Seminar in Warsaw: Professor Zhang Lihua, How China's Traditional Core Values Affect Chinese Foreign Policy

prof_Z._Lihua_14On 11st July 2012 Insitute of Interantional Realtions and Centre for Contmeporary India Reserach and Studies IIR organized seminar dedicated to:

How China's Traditional Core Values Affect Chinese Foreign Policy with Professor Zhang Lihua, Institute of International Studies, Tsinghua University, Deputy Director of Research Centre for China-EU Relations.

In the seminar participated: prof. Jan Rowiński, prof. Mirosław Sułek, dr Bogusław Zaleski, dr Dorota Heidrich, dr Karina Jędzrzejowska, dr Bogusław Lackoroński, dr Justyna Nakonieczna, dr Anna Solarz, dr Paula Marcinkowska, dr Jakub Zajączkowski, dr Rafał Ulatowski, Piotr Kozłowski MA, Barbara Regulska MA, Bartłomiej Zgliński MA, Aleksandra Jaskólska MA, Khushboo Sharma


prof_Z._Lihua_2 Abstract of the paper:

Why should I talk about this topic? Because there are some major differences on international issues between China and Western countries, for example, Syria, Iran, Libya and on the policies regarding Africa, China has vetoed the UN Security Council resolution on Syria. These major differences cannot be sufficiently explain from the economic point of view. The differences between Chinese and Western cultural values provide a fuller explanation for the continued differences in foreign policy. The fundamental principles of Chinese foreign policy are based on its philosophy, world outlook and core values.

Diplomacy deals with the official relationship between countries and is based on intellectual reasoning. However, the belief and values​​ of national leaders play an important role in this process. Cultural values shape the psychology and identity of a country. These values have an important influence on state leaders in choosing their foreign policies.

It has been 30 years since the "Opening Up" of China. In this time period, China has learned from the cultural values of the West, for example, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, freedom and so on, putting them into practice. But China's traditional core values still play a significant role in China's politics and society, affecting especially its foreign policy. To understand Chinese foreign policy, one must first understand China's cultural values​​.
prof_Z._Lihua_6I. What are China's Traditional Harmony Thought?

Chinese traditional Hexie (Harmony) thought is a completely system of thought, it not only has a system of values, but also has a world outlook and methodology.

It  including:

A kind of world outlook and methodology —Taiji Philosophy and Yin Yang  dialectics
A kind of system of values —Harmony, Benevolence, Justice, Comity, Wisdom, Honesty, Loyalty, and Filial Piety.
A kind of value target— Harmony between human and nature; Harmony between human and society;  Harmony between person to person; Harmony human  self body and mind.
The value system of harmony including: Harmony (Hexie), Benevolence, Justice, Comity, Wisdom, Honesty, Loyalty, and Filial Piety. Among these, the most important core value is Hexie (Harmony).

The English word "Harmony" does not truly express the meaning of the Chinese word "Hexie." The word Hexie in Chinese does not only means peace. It does not mean that there are no contradictions, struggles, or conflicts. It does not mean neutrality and unprincipled compromise. Hexie(Harmony) means that things are coordinated appropriately and are well-proportioned, means reasonable and appropriate. For example, music with the appropriate tone and symmetry is called tuneful. Art with colors that are appropriate and well-proportioned is referred to as "color harmony." The word Hexie may be similar to the English word "appropriate."

II. How China's Traditional Harmony Value ​​Reflected in Chinese Foreign Policy?

The traditional Chinese harmony value is clearly reflected in China's foreign policy. They are embodied in the Chinese diplomatic principles and in the Chinese leaders' behavior and speech.  They are shown in the following aspects:

1. Harmony and Diversity
2. Big countries should respect small countries
3. "The highest place is not the safest roost"
4. Reasonable struggle
5. Building a Harmonious World

In summary, Chinese foreign policy is quite different from the power politics of "the law of the jungle." It provides us with a new idea to help solve international conflicts. The Chinese value of harmony will contribute to world peace.

Culture is the face and soul of a nation. Chinese culture is based on human relationships. It emphasizes self-cultivation, concern for family, love for one's country, and care for the world. Chinese people not only practice these principles on themselves but also extend beyond that, showing deep feelings of brotherhood and compassion. Because of this kind of national culture, China has chosen the road of peaceful development, striving for an internal harmonious society and an external harmonious world. We hope people all over the world will live by the same values of freedom, equality, harmony, and happiness. We can then share the same results of peace and development.


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