"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."

-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
1 The Culture War3 The Culture WarThe Culture WarChapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars2020-10-18JournalTo be clear, most of these differences aren’t obvious in day-to-day life; they generally aren’t very important relative to the shared beliefs that Americans and the Chinese have, which are numerous, and they aren’t held by all Chinese or all Americans, which is why many Americans are comfortable living in China and vice versa.  Also, they are not pervasive.  For example, the Chinese in other domains such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have governance systems that are more like Western democratic systems.  Still these cultural differences subtly affect most everything, and in times of great conflict, they are the defining differences that determine whether the parties fight or peacefully resolve their disputes.  The main challenge the Chinese and Americans have with each other arises from some of them failing to understand and empathize with the other’s values and ways of doing things, and not allowing each other to do what they think is best. While the openings up of both countries have increased their interactions and their increasingly shared practices (e.g., their similar economic freedoms that produce similar desires, products, and outcomes) have made both environments and their people much more similar than they ever were, the differences in approaches are still notable.  They are reflected regularly in how the government and the people within each country interact with each other and how Americans and the Chinese interact especially at the leader-to-policy-maker level.  Some of these cultural difference are minor and some of them are so major that many people would fight to the death over them—e.g., most Americans believe “give me liberty or give me death” while individual liberty isn’t nearly as important to the Chinese as collective stability is. Continue reading…