Walking tall and purposeful, like the new honorable sheriff in towns across China, President Xi Jinping emulates the likes of western maverick Wyatt Earp or eastern hero Lin Zexu. Humble but confident, President Xi Jinping is moving forward with fortitude proclaiming clean heart initiatives to purify the soul of the nation he governs, rooting out the bad guys and establishing the new Beijing spirit. "Patriotism, Honesty and Friendliness" but above all, "VIRTUE" is his mantra and the smiling spirit emanating from the chief lawman in China.
Even how one conducts business and travel practices is being confronted under President Xi Jinping's thoughtful eyes. His approach is balanced with the advent of the new China travel law implemented October 1. Like the motto on the patrol cars of L.A.P.D. "To protect and to serve," this badly needed legislation in China is good for its citizens and for the global tourism industry. The new law endeavors to establish mutual trust, protect the safety and promised services for Chinese travelers while also expecting them to behave honorably in countries they visit. No more bad practices by rogue tour companies ripping off Chinese tourists and no more ugly behavior by their fellow countrymen when traveling abroad. From my personal experience of welcoming thousands of Chinese to America, they have been respectful, appreciative and a pleasure to serve. We appreciate when they choose to visit the United States. They generously outspend any other foreign visitor, improving our economy and creating jobs. They deserve caring hospitality. Good for world business and good for world peace.
Ancient Sages, New Frontier, East Meets West
This ancient country, China, is fast becoming the new frontier and center of trade and commerce with its noble leader drawing insight from the illustrious and complex Chinese history and culture. While scholars and political pundits attribute this modern leader's vision and commitment to 20th century Mao and 19th century Marx thought, one could argue that President Xi Jinping's vision actually appears closer to the philosophies of much earlier thinkers from the East and West. At the turn of the 17th century, the first westerner invited by the Emperor to stay in the Forbidden City was a trusted scientist and Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci. He is now considered an early visionary pioneer for cross-cultural exchange and cooperation, the best way to unite east and west people. Arguably, the even earlier teachings of Confucius, Buddha, Plato, Maimonides and Al-Farabi are well aligned with President Xi Jinping's communicated thought. And it is interesting to note that the universally revered writings of Lao Tzu and St. Paul resonate closest to President Xi Jinping's inspirational messages of advancing virtue over vice for stability, sustainable growth and peace.
Another dynamic Chinese leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen was inspired and influenced by St. Paul and his writings which he came to know while living and studying in Hawaii at the turn of the 20th century. St. Paul in first century A.D. wrote The Letter to the Romans, "Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Contribute to the needs of others, exercise hospitality. If possible on your part, live in peace with all. Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good. For (good) rulers are not causes of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will have approval of it (Chap. 12-13)."
Harmonious Balance, Universal Virtues
History demonstrates how empires rose and fell when economic and moral standards were not properly balanced. Out of control hedonism and disregard for virtue led to the demise of many a powerful empire. These wise teachers of past generations advanced the importance of virtue and argued for a succinct moral compass as the strong and sturdy foundation required for a lasting society. President Xi Jinping obviously recognizes the harmonious balance needed to ensure this desirable goal. Perhaps, prescribing to the understanding that for a nation to succeed economically it must also advance morally. As Plato (4/5c.BC) proclaimed, "All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtues."
"Virtue Ethics" mentors also taught that good leadership must encourage individual opportunity and responsibility, respect for life and for laws and provide charitable support for those in need of help, especially for the most vulnerable in society: the elderly, the sick and children. In the first page of The Analects of Confucius it states; "People virtuously governed and kept in order by the inner-law of self-control will retain their moral sense, and moreover become good." This lesson is preceded by the very first Analects: "In ruling a country of a thousand chariots, there should be scrupulous attention to business, honesty, economy, charity, and employment of the people." This basic 6th century B.C. Chinese teaching apparently inspires the 21 century Chinese President, together with lessons of another Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu who wrote:
"Cultivate virtue in your own person, and it becomes a genuine part of you. Cultivate it in the family, and it will abide. Cultivate it in a community, and it will live and grow. Cultivate it in the state, and it will flourish abundantly. Cultivate it in the world and it will become universal."
Later in world history, inspired by his own dramatic conversion of heart, St. Paul became "Catholic" which means universal. He wrote many insightful letters to various communities from Jerusalem to Syria, throughout Asia Minor to Greece and then Rome. Historically, what began in "Middle East-Asia Minor" as "Judeo-Christian" universal spiritual and moral teachings was providentially embraced sooner in parts of the world considered "west," maybe because these regions were void of receiving the universal contribution of "eastern" thought for virtue and morality. As enlightened writers before him, St. Paul taught the universal way of charity, true love and peace. "Stop lying to one another since you have taken off the old self with its practices. Put on then...heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these put on love, that is the bond of perfection (Col. 3:5-14)." Logically because traveling between The West and Far East was more challenging than it is today, the modern benefit of travel and exercising hospitality is to learn, to share and to grow in universal virtues.
Clean Heart, Good Deeds and Example: Trust and Good Fortune Fulfilled
It is a pity that charity and other Christian virtues and core tenets were not practiced by some who "purported to be Christians" during the course of history to develop honest trade and trusted relationships. In fact, the contrary was the true sad history and cause for so much distrust by China of the west and explains why Christianity was marked "western thought," which it is not. Christianity is universal. The Christians who came to China from Europe had "free will" to behave as "Christians;" as taught in The Bible, to choose virtue over vice. Probably the most grievous evil-inspired undertaking was the 19th century conspiracy to conquer (commercially) China via addiction to opium, hence understandably earning visitors from "the west" the moniker "foreign devils." This egregious act was exacerbated by what is viewed as "unequal treaties" entered into without mutual appreciation or respect for the diverse cultures of one another, instead calling each other "barbarians." Advancing trust and virtue comes from open hearts, good leadership, and exercising caring hospitality toward one another.
The interesting background of Xi Jinping informs that he lived and worked amongst the hardworking, hospitable people of humble farming communities from Liangjiahe, Shaanxi Province to Muscatine, Iowa and then became President of China. His life experiences and perhaps destiny will help him open China to the world and the world to China, transforming cross-cultural biases. China has the possibility to become the influential center of the universe, the way Matteo Ricci envisioned its position on the world map he drew in 1602 as the "Middle Kingdom." China can dispel the misguided ballad of 19th century British writer Rudyard Kipling who wrote, "Oh East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." The new President of China is illustrating good governance promoting patriotism, honesty, friendliness, virtue ethics and healthy global tourism. People traveling from and to China will benefit from the commitment to trustworthy travel advanced by the new China travel law for warranted safety, quality and good business practices. President Xi Jinping can be the virtuous, open-hearted leader to help build the trustworthy bridge that unites two divergent yet complementary mentalities, balancing and bonding yin and yang for peace and good. After all is said and done, it is divinely written in the most coveted good fortune cookie: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8)." Zhu ni ping an!