Text: | Print|

Book binds Zuckerberg to Xi Jinping

2014-12-15 08:57 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appears so enamoured with Chinese President Xi Jinping's book, The Governance of China, that after reading it he ordered several copies for his staff.

This is not to say that purchasing a copy of The Governance of China is particularly difficult. Published in September, it has already been translated into nine languages.

The book, a collection of speeches by Xi, appears on Zuckerberg's desk in a photograph taken recently at Facebook's Menlo Park office in California. The international media and worldwide public reaction to the photograph has understandably been little short of a wild frenzy, with many vilifying Zuckerberg for supposedly "kowtowing to the Chinese" in an attempt to make economic gains by getting Facebook an entry into China's market.

But does Zuckerberg deserve such castigating comments? And should not Zuckerberg be commended for perhaps taking a genuine interest in contemporary China?

On an economic level, Zuckerberg and Facebook certainly do not deserve such criticism, for companies the world over, especially established Western brands, are known to have taken a similar approach to expand their markets without being criticized. What the critics have missed is the crux of the matter, that is, the wider issue of gaining in-depth knowledge of all aspects of contemporary China under the leadership of Xi.

Thanks to China's miraculous economic rise over the past more than 30 years, far too many ethnocentric eyes still eye the Chinese market to fill their coffers. But very few take time out to gain any meaningful understanding of the complexities and intricacies of the real China, the Chinese political system in particular. The United States government is a prime culprit when it comes to an extremely ethnocentric "examination" of the Chinese government, while remaining conspicuously silent over revelations of barbaric torturing methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency on terrorism suspects.

Moreover, since China's reform and opening-up have led to rapid urbanization and modernization in the country, people need more extensive reading and regular consultation with China-based scholars to understand their importance and effectiveness.

By reading and ordering copies of The Governance of China, Zuckerberg has given a timely prod to all those in need of an insight into contemporary China. That does not mean ancient China should be forgotten. Those keen to understand the real China should also submerge themselves in the wealth of Chinese history, culture and literature.

Perhaps Zuckerberg's next read could be The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of four ancient classics of Chinese literature, which charts the tripartite nature of China from AD220 to 280.

But most of all, Zuckerberg and all businesspeople seeking access to the Chinese market need open-minded and indefatigable industriousness to understand the progress made by the country under the Communist Party of China. The Governance of China is an essential starting point for Zuckerberg and the others, but it is just that: the starting point of a journey into a 5,000-year-old civilization.

Rather than been derided, Zuckerberg should be applauded for setting a clear path for others to follow in their attempt to understand the real China and the tremendous transformation in the lives and experiences of the Chinese people.

About 600 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty since the early 1980s. Zuckerberg and other businesspeople who want to do business in China will have a lot of learning to do to understand how Chinese leaders have achieved such a miracle.

The author Mike Bastin is a visiting professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and a senior lecturer in marketing at the School of Business, Southampton Solent University.

Comments (0)
Most popular in 24h
  Archived Content
Media partners:

Copyright ©1999-2018 Chinanews.com. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.