What does China think?

16:48, April 28, 2010      

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A versatile reporter captured an interesting moment when European Union Foreign Minister Catherina Ashton pulled a book from her bag titled "What Does China Think?" at a European Parliament meeting this year. The entire world is starting to ask similar questions as China continues to grow in national strength and international status.

Given the country's tremendous changes and great achievements, some Western scholars are beginning to rethink their past perspectives on China in hopes of gaining a deeper and clearer understanding of this mysterious oriental country. Mark Leonard, a researcher at a British think tank, wrote a book named "What does China think?" which soon became regarded as an authoritative work about China.

Leonard, a brilliant and energetic young British scholar, is the founder and executive director of the first Pan-European think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations, which has rapidly expanded since its launch in 2007. Shortly after his visit to China, Leonard realized that the "Made in China" label is applied to not only commodities but also thoughts. He has made extensive contacts and interviews with Chinese scholars and found that Chinese intellectuals behave much more actively than the Western media and intellectual circles had imagined.

Leonard introduced in his book the predominant opinions of Chinese intellectuals on economic reform, democracy and international strategy. He pointed out that the European political and business elites are extremely familiar with different schools of political thoughts in the United States but know little about those of China.

In fact, Chinese intellectuals have considerable influence on the country's politics and policies. He believes that since China has successfully grown into an influential global power over the past 30 years, it is particularly important for people in the West to develop a proper understanding of Chinese intellectuals and China's broad future.

There are many inspirational ideas in the book "What Does China Think?" According to Leonard, the theoretical significance of China's rise has ended the inescapable logical connection between western freedom and democracy and economic prosperity. People mistakenly assume that if China becomes rich, it will naturally be more westernized.

Western-style freedom and democracy are no longer the foundation of development. Leonard believes that for developing countries, China's rise means the existence of other options beyond the dichotomy of "westernization" and "isolation." The Chinese model is particularly attractive to developing countries. China's rise has indeed not only had economic significance, but it also has far-reaching historical significance by enriching and expanding the world's political and national development model.

"Without understanding China, it would be impossible to understand world politics," said Leonard in his book. It could be said that Leonard's remarks represent a type of thought the world has about China. After the world has a more comprehensive understanding of China, treating China with an open and peaceful mind is most important. To accomplish common peace and prosperity in the interdependent world, the West's understanding of China requires an emancipation of the mind.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:张洪宇)

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