Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Egypt Means for China: Just More Boring Scientific Proof

(Photo from Evan Osnos)

I'm sitting in my apartment, inspired by what's just happened in Egypt, and wondering if the millions of Chinese living around me feel the same.

In one of my last posts (quite a while ago, I know), I asked: 

“What is still unresolved [in China]? [I]t's the question of whether or not the concept of “scientific development” extends to political reform, rule of law, and universal values.  Besides the overabundance of Greek-inspired architecture in China, another thing one notices if one spends a lot of time here is the (surprising?) belief, held by more people than you would think, that democratic progress is inexorable.  In many ways it makes sense.  The story of post-Renaissance Europe is a messy, violent, bloody period, but progress in science, culture, art and economics were intricately tied to political reform.  Enlightenment-era romantics certainly believed this was the case.  More than that, China's neighbors -- South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan -- are all excellent examples of how well democracy took in Confucianist countries when it was more or less imposed upon them (by foreign and domestic agents).  Perhaps their confidence that democracy is just another offshoot of their economic and social progress of the past thirty years is not too far-fetched.”

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