West risks its own downfall with arrogance

08:18, October 12, 2010      

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The Nobel peace prize this year, presented to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, is another expression of Western prejudice against China. What lies behind the prize is the dreadful fear of some Western powers of China's rise and Chinese-style development. Regardless of fear or suspicion, China's rise is unstoppable and the Western hegemony is going to end.

China's development pattern once drew wide Western disapproval. But the robust growth over the past decades showed China would disintegrate like the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia if China followed the instruction of Western countries and the dissidents rather than its own principles.

China will hold firmly to its policy and stick to the development pattern that has turned the country into a world major economic power regardless of Western objection. Given that fact, China does not need to care too much about the prejudice, and let them to what they want to do.

It reminds me of what a German sinologist said to me at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year. He wanted to publish reviews on major Germany newspapers about his compilation of a collection of Chinese essays. But the editors told him that German readers were only interested in the works of Chinese dissidents, nothing else.

As a Chinese saying goes, "it is impossible to clap with one hand," which means it is hard to succeed without support. Understanding can't be reached if one side is eager to explain while the other turns a deaf ear. What matters is whether the West totally understands the real wishes of different nations and culture. As far as I am concerned, the West shows far less interest in understanding China than China wants to know the West.

With better understanding about the West, China can draw on the advantages and avoid disadvantages. With arrogance and self-satisfaction, the West will find itself stuck in political and economic impasse in the end.

The Westerners have started to show growing interests in understanding China along with China's rapid development. The Chinese language has become more and more popular worldwide and China no longer cares much about the Western prejudice. The West that believes in strength will try to understand the country that is developing.

For instance, the global auto industry is experiencing a kind of transformation to cater to the Chinese market now that China ranks first in auto sales worldwide. Such tendency has expanded to other fields, like tourism, education, new energy, modernization and finally the politics, until the end of Western hegemony.

French scholar David Gosset said those in West that hold prejudice against China are the frog in the well — a Chinese idiom used to deride a mix of parochialism, narrow-mindedness and complacency — in his article published in Asia Times last February. He wrote in his article that Chinese citizens have been transformed into "global citizens."

Can the West open itself to a Chinese renaissance as China opens itself to the world? If the West believes that it has nothing to learn from China — from its ancient wisdom, aesthetics and values — and if the West, facing the overall success of the Chinese model, refuses to question its own assumptions about economic and political modernity, it simply takes the risk of ending up as the last frog in the well.

By Zhang Xinyi, People's Daily Online and the author is Zhang Weiwei, a professor with The Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (GSD).


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