Thursday, April 28, 2011

221. The Hip of US-China Relations

In USA Today, January 19, 2011, Lewis M. Simons, published his article, U.S.-China relations: a newfound maturity. According to him, the United States and China will be "likely to pay mutual respect to each others' countries while acknowledging a reality at times irritating to both: that the United States and China — even though they are destined to bicker and disagree — are joined at the hip."

I totally agree with him upon this point. What I want to add humbly to his strong argument is that we need to find the origin of the hip of the relations between the two nations, that will decide what kind of world we and coming generations are going to live in this and coming centuries.

If you read this blog and Dr. Dave Wang's publications on United States founders and China, you won't have any difficulties to understand the meaning and the intention when the founders worked hard to borrow positive elements from China and worked hard to establish direct relations with the Empire. The hip was made right there in North America during the formative age of the United States.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

220. Reaching out to China in the Era of the Mongol Empire

The Europeans started to reach out to China during the Mongol Empire, called Yuan Dynasty from 1271 to 1368 in China, John of Plano Carpini(ca 1182-1252) was sent to convert the Mongols to Christianity by the Pope in 1245. He returned to Europe in 1247. He talked something about China. However, he did not reach China. What he described about China was based on what he heard. He told that China “very rich in corn, in wine, gold, silver, silk and in every kind of produce that tends to the support of mankind.” (Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, Cathy and the Way Thither, Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, pp.157-8.)

William of Rubruquis (c 1220-c1293), also did not step on the soil of China. However he met some Chinese at Karakorum, the Capital of the Mongol Empire. He told his personal impression on the Chinese: “They are first-rate artists in every kind of craft, and their physicians have a thorough knowledge of the virtues of herbs, and an admirable skill in diagnosis by the pulse.” (Ibid. pp.159.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

219. Chinese Influence on Modern American Culture

I have found an online essay discussing Chinese cultural influence on modern American culture. The author identified Chinese influence in some areas, such as cuisine, remedies, spirituality, aesthetics and language. According to the author, Chinese immigrants have brought “unique food tradition” to the United States since 1820.

Traditional Chinese medicine is getting more popular in the United States. As a result, nowadays, many insurance plans cover acupuncture. More modern American designers and architects have embraced feng shui--a popular system of Chinese aesthetics on improving your living and working environment. More is available from this link.

Monday, April 18, 2011

218. From Benjamin Franklin to President Obama

It seems too far jumping from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the great founder of this great nation, to President Obama, elected in 2008. However, the tradition started by Franklin has been well preserved and continuted by our president who has a great vision as great as the founder's.

I have been impressed by the news that First Lady Michelle Obama promoted recently at Howard University President Barack Obama's One-Hundred-Thousand Strong initiative, a national effort to increase dramatically the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China.

We know that Franklin at his senior age once told one of his friends that he would go to China if he were young. Clearly, Franklin would be extremely happy if he had known that thousands of young Americans will study in China.

"That’s why it is so important for more of our young people to live and study in each other’s countries," Mrs. Obama said. "That’s how, student by student, we develop that habit of cooperation, by immersing yourself in someone else’s culture, by sharing your stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us. More available from this link.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

217. Before Marco Polo

What did West know about China before Marco Polo?

China was called Serica by the ancient Romans. Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) mentioned the silk production. It is believed that Theophylactus Simocatta was the first author on China. China was described as a "large, powerful, and rich country with a thriving commerce."

The emperor's (Tang Emperor Taizong, reigned 626-649)women "go forth in chariots made of gold, with one ox to draw them, while the women of the chief nobles use silver chariots." (Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, Cathay and the Way Thither, Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, London, 1913-16)Generally speaking, the idea, China as a rich country, dominated Western images of China for many centuries.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

216. Chinese Infuence in the West

The late Professor Derk Bodde designed a teaching workbook for the Committee on Asian Studies in American Education. He outlined the Chinese cultural influence on the Western ideas. In July 1948, Professor Howard E. Wilson, Chairman, Committee on Asiatic Studies in American Education recommended the teaching workbook in the following,

It is more important today than ever before that men of all cultures understand themselves, understand other cultures, and understand the interchange and expansion of ideas which have created a common denominator of all civilization. Unless that understanding can be gained and used as a basis for wise action, the nations of the modern world may destroy themselves and civilization as we know it." Then he suggested everyone to benefit from “the gifted pen of Derk Bodde.”

Professor Wilson stated that Professor Bodde's opinion is addressed "to all who are interested in where our ideas came from and in the contributions of China to our civilization. The article will be useful for classes in literature, in science, in history, and in civics, and for the general reader." Please learn from Professor Bodde's Chinese Ideas in the West.