Ex oriente lux?

How China is about to outstrip the West

A European diplomat described at the beginning of the 15. By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese imports were "the richest and most valuable of all", because the "[Chinese] craftsmen are considered by far the most skillful compared to those of all other nations". Asia was unbeatable at the time. Until the beginning of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the most efficient economies existed here: around two thirds of the world’s population – Asians, above all Chinese and Indians – produced four fifths of all goods around 1800. While Goethe squatted over his Faust and Hegel pored over the course of the world’s spirit, Asia’s share of the world’s population climbed toward the 70 percent mark: It was in the East, not in the West, that the music was played.

The character of the Chinese is characterized by patience bordering on fatalism, determination, sufficiency, shrewdness, and above all practical sense. As merchants they stand in the very first rank.

Meyers Grobes Konversations-Lexikon: China. 6. Aufl. 1905-1909

As the largest and most productive economy in the world, China was also the engine that drove the modern economy. In 16. In the nineteenth century, it was undisputedly the Chinese finished products that dominated the world market; they were considered to be better, more sophisticated and cheaper than the European ones. With a population that was about to exceed 100 million at the end of the Middle Ages, the empire had an extremely productive agriculture, highly developed trade relations and a trade that was superior in every respect and recognized throughout Eurasia.1

Ex oriente lux?

Porcelain junk produced for export, Qing Dynasty. Image: dr. Meierhofer. License: CC-BY-SA-3.0

"The future of world politics will be decided in Asia, and the U.S. will be directly at the center of these developments", wrote the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently in the magazine Foreign Policy under the headline "America’s Pacific Century" (Nov. 2011). What remains unspoken in her summary is the prevailing view of Western politics today that China is the notorious slacker that has yet to catch up. For many experts in the West, China is nothing more than a civilizational dragon.

Young or old?

If China is nowadays seen in the German media as a global political powerhouse, the "Teenagers" On the one hand, Hegelian thought is easily grasped here, but on the other hand, such a judgment seems historically – in view of the actual role and history of China – rather doctrinaire and superficial.

In this ideology, the oriental world is the young and immature world; it also resembles, in Hegel’s view (Hegel lived from 1770 to 1831), infancy and boyhood, followed by Greek adolescence, Roman manhood and Germanic [= Western European] old age. And the old man is the wise man. Is he that? "World History", so Hegel muses in his Berlin lectures, "goes from east to west, because Europe is the end of world history, Asia is the beginning. (…) Here the external physical sun rises, and in the West it sets; but here [ergo in the West] the internal sun of self-consciousness rises."2 Thus, the preubian state philosopher sees the true light of wisdom in the West, not in the East. Hegel’s point of view was to be the leading one for Europe’s thinking about the giant empire in Asia. In the Far East, that’s where the teen years of civilization lie.

It was a Scotsman and a Briton, Adam Smith (1723-1790) and Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who speculated about the demographic development of the distant empire at about the same time – and they, in turn, were wrong. The latter in particular underestimated the capacities of the Chinese economy and also the enormous flexibility of the Chinese, who knew how to effectively control the population explosion in their own country: Preferred methods, when necessary, were sexual abstinence and infanticide, especially of girls. Sooner or later, this led to a considerable imbalance in the gender ratio. Thanks to enormous achievements in agriculture, the Chinese population grew from 140 million (around 1650) to 225 million (around 1750) to nearly 400 million by 1850. 3

Jungling or not, modern China, like every woman, is a self-confident and always ambiguous player on the world stage. Of the 7 billion people living in the world today, 1.34 billion live in China. For comparison: India has 1.17 billion, the USA has almost 310 million, Japan 127.5 million and the FRG about 81.7 million inhabitants. The Russian foderation pays 141.75 million inhabitants. According to the IMF, China’s share of the global economy is around 11 percent, a significant downward revision of the 2007 estimate.

Markus Taube, an expert on East Asia, saw China’s economy as being on a par with Italy’s a few years earlier (2003), but in the same breath he called the People’s Republic of China the world’s second-largest economy in terms of purchasing power. However, Taube warns against overly simplistic answers: China is both – "the jerky developing country and the high-tech laboratory."

Son of heaven, father of the people

The emperor’s autocracy is based on the principle of patriarchal rule, with the emperor (Tient-se) holding the title Ho-ang-ti (exalted ruler) od. Mongolian Bogdo-Khan (son of heaven, father of the people, sole ruler of the world) (…) He enjoys slavish, almost divine veneration; the law requires kneeling before his letters even on pain of death. to touch the earth nine times with his forehead; sacrifices are made to his image (…)

Pierer’s Universal Encyclopedia

The characteristics of the imperial regiment from the 19. The nineteenth century looks surprisingly modern. It is a fact that also Mao, "the crude chairman", is seen by many Chinese as a mythical savior, despite the fact that he was responsible for the economic and social progress of the empire for much of the 20th century. The world’s most important economic and political power in the twentieth century inhibited and killed millions.

"Historically, the Chinese have always favored a single, unintelligible authority", Lucian W. Pye (1921 – 2008), sinologist and former professor of political science at the renowned Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is often quoted (here: 1972).

For most of its history, China has been an immense empire ruled by a single potentate. This is also the secret of Mao’s rule: Under the mantle of a revolutionary, he ruled as a monarchical despot. Henry Kissinger, who will turn 89 in May, gives a one-sided picture of China in some respects in his journalistic work, if he omits many a hatred in retrospect, including the dark sides of Mao Tse-tung’s casaric allures. In the voluminous waltz "On China", published in 2011, Kissinger, a Western political star, is rather impressed by Far Eastern thinking power, tactics and diplomacy. This brought him harsh criticism; his legacy was one of a "arrogant kowtowing" before "world-historical individuals", that seem above moral categories.

Ex oriente lux?

Mao with Henry Kissinger (Beijing, 1972). Picture: U.S. Government

Mao, whose portrait was the subject of thousands of international media reports during his lifetime, met Kissinger in person a few years before his death. Henry Kissinger, from 1973 to 1977 Aubenminister under Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford (and until 1973 U.S. Security Advisor), travels from Pakistan to Beijing in July 1971 – on a secret mission. It was to prepare Richard Nixon’s visit to Mao Tse-tung. It was the cautious convergence of two worlds.

Ex oriente lux?

Richard Nixon meets Mao (1972). Image: White House

The "Rough Chairman" Mao had inaugurated the People’s Republic of China with a spectacular announcement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 1. October 1949 founded. Around 300.000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army had to line up. The following year, the party (CCP) launched a campaign against "Counterrevolutionary". The decades following 1934 had already seen hundreds of thousands of "Enemies of the People" Some sources speak of several million executions during the period of land reform and political campaigns. It was the wedding of propagandists and denunciators. Up to the families nobody was safe any more from informers and Zutragern. The hardship of 1960 to 1962 – a consequence of Mao’s land reform – claimed 30 million victims – people who starved to death: Mao’s idea of people’s communes and his intended "Rough leap forward" in agriculture proved to be a monstrous and deadly failure.

Mass meetings, public propaganda dances, tributes from laborers and Red Guards, enthusiastic students explaining progress to poor peasants, children quoting from Mao’s works in front of factory workers and singing revolutionary songs in school, these were the "revolutionary years". 1.2 billion red bibles (in the jargon of the 68ers called "Mao Bible") united the people across all classes and ethnicities, mass executions of class enemies and counter-revolutionaries kept the masses in fear and tension.

"Mao Bible" (German edition, Beijing 1972)

During the decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976), thousands were imprisoned in ox-sheds for the purpose of "Re-education"Intellectuals, businessmen and officials who had fallen out of favor and could then be stigmatized in public by everyone as revisionists, counter-revolutionaries or reactionaries. In draughty halls, they should cram Mao’s way of thinking and learn to change their attitude towards the revolution.

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