Martin Powers
Martin Powers
Martin Powers is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. He has written three books on the history of social justice in China. Two of these won the Levenson Prize for best book in pre-1900 Chinese Studies.

The usual assumption is that liberal ideals are uniquely Western, but Enlightenment writers borrowed freely from Asian sources; many liberal ideals can be found in The Morals of Confucius.

The historical record shows that many supposedly ‘Western’ democratic ideas such as winning hearts and minds, or the pursuit of happiness, actually derived from Confucian thought.

videocam

On paper today, both countries accept equality and the people’s happiness as ideals.; working towards those goals is more a matter of policy than ideology, writes Martin Powers.

US foreign policy establishment’s embrace of ‘clash of civilisations’ narrative encourages guilt by association, a legal fiction abandoned in China 2,000 years ago.

videocam

The US, Britain and European nations have a history of ‘weaponising’ human rights. Throughout late imperial history, China has rarely blamed other nations, their religion or race, for domestic problems

videocam

Ties between Beijing and Washington frayed under Trump, but the new president’s goals and ideals are in many way similar to those of China past and present.

videocam

For most of British history, liberty meant special privileges enjoyed by groups. Groupthink shaped policy in colonial Hong Kong and Western democracies did not seriously object even when human rights norms were violated.

videocam