The three aliens who most understood China – 最懂中国的三个外国人 – English

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“Among the many foreigners who focus on China, who understands China the most, who knows it best?” This question was raised by an entrepreneur at a salon. My brain had a temporary short-circuit, because a long list of foreigners’ names came up, and it was difficult to choose.

However, this is a really good question. Because people are now very concerned about the country’s future direction, but the clouds and mists makes everyone feel anxious and confused. “We do not know the true colours of the mountain because we stand on it”, so with the help of a ‘third eye’ from overseas, we might better understand our own country.

However, this is also a problem. In the new century, as the Chinse economy continued to grow, more and more foreigners have started to look at China, and visitors to China are like carps in the river. 他们对中国发表见解,“人人自谓握灵蛇之珠,家家自谓抱荆山之玉”,欲一辨高低,并非易事。

International economists who study China, and do not understand the Chinese systems, make many general remarks, but many of their ideas feel like looking at a flower through the mist. Many of the ‘scholars’ who focus on Chinese culture tend to look at Chinese culture or history from one main point of view, and though there are many others, nothing is said of those. As for cunning politicians, their views can even less be taken seriously. The former US secretary of State Henry Kissinger seems to be an exception. He’s gone to China every year, maintained high level exchanges with China, and authored the book ‘On China’. However, 这位“中国通”的视野局限在中国高层政治。中国就像一条大河,政治风云不过是河面上此起彼伏的浪头,真正决定河流走向的是“河床”。而且基辛格是一个谋略家,讲起话来滴水不露,他的真实想法难以琢磨。

In my opinion, three foreigners have most understood China: former Singapore president Lee Kuan Yew, Hungarian economist Janos Kornai, and American Political expert Francis Fukuyama.

Lee Kuan Yew grew up in a British cultural environment, but his origins are in Guangdong province, and he has deep understanding of Chinese culture. Furthermore, in the last forty years, Singapore has been deeply involved in China’s reform and opening. Lee Kuan Yew hesitates to praise China’s economic development, and has the courage to put forward his own opinions. He considers, “The weaknesses and obstacles to overcome on China’s road ahead are more numerous than most observers think. Among governance issues in China, the greatest is the lack of a rule of law.”

In 2004, Lee Kuan Yew said to a 70 year old Chinese leader: “You’ve inculcated young Chinese people with too much belief in Chinese rejuvenation, pride and patriotism… this could lead to instability.” “You want the young generation of Chinese people to understand that the former closed-door policy and excessive importance given to ideology were mistakes, this is the most important point. You need to instil in them the right values and attitudes, make them humble and responsible in front of challenges ahead.” For China, this was certainly sobering advice.

Kornai is turning 87 this year, he’s a world-renowned economist, and his works on the planning economy have already become classics. Like Hungary, China has a long history of planned economy, thus his analysis are very relevant to China, and deserve careful attention. For instance, Kornai encouraged China to ignore the ‘growth rate superstition’. The country shouldn’t, in order to promote the growth of GDP, ignore other important development tasks. The income gap in China has expanded significantly, which is not only economically disadvantageous, but also goes directly contrary to the people’s sense of fairness, and sooner or later, will lead to serious social tensions. To protect the operations of a modern market economy, the rule of law is an essential part of government, etc. etc.

2013年12月,科尔奈在与他的老朋友吴敬琏先生对话时,提醒中国“要保护市场,让它免受政府权力过度扩张的危害”,“中国面临一些难题,社会普遍不满,民怨比较大……正确的答案不是去压制,而是要去解决导致群众不满的那些问题。不要阻塞言路,切断人民反映问题的反馈渠道。阻塞言路将会导致严重的社会问题。”这些观点总结了苏联东欧的历史教训,直面中国现实,发人深省。

20多年前,弗朗西斯科·福山因“历史终结论”而一举成名,近年来中国也被纳入这位政治家的研究视野。不过,国内媒体经常有意无意地歪曲福山的观点,其实,福山的价值观念没有逆转,他只是更清晰地了解到,创造现代自由民主制度的过程充满艰难。近十年来,福山研究人类政治秩序的起源问题。在宏大的历史视野关照下,他对中国的认识远超过中国学者。

例如,福山提出了中国政治制度在王朝时期一直无法解决的“坏皇帝”问题,“英明领导下的威权制度,可能不时地超越自由民主制,因为它可作出快速决定,不受法律和立法机关的挑战。另一方面,如此制度取决于英明领袖的持续出现。如有坏皇帝,不受制衡的政府大权很容易导致灾难。”福山进而指出,“自1978年以来,中国有很好的领导人,但是目前为止还没有制度保证这种‘好领导人’的状况会延续下去。”抚今追昔,福山的洞见可谓振聋发聩。

对一个雄心勃勃、致力进步的国家来说,赞美是无意义的,有时甚至是有害的。古语云,“杀君马者道旁儿”。路边的看客不停地称赞马跑得快,马主不停地加速,结果反而把马累死了。中国目前处于现代化转型的关键时期,需要的不是廉价的赞美和颂歌,而是直言不讳地指出真正问题,提供思想资源。就像鲁迅所说,“揭出病苦,引起疗救的注意”。在这个意义上,李光耀、科尔奈和福山三位外国人不但最懂得中国,也最值得尊敬。他们的忠告应该认真听取,深长思之。



Source : 共识网

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April 5, 2016 @ 09:05:12Current Revision
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<p>"Among the many foreigners who focus on China, who understands China the most, who knows it best?" This question was raised by an entrepreneur at a salon. My brain had a temporary short-circuit, because a long list of foreigners' names came up, and it was difficult to choose. </p> <p>"Among the many foreigners who focus on China, who understands China the most, who knows it best?" This question was raised by an entrepreneur at a salon. My brain had a temporary short-circuit, because a long list of foreigners' names came up, and it was difficult to choose. </p>
<p>However, this is a really good question. Because people are now very concerned about the country's future direction, but the clouds and mists makes everyone feel anxious and confused. "We do not know the true colours of the mountain because we stand on it", so with the help of a 'third eye' from overseas, we might better understand our own country. </p> <p>However, this is a really good question. Because people are now very concerned about the country's future direction, but the clouds and mists makes everyone feel anxious and confused. "We do not know the true colours of the mountain because we stand on it", so with the help of a 'third eye' from overseas, we might better understand our own country. </p>
<p>However, this is also a problem. In the new century, as the Chinse economy continued to grow, more and more foreigners have started to look at China, and visitors to China are like carps in the river. 他们对中国发表见解,“人人自谓握灵蛇之珠,家家自谓抱荆山之玉”,欲一辨高低,并非易事。</p>  
<p>International economists who study China, and do not understand the Chinese systems, make many general remarks, but many of their ideas feel like looking at a flower through the mist. Many of the 'scholars' who focus on Chinese culture tend to look at Chinese culture or history from one main point of view, and though there are many others, nothing is said of those. As for cunning politicians, their views can even less be taken seriously. The former US secretary of State Henry Kissinger seems to be an exception. He's gone to China every year, maintained high level exchanges with China, and authored the book 'On China'. However, 这位“中国通”的视野局限在中国高层政治。中国就像一条大河,政治风云不过是河面上此起彼伏的浪头,真正决定河流走向的是“河床”。而且基辛格是一个谋略家,讲起话来滴水不露,他的真实想法难以琢磨。</p> <p>However, this is also a problem. In the new century, as the Chinese economy continued to grow, more and more foreigners have started to look at China, and visitors to China are like carps in the river. When expressing their views of China, 'every person holds to the snake pearl, and every family the mountain jade', and it is not easy to assess them. </p>
  <p>International economists who study China, and do not understand the Chinese systems, make many general remarks, but many of their ideas feel like looking at a flower through the mist. Many of the ‘scholars’ who focus on Chinese culture tend to look at Chinese culture or history from one main point of view, and though there are many others, nothing is said of those. As for cunning politicians, their views can even less be taken seriously. The former US secretary of State Henry Kissinger seems to be an exception. He’s gone to China every year, maintained high level exchanges with China, and authored the book ‘On China’. However, the vision of this 'Chinese expert' is limited to high level politics. China is like a large river, and the political situation is like the waves coming on its surface one after the other, yet what really determines the direction of the flow is the 'river bed'. Furthermore, Kissinger is a strategist, and his words are often elusive, so that his real meaning is hard to grasp. </p>
<p>In my opinion, three foreigners have most understood China: former Singapore president Lee Kuan Yew, Hungarian economist Janos Kornai, and American Political expert Francis Fukuyama.</p> <p>In my opinion, three foreigners have most understood China: former Singapore president Lee Kuan Yew, Hungarian economist Janos Kornai, and American Political expert Francis Fukuyama.</p>
<p>Lee Kuan Yew grew up in a British cultural environment, but his origins are in Guangdong province, and he has deep understanding of Chinese culture. Furthermore, in the last forty years, Singapore has been deeply involved in China's reform and opening. Lee Kuan Yew hesitates to praise China's economic development, and has the courage to put forward his own opinions. He considers, “The weaknesses and obstacles to overcome on China's road ahead are more numerous than most observers think. Among governance issues in China, the greatest is the lack of a rule of law."</p> <p>Lee Kuan Yew grew up in a British cultural environment, but his origins are in Guangdong province, and he has deep understanding of Chinese culture. Furthermore, in the last forty years, Singapore has been deeply involved in China's reform and opening. Lee Kuan Yew hesitates to praise China's economic development, and has the courage to put forward his own opinions. He considers, “The weaknesses and obstacles to overcome on China's road ahead are more numerous than most observers think. Among governance issues in China, the greatest is the lack of a rule of law."</p>
<p>In 2004, Lee Kuan Yew said to a 70 year old Chinese leader: "You've inculcated young Chinese people with too much belief in Chinese rejuvenation, pride and patriotism... this could lead to instability." "You want the young generation of Chinese people to understand that the former closed-door policy and excessive importance given to ideology were mistakes, this is the most important point. You need to instil in them the right values and attitudes, make them humble and responsible in front of challenges ahead." For China, this was certainly sobering advice. </p> <p>In 2004, Lee Kuan Yew said to a 70 year old Chinese leader: "You've inculcated young Chinese people with too much belief in Chinese rejuvenation, pride and patriotism... this could lead to instability." "You want the young generation of Chinese people to understand that the former closed-door policy and excessive importance given to ideology were mistakes, this is the most important point. You need to instil in them the right values and attitudes, make them humble and responsible in front of challenges ahead." For China, this was certainly sobering advice. </p>
<p>Kornai is turning 87 this year, he's a world-renowned economist, and his works on the planning economy have already become classics. Like Hungary, China has a long history of planned economy, thus his analysis are very relevant to China, and deserve careful attention. For instance, Kornai encouraged China to ignore the 'growth rate superstition'. The country shouldn't, in order to promote the growth of GDP, ignore other important development tasks. The income gap in China has expanded significantly, which is not only economically disadvantageous, but also goes directly contrary to the people's sense of fairness, and sooner or later, will lead to serious social tensions. To protect the operations of a modern market economy, the rule of law is an essential part of government, etc. etc. </p> <p>Kornai is turning 87 this year, he's a world-renowned economist, and his works on the planning economy have already become classics. Like Hungary, China has a long history of planned economy, thus his analysis are very relevant to China, and deserve careful attention. For instance, Kornai encouraged China to ignore the 'growth rate superstition'. The country shouldn't, in order to promote the growth of GDP, ignore other important development tasks. The income gap in China has expanded significantly, which is not only economically disadvantageous, but also goes directly contrary to the people's sense of fairness, and sooner or later, will lead to serious social tensions. To protect the operations of a modern market economy, the rule of law is an essential part of government, etc. etc. </p>
<p>2013年12月,科尔奈在与他的老朋友吴敬琏先生对话时,提醒中国“要保护市场,让它免受政府权力过度扩张的危害”,“中国面临一些难题,社会普遍不满,民怨比较大……正确的答案不是去压制,而是要去解决导致群众不满的那些问题。不要阻塞言路,切断人民反映问题的反馈渠道。阻塞言路将会导致严重的社会问题。”这些观点总结了苏联东欧的历史教训,直面中国现实,发人深省。</p>  
<p>20多年前,弗朗西斯科·福山因“历史终结论”而一举成名,近年来中国也被纳入这位政治家的研究视野。不过,国内媒体经常有意无意地歪曲福山的观点,其实,福山的价值观念没有逆转,他只是更清晰地了解到,创造现代自由民主制度的过程充满艰难。近十年来,福山研究人类政治秩序的起源问题。在宏大的历史视野关照下,他对中国的认识远超过中国学者。</p>  
<p>例如,福山提出了中国政治制度在王朝时期一直无法解决的“坏皇帝”问题,“英明领导下的威权制度,可能不时地超越自由民主制,因为它可作出快速决定,不受法律和立法机关的挑战。另一方面,如此制度取决于英明领袖的持续出现。如有坏皇帝,不受制衡的政府大权很容易导致灾难。”福山进而指出,“自1978年以来,中国有很好的领导人,但是目前为止还没有制度保证这种‘好领导人’的状况会延续下去。”抚今追昔,福山的洞见可谓振聋发聩。</p>  
  <p>In Decembre 2013, in a dialogue with his old friend Wu Jinglai, Kornai said: "China must defend the market, protect it from the harm of excessive government expansion", "China is facing a lot of challenges, there is widespread social dissatisfaction, public discontent is rather large.... The correct answer is not suppression, but resolving the problems that cause discontent among the masses. Do not block speech, and cut off feedback channels for people to express their problems. Blocking speech may lead to serious social problems." These views summed up the historical lessons of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and for those facing China's reality, they were thought-provoking. </p>
<p>对一个雄心勃勃、致力进步的国家来说,赞美是无意义的,有时甚至是有害的。古语云,“杀君马者道旁儿”。路边的看客不停地称赞马跑得快,马主不停地加速,结果反而把马累死了。中国目前处于现代化转型的关键时期,需要的不是廉价的赞美和颂歌,而是直言不讳地指出真正问题,提供思想资源。就像鲁迅所说,“揭出病苦,引起疗救的注意”。在这个意义上,李光耀、科尔奈和福山三位外国人不但最懂得中国,也最值得尊敬。他们的忠告应该认真听取,深长思之。</p> <p>About twenty years ago, Francis Fukuyama became famous for 'The End of History', and in recent years, China was included in his political vision. However, the domestic media often distort the views of Fukuyama, intentionally or not. In fact, Fukuyama does not propose a reversal of values, he has just understood more clearly that the creation of a modern liberal order is full of difficulties. Over the past decade, Fukuyama has focused on the original of humanity's political order. In this grand historical vision, his understanding of China goes beyond that of Chinese scholars. </p>
  <p>For instance, Fukuyama explained how China, under the imperial system, was unable to solve the 'bad emperor' problem: "An authoritarian regime under wise leadership may, from time to time, go beyond liberal democracy, because decisions can be made quickly, and the law is unchallenged. On the other hand, such a system depends on there being consistently wise leaders. If there is a bad emperor, government power without checks and balances can lead to disaster.” Fukuyama further pointed out that “Since 1978, China has had very good leaders, but there is no system in place to guarantee that this will continue.” Here and now, we can describe Fukuyama's insights as enlightening. </p>
  <p>For an ambitious country that is committed to progress, praise is meaningless, and can even be harmful. As the saying goes, 'the king's horses died from the children on the side of the road'. The spectators on the side of the road are constantly exhorting the horse to run faster, and the owner kept pushing it, but at the end, the horse died from exhaustion. China is now in a critical period of transformation and modernisation, what it needs is not cheap praise and pretty songs, but for the real problems to be bluntly pointed at, and the resources of good thinking. As Lu Xun said, 'revealing the agony helped find out the cure'. In this sense, Lee Kuan Yew, Fukuyama and Kornai are not only the three foreigners who best understood China, but also the most worthy of respect. Their advice deserves careful attention, and deep reflection. </p>

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