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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

China Has a Solution

Written by: on October 25, 2018

     When you push that button on your phone to call an Uber (Didi in China) you are never sure what adventure you will have. Last Tuesday, I was on my way to a meeting in the downtown area at 6:00 in the evening. When calling this car, I knew the ride would be about 40 minutes. Climbing in, I nodded a greeting at the driver and began to read a book. I have found that most Chinese don’t believe you can speak the language, and so they don’t speak to you. A few minutes into the ride I noticed the driver’s phone was attached to the dash. I leaned over to see if it showed the approximate arrival time. He glanced at me wondering what I was doing and I asked, “We have about 30 minutes?” He nodded, smiled and said, “You speak Chinese!”

After the typical questions of work, family, Chinese food, he asked about my country of origin. I told him I was from the USA. For 30 long minutes, we talked about the trade issues, safety and gun control, discrimination and then went into world policing and peace. Of course, this was fueled by the ever increasing tension between China and the US. This driver obviously loves his country and sees it as the answer to safety, gun control, trade, community and ultimately world peace. With that conversation in mind, take a minute to watch this video

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Propaganda has been around for as long as their have been ambitious leaders. This video could be promoting unity for the Roman, British empire or even our own country’s political agendas in the last century. It was Aristotle that said, “While everything changes, everything remains the same.” We see this in China’s drive to be the greatest power in the world. There is already a strong belief in China, not just within government but also among people, that the Chinese are very special, Chinese culture is very rich and Chinese history is strong. In 2013 Chinese President XiJinPing stated,

“For more than 2,000 years the peoples who live in the heart of Asia had been able to coexist, cooperate and flourish despite differences in race, belief and cultural background. It was a foreign policy priority for China to develop friendly cooperative relations with the Central Asian countries. The time had come to make economic ties closer, improve communication, encourage trade and enhance monetary circulation. The time had come for a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ to be built. The time had come to breathe new life back into the old Silk Roads, a series of trade routes that once connected Asia, Africa and Europe.”1

Since then, nearly $1 trillion has been earmarked for projects that form part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This push by Chinese to create a community of trade and cooperation is a form of globalization and dominance that is reproduced in various countries in their rise to power. Frankopan states, “We think of globalization as a uniquely modern phenomenon; yet 2,000 years ago too, it was a fact of life, one that presented opportunities, created problems and prompted technological advance.” 2

 

The world seems to spin on the needle that is honor and shame. How we are seen by the world produces pride or shame by the citizens of the country in question. For China this is closely tied to its history, its accomplishments and global embarrassments. For the Chinese the path is not as important as the outcome. The abuses of power, discrimination of minorities, threatening of neighboring countries by use of military or financial means are all accepted because the State is greater than the individual. Honoring the country while sacrificing a few pawns along the way is not only acceptable but seen as strategic. Chinese have a long memory and I believe still are overcoming their shame and defeat of the past.

“But China has not forgotten the Opium Wars. The conflicts were a humiliation, exposing the hollowness of its claims to be the world’s most powerful empire. They set it on a quest, which continues to this day, to rediscover its strength. Every Chinese schoolchild knows that the modern drive for wealth and power is, at root, a means of avenging the Opium Wars and what followed.”3

     As a result of China’s past and drive to overcome the global shame, it has remade itself, building a foundation of wealth and power so it can once again be “Zhongguo”(meaning the middle/center kingdom ); implying it is the center of the cultural universe. China’s aggressive policies have not always been met with open arms, yet Chinese influence and money seem to persuade countries into corporation. China’s Belt Road Initiative (originally called One Belt and One Road) is a campaign to spread its trade and policies over land (belt) and water (road) have produced a powerful impact in many countries of Africa, middle east and Central Asia. Their goals have them moving into Europe and South America in the next 5 years. One can easily see why Frankopan says, ”We’re living in an age of Asia…”4

This has not been an easy transition as we see the US and China relations battle over seemingly petty issues that mark lines in the sand for control. We observe the cost within Chinese borders for discrimination, political reeducation camps, social class systems implemented related to one’s patriotism, students asked to inform on teachers that are teaching “radical” ideologies and other what mind be viewed as abuses of power. Frankopan is known for saying, “There is no space in any civilized society for discrimination of any kind, and that is the greatest lesson of the 20th century.”5 Though we hope the the rise of any country would be with knowledge of history and are not prone to repeating the mistakes or atrocities of the past, I believe we are all short sighted when, like this Uber driving man, put our faith and hope solely in the political system of our own country. Not only does China have to learn to overcome some historical insecurities, but the west needs to learn how to honor (and not scorn) the growing nations of Asia.

1Peter Frankopan https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/china-silk-road_us_5978d667e4b0a8a40e84cec7

accessed October 25, 2018.

2 Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads : A New History of the World. First US ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

3 https://www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2017/12/19/the-opium-wars-still-shape-chinas-view-of-

the-west accessed October 25, 2018

4 Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads : A New History of the World. First US ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

5 https://www.thecuriousreader.in/tata-lit-live/favourite-quotes/ accessed October 25, 2018

About the Author

Greg

Greg has a wife and 3 children. He has lived and work in Asia for over 12 years. He is currently the Asia Director of Imanna Laboratories, which tests and inspects marine products seeking US Coast Guard certification. His company Is also involved in teaching and leadership development.

14 responses to “China Has a Solution”

  1. Wow wow wow. This is an awesome post. Besides being well- written, the subject matter had me captivated from beginning to end. That video. Man. And catchy, too! I’m still singing along. SO many questions. But I do think this idea of honor and shame is critical, and I’m not sure Western politicians have figured that out yet. That and the long memory.
    That book I recommended before (I’m obsessed with it) Global Humility, quotes Kosuke Koyama saying “The cultural values of Asia and the Pacific have not been appreciated. They were, in a package, decided to be against the values for which Jesus Christ stood, though in most cases such judgement has been given in terms of the values found in the Western lifestyle for which Jesus Christ does not necessarily stand.” Would you agree with Koyama?

    • Greg says:

      Jenn. I have got to read that book!! I would definitely agree with Koyama. I have found that people usually think their views are correct. Unfortunately this includes the church, leaders, and as you know, missionaries. Just like we often read the scriptures with our own cultural lenses we also believe everyone will see and understand the world in the same way we do. Thanks for your encouragement (btw that song is stuck in my head too)

  2. Dave Watermulder says:

    Greg,
    I echo Jenn’s response. I loved the post, your style of writing and the topic. I think you have another chapter ahead as an international correspondent or commentator on China and the West. You make it really easy to understand and to pay attention to. Thanks!

    • Greg says:

      Ha Dave you crack me up. You can tell which topics I am passionate about and which blogs I write because they need to be written 🙂 I am glad you were able to follow my thoughts.

  3. mm Mary Mims says:

    OMG, I love this post!!! I was just being nosey on your page, but this is why I asked the question about opium at Linklaters. Many African Americans feel the US Gov. conspired to flood our communities with crack cocaine, so I understand how the Chinese feel about the opium wars. Thank you for this post, and for letting me see all the cool things I can do on a post.

    • Greg says:

      Hey Mary. I have been known to check out other blogs as well. That is how I learned I could incorporate you tube videos. I remember you asking Linklaters that question but remembered thinking that they were not going to answer such a direct question. That would go against the culture and would want to offend publicly someone else. I would image hooking people on drugs to control a population has been done for many years and by many countries. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.

  4. mm M Webb says:

    Greg,
    We love riding Uber in foreign countries and enjoy the cross-cultural adventures like you. I watched the video of a “community of shared future for mankind” as China’s solution. I hope that your M work there will be the real solution. Putting G first and having a personal relationship with JC is the real shared future for mankind.
    I remember one of the speakers talking about churches registering to be officially recognized by the government. How do you think that is helping or hurting the advance of the G?
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  5. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Greg,

    I think your post this week will get the most action. It was thorough, thought provoking, and captivating. Thanks for the video.

    In light of the shooting this morning in Pittsburgh at the Jewish Synagogue (at a celebration for a BABY no less), I was thinking about the video’s answer to this colossal problem– “a community of shared future for mankind”. Is this the answer to anti-Semitism and pure evil? Not sure I could make that case, but I get China’s assertion.

    Keep elevating your game in your writing, my Brother.

  6. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Greg,
    As usual a very thought provoking post. I am not going to be able to get this tune out of my head. Your quote “For the Chinese the path is not as important as the outcome.” and your discussion of not being worried about sacrificing pawns on the way to getting what they want is interesting. How do you think other cultures would see this? It seems like a fairly callous outlook.

    Thanks
    Jason
    Jason

  7. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Greg,

    Terrific post as usual. How do you think the US could honor the nations and people of the East? Do you think US/China relations will remain tense in the foreseeable future as we struggle for power and influence? Do you have any predictions on what might be the ultimate outcome for both nations and those caught in the middle?

  8. mm Trisha Welstad says:

    Greg, thanks for the video and insight from your Didi ride to bring color to your perspective for us. Seeing the video really underscores Frankopan’s text. I think the US knows China wants to be the center but has been short-cited in our perspective (whether as enemies or partners). China is running a marathon while we seem to be in a relay race that changes every four to eight years.

  9. Hey Greg,

    Wonderful post, and like the others, I really appreciated watching the video.

    As I watched, these lines were spoken: “It’s easy for us to say let’s build a wall / But every wall built has been destined to fall.” Human constructs, whether walls to keep out the hordes or towers of Babel to aggressively reach the heavens, seem to not be the way of the humble God-man from Nazareth. When the Great Wall of China was built, it did keep out the hordes for a period, but eventually the Mongols learned they could pay off the guards at the seaside end of the Great Wall, and invade the Middle Kingdom on horseback at low tide. Let’s call it a “work-around-solution”!

  10. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Great post. That was an interesting video to watch from China. It positioned them very differently than what I normally see. that article about the opium wars and your statements about it are frightening.

    It makes me hope that South AFrica forgiveness can come into play.

  11. It seems that your posts are always the most popular for everyone to read based on all the comments you get. I’m not surprised since you have all the cool images and fascinating info about a country we all know very little about, besides that they make all of our stuff 🙂 I enjoy entering your world a little and getting to ponder new things. I definitely enjoyed reading your post more than the book this week, great job as usual Greg.

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