Category Archives: China

Emerging from turbulent times: the origins of the Analects and the Daodejing

Dao

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.

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Situational leadership in the Analects and the Daodejing

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.

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Two reasons for reading the Analects and the Daodejing

Statue of Confucius, Nishan
Statue of Confucius, Nishan

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

Dockless bike sharing services: a light-touch approach

Dockless bike sharing services

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

Industry 4.0 and the “craftsman’s spirit”

BookInd4

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”