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Commentary: Petty Shrewdness Attends to Trivialities; Great Wisdom Attends to System

By Lu Xinning (People's Daily Online)    07:05, September 04, 2016

File Photo: The famous Qiantangjiang tidal bore

There is an ancient poem that goes,“Hangzhou enjoys scenic splendor southeast of River Blue, and Capital of ancient Kingdom Wu, Qiantang’s as flourishing as e’er”. The Group 20 (G20) Summit has entered its “China Time”, and Hangzhou, the host city, has been placed under the global spotlight. State leaders of various countries are gathering here; world’s renowned entrepreneurs are making their stops here, and media from all over the world are averting their lens here. From brainstormed ideas to actions, the ideologies of global governance merge into ripples of wisdom. Hangzhou has proven its excellence not only in scenery, but also in wisdom.

“People with petty shrewdness attend to trivialities, and people with great wisdom attend to system.” As the host, Chinese President Xi Jinping made the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Business 20 (B20) Summit. He utilized Chinese wisdom for solution, and applied Chinese philosophies for reasoning. The dialectics of “petty shrewdness” and “great wisdom” sheds lights for thoughts of the people who keep a keen eye on the future.

Indeed, lifting global economy requires “petty shrewdness” to tackle the issues one by one, but what is more crucial is the “great wisdom” to set the framework, point direction, and detect the trends. Only with openness being the orientation, cooperation being the purpose, and sharing being the aim, can there be a general direction with set principles. Only by co-constructing a new framework in finance, trade, investment, energy, development and more, can there be great feat to achieve in the global economy. As ideas define outlets, attitude defines altitude. Such “Chinese scheme” is the embodiment of the said “great wisdom”. 

The pursuit of “great wisdom” is a tradition in Chinese culture. Some use the metaphor of chess and Weiqi (Go) to demonstrate different thinking patterns between Westerners and Chinese: The governance of the West is like playing the chess – both sides vow to fight ferociously to a bitter end of life and death. Whereas the governance of China is like playing Weiqi – observe the dynamics for position, go for the decisive move, and the two players become one. It is anything but a zero sum game. “Small wisdom attends to the chess pieces, medium wisdom attends to the moves, and great wisdom attends to the position.” The great wisdom is not the simple accumulation of small wisdom. It is defined by how broad the mind is and how grand the perspective of view is. It is of a systematic thinking, dialectic reasoning and a transcendental value system.

The approach is to reflect with the long-term thinking, seize the crucial, attend to the collective good; then, there comes the “great wisdom”. Such wisdom requires long-term thinking: Looking beyond the short-term expediency, China appeals to the G20 to transform from managing crises when they appear to a more long-term, efficient system. Such wisdom also requires one to think globally rather than locally: China has been advocating a world economy that is more innovative, open, connected, and tolerant. The great wisdom requires the ability of being able to recognize others before doing so to oneself. China, in its theory of the “Three Common”, has been promoting a shared future for mankind. In the Henry Kissinger’s book “World Order”, the ultimate challenge for modern politicians is the restructuring of the global system. For the world today, only a “great wisdom” that attends to the system can answer this question of the century. 

The pulse of history thumps with the political climate of the world, and this is a big time calling for great wisdom. Some say a new gateway will open for our world. From information technology, material technology, to biology, all the sciences are seemingly at the edge of great transformation. From the era of discovery to the era of air and space, and from the era of wire cable to the era of fiber-optic communications, the globalization of economy, politics, and culture is seeing its completion in quantity accumulation. A point of singularity is about to show up, and the steer-holders of this world are required to stand onto the mast for an outlook of the way. They have to look up the star map for strategies, and find a future of mankind in the trajectory of sailing.

In Chinese culture, wisdom generates courage. Great wisdom generates great courage, and it calls for a transition from “knowing” to “doing”. “If you know where you are going, the world will make way for you.” The achievements from the Hangzhou G20 Summit will pinpoint the direction for the development of the whole world. What ensues is the faith to take action immediately. President Xi Jinping once cited the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, “The world is in the hands of those who have the courage to live their dreams with their talent.” As the international situations are undergoing profound and complicated changes, and the world economy is faced with many risk and challenges, our world calls for a courageous steer-holder.

“The steer-holder stood up against the peak of the tides, the red flag in his hands ever undampened.” The tides in the Hangzhou Qiantang River have risen. Although the world-known tidal bore of Qiantang River is still a few days away from its full splendor, the excitement has already been felt in Hangzhou. The keynote speech given by President Xi at opening ceremony of B20 opens the tidal gate of G20, and torrents of thoughts and ideas are surging and fluxing. This new round of world economy tides requires an active headwater and an ever-rising smooth flow. Using the great wisdom to seize the big trends and entering a new realm of mind with broadmindedness, we can be certain to be able to firmly grasp the future of mankind in our own hands.


The author Lu Xinning is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of People's Daily.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor: Zou Luxiao,Bianji)

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