Chinese spirit raises gifted generation
Published: Jul 11, 2018 06:48 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


In a recent article, The New York Times shone the spotlight on Lang Lang by calling the injury to his left arm "a major loss, since he is one of classical music's biggest and most bankable stars." The article said, "It is harder than ever for a classical musician to become famous worldwide."

The young man who became globally famous, this time, is a Chinese and a pianist of worldwide acclaim. 

Perhaps the reporter didn't notice another trending topic on Chinese social media - international basketball star Yao Ming's graduation from a Shanghai university. Seven years after enrolling at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the 37-year-old former Houston Rockets player earned a college degree in economics.

Two Chinese, one became a star of US most popular sport, and another became a reputed name in Western classical music.

What do their stories tell the world?

In the past 500 years, this is the first generation of Chinese which has been so widely exposed to modern education and Western civilization. Their access to Western ideas has come about as a result of China's education system.

The world is witnessing the biggest generation of Chinese in China's history to have studied and worked in the West, and with the opportunity to fully communicate with the Western hemisphere.

Behind their success are their fathers, mothers, grandparents who followed the centuries-old tradition of sacrificing their own for their children's progress.

This tradition of thousands of years has finally fully blossomed when the reform and opening-up started, which also brought a transformation to society and created unprecedented development opportunities for young people to realize their personal dreams.

The Chinese are coming! Their success proves that they can make a mark in areas that have hitherto been the stronghold of Westerners.

In the past 10 or so years, the West has been astonished by the dramatic rise in China's GDP after the country became a full member of the WTO. The people behind these economic figures are important factors in bringing about China's development miracle. The Chinese, especially the generation of Yao Ming and Lang Lang, have had their share of access to Western civilization and the speed with which they accepted it was marvelous. They represent a generation that has just begun their journey to globalization.

They carried on their parents' hope and became the beneficiaries of and contributors to China's rapid economic rise. Their efforts and pursuits will be the driving force behind China's sustainable development in the future.

Nowadays, tens of thousands of Chinese children take the piano lesson, and hordes of Chinese youth are NBA fans. 

You will be wrong to think that this is just a cultural phenomenon. It in fact reflects the nation's pursuit of a better life and its openness to the world. It means that the competitiveness of China will be further strengthened.

More importantly, the Chinese people have embodied a more open, more optimistic and more positive spirit, while working diligently.

You may say this shows the strong influence of Western culture on China, but it is also the result of the nation's opening-up to the world.

That all these changes emerged after the reform and opening-up 40 years ago, can't be ignored.

In the past 40 years, the nation and the people accumulated tremendous energy - both materially and spiritually. It has set the road for the future of the nation and the young generation knows that's the road to be taken.

If US President Donald Trump and his staff can take a pause and stop thinking about their trade attack against China, they will come across this gigantic Chinese generation and lose confidence about the prospect of winning the trade war.

Of course China's development hasn't been smooth and hit bumps such as intellectual property protection row, which Trump often mentions. The reason why the nation vaulted to be the second largest economy lies in the spirit of its people.

China is not a copying machine.    

If you don't understand how hard the Chinese parents have worked to raise kids like Lang Lang and Yao Ming, if you don't know what kind of music the young people love, what kind of sports they play and what kind of books they read … you won't see your own problems.

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn Follow him on Twitter at @dinggangchina