Nobody is surprised that the Chinese government curbs “Western-style” civil and political liberties. But it may be news to some people that the government has recently called for the strengthening of Marxist ideology in universities and a ban on “teaching materials that disseminate Western values in our classrooms.” On the face of it, such regulations are absurd. It would mean banning not just the ideas of John Stuart Mill and John Rawls, but also those of such thinkers as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Pronouncements against the influence of Western values contradict what’s really happening in higher education in China. There have been recurrent campaigns against foreign interference since the 1980s, and yet the trend has been consistent: more international links with Western universities, more meritocracy and less political ideology in the selection and promotion of professors, and experimentation with different modes of liberal arts education.… Seguir leyendo »
Hace más de dos décadas, los líderes de Singapur presentaron la idea de los “valores asiáticos” para afirmar que los principios y las prácticas del liberalismo democrático no eran adecuados para la región, lo que desencadenó un importante debate en torno a la universalidad de los derechos humanos. No obstante, estas discusiones ignoraron otra propuesta innovadora de los líderes de Singapur: los sistemas políticos modernos, declararon, deben funcionar como meritocracias.
La meritocracia política, en la que se selecciona a los líderes sobre la base de sus capacidades y virtudes es un elemento central de la teoría y práctica política tanto en China como en Occidente.… Seguir leyendo »
On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Mongolia denouncing Asian governments that seek “to restrict people’s access to ideas and information, to imprison them for expressing their views, to usurp the rights of citizens to choose their leaders.” It was a swipe at China’s authoritarian political system. The view that China should become more democratic is widely held in the West. But framing the debate in terms of democracy versus authoritarianism overlooks better possibilities.
The political future of China is far likelier to be determined by the longstanding Confucian tradition of “humane authority” than by Western-style multiparty elections.… Seguir leyendo »
¿Cuál es el acontecimiento más importante de nuestra era? Depende del día, pero en el caso de que pensemos en siglos y no en días, seguramente la urbanización de la humanidad es un fuerte contendiente. Hoy en día, más de la mitad de la población mundial vive en ciudades, en comparación a menos del 3% en el año 1800. Hasta el año 2025, se espera que China, por sí sola, tenga 15 “mega-ciudades”, cada una con una población que llegue al menos a 25 millones de personas. ¿Están los críticos sociales en lo correcto al preocuparse por la soledad atomizada de la vida en una gran ciudad?… Seguir leyendo »
From the outside, China often appears to be a highly centralized monolith. Unlike Europe’s cities, which have been able to preserve a certain identity and cultural distinctiveness despite the homogenizing forces of globalization, most Chinese cities suffer from a drab uniformity.
But China is more like Europe than it seems. Indeed, when it comes to economics, China is more a thin political union composed of semiautonomous cities — some with as many inhabitants as a European country — than an all-powerful centralized government that uniformly imposes its will on the whole country.
And competition among these huge cities is an important reason for China’s economic dynamism.… Seguir leyendo »
Is China the next domino? Like Mubarak’s regime, the Chinese government relies on harsh measures to put down calls for democratic reform. Like Egypt, China is plagued by a huge gap between rich and poor, rampant corruption, rising prices of basic foods and high unemployment rates among recent university graduates.
So should outside forces turn to democracy-promotion in China?
Not so fast. In Egypt, social critics and reformers of different stripes profess public allegiance to the ideal of multiparty democracy, defined as free and fair competitive elections for the country’s political leaders, along with the freedoms that make those elections meaningful.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States stands for freedom and democracy. There is a large gap between the rhetoric and the reality, but the United States does export its political ideals abroad. And it does not just rely on force to do so. It relies on government-funded foundations like the National Endowment for Democracy that distribute grants to pro-democracy organizations abroad. U.S.-based NGOs like Freedom House rank countries according to their adherence to political freedoms, the implication being that other countries should conform to the ideals espoused in the U.S. Constitution.
What does China stand for? That question arose at a recent dialogue between Confucian and African thinkers in South Africa funded by the Confucius Institute.… Seguir leyendo »
As tragic as the Sichuan earthquake has been, perhaps it can do some good by helping dispel a widespread myth: that the new generation of Chinese students are materialistic and selfish.
I’ve been teaching political theory at Tsinghua University here since 2004 and I’ve found that almost all of my students are driven to do good for society. So I wasn’t surprised when, as word of the disaster came out, hundreds of Tsinghua students lined up overnight at a Red Cross station to donate blood and supplies. Others went to the earthquake zone, more than 1,000 miles away, to distribute aid.… Seguir leyendo »