out that the West's "me-first-ism" may bring disaster upon humanity. We must diligently demolish the walls of alienation that exist in today's world. Thus we will gain lasting justice, prosperity, and peace for all the world, as well as China.


*Zhang Wei [张维为] is a senior researcher at the University of Geneva Asia Research Center






































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 28, 9:06pm]