I really enjoyed this article over on LA Times regarding Chinese vs. Western views of the world.
The issue here is much deeper than Western-style democracy, a free media or human rights. China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just shaped by markets, competition and technology but by history and culture. And Chinese history and culture are very different from that of any Western nation-state.
After being in China for 5+ years (part of that admittedly spent in “China-lite” AKA Hong Kong) I can attest to the huge gulf that exists between the cultures – something that can be bridged in places (art, music, films, games), but that I think will always (and probably *should* always) remain of two worlds. One aspect I particularly like is the relationship between state and people (at least when it works), as mentioned in the article:
The Chinese state enjoys a very different kind of relationship with society compared with the Western state. It enjoys much greater natural authority, legitimacy and respect, even though not a single vote is cast for the government. The reason is that the state is seen by the Chinese as the guardian, custodian and embodiment of their civilization. The duty of the state is to protect its unity. The legitimacy of the state therefore lies deep in Chinese history. This is utterly different from how the state is seen in Western societies.
All this comes from the author of a thought provoking book called “When China Rules the World” by Martin Jacques. Check out his website HERE.