A single flower doesn’t make spring: lessons from China to build a modern civilization by 2048

By Prof. Samitha Hettige

The Sri Lankan civilisation has approx 26 centuries of written records. Some others go beyond to Ravana’s aeronautics. It wasn’t a smooth sail but SL gained energy & colour with contributions from Indian, Chinese, Persian, Arab & the western civilisations since colonisation in 1505. Those inputs made new traditions which will experience mixing & change during the journey towards 2048 & after. Napoleon said “states should consider its geography to decide their course” while Lee Kuan Yew was concerned about “the demography of to steer the state safe”. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is also on a journey towards 2049 to build a moderately prosperous socialist country when it celebrates its centenary. China is governed by the Communist Party of China. Chairman Mao & his successors not only read theory but operated with ground reality. That’s a big lesson for leftists in SL. Chinese leftists worked hard to build a super power. It was vice versa in SL with most political forces including the leftists.

President Xi Jinping recently spoke of the course of Chinese civilisation. This note is to update readers on that & to pay tribute to the Chinese leader on his birthday which falls in mid June (Ref Chinese sources). At a meeting on cultural inheritance & development President Xi stressed the efforts to create a new culture for the times with unwavering cultural confidence, a profound sense of mission and a spirit of relentless endeavor, as they called for deepening understanding in cultural building to inject impetus into national rejuvenation. He wished for a Chinese civilization which features consistency, originality, unity, inclusivity and peacefulness. President Xi promoted China’s development which will also contribute Chinese wisdom to the development of the world (Ref. Chinese sources).

It is interesting to study how China worked with all civilisations which influenced Great China. Even with most western civilisations which humiliated the Chinese for over 500 years (some continue displaying their inability to compete), the Chinese never gave up. India gained independence from the British in 1947. Portugal & France were still occupying parts of India (Goa & Pondicherry). Few years later Prime Minister Nehru ordered Indian Armed Forces to take control of those areas. Western powers released controls without a conflict. Some analysts believe that western powers even tolerated the nationalist movement of Mahathma Gandhi to prevent communism infiltrating into India.

The PRC was established in 1949. Although SL recognized PRC soon after 1949, many states didn’t & it took many years even for the United Nations to recognize new China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. By 1949, Britain, Portugal & even France were influencing China in the south. Due to committed leadership & the focused population, China used the energy of those who humiliated China to fast track development. If China took Nehru’s path & forced occupiers out, the west would have never tolerated the way they tolerated India (as it was communist China). Some believe that when SL signed the Rubber Rice Pact with China, the US was worried & send Richard Nixon to test the waters. Looking back, Hong Kong which was under British till 1997 is now one of the safest places to do business in the world. It’s a platform for the English speaking world to trade with the east. Macao which was controlled by Portugal till 1999 has developed a Casino industry seven times larger than the same in Las Vegas, USA (Ref. Chinese sources). It is also the point which connects the Portuguese speaking economies in South America etc. with the Chinese civilisation. The Chinese civilisation flourished on the bed rock of Buddhism. Still it had the strength to absorb energy from others while maintaining its identity & the course. India acts same even though historic facts prove that the Buddha was born in Great India (Nepal at present). SL should work with all cultures to be a global player while maintaining core values on its way towards 2048. Sri Lankans should know that Buddhist philosophy is an international tool. People to people exchanges have made important contributions to promote global development. It shall be the base to build a community with a shared future for mankind.


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