Most of my fellow Americans, even those among the numerous expats who live here, think I am deluded and anti-American. What they don't understand is that I am a disillusioned patriot. Some say that those who live in China are in one of 3 categories: mercenaries, missionaries and misfits. I must be in the latter category. When controversial topics come up like Tibet, they are always ignorant of the CIA's role in destabilizing Tibet in the late 1950's. When the Taiwan issue is raised the have no knowledge of Chiang Kai-shek and how he received serious military training in Japan and his lack of will to defeat the Japanese invasion of China. Any rational discussion of the positive contributions of Mao Zedong is not possible!
I grew up in the US during the anticommunist 50's. We regularly had air raid drills in elementary school where we got under our desks to await atomic bombs coming from Red China and/or their neighbors the USSR. Not only were the Chinese and Russians our ideological communist enemies they were those Godless communists. I grew up with the mythical Superman and truly believing in his values of TRUTH, JUSTICE and the AMERICAN WAY. Even today Americans think of Chinese as without values because they are different from Superman values. I have found this not to be so. There are at least three things I have found that the Chinese value. They are HARMONY, PRAGMATISM and THE ART OF THE LONG VIEW.
The above Chinese character is the character he (2) which means HARMONY. It is certainly a traditional Chinese value and I think a present day Chinese value. It is a value I found missing during my life in America and which I experienced almost instantaneously when I arrived in Beijing in April of 2001 despite the chaos of my personal life. It is the primary reason why I have chosen China as my home. I can't say this was due to a rationale experience of HARMONY but more of a subjective experience and sense. Many Americans may disagree with me that HARMONY is a present day Chinese value but I would argue that the articulated present day goal of the Chinese leadership for a harmonious society is quite real. I would go so far as to say it is their primary value. Most Americans would agree with me that individual FREEDOM is our society's primary value, which we believe is a universal value. For this reason it is worthwhile to compare and contrast HARMONY and FREEDOM. Understanding this comparison will help us understand China and ourselves. If the 20th century was the American century the 21sth century is fast becoming the Chinese century!!!
In order to understand China we need to understand what is encompassed in this word HARMONY and why it is such a central value for the Chinese. HARMONY is a complex concept but it can be pragmatically equated to STABILITY.
Different cultures have different concepts of TIME!