In our second class, we discussed how communication has been critical to the world powers in history, from the Persian, Greek and Roman empire to the British. On the contrary, there is a very good example about how self-reliance political system can make a country vulnerable, such as the modern China (1840-1949). The ancient China used to be one of the most advanced countries in the world, famous for its great contribution to the world’s civilization in terms of its four great inventions, namely as the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing. But during the modern period (1840-1949), the Emperor of China closed its door, while the Western world such as Great Britain had already gone through the first industrial revolution and with passion to expand its international trade. After the Opium War in 1840, China was forced to open its door to the west because it was defeated by Westerners. The Opium War has taught the Chinese people a lesson: the world politics is changing, if you do not communicate with the rest of the world. You might be left behind no matter how glorious the past history was.
But the contemporary China, with its rising political, military and economic powers, is quickly merging into the international community. China is trying to promote its culture to the rest of world, the good examples could be the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. With the rising China, the rest of world have different opinions towards the once “sleeping lion” (commented by Napoleon of France). Some people believe China is going to be the hegemonic power in the East Asian region again like it used to be; while some other believe China’s rise is beneficial to the rest of the world. But different scholars have various theories and approaches to demonstrate their stances. No one can tell yet. But the globalization has transformed the world order, maybe two words can sum up the trend “continuity” and “change”. The networking world has almost made every nation state become interrelated to each other. If we look at the historical continuity of Empire, we might find the world itself is evolutionary learning. In regard to China’s role in the current moment, I hope it is going to develop in the right way. Like the Chinese Communist party claims “promoting world peace and development with China’s own growth”. (the cited slogan is retrieve from the website:http://www.china.org.cn/english/2005/Dec/152669.htm)