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Wenhua China

By Weiguang Zhong

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There used to be a “Wenhua China” (文化中國). Western scholars such as John King Fairbank have observed and described it. I would like to re-raise the issue and take a look at how China evolved from that to a modern state, a politics-centric state, and later a Party-centric state.

I hope this article can offer people a new angle to re-look at China and re-think its future.

Please note the Chinese term “文化” is translated as “Cultural” in English. However, I don’t think the two words have the same connotation. Therefore, I chose to use the phonetic spelling “Wenhua” when talking about Chinese “文化.”

 

I. There Used to Be a “Wenhua China”

How do we appraise the Chinese people’s pursuit of their traditional wenhua over the past thousands of years? Particularly in the last century, Chinese have held many different views about it. These views have tended to be negative, given the fact that China has appeared to be inferior to modern Western countries, especially in its material advancement.

This has even led some extremists to criticize and denounce traditional Chinese wenhua. During the Culture Revolution (1966 – 1976) and in the following decade, this mentality kept expanding and eventually reached its peak at the end of the 1980s. As a result, two or three Chinese generations have lost their connection with China’s traditional value system and their confidence in being Chinese.

However, those people haven’t realized that there was once a “Wenhua China” that offered the Chinese nation a unique view of the world, a deeper understanding of man’s place in the universe, and a peaceful, spiritual mind.

Undoubtedly, modern Western culture has brought great progress to human beings. Traditional Chinese values and oriental civilization, although different from the West, also offered fundamental contributions to human beings.

When people study the root cause of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) dictatorship, a simplistic approach is to dig into traditional Chinese wenhua and blame it for the advent of the current dictatorship. This attack on traditional Chinese history, when done at a softer level, says that the CCP has inherited China’s traditional authoritarian system and taken it to an extreme. When done at a stricter level, it alleges that it is China’s traditions, rather than the CCP or the true Marxists, that resulted in the big disasters taking place in China.

However, if we approach this issue carefully, from the wenhua angle, we can see that China’s current problems have nothing to do with traditional Chinese wenhua. It was the CCP and its extreme “Westernization” (applying Marxism, an ideology developed in the West and which is not at all from China) that took China to its current stage. China’s problems are the direct result of this materialist atheism theory and culture, and not traditional Chinese wenhua.

Studying from the wenhua angle shows us that there used to be a “Wenhua China” in parallel to the Western civilization. To many Westerners, this “Wenhua China” is surprising, hard-to-understand, and yet fascinating.

 

II. What Is “Wenhua China”

What is “Wenhua China?” It is different from the Communist society and also different from Western civilization.

Westerners propounded the concept of the Axial Age, during which key thinkers, who had a profound influence on mankind’s thinking emerged in parallel in Eastern and Western civilization. Those who influenced China included Shakyamuni, Lao Tze, Confucius, Mozi (Mo Tzu), and Chuang Tse. Their thinking became the foundation of Chinese wenhua.

It is actually easier if we try to understand Chinese wenhua from the eyes of Westerners.

In the age of enlightenment, Western scholars became aware that China had a totally different culture, a different form of state, and that the societies that were based on it were also different. They admired the existence of such a country and how it was managed.

Modern Western scholars further became aware of the cultural factors that existed in traditional China’s civil service system, its state structure, and its concept of nation.

This modern acknowledgement carried more weight than the enlightenment era’s observation because, in modern times, the West had dominance over China in the material world. The fact that modern Western scholars paid attention to and identified the role that wenhua played in China showed the significance that it had.

In their book China: Tradition and Transformation, John King Fairbank and Edwin Reischauer repeatedly emphasized that, historically, Chinese viewed the concept of “China” with more of a culture-centric view than with a politics-centric view.

I will summarize their discussions in the following three points:

 

A. National Identity, for Chinese People, Used to Be Based on Wenhua, Not on Race or Geographic Region

Throughout history, Chinese people’s national identify has been based on wenhua. A typical example is the periods of Spring and Autumn (春秋時代, 771 B.C – 476 B.C.) and of Warring States (戰國時代, 476 B.C. – 221 B.C.). At that time, there were many small states in China. None of them was called China. However, there were no insurmountable regional or political barriers. In addition, governors, scholars, soldiers, the general public, and different groups or religions never found their differences to be irreconcilable. No animosity existed based on different religions or wenhua.

Eventually Qin Shi Huang united all states and created the Qin Dynasty.

Over two thousand years followed, during which China was sometimes one country and sometimes split into several small countries, but the concept of China never disappeared. At the grand level, China had always been China. That is because the Chinese people used wenhua rather than political factors to identify their country.

Since wenhua is above politics, politics is no longer a significant, rigid, black or white issue. The Chinese people did not have to face certain hard political issues and choose a side. The wenhua influence can be seen in one of the most famous Chinese books Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In its opening, it stated, “As for world affairs, a state will split into smaller ones after staying together for a long time and the separated ones will reunite after being separated for a long time.”

Because of the unity of their wenhua, Chinese were not afraid of separation and independence. Nationalism and racism were never a core issue in China.

As for wenhua’s effect on China as a country and on Chinese society, Fairbank and Reischauer said, “The Chinese are perhaps right to view with great pride the golden age of their culture which produced a degree of stability no other high civilization has ever been able to approach.” [1] As for the external invasions, they said, “The Chinese, by contrast, showed no sign of a feeling of cultural inferiority. Political subjugation may have been feared, but cultural conquest was unimaginable. Thus Chinese xenophobia was combined with a complete confidence in cultural superiority. China reacted not as a cultural subunit, but as a large ethnocentric universe which remained quite sure of its cultural superiority even when relatively inferior in military power to fringe elements of its universe. Because of these similarities to and differences from nationalism, we call this earlier Chinese attitude ‘culturalism,’ to suggest that in the Chinese view the significant unit was really the whole civilization rather than the narrower political unit of a nation within a larger cultural whole.” [2]

When a different ethnic group, such as the Mongolians or the Manchurians took China over, Chinese wenhua didn’t die. Instead, the ruling group, though they may have had their own wenhua before, started adopting the Chinese wenhua and eventually assimilated themselves into it.

Fairbank and Reischauer saw that Chinese wenhua created the unity of society and the unity of the state. “This remarkable cohesiveness, compared with the constant disunity among the relatively smaller European states, cannot be attributed to geography. It normally took a month or so for the emperor’s writ to be carried by horse to the borders of the realm in Kwangtung, Yunnan, Central Asia, or the Northeast, father than any distances in Western Europe. China’s inveterate unity must be explained on institutional grounds, by the habits of thought and action that had become established in the society.” [3]

 

B. Chinese Acknowledged Power Based on Morals, Not on Parentage or Political Viewpoints

The Chinese term “革命” can explain this point.

When translating the English term “Revolution” into Chinese, people chose to use “革命.” However, they are not exactly the same. The term “Revolution” described complete change of concept or disruptive change in society. The term “革命” in Chinese has a further meaning: when the emperor, also called the Son of Heaven (天子), does not follow Heaven’s law or is lacking in morals, the general public can overthrow him. Thus, an emperor’s legitimacy is not based on his royal blood, but rather on his moral level.

Therefore, Fairbank and Reischauer stated, “In a pluralistic society, like that of the modern West, the many forces of church and state, capital and labor, government and private enterprise are balanced under a rule of law. Instead, in Chinese life the personal virtues of probity and loyalty, sincerity and benevolence, inculcated by the family system, provided the norms for social conduct. Law was a necessary tool of administration; but personal morality was the foundation of society. Far from being anarchic because of the weakness of the legal concept, Chinese society was firmly knit together by Confucianism. This great ethical institution occupied in China much of the place filled by both law and religion in the West.” [4]

“In a day when might was right, (Confucius) argued that the ruler’s virtue and the contentment of the people, rather than power, should be the true measures of political success…” [5]

“His emphasis on the li [禮, ritual] of antiquity [before Confucius] contributed to the tremendous importance of ritual and etiquette in later Confucianism and the reliance in East Asia on inculcating inner attitudes through the practice of external forms – a sound pedagogical principle that may be too little honored in the contemporary West.” [6]

 

C. The Chinese View of Ethnicity Was “Wenhua-Ethnicity,” Not Blood-Based Ethnicity

The significant position that “倫理” (ethics between people) held in Chinese society shows that traditional Chinese society was a society that put humanity at its core. Chinese wenhua says “People everywhere are brothers.” This concept is a principle and a value in the foundation for Chinese people, similar to what universal values are for Westerners.

This wenhua supremacy (“moral supremacy, but not ethnic blood supremacy”) was also demonstrated in China’s foreign relations. “The suzerain-vassal relationship between the ruler of China and rulers of other countries expressed the traditional ‘culturalism’… The Son of Heaven affected a paternal interest in the orderly government of the tributary state, confirming the succession of new rulers, sometimes offering military protection against attack, usually conferring the boon of trade with China, and in any case sending down moral homilies and exhortations. This is not an aggressive imperialism. Rather, it was a defensive expression of culturalism.” [7] Thus, wenhua occupied the core position in traditional Chinese society. In the traditional Chinese society, commerce, merchants, and even politics, were subordinate to morals and ethics. They didn’t hold supreme or absolute positions.

“[T]he Chinese state was an autocracy in which political life was monopolized by the bureaucracy so that the mass of Chinese had little to do with it in any case, no matter who was in power. The imperial government was superficial, confined to the upper layer of society, not present in the villages. The Chinese polity was a synthesis of state and culture. Its state sector was highly centralized while the culture was thoroughly diffused among the populace. The state could be dominated by an alien autocracy, while China’s cultural life continued firmly rooted among the people.” [8]

Therefore, only Truthfulness, Compassion, Beauty, Tolerance, and other similar values held a fundamental position in traditional Chinese wenhua. It is a unique metaphysics among human being’s cultures. Even if we may not say that it can fully eliminate the deadly fights caused by different beliefs, ideologies, ethnic groups, or political or economic interests, we can safely state that it can at least weaken or deter the tendency to have such fights.
Also, I would like to stress that “Wenhua China” is not a value in itself. It does not stand for good or bad. Rather, it is a description of a social form.

Maybe “Wenhua China” has caused China to be behind the West in scientific research and development, or to lack the concept of the rule of law and thus not use the law effectively to restrain people’s from falling back on the bad side of human nature in their actions.

However, even if that is the case, it is difficult to judge “Wenhua China” negatively. In the modern Western world, technology and law have created many issues affecting the environment and human relations. In addition, there is often collusion between political power and economic power. Many have expressed deep concerns about the development of modern Western society.

 

III. The Change from “Wenhua China” to “Political China,” and Then to “Party China”

To the current generations of Chinese, “Wenhua China” may be an unfamiliar idea; they may have to re-discover it. However, it was not new to Chinese scholars and philosophers who lived a hundred years ago or even just a half century ago. It was in their blood.

In the past century, the complete “Westernization” of China destroyed “Wenhua China.” It is important to understand the history of how this happened.

 

A. The Evolution in the Western World: From “Religious State” to “Political State”

First let’s take a look at the evolution of the state in the West. From the period of ancient Greece to the Middle Ages, Christianity was founded and grew in influence. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian doctrine and ideology, as well as the church system, filled the vacuum and greatly affected the form of the state, its exercise of power, and also the structure of society. Religion was applied to the secular world.

During this period Religions developed a strong influence on the state.

Because of the extent to which the church and priests represented God’s will, society and individual’s freedom were restricted, as were the power and interests of the nobles and the merchants whose status was gradually rising.

The beginning of modern history was based on the developing perspective that royal families and the public all should have the right to obtain a relationship with God directly, without having to go through the church and the priests, and the aspiration that the church and the clergy exit from secular life.

Therefore, modern history was a process of the retreat of religion. Religion’s retreat was neither from people’s lives, nor from the society’s culture, but from the state and the ruling power.

The first manifestation of religion’s retreat was the Renaissance: individuals had awakened, philosophy was no longer to serve religion, and the arts and science went back to ancient Greece’s style.

The effort of taking religion out of the state’s arena also manifested after Machiavelli first discussed modern states. Political thinkers began to view the state as an outcome of nature rather than a creation of God and therefore subordinate to religion or the church. From this they derived such ideas as the social contract, popular sovereignty, natural law, and inalienable rights. This externalization or objectification of the state resulted in the politicization of the state, or even granting the state authority, thereby turning it into an authority structure.

One can see that it was not until the Renaissance that the “states” in Europe gained the ruling power that modern nations have. Before, state’s power was restrained by the feudal lords and the church.

The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. [9]

Since the state did not perform the religious function anymore, its power was limited. In fact, philosophers at that time were cautious about the state gaining too much power. They believed that the most important issue for any society was how to restrict the state’s power.

However, over time, states kept expanding their functions and gradually evolved into today’s modern states – “Political States.” States carry a super political and economic power that can be exercised everywhere. In a one-party state, its super power may even include deciding which ideology and religions its people should follow.

“Political States” have a few forms, including a multi-party system and a one-party system.

For human beings, democracy and the multi-party system, though they may not be a good system, appear to be the best that humans have. Churchill expressed this view when he said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” [10]

On the other hand, it is crystal clear to most human beings that the one-party system is the worst system in the human world. The study of Hitler’s Nazi system and communist countries’ crimes has provided an abundance of evidence about this system.

 

B. From “Wenhua China” to “Political China”

In Western countries, the evolution of the state concept was from “Religious State” to “Political State.” In China, it was the diminishing of “Wenhua China” and the birth of “Political China.” This destruction of “Wenhua China” might seem to be natural to today’s peoples, but it brought unforgettable pain to the Chinese scholars who lived through that time.

One hundred years ago, China had a big debate on which system to follow, the Chinese or the Western? The most popular answer was “keep Chinese learning as the fundamental structure and apply Western learning for practical use” (中學為體、西學為用). The Chinese scholars realized that there were fundamental differences between the traditional Chinese wenhua and Western culture.

Actually, this debate was an easy one. To Chinese, Chinese wenhua was the foundation of life and could not be replaced. The only thing to discuss was what kind of science and technological theories should be used in practical life.

Unfortunately, as the Chinese adopted the Western technologies and learning, they gradually gave up on their wenhua. “Wenhua China” was thus replaced by “Political China” which was a concept of the state from the West.

During this evolution, the characteristics of “Wenhua China” that we discussed earlier were gradually destroyed. The result was a completely politicized state. One may argue that a political system under democracy can still have room for different thoughts and religions. However, the one-party ruling state, or a “Party State,” which exists in China now, completely suppresses all other wenhua except its own party culture.

Let me offer two examples that demonstrate the destruction of “Wenhua China.”

The first one was the suicide of scholars Mr. Liang Ji (梁濟) and Mr. Wang Guowei (王國維), when the Republic of China replaced the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Both of them were famous scholars. They used their lives to tell people that they would rather end their lives if “Wenhua China” died. They were of the Han ethnicity, not Manchu ethnics. So their suicides for the Manchu’s Qing dynasty were not for ethnic reasons, regional reasons, or political reasons, but rather for the loss of wenhua.

China’s scholars were sensitive to the threat that a “Political State” could bring to their country, especially what its extreme form, a “Party State,” could bring. The second example was Mr. Chen Yin’ke (陳寅恪) and Mr. Wu Mi (吳宓), also two famous scholars. Both of them expressed their concerns when the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) Northern Expeditionary Army was about to enter Beijing in 1928. They promised each other that they wouldn’t join the party. They even prepared to resign from their university to protest the “Political State.”

The result of the Northern Expedition, KMT’s military campaign from 1926 to 1928, was that the KMT did away with “Wenhua China” and started “Political China.” Later the CCP took “Political China” to the extreme: “Party China.”

 

C. From “Political China” to the “Party China” of Totalitarianism

The “Party State” is an extreme development or a cancerous development of the modern state. Two totalitarian systems (Nazi Germany and Communist countries) brought World War II and over 100 million deaths to the human world.

A characteristic of the “Religious State” evolving into the modern “Political State” was that it removed the connection between a state and religion. When the state was no longer the repository of truth, and no longer had a connection to the divine, it no longer had  unlimited power.

People held the premise that people formed society and the state out of a natural need and the formation was based on a social contract. They then established a power structure and relations based on this foundation. The separation of powers, a parliamentary system, and a democratic election are forms that the state developed on this basis.

However, in the late 19th century, the problems between society and the state escalated due to conflicts between new social groups and the old social structure, economic recessions, and the replacement of a religion-centric state by a state based on natural law.

Some people then put their hopes for resolving social conflicts and economic problems onto the state and were willing to give the state enormous power to achieve that goal. They believed that the world and human beings could be saved via political means and economic measures. This view reconnected modern states to ideology. The state, again, gained absolute power and had absolute control over economic means.

Thus, a party, a group, or a government becomes the representative of the truth and the government becomes a means to save humanity. The “Party State” is the extreme form of this view.

This “Party State” is not a natural development in Chinese history, but rather a graft from the Western style of development. That is because only based on a foundation of Dualism, which is from Western philosophy, can people develop this absolute perspective of Monism in relation to the state. Only with this foundation can people become absolutely obedient and worship power and the state. China has never had a foundation in Dualism or in that ideology.

Maybe because of this, Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, realized the need to establish the ideology of the modern state in China. There were many problems when he introduced the modern state concept into China because China didn’t have the wenhua and spiritual soil for it.

Therefore, he introduced a period of “Political Tutelage” before the period of “Constitutional Government.” The “Political Tutelage” period was the elite ruler supervising the government, telling people what to do, and educating them about the modern government. After people were educated, China could then enter the “Constitutional Government” stage, which was the equivalent to the West’s rule of law.

He also brought up the ideology of “Three Principles of the People,” often understood as nationalism, democracy, and the livelihood of the people. [11] Though the “Three Principles” was not totally rigid politically, it created the air and soil for Western ideology to enter China.

China’s change from “Wenhua China” to a modern state one hundred years ago was a result of modernization, Westernization, and globalization. Unfortunately, during this Westernization process, China further took the “Party State” path, a one-sided extreme Westernization path that even the Westerners vigilantly watched out for. This path led to the extreme and absolute expansion of the power of a state.

By the end of the 19th century, traditional Chinese wenhua had severely declined. In the early 20th century, China moved on to the path of a modern state. The first modern republic state, the Republic of China, was established in 1911. Then in 1949 the CCP took the reins of government. China completely moved into the “Party State” era, becoming a totalitarian state with even stronger powers in the hands of the state than the Western countries had.

If we compare the modern “Political State” and the “Party State” from the perspective of Western culture, we can see that they have fundamental differences. In a modern state (the “Political State”) where religion’s influence has been removed, a party only represents the interest of a particular group or the viewpoints related to a particular policy. It does not represent the truth.

However, the “Party State” is different. The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party – that is, the Nazi Party – have claimed themselves to be the parties that represent the truth. These parties’ goal is to merge the Party and the state into one body, creating a monist society, or a totalitarian state.

 

IV. The Differences between “Wenhua China,” “Religious State,” and Modern State

 

A. Chinese View of the State

“State” in Chinese is 國家. When translated literally it means “Country and Family.” The traditional Chinese philosophy of state is a concept and structural base encompassing both “Family” and “Country.”

Carefully analyzing the change in the meaning and structure of state, one can see it touched many fundamental issues. In English, neither the word “Nation” nor the word “State” has the meaning of “Family” in it. The Western version of “State” is only “Country,” with no involvement of “Family.”

A state was formed by a region, a group of people, or an organization, based on their culture, their understanding of the relationship between man and nature, and their understanding of the relationship between men.

The Chinese understanding of life and death, of divine beings, and of the origin and goal of a state are all different from those of Europeans. Therefore, their concept of the state is also different from that of Europeans.

This is what surprised Fairbank and other Western scholars: China had its own approach in governing. It used a set of ethics, rather than external law, to rule China. The stability of “Wenhua China” has never been matched in any other place or by any other people.

The Chinese understanding of man and nature can be seen in its famous theory of Heaven, Earth, and People (天地人). The relationship between Heaven, Earth, and People implies that everything is a holistic whole. People follow the Earth, Earth follows Heaven, and Heaven follows Nature.

Under this premise, a person and his family are a unity; an individual’s family and his country are a unity. Even a person and the whole universe are a unity. For a person to manage the state, he first needs to practice and prove that he can manage his family well.

Therefore, one can see the connection between “Country” (國) and “Family” (家) that forms the Chinese concept of a state (國家).

On the other hand, the Western “state” is an external entity; it controls individuals and does not have an ethical and family-style connection to its individuals.

 

B. The Difference between “Wenhua” and “Culture”:

I want to emphasize a point: the “Wenhua China” (文化中國) that I am talking about here is not the direct English translation “Culture China” or “Culture Nation.” Chinese “文化” (Wenhua) is different from “Culture.”

I have said in my other articles that the Western term “Culture” is an external facing word, a word with the mark of Dualism. The Chinese “Wenhua” is an inward facing word, a word bearing the traditional Chinese spirit.

Both words are a description of man’s exploration of the world. But the exploration direction on how life was created is different, and the view of people’s involvement is also different.

A simple example to explain the Dualism difference is the Chinese term “內聖外王” (“internal saint and external king”). It means that one can cultivate himself internally to be a saint and at the same time he automatically gains the ability to influence the external as a king. This is a unique Chinese concept; it stresses unity rather than Dualism.

The Western “Culture” concept is based on Dualism, where an object and people are opposite to each other and where people and the divine are separate. From that angle, this Chinese concept is hard to understand.

I wondered for a long time why Germany, a nation that can worship military force to an extreme level and started both World War I and World War II, called itself a “Culture Nation” and why it wanted to use its culture to conquer Western Europe’s “civilization.”

I finally realized it is because “culture” means to use one’s own tools to plant and develop objects. Understanding this term from the Dualism angle, then a person can understand the German culture. The Europeans used to view the Germans as farmers. From the perspective of Dualism, farmers have culture because they have achievements in the objects that they cultivate. On the other hand, a society of citizens does not have culture. They have only the “civilization” that industrialization brought about.

From this angle, one can say that Germans have culture and the British have civilization.

This also means that we should say “Wenhua China” instead of “Culture Nation.” The ideological foundation of “Wenhua China” is definitely not a Dualism or outward-facing ideology. It is a transforming, evolving, and multi-dimensional concept; and it faces inwards.

Therefore, I think it would be more appropriate if Fairbanks called it “Wenhua China” instead of “Cultural China.”

 

C. Chinese “Wenhua” versus “Party State Culture,” or “Party Culture”

After understanding the meaning of culture at this level, people can understand why Western political theory clearly believes that connecting the state to religion or culture will lead to intolerance toward individualism.

China is the opposite. It connects wenhua and the state together. Its concept of state is generous and all-encompassing.

That is because “Wenhua” and “Culture” are different.

This also helps people to see that the CCP’s party culture is completely different from the traditional Chinese wenhua.

In modern political science, scholars find that an autocratic system does not create its own culture. The communist totalitarianism is the only exception. It creates its own culture. This Party Culture is an extreme Monism created on the foundation of Dualism.

In the Western culture and ideology, Religion and God have been phased out of modern governance. The secular Communist Party then took this opportunity and put itself in the place that used to belong to God. It thus created a secular religion-replacing culture.

One thing I must point out is that this Communist Party’s replacement “religion” only replaced the Western “religions,” but not the Oriental “Daoism” or “Buddhism.” That is because China’s Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism have neither the motivation nor the function to control everything, and therefore, in the past, they and their practitioners did not try to dominate the state governance.

In a Western political state, a totalitarian regime can become a substitute for religion and meet the need of those people who have religious sentiments. The totalitarian’s ideology thus becomes the “secular religion” or “alternative religion” for those people. However, this is unlikely to happen in the Orient because Oriental religion has not played any significant role in state governance.

This helps people to see that the CCP’s Party Culture is a typical Western product. It is not from traditional Chinese wenhua.

 

D. The Positive Meaning of “Wenhua China”

We have seen the difference between the CCP’s Party Culture and traditional Chinese wenhua.

Another example is the Communist Party’s “Class Struggle” theory. Its purpose is to eliminate the bad classes. It is similar to today’s ethnic group extinction. Think about it: the “Class Struggle” that the Communist Party has openly promoted for over a century is the same crime against humanity that Hitler committed.

On the contrary, the Chinese wenhua does not have this anti-humanity intention. It believes “People everywhere are brothers,” “every child should be educated,” and “people are born as good people.”

The CCP also developed the ideology of nationalism, racism, and the concept of politics superseding everything. Its view of unification versus independence is based on modern society and the Western black-white Dualism. From that angle, people appealing for independence have an opposing goal, and are the enemy of the state ruler.

The CCP then imposes an ideology of patriotism on the Chinese people. The pursuit of independence by the Tibetans, the Mongolians, and the Taiwanese then creates a huge fear in China’s society. It is thus easy for the Chinese to get angry with and they are willing to take aggressive and offensive action toward those who seek independence.

Clearly, this ideology was developed based on Western Dualism, not on traditional Chinese wenhua. Throughout history, Chinese have never been so hateful and fearful about independence.

Traditional Chinese wenhua is that over time, a state will split into smaller ones and it will reunite later. Therefore, one can just let it be and let nature take its course.

The unification of China is based on wenhua, spirituality, and morality. It is not one race against another, one region against another, or one party against another.

 

V. Ending

The traditional Chinese wenhua, or “Wenhua China,” has disappeared from China. The spirit, state concept, and traditions that were based on wenhua, glued together by wenhua, and inspired by wenhua, have all collapsed in mainland China.

The KMT brought a certain part of traditional Chinese wenhua to Taiwan when it retreated there in 1949. Taiwan has managed to keep it, though it is becoming weaker and weaker. The Taiwan governance is in the form of a “Political State,” not a “Wenhua State.”

We have to acknowledge that this is the reality in China, and a tragedy for the Chinese people.

However, we should never forget: there used to be a “Wenhua China!”

Can we bring it back?

 

Endnotes:

[1] “China: Tradition and Transformation,” Revised Edition (May 10, 1989), by John King Fairbank and Edwin Reischauer, page 151.
[2] ibid, page 178.
[3] ibid, page 179.
[4] ibid, page 16.
[5] ibid, page 44.
[6] ibid, page 46.
[7] ibid, page 195.
[8] ibid, page 225.
[9] “Divided by God,” by Feldman, Noah (2005), page 29.
[10] Stanford University Website, “DEMOCRACY: Democracy and Churchill.”
http://wais.stanford.edu/Democracy/democracy_DemocracyAndChurchill%28090503%29.html.
[11] Encyclopedia Britannica, “Three Principles of the People.”
http://www.britannica.com/event/Three-Principles-of-the-People.

 

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