Professor Patrick Mendis speaks on the ‘Chinese Dream’ and ‘American Destiny’

Saturday, 20 April 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

BEIJING, China: At the end of his two-month long study and lecture tour in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy invited Professor Patrick Mendis to speak about President Xi Jinping’s idea of the ‘Chinese Dream’ and emerging US-China relations.

The new catchphrase that resonates with the ‘American Dream’ has been sweeping across China since Xi took office.

The Chinese dream is arousing hopes and sensations among the Chinese people, while raising questions about its meaning and the interpretation of Communist Party of China’s (CPC) pronouncement of “Chinese rejuvenation”.

Tracing back to the earliest years of Sino-American trade relations, Mendis remarked that “it is opportune time for China to revive its glorious past,” referring to the Chinese dream and rejuvenation.

China’s unparalleled economic rise, highly civilised culture, and far-reaching Confucian morality have not only been making contribution and influence around the world, but also have left an inspiring heritage for others to emulate.

The American Founding Fathers, for example, were “inspired by the Chinese culture and Confucian civilisation,” according to Mendis, a distinguished senior fellow and affiliate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University and a visiting professor at the Center for American Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Affairs in Guangzhou, China. Benjamin Franklin, one of the wisest and oldest Founding Fathers of America, wrote “Chinese are regarded as an ancient and highly civilised nation”.

In the cover article of the latest issue of Harvard International Review, Mendis further elaborated that the “Birth of a Pacific World Order” is being created by evolving Sino-American policies of Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. In a lecture at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, he explained that Confucian values highlighted in the four pillars of authority, order, harmony and perfection have been nurturing China’s ‘invisible pyramid,’ which has been conveniently used by leaders to advance their political goals within the current CPC power structure.

The ultimate goal of ‘perfection’ also serves as the substitute for ‘reform’ in CPC’s official language.  This ancient ideology has not only been embedded into the DNA of Chinese people, but also seemingly echoed with the vision of American Founding Fathers who inscribed “to form a more Perfect Union” in their Preamble to the US Constitution. This revealing coincidence was never a contrived effort, but a reflection of human nature, Mendis emphasised.

If the period of almost 100 years of Sino-American ‘love affair’ and the celebrated voyage of Empress of China were a guide, Mendis said that he is optimistic of a more peaceful relationship between the two economic powers in the years ahead.

In another Beijing lecture at the China Academy of Social Sciences, Mendis reminded that the Sino-American trade relations have had mutually benefitted the both nations from the mid-eighteenth century until the first Opium War of the British in the 1840s. Just as the original 13 American colonies united by trade and ‘dream’ — not by religion, language, ethnicity, or political persuasion — the past and current Sino-American relations have been flourished by trade and shared dream of prosperity and peace.

Mendis also hopes that the history will repeat once again in a “trade-for-peace” era if Washington and Beijing would manage this vital relationship for mutual advancement. The rejuvenation of historic trade-based ‘love affair’ would turn out to be a ‘Pacific Dream’ in the new Pacific century, according to the former US diplomat and military professor, who was born in Sri Lanka but educated in the British and American systems.

He has lectured at 12 universities and institutions in eight cities in China, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Wuhan.