Francesco Sisci to Norman Bailey: China is Western but not Western
Norman I think you are asking the real question of questions, as Thomas Aquinas would say. The answer is somewhat confusedin my mind. In a very small way, as this is the point I was trying to address in my booklet “A Brave New China.”
China now resembles more the “West” than its own past. In many external aspects it is more western than India, Thailand or Japan. Women do not wear qipao (which incidentally was Manchu) unlike Indian or Japanese women, who still wearing saris or kimonos, for instance.
However the Chinese think of themselves, their present and their future is still taken from their imperial histories. This creates a strange mix of misinterpretation and misrepresentation of their reality as well as the reality out of China. That is mother of their own mistakes.
They are saved, I think, by the fact that America and Europe also misinterpret and misrepresent themselves because of what of the list of faults that you, Norman, published.
Are we the enlightened ones, while all peoples are in the dark? Even if so, our light would be no use, in a world of blindness, sight is the worst enemy, to be eradicated.
But I honestly think that for the West or for China this mix or “being and not being” (say in China: being “Western”, but in a way that the west never really was) is constantly changing. This is very, very hard for anybody to pin down.
Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox