Updated: 2013-03-20 07:17

(China Daily)

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Chinese concept for common good

Comment on "Translations distort the reality" (China Daily, Feb 22)

Thorsten Pattberg wrote an interesting article recently about Chinese words and concepts, as seen in the global context.

I would like to expand on the theme, because the rest of the world needs to know the Chinese concept.

Many Westerners know about tai chi, and it is believed that these slow and controlled movements can stimulate calm thinking and the ability to concentrate on a subject or target.

Perhaps the most well-known Chinese expression or philosophy is yin and yang. In the Western world, we have a very confrontational thinking, which is yin or yang, black or white, you or I, or life or death. We are not accustomed to seeing the value of both. This attitude has developed since ancient times, from the old Greek civilization through 2,000 years of Christianity, where the core of thinking has been the truth.

In Asia, however, the focus is not entirely on the truth. Does it exist?

For example, the Chinese board game of xiangqi is more about a continuous struggle than total victory or defeat, as in Western chess.

Western tradition has contributed to the perception that individualism is different from collectivism and is for the common good.

After the financial and debt crises in the United States and the European Union, there seems to be a growing awareness of the importance of having free enterprises as well as strong government regulations, so that checks and balances can be put in place against individuals and companies in a country, and states in a community like the EU, for the common good.

However, I don't see any fundamental change of mindset in the West.

There is still no recognition of the importance of yin and yang in our daily life or society.

Therefore, I would argue that the Western world should try to study more intensely the Chinese and Asian thoughts and learn from them.

First of all, we need to recognize the value of all ideas and forces in individuals and society. And we need to accept individualism and collectivism as two parts of a whole.

Hugo Gaarden,

Danish freelance journalist in Shanghai, via e-mail

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(China Daily 03/20/2013 page9)