This daily news commentaries is read by the founder of Gongshiwang Zhou Zhixing. It published 15 short episodes here. (I didn’t find anything particularly special among these 15 entries but thought this format is pretty cool - I would expect something interesting in the future).
Since March 5, 2015, Gongshiwang App has had a new column on its audio channel, which is called “Zhou Speaks”. Zhou speaks for one minute a day, records it and publishes it. It is like a radio program. I am the broadcaster. Of course, it is just my own thoughts. It is going to be one minute a day, and five times a week. Each time it is going to be about 270 words. I think I am going to collect 15 episodes all together once and call it a bi-monthly talk.
Discussion on New-Tianxia-ism, Xu Jilin, Bai Tongdong and Liu Qing
(Picking bones on Xu Jilin - reflecting on the discussion of the wide-spread machoism especially among intellectuals - discussed on China Speaks on Feb. 27, 2015, Xu Jilin started the conversation like this: Hello everyone, today is International Women’s Day and it is also a Sunday. I see there are many women here participating this very masculine topic. 许纪霖：各位朋友下午好，今天是三八妇女节，又是周日，台下有不少女同胞，来参与我们这个非常阳刚的话题。)
Liu Qing (刘擎) is a professor of politics at East China Normal University in Shanghai.
1, Xu Jilin: Tianxia-ism is a very core concept in Chinese civilization. Actually it has two layers. First, in ancient China there was no concept of a nationalist country like today. There was just the concept of a country like a kingdom. Beyond the country there is Tianxia. Gu Yanwu from the turn of Ming and Qing dynasties said that the country could die but Tianxia could not die. If Tianxia dies it is going to be a jungle world. Tianxia represents a set of values and orders of civilization. Second, it is a geographical concept. The traditional Chinese concept of the world is centered on the main plain of China, and there are foreign savages from four differections. Different from the current race concept, as long as those foreign savages accept this set of civilization, they are members of the Chinese civilization, which all constitute China’s “Tianxia”.
2: In Chinese people’s words we could describe a nationalist country as one that is aristocratic internally and aggressive externally. The best examples of late-comer countries are Japan and Germany. They got rich and stronger before they took revenge. If on one hand we use the language of a nationalist country, and on the other hand we tell others that we are on a peaceful rise, normal people would know that we are talking nonsense. To let an emerging country peacefully integrate into the world system, especially for a big country like China, there needs to be a set of language that is beyond nationalistic concepts. In Chinese traditions, there are many resources that could be adopted to forge this new set of language.
3, Xu Jilin: New-Tianxia-ism is extracted from ancient Chinese civilization. It is universal civilization that exceeds beyond the boundaries of nationalist countries. East Asia today is as dangerous as Europe during the end of the 19th century till the first half of the 20th century. At that time each country considered their own national interests the priority. They all fought for resources and power, which led to the world wars. Today’s East China is on the verge of similar wars. From this perspective, this Tianxia system initiated by Pengdong, what I call the Tianxia-ism, is probably a way for us to deal with this dangerous East Asia and dangerous world.
4, Tianxia-ism is a not a special culture - it is universal civilization. The concepts between civilization and culture are different. Civilization refers to a set of universal values and universal language. Culture refers to a particular country, ethnicity, place or even group. You can say that each country, region and ethnicity has their own culture, but there are very few cultures in the world that could be considered a set of civilization.
5, In my view, the Tianxia-ism is a big challenge to those who advocates China’s special characteristics. You are wrong! You think you are standing on the stance of China, but actually you are not. It is because Chinese civilization has never been special from the start. It is universal. It contemplates the world from the whole human beings’ perspective, including China’s own problems. When you use the perspective of “a special culture” to think of China and the world, and consider this great universal Chinese civilization as a special culture, you are actually dwarfing the great Chinese civilization. It is just you haven’t realized it. I believe Tongdong would agree with me. When we talk about Tianxia-ism or Tianxia system, we firstly need to reflect this China special theory based on nationalistic views.
6, New-Tianxia-ism is a double transcendence from traditional Tianxia-ism and contemporary nationalistic views. It maintains the traditional of Tianxia-ism’s universal values. It thinks and makes decisions based on the whole mankind’s universal civilization and global interests. Meanwhile it gets rid of the self-centered aspect of Tianxia-ism: I am the strongest; I am the most civilized. This is first.
7, Second, how to decentralize, how to de-classify? After all, the traditional Tianxia-ism has constructed classes. The core is the most civilized, and the more it is closer to the periphery, the more savage it is. The New-Tianxia-ism needs to absorb healthy values in contemporary class-centered systems: each nation, no matter big or small has to be equal. Each country needs to respect others’ sovereign power. We could see that the New-Tianxia-ism is not a complete negation to contemporary nationalistic countries; it is a detox towards conflicts…… The contemporary universal civilization of the world can’t be monopolized by the West, nor can it be represented by China. The sharing of different civilization and culture in the world is what I call the New-Tianxia-ism.
8, Liu Qing: I have always wondered, how come whenever we talk about cultural differences, we automatically think about the difference between Chinese culture and Western culture? How come the first question is not the difference from contemporary culture and ancient culture? It is as if the spatial distance is considered difference, but time difference is not a difference. There is continuation as well as rupture in history. There is split and encounter of space in history as well. Globalization is culture’s more frequent and intimate encounter in space. The collapse of Tianxia-ism is due to culture’s encounter in space. It is because when culture encountered another civilization, or encountered the exterior it collapsed. Meanwhile, the West is facing China’s rise and it is encountering many strong reflects from non-Western civilization. That kind of old “superior European culture” or the “culture empire” centered on the West can’t be sustained today.
8, 刘擎: 我一直疑惑，一谈到文化差别，为什么我们理所当然地首先想到是中国文化与西方文化的差别?为什么首要的问题不是现代与古代文化的差别?好像空间上的距离才是距离，而时间上的距离不是距离。历史有延续也有断裂，而历史上的空间也有分割与遭遇。全球化就是文化在空间上更加频繁和紧密的遭遇。天下主义的崩溃就是文化在空间上遭遇的结果，因为天下遭遇到另一种文明，遭遇到外部，天下就塌掉了。同样，西方遭遇到中国的崛起，遭遇到许多非西方文明的强劲反弹力量，那种旧的"欧洲文明优越论"或西方中心论的"文明帝国"模式，在今天不可能再维系下去。