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Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

Can China rise peacefully?

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, gave a talk on China last week at an event organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He predicts that China’s economic growth will lead to its military growth, which in turn, will result in conflicts between the U.S. and China in the future, be it 20 or 30 years from now.

“It’s a myth that many China scholars and policy makers think China is different from the U.S. and other European great powers,” said Mearsheimer.

He argued that when China grows more powerful economically, it will translate that economic might into military might and will try to dominate Asia, and meanwhile, the U.S., the hegemony in the West Hemisphere, “will go great length to prevent China from becoming a regional hegemony in Asia.”

Mearsheimer said his theory on the power of states in international politics is based on the following five assumptions:

  • principal actors in international politics are states;
  • all states have military offensive capacity;
  • the intentions of the states are hard to predict and measure;
  • principal goal for every state is to survive; and
  • states will maximize their chance for survival.

He said these assumptions lead states to three forms of behavior, namely

  • states fear each other;
  • the best way for a state to survive is to protect itself; and
  • the best way to do the prection is to be very powerful.

“China has been a highly aggressive country in history, just like other great powers in the world,” Mearsheimer said.

The international forum is an anarchy system, he emphasized, citing that the fittest survives.

“When China was weak, the other great powers took advantage of it,” he said. “It’s that experience of humiliation that makes it perfectly clear to China that it can’t let it happen again.”

He said the best way to ensure that is for China to be very powerful.

“To put it in slightly different terms, it’s for China to dominate Asia.”

But the U.S. and other countries in Asia will try to prevent China from dominating Asia, he said.

He stated that in its effort to maintain its hegemony, the U.S. succeeded in dismantling other great powers in history, including the Imperial Germany, the Nazi Germany, the Imperial Japan and Russia. It will try to contain China as well.

As China continues to grow and become stronger, the competition between the U.S. and China will be more intense. It will eventually escalate to conflicts, he concluded.

“Anything the U.S. does to defend itself will be offensive to China, and vice versa,” he said.

Mearsheimer disputed the theories of co-relation balancing, the importance of economic ties, and the “myth” that Confucian ideology deems China a peace loving country. He said at time of conflicts, politics trumpets everything.

“I’m not anti China or anti America,” he declared. “If I were an advisor of national security to the President of China, I would tell him to get the U.S. out of Asia. By the same token, if I were an advisor to the President of the United States, I would advise him to keep China out as well.”

He warned that “If China continues to grow as it did in the past 30 years and becomes a giant Hong Kong, it’s going to be unstoppable.”

“I hope China will stop growing,” he said to me when I interviewed him, and several times during his speech.  That sounded quite anti China to me.

For more information on his theories, check out his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Golden Globe Winner Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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“Wealth and Power”—talking with Orville Schell

Monday, July 29th, 2013
Orville Schell at Kellogg

Orville Schell at Kellogg

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director at the Center on U.S.-China Relations of Asia Society, during his recent trip to Chicago. He was in town to talk about his new book Wealth and Power ()—China’s long march to the twenty-first century, co-written with John Delury.

After his talk to a group of Kellogg’s alumni at Northwestern University, he signed a copy of his book for me and chatted with me about his view on China’s extraordinary rise from the “sick men of Asia” not that long ago.

“Westerners often misinterpret what China wants,” he said. “China doesn’t want Western democracy, but to be strong.”

Orville looked to China’s history to illustrate his point that since the Opium War, China was weak for centuries. It was humiliated and beaten (“落后” “挨打”), and has therefore associated power with wealth.

DSC01343Over the last 30 years, China has developed rapidly and accumulated extraordinary amount of wealth and a wealthy class of people. He addressed in his book how China has emerged from the weak to the strong, and moving forward, why China needs to go global and “integrates itself to the rest of the world.”

He addressed the problems China is facing, including corruption, environmental degradation, disparity between the rich and the poor, health care and welfare, but hailed China’s unprecedented development.

One thing he particularly pointed out, however, was the “victim mentality.”

“It’s a very deep and very powerful force,” he said. He cautioned that China should be careful not to overuse it. Nationalism over conflicts with other nations can make China sacrifice recent development, he said.

I look forward to reading Wealth and Power, which examines the lives of eleven important people who made great contributions in creating the China today.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Mahal, an immigrant story in Chicago

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013


photo-53A team of seven actors took turns bringing the story of a Pilipino American family in Chicago alive on stage. The family’s loss, the conflicts between two cultures and generations, the price of assimilation, and the process of reclaiming their identities, all presented in a well-performed, dramatized story.

The play not only examines “what it truly means to be an American family”, but also the universal theme of immigrants adapting to the new country and their descents’ gripping with their roots and identities.

As a first generation immigrant from Asia, I fully understand the father’s expectations and the older brother’s request for respect from the young, America-raised brother, and the quest of the sister, who is immersed in both her country of origin and the new world, to keep the family together by juggling between the two. The play, written by Danny Bernardo, has good dialogues, and the plot, a bit overdramatized, grips the attention of the audience all the way to the end, and the performance, some parts spoken in Tagalog, was genuine and touching.

It’s a serious story presented in a comic and humorous manner. Strongly recommended it.

The show is run from June 28 through August 3 at Stage 773,1225 W Belmont Ave., Chicago. Check it out here.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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China in the Next 30 Years—Quotes from contributing writers

Friday, September 9th, 2011

After releasing the digital version of China in the Next 30 Years, I read a couple of the articles again. Continue to be impressed by their depth and thought-provocative views. I’d like to share a quote from each of the contributing writers.

“China’s development for the next 30 years will be shaped not only by its own internal policies, but by events and diplomacy in the rest of the world—and specifically by the decline of the debt-burdened and privatized West, increasingly frustrated, angry and out-lashing as its politicians blame foreigners fro their own domestic financial austerity and economic shrinkage.”

Michael Husdon in “China in 30 Years”


Michael Hudson

Chinese people have spent the last 170 years, since the start of the Opium Wars in 1840, constantly searching for a way to rejuvenate the nation, and the reform and opening up policy could mean that search is now over.”


Li Daokui in “Prospects for the Next 30 Years”

“People above the age of 40 know that China’s political system today is quite different from what it was 30 years ago in that it has shifted from a revolutionary system to an institutional system.”

Pan Wei in “China in the Next 30 Years: A prospective future and a possible pitfall”


Wang Huiyao

“To fulfill the diverse psychological and social needs like equal opportunity, social justice and fulfilling individuals potential or self-actualization, China has to resolve the question of how to establish a mechanism that allows freedom of speech, which is the key to the sustainability of the ‘Chinese models'”.


Wang Huiyao in “The Characteristics, Challenges and Expectations of the ‘Chinese Models'”

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, Mulberry Child has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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China in the Next 30 Years

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I’m excited to announce the digital release of China in the Next 30 Years in all the major ebook retailers, including Kindle at, B& and iTunes Store.

China in the Next 30 Years is first released in China by the Chinese Compilation and Translation Press, a major publisher in Beijing. MoraQuest acquired the worldwide digital rights for the release of the book.

Below is a synopsis of China in the Next 30 Years. I found it a very informative, in-depth book on many political, social, cultural, sustainability, environmental and agricultural issues that China faces moving forward. A gem to be discovered. Check it out and enjoy!


Robert W. Fogel

“China has achieved phenomenal economic growth in the last 30 years. Robert Fogel, Nobel Laureate in Economics, predicts that the Chinese economy will reach $123 trillion and per capita income will hit $85,000 by 2040, ranking it among the super-rich nations in the world. This economic transformation has been accompanied by political reforms and major societal changes. In order for China to emerge as a global powerhouse, political reforms will have to continue to deal with new challenges associated with social stability, international relations and environmental issues.

China aspires to develop a unique political hierarchy and humanistic democracy which is based on its cultural heritage. This is quite different from the democratic systems commonly found in the West. The Chinese “development model” is not fixed. “Crossing a river by feeling the stones underfoot”- the mantra advocated by Deng Xiaoping will likely remain the guiding principle for pragmatic action and swift adaptation.


Yu Keping

Looking ahead to the next 30 years, seventeen essays contributed by nineteen leading Chinese and Western scholars trace the steps of China’s recent accomplishments and offer their views on how China can continue its economic and societal development and emerge as a positive world contributor.”


Contributing writers for book include:

Michael Hudson, Li Daokui, Pan Wei, Wang Huiyao, Wu Jinglian, Yu Keping, Cheng Enfu, Robert W. Fogel, Chen Wenling, Yan Shaojun, Hans Herren, Bjørn Lomborg, Christopher Flavin, Ma hai ing, Hu An-gang, Li Wuwei, Tommy Koh, Gustaaf Geeraerts, and Tan Chung.

For more information, visit

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit and Mulberry Child has been turned into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.


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A New Toy

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

By Jian Ping


My new toy

Two weeks ago, I bought a MacBook Pro laptop, completing my shifting to Apple products from iPhone, iPad, and finally a computer.


The latest step was made necessary by my new initiative to release books I had acquired and will continue to acquire from publisher(s) in China. I’m excited to make my contribution in bridging cultural differences and promoting cross-cultural communications/understanding by releasing books under MoraQuest, the company I founded two years ago.

The first book I selected during my June trip to China was titled China in the Next 30 Years, a wonderful collection of essays written by more than a dozen Chinese and Western scholars who predict the economic, political, and agricultural development of China in 30 years. I found it very informative and the perspectives from both Chinese and Westerners provided various balanced and in-depth views.


A powerful tool

Armed with my new toy, I learned the basics of page layout and cover design by using Pages, the equivalent of Word in Microsoft Office. I took one-to-one tutoring at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue and spent hours laboring over templates and graphics and the color “inspector”. I must admit I was and still am quite “technology” challenged. I put aside everything else, including blogging, and “fought” my through step of the way, day and night. For two weeks, I slept four or five hours a day. After many trials and errors. I finally created a file with hyperlinks that would allow readers to click on the table of contents in PDF or ePub files, the basic requirements to release the title in digital format at the three key e-retailers, namely, Amazon, B& and iStore. I’ve made one round of revision shortly after loading up the files. There are still minor issues, I’m sure, that will be brought to my attention. But the digital book is available for sale online now!



A new release in digital format

A few people who read the book generously endorsed it, including Robert Herbold, retired COO of Microsoft. Mr. Herbold wrote in his testimonial: “China has made huge progress over the past 30 years. In this book, some of the world’s best visionaries examine if and how China can now transition to a genuine global leader. I highly recommend this very interesting collection of viewpoints.”


My new toy has helped me embark on a new endeavor. I’ve acquired two more books focused on China issues, mostly its political and democratic systems. They were both written by Westerners and were quite critical of China. I am impressed that these books were released in China, in both Chinese and English. If my newly learned skills doesn’t fail me, I should be able to release these books in the next few weeks.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, for more information. Mulberry Child has been made into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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Visiting China – Chengdu

Monday, July 18th, 2011

By Jian Ping

Mao at Wang Fu Square

I made an unexpected stop at Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. Since I only had one full day in the city, a place known for its rich culture and beauty, I set out to do my exploration early in the morning, armed with a detailed city map.  

I was surprised to see a large statue of Mao extending his waving arm toward the large square when I emerged from the subway at Wang Fu Square. As in any other cities in China, construction cranes were visible in every direction. I wondered what Mao would be thinking if he, not his statue, were watching such drastic changes.

For sale sign at "Silver Seekers"

The first site that I stopped by was the Wide and Narrow Alleys, a district similar to “Tian Zi Fang” (田子坊)in Shanghai. The walls of the houses and courtyards were built with traditional gray bricks, and the gates, mostly made of heavy wood, were topped with curved tiles. But despite the man-made old aura, the inside of the cafes and restaurants along the alleys were contemporary, giving the place a sense of “dual,” if not conflicted, realities. Everything is commercialized and seemingly proud to be so. One store even names itself “Zhui Yin Zu” (追银族), “Silver Seekers.” A small board, which was placed out front, declared in crippled handwriting: “Father’s love is limitless; Mother’s love is boundless.” Under the line was a for-sale announcement of 20% off on its entire jewelry inventories. The message couldn’t be more blunt.   

A vendor selling food at Wide & Narrow Alleys

As I walked toward my next destination, I passed a grand gate guarded by half a dozen soldiers. I saw a slogan on the tall wall that stated something along the line of “soldiers are not to be violated!” I thought it was quite odd. Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army had always been claimed to be the “sons and brothers of the people.” The signage projected a message that was quite foreign to me. I took out my small point-and-shoot camera and wanted to take a photo of the slogan. I heard a loud shouting even before the cover of my camera opened.

“No photo taking!” a uniformed soldier by the gate shouted in a fierce voice.

I was surprised by the hostility. Just as I was about to put away my camera, another soldier ran to me in record speed. There was no sign indicating what organization was behind the gate and no language stating photos are prohibited. Besides, the place was very close to the center of town. My puzzled look didn’t slow down the soldier’s demand to take a look at my camera. He didn’t leave until he was assured I didn’t take any photo. I felt offended by the rude treatment and asked a street vendor half a block away what was behind the tall walls.

“It’s the army,” she said without lifting her head.

Ba Gua at Qing Yang Temple

I sought solace in my next stop, Qing Yang Si, a Taoist temple. The walled area was much larger than I expected, with meticulously maintained gardens, pavilions, courtyards, and temples that contained numerous statues of Taoist immortals. The symbol of Ba Gua, the eight trigrams which was explained in I Ching, an ancient divinatory text, was mounted on the walls, carved into the concrete platforms, and even shaped on the bushes. Visitors burned incense and kowtowed on the cushions placed in front of the immortals. There was a sense of peace and reverence in the air. I lingered much longer here, examining the images of the deities that I had heard of in bits and pieces over the years.  

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, for more information. Mulberry Child has been turned into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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The Tale of Genji

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

By Jian Ping

We just finished our winter quarter at the University of Chicago.  This year, our focus of study is on Japan, mostly literature and Zen BuddhismThe Tale of Genji, an ancient classic describing the romance of court life in Heian Japan in the tenth and eleventh centuries, was of the books we covered in class. The book was attributed to a single writer, a court lady by the name of Murasaki Shikubu.

The Tale of Genji, a novel of more than a thousand pages, felt like a brick. I was not that keen in reading it at the beginning of the class. Romance and court life, not to mention the time distance, didn’t sound very interesting.

However, the first chapter grabbed my attention. I think it’s safe to say the attention of most of the people in my class—a group of professionals in their 40s and 50s who had been together in the Asian Classics program and meet every Saturday for three hours for nearly four years.

Asian Classics Program, U of C

Murasaki, the author of Genji, I soon came to realize, was not only a genius storyteller, but also a poet, a musician, a calligrapher, a gardener, and should I say, a psychologist! Her description of the characters’ inner world still resonate readily with our life and way of thinking today. We were amazed and mesmerized.

Our instructor, Marissa Love, who is an expert in the area, filled us in with the historical and cultural background and kept broadening our discussions and understanding. The parallels of relationships that she pointed out, the intricacies of political backing for the court women that she brought to our attention, and the unique and relatively influential positions of these elite women that she led us to discuss were all quite fascinating! The book became a window to the culture and life of Japan at the time, and Marissa’s passion and knowledge only made it a more exciting learning experience for us.

We didn’t have enough time to read the entire book in class. But I’m so intrigued that I intend to finish reading the entire book on my own.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit or for more information. Mulberry Child is being developed into a feature-length documentary film and will be released in 2011.

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Reading Mo Yan

Friday, January 28th, 2011

By Jian Ping

I watched the film Red Sorghum, written by Mo Yan and directed by Zhang Yimo, years ago. I loved the presentation of the down-to-earth, yet heroic life of the peasants. But I never read the book.

Recently, at the suggestion of a friend, I obtained the English translation of Mo Yan’s  novel Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out (生死疲劳). With three other books I was reading simultaneously, I was thinking to cover two or three chapters a day, at the most.

But I was mesmerized and ended up finishing reading it in less than a week. The narrative Mo Yan chose was unique—the reincarnation of a landlord, Ximen Nao, who was executed at close range during China’s land reform. He came back first as a donkey, then a ox, a pig and a monkey, before being elevated to a human again. The story covered nearly half a century of China’s recent

Mo Yan 莫言


history. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the political movements, Mo Yan vividly presented the impacts of these movements on people and their lives, from devoted participants, opportunists, to those who dared to resist and those who just wanted to get along with their lives. No matter what position one held in the social hierarchy, nobody’s life was spared of the political and social waves. This is not a novel—it’s a powerful social critique, conducted with more realism via the eyes of animals than that of human beings. It’s an outcry that touches the heart to the core and creates chills, especially on someone like me who lived and witnessed some of the episodes, albeit in a different setting.

The translation by Howard Goldblatt is wonderfully done. For those who are interested in recent Chinese history and literature, this is a must read!

Jian Ping, author Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. For more information, visit,

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President Hu’s Welcome Dinner in Chicago

Friday, January 21st, 2011

By Jian Ping

Supporters across the street from Hilton

Last night, China’s President Hu and his delegation attended a welcome dinner hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. My daughter Lisa and I, along with 15 or so bi-lingual people, mostly members of Chicago Sister Cities International, provided help to the event at the request of the Mayor’s Office.

It was the first visit by China’s President and Mayor Daley stated it as a “big, big, big, big deal!”

President Hu gave his speech (I took the photo from a distance without using flash!)

I had the privilege to greet people at the entrance with a few others working at the event and saw the VIPs of Chicago arrive. I could see through the revolving entrance door that a large group of people standing behind the metal bars across Michigan Ave. were waving Chinese national flags, and a long “dragon” was dancing back and forth vigoriously, accompanied by drums, all in the bitter cold. I chatted with Yi, a Ph. D student from Purdue who carried a large camera, trying to capture President Hu entering the hotel. He said he came with 162 students from the University to extend their welcome to President Hu.

A policeman came in the lobby, his face flushed red from the cold.

“Could you tell me how to say ‘move on’ in Chinese?” he asked.

Lisa and I posing by the welcome banner

Qing Zhou Kai,” I said. He repeated several times until he got the pronounciation right. I watched him walk out, still saying the phrase aloud.

Shortly after 7 P.M., Mayor Daley accompanied President Hu to the Grand Ballroom where more than 500 guests gave them a standing welcome ovation. Daley gave a welcome speech in which he declared he wanted Chicago to be the friendliest city in the U.S. to Chinese companies, investments, and visitors. Hu gave a very upbeat talk as well, emphasizing bilateral relation, increased trade—both imports and exports, and mutual understanding between China and the U.S.

It turned out to be a very exciting evening and I’m glad I was there to witness and support it.  I’m so glad that today’s China is a world away from the China I grew up in.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, and

Mulberry Child is being developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.