Although it is well known that China has become the world’s largest and fastest growing economy in the world- outpacing the USA since the unveiling of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, it is too often forgotten that this dominant position is not new, but merely a return to the “normal” state of world affairs characteristic of the 15-19th century which saw China (followed by India) as the two most powerful economies by far on the globe.
Is this economic leadership something which should cause the world to tremble in fear of a new empire as is so common among people of the west?
Should we believe that a powerful nation state must equal a corrupt/imperial state?
As Shaoqian Zhang showcases in his presentation (the 4th lecture in the Rising Tide Foundation event “The Art of the Flank: The New Silk Road Counters an Age of Turbulence”), China’s character as a powerful nation is not something to be feared as certain geopolitical analysts would wish.
In his presentation, Shaoqian explores the history of China’s philosophy of “win-win cooperation” and core Confucian virtues as principles which have guided China’s relationship to other cultures and nations from the 15th century explorations of Adm. Zheng He to the modern era. These core values (agapic love/ren, Justice, proper right, knowledge and integrity) have never been considered “ivory tower theories” but actual guiding principles of behavior and diplomacy very much in alignment with the greatest Christian humanist traditions of the west.
Similarly both Confucian and Christian humanist paradigms stand in stark opposition to the imperial philosophy of British opium-politics which strategically targeted China for destruction throughout the 19th century and which has unfortunately infested the western paradigm for far too long.