East Asia: culture and politics -The world on the other side

East Asia: culture and politics -The world on the other side

My name is Delong Cui based on my Chinese name 催得龙。My parents moved from Beijing, China in 1988. A month before Tiananmen Square incident took place. I was born in the states far away from the poverty and unrest of my native motherland. For 21 years I grew up with little interest in my Chinese cultural heritage. But when I turned 21 I began to take my heritage more seriously. I rejected everything western/american in my education and searched for my Chinese roots.

Ancient China is one of the world's first civilizations. They were based on the culture of the Chinese around the Yang zi river. China was considered the richest and most advanced empire in the world for almost two thousand years before the modern era. People from all over the world came to trade with and learn from the Chinese.

The civilization of my people influenced the surrounding region especially the cultures of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

(Japanese katanas (swords) were introduced by the Chinese)

(The Chinese were the first ones who thought of using paper as money in 118BC, this idea was introduced to the Europeans in 1600s)

(The crossbow was invented in Qin Dynasty China and spread to Europe)

(Rice wine was first created in China and spread to Japan. Japanese sake is just copied from Chinese 黄酒 huang jiu)

(the gameboard of Go (weiqi 围棋)originated in China)

Another Chinese invention and pasttime

The full list of China's contributions to the world is quite long and beyond the scope of my post. It is not secret that in the modern era China has fallen behind the developed countries of Europe , North America, and Japan.

The formation of a republic, the adoption of Communism, and Deng's economic reforms all are China's recent efforts to catch up with the advanced countries. Currently China has made progress but not without obstacles. Rich countries like the U.S. and Japan are not used to a once poor country catching up with them in wealth and power. Although it avoids that term U.S. has partnered with China's neighbors to effectively contain China's rise. Most poignantly Japan has clung closer to the U.S. to counter its mortal enemy China.

Relations between China and Japan are particularly bad due to the legacy of Japan's atrocities in China during WW2. Unlike Hitler and the Nazis, Japan's crimes have received little attention and some japanese leaders deny they even happened. To the anger of China and Korea, japanese leaders honor the war criminals that perpetrated most of the crimes.

It is clear that if Japan does not fess up to its atrocities, there is no true peace in East Asia. However it also depends on what China and Korea want to do as well. It's important not to let memories of the past impede us from moving on into the future. Right now Japan is a dying country with an economy that has plateaued for 25 years. China and South Korea both have strong economies and can potentially surpass the japanese in the long run.

True peace in the East Asia will come from letting countries be what they are. From the point of view of Japan and America that means letting China peacefully achieve its rise. And from the point of view of China that means not blaming its problems on America or Japan. Everyone's life is their own business afterall.

I find myself to live in an exciting time. Where I can, from across the world, watch my people's glory, again to them reclaimed. For the love of all things East Asian and all things Human, I hope that it can be done peacefully.


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What Girls Said 5

  • This was very elucidating, thank you <3

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    • most of his info are wrong.

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    • I think Irish culture is interesting! Do you river dance :)

    • LOL, I don't river dance. Irish culture is dead. But thank you!

  • some chinese from china they share the same thoughts. Also till today many chinese still can't let go of what happened in the past, this was shared by some chinese whom I knew.

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    • mhm yeah, it's kind of tough but that's the mentality passed down to me so that's what I have oh well... I'm so gld you're here I was Yanggwang on my previous account.

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    • as individuals perhaps, but as a country things are still not so good between japan and china but anyway I don't want to be too negative all the time yup...

    • Yes country and country I agreed

  • Hey Delong, thank you for writing this. I understand the rejecting of western culture because it seems to water down everyone elses contributions in society. I am 19 but I have also started rejecting 'western' culture as you put it:) My heritage is African American, meaning my ancestors were Africans who were enslaved in the Americas. It is perplexing, but I sometimes feel like I dont fit into American culture and after researching, I now realize my ancestors were used to help another people 'create themselves' and form a identity... not so much to just exist. I often wore hear extensions as I thought it was my culture to but I now do not, love myself and how I was born, and will not feel shame for not being someone elses glorified image. I have now uncovered how African civilizations (Egypt, before middle easterners migrated into it) was the blue print organization for Ancient Romes and everyday inventions we now use but it is not glorified or implemented in European education as others.
    I know that was a lot, but I sincerely admire your honesty and people who really look into themselves vs trying to fit in our American mold. I would encourage you to continue looking back into your roots, I am interested in China too. The economy there is apparently leading and that is very admirable. Perhaps you will look at China's economic transitioning as well?
    Best~

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    • I am so proud of you for doing the same thing. It was a lot of mental cleansing I had to go through. Once you step back you see American culture for what it is more objectively. I think it's important to know who you're people are, where they are, and what ties them together. Africans created Egypt (Kemet in their language) which is the second oldest civilization in the world you're right. You guys have a lot of contributions I hope you learn a lot about the awesomeness and beauty of you're people and what they accomplished :)

    • I'm going to check up more about African cultures and civilzattions when I can

  • I do a lot of snail mailing with people from China, Korea, and Japan. I noticed the Chinese were very, very hostile towards Japanese and I always wondered why. Whenever I asked they said they didn't want to talk about it, but I knew it was something to do with a war. Glad I understand now. xD Great take! ^^

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    • I'm glad I can inform thanks for reading and commenting

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    • Japanese war crimes from ww2 are pretty shocking both in their nature and in scale.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women

      In comparison with german war crimes, a lot more was swept under the rug as japan was taken over by only one ally, and a lot of the senior staff signed deals for amnesty in exchange for turning over information/etc.

    • @kheserthorpe thanks for your input. I don't blame the western countries as they were overwhelmed with their own concerns at the time.

  • Most of the time, your post somehow makes me feel uncomfortable. I hope you and other people who read this do not assume all Korean and other Chinese share your point of view.

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What Guys Said 9

  • Aww come in man, why so biased?

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  • Cool take.. Seriously, China fascinates me... I've watched a lot of documentaries about China. Mostly about it's modern era (post dynasty rule) and it's tremendous economic rise. I'm hoping for a peace because right now there is tension with China not just in East Asia but also South East Asia.

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    • china was enslaved for 2000 years.

      1) chinese were the lowest class in mongol, manchu, xianbei, Khitan, Jurchen empires.
      genghis khan's law, killing a chinese = killing a donkey,
      sorry to mention this.

      Kublai Khan said: what is the use of chinese
      Sorry to mention this.

      2) jurchen was the master of china for about 100 years.
      jurchen defeated china and took two chinese kings as slaves.
      Men of chinese royal family were sold into slavery in exchange for horses with a ratio of ten men for one horse.
      Jingkang Incident - Wikipedia
      China had to call Jurchen as uncle / big uncle for over 100 years.
      The population rate was less than 1 million jurchen VS 100 millions Chinese.

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    • @letshavesex

      That is because it China went into deep crisis. After many wars it went backward. If you are expecting a country without a fund with many social problems to invent such thing as computer then you simply have unrealistic expectations.

      China lagged behind greatly so invention isn't exactly something you would expect.. In what world is that so hard to understand?

      That is why China is just developing now.. again. That takes time, it is only 30 - 50 years.. But the amazing thing is how they are eager to catch up and it's impressive.. Having the fastest and most powerful supercomputer is just an example of that.
      Another example... In the year 2012 or 2013, there was 1.2 million patents in China.

      As country progress from manufacturing based economy.. It starts to develop it's own. Because they have to or else face middle income trap.

    • China was considered an advanced country back then but obviously it is not one now although it is trying to catch up @letshavesex
      After the right time of development China can innovate as much as the other countries.

  • you are talking about Rubbish, sir

    - china was never an advanced country.
    since china invented writing only about 3000 years ago,
    so so-called 5000 years chinese civilization is a completely joke.

    you can NOT enter information age, if there is no computer, no internet.

    1) Writing
    china was the last of the "ancient" civilizations to develop writing.

    china invented writing about 3500 years ago,
    The oldest chinese oracle bones is about 3500 years.
    Oracle bone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Middle east invented writing 5000 years ago.

    European invented writing at least 7000 years ago, Vinča script.
    you can find some "chinese characters" in Vinča script.
    Example 十, 土, 干,口, 王,田.
    Vinča symbols - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Did chinese invented their own writing 3500 years later, or they copied?

    2) Iron age
    china entered Iron age 600 years later than Europe and Near East,

    At the time, European used iron tools, chinese used primitive tools.
    Iron Age - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    3) Building
    When European and middle east people built stone/brick houses, chinese king lived in a mud palace.
    The Great Pyramid of Giza was built 4500 years ago.
    Erlitou, The capital of china (2100 BC – 1600 BC) was built by mud.
    Erlitou culture - Wikipedia,

    - The chinese wall
    The real Chinese Wall built 2000 years ago is not exist.
    the Chinese Wall you see today was built a few hundred years ago.

    ""Unlike the earlier fortifications, the Ming (later) construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth."
    Great Wall of China - Wikipedia,

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    • old Chinese paint is at a low level.

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    • The Vinca script was not a true language, according to what I read, and Chinese charactes were in use quite a while before they became an offical languae about 4,000 years ago. Both areas came up with writing independently.

    • Chinese were not enslaved for 2000 years what are you talking about.

  • I've always admired Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture and tradition.

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  • How is it that you didn't even mention gunpowder/firearms? Pretty fucking important Chinese discovery.

    But anyway, Asian

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    • good point and it lead way to fire works as well which is what they were mostly used for. Europeans thought of putting them to guns, Chinese used them for fireworks and canons

  • dude, you shared too many personal messages.

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  • I find you a little too patriotic about China and all its inventions. While ancient China did achieve quite a lot, you should also acknowledge that cultural exchange is always a guiding force of progress. China did influence regions like Korea and Japan but they also influenced China. Just one example: it is frequently claimed that the printing press with movable metal letters was invented in China before it was brought to Europe where Johannes Gutenberg apparently "invented" it. This is not correct. The printing press was in fact invented during the late Shilla-dynasty in Korea of the 8th-9th century and was only about 200 years later brought to China through cultural exchange where it was further developed. Same goes for the exchange with Japan and other countries (this is coming from a historian by the way, I'm not just talking about stuff I don't know). Concerning modern China I do generally agree with you that tolerance is a necessity in north east Asia to maintain peace. This is, however, a commonplace. Tolerance and acceptance of other-ness is important in every region of the world. I think the by far biggest challenge for China at the moment is to progress socially and politically. China is a giant in terms of its economy but its people are still slaves to an oppressive and authoritarian government that even prevents them from accessing critical information. Also, Chinese politics have absolutely to do with communism anymore. In fact, it would be great if they did because what we have now is much worse. Few countries in the world are as unequal socially as China. The country is lead by billionaires who have more money than they could ever spend while poor farmers in the poor regions of the north east can hardly buy enough food to survive. This extreme social inequality, along with the missing political freedom and lack of democracy is a huge, ticking time bomb. If China wants to progress in the future, it must first progress socially.

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    • Right I agree there was exchange. Some of China's stuff came from India, Persia, and Arab Peninsula. I don't mean to say that China came up with everything. Just that a lot of what we see in East Asia at least started in China. So that culturally speaking East Asia culture is largely just Chinese culture.
      As for modern times stuff:...

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    • China does hold one distinction though, and that's having the longest record of civilization in the world.

      They may not have made the modern world like Europeans did, but they were civilized for thousands of years before them.

    • Yes, I believe China would be better of with communism than with capitalism but certainly not under the current circumstances. I consider myself a "democratic socialist". I am not an enemy of the free market but it should not come at the price of poverty and social inequality as is the case in the US for example. China is a very interesting case because it pretends to follow communist/socialist (equality, solidarity etc.) ideas when in reality, its economy and social stratification are just as capitalist as those in America. As you correctly said I would like to see China stick to its political ideals, while at the same time making some changes in real life politics. Culturally, China is predestined to become a country where socialism works well because the community tends to be more important than individual. I would love to see China become a "Norway of east Asia" - a country with freedom and democracy, but one where people still help and watch out for each other as they do now.

  • The rate at which China is developing, it'll overtake every country.

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  • I enjoyed this take, very much, and I agree with a lot of your points.
    One of the issues holding China back is the mass industrial espionage they engage in, other nations can only gauge this as hostile and it doesn't help the cause. Then there's the human rights thing, although other nations are just as bad on that front.
    Having said, that I don't hold any bad sentiment towards China or Chinese people whatsoever and I have a lot of admiration for the rich cultural heritage and appreciate current and historical contributions which have been beneficial to the advance of the human race.
    Thank you for for the time and effort you put into this take, it was informative, interesting and enjoyable.

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