A Chinese View of International Cooperation and
To understand any
given culture is to understand how it sees the world, itself and
others. Until each culture approaches the philosophies of others
with an open mind and studies them seriously there will not be any
possibility of enrichment of one's own culture. This problem has
been ignored for many years.
Peterson B. Zhou, opens a
path which calls for a flexible attitude of exchange rather than
conflict, "Differences in ideologies, cultures and social systems .
. . should not be the barriers of a sound relationship."*1. Zhou
presents two themes, which can bring about collaboration rather than
conflict, "It is my idea that any sound relationship between
countries should be built on the basis of mutual understanding and
mutual respect of each other."*2
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In Chinese political
theory there are certain presuppositions:
People invest the
interests of life in this world of actuality where they can be
realized; the aim of life is not found in selfish interests.
There are three
presuppositions to moral life:
The cultivation of
universal benevolence; the achievement of virtue in unity with Tao;
the practice of universal love.*3
elucidates two views of politics: ideal and practical.*4 The
practical says Fang:
Consists in the
skill of handling the great mass of people for the sake of private
gains. Human history has fully testified to the evil deeds done by
the demoniacal political monsters at the expense of many countries
and to the detriment of many peoples. …Many persons, devoid of virtue
but covetous of gain, have an immense interest in politics, betaking
themselves to the quest of fame, riches and personal benefits like
the candle moths fluttering round the flame or the summer flies
swarming about the refuse.*5
With this view
politics is conquest, domination, acquisition and
What is called ideal
politics are: the framing of right measures; the creation of fair
opportunities by virtue; and the development of natural abilities.
This creates the possibility of living together, through mutual
understanding and mutual respect, under any circumstances. Fang
The only essential
thing being that the principle of social justice should be strictly
observed and that, different nations, with their distinct
characteristic traditions of culture, can enter into a harmonious
interrelationship according to a scheme of thoroughly open-minded
and openhearted co-operation.*6
One could say that
this does not work. Why are there still so many problems? Not
everyone lives these values and social justice is not always
One could say that
this is just an ideal. But if we did not have an ideal vision we
would not have anything to move toward. Fang brings this to
It is only under the
guidance of such an ideal that the happiness of human existence can
come to be realized. If it were otherwise, ideal politics would soon
become degenerate, gradually losing its ideality, till eventually it
would take the fearful form of political demonry.*7
In the Chinese
language, virtue is explained as meaning being in harmony with. The
aim of politics of virtue is for all people to be in harmony with
the spiritual context of life. This constitutes a person, a nation,
humanity and the universe. All the elements and participants enter
into a comprehensive harmony.
is a system of dynamic ontology founded upon perpetual creativity in
At the farthest
horizon this is located in Chinese cosmology which is a
value-centric philosophy. The principle of Extensive Connection that
is rooted in the Book of Changes tells us that everything leads
through life to the attainment of ultimate value. It is said to be
great and extensive in the way of appropriating functioning.
With the Principle
of Extensive Connection we see: life in the mode of creative
creativity; the mutual relevance of all forms of existence in
respect of inherent meaning and value; the never-ending process of
change and transformation; a connection through all forms of life,
by reason of mutual relevance and interpenetration, constitute the
The philosophy of any people is the crème de la crème of its
culture and finds expression in its styles of thinking, feeling and
living. Philosophies have given rise to civilizations of people for
whom the meaning and influence of living and being, learning and
knowing are foundational to life. This is the inexhaustible richness
of the human being. Each culture exists in its own right as does
each person. This speaks to mutual understanding and mutual respect.
1) Peterson B. Zhou, "A Theoretical Test by Sino-U.S.Relations
(III)", Superdirector. com, 2001 http://220.127.116.11/conflict3.html,
2) Ibid, p. 3.
3) Thom?H. Fang, The Chinese View of Life: The Philosophy of
Comprehensive Harmony, (Taipei: Linking Publishing Co. Ltd. 1980),
4) Ibid., p. 148.
5) Ibid., p. 148.
6) Ibid., pp. 148-149.
7) Ibid., p. 149.
8) Ibid., p. 51.