知己知彼,百战不殆, Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat

The West has never liked to accept different civilizations. Like Christianity, it has often wanted to impose The Civilization. Beyond the potential future economical and even technological confrontation, the United States rejects China’s economical and political model. President Rabbit 兔主席 is a Chinese blogger, a Harvard graduate, who writes in various Chinese newspapers and on Weibo. In an article entitled “Chatting from the China-U.S. Institutional Challenge to Mr. De (Democracy) and Mr. Sai (Science) 闲聊:从中国对美国的制度挑战到 “德先生 “与 “赛先生,” he describes a fairly widespread Chinese position vis-à-vis the United States. Two to three decades ago, America was seen as the future. But times have changed, and China has become the rival that offers a different path rather than a threat, something the country of Trump, blinded by its vanity, does not understand. It is interesting to see the reflections of the “Rabbit.” Even if we do not share his ideas, they deserve more than just consideration because they are very representative of a part of the thinking of the Chinese elites.

Summary of the main parts of the Chairman’s text

America was powerful

20-30 years ago, the Chinese believed that the United States was the future, the beacon of the world. Why did they think so? America had a robust economy and a powerful army. One might ask, is it the superiority of the American system that has produced a strong America, or is it because America is strong that we think its system is superior? The United States dominated the 20th century, the USSR and Japan, in the end, were not able to bring in rival systems for long. Does the strength of the United States lie in the size of its population and natural resources? Did it take steps earlier than other countries to become dominant?

The only rival, China

The only country that can compete with the United States is China; its population is four times larger; the nationalities of the country and cultures have become homogenized. The cultural values of the society are united – the differences, for example, between the writer Fang Fang and the communist toy soldiers (小粉红), are nothing compared to American people’s divisions. The Chinese people are very hard-working; they can sacrifice for family, for society, they have a sense of community. State and society work together with a sense of order. We look towards savings and investing; we hope to accumulate wealth. Everyone attaches great importance to education, which is part of the cultural genes of the country. The society was formed on the Confucian system. Everyone has to fulfill his or her duties. The examination system ensured social mobility. The large size of the population provided high domestic demand and economies of scale. The political, cultural, and educational systems of the state and society inculcate and “internalize” these cultural values in each individual. Can such a country, such a society, create a strong economy and civilization?

China Assembly national

China will go further than Japan

Japan, a veritable miracle of the 1980s, had become a challenge for the West. China will undoubtedly be able to overtake Japan. It has a larger population, more abundant resources, and a sizeable local market than Japan does not have. Second, nationalities and cultures are homogeneous, and China is more diverse, open, and tolerant than Japan, an island nation. With the revolution of the 20th century, China has eased the burden of the constraints and restrictions of feudal society. Gender equality in China is much more evident. China is closer to the West in terms of openness and freedom.

A different path

While China’s rise is gradual, America is declining. China does not want to overthrow the United States, but propose a different path from the United States and put an end to the “end of history.” Human civilizations have different ways of development. 

Humility allows progress

One advantage China has over the United States is its relative humility. The Chinese see the power of the United States; they are very interested in that country, and still have a sense of wonder and always want to learn and integrate advanced experiences. On the other hand, China is not sufficiently aware of its advantages and strengths and does not have enough self-confidence. But this places China precisely in a more self-critical and reflective state of catch-up and can be a constant incentive to improve.

Blind vanity

Its self-confidence limits the United States, and vanity can blind. They see the Chinese system as the product of an extremist political system from Europe; they cannot see China’s real success, the characteristics of Chinese history and civilization. As the proverb says, ” 知己知彼,百战不殆, If you know yourself and your enemy, you will not be in danger in a hundred battles*. ” The Chinese can read the United States, but the Americans cannot read China.

Complementarity

If China could integrate the strengths of the United States and the West and vice versa if the United States/West could integrate those of China, there would no longer be competition but complementarity. The political civilization of the 21st century will have to incorporate the elements of East and West. China is catching up; it is capable of humble introspection and learning. China, therefore, has the potential to build a higher civilization. 

Cold War, Thinking Pattern

The power of the West (United States) makes him arrogant, with backward views, stuck in a pattern of Cold War mentalities with the US-USSR confrontation. For a long time, he did not understand where the threat came from. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, the old feudal systems, the early centralized states? China, with its red features, made him incomprehensible.

End of summary

Of course, one can make various objections to these assertions: “The homogenization of culture, nationalities and the State,” it is necessary to go and ask the question in certain regions, such as Tibet or Xinjiang.  The United States does not understand China, which is a bit easy to say. You would have to understand China with the Zhongnanhai criteria, I suppose. To explain the power of the United States, the author could have mentioned the openness of the country, its investment in research and development, its attraction to highly qualified people, the creative drive (much less so in China), and many other things. Of course, this discourse is in line with the official line describing China’s renaissance, claiming its model that it would like to have recognized and even exported and regretted the lack of desire for understanding from abroad. 

*Quote from Sunzi

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20 June 2020

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