Superior versus Civilized

September 17, 2010

In The American Spectator (11-25-09), George H. Wittman wrote China Wins saying, “The Chinese believe they are superior to the United States – and every other country.”

I admit that there may be some truth to Wittman’s opinion. 

However, he uses the wrong word.  The Chinese believe they are more civilized and there may be some truth in that too since most Westerners do not follow the teachings of Confucius, which after 2500 years is embedded in China’s DNA.

If you have read the Qianlong Emperor’s letter from 1793 to King George saying China needed nothing from the rest of the world, you might understand better.

“Should your vessels touch the shore, your merchants will assuredly never be permitted to land or to reside there, but will be subject to instant expulsion. In that event your barbarian merchants will have had a long journey for nothing.”

The key is the word “barbarian”.  When you call someone a barbarian, you are inferring that they are not civilized.

In fact, the Chinese did consider the rest of the world barbarians because Westerners did not behave properly according to the way most Chinese are taught.

A Difference of Opinion

Answer these questions correctly and you may understand why the Chinese might believe they are more civilized.

1. Who started two wars with China in the 19th century to even a trade imbalance by forcing the emperor to allow opium to be sold to his people?

2. When Sun Yat-sen asked for help from the Western democracies at a time when China was in chaos and anarchy while millions starved and died, what was the response?

3. Who invented gunpowder, paper, the printing press and the compass?

4. Who values gaining an education more than most cultures on the earth?

The final answer depends on your point of view. Many westerners may see abortion and the death sentence as a sign of barbarity even though most Chinese do not.

On the other hand, the Chinese tend to stay out of debt and save money while younger Chinese show respect for the elders.

See The Opium Wars


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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