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?
Times, Peoples' Republic of China
Sake, Put an End to Western Hegemony
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
May 10, 2009
People's Republic of China - Global
Geographic Times - Original Article (Chinese)
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?
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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
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
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
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."
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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
CLICK HERE FOR CHINESE VERSION
[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 28, 9:06pm]