'Humanity as continuity,' the new inspiration from China's philosophy to fight the pandemic
Published: Aug 23, 2021 06:08 PM
Medical workers wait to submit COVID-19 samples for nucleic acid test at the center for disease control and prevention in Fengman District of Jilin City, northeast China's Jilin Province, May 17, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

Medical workers wait to submit COVID-19 samples for nucleic acid test at the center for disease control and prevention in Fengman District of Jilin City, northeast China's Jilin Province, May 17, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

In the face of the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs political leaders of leading countries to achieve the overall awareness of cooperation to fight the virus for a shared future for mankind. 

In an era of global interdependence, different political systems and ideologies should be respected. There is no reason to treat others as inferior because they are different, and must conform to the rules of a so-called superior civilization, or be classified as a zero-sum competitor - as Washington wantonly does. Differences in political systems should never be used as an excuse to undermine cooperation efforts.

When it comes to tracing the origins of COVID-19, the most important thing is fairness and equality. The collective West must abandon or change the rules of their so-called superior civilization as the premise of global cooperation. 

Human beings share the same earth, and need to live in harmony with each other. In the presence of the pandemic, mankind as a whole urgently needs to break through the narrow nation-oriented ideology of seeking only self-protection. The international community should establish a new type of international cooperation featuring the concept of harmony of, "all things under heaven as a unity." 

Chinese culture should have a place in the international relations. It leads to the principle of infinite game, which focuses on win-win rather than finite zero-sum game, and connects the world. 

The international relations system dominated by the Western discourse power is now in a bottleneck. With the development of human civilization today, various problems have emerged, and mankind needs new ways of governance. China has become an important player in world governance. 

Chinese people should involve the wisdom of sages in the construction of modern civilization and show the mind of benevolent government when dealing with relations with other countries. 

"Humanity as continuity" is a Chinese expression that means to help the world sprout a sense of the interdependence in the global village. It departs from zero-sum game thinking. Mankind should strive for harmony without uniformity, instead of pursuing shouted from the mountain-top doctrines. 

In his book The Silk Road: A New History of the World, Peter Frankopan, a professor at Cambridge University in England, mentioned this story: "In Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of the gods, sent eagles from each end of the earth and sent them flying towards each other. A sacred stone - the Omphalos ("navel of the earth") - was erected at the spot where the two eagles would meet, where they would communicate with the gods. The two eagles set off from the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific coast of China, then flew inland to meet somewhere between the Black Sea and the Himalayas." 

The story of the sacred stone has been a source of inspiration for philosophers and theologians. This story has given us the general direction of human thinking: the future of the new focal era must carry out dialogues based on mutual respect among civilizations and seek the Gospel of mankind under the same canopy. 

The international community has to get past the ideology of individualism. We have to take the responsibility for thinking of ourselves and what we mean for other actors who constitute the world in which we live. 

If your neighbor does better, you do better. It is that simple. The world is interdependent; the world is organic. We are all in play at the same time. 

Chinese culture celebrates the relational values of deference and interdependence. That is, relationally constituted persons are to be understood as embedded in and nurtured by unique, transactional patterns of relations. This conception of the person that contrasts rather starkly with the more familiar model of discrete, rational, self-determining, autonomous, and self-interested individuals that are associated with liberal democracy. 

However, it is regrettable that so far, mankind has failed to realize the overall awareness of mutual support and joint actions. In the dilemma of viral determinism, many countries and regions have constantly politicized the pandemic and delayed the best opportunity for the global fight against it, resulting in countless innocent lives lost. 

Chinese ancient philosophy of "humanity as continuity" opens a new door for present international relations especially under the global fierce pandemic, our human beings as a whole, we should let bygones be bygones and focus on the bigger picture.

To defeat the current pandemic which poses a global threat, mankind is required to fulfill their obligations and help each other. 

The philosophical wisdom of "humanity as continuity" from ancient China is a transcendental ideal world and the source for all human order and value. It is also the ultimate and only absolute Truth. It is also the trunk that can receive grafts of cultural branches from abroad, thereby serving as a meeting point for different cultures. 

The author is a PhD candidate at the Institute of International Relations, School of History, Nanjing University, and an associate professor at the School of Foreign Languages, Nanjing Univeristy of Finance and Economics. Her research interests include the theory and intellectual history of international relations, Anglo-Irish relations in the mid-19th century, and Chinese ancient philosophy and cross-cultural studies. pujingxin@126.com

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