Officials attend the launch ceremony of the Mongolian editions of the first volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and Up and Out of Poverty in Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, on August 30 (XINHUA)
When one looks at the scope of all the speeches and articles by the Chinese president published in the two volumes of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, (and the many more he publishes during his travels to foreign countries), one has to come to the conclusion that he is without a doubt the most visionary and broadly developed intellectually of all the leaders on the world stage today.
His in-depth knowledge of science, principles of economy, Chinese history and philosophy, foreign cultures and the importance of classical culture is obviously the reason why he has given life so rapidly to the most important strategic vision of the present day: the idea of a community with a shared future for humanity, a concept of international policy which overcomes geopolitics and establishes a higher concept for the harmonious cooperation of all humanity.
His continuous emphasis on scientific and technological innovation as the primary productive force and the qualitative successive leaps in modern science, which he develops in his articles about new development concepts, should inform anyone who wonders why the Chinese economic model is so much more successful than the liberal model, which in contrast, emphasizes monetary profit as primary.
If one looks for the reason why China has already taken world leadership in several science and technology fields, it is most instructive that Xi had already in the article Transition to Innovation-Driven Growth of June 9, 2014, defined the areas where major breakthroughs are expected by Chinese scientists: the structure of matter, the evolution of the universe, the origin of life and the nature of consciousness. Obviously, these are all fields where discoveries of new physical principles will define qualitative advancements in human knowledge, which will be the basis for entirely new economic platforms, where each new discovery will redefine every aspect of the economy in terms of the level of increased productivity. That is the essence of innovation-driven progress for the well-being of the people.
Xi points to the evident advantages of having a large population of 1.4 billion people and the most scientists and engineers in the world. He states that the goal must be to train an ever larger number of high-caliber, creative, highly educated scientists, which will give China the edge in frontier areas of knowledge. Actually, from the standpoint of the 5,000-year continuous history of China, that is not a new role for the country. Xi points out that before the 16th century, China had 173 items among the world's most important 300 inventions and discoveries.
It is most remarkable that for Xi, scientific progress absolutely goes along with the moral improvement and cultural education of the people. In the tradition of Confucius, Mencius and other great philosophers, he sees that the role of literature and the visual arts is to sensitize the population for what is true, good and beautiful, which actually also corresponds to the ancient Greek standard of great classical art and what is false, evil and ugly, which should be opposed and repudiated. He explicitly refers to Cai Yuanpei, a prominent educator who served as president of Peking University from 1916 to 1927, in underscoring his emphasis on the importance of moral and aesthetic education, without which a person who might be strong otherwise will end up on the side of vice.
Xi has repeatedly stressed the fundamental importance of aesthetic education as the absolute precondition for students to develop a beautiful mind. Lifelong study of science and culture, and the Confucian ideal of daily rejuvenation, should be the guideline for all the people, but especially to inspire the youth, who are called upon to develop new scientific concepts to contribute to realizing the Chinese dream.
While Xi has stated repeatedly that China has no intention whatsoever to export the Chinese system to other countries, it is also apparent that more and more countries around the world are starting to see the benefits of making the goal of society scientific excellence in combination with moral improvement. If some liberal forces in the West see this as a competition between systems, it is not that China threatens the world by trying to impose hegemony, but rather that the West has lost its own best traditions, for example, the principles of the American Revolution and the German classical period, which influenced Cai, among others.
The West only has to go back to its own great traditions and join hands with Xi's offer to collaborate on the new Silk Road in order to realize the shared future of humanity. My conclusion after reading Xi Jinping: The Governance of China is that he is a true Renaissance man who shows the way for the future.
(The author is the founder of the Schiller Institute headquartered in Washington, D.C.)
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org