The storming of the US Capitol on 6 January prompted a spate of statements, essays, and other reflections, particularly by US college presidents. What is the purpose of education, and what is the role of colleges in imparting higher ideals such as civic awareness and a respect for minority rights? US-based academic Wu Guo analyses the situation.
Rather than perpetuate the “giant baby syndrome” of mollycoddled citizens, says Lance Gore, the Chinese government should go against its combative instincts and focus on harmony. Only then can it forge an inclusive social contract with the populace, where there’s room for active citizenry and a healthy civil society.
US-China relations are strained enough, especially with China and the US standing on opposite ends of the spectrum — America’s unbridled liberty driving it to anarchy and China backsliding into an increasingly autocratic state. Chinese dissidents in the US walking into the embrace of the American far right only makes things worse.
Liberal intellectuals in China are not a monolithic group. While the elites within the community once served to moderate divergent views, disagreements laid bare by the recent US elections shows that deeper schisms run deep, especially between those espousing conservative and liberal views.
Lance Gore firmly believes that the social contract between government and people is seeing a radical upheaval around the world. In China’s case, a new social contract will be shaped by the triumvirate of Chinese culture and heritage, the traditions of the CCP, and the influence of liberal ideals. Only the strengths of each should be retained, while the shortcomings be discarded.
The liberalist discursive system leaves little room for one to contemplate the possibility that a strong government can also be a good government, much less the positives of the East Asian developmental state or Asian values. In fact, under the East Asian social contract, people are willing to empower the government for greater outcomes for all, and the government works to win the approval of the people as a means to preserve their legitimacy. Now, when the flaws of liberalism are laid bare by Covid-19 and other crises, it may be worth taking a closer look at the merits of the East Asian social contract.
US-based researcher Wei Da notes that many in China believe the US will soon be in chaos following an unsettled 2020 US presidential election. He says that while the election has indeed highlighted the widening chasm in the US between conservatism and liberalism, and brought forth calls for change in the electoral system, the US remains a leader and pioneer in seeking out new and innovative ways to advance civilised societies.
US academic Han Dongping notes that the US is no longer in the leading position it used to hold, and it is finding it difficult to handle the challenges from other countries, especially China, not least because of its own domestic contradictions that are getting harder and harder to reconcile. It can no longer rely on old ways of maintaining order domestically and internationally. It has to come up with new strategies — fast.
Research analyst Fiona Huang argues that globalisation has a huge part to play in building global financial centres. If basic prerequisites such as close cooperation with regulators and market stability are met, the next-level condition for a flourishing global financial centre is an open attitude towards global capital and culture. How will the changing political milieu around the world today lead to a reshuffle of global financial centres?