Chen Shengqian: Anatomy of the “China Threat Theory” to see the difference between Chinese and Western cultural genes?
(Question about East and West) Chen Shengqian: Dissecting the “China Threat Theory” and seeing the difference between Chinese and Western cultural genes?
China News Service, Beijing, May 16th. Title: Chen Shengqian: Dissecting the “China Threat Theory” and seeing what is the difference between Chinese and Western cultural genes?
What is the Chinese cultural gene, and what does it have to do with today?
When this problem is bigger, it can explain China’s path of peaceful development for many years; when it is smaller, it can make people consciously wear masks in the face of the new crown pneumonia epidemic.
Chen Shengqian, a professor in the Department of Archaeology, Arts and Sciences, Renmin University of China, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Service on “Questions of East and West” to explain in detail the characteristics and causes of Chinese cultural genes, and responded to many hot issues of concern to the outside world.
What is the difference between Chinese and Western cultural genes?
Chen Shengqian believes that cultural genes are neutral in most cases, and there is no inevitable good or bad. It is just that the positive effects of cultural genes can be driven by specific environmental conditions and people’s subjective initiative. Show it. “Cultural genes are very different from biological genes. Cultural genes can learn from each other, they are not innate.”
So, what is the difference between the cultural genes of China and Western countries represented by the United States?
“The cultural history of the United States is too short, and what it inherits is mainly the genes of Western culture.” Chen Shengqian said that a prominent feature of American cultural genes is “belligerent”, which is more accurate: ” Aggressive”.
Such cultural genes are positively expressed as enterprising or “savior mentality”, always wanting to change the world and save the world; negatively, such as the United States has not fought for more than a dozen years in more than 200 years of history, and has been a warlike country since ancient times. Estimated to be no match.
In addition, the unique cultural genes of the United States also have technical orientation-all problems for Americans are technical problems. Chen Shengqian stated that, for example, in the face of the war on terrorism, the United States will think of inventing better equipment and weapons to solve the problem, but anti-terrorism is not entirely a matter of military technology, it is largely related to politics.
Back to the source, China and the West are different from the beginning.
Chen Shengqian said that there are many theories about the origin of civilization in the world, which can be roughly classified into two types: one is collective-based or collectivism, and the other is individual-based or individualism. The collective-based civilization is formed by solving the problems encountered by the group and fighting against risks together.
It can be seen that in the late Neolithic period of China, the population size and density under primitive agriculture reached an unprecedented magnitude. There were dense settlements in the swamp plains of North China and the flood plains of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
This zone is also a high-risk zone for floods. People here must have a good collective consciousness to survive. The elites who can lead the masses emerged from the crowd, the complexity of society gradually increased, and civilization began to sprout.
Looking at the origin of Western civilization, at least it can be traced back to the ancient Greek period. The agriculture of ancient Greece came from West Asia, mainly agriculture and animal husbandry: growing wheat, domesticating cattle and sheep. But this agricultural structure is contradictory, and the wheat-growing land cannot raise cattle and sheep.
In contrast, prehistoric agriculture in China is characterized by self-sufficiency. Related to grain agriculture is raising pigs, raising chickens, and raising dogs. This species structure is complementary, and the by-products of grains can feed livestock. , While cattle (yellow cattle) and sheep appeared relatively late in China.
At the same time, the Attica Peninsula in ancient Greece had rugged terrain and few plains and basins suitable for agriculture. However, there were many islands and maritime traffic conditions were better, so it developed a kind of dependence on maritime trade. Of civilization.
“We have seen the civilization of ancient Greece continue to expand and colonize, and commercial exchange is based on individuals, which will inevitably lead to the enhancement of individual consciousness.”
Chen Shengqian said that in this sense, ancient Greece established the individualistic cultural genes of Western civilization—continuously seeking and colonizing the outside world.
In general, in terms of cultural genes in China and the West, one is collective and the other is individual, which is actually closely related to the early production methods.
Chinese civilization forms a dazzling star Over 5000 years of integration
Diligent, peaceful, modest, reserved, gregarious, tolerant… These are the characteristics of Chinese cultural genes summarized by Chen Shengqian.
For example, “subtlety”. From the perspective of cultural landscape, Westerners show a strong preference for commanding heights and control points, but the Chinese cultural landscape always wants to “block it, block it again” , Like a courtyard house; when the Chinese write poetry, subtlety is also the most basic requirement. If you say it directly, you will lose a little charm.
Chen Shengqian believes that “tolerance” is the most precious of Chinese cultural genes. The reason why China has formed an inclusive cultural gene is also a product of long-term production and life practice in history.
The origins and formations of Chinese civilization are distributed in various regions, one after another, with shining stars. Chen Shengqian believes that archaeological materials show that there is the Liangzhu culture in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Shijiahe culture in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River; then the Hongshan culture in northern Liaoxi and the Shimao culture in northern Shaanxi emerged. There is a centripetal trend in the development of ancient Chinese civilization, and they all want to “compete with the Central Plains”, because the radius of control of all regions is the shortest by controlling the Central Plains. In the end, they all merged into Chinese civilization.
“The process of integration is by no means an easy task. It requires repeated adjustments. Therefore, the Chinese civilization has done a major task for 5000 years, which is integration.” Chen Shengqian emphasized.
He further stated that the Chinese ancestors thought of all means to solve the problem of integration, because integration will definitely face conflicts, then war must be avoided, and the cost of integration must be reduced as much as possible. Tolerance-let time slowly digest and accept this difference, so now Chinese people “feel good” about the difference.
Chen Shengqian, for example, take food as an example. He thinks that Beijing food is not good. You can eat Sichuan food. If you think Sichuan food is not good, you can eat Cantonese food. There are too many Chinese cuisines and tastes, but everyone still It’s not too much, and I always think about something special.
“So, Chinese civilization tolerates differences, and even appreciates differences.” Chen Shengqian said that tolerance is to seek a certain part of the commonality, harmony but difference. “As long as we have a common basis for overall interests, the rest can be different.”
Achieving integration is called “lucky”. The Chinese cultural circle has long been formed
In the history of more than 5,000 years of civilization, China has completed different cultures, The integration of different ethnic groups is described by Chen Shengqian as “lucky”. “Why use the word “lucky”, because this period of history is very costly and cannot be easily achieved.”
There is a view that China’s history is “involved” and development has stagnated since the Han Dynasty. . Chen Shengqian said bluntly, this is not a completely accurate sentence, because we have actually done a big thing, that is, we have become a super-large ethnic group recognized by more than one billion people, leaving a super-large group of people in today’s world. Civilization has formed a huge market.
China has been able to develop rapidly in recent years, and the scale effect is particularly important. Chen Shengqian said that if we trace this dividend to the source, China has paid huge costs and made huge contributions in the past few thousand years. In a sense, it is of course very lucky, because integration is not It will happen. “Historically, a long period of time must be divided, and a long period of time must be combined. But for China, harmony is the main theme.”
After the Han Dynasty, there were the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, and there were also five chaotic China. After the Tang Dynasty, there were five dynasties and ten countries. , And then there are Jin, Xixia, Yuan, and Qing. Chen Sheng said before that, in fact, capitalism sprouted in the Northern Song Dynasty. Lin’an was a world-class metropolis at that time with a population of more than 1 million. European and Arab merchants came to Lin’an; Quanzhou was also a world-famous port at that time, and many religions were introduced from it. China is developing very prosperously. Even in the Ming Dynasty, China was prosperous, and its commercial culture developed well. However, China must continue to face the integration of ethnic groups so that development will not be interrupted.
Chen Shengqian continued that the Qing Dynasty completed a major contribution, which is the integration of the rivers and mountains in the southeastern half of China and the northwestern half of China. The long-term see-saw struggle between the grassland tribe and the farming tribe has finally achieved integration. In fact, whether it is the Mongolians of the Yuan Dynasty or the Jurchens of the Qing Dynasty, they have a very strong identification with Han culture and the culture of the Central Plains, but this identification requires time and cost, and it will not be realized automatically.
Speaking of this, Chen Shengqian pointed out that from the perspective of Chinese culture as a whole, a cultural circle was formed very early, and it had already been formed in the prehistoric era.
Why do you say that? For example, he said that the Hongshan civilization in the northeast of Liaoxi contributed to the culture of jade. Jade is a symbol of Chinese culture, and it was first used most fully and best in the northeast; there are also ceramics, ironware, ornaments, etc. The spread across North and South and East and West proves that Chinese culture has long come from all directions.
“Chinese culture has a circle of interaction, which can also be regarded as four plates, the southeast plate, the northwest plate, the ocean plate and the ecological cross-belt plate. If you say China and the margins alone, it will be the category of Chinese civilization. The restriction is too small and too narrow.”
Chen Shengqian believes that the line from Heihe to Tengchong is China’s ecological crisscross zone, in a sense a hub of Chinese civilization, northwest, southeast and The civilizations of the ecotone are constantly communicating. The other is the ocean sector. A part of Chinese culture is uploaded and exported through the sea.
China threat theory? In the past many years, a few Western countries and the media have advocated the so-called “China Threat Theory”. Chen Shengqian believes that it is “saving the belly of others with one’s own heart.”