Global Politics

The Man Who Loved China

Every children in the town where there was the terrible school collapse would've been taught about seismology, but they've lost that edge�why is that? (That question is posed in SW's new book and is part of the larger question: why did China lose its innovative edge? It's not SW's question, it was Joseph Needham's question. SW says his research took him to a 21st century China which JN was glimpsing 60 years ago.) I was in one town which used to be a village and where rhubarb is supposed to be originated, and now it's the Chinese space center. There's a sign in English that says �Without Haste, Without Fear, We Shall Conquer the World.� They don't meant that militarily but through influence, through Chinese culture. (How much do you think JN's story is about his libido? How much was he driven by love and sex and desire?) Hugely. He embraced life with gusto. He looked a bit like Harry Potter on speed. He loved women. When he first married at 25, he settled down to an ordinary existence in America. On the day of the marriage he said this is going to be a modern marriage and he emphasized an open marriage. He then met a Chinese student who came to study under his wife. When their relationship was consummated, she taught him the first ever Chinese character he ever learned and then he embraced China. he loved the student, he loved his wife, and he loved China. (He firsts spent three years in China.) Yes, but he would go back frequently, but three years during the war. (What was a day like for him during those three years?) He would go out with an assistant and travel across China. all the journeys were fraught with terrible accidents. (Now when he returned to Cambridge, he wanted to write a compendium of China. and this brings up back to the Needham Question. Did he ever come to any conclusions?) He came to some conclusions, but if there is one easy answer is that's China was one huge country under one emperor whereas Europe was divided and would shift control over the years. Technological innovation in Europe was boosted by competition. In China also, it was the ambition of every single Chinese man to take the Confucian examinations and become a bureaucrat and make sure China remains stable. Now, there seems to be a huge eruption of activity again and in all fields it seems China is back again.

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