My Perspective on Being Chinese


By Paul Chong      Tuesday, 10 September 2013

English: Ethnolinguistic groups of China.
English: Ethnolinguistic groups of China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Western concept, it is presumed that as a country progresses & modernises, it becomes Westernised. China is different & unique – it can never become like the West.

For thousands of years with marauding thundering of conquering barbarians, the Han Chinese was never subdued. No culture has been able to superimpose upon the lives of the Han Chinese in changing them in anyway. Ironically, the reverse happened and instead the conquerers became “sinicized” – that is becoming Chinese as in the case of the Manchus who despite having ruled China for hundreds of years, they were adjusting, adapting & adopting the Chinese way of life.

Chinese character Han
Chinese character Han

China is indeed a multi-cultural nation comprising some 55 ethnic minority groups – distinctively practising & preserving their individual cultures, distinctive & unique in China maintaining their own traditions, distinctive costumes & languages. Each displays & contributes to the mix of the greater Chinese nation. The crux of multiculturalism in China is distinct & unique, there is truly a scenario of diversity in unity. People irrespective of their place of birth are proud to be Chinese.

The question of “Sinicization” is a difficult concept to be understood by the West. It’s alien . . . for most Westerners are a composite mix of cultures, like the British or the Americans, dominant as they are. It is no less so with the Europeans. Ironically, even with the conquerers (e.g. the Romans) the dominance of their cultures strangely disappeared with the passage of time.

English: In recent years, young Chinese are tr...

 In recent years, young Chinese are trying to revive traditional en:Han Chinese clothing (汉服运动) using internet-based forums. A few Han Chinese clothing gatherings both within China and overseas were organized. Han clothing was lost for 267 years as a result of the Manchu subjugation of China, which lasted from 1644 to 1911.

According to Wikipedia, “Sinicization, Sinicisation or Sinification, ( Mandarin: 汉化 Hànhuà), also called Chinalization (Mandarin: 中国化 Zhōngguóhuà), is a process whereby non-Han Chinese societies come under the influence of dominant Han Chinese state and society. Areas of influence include alphabet, diet, economics, industry, language, law, lifestyle, politics, religion, sartorial choices, technology, culture, and cultural values. More broadly, “Sinicization” may refer to policies of acculturation, assimilation, or cultural imperialism of neighbouring cultures to China, depending on historical political relations. This is reflected in the histories of Korea, Vietnam and Japan in the East Asian cultural sphere, for example, in the adoption of the Chinese writing system.”

Han Chinese people

In the world today, where population mobility on a global scale is so dominant because of wars, social upheavals, economic changes & circumstances, political & economic refugees, it is difficult to stay pure & dominant as a race. The United States of America is the best example of the melting pot of cultures.

This is openly followed by United Kingdom & such European countries as Belgium, Holland in their practices of multi-culturalism through integration or nationalism. However, they find themselves to be confronted with the huge problem of non-integration, separatism & polarisation in respect mainly of religious differences. That religious polarisation is generating towards possible future political force.

Japan in its attempt to a stay closely-knit society is not accepting foreign immigration, but it’s only a small country in terms of population number.

The integration policy is a type of nationalism aimed at strengthening of the Chinese identity among some other 55 minority population. Proponents believe integration will help to develop shared values, pride in being the country’s citizen, respect and acceptance towards cultural differences among citizens of China. In China there are 292 non-Mandarin languages spoken by minority peoples of the region. There are also a number of immigrant languages, such as Khmer, Portuguese, English, etc.

Historical past reveal sinicization of many examples as with the Turkic peoples, descendants of Uyghurs and the Hui population. They were all largely assimilated into the Han culture, practising Chinese customs and speaking Mandarin as their language.

In a huge country like China of great diversity, the teaching of Mandarin as the national language is the strongest singular population unifying factor. Different & various dialects may abound but everybody speaks & understands Mandarin.

The best example of sinicization undoubtedly happened with the Manchu during the Qing Dynasty. They originally had their own separate style of naming from the Han Chinese, but eventually adopted Han Chinese naming practices.

Manchu names consisted of more than the two or one syllable Chinese names, and when phonetically transcribed into Chinese, they made no sense at all. The meaning of the names that Manchus used were also very different from the meanings of Chinese names. The Manchus also gave numbers as personal names.

They gave their children Chinese names which were separate from the Manchu names, and even adopted the Chinese practice of generation names, although its usage was inconsistent and error ridden, eventually they stopped using Manchu names.

The Niohuru family of the Manchu changed their family name to Lang, which sounded like “wolf” in Chinese, since wolf in Manchu was Niohuru.

Usage of surnames was not traditional to the Manchu while it was to the Han Chinese.

Our Western friends always have this to comment with the way & ease we switch code (language) when speaking to each other. We apparently have the dexterity & affinity with language code. For example, foreigners are often fascinated to notice a good mixture of dialects & languages in our speech . . . all in one sentence. Perhaps Chinese brains work differently & even uniquely.

The greatness of a nation lies in its ability to stand tall & erect absolutely unaffected & diminished by outside invasions despite its thousand of years of isolation. This testifies the notion & concept of “survival of the fittest.”

Soundly geographical, the sun always set in the West & gloriously rises in the East. With the sun setting, the world goes to sleep. However, each morning when the sun rises activities stir & economy grows.

As they say in the Grand Prix race, when your car stalls others roar . . . speed must be maintained to avoid a stall and loss of control.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Eric X Li – “A Tale of Two Political Systems”

Eric X Li's Screen Shot

 It’s interesting to lend two attentive ears to Eric Li‘s view on the meritocracy of the One-Party System of Chinese government. Then you’d be the judge & jury on the question of legitimacy, adaptabiiity, competence, transparency & meritocracy.

Then truth will set you to rethink aboutDemocracy” being the only panacea to political, economic and social ills of nations so often asserted by the western world.

China‘s “We-can-do vision” & its political will & skill has outshone all other nations in the world. It’s a system evolved over thousand of years, though not perfect, but dynamic & ever changing for the better.

It’s unique & not exportable . . . it can perhaps be duplicated with some variations as in Singapore & Vietnam.

The reality of “Chinese Dream” will dawn sooner than expected.

In the Next Ten Yea

  • China will surpass the US & become the largest economy in the world; income per capita will be near the top of all developed countries.

  • Corruption will be curbed, not eliminated, and China will move up 10-20 notches to above 60 in TI ranking.

  • Economic reform will accelerate, political reform will continue, and the one-party system will be holding firm.

It’s a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right? Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there’s more than one way to run a successful modern nation.”


Eric X Li’s “A Tale of Two Political Systems” 

YouTube Video: 20:37 mins.


China’s Leaping Achievements

History of China

By Paul Chong                                                                              Sunday, 29 November 2009  A Chinese By Descent, An Australian By Consent

President Hu Expounds China’s Views On Development

China can boast of its silk and tea culture long before any other country in the world. Even the technological plough was first discovered in China. By and large, all discoveries were directed towards peaceful use and the enrichment of life and culture, as with the gun powder. Now the world is witnessing an unprecedented quantum growth in China – all within one generation!

China Foreign Reserve    World No. 1

China Oil Consumption    World No. 2

China Trade Value              World No. 3

China Economic Output    World No. 4

Latest: China is the richest nation in the world.

‘Xiang Qian Zou’ – The Road To Riches

The Road To Riches – A Nation of Bicycles To Motor Vehicles

Of the nations in the world today, China stands out progressively tall and strong. It is as though a sleeping dragon is finally awakened. This appears to be the fear of the West. Though an economically strong China is good commercially for all the trading nations in the West, politically China poses a great threat. It is feared that “once China stands up, it won’t topple or be toppled.” That was why precisely Napoleon in his wisdom decided to let China be and not to rouse her.

In retrospect, China is undoubtedly the world’s greatest civilised nation over a continuous period of thousands of years – a civilisation undiminished and unbroken, unlike past civilisations like Egypt, Greece, or the Romans. By any reckoning, China should have by now be far more superior than the rest of the world. Why not?

Map of the “Middle Kingdom”

Of the many reasons why China did not progress beyond its initial lead in technology and discovery, the main cause of which can largely be attributed to its inward looking policy . . . viewing all territories outside the Great Wall of China and its boundaries as barbaric in nature. This nationalistic pride and closed door policy led to its seclusion, totally depriving itself from the inter-change of ideas and exposure to new scientific developments and industrial growth. While China lavished in its culture, philosophy and essentially non-materialistic form of development, it began to lag behind the West in terms of economic industrial growth. In preserving its civilisation from being tainted by corruption, disruption and deterioration, it never knew new growth, development and discoveries elsewhere in the whole wide world. The “Middle Kingdom” realised too late the encroachment of other nations upon its shores and territories. Countries like Britain, Portugal, Japan were making inroads into China through modern superior arms of war instead of its age-old “kung-fu”.

Zhejiang – Economic Zone

To grow, to progress is to change. Sentiment must give way to progress. There is no room for inhibition to changes. Change needs to take place before growth and progress can be attained. It’s attitude more than aptitude that scales the altitude. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the great former prime minister of Singapore, is credited for the great strides achieved by the City State. His visionary ideas have no room for inhibition or sentiment to change or any hindrance.

Now, what a change has come about as a result of Deng Xiao Ping’s visionary concept of “Xiang Qian Zou”. In Mandarin, it means “Forward Move”, but by replacing the middle word with the similar pronunciation, it becomes “Moving Forward With Money”. This started a great frenzy for the Chinese striving for monetary progress in all spheres of work and life. China has made a quantum leap – a country virtually with no phone to the modern technology of mobile phones! But capitalistic way of life does have its price. A single generation can witness the most remarkable change & progress. Transformation just sweeps aside all inhibition, resistance and sentiment.

Greed always breed a profound loss of goodness in mankind. Simple honesty, truth, kindness and compassion are lost in the process. The dollar sign is etched prominently on the foreheads of goal-getters. It is evident to an outside observer that the whole civilisation is transformed overnight. China, in its forward economic stride, has done away with its traditional large families, and its door is wide open to the corrupt western way of life. There is a price to be paid, for consequential results cannot be avoided.

Like most economies in the world, the road to riches often affect those who are involved, largely the urban folks, leaving behind a vast majority of the rural peasants. Even then great disparity may result among the urbanites. Encouraged by the concept of “Xiang Qian Zou” and ‘you’ve got to be in it to benefit it’, waves and tides of migrating movement are emptying the youth from the rural and pastoral areas. China is vast country where hundreds of millions of the peasant still labour and toil and are poor by comparison with the urban rich. No doubt, this is creating a set of social chaos unknown before.

Hong Kong, for instance, is a magnetic attraction for mainland Chinese. Tens of thousands cross the border which still has the immigration formality with number restrictions. In 2002 this number has been lifted and the hours of opening has even extended to 12 mid-night. This is largely due to the fact that the constant stream of exchange of people movement just keep on going growing bigger and bigger. The benefits work both ways. The affluent mainland Chinese pour money into Hong Kong, and the Hongkees likewise do the same in respect of investing in cheaper and more attractive housing in Mainland China.

On the more positive & human well being aspects, China has done itself proud by alleviating poverty for the great mass of the population. Consider this report by World Bank: “China has maintained a high growth rate for more than 30 years since the beginning of economic reform in 1978 and this growth has generated a huge increase in average living standards.

China’s sustained growth fueled historically unprecedented poverty reduction.  Based on household surveys by the World Bank, the poverty rate in China in 1981 was 63% of the population.  This rate declined to 10% in 2004, indicating that about 500 million people have climbed out of poverty during this period.’

Update & in a lighter vein:

China, now second largest economy in the world, has 19% of the world’s population, but consumes

. . . 53% of the world’s cement

. . . 48% of the world’s iron ore

. . . 47% of the world’s coal

. . . and the majority of just about every major commodity.

In 2010, China produced 11 times more steel than the United States.

New World Record: China made and sold 18 million vehicles in 2010.

China currently has the world’s fastest train and the world’s largest high-speed rail network.

China is currently the number one producer in the world of wind and solar power.

China currently controls more than 90% of the total global supply of rare earth elements.

In the past 15 years, China has moved from 14th place to 2nd place in the world in published scientific research articles.

China now possesses the fastest supercomputer on the entire globe.

 As at the end of March 2011, China has accumulated US$3.04 trillion in foreign currency reserves- the largest stockpile on the entire globe.

 Chinese consume 50,000 cigarettes every second …Not an enviable record though …

And here is the secret to the Chinese miracle: There are more pigs in China than in the next 43 pork producing nations combined.

So it is PORK that is driving China !! ENJOY YOUR PORK !

Now . . . you know why we eat “bak kut the” to be one in spirit with our China cousins.


Your comments are invited.

What problems do you envisage for China in this economic crisis?

How would the rest of the world, particularly US, react or act towards China?

What role do you think that China is likely to play on the world stage?

Do you think that China would follow the path of US & change its basic peaceful co-existence policy?

Any others?