How Chinese intellectuals can help resolve global crises

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 9:33pm

Now that China has acquired more wealth and recognition due to its economic and military growth, it is attracting more visitors and researchers. But its governance and intellectual world are still mysteries to most people.

For outsiders, Chinese is a difficult language to learn, and there are few readily available translations of works by contemporary Chinese social commentators or party documents. For this reason, many in the West worry about China’s role and intentions in the modern world.

In most Western nations, government and economic policies are openly critiqued and debated by commentators, intellectuals and citizens. Various think tanks and academics compete in trying to influence politicians and popular opinion.

The hottest recent debate has been about the effects of globalisation and international banking on the world economy and the lives of ordinary citizens. Economic theories, capitalism, Marxism, socialism and communism are all discussed. Even religions such as Christianity and Islam have been drawn into this arena, as they are seen as having different views about the destiny of man, social justice and economics.

It would be very interesting and useful to have Chinese intellectuals give their views on these topics to a global audience.

Modern problems need modern solutions … Military men can’t answer deep human questions

Throughout history, Chinese scholars analysed their governments and social values. They often encountered hardship because their ideas were not welcomed by the rulers.

Early monarchs, whether Asian or Western, did not like their ideas or decisions criticised. Modern rulers have ways to silence or remove critics. But modern problems need modern solutions, so intellectuals and serious thinkers have to respond. Military men can’t answer deep human questions.

Do most learned Chinese nowadays approve the direction China is taking? Do they welcome the power exerted by military men? Is there any effort by mainland scholars to engage in dialogue with like-minded intellectuals in other countries?

I believe that many right-minded world-class scholars would be happy to exchange ideas in a free and open manner.

Although we have the UN to discuss international problems, we also need a “world university”, perhaps an empowered Unesco to discuss and debate deeper issues, a place where Eastern and Western thinkers, economists and religious leaders can meet, free of the constraints of their home countries’ political pressures. Their exploring and sharing of world systems and values would help Eastern and Western leaders and their nations avoid the global crises we now face.

It would be a great distinction and honour if Hong Kong and progressive mainland universities were chosen to be catalysts for such a pioneering and positive step.

Jason Kuylein, Stanley