It is probably no stretch to say that China, besides being the largest society in the world is also the best educated. Every spring millions of Chinese young people endure sadistic university examinations so stressful that suicide is common. One half million young people take their own lives every year. And they memorize, and memorize and memorize. They know the entire number sequence for Pi, English text reading better than our graduates, English grammar better than almost anybody who speaks it. They know calculus, computer engineering, and foreign languages. They know Chinese history. And individual Chinese can and do create small businesses and stunning art all alone, out of the view of the political systems.
But, and this is key, they also know that there are enormous amounts of knowledge that they don’t know. And because they know that they don’t know it – whatever it is – there is a certain sadness. College juniors we met did not know that 200 miles to the east there is Korea, certainly a major player in Chinese modern affairs. They do not know who Michael Jordan is, or Babe Ruth. They don’t know what a Baby Ruth is either. They are cut off from information about their fellow man and finally they are cut off from creativity. You cannot memorize creativity. You can’t import it and you can’t steal it. The Internet may correct this as hackers know how to skirt Chinese firewalls and get the information they want. Any expansion of information will eventually result in expansion of personal freedom.
Currently there is extensive censorship of the “Jasmine Revolution” – a more tepid mirror of what is happening in the Middle East yet the leakage of information continues. If we draw a map we see revolutionary elements every where on the globe. Our Tea Party, the American revolt, has even moved to England!
You can steal technology though. Large numbers of Chinese infiltrate the USA to steal technical information or better still, you stay at home and reverse engineer foreign technology. (The Lenovo computer is terrific. You will recognize it if you ever use one.)
China is planning a war against the USA – sort of. It is not a secret, but we being Americans and not having a certain or even an uncertain sadness, pay it no mind. We have always ignored our self-advertised enemies. But it is common in oriental societies to advise your enemy before you attack. The idea is that you give your enemy a chance to negotiate. “Sort-of” means that nations often have an “enemy” for public relations reasons. Citizens might not be so enthusiastic about your leadership if there is no one facing off against you. But America has no designs on China and never has. American wars have been largely defensive exercises, and interest in Asia was nearly non-existent in the early 20th c. because most Americans’ ancestry came from Europe. China has only become real to us since the late 1970s. Up until that time, China was a communist ally of Russia and that reason enough to be avoided. Personally I think their competition with the USA is a motivated, and not a true goal. China does not need to beat anyone politically to be a strong and prosperous nation. All nations have their own unique contribution to global peace and history.
Washington knows China is building its military and books aplenty are now being written. China is stockpiling armament and she has FIVE TIMES the fighting force. But Americans are a different lot. They negotiate, and argue, and stall and then finally, blue-red in the face, they sigh resignedly and gird up their loins for a fight. President Franklin Roosevelt said it best. “Americans are slow to wroth.”
Why would China bother itself with this? The Chi-Coms as the Chinese Communists are called, already have everything they need for a strong and viable society, yet they can’t understand why they don’t have it. If we beat America we will have “it” they think.
But creativity is never part if the spoils of war. Creativity invents, it manages people, it plans long-range, it encourages more creativity and it is never memorized, or stolen. Creativity comes from free societies acting in concert or competition with itself and others. Creativity has to be free to be itself. It can never be dominated or controlled or it dies.
China has lived with dictatorship for most of its 4,000 years. The Chinese point to their long history. They brag about being the oldest continuous society on earth – but age is not a barometer of success. Success is!
To be successful you must change and grow. War by its very definition destroys; peace builds, peace brings profits, peace regenerates itself. Peace encourages creativity and individualism, and out of individualism comes more peace, more progress and success. Yes, it is no secret that America has much more system than education, but somehow, some way every generation seems to get some educated and move on from there, from a lone Bill Gates changing the face of international business to stunning musical talent of virtually unknown American Idols. It is all the product of peace, not war.
China needs to learn that. If she did, she would not war. THAT they could possibly memorize.