China, US can benefit from ancient wisdom

By Ng Yau Man David Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/20 20:28:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Donald Trump gave his first speech to the Congress on February 28 which later surveys revealed around three quarters of respondents approved. Whether the new president might have weathered a storm or the public approval was just an illusion, there is a trap in front of him, set by his political enemies.

His Attorney General Jeff Sessions was under fire for meeting with the Russian ambassador to the US, and several Democratic lawmakers and their supporters called for Sessions' resignation. Trump fired back by remarking that Democratic politicians met the Russian ambassador too.

It sounds like a plotline from the American political TV drama, House of Cards. But, it is real. Currently, Trump is busy, and the Democrats too; but the number of protestors against Trump seems to have declined.

The domestic conflicts that have divided the US reflect the contradictions among the different groups of elite, but can hardly be interpreted as a struggle between different classes.

This is not the first time that the US has suffered hardships. But, in history, the country could always come through afterward. The current political and economic crisis in the US or other Western countries can be resolved, and can hardly result in the disintegration of those countries or the collapse of their institutions.

The US is still the most powerful country in the world, garrisoning troops in regions around the world. It also sets the rules of world trade and has the intention of continuing to do so in the future, despite the fact that Trump is more interested in bilateral rather than multilateral agreements, which aroused opposition from other countries. Washington also dominates the world with its cultural hegemony, or what Joseph Nye called soft power.

As China's economy rapidly expanded in the past decades, the country became more capable of defending itself and gained more power to defend its national interests overseas. Some Chinese tend to compare the current international situation to the historical book series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which chronicles battles among three Chinese warlords in the second to third century.

People from different countries may view today's world as a game among two or three powers. But, it is impractical to refer to international relations in such a way. Conversely, it is rather appropriate to adopt some strategies from the Warring States period in ancient China.

China needs to learn to practice "tao guang yang hui," translated as "hiding one's capacity to bide one's time" in English. Although it has grown in status and became more influential in its peaceful rise, China still needs more time to achieve full national rejuvenation. And there is no shortcut to this.

In his speech to the Congress, Trump said that America has a torch and they "will use it to light up the world." It sounds very patriotic.

No doubt, Chinese can learn many things from other countries, including the US. And we can choose to learn the skills and practices that would benefit us. This has helped China in its rapid growth over the past decades.

If Trump was going to light up the world, it would be fine. But, he should be careful not to torch houses in Chinese cities or elsewhere in the world.

The author is a commentator based in Hong Kong. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus