Opinion: China still working to become a global power

Haoran Li

Haoran Li

Haoran Li is a sophomore communication studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

China celebrated its 64th National Day on Oct. 1. Since the 19th and 20th centuries, China has become weak. Chinese people have searched for many kinds of prescriptions to save China.

Chinese people have pursued modernization for 100 years and have incurred a civil war and cultural revolution in this time. Through its struggle, China became the second-largest economy in the world by 2010, wealthier than before.

However, we should not only focus on economic data but also deeper factors, especially national character, which is constructed by religion, education and a country’s way of thinking.

Chinese people do not have a national religion. Although China has Confucianism and Taoism, both of these are not religions; they are merely social tenets. Taoism has asked people to do nothing and persuaded people to obey nature without any action. Compared with Taoism, Confucianism has influenced Chinese people for more than 2,000 years and has taught people to serve authority such as kings, fathers and husbands. Confucianism has caused Chinese society to lose the dynamics of innovation in all aspects — although China’s government does not use the methods of Confucianism to rule any longer. China will not become a powerful country unless it changes its society.

Since 1949, the government has controlled China’s middle schools, high schools and universities. Although there are some private middle and high schools, they are not totally independent. Students do not have any choice: There is no competition in education in China. Students lose their creativity in this education system. Students cannot speak out while at these universities, and they can only praise the Communist Party of China. It compels students to be sycophants. A powerful country cannot survive without creative and critically thinking people. China, however, has not changed this since 1949.

China is still an agricultural country and at least 1 billion farmers determine its future. These farmers, however, still hold the typical Chinese peasant consciousness. They fear authority, believe their lives are lower than people who live in cities.

Peasants could not move freely before the 1990s. Although they are allowed to move anywhere now, they are still reluctant to leave their hometowns as they lack the spirit of adventure. This is not their fault: thousands of years of dictatorship has given them these characteristics.

China has been changing. However, economic data does not mean everything. China has become richer; however, the essence of real China remains unchanged. Chinese people should be released from Confucianism and should learn modern concepts instead of living with the Chinese peasant consciousness. China might be a large country, but it won’t be a great one unless it changes these shortcomings.