Archive for the ‘China’ Category
It was Goldman Sach’s paper “Dreaming With BRICs” predicted that China’s gross domestic product would overtake the U.S.’s sometime in the 2020s. Now the World Bank study in April,2014 said this for certain by end of this year. Such predictions however coming from knowledgable circles ought to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Take the magic Three P’s: Purchase Power Parity
This yardstick takes into account that a dollar buys a lot more in Beijing than in Bethesda, Maryland. According to the Big Mac index for instance, the McDonald’s hamburger costs 40 percent more stateside than in the Middle Kingdom. Labor is cheap in China. Hire and Fire in Beijing under one party rule is same as in America but no American labor will waste on such low pay. Or take a haircut in Palo Alto, California, sets you back $25; the average in Shanghai is five bucks. An American customer may want to have a crewcut with some graffiti thrown in. Or a pancake style. Whereas in Hunan it may be a peasant hair cut would only need a rice-bowl to keep the line and anyone with a pair of scissors snip away the superflous hair and call himself a barber.
So the three P’s don’t reflect real power.
One dollar is a giant in comparison with yuan. When China imports technology from the U.S. or high-tech weaponry from Israel, it has to pay in dollars. Ditto when it gobbles up African mines or buys the loyalty of developing countries with foreign aid. Tuition for Chinese students at Stanford University is also billed in dollars. What little we do not see between the lines is dollar’s clout as International currency has a drawback when US batch of peanut butter sold through retail throws a scare of botulism at home. Compensation is paid in dollars not to mention the killing legal costs. In China melamine laced milk products are paid in yuan and at the worst is the fellows responsible for negligence are shot to appease the irate public.
As early as 1984, China’s growth peaked at 15 percent. Now, the rate is down to one-half that. The sluggish world economy plays a part, but the underlying reasons are structural. There is housing market bubble in the big cities in China. It will break just as it did in the USA in 2008. When it happens all those villagers who were thrown out of their ancestral homes and those who have been made paupers in land speculation can put themselves into the labor pool. Ample low-wage labor will not cut any ice by shipping them to Europe or the US. They have their own unemployment to grapple with.
Spectacular growth is always easy when on paper. It was thus credit agencies gave Greece Cyprus, Iceland such high reports. China has her own problems and growing threats from ethnic minorities and any race for a global economic power do not carry prosperity with it.(ack: Josef Joffe/bloomberg.net)
Confucius-551 – 479 B.C
He was the founder of the school of thought called Rujia (Confucianism or, literally, the School of the Literati). It was one of the many original philosophies including Daoism, Legalism, and Mohism that were conceived of to cope with the social instability, political turmoil, and incessant war associated with the Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC). After suffering from a short period of suppression during the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC), Rujia thinking was established as the official ideology by the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). After more than two thousands years of consistent institutionalization, Rujia thinking has become deeply embedded into almost all aspects of Chinese people’s social and cultural life and its far-flung influences had spread to neighboring East Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
He traveled with his disciples to different states such as Wei, Song, Chen, Cai, and Chu, trying to convince the rulers of these states to accept his political philosophy. Unfortunately, his efforts came to no avail. In 484 BC, Confucius returned to Lu and spent the rest of his life compiling and editing the Classics of Poetry, the Classics of Books, and the Spring and Autumn Annals. Confucius didn’t leave behind any writing of his own. Most of his life and words are documented by his disciples in the book The Analects of Confucius, which has become the most important text in Confucianism. These works gave Confucius his status as the spiritual ancestor and role model of Chinese teachers, historians, moral philosophers, and literary scholars.
Confucian thought is often referred to as moral philosophy. The essential ideal of Confucian philosophy is the realization of a state of harmony through the maintenance of order, be it transcendental symbolic order represented by Tian (heaven) or the social/political orders that are embodied within the ethical relationship between members of various social groups.
Among his significant concepts is Li (rite) which can be regarded as a ritualistic manifestation of the metaphysical and secular order of the world. Trouble with such a concept in weaker hands is egregious folly: it tends to become a set of dry as dust concepts, a caricature of the original idea couched in convoluted rituals. Look at the religions of our world. What are your rituals of self-abnegation if such false humility is another form of self-justification? What charity are you speaking sir, if you think of man’s color and class before you unlock your human touch? The Golden Rule paraphrased by the sage thus:
“What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others” (Analects, XV, 23) Thus, to Confucius, there is a mental quality intrinsic to all humans that makes it possible for people to engage in effective communication and forge social ties. Dynamics of social interaction must be active and not a mere ritual.
In the late 19th century, as Western colonial forces began to infiltrate China and exert their influence on the Chinese people, the prevailing self-skepticism about Chinese culture destabilized the dominant position of Confucianism in China. Such skepticism reached a peak in 1919’s May 4th Movement in which youthful students repeated the slogan:“Demolish the Confucian Shop”. During the Communist regime, Confucianism was regarded as a remnant of feudalism that needed to be completely eradicated. However, since the early 1990s, there has been an increasing trend toward a reevaluation of Confucius’ legacies as one of the foundational philosophies behind Chinese culture. (ack:http://www.confucius.ucla.edu/biography.htm)
“Ramanna was the closest friend that I had as a child,” Gampa Guru was once telling his disciples who had come from many places to have a darshan of the mystic. “His father was a weaver as my father was. Our houses were divided only by a mud wall and I could sometimes call out to him in the middle of our studies to clarify some point of doubt.”
JP continued,” He was very backward in Sanskrit and for that matter anything of our folklore. Naturally he just scraped through the padhasala with just enough marks.”
“Great was my surprise when one day he turned up to say he was traveling to the east.” “East?” one of his listeners asked. “Yes to China?” the mystic said and his astonishment was still somewhat sharp after some 28 years. “What took him to that far?”
The mystic shrugged as if it was a mystery.” If I recall rightly there is a Chinese connection. Ramanna had in a jar, some coins with Chinese inscriptions and a pagoda on the other side.” After a pause he added, “In all probability those curious writing and image would have triggered something in him. It led him to the life of the Buddha. To my surprise the last time I saw him he was tonsured and dressed in saffron colors. He had become a monk!”
“Has any Chinese monk ever before passed through the kingdom of Kothipalli?” “Yes,” The mystic said,” some 180 years ago.” “How do you know that Master?” “I saw in the king’s library the other day,” he explained, ”a scroll written in Chinese script, giving the date. It was strange to look at but beautifully brushed unlike anything that I have ever seen in our parts.”
“So you are also into their culture?” “Yes, what attracted my friend naturally led me to know more.”
What is the point of the story, master?” one wanted to know.
“If a culture so removed from our way of life could make such claim on one so supposedly insulated from every strange custom, we are not safe. None of us are.”
After a pause he said, ”We need to see ourselves instead of a closed society, as part of the whole. We are open ended indeed!”
“What will you advice us then master?” “More understanding, – still more, I say!”
trade carried ideas,culture route-religions,Buddhism, Christianity and Islam
This region along the Silk Road was taken over by Alexander the Great of Macedon, who finally conquered the Iranian empire, and colonised the area in about 330 B.C., superimposing the culture of the Greeks. Although he only ruled the area until 325 B.C., the effect of the Greek invasion was quite considerable.
By the third century B.C., the area had already become a crossroads of Asia, where Persian, Indian and Greek ideas met. This `crossroads’ region, covering the area to the south of the Hindu Kush and Karakorum ranges, now Pakistan and Afghanistan, was overrun by a number of different peoples. After the Greeks, the tribes from Palmyra, in Syria, and then Parthia, to the east of the Mediterranean, took over the region. They had adopted the Greek language and coin system in this region, introducing their own influences in the fields of sculpture and art.
The most significant commodity carried along this route was not silk, but religion. Buddhism came to China from India this way, along the northern branch of the route. The Eastern Han emperor Mingdi is thought to have sent a representative to India to discover more about this strange faith, and further missions returned bearing scriptures, and bringing with them monks and it is pertinent to note that the Himalayan Massif, an effective barrier between China and India made Buddhism in China more derived from the Gandhara culture by the bend in the Indus river, rather than directly from India.
Christianity also made an early appearance on the scene. The Nestorian sect was outlawed in Europe by the Roman church in 432 A.D., and its followers were driven eastwards. From their foothold in Northern Iran, merchants brought the faith along the Silk Road, and the first Nestorian church was consecrated at Changan in 638 A.D. This sect took root on the Silk Road, and survived many later attempts to wipe them out, lasting into the fourteenth century.
The height of the importance of the Silk Road was during the Tang dynasty, with relative internal stability in China after the divisions of the earlier dynasties since the Han. The 754 A.D. census showed that five thousand foreigners lived in the city; Turks, Iranians, Indians and others from along the Road, as well as Japanese, Koreans and Malays from the east. Many were missionaries, merchants or pilgrims, but every other occupation was also represented. Rare plants, medicines, spices and other goods from the west were to be found in the bazaars of the city. After the Tang, however, the traffic along the road subsided.
It was at this time that the rise of Islam started to affect Asia, with the Moslems playing the part of middlemen. The sea route to China was explored at this time, and the `Sea Silk Route’ was opened, eventually holding a more important place than the land route itself.
But the final shake-up that occurred was to come from a different direction; the hoards from the grasslands of Mongolia.
(to be continued)