Chapter 5China: The Seekers of Harmony

China is fast emerging as a major player of the twenty-first century. The palpable shift of power can be seen in the delicacy with which American leaders handle sensitive issues for China, the increasing weight given to the country in various global forums, and the anxiety with which both Americans and Europeans pursue Chinese investment to support their indebted economies. More prosaically, if you visit Harrods or Selfridges in London or Bloomingdales in New York, you will be surprised at the sheer number of Chinese people buying Western luxury brands. The quintessential English boarding school, Roedean—renowned in the past for turning out well-heeled English ladies for the upper echelons of British society—now has a substantial student body from China.

Outside the country, the prospect of China's rise elicits emotions that are at best ambivalent but, if you scratch the surface, shade into anxiety and concern. This motivates people to look for weaknesses in the China story. This is partially because Chinese people and the country appear more opaque and unpredictable than a lot of other major global cultures. Historically, China has been an introverted country that set itself apart and held an internal image of superiority over other nations. Even when they do go abroad, Chinese students at university tend to keep to themselves. There is often a Chinatown in many major cities of the world that sets the community apart. This sense of separation ...

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