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Politics & Law

This ‘futurist’ is wrong about China’s future


A city in China (Photo credit JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Kevin Kelly, co-founder and editor of the futuristic Wired magazine, “sees China playing a big role in our future” because, as reported by Forbes on March 19, “Kelly sees two cultural changes happening in China that are helping push the country to the point where it can have a consistent delivery of goods:

• A wider acceptance of failure as a means of learning
• The questioning of assumptions and authority …”

Another Forbes report dated March 7 suggests that “China 2.0” will have the following features, namely, “Moving up the value chain”, “from a mass-producer to a quality-master”, “looking to grow into an innovative, efficient and highly skilled economic powerhouse”, “R&D funds to 10 strategic industries” etc.

While I am optimistic about China’s economic and technological progress, I have repeatedly suggested that China has not yet completed its cultural transformation. The two so-called “cultural changes” mentioned by Kelly are necessary but not sufficient conditions for this purpose. The change “from a mass-producer to a quality-master” can only turn China to become another Japan or Germany at most.

The path for China to become a meaningfully contributive nation for mankind is not to repeat what the OECD countries did after the WWII. Instead, being persistently conscious of its history of living as a Third World country, China as a ‘socialist’ regime is going to lead the world into a stage with both diligent and vigilant senses of responsibility for the Earth. It is not about reckless consumption, nor satisfaction of the endless need for convenience and comfort. It is about a balanced living mode on Earth. It is also a life in line with Nietzsche’s call for the responsibility for self.

Having learnt from the past mistakes, Xi Jinping’s vision statement in Oct 2017, as noticed by Bloomberg, had “89 mentions of the ‘Environment’, just 70 of the ‘Economy’.” The transformation China is going through, but not yet completed, is the “harmonious co-existence between man and nature” and that is why Beijing is working hard to “encourage simple, moderate, green and low-carbon ways of life, and oppose extravagance and excessive consumption.”

And this is about culture — a mindset and a common habitual behavior among the majority of the people, not about science or innovation which are advancing too unnecessarily fast.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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