China, one of the world's oldest civilizations, is returning to the world stage in a giant man's pace after having experienced the ups and downs of the 20th century and will draw more attention with greater progress in a new century beginning tomorrow.
China was once a powerful country in the orient. Before the Rome Empire crumbled and the western civilization entered a long night of darkness, the Chinese civilization was at its height.
Westerners of the Medieval era were deeply impressed with Marco Polo's description of China being a great and proud nation where science was then highly developed, people led a prosperous life, knowledge was respected and management of state was orderly, which eventually prompted Vasco Da Gama (1469-1524), a Portuguese navigator, to set sail for the country.
However, the outcome was an unexpected catastrophe: the collision of civilizations ushered bruise-covered China in the 20th century.
Late Chinese historian Hu Sheng noted, "The 20th century is a century when China suffered the most in its history and is also a period of time when Chinese people began to make attempts in order to save China and prevent Chinese nation from extinction."
Hu also pointed out that it is also a century China is full of hope.
A major turn for the better in China's drive to rejuvenate the Chinese nation occurred in the 20th century. Marxism replaced Confucianism to become the most powerful ideological force in China, and its application to China's actual situation helped the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
In the past 50 years, the Chinese nation, with a civilization of 5,000 years, has once again risen in the world while the nation has achieved fantastic historical progress marked by sufficient grain supply to the nation, satellites orbiting in space, and Hong Kong and Macao's return to motherland.
The passing 20th century is an era featuring drastic accumulation of riches of mankind. China has drawn the attention of economists around the world with its fast economic progress. In the past 50 years, China's average annual economic growth speed is two times and a half of that of the world's average.
In 2000, China is expected to stand in the seventh place in the world in terms of gross economic volume and placed second in terms of foreign exchange reserves. Most of the Chinese people lead a better-off life and the 100-year dream of realizing modernization will soon become a reality.
It should never be forgotten that China had been the world's No. 1 strong economic nation for 14 centuries and continued to lead the world with its riches until the first half of 19th century. It is said that China's return into the world stage is an inevitable fact and China's takeoff in the new century will be even more splendid and fascinating.
The 20th century is a time featuring globalization tendency. China has changed from a complacent, conservative and isolated state into an open one. Following its foreseeable accession into the World Trade Organization, the leading position of China, with a population of 1.3 billion, in the world's economic setup will eventually be established.
Having fostered economic and trade relations with 227 countries and regions in the world, China is placed second in the world for six running years in terms of the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), and more than 200 out of the world's top 500 transnational corporations have settled down in China.
In opinion of Chinese economist Hu Angang, China has succeeded in a major cross-century choice.
The 20th century is an era of great changes for mankind, but the earth-shaking changes in China are the most impressive. China has made unique contributions to socialist movement. Under the banner of socialism, China, the world's third largest country in terms of territory, has not only won independence, but also successfully solved the problem of providing one fifth of the world's total population with enough to eat and wear. It has become stronger and stronger.
Foreign media comment that China's road serves world as a model. What happened in China this century are surely to affect the pattern of world in the new millennium.
In the 20th century, the mankind for the first time mastered the technologies to destroy itself, and created the form of world wars to push civilization to the edge of extinction. China has on one hand become one of the countries that suffered the most misery and most sacrifices, and on the other hand become one of the countries that have been fighting for its independence and sovereignty and making benefits for mankind.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the increasingly strong New China has upheld justice in the world affairs, advocated peace and development in the multi-polar world, and has therefore been considered by foreign media as the "factor of stability" and to " have changed the balance of force".
From ancient times to nowadays, best remembered in the world are philosophy of Confucius, Mencius and Lao Zhuang, martial arts and Peking Opera. The fine tradition of Chinese nation -- will be carried on and further developed in the new century.
The passing 20th century has witnessed unprecedented progress in science and technologies. People surprisingly find that China's inventions of rocket, gun powder, mariner's compass, paper-making and block printing in the Medieval era had played a influential role. Without these inventions, it is impossible for happening of most major events in the world in the 20th century.
But on the other hand, the occurrence of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, computer and gene engineering has imposed challenges to ancient civilization. Chinese people have survived the challenges.
One can easily find that in the world's scientific and technological sectors, scientists of Chinese origin have been playing an active role. The central Chinese government has also included seizing opportunities in scientific and technological revolution into the cross-century strategies of the state. Chinese people also plan to put up the five-star red flags on the Moon and the Mars.
The relation between the human beings and the nature has for the first time entered a state of tension in the 20th century. The speed of extinction of species in this century has exceeded any period in history. Some pessimistic westerners believe that the 20th century is an era wherein material is placed in the first place and money is worshipped above everything else and mankind will lose the capacity of self control.
Ji Xianlin, a Chinese scholar of culture, said:" At this moment, a great number of bewildered people once again turn their eyes to the orient in a bid to find a way out in the old traditions featuring a harmony of the mankind and the nature, and human beings' care for culture."
China, which has been making efforts to put a brake on population growth, has taken sustainable development as a state policy, and treated perfection of the spiritual world as the highest pursuit, will draw more attention in the globe in the new century.
The new century will start a new page for the mankind. Some people predict that it will be an even complicated and confusing era, while others say it will be a time full of glory.
Many people expect that rising of China will once again bring the world with encouraging tidings. Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong said:" Maybe a home for re-arrangement of the future of the mankind will be found in this fertile land that has nurtured the ancient Chinese civilization."
(People's Daily 12/31/2000)