Chinese harmony renaissance: Can world ignore it?
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-02 16:01:01
by Francis C.W. Fung, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
BEIJING, Nov. 2 (Xinhuanet)-- Following is an abridged version of two papers by Francis C.W. Fung, Ph.D. The papers are titled "Chinese Harmony and American Democracy in 21st Century" and "Chinese Harmony Culture Old and New, Promise for a Less Confrontational World?"
(I) CHINA'S HARMONY RENAISSANCE: CAN AMERICA IGNORE IT?
On Oct. 8, 2006, at its Central Committee meeting, the Communist Party of China launched the national campaign to build a harmonious society. The resulting Harmony Communiqué is a system engineering blue print to guide China on its path of rejuvenation. It will be an arduous and long undertaking to build a harmonious socialist society in modern China, no less challenging to the CPC as the revolutionary "Long March" of Chinese history. Oct. 8, 2006 will be remembered as the most important milestone of China's Harmony Renaissance. By rediscovering harmony culture, China is rediscovering its own rich ancient cultural harmony traditions. It is of similar in importance to Europe's Renaissance after the rediscovery of ancient Greek culture. China's harmony development will herald a brand new period of vitality and national spirit as the country enters a new period of sustainable development. By developing its own harmony society, China becomes the standard bearer of a harmony world.
Harmony, as taught by Chinese ancients, embraces ideas of democracy as a way of conflict resolution between the ruler and the ruled. China has practiced harmony as a way of life since Laotze and Confucius for at least 2500 years. In contrast, American Democracy is only 230 years old, developing after Independence, and borrowing from the traditions of European Enlightenment. As China's Harmony Socialism wins gradual international recognition, it will provide an alternative model to American-style Democracy as the leading 21st century governance system. To keep its position as the most influential political and cultural leading country of the world America cannot afford to overlook the 21st century Chinese Harmony Society and Harmony World development herald by China's Harmony Renaissance. The consequence could be the isolation and unwitting fall of the greatest military and economic empire of our time through its inability to keep up with the pace of world harmony consensus. The mightiest American military power cannot dictate world order any longer, as is exemplified by the Iraqi War, and the Iran and North Korea nuclear confrontations. The overwhelming desires of developing countries for common development are closing the curtains on the world of international power politics. The world will be caught up in the surging tide of common development and harmony conversion. The Harmony World of unity in diversity of world cultures and governance systems will surely come.
Harmony will give China a place on the world stage to express its ancient heritage and the moral high ground to challenge the U.S. leadership in international relations. For over fifty years America interfered in China's domestic affairs in the name of democracy. Now harmony contains democracy ideals also as conflict resolution government and its citizens. The table will be turned between the West and China during the 21st century. Since the Opium War, over 150 years ago, China finally is able to raise its head and stand up against the West. By doing so, China will have the unity and vitality to continue its sustainable reform and opening up to a new era.
(II) CHINA'S HARMONY RENAISSANCE, HOW IT ALL BEGAN?
The Central Committee meeting was a major meeting to discuss major policy decisions to launch a national campaign to build a harmonious society.  In terms of its impact on the future Chinese society and the future world, policies announced during this meeting will have a longer lasting effect than China's recent policies of reform and opening up. These policies, initiated under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping, led to profound benefits for China and the world, but the nation is ready for the next step in its process of transformation. By comparison, the Oct. 8 meeting provided the needed national spirit of harmony which continues on the success of the Scientific Concept of Development. This new spirit is built on the essence of ancient Chinese teachings of harmony which remains unparalleled for its richness in the world.
Due to the rapid expansion of economic and industrial activities, China, over the past twenty some years, has developed from an egalitarian society to a society of unbalanced wealth distribution, and from a self-sufficient society to one, like other developed nations, that depends heavily on outside energy and other material resources. The Scientific Development Concept was thus conceived by the Chinese leaders to provide a blueprint for a long term sustainable development. In time, this blueprint is expanded to include also all old and new conflicts in China's grand modernization. Harmony being China's dominant philosophy for 2500 years it is no surprise, despite the onslaught of Western culture for the last two hundred years, China rediscovered its ancient heritage. This is not unlike the return of harmony philosophy to the golden Han dynasty after the Spring and Autumn Warring States period.
In the fertile soil of Chinese harmony garden after Chinese leaders called for Harmony Society development, ideas of harmony spread like wild fire. Creative ideas of Harmony Society from government officials, intellectuals, think tanks, academicians and the general public is currently sweeping through the country. We may once again witness a major New Harmony movement excelling the ancient teachings of ancient harmony that has guided China for the last 2500 years. A true period of let hundred flowers bloom and hundred schools content may be in the making surpassing the Spring and Autumn period debates in scope and magnitude. This time the Chinese culture may take a leap into the future World of Harmony.
(III) THE COMING OF THE HARMONY WORLD
In today's world of extreme disparity among nations, need for international economic and political change is driven by: the widening gap in stages of development, the increase of injustice in world order, and the growth of clashes between civilizations. As seen in the recent unilateral Iraq War, the crisis in Sudan, and the nuclear confrontation with North Korea and Iran, the world is hastening towards confrontation.
Written in Chinese characters, the term, "crisis" is composed of the opposing elements, "danger" and "opportunity." In Chinese harmony belief, the opposition of Ying and the Yang, or the strong and the gentle, are in constant contest. When Ying and Yang are in balance, harmony is reached, as is illustrated by the Daoist double fish circle of life.When viewed as a globe the Ying envelops the Yang as the outside shell. Laotze's philosophy of renunciation of force is also reflected in forming Chinese words. The word "martial" in Chinese means "stop the use of weapons." The word "war" in Chinese means "imbalance of weaponry."
When country specific harmony societies grow in their own fertile soil with distinctive cultural characteristics, World Harmony will surely spread. Each society will have its own appropriate harmony theory and practices reflecting the wide differences in states of development, needs and culture. For harmony to take root, basic needs must be met, and the society must be equitable, social order must work smoothly, cultural values must have sustaining power, and the mobility of different stratum in society should be assured. Indices such as Happiness, Harmony, Environment, Rural and Urban must be customized according to each country's will and development.
Great debates are happening today in China over whether Socialism with Chinese characteristics become Socialism with Chinese harmony. In the last couple of years China has extended the philosophy of Harmony to the practice of international relations, from Harmony Society to Harmony Region and Harmony World. In doing so, China, as one of the world's ancient civilized nations, is expressing to the world its choice and determination to travel the road of peace and development. Harmony as the core of Chinese traditional cultural belief, reflects the concepts of appropriate and properly balanced relationships between man and man, man and nature, man and society and harmony among nations. In fact Harmony Society and Harmony World are manifestations of ancient Chinese cultural values.
Western cultures, in contrast to the East, tend to emphasize conflict rather than harmony, personal, national, and world affairs in terms of good and evil, right and wrong. God must triumph over the Devil, good over the bad, and the individual struggles to conquer sin and redeem his soul. Armies fight with the conviction that God is on their side, and leaders, like George Bush, call upon believers to support them in righteous wars. The powerful U.S. media, adhering to the same tenants, does not report contrasting views. Thus, Western nations, most notably the United States today, justify aggression through their own self righteousness, convincing themselves that they are duty bound to change or eliminate hostile countries that do not adhere to Western principles. Rather than accepting differences they attempt to destroy differences to achieve uniformity in international political ideology. In such an atmosphere, international relations become power politics, with the assumption that new democracies that arise will be fashioned in the mold of American and Western European systems.
In China today foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy and, at the same time, serves domestic policy. Hu Jintao, President of China, pointed out, China must "Closely connect our development with the progress of mankind. Develop our self through maintaining world peace and at the same time through our own development to promote world peace." The Chinese government has officially stated the central ideas of Harmony China and Harmony World as: China wants to build a harmony society of "democracy and rule of law, justice and righteousness, trustworthiness and friendliness, full of vitality, stable and orderly, a society of man and nature in harmony." A Harmony World envisioned by China is "adherence to multilateralism, realization of mutual security, adherence to mutually beneficial cooperation, realization of mutual prosperity, adherence to the spirit of tolerance and building a Harmony World together."
President Hu Jintao, on April 22, 2005, when attending the Asian African Summit meeting, suggested that "promoting friendship among different cultures, equal dialogue, develop common prosperity and together build a harmony world." This was the first time the concept of Harmony World appeared on the world stage. Two months later on July 1, 2005, President Hu Jintao visited Moscow. Harmony World was written into the China-Russia world order joint communiqué. For the first time World Harmony was recognized as common policy belief between two major countries. This marks the new World Harmony concept's gradual entrance into the vision of a world society. Chinese leaders thoughts on World Harmony were quickly deepening, for two months later, on September 15, 2005, President Hu Jintao gave a speech at the United Nation General Assembly in which he detailed the deep contents of World Harmony. Participants of the meeting gave the speech a resounding response, and world media also gave the speech heightened notice and positive evaluation. It is generally considered that China as a major responsible country is transmitting to the world its longing for peaceful world development. The speech also served to relate China's message to build a peaceful, prosperous and Harmony World together with the rest of the world. Harmonious and cooperative China stands ready to work for sustainable and long lasting peace and mutual prosperity with the rest of the world.
(IV) CHINESE HARMONY AS SYSTEM ENGINEERING BLUE PRINT
China's cultural contribution to the world is the harmony philosophy just as Europe and America are the breeding grounds for democracy. China for most of its 5000 years of recorded culture was an agricultural society, in contrast to Europeans, most of whom were descendants from pastoral nomads. As a continuing ancient culture China was firmly rooted to cultivating the land handed down through the generations. This dependency on agriculture led to an inclination to harmonize with nature rather than to challenge nature. The order of nature is harmony with Ying and Yang in dynamic balance as taught by Laotze. As a result harmony philosophy grew in the fertile land of this Middle Kingdom until it was challenged by Western democracy as late as the 1900's. Chinese ancient culture, rich in harmony teaching begun 2500 years ago by Laotze and Confucius, was preserved and handed down with continuing refinement until modern times.
Laotze's instructions of harmony were rooted in observation of the origin of the universe and natural science. His philosophy of human activity harmonizing with nature was all embracing, including the practice of FENG SHUI (living with nature), physical science, agriculture and Chinese ancient medical practice. Chinese medical practice is holistic, based on the belief that biological systems must maintain internal balance to be healthy. The goal of treatment is to restore the balance of opposing forces in this total system. This led to the belief that human biological systems, society, and nations are constantly in an influx of ever changing contending forces. Harmony is achieved when the contending forces come to a balance or mutual acceptance under a certain set of conditions. All systems are constantly shifting, complex, and seldom just black and white (or in western terms, good or bad). This concept of harmony is just as fitting in today's complex world and society as it was during the time of Laotze.
Confucius' teaching comprises social systems including: man with himself, man between men, man and society and relations between groups and countries. This includes harmony between government and its citizens, which means that democracy is part of harmony system analysis. In keeping with Chinese harmony philosophy, balance is achieved through self discipline, high moral value, social order rather than strict law and penal system. The use of physical force is to be avoided, and employed only as a last resort. Harmony Society discussions in today's China under the present leadership are returning to the old roots of system analysis and ever changing balance of major forces in a changing world. This is based on the very nature of Chinese peoples' longing for harmony and the ancient teaching of tolerance, acceptance and equity. Both Laotze and Confucius teachings were comprehensive system engineering analyses of Harmony for ancient China, and the Communique is a system analysis of Socialism with Chinese characteristics for today's China.
(V) THE ULTIMATE PRINCIPLE OF HARMONY
The ultimate principle of Chinese ancient principles, as expounded by LAOTZE in DAO DE JING, is the balance of YING and YANG but ultimately YING envelopes YANG and is beautifully illustrated in the Daoist circle sign of life. However it is known observation today that dark energy represents over eighty percent of the universe and visible matter is the smaller remaining part.
This general theme of YING over YANG runs through DAO DE JING. To name a few images from DAO DE JING; soft overcomes the hard like dripping water eventually bores a hole in the hardest rock, water flows over and immerses that blocks it. Water representing Ying can both float and sink a boat. Harmony represents soft power to resolve conflicts as opposed to warfare which represents hard power. In today's conflicting world one model of democracy cannot be forced on other nations of different cultures and at different developing stages. Democracy works best by softly and patiently winning over the hearts and minds of people. Countering extremism by extremism is bound to lead to ultimate destruction of both sides. The best way to resolve conflicts is to bring harmony to the confronting parties. This can start by understanding the differences in cultural understandings and causes of conflicts through mutual respect, trust, tolerance and acceptance. Confucius said "JUN ZI HE ER BU TONG, XIAO REN TONG ER BU HE" which means that gentlemen place harmony above ideological differences, and petty people fight for ideology differences. "HAI NAI BEI CHUAN, YU YONG NAI DA"( The sea takes in hundreds of rivers, it can be big only if it contains). World harmony will surely come.
Excerpt from Jan 2007 speech by Hon. John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, United Kingdom:
There's been a great deal of talk about harmony in recent times. In fact, the academic, Francis Fung, has argued in his recent paper "Chinese Harmony Culture: Old and New - Promise for a Less Confrontational World" that China is witnessing a harmony renaissance.
He claims that great debates are happening today in China over whether Socialism with Chinese characteristics can be Socialism with harmony. And Fung maintains that China's harmony socialism will provide an alternative model, as the leading system of governance in the 21st Century.
Indeed, I note that in October the Chinese Communist Party launched a national campaign to build a more harmonious society. In doing so, China appears to be reaffirming its own rich cultural tradition of harmony.
And now, opening the Sheffield Confucius Institute, I reflect on the fact that this emphasis on harmony between man and nature is part of a tradition of Chinese thought going back 2,500 years. This tradition has, of course, evolved and changed over time."