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I haven't bothered to come to this thread because the answer is so obvious -- there is no consensual will amongst Americans to try to understand China at all. Almost all the so-called China hands know very little of the language or history of the Chinese nation. All they depend upon to write their Ph.D. thesis are English books written by an older generation of "China hands."|
Chinese in general understand more about America than vice versa because there are many Chinese scholars who have spent years studying in the States, and feel equally conversant in both Chinese and English.
To understand China, you need to have read at least five hundred books including not only vernacular Chinese, but also Chinese classics, and this is too difficult for American scholars to do. They are just too incompetent to read and understand the original texts of the Four Classic Novels -- Water Margin, Dream of Red Chamber, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West -- let alone philosophical works like Analects, Zhuang Zi, Mengzi, Laozi, Han Fei Zi, Shi Jin, Sunzibingfa, Lisao, Guwenguanzhi, Caigentan, The thirty-Six Stratagems, Zhizitongjian; technological works like Tiangongkaiwu, Bencaogangmu etc. Without this foundation of knowing the original sources of Chinese civilization, how can an American 'scholar' truly know anything about China.
Even Joseph Needham, the Cambridge University scholar who authored the multi-volume "History of Chinese Civilization and Technology," didn't know much about Chinese language himself (I saw his calligraphy in writing some elementary Chinese characters) and had to depend on his Chinese wife for translating the original Chinese texts.
So the failure to understand China from an American perspective is due to the lack of true respect and necessity -- there simply isn't enough interest to understand China from a truly Chinese perspective.
It's like trying to scratch away an itch through the thickness of leather boots.