Wednesday, March 30, 2005

China...the beautiful

The very, very hungry China

With an explosive economy year after year, China continues to impress and awe anywhere from Buenos Aires to Berlin. There are but a few indications that the metaphorical “dragon” will rest again soon. Instead, it is undergoing a metamorphosis, much similar to the children’s story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In the famous story, a caterpillar indulges its insatiable demand for food by eating apples, pies, meat, etc. etc. In the case of China, you can substitute those food items with just about any raw material you can think of (except for democracy, if that applies). Look at how steel prices are soaring due to China's high demand. In the story, the caterpillar ends up becoming a beautiful butterfly. Will that also happen to China?

All over the world, Chinese culture has proliferated at an amazing rate. From blockbuster movies such as “Hero” and “House of flying daggers", to thousands of foreigners who now travel and study abroad in China; it is now obvious that China needs to do little to attract attention. Is that “beauty” -- to attract such attention? Many cover page models might not be beautiful to everyone, but at least they are famous – does that not suffice? Or at least society has constructed the idea for us that they definitely are beautiful.

Today we start to see China’s involvement all over the world. In African oil endeavors, in building infrastructure in South America, and many other project which would not fit in this account. It might be seen as greed, but with investment and new business opportunities for developing countries in South East Asia and Latin America, the proverbial “spilling over” of both capital and culture (two important C’s) seems like a viable option … much like with the United States today.

This is not necessarily to illustrate that China will threaten East Asia or the current world order. Instead China teaches us that even though a civilization is greedily eating away anything in its way (like many European empires of the past), it may have a dynamic future. Just like the caterpillar. It may thus restore the splendor and art of the Sung and Ming dynasties, which though romanticsm has created and constructed the very ideas and perspectives which today are ingrained in our tastes and preferences -- to once again appreciate china as 漂亮 or “beautiful”.

Your comments are highly appreciated


Chin-fu Hung said...


Thank you for sharing your work with me. I find it very creative to capture the future development in the PRC. The metaphor you use is particularly vivid. I have a few thoughts after reading your article:

1. I would like to see how you argue or predict if China is likely to become a 'beautiful' butterfly from a greedy caterpillar? There seems no clear reasoning in your article (esp. first paragraph)?

2. The 2nd paragraph--cultural perspective: You employ cultural activities like movies, studying, travelling and show business (models) to support the beauty of the subject (the Chinese state). Well, I can understand your points. Yet, it might be better to point out the fundamental beauty of China underling the profound culture from your perspective?

3. Yes, the Chinese government begin to actively get involved in world politics. They are requiring a better and right position in the world affairs decision-making process. To some extent, they want to play a role similar to the leader of the Third World representing the alternative value (or say hegemonic democracy/freedom values of the US.)

4. You make a statement that China is less likely to threaten not only East Asia, but also the rest of the world, particularly the states. In part I understand your arguments. But there is no strong evidence to make your arguments compelling. In my opinion, to 'restore the splendor and art of the Sung and Ming dynasties' might be relatively easier than to restore the good values and merits of the people which have been lost for long.

In sum, it is an inspiring and though-provoking work. I encourage you to submit to a newspaper after some revisions.

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