Thank you very much for your kind introduction, Ambassador Djerejian. Ladies and gentlemen, I am greatly pleased and honored to have this rare opportunity to share my thoughts at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. This is probably the third time I have visited Rice. Every time it is both enjoyable in the personal sense but also extremely educational. So I look forward to the exchange after my presentation.
I am particularly interested in the question of Asian values in the context of a project we have been pursuing with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The question is multiple modernities. Looking at the world, especially the modernization process, not as homogenizing and as a linear process, but as a process that can assume different cultural forms. And looking at the rise of the modern world, originated of course in Europe, not simply as one particular ideology that is going to overwhelm the world, but as opening up new possibilities for many parts of the world, this is the broader context of my presentation. I am not an expert on economics. I am certainly not an expert on the economic crisis, and I am still very much puzzled by what actually happened. But I think you may have some questions and interesting observations made. But Id like to present this in the broader context of Confucian humanism. And I hope that what I am going to present is something that is very close to my heart, and hopefully it will be somewhat relevant to your own appreciation of some of these critical issues.
In an attempt to reconsider modernity, both as a historical phenomenon, and as conceptual framework, I am particularly interested in three major issues. One is the question of traditions in the modernizing process. Rather than talking about from tradition to modernity, we are talking about the continuous presence of traditions in the modernizing process. In fact, I edited a book -- Harvard University Press published it a couple of years ago -- Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity, exploring the questions of economic culture, and also moral education, in Japan and the so-called Four Mini Dragons: South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The related issue is the relevance of non-Western civilizations for the self-understanding of the modern West. And of course then it is related to this question of the global significance of local knowledge.
I am quite aware of the fact that each of these issues is immensely complex, and the interaction among them layers the picture with all kinds of ambiguities, and with some of them we can say fruitful ambiguities. A discussion of them together will hopefully show new possibilities emerging in this creative confusion, I guess, and show that we are at a critical juncture to move beyond the various kinds of what I call outmoded dichotomies: The dichotomy of the West and the rest, even though one of my colleagues has developed that notion in terms of the coming clash of civilizations. Or the dichotomy between local and global. The dichotomy even between traditional and modern. The reason to transcend these dichotomies is simply to show that a world defined in terms of the globalizing process is infinitely much more complex, intriguing, and important, to use new conceptual apparatuses for appreciating them. The advent of the global village, either as a virtual reality or as an authentic home, is by no means congenial to human flourishing. Even though many of us believe that globalization is a form of integration. In fact the world, compressed into an interconnected, ecological, financial, commercial, trading, and electronic system, has never been so divided in wealth, influence, and power. Let me give you just one illustration. Many of us have been wired and interconnected globally, in a way that time and space no longer are important for our communication. It is instantaneous, our communication with colleagues in Beijing, Tokyo, or Europe, while 50% of the population in the world have never heard or used a telephone. And even in the City of New York, a very large percentage of the people never cross the bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. And people in the same block, some may fly all over the world on a regular basis. But a very large percentage of them have a totally different conception of time, space, or even interconnectedness.
Never in the worlds history has the contrast between the rich and poor, the dominant and marginalized, the articulate and silenced, the included and excluded, the informed and uninformed, and the connected and isolated, been so markedly drawn. The rich, dominant, articulate, included, informed, and connected beneficiaries of the system form numerous transnational networks, of course making distance, and indeed ethnic boundary, or cultural diversity, religious exclusivism, or national sovereignty, inconsequential in their march toward interconnectedness and even domination.
On the other hand, residents of the same block may have radically different access to information, ideas, and tangible resources such as money, and intangible goods such as prestige. People in the same electoral district may subscribe to sharply conflicting political ideologies, social mores, and world views. They may also experience the basic categories of human experience, time and space, in incommensurable ways. The severity of the contrast between the haves and have nots, at all levels of the human experience from individual to the family to society and nation, of course, can be very easily demonstrated by empirical hot data.
We focus our attention exclusively on the powerful, so-called megatrends that have exerted a shaping influence in the global community, especially since the end of the Second World War: that is, science, and technology, communication, trade, finance, entertainment, travel, tourism, migration and disease. The human condition is being structured by all these newly emerging global forces in ways without any reference to our inherited historical and cultural practices or theories. So the notion that we need to look at this whole situation from a futuristic point of view, because of anything that we experienced in the past, is somewhat irrelevant.
In fact one of the most significant end-of-the-century reflections of the Twentieth Century is the acknowledgment that globalization does not mean homogenization, that people become the same. And that modernization sometimes intensifies as well as lessens economic, political, social, cultural, and religious conflict, in both inter- and even intra-national contexts When I was a graduate student in the 1960s, the modernization theory was in vogue. At Harvard Talcott Parsons with many of his associates identified the modernizing process in terms of three inseparable dimensions: market economy, democratic polity, and individualism. And there was a very strong belief that the modernizing process is going to engulf the world. All the other differences, cultural differences, will become somewhat insignificant. That process is the homogenizing process. But I think now most of the people, even the most militant modernists, do not consider the globalization process as the most recent phase of modernization, as a homogenizing process. And in the last ten or fifteen years in particular, people become critically aware of the emergence of primordial ties as defining characteristics of the human condition. The so-called primordial ties, for the convenience I want to specify, are ethnicity, language, gender, land, class, maybe even age, and religious faith. For a number of years people in the West interested in the modernizing process believed these were the issues that the developing countries would have to face up to. But now we know the seriousness of ethnicity in defining the human condition right here in the United States.
When I first came to the States for graduate work in the 1960s, the ruling ideology -- at least aspiration -- of this whole society was the melting pot. But now we know how serious ethnicity is. If we do not deal with that issue efficiently and satisfactorily, as many colleagues in history and in political science have noted, including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the United States may become disunited.
Language. We used to associate that problem with India and South Asia. But now we know how serious language is in Canada. Or in Belgium. Many of you know one of the great universities in the Western Hemisphere was the Louvain, a French-speaking center of higher learning in Belgium. But now the University of Louvain is forever split between the Flemish side and the French side. And the twain probably will never meet again. I recently visited Barcelona. And they are quite critically aware of the Catalonians. The whole question. Not to mention the Basque. And all kinds of issues. Where you are talking about the homogenization of Western civilization rather than developing societies.
Of course gender is a new awareness. In the early 1960s, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences sponsored a conference and later published a special volume in the official journal Daedalus, "To the year 2000". We are talking about in the 1960s, thirty years ago. And this volume is going to be republished by M.I.T. Press. One of the people who actually contributed to the original volume, Daniel Bell, was recently asked, "Were there any things that you failed to predict?" You know, he said he made a number of predictions correctly, but failed to predict two major areas. One is environmental issues. But people became aware of that issue in the late 1960s, especially in the 1970s, after the astronauts showed that the planet is just such a lifeboat. But the other one is gender. The role of women in the workplace, in defining basic human relationships at all levels, in redefining power and influence, and even the whole idea of self-understanding. Human self-understanding.
Land. Land is related to the question of sovereignty, of course. In the Middle East, this is a major issue. But this is also an issue in Hawaii. The sovereignty movement is in Hawaii, in Taiwan, and in many other developed societies.
Class. The Marxist category may be outmoded. But not if class is understood in terms of the North and South problem, the rich and poor. We used to define the world in terms of the North and South. Now we know in every region there is a north and south question. In Europe, maybe Germany could be considered north. But Turkey would be considered south. In Italy, Northern Italy is north, but in the southern part there is a very significant percentage of unemployment. And even within the nation, within a particular area there is a north and south problem. Some say this exists within the university, different senses of wealth or of importance.
And age. We used to consider thirty years as one generation. Then we know there is a generational gap in the period of ten years. Now some people say there is a generation gap between seniors and freshmen. Even siblings. The older and younger siblings may have different languages, even different conceptions of the world.
And we used to be concerned about inter-religious conflict: the Muslims, and the Christians, the Sikhs and the Hindus, and so forth. Increasingly we are aware of intra-religious conflict. The orthodox and the liberal. This is not just in Judaism and in Christianity but also in Hinduism, in Muslim societies, in the Confucian world.
So primordial ties are powerful forces in constructing internally-defensive cultural identities and externally-aggressive religious exclusivities. Compare practical-minded global thinkers and their attempts to develop new conceptual resources to understand the spirit of our time. The common practice of internationalists, including some of the most sophisticated analyzers of the global scene, is to condemn the enduring strength of primordial ties as parochial reflections or reactions to the inevitable process of globalization I think it is simple-minded and even ill-advised. We really do not have a choice. It is not a choice of cosmopolitanism, globalization, on the one hand, and local concerns, parochial concerns, on the other. We have to think not in terms of either or. We have to think in terms of both, and how we can we be global and at the same time local.
In fact nowadays we are confronted with two conflicting and even contradictory forces in the global community: internationalization, or globalization, and localization, communization -- some people even say tribalization, meaning tribal in the neutral sense. And of course some people know I have been working with the United Nations from time to time. Actually I was one of their guests to the Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995. The United Nations, which came into being because of the spirit of internationalization, must now deal with complicated issues of local, ethnic, and religious concerns. So it is not possible for anyone related or associated with the United Nations not to have sensitivity to specific local conditions.
There is no way that we can imagine that we can deal with global issues without paying special attention to the particular specific conditions of the various kinds of local areas. It is in this context that I would like to raise the question about the significance of what I would call the East Asian form of modernity, for our understanding of the complexity of the relationship between globalization on the one hand and localization on the other. The first question we need to ask, before we even get into the whole question about Asian values and so forth, is whether there is a form of modernity -- we call it East Asian -- which is deeply under the influence of the West, no question about it, and yet significantly different. We know that East Asian intellectuals have been devoted students of Western learning for more than a hundred years. If you look at a Japanese case, Dutch learning, and British learning, French learning, German learning, and in recent decades, American learning, while theyve been devoted students of Western learning, they have not really abandoned their own cultural roots, whether in the Shinto tradition, or Mahayana Buddhist tradition, or Confucian tradition. And therefore they can mobilize their own indigenous resources both as a way of responding to the challenges of Westernization, later understood as modernization, but more recently as globalization. And yet they can tap their own cultural resources and try to develop a certain kind of mixture.
And people begin to realize that in the West itself the modernizing process in fact is a highly complex process of divergence as well. Take the example of democracy and the democratization process. The British experience is very different from the French, the French different from the German, and all of them very different from the American. The British emphasis, you know, -- especially when we talk about the Scottish enlightenment -- raised some skepticism. This was very sharply contrasted with the French experience of the revolutionary spirit. Thats why you have Edmund Burkes reflection on the French Revolution. But also the obsession with the religious question in the French experience. Whereas the Germans tried to catch up with both England and France, and German democratization was intertwined with a sense of ethnic pride and a sense of nationalism or patriotism.
I was in Europe in 1989 attending a meeting called, "Civil Society in the Modern West." The consensus of the European intellectuals, British, French, German, and so forth, was that real, full-fledged civil society only existed in America. Not in Germany or France, or even England. And Tocqueville, when he visited the United States, was overwhelmed by the incredible dynamism of American society, especially when viewed by a member of the aristocratic family. He was just overwhelmed and very much moved by that, and also felt this was something that Europe never had. So the vibrant civil society was unique to the American experience. Of course now we know that civil society is critical for any flourishing democracies, you know. Look at the central Asian situation. Or the central European situation. And Eastern European countries as well.
It is in this connection, if indeed experience in modernization, taking the case of democracy as an example, was a highly varied and complex process. The situation in East Asia, of course, was equally complex. So its not at all impossible to imagine a form of modernity which is East Asian. Deeply under the influence of the West. And yet significantly different. If we assume there is an East Asian modernity, what does it mean? Earlier I think there was a wrong interpretation, and that is the background of the Asian values issue. This wrong interpretation was characterized as reverse convergence. The earlier argument about modernization, Westernization, is that all the other societies would converge with the West. That, we now know, is probably a simple-minded understanding of this complex process. Then in the late 1970s, and especially the mid-1980s, there was a kind of euphoria in East Asia, talking about reconvergence, and meaning that the Western model was no longer the best model. This East Asian model will be the model for the future. So the strength, the influence, shifted from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Therefore there was a great deal of talk about Asian values. I think the Senior Minister from Singapore is going to talk about this. He is one of the persons instrumental in developing this idea, together with Mahathir of Malaysia and some Japanese like Ishihara, some Japanese politicians.
But I think, frankly, it was ill-conceived. It was probably even erroneous. It was not the question of convergence. In fact, what has happened in East Asia is an indication that a modernizing process can assume a different cultural form. So if indeed there has been an East Asian form of modernity -- we are talking about Japan and the Four Mini Dragons -- it is difficult to argue, you know, by any criteria that Japan is not modern. Or, for that matter, Singapore is not modern, or Taiwan, or South Korea is not modern. Its difficult to do that. Of course these are modern societies. They are very different. But a message is not the reconvergence, not the reverse convergence. The message is, from one to many. Or one to at least several. In other words, the modernizing process is not just Westernization. Even though it originated in the West, it will probably forever have a certain kind of Western imprimatur, and yet assume different forms. In Japan, in South Korea, in Singapore. And this means the possibility of a Southeast Asian modernity. Or South Asian modernity. Or modern American modernity. Maybe an African modernity. At least the implication is that the modernizing process can have different forms. Just because originally when the modernizing process occurred, first in the enlightenment of the 18th century, and later on, already it was not simply a process of homogenization, but a process of divergence, of difference, of complexification. Therefore the French model, the British model, the German model, the American model, even though they share many, many basic features, are different.
So the process is a process that has some distinctive features. For example, it is almost impossible to imagine a form of modernity without a market economy. Difficult to imagine as a sustainable form of political system that could be considered modern, and its not democratic. And its difficult to imagine that a modern society that does not respect the dignity of the individual, does not respect human rights, does not respect some individual personal expressions, or the freedom of religion. Now some of these features are universalizable. And yet each form of modernity is linked to a particular cultural style, or culture tradition. So its both divergence and convergence.
It is in this context I am trying to suggest there is a form of East Asian modernity. And this East Asian modernity has been under the influence of East Asian cultures. And East Asian culture is very complicated. There is a Taoist culture, there is Mahayana Buddhist culture, the Shinto culture, Shamanist culture in Korea, folk traditions, all kind. But there is also Confucianism. That is the area I want to stress. And people try to characterize it in terms of cultural patterns, and very broadly, as generalizations. Sometimes crude, gross generalization about the Confucian world. The Japanese talked about it. Of course the Koreans. And now increasingly the Chinese. Now what does it mean? It suggests that East Asia, both socialist East Asia and industrial East Asia, share a cultural heritage among all kinds of other cultural heritages.
When I say industrial East Asia, I already pointed out Japan and the Four Mini Dragons. Socialist East Asia would include Mainland China, Vietnam --- not for ethnic reasons but for cultural reasons -- and also North Korea. I want to introduce an author, as well, a hero of mine, I guess. Ambassador Edwin Reischauer, who was actually my predecessor. He was the Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute before he was called by President Kennedy to be the American Ambassador to Japan. He was one of the leading scholars in the 1970s of Japanese studies, but also Chinese studies as well. In 1974 he published an article in Foreign Affairs. The article actually was based upon a talk to a trilateral commission that he did maybe in the previous year. Its called "A Sinic World in Perspective". The Sinic world, meaning the Chinese world in perspective. At the time a lot of people talked about Japanese exceptionalism. Now Japan was able to compete effectively, especially in manufacturing industries, with America. People were overwhelmed because we used to believe that Japanese produced a lot of cheap goods. But then in the 1970s we realized Japan was able to compete effectively with virtually all major industries. In shipbuilding, in steel, automobile, and so forth. People were really overwhelmed by the power of Japan. And so they talked about Japanese exceptionalism. Because Japan, as many of you know, began its modernizing process by a considered effort to leave Asia. This is Fukuzawa Yukichi's notion for leaving Asia, joining Europe. In fact, one Japanese minister of education, in the 1920s, named Mori, said, "If England is now the paradigmatic example of the most advanced nation in the world, we Japanese should change our national language from Japanese to English." Later he was assassinated. Not for that reason, but he did show that Westernization was identification with the West. So there was this very strong feeling on the part of Japan to try to become part of the West. And that march towards being an integral part of the West was a national effort for many generations. Ever since Fukuzawa Yukichi.
And Japan has been very successful in doing that. In fact Japan is one of the very few nations that has managed to modernize, globalize, and localize, at the same time. There is kind of a virtuous circle between the two. So the more they become modernized, the more they become Japanese. And they are able to do that very successfully. And now they are part of the G7, so, the mission has been accomplished. That whole process of trying to leave Asia. But Reischauer, as early as 1973, 1974, posed the question. He said, "Look, Japanese exceptionalism may not be the way to look at Japan. We should look at the Japanese in the broader context of the Sinic world. Of not just China, but the Confucian world as a whole." And as early as 1974 he first identified a number of basic values in the Japanese society, and then he predicted, "If these values actually contributed to Japans strength as a major competitor of all the European societies, including America, then these four areas would develop." At the time there were no terms like the Four Mini Dragons, the Four Tigers. The area he identified turned out to be Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore. He then made the observationthat is even more bold to me, very prophetic. The article of course is published in Foreign Affairs, and you can make reference to that. And he said, "Now Vietnam is in terrible shape, because of the Vietnam war. If the Vietnam war ever ends, Vietnam should be able to do the same. It should be able to develop. Because Vietnam also shares some of the basic cultural values." And he then said if the Peoples Republic of China, Mainland China, moved out of the socialist system, it could tap all these resources as well. Of course he did not say North Korea. We do not know why. If we follow his argument that North Korea does not undermine that society. Right now it is in a terrible shape. If there is ever a possibility of opening up North Korea, it could become a very important economic system as well.
Anyway, I am not a culturalist in the sense that I try to explain complicated economic, political processes in cultural terms. I am not a culturalist at all, even though Thomas Johnson, a very good friend of mine, said, "He is an institutionalist, whereas Wei-Ming Tu is always a culturalist." I am not a culturalist in the sense that I want to use these cultural values to explain social political processes. Rather, my own methodology is very simple. If you can explain a phenomenon, like the Asian crisis now, in terms of pure economic features -- like the banking system, like financial problems, like international trade, the market mechanism -- if you can explain these phenomena in terms of economic terms without appealing to any other extra-economic factors, I will be satisfied. You should do that. And it is very important for you to get the statistics right and get the explanatory model right. But if you are not satisfied with the explanation, you feel that economic rules themselves cannot explain the phenomena, then you really have to understand institutional features. You have to understand the roles of government. You have to understand whether the government is corrupt or not corrupt, whether the leadership is legitimate or not legitimate. Then you have to move beyond simply economic explanations to also institutionalize a political explanation. If you dont want to evoke any culture factors or any values, to me that is fine too. If you are still not satisfied, and you think there may be other reasons that need to be talked about, and in addition to economic and political institutions you also talk about some of the culture values like Reischauer was trying to do. Then thats the area that Im about to get in to.
So it is not a reductionist model. You say well take culture more serious than economics, than politics. That is not right at all. You have to take the economic issues as economic issues. And the added value of the political explanation is not a substitute for economic explanation. And the added value of cultural values is not a substitute for political institutional explanations. So that is the context. So I am not a reductionist in that sense, nor am I committed to the view which is a Marxist view. If an economic situation changes the super-structure also changes because the base structure changes. There is a continuous interaction. It is not possible for us to isolate the cultural factors from these other factors. It is very much an integral part of the whole process. You cannot talk about an institution without also taking consideration of the values, particularly if you want to talk about institutions, not just as physical structures but as patterns of human interaction. The minute you want to get the human factor into the discussion, you cannot avoid value issues.
My personal dignity is based upon my self-cultivation as a person. Therefore, to find the dignity of a person, I need to have some sense of who I am, self identity. But that self identity cannot be secure if I am totally selfish. So how to make a distinction between selfishness and self identity, or dignity of the person. It is a major problem, a major issue in Confucian ethics. The family is the most enrichened, most loveable, lovely environment, a caring, loving environment for human nurturing. But a family is also a place for the cultivation of nepotism. If we do not go beyond the family, we suffer from nepotism. If we do not become situated, rooted in the family, we will not have a sense of enrichment. You know, some people say Confucian ethics is family ethics, it is lost. It cannot go beyond the family. This is to confuse Confucian ethics with Mafia ethics.
Now if you move beyond the family, you have parochialism, but at the same time you have a sense of communal participation. Do not confuse rooted in the community to become an engaged person in the community with a kind of parochialism. And that is true with patriotism. But patriotism is often directly opposed to chauvinistic nationalist or ethnocentrism, to feel extremely proud of being Chinese, for example. To take ethnic pride is not to say you necessarily suffer from ethnocentrism or chauvinistic culturalism. And even anthropocentrism, especially from the ecological point of view. Anthropocentrism is a limitation. We say we do everything for the human species, and we do not care about animals, trees and plants. Eventually we suffer from a lack of appreciation for biodiversity. We suffer ourselves. So anthropocentrism from the Confucian humanistic point of view is a limited form of anthropocentrism that is not truly humanistic. So true humanism should go beyond anthropocentrism as well. So that interplay between the family and the state, the civil society in this case, will be filled.
Education ought to be the civil religion of society. The primary purpose of education is character building. In turn, in the cultivation of the full person, school should emphasize ethical as well as cognitive intelligence. Schools should teach the art of accumulating social capital through communication. In addition to the acquisition of knowledge and skills, schooling must be congenial to the development of cultural competence and appreciation of spiritual values. If you want to find one particular arena that defines Confucian humanism, it is education. No need to be human. We are humans, but we learn to be human. It is a continuous process of the unfolding of the human experience. And education in this sense is character building.
I recently attended the 20th Congress of World Philosophy in Boston, where more than 2,500 presented, and 4,000 people showed. The theme was philosophy educating humanity. So I asked to give one of the talks and focusing on this Confucian dimension which is comparable to the Greek idea of know thyself, the Socratic method. And this learning, this kind of wisdom that is rooted in Western civilization and, of course, rooted in Asian civilization, is being eroded in recent decades. Education has a way of learning to be human, rather than simply as a method of acquisition of knowledge. It is about simply becoming useful members of society, hopefully to advance my career rather than to be able to reflect upon my own way of life. Philosophy as a way of life as a spiritual exercise is being relegated to the background.
And finally, self cultivation is the root of the regulation of the family, governance of state and peace under heaven. This is from the Confucian classical learning. The quality of life of a particular society depends on the level of self-cultivation of its members. A society that encourages self-cultivation as a necessary condition for human flourishing is a society that cherishes value-oriented political leadership, mutual exultation as a communal way of self realization, the value of the family as the proper home for learning to be human, civility as the normal pattern of human interaction, and education as character building.
In November last year, I had an opportunity to visit George Mason University in Washington at the invitation of Professor James Buchanan, who was a Nobel laureate in 1996 and noted for his commitment to classical economic theories. I gave a talk, he was one of my commentators, and later in the evening we discussed some issues. He said from the classical economic point of view, the most important value is freedom. But now I think that there are two other values that need to be added to the ideal freedom. We need to train our young people not only to be free but also to be responsible, and then he said, to be "decent." I said, "That is not a classical economic idea. So why decent?" He said that is very simple. Ethical responsibility we can all understand, that is the hallmark for leadership, but decent must exist especially in the very vibrant global economy. The people like us, maybe, who are powerful, influential, and have access to goods, information and ideas, ought to be more obligated or duty-bound to take care of the well-being of society as a whole.
Because the world is divided in such a way that those who are homogenized, those who are silenced, and those who are in the periphery, not only do not have the means, they do not have even the knowledge and willingness to know what they deserve. If the leadership is based upon the market theory -- you know this notion that human beings are rational animals totally aware of their self interest and committed to the maximization of their self interest -- or in the market place adjudicated by law, then humans will feel they do not need to express any sense of responsibility to anyone else. I do not need to be decent. And the social fabric will be eroded.
The Market economy is fine, but market society is disastrous. These values cannot be used for the maintenance of social order, for human flourishing, for the development of equitable forms of life. Now it is in this connection we should probably get a chance to discuss many of these issues. Despite the financial crisis in Asia, if Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, and China and Vietnam to be sure, and eventually even North Korea, if theyre going to be able to recover from this crisis in the transitional period, the test to whether they will be able to continue to flourish and function according to some of these values that I just outlined is absolutely critical.
Let me just give you one example as a conclusion for understanding the situation in China. Since the European war China has suffered a great deal; all kinds of calamities, I would even say holocausts happened in China. From the European war to the founding of the Peoples Republic in 1949 was mid 1840s to 1949. Every ten year period there was a major crisis. In the Taiping Rebellion 20 million people died or became homeless, and then came the encroachment of Western imperialists. Then the Boxer Rebellion where China was fighting against the united front of eight major nations. The Warlord period. Japanese aggression. The international warfare between the nationalists and the communists. Or even the case of 1905 when there was a Russian/Japanese war that was fought on Chinese soil. The Chinese casualties were much higher than those of the Russian and Japanese soldiers combined. Many, many times. So China suffered.
And then since 1949 every five year period has been something dramatic. The Great Leap Forward, the Culture Revolution, and so forth. And in there is a great period of starvation. Even the government has now admitted probably over 20 million people died from starvation. But the unofficial record is much higher, maybe 30 million or more. All of these calamities happened in China. The Chinese neighbors were not affected by and large. The Asian Pacific region was not even aware of what actually happened. You know, when more than 30 million Chinese died of starvation and the industrial modernization was taking off, and not affected, of course the West was totally oblivious to what actually happened.
But since 1979 China has become an integral part of the global community. Now 30% of the Chinese economy is international trade, global, and Chinese borders are open. The two-way relationship between Taiwan and China involves billions and billions of investment, and millions of tourists, even though they are only now beginning to recognize each other in a way that may provide a possible resolution to the situation. And there is no question China is an integral part of this global community, with more than 100 million internally migrating from rural areas to the city. The major flood this year probably will cost one or two percentage points of annual GNP. And there is pressure to democratize with the need to join the WTO. All kinds of issues. What kind of culture messages are Chinese going to make? What kind of values should Chinese society have? If China follows the social Darwinian model of hegemonic control -- and I do not think, you know, it will will be disastrous for China -- it certainly would be a disaster for the Asian Pacific region and for the stability of the world.
Can China observe this idea of "do not do to others what you would not want us to do to you"? Can China rise above the national interest? You see our congressman, our President, cannot say that our ideas are higher than simply national interest. If China, all these other societies simply subscribe to national interest the situation again will be very, very difficult. So it is in this context that I am arguing about Asian values. I am not even involved in the Asian values discussion, but I think we need to look at the six points that outline aspirations for Asian societies under Confucian influence. And if any of these values are relegated to the background or pushed away, it would not only be a major threat to Chinas stability but also a major threat to the rest of the world. It is in this context, I think, that the discussion of value orientation is relevant, not simply as an internal discussion of things Chinese, but as related to the question of global ethics. Thank you.