If we want to understand what's happening in Africa we have to understand China. If we want to understand what is happening on the islands in the Western Pacific we have to understand China. If we want to understand the energy and auto markets we have to understand China. If we want to understand global economic shifts we have to understand China.
Most Americans have grown up with little understanding of China -- and much of what we learned in school was or is inaccurate information filtered through a simplistic cold war lens. IOW, we have a lot of catching up to do.
A few days ago I linked to a good concise article in The Atlantic, "The nine nations of China."
The LA Times has a new article on Understanding China that should be a part of our China 101 reading list, too. Here's a short summary:
The issue here is much deeper than Western-style democracy, a free media or human rights. China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just shaped by markets, competition and technology but by history and culture. And Chinese history and culture are very different from that of any Western nation-state.Frankly, my interest is China did not start out with a deep desire to understand what is going on in the world. But over the last 30 years we've been bumping into a lot of Chinese everywhere we go -- Illinois, Washington, Texas, California, Arizona, the Islands... -- and have been enjoying the relationships. Then when we factor in the tremendous growth of the church amongst both the Chinese in China and those in dispersion around the world, it just makes sense to put some energy into understanding China.
If we want to understand China, this must be our starting point.