| BOOK TALK
Talks on interesting Books written about China
This is a story of the extraordinary life of Joseph Needham (1900-1995). He was a
brilliant scientist who made his name at Cambridge early in his life but spent his
last 50 years writing Science and Civilization in China which eventually ran up to
18 volumes at the time of death.
Home cooking recipes
A remarkable woman
A lustful woman
Panda in motion
Fairylands in China
A HK girl's blog
Most romantic poet
Chinese culinary art
Link to orientalwomentalk.net
This book is a compilation of five discourses by the Author written between the
years 1941-1951 ranging from the war years with the invading Japanese when the
capital retreated to Chungking to the Nationalist government migrating to Taiwan.
The author he talked about the culture and civilization of the Chinese people,
Confucianism as compared with western religions, why Europe was engulfed in a
world war and the way to get out of it. Though the book was written almost 100 years
ago, yet his perceptions, analysis and projections are still valid or worthwhile to-day.
|This is an extract on Lin Yu-tnag's book "My Country & My People"
Its on Chinese culture and worth reading.
I have too much confidence in the Chinese racial character and national heritage to fear they
will ever be lost. A national heritage is but a set of moral and mental qualities, a living,
dynamic thing, showing itself in certain philosophic attitudes toward life and reactions
and contributions in new circumstances. The position should be bravely taken that the
modern world has a spiritual unity and that modern culture is the common heritage of the
world. China cannot possibly remain apart from this common heritage of the world, whether it
be technical science, medicine, philosophy, art or music. She stands to profit by enriching
herself with this harvest of modern civilization. It is a common mistaken notion that she will
thereby sacrifice her national character and her heritage. On the other hand, I think it should
stimulate the Chinese national character to newer and greater creative activities. Frankly, I am
not worried. The Germans, the French, the English and the Americans have all participated in
the building of this modern scientific culture without the loss of their national character; so why
should China lose hers? The different nationalities have all their peculiar contributions to
make, say, the Germans in music and science, the French in art and literature, the English in
democratic government and the Americans in technological perfection and big-scale
business efficiency, but such contributions must be on the basis of a cultural unity. The
modern science of medicine is neither German nor French nor American; there is only one
science of medicine. If the Chinese character is a living force, it will assert itself by its ability to
make contributions to the common fund of knowledge; and if it is not, it is not worth having at
all. A national character cannot mean anything except certain spiritual attitudes and
mental and moral assets, which, under whatever circumstances, will show
themselves. A living national genius should therefore create and produce. It should not be
regarded as something dead and already achieved to be embalmed and preserved. A
national heritage is not a museum piece. Chinese history has already proved the
extraordinary vitality of this Chinese culture, surviving all political shocks without
losing its continuity.
by Henry Kissinger 2011
Henry Kissinger, was the first high ranking US official to visit China after the Korean war in 1950. Ever since the Cold War era, he
was the most senior US official to visit China in a move to achieve a détente policy. He was National Security Advisor to
President Nixon at the time, later Secretary of State. Since then he visited China over fifty times. For writing the book, he drew
numerous examples from his conversations with Chinese leaders and also used information from declassified Russian and
Chinese documents from government archives.
From his personal experience, he has the benefit to view problems of peace and war and international order from both the
American and Chinese angles. American exceptionalism is missionary. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread
its values to every part of the world. China’s exceptionalism is cultural. It does not claim that its contemporary institutions are
relevant outside China. The focus of the book is therefore the interaction between Chinese and American leaders on relevant
world affairs, each with their own system of institutions and traditional ways of interpretation and assessment.
The contents of the Book can be conveniently grouped under five parts:
The first is Dynastic China from Chapter 1 to 3. It describes the Singularity of China, the history and philosophy of its culture. It
introduces the famous classic of “Art of War” by Sun Tzu on the concepts around warfare and its politics with quotations
adequately translated. Confucianism is explained together with its place in the minds of its people and doctrines adopted in the
governance of the empires throughout the two and a half millennia. There is a dissection of the Opium War and the Boxer
Uprising leading towards the end of the empire era.
The second part of the Book, from Chapter 4 to 8 deal with Mao’s revolution in China to the point of reconciliation with the US. It
covers the Korean War, the Taiwan crisis, the Sino-soviet split and above all the Cultural Revolution. It is worth to note here that
the author avoided the whole chapter of the Japanese invasion of China, which preceded the Second World War by eight years.
The book also bypassed the latest and the most crucial civil war within China between the years 1945 to 1949. With the Taiwan
issue still unsolved and Taiwan remaining high on the agenda of America, the author wisely skipped the pros and cons of the
struggle between the Nationalists and the Communists in their armed struggle pre 1949.
The third part of the Book, from chapter 9 to 11, describes in some selected scenes in detail the encounters with Zhou and Mao
which preceded the state visit of President Nixon to Beijing in 1972. It gave some interesting details on the drafting of an
announcement stating Nixon’s visit: [As, it happened, the communiqué could not be finalized that night because of a deadlock
over who would be said to have invited whom. Each side wanted the other to look more eager. We split the difference. ..The draft
formulated by Zhou Enlai was this: “Knowing of President Nixon’s expressed desire to visit the People’s Republic of China, Zhou
extended an invitation which Nixon had then accepted with pleasure.”] To allay Nixon’s fear of Vietnam might end like Korea in
the 1950’s with massive intervention, Mao assured Nixon by telling him, “..You want to withdraw some of your troops back on your
soil; ours do not go abroad.”
The fourth part, from Chapter 12 to 16, goes to post Mao-Zhou era, covering the Chinese Vietnam war, Deng’s reforms,
Tiananmen dilemmas and Deng’s Southern Tour near the end of his leadership. China had invaded Vietnam to “teach it a lesson”
after Vietnamese troops had occupied Cambodia in response to a series of border clashes with the Khmer Rouge. Hanoi’s goal
was to create an Indochinese Federation with heavy Soviet support. China had done so in defiance of a mutual defense treaty
between Hanoi and Moscow. Hua Guofeng was quoted saying, “They (USSR) did not dare to move. So after all we could still
touch the buttocks of the tiger.” In this context, the independence of Cambodia as a counterweight to Hanoi became a principal
Chinese objective. While China was having its turmoil with student movements in 1989, Soviet was facing the first shocks in
Eastern Europe. Mikhail Gorbachev.When he visited China, was looking for a détente and closer economic cooperation. China
set out three conditions: withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan; redeployment of Soviet forces away from the Chinese
border; and a Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia. After the Tiananmen movements came to a head in June in China, the
events in Eastern Europe led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November.Deng when he met the American envoy led by Deputy
Secretary of State, Eagleburger, was quoted saying: “..This was an earthshaking event and it is very unfortunate that the United
States is too deeply involved in it….because the aim of the counter-revolutionary rebellion was to overthrow the People’s
Republic of China and our socialist system. If they should succeed in obtaining that aim the world would be a different one.
To be frank, this could even lead to war.”
The fifth part records the Jiang Zemin era and the present Hu-Wen administration, from Chapter 17 to 18 and the Epilogue. On
sharing his reflections on the June 4 crisis with the author, Jiang commented that the Chinese government had not been
mentally prepared for the evert. The Politburo had initially been split, ineffective and divided in the face of an unprecedented
challenge. Conservative members of the Politburo later blamed Deng’s evolutionary policy for the Tiananmen crisis and
pressured Jiang to return to traditional Maoist verities. In this atmosphere Deng, in early 1992, re-emerged form retirement for
his last great public gesture and appearance. He chose the medium of a southern China tour to urge continued economic
liberalization and build public support of Jiang’s reform leadership. Deng at this time had no official title or formal function.
His famous dictum was: “development is the absolute principle.”
Hu and Wen who succeeded Jiang were among the last students to receive formal higher education before the chaos of the
Cultural Revolution closed down the universities. When Mao decided to put an end to the Red Guard depredations by sending
all young students to the countryside, both were dispatched to Gansu province. Hu was placed in a hydraulic power plant while
Wen worked on mineralogical projects. Both slowly rose in the ranks of the Party. Hu Jintao became the youngest Party
Secretary forTibet in 1988. Wen was on the other hand transferred to Beijing where he served in positions in the Communist
Party’s Central Committee. He became the top aide in three successive Chinese leaders: Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziynag and Jiang
Zemin.The author agrees to the notion that the Deng era was an attempt to make up for lost time. Jiang laboured to recover
Chinafrom domestic crisis and to regain its international standing amid isolation. Hu and Wen are having the luxury of seeing the
efforts of Deng and Jiang coming to fruition. But their goal had been to build a “xiaokang” (moderately well-off) society, a term
distinctly of Confucian connotations. They enlisted Confucius as a source of Chinese soft power on the world stage as evidenced
by the official “Confucius Institutes” established in cities worldwide and the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony featuring a
contingent of traditional Confucian scholars. China marked the rehabilitation of the ancient moral philosopher by installing a
statue of Confucius at the center of the Tiananmen Square.
Allbright, Secretary of State described China: is in its own category— too big to ignore, too repressive to embrace, difficult to
influence, and very very proud. For its part, America was too powerful to be coerced and too committed to constructive relations
with China to need to be. A superpower America, a dynamic China, a globalized world, and the gradual shift of the center of
gravityof world affairs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific required a peaceful and cooperative relationship.
Book review by YK Kwan