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PostChina's "Long Game" and a Zhou Enlai Quote (John Heelan, UK, 01/11/19 4:32 am)
Ric Mauricio (10 January) writes an interesting view of the future global hegemon. However, I suspect he ignores the different concept of time held in Chinese philosophy. I have often argued in WAIS that the Chinese play the "long game," and after 2000+ years of quasi-civilisation who can blame them? (See link below.) Not only does the philosophy recognise "linear time" (as does the West) but also "cyclical time" (which might support Ric's comments).
About the impact of the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai said it was "too early to say." Given that the French Revolution of 1789 had occurred nearly 200 years before, Zhou was expressing the long view of history in a very witty and Oscar Wildean way.
News of this quote flew quickly around the chattering classes in the West, and it was soon used as evidence that the Chinese (especially Chinese intellectuals and leaders) took the long view of things, that they were a patient civilization, and that, when they thought about the future, it was hundreds of years distant. Although critics suggest that Zhou was referring to the 1968 student revolutions that France suffered rather than the original 1789 one.
JE comments: "Professor Buzzkill" argues that the question was mistranslated for Zhou, but it's one of those countless quotes that should have been. (When I watched TV news as a child, I always wondered why the Chinese would have a leader named JoAnn.)