Økonomi vs Kultur: Beijings to fortællinger om Kina giver problemer

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Kultur / Politik

Kina har en lang historie. Men Folkerepublikken Kina er ungt land, der først blev grundlagt i 1949. Det har været en kort periode med voldsomme forandringer og uroligheder, og landet er stadig ved at finde sin identitet, som Kerry Brown, professor og leder af Kinastudier på University of Sydney, skriver i denne kronik. Den er værd at læse. Brug et minut på den. Her et uddrag:

That uncertainty is revealed in one of the starkest contradictions: between what might be decribed as its global inclusiveness and its nationalist exceptionalism. On the one side, China’s current leadership promotes the country as a super-attractive economic entity, able to shower benefits on everyone who engages wth it; on the other, that leadership employs a grand language of national and cultural pride that insistently highlights China’a exclusive character. The disjunction between these two ideas is striking. Which China are outsiders being asked to buy into?

This creates repeated communication problems with other states. Evidently, the world “gets” China’s economic story. Leaders from abroad such as Barack Obama or David Cameron can visit China, transact business, and have a reasonable grasp of why relations with China in this area are important. But once they slip towards the other story – of China’s view of itself, its values and beliefs, and of the world – the potential for tension and misapprehension grows.

There is nothing wrong with a country wanting to be appreciated and understood. But many people trying to make sense of China face the retort that their ideas and concepts are inappropriate. For one thing, they don’t take account of China’s exceptionalism; for another, they are guilty of imposing the western disease of universalism. The result can be the limbo of having no language to talk to each other. No wonder, then, that foreign leaders – unable to navigate the disjuncture between China’s stories about itself – often seem to use two registers about China: economically warm, politically and culturally cool.

In this respect, the choice by both President Obama and prime minister Cameron, at the G20 summit in Brisbane, to dare speak the language of values and ideas in the presence of Chinese leaders is right and welcome. This doesn’t need to be done in a judgmental way – at least, not initially. Rather, it can be a means of asking Chinese leaders to spell out what, far beyond economic matters, their country believes it is. And if the answer is that China is exceptional, unique, and impossible to understand, then outsiders have the right to say that this is not good enough, and that Chinese leaders need to try again.


Hurtige klik fra Kina af Kim Rathcke Jensen. Jeg er journalist og BA i kinesisk. Jeg bor i Beijing, hvor jeg arbejder som Politikens korrespondent i Kina og Asien.

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