My primary interest as an International Relations undergraduate was the Middle East. In my final year, I chose modules that I thought would be most related to the area (sadly, my university didn’t have any courses specifically focused on the region), and wrote my dissertation on Iran-US relations. Only logical, seeing as my high-school years were spent in Bahrain and my parents still live there. Moving to Shanghai, however, has spiked my curiosity about what’s said and written about the Far East. Admittedly, my reading was restricted to a bare minimum while I was settling in. Luckily, the apartment hunt is over, I’ve got no visa problems (yet), and I’m getting used to my schedule at Fudan. So. Time to read.
My goal is to share one or two of the most interesting articles I’ve read per week. A little bit of a change from my usual posts about the everyday lifestyle of a foreign student in Shanghai! Maybe more important, however, as it gives an insight on China that I wouldn’t be able to provide.
I thought I’d start by sharing an article my friend Max (who, I’m very excited to say, is coming to visit me in December!) sent me the other day. Written for the BBC on 19 Oct. ’12, economist Martin Jacques describes China’s present and past behavior in much the same way as Henry Kissinger does in his book ‘On China’. I haven’t managed to finish Kissinger’s book yet, so I’ll probably post about that in a later ‘Article of the Week’ (well.. ‘Book of the Week’ then), but so far, both authors agree that the way China interacts with its neighbors and foreign powers contrasts to how the West has managed its international affairs.
The purpose of this examination? To determine what kind of superpower China could evolve into, a topic that’s being discussed by politicians the world over.
Read the article at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19995218
In an article written 5 days before, Jacques outlines the importance of learning Mandarin by stating that “It is estimated that it takes at least twice as long to learn as a European language. The language is a metaphor for China. Understanding the unfamiliar requires a different mentality: rather than superiority, hubris and presumption, which have I think been the dominant Western attitudes towards China, we’ll need respect, humility and modesty”. I couldn’t agree more. Chinese culture and practices are vastly different from any other culture I’ve experienced. It’s growing importance in the global arena means we can’t expect them to adapt to our standards anymore. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So when in China…
Know any good articles about China or the general region? Please let me know