How Huawei Is Leading 5G Development
China just landed on the far side of the moon: What comes next?
Clearly human rights, democracy, and decentralization are not prerequisites for advancement in economy, technology, and standard of living.
China’s been growing so quickly in so many ways that people in the West literally can’t keep up. This isn’t even just because of wilful blindness. It takes time for changes to be processed by people, for their full implications to propagate throughout society. China is still seen as a country that mass manufactures cheap goods and just copies everything America makes, even though they’ve been innovating in engineering and construction for decades now and just might beat American tech companies at 5G.
China has achieved great things and has benefited from a strong tailwind provided by its long history, studious culture and large population. There is much America and the rest of the world can learn from China, and we should expect China to continue progressing at a dazzling rate, and to eventually surpass America.
History is bigger than us. The fate of nations, their rising and falling, cannot be understood in terms of the present by itself, nor can it be done just with high level political analysis. All of these fools in America thinking the world would just magically become an eternal democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union never really stopped to think about the fundamental nature of human societies and the unbelievably strong cultural inertia that permeates other countries. Perhaps because America is so young, and has been constantly changing in all this time, we have no appreciation for just how hard it is to make something that lasts and is sustainable in the largest sense.
America has existed since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, 243 years ago at the time of this writing. What do we know of tradition, of consistency, of preservation, revival from catastrophe? We talk about our history as if our entire system has persevered untarnished since the moment of its creation. Such a perspective neglects the significant changes that have emerged over time. In the early years of our republic, most people did not have the right to vote. You had to be a white man who owned land to vote, and even then the states had no constitutional obligation to choose their electors for president based on how the people of the state voted. Family structure, cultural patterns, and national identity have gone through warps and changes over the years following the emancipation of slaves and mass immigration into the country. America has been a rocking boat since the moment it was first created. Where is there any sense of consistency or tradition in there? Just how united by country and fate are we?
The thing that impresses me the most when I contemplate China’s history is its sheer resilience to catastrophe. Initially I studied the civil war and the Japanese invasion, and then the Century of Humiliation before it. How many countries can undergo a hundred years of colonial plundering, mass opium addiction, uprisings, an invasion by a militarily superior enemy, years of fragmentation and local warlord reign, topped off by a bloody civil war, and then rise out of the ashes to become one of the most powerful countries in history only a few generations later? Tens of millions of people died in the Taiping rebellion, the Japanese invasion, the civil war. The entire landmass was thrown into disarray for two generations after the collapse of the Qing dynasty. Why on Earth is there still a China? How on Earth did it come back together after all of that and preserve its culture and a rough approximation of its old governing structure to the modern day? Even after this crisis it went through nearly three decades of Communist terror and a deliberate attempt to destroy its old culture during the Cultural Revolution. Clearly it didn’t work. China is all the Chinese people had for so long. There is no alternative for them.
I can tell you one thing, if America faced a century of imperialism, uprisings, invasion, and civil war, there would be no more America. Maybe the idea would live on, the idea of individual liberty and people deciding their own fate. But the nation, the identity, the culture, would fragment and disintegrate.
China, in comparison, eats famines, invasions, and civil wars for breakfast, and has done so for millennia. It’s not easy for me to understand why that is. Francis Fukuyama definitely didn’t understand that when he thought that this cultural and historical behemoth would simply be another vessel of democracy. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to understand that. It’s definitely indicative that Chinese civilization has some really good things going for it. Not just any system, not just any culture and political philosophy can keep itself around for millennia. History has no shortage of cultures and civilizations that were completely eradicated even after surviving for over a thousand years.
This is a visualization of China’s history (most of it, the early Xia and Shang dynasties are not included).