"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
7 China’s Giant History in Brief9 China’s Giant History in BriefChina’s Giant History in BriefChapter 6: The Big Cycle of China and Its Currency2020-10-09Journal
I tell this one story to share with you one Chinese leader’s perspective on the risk of wars and to also give one example of the many interactions I’ve had with this leader and of the many interactions I’ve had with many Chinese leaders and Chinese people in order to help you see them through my eyes and also to help you see the issues through their eyes.
To understand how Chinese people, especially Chinese leaders, think and what they value, it is as important to understand their history and the values and philosophies that have resulted from generations experiencing that history and reflecting on it. Their history and the philosophies that have come from them, most importantly their Confucian-Taoist-Legalist-Marxist philosophies, have a much bigger effect on how Chinese people, and especially Chinese leaders, think than America’s history and its Judeo-Christian-European philosophical roots have on Americans’ thinking. That is because the Chinese, especially their leaders, pay so much attention to history to learn from it. For example, Mao, like most other Chinese leaders, was a voracious reader of history and philosophy, wrote poetry, and practiced calligraphy—e.g., I was told by an esteemed Chinese historian that Mao read Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance, the mammoth 294-volume-long chronicle of China’s history that covers around 16 dynasties and 1,400 years of Chinese history, from around 400 BC to 960 AD, and the even more mammoth Twenty-Four Histories several times as well as numerous other volumes about Chinese history and writings of non-Chinese philosophers, most importantly Marx. I’m told that his favorite book was Zuo Tradition, which focuses on political, diplomatic, and military affairs in a “relentlessly realistic style”\[2\] in the period from 722 BC to 468 BC, because the lessons it offered were so relevant to what he was encountering. He also wrote and spoke philosophically. If you haven’t read anything he wrote and are interested in how he thought, I suggest you read “On Practice,” “On Contradiction,” and of course The Little Red Book, which is a compendium of his quotations on a number of subjects, which I only had time to skim but was impressed by. It is interesting and informative in ways that are relevant today.\[3\]