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1 China’s Economic Development and Cultural Renaissance in the Multipolar Growth World of the 21 st Century 1 Justin Yifu Lin Abstract Based on Malinowski‟s definition of culture as an integral whole of artifacts, organizations, and values, this paper analyzes the possibility of China‟s rapid economic development leading to a revival of Chinese culture with ren (benevolence) as its core value. Emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and Indonesia have their own unique cultural heritages. In the 21 st century multipolar growth world, they are also likely to maintain their respective core values and become modern nations like the forerunning Western industrialized nations, Japan, and Korea. The 21 st century is likely to be a time of all civilizations developing, prospering, and shining together. 1 This paper is prepared for a keynote speech at Beijing Forum (2011) “The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All.” The main arguments were drawn on my article, “Economic Growth and Chinese Cultural Revival,” published in the Journal of Peking University (Humanities and Social Sciences), 46(3) in May 2009. I would like to thank Francesca Yu Sang, Yan Wang, and Julia D. Barmeier for their help in preparing the English draft of the paper.
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2 I. Introduction China‟s civilization is one of the oldest in the world. Before the Industrial Revolution in the 18 th century, Chinese culture was preeminent among world civilizations. 2 After the Industrial Revolution, however, China‟s economic and international status dropped precipitately, while the West enjoyed substantial gains in social, economic, and technological progress. By the mid-19 th century, when many nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were colonized by or fell into the spheres of influence of Western powers, China also descended to become a poor, underdeveloped, semi-colonized nation that had to pay indemnity and surrender territory to the West. 3 After WWI, nationalism rose worldwide and self determination became the popular demand of every nation. Eventually, one by one, the developing nations won their struggles for decolonization, gained political independence, and harnessed the opportunities to pursue their own development in the wake of WWII. Chinese intellectuals have always assumed due responsibility for the nation‟s destiny. Over the one hundred and sixty-odd years since the Opium War, they have been searching for ways to rejuvenate the Chinese nation. For quite a long time, many Chinese and foreign scholars have blamed conservative and bigoted Confucianism for China‟s backwardness. They held that China must discard Confucianism and eliminate its influence to rejuvenate the nation. The view that Chinese traditional culture has inhibited the country‟s development and modernization has had far-reaching impact. One example from the early period of reform and opening in 1980s was a popular Chinese television series named River Elegy
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course COMM 321 taught by Professor Erinmcclellan during the Spring '11 term at Boise State.

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