China should promote a Chinese cultural renaissance and handle cross-strait issues with benevolence if it wants to be a great world power, according to former premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄).
Liu said British historian Arnold J. Toynbee predicted that the only human civilizations that could save the world in the 21st century were the Chinese civilization of Confucianism and the Buddhist civilization of Mahayana Buddhism.
However, Liu said Toynbee’s prediction could not come true unless today’s China made a great contribution to global cultural development.
“While China has emerged as an economic powerhouse and is the world’s largest manufacturing center and consumer market, it will not be able to command the same stature or influence as Britain in the 19th century and America in the 20th century if it fails to contribute greatly to human civilization and culture,” Liu said in his capacity as president of the National Cultural Association at a function held on Friday at the Presidential Office.
Liu suggested that China follow the principles of “benevolent rule” preached by Chinese philosopher Mencius (孟子) (372-289 BC), arguably the most famous Confucianist after Confucius (孔子) himself.
Moreover, China should initiate a Chinese cultural renaissance and draw on the essence of traditional Chinese culture while learning from the fusion of ancient and modern cultures and Eastern and Western civilizations, Liu said.
On President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) appeal in his 2010 New Year’s Day speech that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should seek a pragmatic and feasible solution to their disputes on the basis of traditional Chinese culture, Liu said the first step toward that goal is to address cross-strait issues with a benevolent way of thinking.
Liu cited a media report published during negotiations between Taiwan and China on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) earlier this year to underscore the importance of Mencius’ philosophy of “benevolent rule” in dealing with Taiwan-China affairs.
According to the report, some Chinese officials found Taiwan’s call for China to yield further -concessions under the ECFA’s early harvest program annoying.
However, under a benevolent mind-set, Liu said, justice, righteousness or fairness should always take precedence over unilateral interests.
For its part, Liu said, Taiwan can play the role of vanguard and catalyst in the pursuit of a Chinese cultural renaissance.
As an immigrant society, Taiwan is inclusive and innovative in its cultural development and it can use those assets to help shape new rules of the game for the 21st century, such as how to deal with international disputes with benevolence and devise ways to ensure sustainable development, he added.