Comment on "China to promote cultural soft power" (China Daily, Jan 1)
"The main challenge to the Chinese nation, as I see it, is not just to compete with the Western countries. The true challenge is to write China in "world history", and the only way to do it is by promoting Chinese terminology.
Western words for Chinese concepts have distorted the reality of things. China is not the first nation to rise in modern times, but the only one who doesn't have an alphabet. Although some Chinese concepts like yin and yang or kungfu have been adopted by Western writers; yet there seems to be no language policy on behalf of the Chinese that actively promotes the usage of Chinese terms abroad, certainly not in the sciences, nor in the humanities for that matter.
China should care about her "cultural property rights" like it cares about its lands and seas. Being the inventor of an idea, and the owner of its name, has great advantages. Let us make no mistake: The West today knows China only on Western terms; not on Chinese terms.
The Islamic world with its ayatollahs and imams, its bazaars and kebabs; and the Hindu world with its dharma and karma, its yoga and avatars and so on, are far ahead when it comes enriching English, which is still the international language. But the future global language, of course, is not today's English; it will have to adopt tens of thousands of non-American and non-European concepts.
We cannot make all Americans and Europeans learn the Chinese language; but what the Chinese can do is to inform the general public in the West about Chinese key concepts. To put "culture" in a more economic perspective: Nations should compete for their terminologies like they compete for everything else."