Yan Xuetong: How China Can Defeat America

Yan Xuetong, professor of political science and dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, writes in the New York Times that ancient Chinese philosophy may hold the answer to who wins the race for global supremacy, and offers suggestions for how Beijing can get a leg up in the race:

The Chinese government claims that the political leadership of the Communist Party is the basis of China’s economic miracle, but it often acts as though competition with the United States will be played out on the economic field alone. And in America, politicians regularly attribute progress, but never failure, to their own leadership.

Both governments must understand that political leadership, rather than throwing money at problems, will determine who wins the race for global supremacy.

Many people wrongly believe that China can improve its foreign relations only by significantly increasing economic aid. But it’s hard to buy affection; such “friendship” does not stand the test of difficult times.

How, then, can China win people’s hearts across the world? According to ancient Chinese philosophers, it must start at home. Humane authority begins by creating a desirable model at home that inspires people abroad.

This means China must shift its priorities away from economic development to establishing a harmonious society free of today’s huge gaps between rich and poor. It needs to replace money worship with traditional morality and weed out political corruption in favor of social justice and fairness.