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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 18:24, March 23, 2005
The philosophy of 'harmony'
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Building a socialist harmonious society is an important strategy for carrying out a scientific concept of development, only by promoting development and deepening reforms is it possible to solve the many contradictions and problems existing in China's structural transformation period, to better harmonize multi-faceted interest relations and safeguard social harmony, progress and stability.

Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy in late 1978, China has experienced earth-shaking changes, the development it gained has inspired the Chinese people and focused the attention of the world. Practice has proved that China's gradual progressing strategy is successful, but in the meantime we must notice that reforms have been developing in-depth into the stage of tackling difficult problems. Under such circumstance, we must not neglect the requirement for further deepening reforms and must have a clear understanding of the complexity and arduousness of future reforms.

"Harmony" is an important characteristic of traditional Chinese culture, as well as a precious cultural heritage of China, it is rich in connotation and full of profound philosophy of great wisdom. It advocates, first, diversity and, second, balance and "arriving at the same destination by different routes, reaching unanimity after taking many things into consideration", it encourages the virtue of magnanimity, promotes the broad and profound spirit of " great virtue carrying substance with it", featuring tolerance, compatibility, and honesty and moderation. Gathering different things together and making them balanced is called "harmony". "Harmony" can generate new things, when five-tones are harmonious, the sound is audible; when the five-colors are harmonious, they become a set of well-designed pattern; when five flavors are harmonious, they are edible. When this logic is inferred to administration, we must harmonize various kinds of interests, synthesize different opinions and defuse complicated contradictions. If same things are piled up together, they cannot give birth to new things and so they cannot be full of vigor, instead, the phenomenon of "such same things that cannot continue to exist" will emerge.

When "harmony" is used in interpersonal relations, "magnanimity will win over the public"; when one treats others liberally, he or she will win others' confidence. When one in a high position does not treat others with an attitude of leniency, does not show his courtesy, does not express his mourning before a funeral ceremony, how do we look upon such a situation?

When "harmony" is used in politics, then there can be "logical administration and harmonious people", historical development can be promoted, and prosperous culture can be achieved. "Harmony" can promote the birth of new things and new thoughts and bring about a situation featuring the blossoming of one hundred flowers and a blaze of color. Conversely, there can only be a situation in which ten thousand horses were muted, and neither crow nor sparrow could be heard.

If we use "harmony" in economy, we can promote the development of production and prosperity of economy. At the beginning of many Chinese dynasties, the rulers pursued a policy of allowing a period of time for recuperation and building up of strength in order to give people an opportunity for the restoration and development of production. This policy of "harmony" did play a desirable role in restoring and developing production.

"Harmony" we use in diplomacy can "make all nations live together in peace", by doing so, we have both safeguarded our own national independence, and refrained from practicing external expansion; we do not invade other countries, and absolutely not allow other nations to commit aggression against our country. This is China's fine tradition of loving peace and promoting common development.

When "harmony" is used in the relations between Man and Nature, then "each of them can live in peace respectively and can accomplish something through respective support". Humanity can develop itself only by making rational use of and maintaining harmony with Nature, maintain and develop the civilization itself has created, satisfy intergenerational demand, realize intergenerational fairness and enjoy mutual growth and mutual prosperity with Nature and develop together with Nature in a harmonious way.

The "harmony" theory encouraged by traditional Chinese culture is very profound. As a profound philosophy used to regulate social contradiction and to bring which to a suitable, timely and appropriate state of harmony, harmony has brought stability and auspiciousness to the Chinese nation.

Harmony is both an ancient social ideal as well as our actual choice. Harmony will open up a broader world for future humankind and provide humanity with inexhaustible driving force for its development. As a kind of theoretical innovation, harmony should become a theoretical foundation for us to further deepen reform, promote development and build a socialist harmonious society.

The article written by Feng Zhijun is published on the front page of People's Daily (Overseas Edition) on March 23 and translated by People's Daily Online

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