Wind In My Hair wrote:
I was a C student in Chinese, but I'll try. My Chinese teacher should be so proud of me. Eau, please correct any mistakes.
Today, we Chinese are bullish and feel good about ourselves. We admit we're a little behind other countries but think that very soon we will catch up. We even subscribe to the view of some irresponsible Western thinkers that China is a world leader. To me, this is a joke. If we look at the modern world, whether as a game of politics, economics, culture, or science, none of these games were invented by modern Chinese. From government to business, from aeronautics to football, from the Olympics to the Internet, television, cinema, telephone, aeroplanes, trains, cars, expressways, Coca Cola, leather shoes, credit cards, rock music, insurance... none of these originated from China.
All China's inventions are confined to the ancient world, like the four great inventions. What the world knows about China is largely irrelevant today, for example Confucius, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, pandas, kungfu. As for dumplings, lanterns, Chinese New Year which are still part of Chinese life, they are relevant only to China. Is there any Chinese invention that has been shared with the world? Oh yes, Chinese food. But even that was not invented by modern Chinese, and to the rest of the world is merely a novelty and has not become an indispensable part of modern life.
A modern Chinese is like an athlete with drive and ability. He may excel in a sport, but he did not invent the sport nor the rules. If he is frustrated, he protests to no avail as he does not control any aspect of the sport. True victory is when everyone plays the game you invented, even when you are not the best player yourself. China has not had this type of victory in a long time.
In the glorious past, China enjoyed such victories. Even when the Manchu invaded China, they ended up playing China's game. Today, China has to play other countries' games. Winning someone else's game is of no real significance. This is why Chinese people are depressed today. But depression is better than numbness, for at least we won't falsely believe that just being the best at someone else's game makes the game ours.
Reflecting on our shortcomings can make us cautious and smarter about choosing our future direction. We should compete not in quantity but in quality. Most importantly, we should start inventing again. The great civilisations of all times led the way with their inventions, and the same holds true today. The Chinese people should not be content to be followers or even champions, but to be pioneers, designers, leaders. We should be like the ancient Chinese who could hold their heads high, whether or not they won.
If one day, modern Chinese invented a game (whether in politics, economics, culture or anything else) which the whole world not only plays enthusiastically but must play, that would be something. However there are no signs that this will happen soon, so we should be modest for now.