Nearly everyone in the world has tasted delicious Chinese food, seen enchanting Chinese Characters or met friendly Chinese people in their daily lives. Yet, what does it mean to be 'Chinese?'
One of the most recognizable features of Chinese culture is architecture, art and a unique language, however, according to my experience, those features are only a tip of the iceberg.
The concept of something having 'Chinese' characteristics is nothing new to Western society, as explorers and ambassadors of many ages have brought back great tales of wealthy cities, powerful Leaders and charismatic Ladies. (Ever heard of the "Book of the Marvels of the World?")
However, to accurately describe what is or is not 'Chinese' is a difficult task in and of itself, consuming certain people for the entirety of their lives as they attempt to define what it means to be 'Chinese.' There's even a word in the English language to describe people who are very interested in China - as 'Sinophiles.'
People from mainland China are extraordinarily curious and generally have a fascination with everything 'foreign' - interpreting 'foreign things' as having innately better qualities than 'Chinese things.' I guess you could call them 'Westophiles.'
I believe this to be a habit of looking through a 'looking-glass' and seeing minute details of a culture magnified into scenes of exotic beauty and charm.
As China steadily progresses into being the world's greatest economic powers, other countries become increasingly aware of the growing strength of Chinese economic power, and as such, tend to want to work with China over traditional trading partners such as Europe and the Americas.
If one just looks at the infrastructure and development progress within the past 30-50 years, one can see that China has far surpassed any comparable nation in the same time frame.
The sheer magnitude of the undertaking within China to become a world-power is astonishing to say the least - which gives a false impression that China has 'burst onto the scene of the 21st century.' To witness the physical development of China and the lengths to which the Chinese government is willing to go to provide for the Chinese nation is to see optimism at its greatest and pragmatism in full practice.
Every 'fastball' thrown at China has been 'hit out of the park,' so to speak.
The question remains as to whether China as a nation will develop into a force of stabilization in the world or develop inherently destructive tendencies. (Some would argue that China has both tendencies)
Of course, there is significant room for debate on this matter and I do not speak for the Chinese government in any way. It likely depends on which perspective you hold - as a 'liberator' or as 'the liberated.'
For example, most of the Tibetans that I have met seem to extol the religious virtues of Tibetan society while also simultaneously enjoying the rights of being Chinese citizens.
So, there is no consensus on the matter, I just bring it up as a point and counter-point to what it means to be Chinese. (Tibetans as a nation don't self-identify as Chinese, although I've met a few that do consider themselves to be Chinese.)
Of course, I would love some comments on this topic!
1. So, the point I'm getting at is, "What is China?"
2. Is China a nationality, ethnicity or a national concept?
3. In your view, is China a 'dream fulfilled' or 'a glass half-empty'? (or something else entirely)
4. Do you see China an occupier, liberator or 'force to be reckoned with'?
5. Do you feel that China is a potential ally, stalwart friend or traditional enemy?
If you can relate some of your knowledge and experience on the matter, it would be much appreciated, however much or little.
As always, please keep your comments polite and in line with Verbling policy. Any inappropriate or disrespectful comments will be immediately removed from discussion and reported to Verbling for further action.