A challenge to whom?


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SEPTEMBER 11 was more than a simple attack on a specific country. But did it knock on the gates of the new century or even the new millennium? Was it a signal for more significant and complicated changes at global and regional levels? No doubt the attack was a tragic event; however, despite the many victims and damage, and so much focus on them by the media, does not its primary significance lie in the challenge it presents to the world’s most powerful country, which was severely and directly attacked on its mainland for the first time?

Or does September 11 also illustrate that, after the end of Cold War, the increasingly globalizing world is not, as many optimistic observers predicted, oriented toward ‘peace and development’ and ‘the end of history’, where ideologically motivated conflict abates? Does September 11 actually demonstrate how complex the international system can be? Moreover, does it represent a failure of modern politics, and therefore a challenge to a system deeply rooted in the nation state framework?

These questions have been discussed and debated by critical intellectuals in China. This short essay will not fully demonstrate how the discussions have proceeded, but instead looks briefly at the comments and disagreements on September 11 among the younger generation, mainly internet users, and then summarizes discussions by Chinese intellectuals that have appeared in Dushu, or The Monthly Reader, a leading intellectual journal in China.1 Finally the paper concludes with some observations about the challenges September 11 presents for China.

It is necessary to go back a little to see what has been discussed, shared and argued among Chinese scholars and students since the late 1970s, the period when China began its ‘open-door’ and ‘reform’ policies as a governmental initiative, as well as an overarching social agenda.

After nearly three decades of ‘socialist construction’, when Mao passed away in the late 1970s China realized that it had been left behind compared not only to the West but even its Asian neighbours, including Japan and the Asian Tigers, in terms of per capita grain, income or GDP. One of Deng Xiaoping’s major concerns was to ‘catch up’ in order to increase both per capita grain and average income – a key reason why the reform started from rural China and why the economy took precedence over politics as the first priority for the country’s development.2

Throughout the 1980s, Chinese scholars, artists, literary writers and young students shared a certain consensus with reform-oriented decision-makers that China must get rid of poverty under the planning system and escape the isolation of the Cold War days. One precondition for this was that China should introduce an economic system with a competition mechanism and thus high efficiency.3 In general, the 1980s was the decade of ‘New Enlightenment’ in China, and both intellectuals and officials shared a great deal in terms of a sharp turning away from Mao to Deng, from ‘politics first’ to ‘economy first’, from ‘working hard’ to ‘being rich’.4



Another commonly shared commitment was that China must end its isolation from the outside world. Though some argue that Mao had already tried to establish normal relations with the West in the early 1970s, the ‘integration into the world system’ in Deng’s era was markedly different from Mao’s diplomacy and strategy. For both intellectuals and officials, ‘integration into the world system’ meant a ‘system reform’ in terms of institutional arrangements and organizational structures.5 For instance, a replacement of the entire management in economic enterprises, a restructuring of governmental administration and a new social security and welfare system based on the principle of competition and efficiency. This became an open programme instead of a secret one which the ruling elite and the younger generation took for granted.

Certainly there was much debate on how to integrate into the world system and how to marketize the economy during and after the 1980s. Some insisted that China should change laws governing property ownership before anything else was listed on the agenda; others argued that an introduction of competition mechanism and starting from price reform based on the market system would be safer and more realistic.6



The late 1980s was the period to observe the divergences and diversities which resulted in, and from, the Tiananmen event. But it was the collapse of the Soviet system, including Eastern Europe, that further legitimized marketization and privatization in China. As a matter of fact the year 1992 will most likely turn out to be far more significant for ‘China’s transition from socialism’ as far as marketization or privatization is concerned.7 For Chinese scholars and young students, and many officials too, the end of the Cold War was a remarkable landmark, signifying that the revolution since Dr. Sun Yetsan and the trend of Chinese history since the late Qing dynasty in the 1830s had gone wrong, or in other words was against the ‘universal direction of the past 300-year human history’.8

The 1990s was not merely a decade in which China quickened its transition to a market system, but also one when China became more integrated with world trade, technology and culture.9 Moreover, this was the phase when intellectuals, scholars, literary writers and artists showed their divergences, multiplicities and disagreements in the understanding of and approaches to modernity or modernities, including the processes of urbanization, marketization and globalization.10



Behind this divergence and differentiation lie facts of rapid economic growth and a hurried embrace of the world resulting in new challenges and problems for society, especially for the mass of ordinary people and the poor.11 In particular, high unemployment in cities, massive rural-urban migration all over the country, regional disparities and a widening rich-poor gap are increasingly becoming public concerns. Along with mushrooming department stores and five-star hotels in big cities, there is a sharp decline of rural society in terms of income as well as a worsening of infrastructure and social services. These changes are more profound than the troubling case of the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia or the downing of the American spy aircraft in the South China Sea. Unfortunately or otherwise, in this media-driven age, people within or outside of China tend to pay more attention to the latter.



Responses to September 11: Contrary to some reports in the western media, the immediate general feelings in China were sympathetic to the victims. Ordinary people, as well as the social elite, were shocked by the attack on the United States. This was mainly because of the processes of pro-Americanization and pro-globalization in terms of an intellectual and political atmosphere cultivated in China, both by the official programme for reform and the intellectual New Enlightenment since the 1980s.12



Of the responses concerning the US losses, perhaps the best known is the ‘Open Letter to the President of the United States and the People of America,’ signed by 86 liberal scholars and writers on the day following the attack. It expressed both sympathy to the American President and the US people (it did not mention that the victims actually included people from other parts of the world!) and animosity towards the possible terrorists:

‘Being in such infinite grief and indignation, we from another part of the ocean… realize that the universal anger quickly expressed by peoples all over the world is the very base for the new global rules…

Now, when we have lost our brothers, human civilization is in crisis, and the American people are experiencing the most tragic moment ever. In such days we believe both the American people and the government will be able to bear the brutal tribulation, and the Statue of Liberty will stand forever…

Tonight we all are Americans!’13

This piece is well-known mainly because of its wording as well as for the strong position it takes.14

Given the huge population of China and its political and social orientation since the 1980s, feelings are more complex than can be expressed in a single letter or internet message. It can be easily imagined that in a country which had strained relations with the United States for a long time, there are people who feel that the attacks were a sort of retribution for American hegemony, or ‘at last, misfortune for the greatest winner.’ One heard these sentiments on the internet, in tea houses or cafes. However, in public nobody really dared to support the terrorists. The most common message would start with ‘Damn the terrorists! But why are there such attacks? Anything wrong with the US too?’ This became a typical response on the internet.



At times when someone did articulate ‘the rich deserve it’ stance, there was immediate criticism from others who found such a response inhuman and felt ashamed: ‘Impossible that my fellow citizens could have such disgraceful thoughts!’15

But beyond the various emotional expressions and responses there have been a few attempts to understand what has been going on and, what has been going wrong. For some intellectuals in China, September 11 was more a symbolic than a real attack, despite the enormous loss of thousands of civilian lives and millions of dollars in property. No doubt the attacks were carefully plotted, and had deliberate dramatic effects for the world media, in order to both manifest what Hollywood images often show and to let the rest of the world see how weak any superpower might be – not just the United States. It was more symbolic, some argue, because it did not destroy or shake the foundation of the United States or the fundamental structure of the present world system.



The problem of Middle East policies: Terrorism is not a new phenomenon; although it appears more frightening since the end of the Cold War, its roots have been present in the modern world system for quite some time. For more than half a century, peoples of the Middle East in general, and the Palestinians in particular, have occupied an ambiguous position. This situation has to be understood by examining the full set of western policies towards them, especially those of the United States. Some scholars claim that it has less to do with religious differences than with socioeconomics and geopolitics. It should be remembered that Muslims coexisted with Christians for many centuries, and that fundamentalism was not necessarily the cause of terrorism. There are fundamentalist countries that have no difficulties with the West, or that, some western countries, for example the United States, contain strong fundamentalist movements which affect national policies. There are unbalanced policies and politics towards the entire Middle East. Even some pro-American Arab professionals working in the West have felt very unhappy with them.

Without such a historical perspective it is hard to understand ‘Why they hate us/US so much.’ If it is easy to see why there are such strong feelings of patriotism and calls for counterattack among ordinary people in the United States, it is perhaps not too late to rethink the entire US foreign policy framework, and to scrutinize the politics that have to a great extent failed to maintain peace in the Middle East, Central and South Asia. Rashly mobilizing all possible financial and military resources to hunt down, or bomb, a group of terrorists led by, say Bin Laden, without asking questions about overall US politics and policies, is rather shortsighted.16

The question is, are we at the historical juncture to celebrate the ‘End of History’ or at the crucial crossroads to extricate ourselves from the trap of the political and ideological stereotypes of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’?



Modernity and the problem of the nation state:17 Some arguments go beyond policies and politics to claim that the problem is modernity itself and its major institutional outcome – the framework of the nation state. The September 11 attacks were not plotted by poor fundamentalist evildoers in some remote mountains who were involved in ‘jihad’ or irrational self-sacrifice. They were, more profoundly, a consequence of modernity itself which, even as it creates great opportunities for some pushes others, not necessarily only the poor, into marginalization.

It was thus not war in any conventional sense; for instance no one, either before or after the attacks, directly took credit for them, nor were the attacks actually launched by a nation state or group of states. Although it does not really matter whether or not the attacks were launched by a handful of extremists from a certain region, with some specific religious or ethnic background, it would be mistaken to simplistically attribute September 11 to the suicide mission of some poor, hopeless people. Rather, they included people who were rich, with advanced degrees and technology, who had been located in the midst of worldly activities for a decade or so. Indeed, they were armed and supported by various superpowers in the West!



The pieces published in Dushu (The Monthly Reader) in November and December 2001 offer some interesting interpretations that need to be taken into account. More than exploring who the specific ‘evildoers’ were, the authors try to understand the contradictory and problematic nature of modernity and the nation state. They argue that terrorism in today’s world is an internal and institutionalized aspect of modernity. Only when we bind ourselves to the stereotypes of modern vs. traditional, civilized vs. barbarian, the West vs. the Rest, can we view the September 11 attacks as plotted by some pre-modern barbarians.

Violence has been industrialized and institutionalized within the modern system, which is one of the keys to understanding the dilemma of modernity. It is modernity that, on the one hand, promotes and legitimizes democracy, liberty, freedom, the rule of law for domestic politics and ensures and secures civil rights and, on the other, mobilizes, institutionalizes and industrializes violence as the basis for protecting territory, sovereignty and national interest. Never have there been such wars as those in the 20th century, all launched and systematized by and within the nation state system. The nation state as the essential framework of modernity is fundamentally the organized and industrialized repository of violence. The difference and challenge this time is that the ‘war’ was not declared by another nation state, nor by a specific axis of ‘evil nations’ – at least no evidence of that exists as yet. The terrorists could be individually scattered organizations from anywhere and everywhere.



Accordingly, the central issue is not whether it was indeed Bin Laden or the Taliban who launched the attacks, nor how to catch them with the least casualties, nor if it is necessary to use a canon to kill mice, but to review and rethink the system itself, to see how global flows of capital, technology, information and, above all, people, as a consequence of the nation state system, are paradoxically challenging the system itself.18

High modernity has not developed any mechanism to keep human beings safe from organized violence, or protect people from being attacked by armed nobodies. This challenge is especially marked when we are caught up in the nation state perspective. Everything can be legitimized when it is tied to a particular nation state; from economy to identity, all become national belongings and national properties. In the age of globalization, or that of the global flows of capital, technology, information and people, however, this perspective becomes increasingly problematic.

Everything today is becoming transnational. For more than a decade we have seen reactions and counteractions to such ‘globalization’. Examples can be drawn from the ‘rise of nationalism in some parts of the world, fascism in some others, and from the presence of regional and transnational terrorism.’19 The September 11 terrorists were not solely targeting the United States as a nation; the World Trade Center was more a multi or transnational site than a US property.

Today, because of September 11, everyone is worried about terrorism and terrorists. What is terrorism? Who are the terrorists? Where do they come from? It is clear that they did not attack the World Trade Center in the name of any particular nation state or government, nor was it a war in a conventional sense – a war of one nation state against another. This is more a global challenge to the nation state system per se, a challenge from groups or individuals who do not have to organize themselves as a nation state.20



What has changed in today’s world? September 11 has caused many to ask whether any fundamental changes have occurred in the world because of it. Authors who contributed essays to Dushu have been involved in this conversation. The following are some of the questions that have been posed.21

1. Almost immediately after the attacks there was mobilization and condemnation from all parts of the world, mostly because of the tragic loss of civilians and the total destruction of the world’s best known trade centre. It was also partly because of global media and the fact that a superpower was involved. Despite worldwide consensus on the threat of global terrorism, had there been no mass media and, more importantly, no super-power – the most authoritative and influential of which was this time shockingly attacked – it is unthinkable that any nation state, or at least its government, could have responded in such a concerted manner. This leads to another issue: had the attacks taken place elsewhere, especially in a poor, remote area of some small country where there may have been a greater number of victims, what would have been the international response? We have to ask ourselves: what are the sociopolitical sources of this response to terrorism?

2. Because of the terrorist attacks, we have begun to rethink/redefine our conceptions of ‘war’, ‘civilization’, and ‘international order’. As a matter of fact, along with the new alliance formed against terrorism, a new international order is also in the making. All nation states or governments, barring a few, have been united overnight. It is the first time since the end of World War II that countries such as Japan are joining others in military action – for Japan, it is ‘logistical support’ of military action; for China, it is the first time since World War II for such an alliance with the United States; and for some others, it is the first time they are unconditionally opening up their air space to US armed forces.

Such a powerful alliance has never been seen before; more meaningful, however, is that such an alliance has been established to fight against a non-nation state organization of organized terrorists like the Taliban or Bin Laden. War was declared, but not against a nation state. Such a change in terms of war (unlike the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries) is something we need to examine seriously. This change at the international level goes far beyond an emotional or moral response, reasonable counterattack, or revenge; it is not just a matter of how the United States reacts. However, one must ask whether these apparent changes will endure: will they last beyond this historical moment and do they signify a fundamental restructuring of the world order?22

3. The issue is not only of how to define war and civilization, but to examine our deep rooted political unconscious. It is not only politicians, but also journalists, academics and ordinary citizens who have some very biased notions of ‘the Other’. We frequently refer to the attacks as proof of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’, to the counterattacks as ‘crusades’ and, worse, reduce the problem to a battle between Good and Evil! Are these constructs deeply but unconsciously cultivated in our thinking? Some even feel there is a need to restore old fashioned colonialism in order to maintain the global order. Patriotic, nationalist and racist newspapers seem over-lappingly and paradoxically to be back on our breakfast table. Political and moral correctness cannot deny such unconscious feelings, which might be more difficult to deal with than a group of terrorists or extremists in some caves in Afghanistan. If we cannot overcome such created fissures between cultures and peoples, any peace and order after a war against terrorism will, at best, be impermanent. Is there something more urgent for us to consider than where to stand, with whom, for whom and against whom?23

4. Last, but not least, is the problem of the binary approach. We have been used to thinking and acting within an either/or framework. Once again, it is more than just whether China and other countries should be with us/US this time; it is a question of possibilities. If the world were indeed divided by the criterion of either black or white, and by black vs. white only, the answers would be much clearer.



Since the Enlightenment, we have been used to a way of thinking and asking: What do we really want? Either the modern or the traditional, the rich or the poor, the us/US or the Other, the West or the Rest, and so on. We have to make a choice. In most cases we would prefer the former to the latter. When we make the choice, we ignore the enormous diversities that exist in-between. Given such an either/or paradigm, we rarely notice, for instance, the enormous number of refugees, the increasing number of overstay tourists, the millions of cheap labour migrants, who are indeed some-where in-between, what to speak of those cultures and peoples who are oblivious about what is going on, or going wrong, between the Good and the Evil. Are we keen to prove an old Chinese saying: ‘Where there is a war between Good and Evil, there is disaster for the ordinary masses’?24

Some challenges facing China: Back to the question of China. If globalization is not really new since there has been an expansion of the market for some centuries, the problem is for the nation state system, which is both an outcome of modernity and the very container of modernity with a transnational or transregional flow of capital, technology, information and people. Transnational phenomena includes some negative aspects that were not seen by the end-of-history optimists in the early 1990s, but which seem more obvious since September 11: trafficking and smuggling, drug dealing, various kind of fundamentalisms and terrorism.



Globalization today poses a serious challenge to the nation state system in general under which everything is organized by, or is in the name of, a nation. Therefore, it is taken for granted that whenever we talk about the economy we mean national economy. Moreover, we consider politics, culture, identity and even sciences as national, including in developing countries such as China (and India?), which have yet to finish their nation building even as the nation state as a system is itself in question. Take for example the tensions created by the rise of the ‘new rich’ in these countries, not necessarily the middle class, who often constitute the base for support and taxes even though they are more transnational agents.

Under such circumstances issues internal to China become global ones. For instance, along with the massive rural-urban migration, the question of ‘who would feed China?’ becomes a hot topic.25 One of the most significant constraints for China has been the unbalanced ratio of a fast growing population and increasingly limited arable land: since the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century, most conflicts, rebellions, revolutions and reforms have partly resulted from this. Modern Chinese history shows that no matter in whose name, those who have resolved, or if not necessarily resolved, lightened, reduced, or even postponed this constraint, win. From Dr. Sun Yetsan, Jiang Ke-Shek, to Mao and Deng, none could have won or survived without addressing the problem.



During Mao’s period China tried to increase its agricultural production, especially food production through land reforms, collectivization, communes and so on. When Deng came to power in the late 1970s, both the authorities and intellectuals believed that China had finally found the key: a peaceful transition from commune to household responsibility, and later from collectivized rural economy to reallocation of arable land equally to individuals and therefore back to the household based peasant economy.

The problem became serious after the mid-1980s. From 1985 onwards there were difficulties such as insufficient capital investment, lower price for agricultural products and, perhaps more important but less obvious, a lack of input in the management of irrigation and other basic services and protection for the rural economy, rural community and rural people. The 1980s were crucial for China, not merely because it was the time when authorities launched urban reforms that were sharply different from rural reform in terms of their top-down approach, but also because the government opened up three markets – real estate, stock and foreign direct investment – for the first time. Since it was widely believed that the rural problem was no longer a troubling issue, more attention was paid to, and budget concentrated on, urban concerns.

From the mid-1980s farmers in the central parts of China have tried hard to understand and follow the market system, but without any subsidies and the necessary information services. Almost each time they planted a crop, it was imported from outside; there were some years when farmers were trapped in an endless cycle of planting and cutting, planting something else and then cutting it again! This trap was a key reason why they finally decided to give up farming altogether resulting in a massive rural-urban migration. The migrants were not just ‘surplus labour’, but some elderly persons and children as well. This was also the time when China experienced both high unemployment and inflation in urban areas, making ordinary Chinese people feel uncertain and uneasy. Never before had they faced such overlapping difficulties.



These rural and urban problems (1986-1988) were the main social causes of the 1989 chaos which have not been sufficiently realized and analysed by China watchers. During the 1993 Spring Festival, the big cities were full of young people from rural China. This was the background in which Lester Brown wrote his paper ‘Who would feed China?’ For me the key question is: Should countries like China and India simply accept that the ‘winner wins’ as a rule? Does China need to follow other Third World countries and repeat the route and fate of hundreds of millions of the rural population, going from landlessness to joblessness, and finally to homelessness, forming a new urban underclass?

Why then does globalization seem so attractive to China, especially for the elite?

After some decades of experimenting with alternatives, socialist or not, with Chinese characteristics or not, ever since the end of the Cold War China has faced a difficult dilemma: Does it want to join the global club or not? For the ruling elite it seems that there is only one way, the universal path towards development. That is the base for the discourse on globalisation, as also the rationale behind the attraction for the WTO and the Olympics. These have become the symbols of modernization and integration into the world.

Within such an imagination of globalization, the entire process is considered a win-win game. The negative consequences of development are either considered as the price one has to pay, or a necessary stage one needs to go through. Unemployment, the poor-rich divide, regional disparities, even corruption and pollution are, to a certain extent, justified. If there are losers it is simply because they are unable to cope with and do not have the capacity to win this competition. Such is the rule of the jungle.



The real challenge and dilemma for the globalization discourse is: How to deal with a mobile population all over the world? Should rural people from China, India, and other developing countries enjoy an equal opportunity for free-floating? These are not a few thousands, nor a few millions, but at least several hundred million. Should they also be able to enjoy the free-floating opportunity provided by the global market? Where can they go and how? If just one out of a million feels despair or hopelessness how can we ensure that he or she will not be pushed to an extreme?

Among China’s intellectuals, the younger generation and the public there is constant discussion and debate on both the events of September 11 and their impact. If it was not only a strike at the US, but a threat to the system – from early capitalist expansion to the establishment of the modern nation state – it would be a real shock and an unintended consequence of modernity.

When we realize the difficulties facing us only then is there a possibility that we will think of alternatives. It is too early to say now; only time will tell.



1. In both cases, responses to, or the analysis of September 11 took place mostly during the first two months, i.e., from 12 September to November 2001.

2. In Deng’s words, ‘Economy is the number-one politics.’ (Selected Papers of Deng Xiaoping, Beijing, 1984, People’s Press.)

3. This has actually changed gradually in official language from ‘socialist commodity’ (1980s), ‘socialist market economy’, or ‘market economy with Chinese characteristics’ (early 1990s) to, if not finally, ‘modern economy’, and ‘integration with the global economic system’ (late 1990s to now).

4. Deng’s well-known slogan is ‘Let a few people be rich first!’ The question unanswered is, who are the first some? Deng’s original words are ‘Working hard, then being rich.’ (Deng, 1984.) But still, who has the access to such ‘Working towards rich’ paths?

5. One of the most powerful, newly established, state committees in the early 1980s directly under the top leadership was called the ‘State Committee of System Reform’.

6. The actual debates were, of course, more complicated. In the beginning there were doubts and discussion whether the system established since the 1950s was indeed socialist or just state-capitalist. Some hoped that by abandoning the old, a new but ‘socialist system with humanist and democratic features’ could be reached, while others went to the West, plus Japan and the East Asian Tigers, to explore the alternative ways.

7. Once again, it is interesting to note the change in official language. Before 1992, ‘commodity economy’ was more common; since 1992 ‘individual ownership’ became popular, when commercialization of social service, health and education, was in fact morally justified. And now more often it is referred to as ‘marketization’, and already written in the Constitution CCP Charter. There has been much discussion and pressure, among and from academics, especially neo-liberal economists, that China needs to modify its Constitution by the year 2003 in order to legalize ‘privatization’. It is worth noting that in 2001 when the Chinese Premier held his annual press conference, he told foreign correspondents that he once met with George Bush, former US President, in Europe and Bush asked him: ‘Hi, how is your privatization going?’ The Premier answered, ‘Ours is not privatization, but marketization’. He then continued, ‘I think the former President is correct, it is one consensus but two wordings’. (‘China’s transition from socialism’ is borrowed from Dorothy Solinger’ book, China’s Transition from Socialism, 1993, M.E. Sharpe).

8. This can be seen from a widely circulated book Good-bye, Revolution! published in China in the 1990s by Li Zehou and Liu Zaifu, two leading intellectuals of the 1980s. More recent claims are from various writings by Li Shenzhi, an old intellectual-official.

9. In this paper, as in my other writings, I distinguish the term transition from transformation, referring to the former as the specific process from planning to market economy and society, whereas the latter is borrowed from Karl Polanyi, referring to social change in a broader historical perspective, which China has been experiencing. Both terms are used in Chinese so often that they are often ambiguous and confusing, as are the terms socialism and capitalism in perhaps both Chinese and English. Currently it seems to us that marketization equals capitalism, ignoring the great studies by Fernand Braudel and others. Thus transition means exclusively the process from ‘socialism’ to ‘capitalism’.

10. This change to a more differentiated approach to the problem of modernity in China can be seen in a short, but excellent paper by Wang Hui (an English version appeared later in Social Text, 55, Duke University Press, 1998), which resulted in so much debate and criticism that it seems there was obviously some misreading and misunderstanding. It also shows that intellectuals in the 1980s used to reach a consensus to such an extent that any different but deeper interpretation could cause immense ambiguity and difficulty. The same author, in more recent times, has further analysed structural change after 1989. (Wang Hui, Chinese version in Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies, No. 42, June 2001. The English version will soon appear in Position, 2002.) My background analysis in this paper owes much to these two papers, whose author is perhaps one of the most original and controversial intellectuals of my generation in contemporary China.

11. Official data for absolute poverty in rural China exceeded 30,000,000 by the year 2000; my estimate, based on field studies during the last 10 years, is three times higher than the official estimates. This excludes those unemployed or under-employed, and those with low income or on pension, in urban areas.

12. It may also have something to do with Chinese culture itself which, at least since Confucius, almost never favours any kind of terrorist action. Even official spokesmen have clearly indicated, when asked if China would take this ‘opportunity’ to set specific conditions in exchange for support, that ‘the fight against terrorism is a different issue, and China is not making bargains’ (International Herald Tribune, 19 September 2001). Additionally, the very moral base of the Confucian tradition is, as a Chinese saying signifies, to never take advantage of another when he is in danger. It would be immoral for us to ‘hit a person when he is down.’ Those who keep inquiring as to the possible pragmatic reasons behind China’s sympathetic and cooperative policies and attitudes toward the US after September 11 should understand this basic, but deep, cultural root.

13. The letter was signed that evening and later circulated to a wide readership via the internet.

14. In the intervening months, more emotional messages appeared, especially on the internet. A recent piece claims that it is extremely important to have a ‘global policeman’ in order to maintain world order, and the United States is the only one that can be relied on to do the job in terms of power and legitimacy. This piece justifies not only US military actions in Afghanistan, Kuwait-Iraq, and Yugoslavia, but also in Korea: ‘the honor of global policeman belongs to the great United States and the most heroic American people’ (Century Forum, web site, 09:28:30, 14 February 2002).

15. Mainly from www.sina.com, between 12 and 20 September 2001.

16. See Shu Chi, ‘International Terrorism and International Politics’; Wang Xiaoming, ‘The Failure of Politics’; Chen Kuan-Hsing, ‘Turning Point of American Image’; and Wang Hui, ‘The Failure of Politics and Global Democracy’, all in Dushu, November 2001.

17. See Wang Xiaoming (ibid.), Wang Hui (ibid.), Zhang Rulun, ‘The Sources of Terrorism’; and Huang Ping, ‘Another Dimension of Modernity’, all in Dushu, November 2001.

18. Huang Ping (ibid.).

19. Huang Ping, ‘Cultural and Community Securities’, UNDP Workshop paper, Beijing, November 2000. It was reprinted as APMRN Working Paper No. 10, MOST, UNESCO, University of Wollongong, Australia, 2002, pp. 66-73.

20. Huang Ping, ‘Beyond Boundaries: Imagining Impossibilities’, public lecture at International House of Japan, Tokyo, 28 October 2001, in Rethinking Existing Paradigms: Public Intellectuals in Action, Asian Leadership Fellow Programme, 2001 (Tokyo: International House of Japan, The Japan Foundation, 2002, pp. 9-14).

21. See, in particular, Wang Hui, Chen Kuan-Hsing, Wang Xiaoming, and Huang Ping, all in Dushu, November 2001; Wang Jisi, ‘Shocks of the Terrorist Attacks in the US’, and Zhang Lun, ‘Can We Live Together?’ Dushu, December 2001.

22. Wang Hui, ‘The failure of politics’.

23. Wang Hui, ibid.

24. Huang Ping, ‘Beyond boundaries’.

25. Lester Brown, ‘Who would feed China?’ World Watch Institute, Washington DC, 1994.