Editorial by Manos Angelakis

China has Again Risen!

For many years, following the Cultural Revolution, the Western World looked at China wondering whether a country with one of the longest histories and traditions would survive intact and eventually rejoin the civilized world or remain mired in Maoist Socialism and rejection of both traditional values and modern thought.

I’m here to report that China has joined the 21st Century with a vengeance, re-embracing its traditional cultural identity as well as internationalism and rampant capitalism and even, in some circles, dreams of world economic domination. It is again an East Asian political, military, cultural and mercantile super-power.

I visited Henan province, the Middle Kingdom’s middle, at the center of the region where China began as a cultural, religious and political force. Five imperial cities in the province were the administrative and ruling centers of the nation for 13 dynasties, with palaces for more than 100 emperors.– way before Beijing became the capital -- starting with the early Bronze Age.

Three philosophies/religions still guide the country: Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, the Chinese Communist Party notwithstanding. They all have their roots in Henan because both Lao Tzu and Confucius lived and taught there and early Buddhism was brought there from India.

“A journey of a thousand leagues starts with a single step”. Lao Tzu or Lao Tze (depending on whose pronunciation one uses) was an early philosopher, born in Henan province, who codified the Tao Te Ching, the foundation document of philosophical Taoism. His writings are still considered a major philosophical treatise as well as a major part of Chinese religion and thought. He also influenced other philosophies in and around China and the Western world.

Confucianism was condemned during the Cultural Revolution as the embodiment of old ideas and ways of life but is again revered as the fountainhead of political humanistic thought and “proper morality” for the ruling classes.

At the same time Buddhism was condemned as a foreign religion and philosophy, imposed on the masses by unscrupulous monarchs; but the Buddhist sites in and around Luoyang such as the Longmen Grottoes and the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist foothold in China, are visited daily by thousands of Chinese.

All these philosophies and religions have survived the Ragnarök of the mid-20th century and are still the basis of the thought processes governing the country and the individuals in charge of the political and cultural dialog with the rest of the world.

Official China sees the United States as a “power in decline” and will be attempting to impose its economic influence as well as its cultural and political  philosophy to, what it considers, its sphere of power in Asia and eventually the rest of the West.

I do believe in the ancient Chinese proverb and curse: May you live in an interesting age.

 

 

 

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