Just 30 years since Tienanmen incident, China built itself up to be worthy contender of global leader with 85% approval ratings from its citizens. This is an unprecedented achievement in recent history. We now witness that there is more than one way to behave (culture) and more than one way to manage a country, which is against the Anglo-western narrative. From China’s perspective, there is no one specific way of doing things, it is always hybrid and agile. Today, the Chinese economy is more capitalistic than communistic operationally, against a backdrop of Chinese socio-economic strive, adapt and thrive rather than an admission of white supremacy.
A Chinese scholar once lamented on CCTV that the “biggest sacrifice of our generation, is our Chinese culture”. China embraced and implemented western ideologies so much that they had forgotten their roots. Clearly, there are valuable philosophical and cultural elements that we need to protect because it defines what being Chinese means. To that end, China must create its own brand of social, economic and political ideologies.
Culture and governance need to complement each other in order for a country to work cohesively and produce positive results. By now, there should no debate that social obedience will help a country get out of this covid-19 crisis faster, assuming the government is also competent. Thus far, America has shown the world they are neither obedient nor competent.
However, being able to get up and running quicker doesn’t mean China can maintain the lead. We are an interconnected world, if you have no friends to back you, you will be ostracized. We can see how China was making friends all over the world for the last 10 years, and also trying to play the nice-guy amidst the covid-19 crisis. What we can do now, is to monitor what China is going to do with her new found friendships in Europe. From shutting badmouths, to soften the resistance, to forcing new trade and partnership deals, this will inform the short term direction that China heading.
There are certain worrying signs that challenge our currently well-established institutions in the long run. With covid-19, the ones that got hit the most is our financial and info-comm/media institutions.
The first is our financial institutions, more specifically, money as a tool to manipulate the economy, especially in a crisis. Proud capitalists turned into socialists overnight and business owners get hit the most. A full analysis of the money system requires a thesis on its own, so I’ll just say there is a lot of potential for a new money system and cryptocurrencies are at the forefront.
Globally, info-comm institutions are also under a lot of stress. Already the internet has facilitated the rise of populism with the onslaught of online social justice warriors. With benefit of hindsight, it was wise that China made censorship the norm rather than the exception like what POFMA is trying to do to catch up now. Furthermore with the aid of AI and better digital tools, there is almost no way stop the imminent chaos unless radical approaches are taken to police the internet.
The role of the government is to govern the country. If we allow other systems to take over, then the government will lose its relevance and slowly they will erode out of existence. This seems far-fetched, but as a technologist, I can say this is not impossible at all. Already we see more and more tools that promote decentralization, and political leaders relegating to mouthpieces for the masses without adding any more insight than the average degree holder in the noisy crowd.
As an individual person on the global stage, what we can do now is to decide in the long term, which side we want to stay on. Do you want to support power to the people and continue to build tools to disrupt the institutions; or do we want to believe in a benevolent authority competent enough to protect us from naysayers, parasites and evil-rich, while in the short term, keep an eye on where the big players are investing their time and money.