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The victimizer of today is the victim of tomorrow, and the Magical Mystery Jews
Discourse Power | August 24, 2023
Today’s edition of Discourse Power includes two full translations of two truly fascinating reads. The first was published in 2017, but it is just as relevant today as the second, which was published more recently. If you also find them interesting or helpful for your own research or reporting, please take a minute to spread the word about this free newsletter.
In other discourse power news, I am thrilled to share my paper for Sage's China Report journal, titled A Xinderella Story: Turning the Chinese Dream Into China’s Master Narrative. You can read it here, and if you don't have access, simply reply to this email, and I'll send you a copy.
This issue will be cut at the bottom because it is longer than usual, so click the heading above or the "View entire message" button at the bottom to read the whole thing.
Thank you for reading,
From the Archives
“When people in victimized and victimizing countries discuss their histories, they only see the past tragedy as a ‘historical event.’ They don't let their grief control them indefinitely”
Professor Gong Fangbin, now retired from the National Defense University (NDU), laments that China has been "teaching for hatred" and "vengeance" against other countries for far too long. For the sake of China's interests in the present and the advancement of human civilization, Gong maintains, it is time to forgive historical aggressors such as Japan and the West and put the past behind it.
Why it matters:
Over the weekend, US President Joe Biden achieved the unachievable in Camp David. He was able to bring together the leaders of South Korea and Japan - who had to overcome historical grievances and territorial disputes stemming from Imperial Japan's atrocities during WWII - to deepen their trilateral military and economic cooperation.
According to analysts, the summit was essential to projecting unity in the face of growing Chinese and North Korean threats. Like Korea, Beijing harbors a grudge toward Japan and is embroiled in a border dispute with both.
Full translation of Gong's article, which was first published on January 25, 2017, in the party-owned Guangming Daily, a widely circulated newspaper targeting China's intellectuals:
“Only a few countries have not been ravaged by war, and even fewer have not invaded and disrupted other countries by waging wars themselves. This conclusion is important because it is based on historical evidence.
“We are used to saying that Western powers are inherently aggressive 天生有侵略性. Indeed, when we examine modern history or the history of Western colonization, it is easy to conclude that "a strong country is bound to seek hegemony for itself" 国强必霸. However, when we broaden our horizons and examine the issue from a different mindset or perspective, we may arrive at a different conclusion.
“Sir Halford John Mackinder, the British political geographer, proposed the Heartland Theory, or Land Power Theory in a 1904 paper titled The Geographical Pivot of History. His work, as well as his startling observation that the history of Europe was the history of invasion by foreigners, would have an impact on the world for the next 100 years.
“This idea is foreign to us because we have been taught for a long time that the iron hooves 铁蹄 of the Great European Powers trampled virtually the entire world. Their name has come to be associated with invaders, particularly those who have committed the most unforgivable crimes against the Chinese people; the Opium Wars, the British-French expedition into Beijing, and the Eight-Nation Alliance's march on the capital are all deeply ingrained in the memories of the Chinese people.
“However, when we delve deeper into history, we discover that Europe's history of invasions is shorter than its history of being invaded. It embarked on the path of aggression after the Industrial Revolution, that is in the 400 years after 1500 A.D.. But for thousands of years before that, it was trampled by waves of nomadic hooves, including invasions by Xiongnu tribes, Turkic peoples 突厥人, and Mongols. In their hour of peril, the entire Christian cultural sphere faced extinction.
“Even if we focus on recent history, many countries have suffered far more than we have, with Poland serving as a prime example. From 1772 to 1795, Poland was partitioned three times: in August 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that cost Poland 35% of its territory and 33% of its population; in January 1793, Russia and Prussia signed a treaty that left Poland with a territory of only 200,000 square kilometers, that reduced it to a Russian puppet state; and in 1795, Russia, Austria, and Prussia signed another agreement, and Poland was carved up in its entirety
“During World War II, Poles suffered more than any other country or nation. Germany launched a blitzkrieg against Poland on September 1, 1939. Following that, the Soviet Union began an attack on the eastern region under the guise of establishing an eastern defense line. Poland was split in two by the Soviet Union and Germany. In April 1940, the German Nazis established the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where millions of Jews and Poles were persecuted. The Soviet army massacred 22,000 Polish soldiers, intellectuals, politicians, and public officials in the Katyn Forest in Poland in 1940.
“According to statistics, the total number of people killed in Poland during WWII was 6.5 million, with 3.95 million being Jews, 2.35 million Poles, and over 300,000 other Polish minorities. When combined with population losses due to territorial changes, the total was more than 8.3 million deaths. This country, which had suffered so much, was further shifted westward by more than 200 kilometers as a result of the decisions of the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences at the end of WWII, reducing the country's size by 76,000 square kilometers compared to the pre-war period.
“If we consider only one nation, the Jewish people, they have suffered the most in the world. They had not only endured the spiritual trauma 精神痛苦 of millennium-long exile but also the tragedy of the Nazi-perpetrated genocide in Germany. Just by watching Schindler's List, one can truly feel the despair of a nation caught in a situation where it "cries out to the heavens, but the heavens don't respond" 叫天天不应，叫地地不灵.
“Few people still harbor old resentments in those oppressed nations and countries today because most people have the means to let them go. They rather live in the present and look to the future, so that love and hate are born out of practical necessities and their own interests.
“In this regard, they have already pardoned their past aggressors. In other words, when people in victimized and victimizing countries discuss their histories, they only see the past tragedy as a "historical event." They don't let their grief control them indefinitely 不是永不化解的悲情，并为其左右.
“This inevitably leads us to consider how we should view the history of invasions against us. It has become a major issue that cannot be eschewed, now that China has gone global and begun to participate in rule-setting.
“The reason we have been teaching people to hate for a very long time is that "hatred between classes and hostilities between nations" 阶级仇、民族恨 [a Cultural Revolution slogan] can most directly, vividly, and forcefully boost the moral. In addition, this notion is highly compatible with the "cause and effect relationship" within our national culture.”
“It is past time for us to revise our understanding of history. Only by ‘looking ahead’ can a major power's path have a firm political and cultural foundation”
“Every country has its own way of thinking and value system that shapes its national orientation, value orientation, and behavior. But are those values and ways of thinking helpful to the development of the country - that is the question.
“If life has taught us one thing it is that if a person or a family is trapped in historical grief, it is impossible for them to treat others and society with a positive attitude; and if a country or nation is caught up in past losses and unable to let go, it will only grow despondent, narrow-minded, and petty, to the point where it will directly distort its thinking and sense of values. A victimized country's sensitive nerves will be triggered by the slightest gust of wind 风吹草动, or even by the behavior of a commoner or the delusory words of a politician.
“Internet users from the victimized nation will react angrily if they lack common sense. The already powerful China must be vigilant, or else the world will suspect that it will take the vengeful way of the sword 走复仇的铁血道路. This is clearly not conducive to the Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.
“For a major power to rise, it needs citizens worthy of a major power. If a country is large but its people are small, it will be unable to truly rise. Even though all rivers flow into the sea, it is capable of holding all of them 海纳百川，有容乃大. The ability to appeal to people is stronger when the mind is expanded, and the opposite is also true. In other words, petty powers are blinkered in spirit and outlook, living their lives behind closed doors. Parochialism in a major power involved in global rule-making can only lead to endless conflicts with historical stakeholders and a slew of enemies.
“To free oneself of historical grief, one must first understand the process and laws that govern the evolution of world history. The transition from the "way of the sword" to civilization is a difficult one, and the occurrence of violent conflicts is unavoidable before self-transcendence 自我超越 can be achieved. But just as savage nations have killed their way to civilization, a process of awakening 觉悟过程 is required here as well.
“This applies not only to the last 2,000 years but, even in the last millennium, it would be difficult to find a nation that has not killed or been killed. Almost all nations and peoples have been both victims and perpetrators at this point in history. Or, to put it another way, the victimizer of today is the victim of tomorrow. The distinction between historical periods is that some killings appear more frequently in extant records.
“It is past time for us to revise our understanding of history. Only by "looking ahead" can a major power's path have a firm political and cultural foundation. In saying this, I am not advocating for historical nihilism or forgetting our sufferings, but rather that history should be viewed from a perspective that is more conducive to the country's interests and the nation's self-transcendence.
“We should be more aware of what it means to be a major power and more open-minded. At a time when populism and nationalism are on the rise around the world, this could propel us to the moral high ground. President Xi Jinping's keynote address at Davos [in January 2017] received a lot of praise in part because of his political stance in favor of promoting globalization and building human civilization.
“We must be fully aware that the point of remembering history is to avoid repeating it. We cannot allow ourselves to become entangled in it, much less turn it into a never-ending cause of hostility between nations 异化为永不化解的民族仇恨.
“We have been driven by vengeance for far too long; going forward, we must only be motivated by morality and a desire to advance human civilization. This presents us with a fresh challenge, and it is the path we must now take.
“Rethinking history will help China on its path to becoming a major power.” (Guangming Daily)
“Many people [in China] worship authority and believe in those so-called immortals and emperors, while they are too lazy to investigate the inherent truths of the universe, nature, and human society. As a result, neither our scientific nor rational thinking has matured”
Leading economist Professor Xiang Songzuo recently returned from Israel and is brimming with suggestions for how his country can improve its critical thinking capacity, engage with those in positions of power more effectively, and address China's dire economic situation.
First, some background:
Zhenghe Island 正和岛 is a LinkedIn-hybrid social network founded in 2011 by Liu Donghua and used exclusively by China's wealthiest.
The company that owns the social network has been leading tours of Israel for members, and for only 76,800 RMB ($10,500 US Dollars) per week you can join them to meet some of “The Innovation Nation’s” brightest minds, leaders, innovators, and trailblazers.
The most recent trip took place in June, with over 40 Chinese entrepreneurs taking part, and it was mentored by prominent economist and academic Xiang Songzuo 向松祚.
Professor Xiang is head of the Shenzhen-based Greater Bay Area Financial Research Institute and a professor at the Renmin University School of Finance. Previously he worked as a chief economist at the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and as a deputy director at the People's Bank of China (PBC).
Following the tour, Xiang gave a speech summarizing his impressions, which was published on July 31st as a 12,000-character essay and Q&A session with Zhenghe Island's editor, Chen Wei. It covers everything Xiang has learned so far about Israel and the Jews, and it is titled: "Why do Jews lead the world? 犹太民族凭什么主导世界?”
It's important to note that Xiang's words are brimming with genuine admiration for Jewish people and Israel, not malice or hatred, even though they may read as a misinformed caricature of Jews and potentially offensive to some readers. This demonstrates the fine line between philosemitism and antisemitism, as highlighted by University of Nottingham-Ningbo Professor Mary Ainslie, in her article for The China Quarterly on the topic, Chinese Philosemitism and Historical Statecraft.
In my mind, Xiang’s speech demonstrates beautifully how Chinese patriots and nationalists can use perceived Jewish exceptionalism and assumed homogeneity as a projection of the exceptionalism and unity they desire for their own nation. The most interesting element of Xiang's speech is his idealized portrayal of the Jewish nation as a possible vehicle for a sociopolitical critique.
Full translation below (Q&A not included):
“The Jewish people have 3 major spiritual cores:
“Let's start by talking briefly about the spiritual core of the Jewish people 犹太民族的精神内核. The spiritual core of any people/nation 民族 is certainly very rich; this is especially true of the Jewish people. Let me briefly discuss the following aspects:
“First, a strong and exalted faith.
“The Jews call themselves “the Chosen People of God” and have been entrusted with the noblest of missions.
“All of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, tells how God entered into a sacred covenant with the Jewish people. It describes how He admonished the Jews in various ways and by various means to keep their covenant with God, and how God miraculously saved the Jewish people numerous times.
“Outsiders may dismiss these stories as myths and legends, but devout Jews believe they are true history, divine proof that God chose the Jewish people to be His people.
“What does it mean to be chosen by God or "God's chosen people"? It means not just to live, but to serve 侍奉. It means worshiping God faithfully and religiously and fulfilling the divine mission that God has given.
“If you look carefully at the Old Testament, you will notice that this belief has always sustained the Jewish people. It has been their strongest spiritual pillar and source of inspiration. There is no better story than the book of Exodus.
“The Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt for four or five centuries, but they managed to survive, and Moses eventually led them out. All of Moses' plans and actions in leading the Jewish people out of Egypt were in accordance with God's will, and he was in fact acting on God's direct command.
“Belief in, trust in, and fear of the one true God, as well as firm belief that they were God's chosen people, became the Jewish people's strongest and most exalted conviction - there never seemed to be any other people in the world who believed so devoutly and firmly that God chose the Jews to fulfill the destiny that God had ordained for mankind after He created it.
“The Jewish people's religious beliefs are unique, and understanding the Jewish people's history and accomplishments requires, first and foremost, a deeper understanding of the Jewish people and what moves them 情感.
“When a person or a nation has an extremely noble and firm belief, there is nothing in the world that can defeat them. There is no force that can truly destroy them.
“Many trials and tribulations have befallen the Jewish people. Despite being forced to live in exile away from their homeland for 2,000 years, they have maintained their faith wherever they have gone. They have survived and contributed more to human civilization than they could have imagined.
“According to one philosopher, throughout the long history of humanity, the vast majority of people and human beings have never really thought deeply and systematically about the meaning of life. Why do we exist as humans? What sets humans apart from pigs, dogs, cows, and sheep? Is there a higher calling that distinguishes a human from an animal? What is the purpose and meaning of history?
“Only a few minorities and peoples have systematically and deeply considered these issues. We, the Chinese nation, have had extremely profound and systematic systems of thought about the destiny and nature of mankind, as have the Hindus, ancient Greeks, and Egyptians, to name a few.
“In contrast, the Jewish people are the only ones who have clearly and unequivocally determined that their calling is to fulfill God's designated mission for which He created mankind. Their mission is straightforward, clear, and unambiguous. History has its own objective, and humanity has its own destiny. This is the Jewish people's firm belief.
“And this determines the Jewish people's second spiritual core - a high level of rationality 理性.
“Jews have never been superstitious or idolaters, let alone duped into thinking the world is home to unrivaled immortals or emperors 犹太人从不迷信，从没有偶像崇拜，更不迷信人世间有什么不得了的神仙皇帝. In the view of the Jews, there can be no one in the world who can grasp the Highest Truth, and there can be no one who can truly uncover it. The only one who can grasp it and all truths is God. Man's eternal quest for infinite truth has no end.
“This type of highly rational perception is something that many people around the world lack.
“Despite its 5,000-year history and vast culture, many people in China still believe in superstitions and lack a strong, clear, and all-encompassing spirit of rationality.
“Many people, in particular, worship authority and believe in those so-called immortals and emperors, while they are too lazy to investigate the inherent truths of the universe, nature, and human society. As a result, neither our scientific nor rational thinking has matured.
“Einstein once stated that the Jewish people are unique in that they have a rational spirit that never compromises, that is, they always pursue a question, and they never believe that any authority can monopolize all truths.
“The Talmud is a treasure trove of Jewish wisdom. "When a crisis arises and we are forced to change our own laws, we must fight against all odds, even in the face of a strong enemy; so long as we live, the fight shall go on," says the Talmud. This battle includes innovation and disruption in all fields of thought, including ideology.
“The Jews' high level of rationality is primarily reflected in their lack of superstition, idolatry, or obsession with authority. They also transformed their faith in God into a never-ending quest for infinite truth. They dare to call into question all previous knowledge, ideas, and scientific systems, and to challenge everything. This is especially true of the never-ending quest for new knowledge based on the accumulation of existing knowledge.
“The third spiritual core is a perfect combination of idealism, realism, and optimism.
“Throughout the thousands of years of Jewish upheaval, we find one basic characteristic: the Jews have always possessed a highly optimistic state of mind, which means that even in times of adversity, the Jews have always believed in a better future. They had lofty goals, but they were also very realistic and optimistic. Because they were convinced that they were God's chosen people.
“Many Old Testament stories fully express the Jewish people's idealism, realism, and optimism.
“In the book of Exodus, it is mentioned that with God's help, Moses led the Jews out of slavery to Canaan, God's "Promised Land", a land flowing with milk and honey.
“They traveled out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, entered the desert, and began a life of wandering. Along the way, they experienced all kinds of difficulties, such as walking for three days and three nights in the vast wilderness of Shur, with no food or drink. And even though the Jews may have cried out and grumbled, they would never give up. They continued to move forward despite the most difficult circumstances because they trusted God's promise; after forty years, they finally arrived in Canaan.
“It can be argued that the Jewish people were able to survive because of their optimistic spirit and infinite hope in their hearts. Courage and hope are buried so deeply in the hearts of Jews that no one can take them away. They have therefore always been upbeat, and despite experiencing the most extreme hardships ever experienced on Earth, they remained resilient and unwavering.
“It should not be the case that when I join a group, a company, or a country, I lose my ability to think for myself. The spirit of independence and freedom of thought has always been the most important human quality and ability”
“The Unique Jewish Way of Thinking
“After briefly discussing the Jewish people's spiritual core, I'd like to discuss how spirituality and philosophy have shaped the Jewish way of thinking and the uniqueness of the Jewish way of thinking.
“First, the courage to question [everything] 敢于质疑.
“On our visit to Israel this time, we were honored to hear Professor Zhang Ping share a course on the Jewish way of thinking. Prof. Zhang 张平 is a tenured professor at Tel Aviv University and an adjunct professor at Shandong University, with extensive knowledge and a deep understanding of the history and cultural development of the Jewish people.
“He used the term "parallel logic" 平行逻辑 to describe the Jewish way of thinking, which is very illuminating. The notion of "parallel logic" refers to the idea that there is no absolute and unique truth in the world, that there are infinite possibilities for anything; there are infinite truths, and every possible explanation and truth are parallel to each other (any truth is temporary, and only God Himself is absolute).
“This is to say that we should not assume that someone's thoughts and ideas are the absolute and only truth, nor can we worship a specific idea or truth. Everyone should strive to question existing truths, discover new truths, and identify new answers.
“Consider humankind's understanding of the fundamental laws governing the universe. There have been many claims and explanations from antiquity and up to the present. From the various hypotheses of ancient societies - the Ptolemaic system, the geocentric theory, the Copernican heliocentric theory, to Newton's theory of gravity and Einstein's general theory of relativity - these explanations have their own reason. However, none of them represent the absolute and final truth; mankind will surely come up with new natural theories of the universe in the future, as there is no end to the progress of science and thought.
“That is why the Jewish people have a profound spirit of questioning, and they have to question and debate every word in the Jewish classics, including the Bible, and even debate and question God Himself, not to mention mundane truths and individuals, all of which are the object of questioning, skepticism, and challenge.
“Professor Zhang’s summary of parallel logic is very inspiring. I prefer to sum it up with the phrase "independent spirit and free-thinking," which the Jewish people posses.
“If we want to find a nation in the world that can truly embody the spirit of independence and free thinking, I think it is only the Jewish nation. And the cultural achievements created by this independent spirit and free thinking have later influenced several major religions in the world, such as Christianity and Islam.
“Pick up the Christian Bible and the Muslim Qur'an, two of the most important books in human history, and you will discover how powerful those images and ideas are. They are both deeply influenced by the ancient culture and history of the Jewish people. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible tells the story of a nation from the time God created everything to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt in the first century BC. It shifts back and forth over a long period of time, whereas the New Testament only tells the story of Jesus.
“If you think about it, it's also a bit of an incredible thing, because the historical stories, cultural traditions, ideologies, and spiritual power of the Jewish people have influenced the entire Western world and the entire human race in this way. Russell Kirk, a famous American political scientist, wrote a very famous book called Roots of American Order. The author uses a large number of historical facts to trace and clarify the socio-political order and founding philosophy of the United States as a nation, which originated from the Old Testament, the Bible, and Jerusalem as the ultimate root.
“Professor Zhang’s concept of "parallel logic" suggests that everyone must be highly independent in their thinking, even if they are linked by bonds such as family, community, organization, and the State. Each group's high level of independent thinking is not subordinate to the other. It should not be the case that when I join a group, a company, or a country, I lose my ability to think for myself. The spirit of independence and freedom of thought has always been the most important human quality and ability.
“To be honest, this is what the Chinese people are lacking. For over 5,000 years, the Chinese nation has produced many heroes and masters, as well as many marvelous ideas and cultural creations that cannot be denied. However, we still lack the ability to think and create independently, particularly the ability to generate outstanding original ideas.
“In his presentation, Professor Zhang mentioned two shocking phenomena that are unique to the Jews: first, their original contributions to all fields of human beings far outnumber their proportion in the world's population; the other is even more significant, in that many of the Jewish contributions are "paradigm-shifting."
“What does it mean to be a disruptor? It means creating something completely different, overturning the paradigms of generations past. According to the current popular expression, it is creating something from nothing ["from 0 to 1"].
“We often say that the Chinese have made few “0 to 1” contributions, correct? This is an interesting question. In general, Chinese people like to imitate, follow the crowd, and follow the trend. In this regard, we are, indeed, woefully inadequate. For example, from an educational standpoint, a professor at Israel's Hebrew University once stated that the Chinese place great value on education, and we place great value on education as well, but there is a subtle but critical difference between the two.
“When Chinese children return home from school, their parents will often ask if they misbehaved or if they listened to their teachers, whereas when Jewish children return home from school, their parents will frequently ask if they asked a question today to challenge their teachers, which is a completely different way of thinking and education.
“The Chinese people actually lack the spirit of inquiry. Most teachers simply repeat what they have learned, and even if the teachers are wrong or even talking nonsense, very few students dare to challenge them.
“Without a critical mindset, how can a country challenge old ideas and create new ones? To put it another way, how much hope does a country have if it lacks a spirit of skepticism and innovative thinking?
“The most challenging and intolerable situation for Jews is when there is only one voice in a university, a business, or even a nation”
“Second, doing the hardest thing is sometimes the easiest thing to do 第二，做最困难的事才是最容易的事
“This is a quote from the Talmud, a treasure trove of Jewish wisdom, a dialectic source of wisdom. We will not be competitive if we always try to do what is easy and what everyone else can do, whether it is ideas, theories, art, business, or technology.
“Only by doing the most difficult things will it be difficult for others to surpass and imitate once successful, which is what entrepreneurs today refer to as a "moat" 护城河. Many of the Jewish people's innovations are unique, and at first glance, they do appear to be the most difficult.
“Since the state's inception, many of Israel's innovations have been from 0 to 1. They don't say that when they see something great, they simply copy and plagiarize it, but rather that they choose to create something from nothing.
“The Jewish people's wisdom is that doing the most difficult thing is actually doing the easiest thing. Why? Because the more difficult things are, the fewer people attempt them. When they are done, there is no competition, much like having a large cake all to yourself.
“Conversely, the easier things are to do, the more people do them, which means you have a plethora of competitors. Doing the easiest thing is actually taking the hardest road, with a very low chance of success.
“One of the most impressive tours we all took during our recent trip to Israel was to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Some of the most significant innovations since the establishment of the State of Israel are on display there, all of which have had a profound impact on the world and all of which appear to be extremely difficult to achieve, but they have.
“Third, they constantly pursue innovation.
“It should be re-emphasized that the Jewish people's "paradigm-shattering" innovations and creations have manifested themselves in virtually every field of science, thought, technology, culture, and the arts. In almost every field of human civilization, the Jewish people have made epoch-making, disruptive innovations and creations. Everyone is familiar with Einstein, of course; Freud and Marx, perhaps even more so.
“Then there's Richard Feynman, the great physicist, about whom Mr. Yang Zhenning [himself a Chinese Nobel laureate in physics] has spoken about many times in the past. Feynman is a Jewish Nobel laureate and a pivotal and game-changing figure in quantum mechanics.
“Mr. Yang said of him, that everything he thought, everything he said and did, his academic work was different. He was able to freely and fully utilize his various talents in the United States because the country allows such people to develop.
“Mr. Yang said that if Feynman had been born in China, he would have either been put in a jail cell, turned insane, or kicked out of school. There is a popular science book about Feynman called Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
“The list of such subversive characters is endless. For example, there was a Jewish scientist named Wolfgang Pauli, the man behind the "Pauli exclusion principle" in physics.
“Pauli loved to nitpick and harshly criticize other people's work. There was a saying among his contemporaries that if their work was not harshly criticized by Pauli, it could never be considered officially completed. Mr. Yang recalled that when he was giving a report on the canonical quantization of Yang-Mills theories at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he was continuously "harassed" by Pauli, who had to ask Mr. Yang questions that he could not answer at that time, so much so that one time he had to stop a presentation.
“A person who instigates such a situation would be utterly despised by Chinese people, possibly even ostracized. Jews, on the other hand, do not consider this to be offensive, but rather a natural and even necessary thing. We simply must question and criticize one another openly; otherwise, how can we progress?
“Professor Zhang said that one of the most important points about the Jewish people's "parallel logic" is that different and even opposing viewpoints and people can coexist harmoniously and get along very well. Should I hold a grudge against you, ignore you, and retaliate against you simply because you criticized me harshly?
“The most challenging and intolerable situation for Jews is when there is only one voice in a university, a business, or even a nation. Our Confucius advocated for seeking "harmony in diversity 和而不同," but the Jewish people are much more sophisticated and tolerant than we are in this regard.
“Many people are now concerned about China's real estate bubble bursting and a recession. When viewed from a different perspective, the bursting of the real estate bubble is not necessarily a bad thing. Once it occurs, we can all unwind and focus on worthwhile endeavors, long-term growth, and activities that will actually be valuable in the long run”
“What can we learn from Israel?
“Finally, I'd like to discuss the inspirations I gained from my trip to Israel.
“First, always be optimistic.
“Today, China's economy is in a very difficult period, with many data indicating that China's previous model of high-speed growth can no longer be sustained, and we should all be able to sense that the ability to make money in most industries is fading.
“We must, however, keep a firm and upbeat attitude regardless of the situation in the future or the progress of the nation.
“The explanation is straightforward: if everyone is pessimistic, those who conduct research won't write books or articles, those who run businesses will stop investing and growing larger and stronger, and everyone will stop thinking and working hard, lying flat 躺平 like The Walking Dead 行尸走肉. This is neither appropriate nor practical.
“True greatness is often attained by perseverance in the face of adversity.
“The Jewish people have lived in generally very difficult circumstances for thousands of years, but they have made amazing contributions at every turn.
“Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Jews in Frankfurt, Germany, were forced to live in closed neighborhoods known as the Jewish Ghetto, which had extremely congested streets. Jews could only live in this area and had no right to own land or homes, attend universities, or serve in the military or the state. They had to deal with extremely difficult living and housing conditions.
“However, even under the most difficult circumstances, many Jews worked hard and prospered.
“The most famous is the rise of the Rothschild family. The Rothschilds lived in the early days in the Jewish neighborhood of Frankfurt, and over the generations became the most prominent financial giants in Europe and the world.
“This is even more true of the history of the Zionist movement, in which the Jewish people never gave up and eventually succeeded in restoring their homeland in the face of almost no hope and tremendous hardship and suffering.
“Therefore, at all times, we must maintain an optimistic state of mind. We must not think that there is nothing to do, for there is actually a lot more that can be done. Each and every one of us must work hard to improve our country and nation within our means.
“Second, we must maintain our focus 一定要专注.
“If you can dig deeper than others and create a market niche in business, no one will be able to beat you. This is crucial. 做企业你能扎下去深耕，能做到别人没有办法超越你，这是最重要的。
“Some time ago, I had the honor to speak with Mr. Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, who said that the United States was trying to contain and stifle Huawei to the extreme, and "kill" the company. Nonetheless, Huawei is not "dead," but rather alive and well, and only going from strength to strength. How do they do it?
“Ren stated that they began planning more than ten years ago, yet how does one prepare for such a contingency? They succeeded by consistently aiming to be at the forefront of modern science and technology, as well as in the most challenging areas of these disciplines.
“Westerners may believe that Chinese people can’t succeed, but we have no choice; we must do it, we must achieve what others believe we can’t.
“Ren stated, "I would prefer for Huawei to never go public and pay dividends - or pay fewer dividends - if it meant that I can use the money to hire more people who can achieve great things."
“Now Huawei spends a lot of money every year to hire world-class mathematicians, physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and so on, because Mr. Ren firmly believes that by hiring so many geniuses and spending so much money, we will surely make something remarkable.
“Mr. Ren frequently says that if every Chinese person did what he or she does to the best of his or her ability, this country would be great.
“This is the power of focus. Only with a high degree of focus and consistency can we achieve the ultimate and the best.
“The Jews are like that; they strive to complete the most difficult tasks in the most extreme manner possible so that others cannot surpass them.
“Needless to say, not everyone can do the most difficult things, but if we do what we are good at to the extreme, we can accomplish great things.
“In the face of China's economic challenges and long-term transformation, I think the most important thing for entrepreneurs now is not to do additions, but subtractions; not to expand the scale, but to learn to focus and concentrate. The economic transformation that China is facing this year, I believe, is part of a relatively long process, and the past era of high-speed growth may be difficult to reproduce. But we have to adapt. In fact, every country has to go through a long and difficult process of economic transformation.
“Let me briefly talk about how Japan went through its economic transformation:
“In the 1950s and 1960s, Japan enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth, but in the 1970s, especially in 1971-1973, when the war in the Middle East broke out, OPEC decided to reduce oil production and imposed an embargo on non-friendly countries. The price of oil rapidly increased to four times what it had been. Japan's domestic price index began to rise rapidly, and heavy industries such as iron and steel, chemicals, and paper, which depended on oil imports, suffered a huge blow. Virtually all industries in Japan suffered losses.
“Akio Morita [founder of Sony] mentioned in his memoirs that during 1973-1976, Japanese entrepreneurs, including himself, were in a state of panic and wouldn't last long.
“But it was during this crisis that all of them learned the hard way and found a way to cope with the economic transformation. Akio Morita summarized the strategy of Japanese business and economic transformation in four words - light, thin, short, and small 轻薄短小 - this was their way to save energy and raw materials and reduce costs.
“However, Japan made a serious error with the real estate bubble in the 1980s and 1990s. A long period of economic stagnation and recession followed the bubble's eventual burst, which came to be known as Japan’s "lost thirty years."
“How do Japanese entrepreneurs and scholars view the so-called "lost thirty years"? When I went to Japan to give a speech in 2019, I had the opportunity to speak with Japanese entrepreneurs, officials, and scholars about this issue, and their responses surprised me.
“They said that the real estate bubble and its subsequent bursting had a huge impact on Japan, but it was not as bad as implied by the so-called "lost three decades". They considered the bursting of the bubble to be a good thing. After the crash, everyone calmed down and became less frantic in their pursuit of paper wealth 纸面财富. When things have calmed down, what did the Japanese do? They devoted themselves to economic quality improvement, refinement, particularly original scientific research, and the pursuit of excellence.
“You see that for the past 20 years or so, Japan has had scientists winning Nobel Prizes every year. The number of Nobel Prize winners in Japan over the years is second only to the United States.
“Therefore, it is a great thing to be able to calm down, pursue the most crucial goals, and complete the most challenging, long-term tasks.
“Many people are now concerned about China's real estate bubble bursting and a recession. When viewed from a different perspective, the bursting of the real estate bubble is not necessarily a bad thing. Once it occurs, we can all unwind and focus on worthwhile endeavors, long-term growth, and activities that will actually be valuable in the long run.
“This is the dialectic of the development of things, and this is how mankind came to be.” (Redian News)
Playing in the Background
Discourse Power is written by Tuvia Gering, a researcher at the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, and a Tikvah Fund’s Krauthammer Fellow. Any views expressed in this newsletter, as well as any errors, are solely those of the author. Follow Tuvia on Twitter @GeringTuvia