Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Yongnian, Zheng: China’s future knowledge system [Lianhe Zaobao Singapore]

Insightful – stop copying from Western systems: Professor Zheng Yongnian from Singapore’s East Asia Institute shares his thoughts on whether China is capable of developing its own contemporary knowledge system in the future.  ‘Chinese characteristics’ is a term commonly bandied about with political utility; especially so with foreign policy. It looks like now this idea is taking root and becoming ubiquitous in Chinese thinking. Perhaps this is the interesting subtext – Will it lead to more of a case of us and them by demarcating quite clearly where the bipolar boundaries lay; and for the rest of the world to take sides? Or will we find equilibrium as a result?

This piece is originally in Chinese (see below). I find there are two central arguments in his reflection. The first is rooted in how contemporary Asian societies share a similar predicament – they are either pretending to be Western or shaped by the relics of colonisation.  In short, they are guided by a metaphorical textbook from the West, and unwittiling bound by the scaffolding and world-view the textbook suggests. Second, China’s great missing link in its great leap forward is that despite the May 4th movement which felt like a liberation; it ultimately was a huge endorsement for the Western method. He moves on to highlight as China focuses on a utilitarian micro-research phase, it is bypassing the ‘grand discussion stage’ which served the West so well. He reckons China’s knowledge base has not gone through the great progress of minds such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim, Adam Smith. As such this prevents the Chinese from being able to look at the bigger picture, independent of both the merit and baggage of a system not indigenous to the Chinese.

Thanks dad for the heads up!

** Google translate does a pretty good job of translating the article below – grammar and syntax aside. 🙂

– – –

郑永年:中国知识体系建设的未来
by Zheng Yongnian 郑永年
Source – Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报网, published September 26, 2011

本栏上周论述了中国为什么缺失自己的知识体系的问题。当然,在亚洲社会,缺少知识体系也不只是中国的问题,各国都是如此。近代社会科学是西方建立的。这并不是说,亚洲各国不能建立自己的社会科学,只是说在历史上没有能够建立社会科学。日本最有条件建立自己的社会科学。明治维新之后,日本成为亚洲第一个近代化的国家。其很多制度都是学习西方的。但很显然,日本各方面的制度,包括政治、经济和社会,和西方的制度相差甚远。道理很简单,尽管所有这些制度形式学自西方,但运作则在日本自己的文化环境中。日本是假装称“西方国家”的亚洲国家。

这里面有很多因素,例如日本本身学习西方的努力;日本在战略上高度依赖于西方;日本经济和西方经济之间的高度依赖性。但最主要的是,日本只有“西化”的努力,而没有建立自己社会科学的努力。当然,在这个背后则是日本的知识界被西方所消化,尤其是美国,这样的一个事实。尽管日本也有很多社会科学家意识到西方的知识体系不能解释自己,但力量很微薄。更多的社会科学家选择的是简单地接受西方的知识体系。

亚洲其他国家在知识体系上也都被西方所“殖民”。近代之后成长起来的学者(尤其是精英学者)都是受西方教育的,他们没有意识来改造西方知识体系,更无意识来确立自己的知识体系。当然,在这些国家,也有一些学者有这个意识,但他们是绝少数。不过,除了日本,即使这些国家的学者拥有这样的意识,也没有能力来这样做。规模很重要,很小的社会很难建立起自己的知识体系。 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Education, Environment, Government & Policy, Greater China, History, Influence, International Relations, Lianhe Zaobao, Media, Nationalism, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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