Chinese Values vs. Western Values: Competition Or Dialogue?
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Professor and Director of East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore
Although the U.S. and China engage in frequent bilateral cultural communication and the two economies have become more in sync, the two countries seem to not understand one another. International Sinologists conduct a great amount of research, but do not truly understand China.
There are two major issues in Western schools of Sinology:
- Understanding China based on Western Values: The moral standard which underlies some International China Studies is that Western values are the correct path. For many Western scholars, the purpose of understanding China is to change China according to their standards, which has political implications for scholarly research.
- Discussing China using Western Methodology: Using Western social science concepts and theories to explain Chinese phenomena results in cognitive dissonance. Some Western scholars’ do not consider broad Chinese social contexts.
On the other hand, Chinese scholars do not have a clear understanding of themselves. They use Western concepts and theories to analyze and criticize China. China itself does not thoroughly understand the influence of its rise on world order. For China scholars at home and abroad, it is critical to develop China’s own methodology to communicate with other epistemologies.
Professor of Academy of Marxism, Renmin University of China
Western countries’ “universal values” refer to a set of values that are accepted by everyone, which run through the development of human society, are commonly applicable, and exist eternally. These values break the boundaries of all ethnicities, races, classes and nations, transcend differences among all civilizations, religions, and beliefs, and do not vary with variations of time or social landscape.
“Common values” are inherently different from “universal values.” “Common values” operate mutually acknowledge the uniqueness values of the other and are relative, evaluative, and changing. “Common values,” such as peace, development, liberty, democracy and rule of law are subject to different interpretations by people across the globe.
Socialist core values are not “universal values.” In China, core values must relate to national institutions and the ideology of socialism.
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