One of the great pleasures of visiting Beijing in winter is going out for a spicy lamb hot pot to fight off the freezing cold. The hot and noisy atmosphere in the restaurants helps to raise the spirits further. This is the China that I love to experience, with everybody sat round the tables merrily chatting, eating, and drinking after a hard day’s grind at the office. Nothing can beat it!
The Daodejing emerged at a time in Chinese history that was every bit as turbulent as the one we live in now.
During the five centuries that comprised the Spring and Autumn Period (771 to 476 BCE) and the Warring States Period (403 – 221 BCE), rulers of a veritable patchwork of feudal states and fiefdoms vied with each other for supremacy while the traditional culture and civilization of the ancient Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 771 BCE) collapsed around them. Wars were waged, armies were slaughtered, and alliances were broken almost as soon as they were forged, while the common people were left to lead miserable lives of endless poverty, back-breaking labor, and relentless suffering.
The main reason for my interest in the Analects and the Daodejing is that they focus on providing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Unlike many of the works in the Western philosophical cannon, they don’t feature any agonized searches for a universal “truth” or any promises of eternal salvation for ascribing to the “right” set of values or behaving in the “correct” manner. Instead, they are concerned with dealing with the challenges of the here and now, exploring how you can improve your character to make a greater contribution to the stability and prosperity of your family, community, and society overall.
How are the teachings of Confucius and Laozi relevant to the modern world? This is the question I have been asking myself as I have been reviewing my translations of The Analects and the Daodejing.
On one level, this is an easy question to answer. Given China’s growing global political and economic influence, it makes practical sense to learn more about the two seminal philosophical texts that provide the underpinnings of a nation that President Xi Jinping pointedly reminded President Trump yesterday has the longest uninterrupted culture in the world. What could be a more effective way of understanding China’s traditions and customs than reading two of the most influential and enduring works in world history? Continue reading Two reasons for reading the Analects and the Daodejing
No time to take a summer vacation yet, unless a two-day trip to our office in Shenzhen towards the end of last week counts. I always enjoy the ferry ride from Hong Kong Airport to Shekou; perhaps a case of mixing business and pleasure.
Dockless bike sharing services have become such a fixture of the streets of China’s cities that municipal governments are finally taking steps to rein in the most egregious aspects of anti-social behavior by inconsiderate users who simply leave their contraption anywhere when they have reached their destination. Judging by some of the sights I came across during my recent trip to Shanghai and Beijing, they are starting to make some progress – but they still have some way to go before they take back the streets. Continue reading Dockless bike sharing services: a light-touch approach
While my trip to Qufu was definitely the highlight of my travels this year, I do think I should give an honorable mention to the Tanzhe Temple in the Western Hills just outside Beijing. Continue reading Tanzhe Temple, Beijing Western Hills
The history of Qufu stretches back far beyond the lifetime of the Confucius to the dawn of recorded antiquity when the foundations of the Chinese state were laid by the mythical sages known as The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Continue reading Shouqiu and the Tomb of Shaohao
With the world’s largest smart phone user base and its dense urban population centers, China is extremely well positioned to develop and implement IoT systems and applications on a scale that will be impossible in other global markets. Continue reading Streetside IoT
Industry 4.0 is a hot topic in China, not least because of the extensive government policies aimed at promoting increased innovation that have been launched as part of the latest five-year plan. The aim of these is to boost the productivity of the country’s huge manufacturing industry and increase its global competitiveness by helping it to move up the value chain through the development of higher-quality and more innovative products. Continue reading Industry 4.0 and the “craftsman’s spirit”