Mark Leonard: Chinese Proverbs

Question: What are your most memorable insights from your time in China?


Mark Leonard:
  There are two moments that really made me pause and think about China.  One was on one of my first trips to China.  I was going around talking to lots of Chinese about the relationship between the European Union and China.  And I was asking them what they hoped to get out of an EU China relationship.  And one Chinese academic, an assertive nationalist, said to me, “When China goes to war with the United States, we’d like Europe to remain neutral.”  And that’s what he wanted to get out about the relationship.  Now, that was quite an eye opening moment, because it showed whereas most people in Europe can’t imagine their country in any war other than a kind of war of choice, like in Kosovo, when it
+++ Tape #0:54:00.4  +++
was about protecting the rights of Kosovo’s, war hasn’t been totally taken off the table.  The Chinese are obsessed with avoiding conflict, but the idea of war is still something which is possible, and which they live with as a permanent theme.  And that’s a war of self preservation, which is quite a different sort of mental state to be in.  It’s a wider talking than many Europeans have when they think about the world.  Another really interesting moment was when I came across a debate amongst Chinese people about managing the decline of the West.  We, in the West, obsess about the idea of managing China’s rise, and there is this whole debate about how do we manage China’s rise?  What do we do?  Do we try and engage China?  Do we try and contain them?  And there is a sense in a way that it’s up to us to decide how China rises and what kind of power China’s going to be, rather than something which the Chinese are going to work out, which we’re going to have to deal with.  When I saw Chinese people having the mirror image of that debate, talking about the danger of the West declining too quickly and how that could create real pressures on China, because a lot of good things are actually done by Western dominance, and they’re worrying about what to do about proliferation and how to keep the peace if the U.S. power collapses too quickly as a result of the Iraq War.  And it shows a, that we’re not going to be, you know, that just as we talk about trying to manage China’s rise and we work out how to mold Chinese policy, they’re having exactly the same debates over there and trying to mold our policies and our responses.  And it also showed that the extent to which they’re thinking about a post-American, a post-Western world order.

Mark Leonard discusses his most memorable Chinese insights.

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less

Study: People will donate more to charity if they think something’s in it for them

A study on charity finds that reminding people how nice it feels to give yields better results than appealing to altruism.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Personal Growth
  • A study finds asking for donations by appealing to the donor's self-interest may result in more money than appealing to their better nature.
  • Those who received an appeal to self-interest were both more likely to give and gave more than those in the control group.
  • The effect was most pronounced for those who hadn't given before.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

160-million-year-old ‘Monkeydactyl’ was the first animal to develop opposable thumbs

The 'Monkeydactyl' was a flying reptile that evolved highly specialized adaptations in the Mesozoic Era.

Credit: Zhou et al.
Surprising Science
  • The 'Monkeydactly', or Kunpengopterus antipollicatus, was a species of pterosaur, a group of flying reptiles that were the first vertebrates to evolve the ability of powered flight.
  • In a recent study, a team of researchers used microcomputed tomography scanning to analyze the anatomy of the newly discovered species, finding that it was the first known species to develop opposable thumbs.
  • As highly specialized dinosaurs, pterosaurs boasted unusual anatomy that gave them special advantages as aerial predators in the Mesozoic Era.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast