Friday, February 4, 2011

What Do the Chinese Think?

What do the Chinese think during the so-called "peaceful rise of China?"

Today's Chinese newspaper The World Journal interviewed two intellectuals in China and asked them to recommend books for understanding contemporary China. One of these books is a translated work and the others are written by Chinese authors.

Professor Zhang Yiwu (张颐武), a professor of Chinese Language at Beijing University and Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Cultural Resources, recommends Martin Jacques's When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World. This book is so popular that it has a mainland Chinese translation (left) and a Taiwanese translation (right).

Martin Jacques argues that China is learning from the West. But because China does not follow completely the West, she develops her own model.

Professor Zhang also recommends Zhang Wuchang's Chinese Economic Institution, which details economic changes in the last 32 years, since open policy was adopted. Another book uses the Buddhist six reincarnations to describe the changes of mentality of Chinese people since the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Professor Li Zhengliang (李政亮), a professor of communications at Tianjin Nankai University, recommends several books that touch on popular culture. One discusses cultural workers who have migrated to Beijing and created an alternative cultural space. They are anarchists and rebel against the dominant ideology.

The Tribe of Ants explores the existence of young university graduates who are unemployed. Since 2007, it has become more difficult for graduates to find jobs in big cities. Those who grew up in rural areas would lose face if they return to the countryside.

Several books talk about the situation of Chinese intellectuals. Prosperous China 2013 criticizes that as China becomes more powerful, the intellectuals have lost their power of critical thinking. Wither China discusses intellectuals' concerns and mentality.

Professor Li hopes that as China has introduced market economy, people in Taiwan will get to know more about the intellectual and cultural scenes of China through dialogue and exchanges.