Studies afford new insight into coexistence
THERE were 525 Confucius Institutes and 1,113 Confucius Classrooms in 146 countries across the world by the end of last year. With more than 100 million people learning Chinese now, the enthusiasm for Chinese and Chinese culture is very clear.
Obviously, this craze is in a sense an extension of the “craze for the world” in China over last century.
But only when China is better understood by the rest of the world can the understanding lead to any kind of meaningful conversation.
As it is, there are still many conflicts born out of cultural diversity, and a growing China has the responsibility to share its developmental achievements and wisdom with the rest of the world to help achieve harmonious development among different civilizations.
The history of cultural exchanges in the global context tells us that the process of China’s globalization must be a long and difficult one, full of unpredictable risks and “traps.”
To overcome these risks and traps, we must treat people sincerely, for only sincerity can win us valuable time and space for building a community with a shared vision for the future of mankind.
It is increasingly clear that whether China is to be recognized as a responsible power in the world depends not only on how the world views China, but also on how China views the world. Hence the need to build a new discipline: China World Studies.
This new discipline, born of our times, is the foundation that supports China’s confidence in its path, theory and system. It is the spiritual and value base towards realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and for building a community of shared future for mankind.
Importantly, China World Studies can result in a paradigm shift in which China, instead of being passively appreciated by the rest of the world as in the past, becomes itself a catalyst for change in the global context.
China has often been assessed and perceived through the prism of a discourse dictated by the West. But now it’s time that we use China’s own world discourse to influence and change the world, thereby removing the unwarranted fears of other countries, such as the “China trap” concept as played up by Western countries. We can also understand better the many universals taken for granted by the West.
It has always been true to say that each nation finds its niche in reference to its own world outlook and to how it is viewed by the rest of the world. And China is no exception.
The purpose of China World Studies is to construct a theoretical system to help people better understand the rich implications of the new relationship between China and the rest of the world in the new era.
Viewed in the global context, China World Studies must be firmly rooted in China and make its role in the new era clear by analyzing three aspects: China’s view of the world; the world’s view of China; and Chinese and foreign views of the world and China.
China World Studies includes the research achievements of World China Studies which has promoted the process of China’s globalization.
At present, various types of “China threat” rhetoric can be heard, and they are increasingly deceptive. Some countries, fearing China’s rise, try all means to thwart that rise.
There is a need to relieve the sense of insecurity on the part of such countries — for instance, by stressing the relevance of the Chinese concept of “harmony in diversity” in the global context.
The construction of a global ecology of coexistence between countries could help resolve differences, and pave the way for the advent of the “China Era.”
Sun Yixue is Professor of Tongji University and Center for Sino-German People-to-People Dialogue at the university.