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« Mencius in Libya | Main | The Pursuit of Happiness »

November 22, 2011


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Fantastic post. Thanks!

The PRC seems to be doing a pretty good job Of favoring social justice and fairness, especially when compared to our own regime. They score an 86% trust and approval from the Chinese people.

Our regime rates the inverse: 14%. (Surveys: Pew Charitable Trusts).

Perhaps we should delay criticizing and advising the PRC until we can match our words with their deeds.

Great analysis. Yan seems to know little of Chinese history.

The PRC hardly favors social justice and fairness; look at the gap between city and country. As for their high scores on trust and approval, they are based in no small part on keeping a tight lid on dissent.

If that's what you want, it's good news that the Obama regime is continuing his predecessor's encroachment on Americans' civil liberties. First they keep an eye on us; next they'll tell us to shut up.

Dear Sam,

I was referred to your piece today, and found it interesting and insightful. Time is fleeting. I recall the Thanksgiving meal we had 23 three year ago at the Nanjing Center. How the world has changed since then.

I just want to wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.



Great to hear from you. Yes, I remember that Thanksgiving well. I trust you and your family are well. Are you ever in my part of Massachusetts? It would be great to see you again.

Best wishes,


I just wanted to find some discussions on Yan's op-ed and by accident read this wonderful piece. Your argument is so coherent and thought-provoking. I only found the Nanjing Center name in the comments.
Proud to be part of the center. - Hang of HNC '10

Late to this, I know, but I find your example of Han expansion under Wudi problematic. The Xiongnu were raiding Han settlements relentlessly, and Wudi sent troops to try to eliminate this aggressive northern threat. In the end, the Han troops were unable to engage and defeat the more mobile enemy, so they extended the Great Wall and garrisoned it to defend against future Xiongnu incursions--in a sparsely inhabited, mostly desert territory at that. To characterize what was essentially a defensive military operation as an historical case of "Chinese aggression" thus seems, at best, lacking in nuance.

Similar arguments can be made about the Song, who followed a conscious imperial policy of "peaceful co-existence" with the Khitan Liao, the Tangut Xi Xia, and the Jurchen Jin states on it's northern and northwestern borders with only a couple of exceptions over 300 years.

The Ming conduct abroad in SE Asia and the Indian Ocean basin during the three decades of Zhengzhou He's voyages--which, consisting of 300 ships and 30,000 men at full strength, could have pursued territorial expansion quite easily with such overwhelming force, _but didn't_--is another piece of evidence that China, historically, was indeed uncommonly 'a-militaristic'.

China obviously has its problems, as does (in spades) the contemporary West. But this shouldn't tempt us to deny that its history is often far more impressively civilized than most other world civilizations.

Blasted iPad auto-correct is to thank for the weird typos above. Of course I meant "its," not "it's," and Zheng He, not (lol) "Zhengzhou He"!

I did not use the term "Chinese aggression." My point was simply that the Han, and Chinese dynasties more generally, are not exceptional in how they develop and use power. The Han's success, its territorial expansion, was based on its military power. That is how all historically great powers have expanded and dominated large territories. DiCosmo's analysis is what needs to be kept in mind...

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