A lesson about modern China
Dear Editor:In the past 15 and a half months I have been to Portugal, have traveled to some of the major islands in the Atlantic Ocean, went down the coast of Brazil, took a private tour of northern India and just returned from three major cities in China.Therefore, when I say that I was very impressed with China, I am speaking from a fairly broad perspective. I was particularly impressed with a visit to Shanghai, Xian and Beijing, because I learned so much and because I returned with a dramatically different view of the world. China isn’t only worthy of being called the “Awakening Giant,” but also, there is afoot in the world the birth of a new way of living and thinking. There is ample evidence that a “world community” is being born, but whether it can throw off the evils and burdens of the past – without cataclysmic biological or atomic wars – remains to be seen. The choice between good and evil has never been magnified so large.China – and India – are at the center of this emerging community of mankind. Together, these two countries hold more than a sixth of the world’s population. Both have the potential for amazing economic and social growth. The English language, though officially second, has become their language – and the world’s language. The requirements of commerce and business have made it so. And the leaders in their business communities are rapidly taking the money and power away from the politicians. Money, and the power it generates, are moving into center stage.I am 73 years old – old enough to have lived through the cold and hot wars of the past 50 years, years dominated by political philosophies and armies. My generation, and most of another one or so, have been witnesses or participants in an age when most Americans steadfastly believed that “communists” were evil and that we might have to fight an atomic war to prove that “democracy” was the only way – the moral and just way. If other nations weren’t “free,” we should be ready militarily to intervene and change their ways. We still have a president who subscribes to that outdated and dangerous philosophy.China awakened me. I could understand the tide of events in India, with its enormous pressures and gains toward a super-power in the economic sense. After all, the British not only left a very strong legacy in the English language and law, but they planted the seeds of how to succeed in business. But I thought China was different. I thought it was a nation still in the chains of the philosophy of communism and military men. I knew that capitalism was making inroads; I saw major evidence of that kind of change when I visited Vietnam just a few years ago. Sure, everyone knows that China is selling lots of goods to the U.S. and that it is changing. However, I think most Americans have a very limited view of the magnitude of the changes there. Like India, it is on the very edge of becoming the second- or third-ranking power in the world, and it may eventually become first.China has enormous resources and an enormous population. It has 1.3 billion people, against our 0.3 billion. Its economic growth in many ways borders on the spectacular, and its business leaders are being given more and more freedom to make money. China – “communist” China – is encouraging what we would call “free enterprise,” to the tune that it produced three billionaires last year! Plus several others earning more than hundreds of millions. Business is leading the country.In Shanghai we saw thousands of people in the Nanjing mall area who were better dressed, and certainly more fashionably dressed, than Americans in downtown Phoenix or Denver. Furthermore, I sensed a spirit of people in an “emerging” nation, people with a firm conviction that tomorrow can, and will, be dramatically better. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I think most Americans have become too complacent and too self-satisfied. The Chinese are young in spirit; we have become old.Stirling M. Cooper Sr.Aspen
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