Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

Why The Century Of Humiliation?

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, September 26, 2010

“Because of their ignorance of the size of the earth and the exaggerated opinion they have of themselves, the Chinese are of the opinion that only China among the nations is deserving of admiration. Relative to the grandeur of empire, of public administration and of reputation for learning, they look upon all other people not only as barbarous but as unreasoning animals. To them there is no other place on earth that can boast of a king, of a dynasty, or of culture. The more their pride is inflated by this ignorance, the more humiliated they become when the truth is revealed.”

– Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci (1552–1610)

– Thank you, Neddy, for drawing my attention to this. –

5 Responses to “Why The Century Of Humiliation?”

  1. American Jimbo said

    Just sums it up. Brilliant.

  2. Change said

    Unfortunately Chinese have an inferior mental capacity. They do not possess the ability to reason or resolve conflict like the balance of this worlds cultures. They are still more closely linked to monkeys in the mental arena.

  3. jixiang said

    To be fair, 16th century Europeans were hardly better, looking at the whole rest of the world like heathens. And in the end, due to their location the Chinese were only really in contact with less advanced tribes and cultures like the Mongols and South East Asia, or countries which copied them like Korea. They had little contact with other great civilizations like the Indians and the Arabs and Persians. That explains their feeling of being the center of civilization.

    • MyLaowai said

      I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t, in fact, how 16th century Europe looked at the rest of the world. And, given the fact that China learned most it’s core technologies from elsewhere, there’s no excuse for the Chinese ruling class to do so, either.

      And the main point, the really key bit, is that CHINESE THINKING HAS NOT CHANGED.

      That said, I do thank you for stopping by, and encourage you to read wider and further, because Ricci isn’t the only chap in history to write things relating to China.

      • jixiang said

        Look, I share your frustration at the obtuse and closed-minded views about the rest of the world which one can encounter in China at all levels of society. Partly this is cultural, and partly it is encouraged by the government.

        But saying that Chinese thinking has not changed at all seems a little ungenerous. Nowadays the Chinese have at the very least recognized that other countries have practices and knowledge which the Chinese could do with learning. In Ricci’s time this was not the case. The Chinese still tend to think of the world as divided between Chinese and foreigners, and this should change. There are still nationalistic and old-fashioned attitudes which I find disagreeable. But there are also some Chinese, even in the Mainland, who go beyond this way of thinking, in spite of having a government which does its best to freeze public discourse in the 19th century.

        But how did Europeans not look at the rest of the world as heathens in the 16th century? They did. It was taken as fact that the whole world could benefit by converting to the one true religion of Christianity, and natives of other continents were often forced to do so by the sword. This is historical fact. Fortunately European attitudes have now changed for the better.

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