Zhang Weiwei: Asian Values are Superior to Western Values

Professor Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University, in an April 26, 2021 broadcast on China Dragon TV, discussed how Asian values can help overcome the influence of Western values. The superior values of Asia which are more collectively-oriented, strike a better balance between freedom and self-discipline and inspire greater trust in government have shown recently, and especially during the novel coronavirus pneumonia pandemic to be clearly superior to Western values.

Zhang Weiwei appears regularly on Chinese television. Many of his program are available on YouTube.

Zhang Weiwei’s talk is interesting as a sample of the information and commentary that Chinese people are receiving today. Below is the conclusion of his talk. The full talk is translated below. A panel discussion that followed is not translated but is available in Chinese on Youtube:

Zhang Weiwei Contrasts Asian and Western Values

Professor Zhang Weiwei’s capsule biography from the Chinese language side of Wikipedia:

  • Zhang Weiwei was the youngest of six siblings in his family. At the age of 17, he was recruited into Shanghai Engraving Factory No. 2 and became a technical worker.
  • After the end of the Cultural Revolution and the resumption of college entrance examinations, Zhang Weiwei was admitted to the Foreign Languages Department of Fudan University in 1977, where he convinced the head of the department to attend a course in international politics.
  • 1981, Zhang Weiwei went to Beijing Foreign Language Institute for graduate studies, and then joined the Chinese Foreign Ministry as a translator, working successively for Li Peng, Wan Li, Deng Xiaoping, etc.
  • In 1988, Zhang Weiwei was selected to work as an interpreter at the United Nations. In 1988, Zhang Weiwei was selected to work as a translator at the United Nations, and then entered the University of Geneva, where he obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations, and his doctoral dissertation was entitled Ideological Trends and Economic Reform in China, (1978-1993)[4]. He then served as a visiting professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, a senior researcher at the Geneva Center for Asian Studies, an adjunct professor at Fudan University, an invited researcher at Tsinghua University, director of the China Development Model Research Center, and director of the Institute of World Chinese Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences [5].

On January 6, 2010, scholar Zhang Weiwei participated in the round table of the 4th World Chinese Studies Forum [6].

In June 2011, Zhang Weiwei had a debate with Francis Fukuyama at the Wenhui Lecture Hall in Shanghai. Fukuyama predicted that a revolution similar to the Arab Spring would occur in China, which Zhang Weiwei thought was absolutely impossible, and predicted that the Arab Spring would soon become the Arab Winter [7].

On December 14, 2014, Zhang Weiwei gave a lecture at the Mercedes Benz Culture Center in Shanghai, with the theme “The Chinese Model in Global Comparison” and a meeting with readers of the Observer, which was edited into a short film “China Confidence”[8][9][10].

In May 2016, Zhang Weiwei participated in the National Symposium on Philosophical and Social Sciences hosted by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and spoke on behalf of the political science field on topics such as theoretical innovation, the construction of Chinese discourse, and the construction of new think tanks. [11]


Zhang Weiwei compares “Asian values” and Western values, and explains the advantages and importance of “Asian values” | “This is China” CHINA NOW EP98 [Official Channel of East TV]. Translation from transcript of Zhang Weiwei’s talk before the panel discussion at 「学思平治」张维为:亚洲的智慧 also copied below.


“‘Asian values’ help us deconstruct the so-called ‘moral superiority’ of the West and enable us to realize a ‘win hearts and minds’ for our own values. “

The role of a value is, first, to solve problems and, second, to explain the status quo. Now Western values cannot do either of these things.

Even within a particular cultural zone, there are conflicts and rivalries. How do you understand a ‘cultural zone civil war’ that has broken out within a cultural zone?

When the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic broke out in 2020, East Asian countries in general responded significantly better than European and American countries. This once again drew the attention of the outside world to East Asian culture. Many knowledgeable people noticed that East Asian culture seems to be more collectivity-oriented, more concerned about the balance between freedom and self-discipline, have more trust in the role of government and so forth.

In the 1990s, there was an international discussion about “Asian values”. The general context of that discussion was the rise of Japan in the 1970s, followed by the economic take-off of the “Four Asian Tigers” (South Korea, Singapore, our own Taiwan, and Hong Kong) in the 1980s, and the revival of cultural confidence in these societies, which felt that they might modernize themselves based on their own cultural values. Those familiar with the process of the rise of the West know about Max Weber, a very famous German sociologist, who wrote a famous book called The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. He argued that Protestantism required its adherents to fulfill their vocation, which included striving to become rich and then gaining salvation. This ethic brought about the development of capitalism and economic prosperity in countries like England, America and Germany. Frankly, I find Max Weber’s interpretation a bit of a stretch. But in any case, the book has been very influential.

Some scholars in East Asia also suggested that Confucian ethics, especially the espousal of these values such as education, labor, and diligence, was also a major reason for East Asia’s success. At that time, many Asian scholars and political figures were involved in the construction and discussion of this discourse. Two of the most vocal political figures would be Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Mahathir, the Prime Minister of Malaysia. They believe that Asian societies have different values from Western societies, but it is also possible to modernize countries, or even better. According to Lee Kuan Yew, “Asian values” have transformed Singapore from a poor and backward “third world” country to a relatively wealthy one.

When the Asian financial crisis broke out in 1997, the mainstream Western view was that this meant that “Asian values” had failed, and the discussion came to an abrupt end. But many people still disagree with this view, and the 90-year-old Mahathir was still saying not long ago that “Asian values” are correct.

Lee Kuan Yew, who is familiar to everyone, is a senior politician in Singapore. He said, “Asian values” include the following points:

  • First, the interests of society and the state take precedence over personal interests;
  • Second, the goal of democracy is to achieve good government;
  • Third, the relationship between the government and the people is a relationship of mutual trust;
  • Fourth, harmony is more conducive to the development of the country and the happiness of the people than conflict;
  • Fifth, the foundation of the country lies in the family;
  • Sixth, the state should respect the individual;
  • Seventh, the state should respect the individual; seventh, the state should respect the individual.
  • Eighth, the state should respect the individual; and seventh, different religions should complement each other and live in harmony.

According to Lee Kuan Yew, these values are mainly derived from the Chinese Confucian cultural tradition, but also have modern elements, including respect for individual rights and acceptance of the market economy. But the main difference between “Asian values” and Western values is that even though these values are desired and shared by all, they do not have the same priority. In “Asian values,” the interests of the community, society, and family are given higher priority than the individual, freedom, and rights of the West. This is the biggest difference.

Lee Kuan Yew also emphasized the rule of law. As we know, Singapore is a country with strict law and order, but it also emphasizes the rule by morality. In order to resist the encroachment of Western culture, it openly advocates the eight virtues of Confucianism, and has made a new interpretation in the context of Singapore’s national conditions. These eight virtues are: loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, love, propriety, righteousness, integrity, and shame. The new interpretation is as follows: “loyalty” refers to loyalty to the country, with a sense of national interest and community first. “Filial piety” refers to filial piety to elders and respect for the old and the virtuous. According to him, the family is “the most sacred and inviolable” and is “the foundation for the consolidation of the nation and the nation’s perpetual existence.

Lee Kuan Yew also said that “benevolence” and “love” means to be compassionate and friendly, to care for others, to be “humane” and to avoid monetizing human relations as in Western societies. “He feels that courtesy can produce good interactions, but also emphasizes that the form of courtesy is to be educated.

Lee Kuan Yew also believed that righteousness is faithfulness. Between the government and the people, between the various nationalities in Singapore, and between each individual, one must be honest and trustworthy, not fraudulent or forgetful of righteousness. “Integrity” is mainly for government officials and politicians, they should be honest. A sense of “Shame” is to know beauty and ugliness. He thinks, “If the citizens of a country do not distinguish between beauty and ugliness, and do not think of civilized behavior as beautiful, and do not think of ugly behavior as ugly, then the standards of the country are disordered, and it is not far from collapse.”

Another major advocate of “Asian values” is Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir. His faith is Islamic, so his “Asian values” have their own characteristics. Like Lee Kuan Yew, he believes that “Asian values” emphasize family and respect for authority. This authority includes parents, teachers, and government. In addition, he emphasizes the responsibility of the government, including its power to intervene in society, and the priority of the economic and social interests of the group over the freedom and rights of the individual. Emphasis should be placed on social stability and relying on reaching consensus to solve problems rather than through confrontation. On the issue of democracy, Mahathir has this view: “Democracy is not a religion, we must look at our democracy and the well-being of the people and the country is more important than democracy. Democracy is made for the country and the people, not for democracy itself.”

Mahathir’s “Asian values” have several characteristics, one is that Mahathir has been outspoken in the international arena, often criticizing the Western-dominated world economic order as unjust, and has also been critical of Western centrism and racism. I remember when the Asian financial crisis broke out in 1997, he said that the financial predators on Wall Street were greedy and bad and orchestrated the crisis that set our Malaysian economy back a full 20 years. He also dared to fight for the underdog, making him a leading voice of the Third World and the Islamic world in the 1990s.

Second, he advocated Malay nationalism. Internally, he sought Malay leadership; externally, he opposed Western imperialism. He called on the Malays to overcome the “inferiority complex” created by the long period of white colonial rule.

Third, he advocated “Asian values” which called on Muslims to focus on the substance and spirit of Islam rather than on external forms and unnecessary red tape. He opposed religious extremism and argued that Muslim societies should not believe in “fatalism” but should keep up with the times and modernize their countries.

After the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia were hit hard. Critics in the West believe that “Asian values” are responsible for the Asian financial crisis. Why? Because it led to the spread of cronyism, nepotism and corruption. The Asian financial crisis has exposed these problems. In the analysis of the causes of the Asian financial crisis, many American scholars, as well as some of our domestic scholars, have focused on a term called “Crony Capitalism. In other words, one of the major problems of the East Asian model is that the government dominates the economy, causing interest groups and collusion between government and business, resulting in credit inflation, power and money transactions, and lack of power supervision, which leads to a bubble economy.

At the same time, however, many East Asian scholars hold a different view. They believe that the main cause of the Asian financial crisis was “Casino Capitalism”, that is, the lack of supervision in the international financial market, and the financial predators without any moral restraint made a lot of money, and the process itself included a lot of corruption. The Asian financial crisis was caused by the premature opening of capital markets in some countries and regions by the United States and the lack of regulation of the international financial system.

One view is that the combination of “casino capitalism” and “power capitalism” caused the Asian financial crisis. We have a common saying that a fly does not bite an egg without a seam. Both the flies and the seams on the eggs are the causes of the crisis. So we have to condemn both “power capitalism” and “casino capitalism”. We need to promote the reform of the international financial system to curb “casino capitalism”, otherwise there will be a major crisis in international financial issues.

In 2008, the United States broke out the subprime mortgage crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis triggered a financial tsunami, not only hit the United States itself, but also the whole world, this is a very typical example. At this moment, the United States, in order to save the rich and the economy, adopted the policy of beggar-thy-neighbor and financial deflation, the end result of which may also be harmful to themselves and others.

At that time, after the outbreak of the financial crisis in 1997, Amartya Sen, an Indian-born Nobel laureate in economics, said, “This Asian financial crisis is a punishment for not practicing a democratic political system.” But in 2008 the U.S. financial tsunami broke out that was much worse than the Asian financial crisis. I wrote at the time that I wondered how Mr. Amartya Sen would explain in the face of such a U.S. financial tsunami that was countless times worse than the Asian financial crisis.

Later, Mahathir repeatedly said that “Asian values” are good and superior to the Western “universal values”, which are based on Western values. He said He said that “Asian values” have not caused as much damage to the world as Western values have. He also cited the 2008 financial tsunami in the U.S. as an example of how Western values are concerned with acquiring wealth, regardless of the means used. “Asian values” are different from Western values in that we are concerned with the interests of the majority of people, not the interests of a few elites.

Westerners, he said, like to sacrifice the lives of others to achieve their own goals, which we call war and killing. When they have disagreements with other countries, they usually resort to war as a means to solve their problems, which is why they develop strong military forces and develop all kinds of weapons. The reason why we find the whole world living in fear is that the trend of Western values inevitably leads to the sacrifice of others as a means to solve their own problems. I should say that he spoke quite profoundly.

Mahathir also said that our “Asian values” are very good and we should be proud of them, and we should defend them and not be easily influenced by Western values.

These “Asian values” are important because of the failure of Western values, which are based on materialism, wealth and individualism. This failure is a huge failure.

Looking back at this discussion more than twenty years ago reminds me of what we did in the fight against the epidemic last year, and how the different values compare. One of the major reasons for China’s success in this fight is that we, the ordinary people, embody a very valuable value that Chinese people believe in. For example, we believe that “human life is above all” and “life comes first”. We found that Western countries, which used to shout about human rights and “universal values” every day, do not have the concept of “human life is of paramount importance” that everyone in China understands, and do not agree that “human life is the most important”. It is surprising that they do not share such a common value as “human life is the most important. Frankly speaking, how can a country that does not even respect the right to life be qualified to teach China a lesson in human rights? This is a big joke.

Likewise, during this fight against the epidemic, the spirit of unity shown by the Chinese people as a united front touched countless Chinese and foreigners. Once again, we found that once a national tragedy is at hand, the value of “all people will come together to fight the national tragedy” is something that had long taken root within us.

In contrast, Western countries are self-conscious and go their own way, which is a kind of egoism. We are proud of the solidarity of our great nation. In addition, during this fight against the epidemic, the Chinese demonstrated a sense of responsibility to their families, to others, to society, to their country, and to the world that is hard to match in the West. In Western societies, it is not easy to make people stay at home or wear masks in a neighborhood, not to mention more than a billion people, because the value of individual rights is deeply rooted in the marrow. In contrast, the Chinese people advocate the unity of freedom and self-discipline, the unity of rights and responsibilities. This value of responsibility is both a continuation of traditional Chinese culture and a true “great modern spirit,” as I call it.

In contrast, the failure to prevent and control the epidemic in the West was largely due to them taking individual freedom and individual rights as absolutes.

After this catastrophe, I really hope that the educated people in the West will reflect on the tendency of the Western culture to extremism of individualistic values. This tendency to take values as absolutes and to take them to extremes is frankly unsuited to the challenges of modern society.

Finally, our Chinese values, as well as many of the elements of the “Asian values” discussed earlier, are in fact very helpful in breaking away from the excessive influence of Western values on our Chinese society over time, and serving as a riposte to the so-called “moral superiority” of the West, and strengthening the formation of our own values. “It comes down to a “victory in our hearts” for our own values. We can not only look at Western values as equal to our own, but can in some ways look down on them, that is to say, we can find that their values have many problems, even serious ones.

Frankly speaking, this is not arrogance, but realism. We believe from the bottom of our hearts that many of the values of the Chinese and Asian peoples are indeed more humane and rational than many of those espoused in the West. These values are more in line with the general interest of all humanity, and more capable of meeting the challenges facing modern society in the 21st century than are Western values. Whether the West can understand or even accept these values is frankly of no particular concern to me. It is like a patient who is seriously ill and is told that there are some medicines in that part of Asia that are quite effective, but the patient just does not believe in them, so what can be done? No one can wake up a person who does not want to wake up.

(Zhang Weiwei, is a member of Chang’an Street Reading Group and director of the Institute of Chinese Studies at Fudan University)

“‘亚洲价值观’有利于我们解构西方所谓的‘道德优越感’,形成我们自己价值观的‘心胜’。”

一种价值的作用,第一是解决问题,第二是解释现状。现在西方的价值观无法做到这两点。即使在文明圈内,也存在冲突和较量。如何看待突破了文明圈的‘文化内战’现象?

2020年一场新冠疫情袭来,东亚国家总体的应对表现要明显地好于欧美国家。这再一次引起了外部世界对东亚文化的关注。很多有识之士都关注到,东亚文化好像更加注重集体,更加关注自由与自律的平衡,更加相信政府的作用等。

上世纪90年代国际上关于“亚洲价值观”的讨论。那场讨论的大背景是这样的,上世纪70年代日本崛起,随后又有80年代“亚洲四小龙”(韩国、新加坡、我们的台湾地区、香港地区)的经济起飞,这些社会的文化自信也开始复苏,他们觉得可能自己有独特的价值观,也能够创造经济现代化。熟悉西方崛起过程的人都知道,德国很有名的社会学家马克斯·韦伯写过一本名著,叫《新教伦理与资本主义精神》。他认为,新教要求它的教徒履行天职,包括奋斗致富,然后获得上帝的救赎。这种伦理带来了英美德这样的国家资本主义的发展和经济的繁荣。坦率讲,我觉得马克斯·韦伯这样的解释有一点牵强附会。但不管怎样,这本书是很有影响力的。

东亚一些学者也提出,儒家的伦理,特别是崇尚教育、劳动、勤奋等这些价值也是东亚成功的一个主要原因。当时不少亚洲学者和政治人物都参与了这个话语的建构和讨论。其中声音最响亮的应该是两位政治人物,一个是新加坡的总理李光耀,另一个是马来西亚的总理马哈蒂尔。他们认为,亚洲社会和西方社会有不一样的价值观,但是也可以实现国家的现代化,甚至是更好的现代化。李光耀认为,“亚洲价值观”使新加坡从原来贫穷落后的“第三世界”国家变成了比较富有的国家。

他们的观点遇到了西方主流学者的抵制,而亚洲国家内部也有分歧。1997年亚洲金融危机爆发,西方主流观点就认为,这意味着“亚洲价值观”的失败,这场讨论也就戛然而止。但很多人还是不同意这个观点,90多岁高龄的马哈蒂尔不久前还在说,“亚洲价值观”是正确的。

李光耀大家都比较熟悉,是新加坡的一位资深政要。他是这样说的,“亚洲价值观”主要包括以下几点:一是社会与国家利益优先于个人利益;二是民主的目标是实现好政府;三是政府和人民之间是互相信任的关系;四是和谐比冲突更有利于国家的发展和人民的幸福;五是国家之本在于家庭;六是国家要尊重个人;七是不同的宗教应该互相补充,和谐相处。

李光耀认为,这些价值观主要来源于中国的儒家文化传统,同时也有现代的成分,包括对个人权利的尊重、对市场经济的接受等。但“亚洲价值观”与西方价值观的差别主要在于,即使这些价值是谁都想要的,大家都认同的,它们的优先排列顺序是不一样的。在“亚洲价值观”中,族群、社会、家庭利益是比较优先的,而不是西方那种个人、自由、权利优先。这是最大的差别。

李光耀也强调依法治国。我们知道,新加坡是一个法纪比较严明的国家,但它也强调以德治国。为了抵御西方文化的侵袭,它公开提倡儒家的八种美德,而且结合新加坡国情作了一种新的诠释。这八个美德就是:忠、孝、仁、爱、礼、义、廉、耻。新的诠释是这样的,“忠”是指忠于国家,要有国家利益第一和群体意识。“孝”指的是孝顺长辈、尊老敬贤。他认为,家庭是“最神圣不可侵犯的”,是“巩固国家、民族永存不败的基础”。

李光耀还说,“仁”与“爱”就是要富有同情心和友善精神,要关心他人,做“有人情味的人”,避免像西方社会那样用金钱来维持人与人之间的关系。“礼”就是要区分为形式和诚意两个方面,他觉得礼尚往来能够产生良好的互动关系,同时也强调,礼貌的形式是要有教养。

李光耀还认为,义就是信义。政府和人民之间、新加坡各个民族之间、每个人之间要坦诚守信,不要欺诈或者见利忘义。“廉”主要针对政府官员和政治人物,他们要清廉。“耻”就是知美识丑。他觉得,“如果一个国家的公民美丑不分,对文明的行为不以为美,对丑恶的行为不以为丑的话,那么,这个国家标准就乱了,距离垮台就不远了。”

“亚洲价值观”的另一位主要提倡者是马来西亚总理马哈蒂尔。他信仰的是伊斯兰教,所以他的“亚洲价值观”有自己的特点。和李光耀一样,他认为“亚洲价值观”强调家庭、尊重权威。这个权威包括家长、老师、政府等。另外,他还强调政府的责任,包括政府对社会进行干预的权力,也强调群体的经济社会利益优先,而不是个人的自由和权利优先。要重视社会稳定,依靠达成共识来解决问题,而不是通过对抗来解决问题。在民主问题上,马哈蒂尔有这样一个观点:“民主不是宗教,我们必须审视我们的民主,人民和国家的福祉比民主更为重要。民主是为国家和人民而生的,而不是为民主自己而生。”

马哈蒂尔的“亚洲价值观”有这么几个特点,一是马哈蒂尔在国际舞台上敢怒敢言,经常批判西方主导的世界经济秩序不公正,也一直批判西方中心主义和种族主义。我记得1997年亚洲金融危机爆发后,他说,华尔街的金融大鳄贪婪恶劣,策划了这场危机,使我们马来西亚的经济倒退了整整20年。他也敢于为弱小国家打抱不平,使他在90年代成为第三世界和伊斯兰世界的一个主要代言人。

第二, 他主张马来的民族主义。对内,他追求马来人的领导权;对外,他反对西方的帝国主义。他呼吁马来人克服白人长期殖民统治给马来民族造成的“自卑心理”。

第三,他提倡的“亚洲价值观”呼吁穆斯林注重伊斯兰的内涵和精神,而不是外在的形式和各种不必要的繁文缛节。他反对宗教极端行为,认为穆斯林社会不要相信“宿命论”,而是要与时俱进,推动国家的现代化。

1997年亚洲金融危机爆发之后,泰国、韩国、印度尼西亚、菲律宾、马来西亚这些国家遭受重创。西方的批评者认为,“亚洲价值观”要为亚洲金融危机负责。为什么?因为它导致了任人唯亲、裙带关系和腐败的泛滥。亚洲金融危机暴露了这些问题。在对亚洲金融危机原因的分析中,很多美国的学者,以及我们国内一些学者,把重点放在了一个叫“权贵资本主义”(Crony Capitalism)的词上。也就是说,东亚模式的一个重要问题是政府主导经济,引起利益集团和官商勾结,造成信贷膨胀、权钱交易、缺乏权力监管,结果就导致了泡沫经济。

但与此同时,很多东亚学者则持不同的观点。他们认为,亚洲金融危机的主要原因是“赌场资本主义”(Casino Capitalism),也就是说,国际金融市场缺乏监管,没有任何道德约束的金融大鳄兴风作浪,大发横财,这个过程本身就包含了大量的腐败。一些国家和地区被美国忽悠而过早地开放资本市场、缺乏国际金融体系的监管等因素造成了亚洲金融危机。

一个观点,就是“赌场资本主义”和“权贵资本主义”两者的结合造成了这场亚洲金融危机。我们有一个通俗的讲法,就是苍蝇不叮没有缝的蛋。苍蝇和鸡蛋上的缝都是危机的原因。所以我们既要谴责“权贵资本主义”,也要谴责“赌场资本主义”。我们要推动国际金融体系的改革,遏制“赌场资本主义”,否则国际金融问题还会出现大的危机。

2008年,美国爆发了次贷危机,次贷危机引发了金融海啸,不仅重创了美国自己,还祸害了整个世界,这是个很典型的例子。此时此刻,美国为了救富豪、救经济,采取了以邻为壑、金融放水的政策,最终的结果可能也是害己害人。

当时1997年金融危机爆发之后,印度裔诺贝尔经济学奖获得者阿玛蒂亚·森说:“这个亚洲金融危机是对不实行民主政治制度的惩罚。”但2008年爆发了比亚洲金融危机严重得多的美国金融海啸。我当时写文章说,面对这么一场比亚洲金融危机严重无数倍的美国金融海啸,不知道阿玛蒂亚·森先生该如何解释?

后来马哈蒂尔多次讲过,“亚洲价值观”很好,优于西方的“普世价值”,因为所谓的“普世价值”是建立在西方价值观基础之上的。他说,“亚洲价值观”并没有像西方价值观那样给世界造成如此多的破坏。他也以2008年美国的金融海啸为例,说西方价值观关注的是获取财富,而不在乎用什么样的方式。“亚洲价值观”与西方价值观不一样,我们关注的是大多数人的利益,而不是少数精英阶层的利益。

他说,西方人喜欢以牺牲别人的生命来达到自己的目的,我们称这种行为是战争,是杀戮。当它们与别国有分歧的时候,它们通常会将战争作为解决问题的手段,这就是为什么它们发展强大的军事力量,研发各种武器。我们之所以发现整个世界生活在恐惧之中,就是因为西方价值观的发展趋势必然导致以牺牲他人的利益来作为解决自己问题的手段。应该说,他讲得相当深刻。

马哈蒂尔还说,我们“亚洲价值观”是非常好的,应该引以为自豪,我们应该捍卫它,不应该轻易被西方价值观所影响。

这些“亚洲价值观”之所以重要,是因为西方价值观失败了,而西方价值观是建立在物质主义、财富主义和个人主义基础之上的。这种失败是巨大的失败。

回顾二十多年前的这场讨论使我联想到去年这场抗疫中我们所做的工作,以及不同价值观的比较。这次中国抗疫成功的一个重要原因是,我们普普通通的老百姓的身上体现出来一种非常宝贵的中国人所信奉的价值观。比如我们相信“人的生命高于一切”、“生命至上”。我们发现,原来天天高喊人权、“普世价值”的西方国家,居然没有中国人人都懂的“人命关天”的理念,居然不认同“人的生命是最重要的”这么一个很普通的价值观。坦率讲,连生命权都不尊重的国家居然有资格给中国上人权课?这是天大的笑话。

同样,在这次抗疫过程中,中国人民展示出来的众志成城的团结精神感动了无数中国人和外国人。我们再一次发现,一旦国难当头,“众志成城,共赴国难”的价值观早已融化在我们的血液中。

相比之下,西方国家是自顾不暇、各奔东西,这是一种利己主义。我们为自己这个伟大民族的团结精神感到自豪。另外,在这次抗疫过程中,中国人展示出来的对家人、对他人、对社会、对国家、对世界的责任心,是西方国家难以企及的。在西方社会,不要说十几亿人,哪怕让一个小区的人宅在家里或者戴上口罩都是很不容易的,因为个人权利至上的这种价值观深入骨髓。与此形成对照的是,中国人崇尚自由与自律的统一、权利与责任的统一。这种重视责任的价值观既是中国传统文化的延续,也是一种真正的我称之为“伟大的现代精神”。

相比之下,这次西方疫情防控失败,个人自由和个人权利绝对化是一个主要的原因。经历了这次劫难之后,我真的希望西方的有识之士能够反省西方文化中的这种个人主义价值观极端化的倾向。这种价值绝对化、极端化的倾向坦率讲是无法适应现代社会的挑战的。

最后,我们中国人的价值观,以及前面讨论的“亚洲价值观”中的许多内容,实际上非常有利于摆脱长期以来西方价值观对我们中国社会的过度影响、有利于解构西方所谓的“道德优越感”、有利于形成我们自己价值观的一种“心胜”,使我们不只是平视西方的价值观,某种意义上可以俯视它们,就是说,可以发现他们的价值观是有不少问题的,甚至是很严重的问题。

坦率讲,这不是傲慢,而是实事求是。我们是发自内心地认为,中国人民和亚洲人民的许多价值观确实比西方崇尚的许多价值观更具人性与理性、更符合人类的整体利益、也更能应对21世纪现代社会面临的各种挑战。至于西方是否能够理解乃至接受这些价值观,坦率地讲,我不是特别关心。这就好像一个病人得了重病,人家告诉他,亚洲那个地方有几贴药效果相当不错,但这个病人就是不信,那有什么办法呢?就让他继续病下去,谁也没有办法叫醒一个不想醒的人。

(张维为:长安街读书会成员、复旦大学中国研究院院长)

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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1 Response to Zhang Weiwei: Asian Values are Superior to Western Values

  1. Pingback: Xi Jinping vindt China al lief, hij wil alleen dat jij dat ook zo ziet – Sense Hofstede

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