Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui is pensive as he visits New York City for the first time. Rather than the romanticised versions of the city he had read about, the New York he encounters in Flushing, Queens is gritty and a whole other reality. But he reflects that as societies and cultures continue to evolve, fighting for dominance in a state of chaos, the side they show to the world will sometimes be different but always real.
Academic Tan Kong Yam says that the ongoing China-US competition is not a tussle between two armies or two political systems, but "a competition between the governance systems of two fast-evolving countries, under the influence of rapidly globalising technologies". In that sense, China's system possesses some great advantages. Even so, it has to bide its time and not get arrogant, if it is to navigate itself through dangerous waters and emerge the winner.
George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister, shares his thoughts on China’s evolution with Lianhe Zaobao on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. He sees the milestone as just a pitstop in the long journey of the Chinese nation. Fresh thinking and innovation will be needed as the country progresses. Equally important, developing a “broad-minded and big-hearted nationalism” which is humble and learns from others will keep China on the path of being a great nation. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.
China has often been criticised by the West over various issues, from human rights to the South China Sea to the origins of the coronavirus. However, recent developments have given China confidence and grounds to hit back at the West as well as Japan. Most recently, China accused the West of its poor human rights records in treating indigenous people and their history, the UK's right of rule over Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands), and Japan’s decision to discharge nuclear wastewater into the sea. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan explains China’s fresh confidence.
The Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century goes down in history as proof that if the Chinese are weak, the West will take advantage and China will pay the price. It is a constant reminder to the Chinese of their past humiliations and guides their dealings with the West today. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao shares illustrations of the tumultuous times during that period.
Andrew Delios, vice dean of the Master of Science Programmes Office at the National University of Singapore, observes that media reports have often cast a suspicious eye on China’s actions, even those that deserve to be celebrated such as the development of the Sinovac vaccine. Imbalanced and agenda-driven reports will only lead to greater distrust and suspicion among countries, just when the world needs to work together on constructive solutions.
Chinese academic Li Yuehua takes a look at reports on China’s human rights record, and analyses whether it really deserves its negative reputation. Hasn’t China tried to improve the lives of its people, and isn’t the right to survival and development a major part of human rights? He believes that painting China as an aggressor and oppressor only fulfils the interests of a few politicians to the detriment of people-to-people relations between China and the West.
US academic Wu Guo says that not only is the American media's reporting biased against China, college students often only have access to resources that present only one version of China. He feels it is important for Americans to realise that their understanding of China is often limited to a few sensitive issues. He suggests that with their feet anchored in two worlds, overseas Chinese or Asian academics can play a part in presenting a more balanced view of China.
Wang Chong observes that many Chinese are afflicted with a victim mentality and a chip on their shoulder. This colours their view of US-China relations and worsens the spiral of negativity. Rather than perpetuate self-fulfilling prophecies, maybe it is time that the Chinese look at their own weaknesses squarely and tackle them. At the end of the day, it is not about who wins, but who becomes their better self.