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6 Aug, 2013

China People’s Daily: Time to break the hegemony of western discourse

Edited and translated by Zhang Qian, People's Daily Online

(People’s Daily Online), August 05, 2013 – Reading the recent policy speeches of western leaders might create the impression that most of the content concerns the domestic economy, the management of which is indeed a current and pressing task. However, closer inspection reveals an ongoing insistence on promoting ‘western values’ to the world. What lies behind this is not the objective of promoting values, but the intention of controlling other countries and maximizing western interests.

U.S. President Obama announced in the January speech of his second term: “We will support all democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and conscience drive us to act for those who yearn for freedom.” Note that he put “interests” ahead of “conscience”.

The West regularly employs the tactic of paying “democracy activists”, who show their “conscience”, by creating waves of discontent in our processes, the objective being to realize the dream of “beating the enemy without fighting”. Western think-tankers have concluded that the Soviet Union is now destabilized by such waves to a very great degree. We must therefore be vigilant about this strategy, and never become confused by what purports to be friendly advice. Of course this should not prevent us from opening ourselves up and learning from what is positive in the west.

The current situation can be beneficial from our point of view. It can be separated into what is real and what is virtual. In terms of the real, the United States has fought two terrible wars and is now embroiled in economic problems; Europe is still mired in its sovereign debt crisis.

In terms of the virtual, three decades ago concepts like “democracy”, “human rights” and “freedom” carried a halo of sanctity, and the non-western world did indeed look up to them as it struggled with its economic problems; a few people even began to regard them as precepts. But more than 30 years have passed, the halo is fading, and people are increasingly driven to ask: How can the situation in the western countries be so bad if western democracy is so good? Why are things still such a mess after a variety of “color revolutions” in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan? Such questions provoke deep reflection.

The conditions now exist that allow us to challenge the hegemony of western discourse with our own independent systems of discourse. For many years there has been an ongoing refrain that China’s political reform is failing. No matter how things have changed, no matter what successes have been achieved, China can never meet the demanding standards of the USA.

This is a typical example of western discourse hegemony, to which some of us are willing to enslave ourselves. China is China, and why should China need to turn into the United States? This is something that will never happen. China’s chosen path, its theories, its system will be welcomed by and win the support of its people if they can bring about the great revival of the Chinese nation.

Lin Yifu worked for several years in the World Bank. He has told reporters that while he once hoped to gain expertise from the west to help China’s economy to develop, eventually he came to realize that the west is far from perfect, and that many countries and regions have succeeded in achieving development without slavishly adopting the methods of the west. Clearly, economy and political structures share common features. Success will come to those who have a clear view, independence of thought, and the capacity to summarize learnings and achieve steady improvement. As with individuals, so with countries.

The time has come for China to demonstrate the worth of its own values. Let us go ahead and do it!

Read the Chinese version: 打破西方话语霸权正当时; source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition, author: Zhan Dexiong