China is luring an increasing number of foreign students – millions of them – to learn Mandarin, spreading its profound culture all over the world through the platform of Confucius Institutes and magnetizing numerous tourists to explore this mysterious country in person. Nevertheless, China remains a imitator and follower desperately to achieve the same success achieved by its peers. The more China breaks records, the more peculiar she appears. It’s undeniable that China realizes great progress, wins respect from the world, and enhance citizens’ living conditions, but its path is hardly considered a model. Beijing did not create a system to be exported, a success story with a blue print. The “Chinese characteristics” prevailed over the formula of “socialist market economy”. As a result, China is perceived as distant, different and inward looking country for mainly two reasons: First, the country was isolated from others for most of history, although sometimes the decision to cut the links with the outside world had negative consequences on the nation. Second, today China seems to have missed the opportunity to conquer a more international role in the world arena as China’s too powerful for her current role.
Beijing always affirms that her foreign policy must strictly pursue the interest of the country. This view and position, though true and undisputed, is insufficient. In a globalized world, a powerful nation cannot simply exercises its power within its boundaries. The 2008 crisis and again the recurrence this year gave China an unprecedented opportunity to display its strength to conquer the “hearts and minds” of the world. At present, Her foreign reserves as well her stability are precious resort for the rest of the world to exit the recession. And, it would be in China’s interest not to rely on interest rates alone. A political negotiation could open a new channel to spread her influence. A powerful blending of ideas, culture, and values could be trailed by the economic aid. A friendlier and less secluded China could emerge with her interests be protected even better than it is done today with economic weapons.
After the WWII, the USA set a striking example by transforming a stunning victory into a combination of ideals, behaviors, arts and communication. Cinema embodies this powerful recipe for success. The “American way of life” became a synonym for fortune, optimism, and achievement. A powerful soft power was built on the foundation of a hard military power. At that time, Europe devastated by the war and sunk in great despair, was in dire need of both a hand and a hope. Washington provided both, whereas the USSR was too backward to be a viable alternative.
Now the world crisis offers China an equivalent opportunity. But currently Beijing does not venture beyond its Great Wall, at least not as much as expected and needed. New responsibilities should be accepted, rather than avoided in name of non-interference. Waiving a global approach will be denounced a shortsighted power who is incapable of playing a dominant and still benevolent role. To avoid disastor, some decisions must be taken and fast. On the contrary, China hesitates, as if a conditioned reflex, which cause fear, skepticism and reluctance. As often it did in the past, China is tempted to stay within its Great Wall, protected and pampered. However, in a globalized world, that is no longer possible. The sooner China consigns its masterpiece to history, the better it will be for both China and the rest of the world!