Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hail The Mighty Han

After all said & done, three words that most characterize Western society are fun, comfort, and convenience & I wanted to return to this world. If I were to choose three words that characterize Chinese society, they would be diligence, control and conformity. While I had not finished this trip a Sinophobe, I definitely did not want to be part of a world in which un-stinting hard work and adherence to social norms were values prized above all others. As the plane lifted off the Shanghai Pudong tarmac, I was filled with a sense of foreboding about what the 21st century, China's century, had in store, and how I was unlikely to fit into any of it even if I wanted to. In the thoughts of my China comrades, I’ve been "culturally corrupted” after being abroad for so long.

It is tempting to believe in the permanence of Western cultural dominance in the world, that history is an evolutionary process and that the western concepts of liberalism and freedom have defeated all others, and are now set in stone, immutable and victorious. But this is not the case. In historical terms, the last 200 years of Western dominance is merely a historical blip. For most of the history of civilization, it has been China who led the way. The centralized state, gunpowder and printing, among many others, are Chinese inventions. And now the controversial question that has every historian in the West shaking in their booties; China’s pre-Columbus discovery of The Americas!

The return of China to global dominance, or Asian hegemony at the very least, is just a matter of time. Napoleon was ‘right on’ when he pointed towards China & said “let the Chinese dragon sleep…for she will shake the world when she awakes”. In spike of my countrymen’s inward thinking on cultural purity & their refusal to accept me as one of their sons, I still am & will continue to be proud of that heritage where I’ve hailed from.

All hail the Mighty Han.

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