posted on 08 March 2017
Written by Frank Li
In my last post (The U.S. vs. China), I promised to publish a series of articles on China, comparing China with the West historically and with America in modern times. This is the first article of the series. Remember: the purpose of this series is to help my fellow Americans better understand China as a competitor, if not a friend.
The image below highlights Ancient Greece and Ancient China in timelines.
Specifically, let's focus on four aspects:
2. Ancient Philosophers: the Greeks vs. the Chinese
The image below highlights 10 prominent ancient philosophers: five Greeks and five Chinese.
What a surprise! They all lived in the same period of time, historically speaking, despite the fact that the two countries were (and still are) thousands of miles apart geographically and the two civilizations developed totally independently of each other.
Each of these philosophers significantly contributed to the development of their respective civilizations and beyond, with lasting influence even to this day.
While the Greek philosophers and their Chinese counterparts share many philosophies (e.g. the good and evil nature of mankind), the biggest difference between them, to me, is on governing. Specifically,
Below are two examples.
3. Alexander the Great
4. China's First Emperor
The most significant figure in Ancient China is unquestionably Qin Shi Huang. Why is he also known as the "First Emperor"?
The image below highlights the geographical relations among China's seven warring states at that time. As the king of Qin, Qin Shi Huang managed to conquer and annex the other six states, then he named himself the "First Emperor".
After unifying China geographically, the First Emperor proceeded with many significant standardizations and developments, such as a common "official" written language, a common currency, common measurements (for weights and measures), the development of an extensive network of roads and canals connecting the provinces to improve trade between them, and standardizing even the length of the axles of carts to facilitate transport on the road system.
Very importantly, the First Emperor built the (earliest portions of the) Great Wall of China.
5. Alexander the Great vs. China's First Emperor
There is no comparison between the two - The First Emperor contributed to China far more than Alexander the Great did to Greece!
Militarily, Alexander the Great perhaps achieved more than the First Emperor did. But that was misguided, as it appeared that he conquered for the sake of conquering, without knowing how to govern afterwards.
In contrast, the First Emperor conquered to rule. For example, his extensive policies and accomplishments after unifying China decisively helped propel China well ahead of the rest of the world for centuries to come.
Now, consider the EU: It has been trying to do to Europe just a fraction of what the First Emperor accomplished in China more than 2,000 years ago. Commonality as a result of extensive standardizations led to efficiency and full utilization of resources, which was a critical factor behind China's preeminent economy in the world for much of the first 1,800 years of our 2017-year-old calendar!
History is written by real leaders, not by "We the People" (aka "the indistinguishable")!
The history of Ancient Greece is written by several Greek philosophers and great kings like Alexander the Great.
Likewise, the history of Ancient China is written by several Chinese philosophers and great emperors like the First Emperor.
Alexander the Great was a great military leader, whom many western military leaders have been trying to emulate (and even worshiping) over the past 2,000 years.
China's First Emperor not only was a great military leader, but also has proven to be one of the greatest leaders in human history. However, many westerners were completely unaware of his greatness, until today, hopefully.
The Greek Empire did not last long after the death of Alexander the Great, but Greek philosophies have long lived even to this date, having permeated throughout every corner of the western civilization and beyond. For more, watch the video in the end.
In contrast, the Chinese Empire lasted for some 2,000 years after the death of the First Emperor, thanks, largely, to the solid foundation he laid. Specifically:
The list above happens to be China's five prime attributes to this date. For more, read: The U.S. vs. China.
7. History repeats itself
Two examples in modern America:
Not only does China have the longest continuous civilization in human history, it also has the best documented history over the past 2,000 years at least, thanks to the solid foundation laid by the First Emperor, especially the part on one “official” written language.
Why, then, isn’t Chinese history better known in the West? Two main reasons:
As China is roaring back, it’s time for the West to profoundly understand China. Stay tuned for more comparisons of China vs. the West, from Ancient Greece on …
Now, please sit back and enjoy the long video below. It's very informative and entertaining.
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