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The Untold Secrets of Chinese and Asian Successes

As we enter the 21st century, the most often discussed topic in the international arena is “the Rise of China.” Since 1980, China has achieved a double digit economic growth rate and increased its economy by more than 15 timeswhile the US has expanded its economy by only 1.3 times. In 2010, China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world. It is projected that, at this rate, the size of the Chinese economy will surpass that of the US before 2030.

Let’s go back a few decades, to the 1980s. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the so-called “Four Asian Mini-Dragons,” achieved rapid economic growth and became newly industrialized countries. Two decades earlier, in the 1960s, Japan recovered from the ruins of World War II, rapidly grew its economy, and became a major global economic power.

After observing the rapid economic growth of Japan and the “Four Asian Mini-Dragons,” scholars tooknotice of a cultural commonality.  All of them are Asian countries influenced by Confucian values. In 1979, Herman Kahn, the world-famous futurist, pointed out the cultural strengths of the Confucian Ethic in the pursuits of industrialization and affluence. He predicted, “the Confucian ethic—the creation of dedicated, motivated, responsible, and educated individuals and the enhanced sense of commitment, organizational identity, and loyalty to various institutions—will result in all the neo-Confucian societies having at least potentially higher growth rates than other cultures.” Based on the early evidence of the Asian economic miracle and its linkage to Confucianism, Roderick MacFarquhar, the world-renowned China expert and former Director of the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University, declared in 1980: “That ideology [Confucianism] is as important to the rise of the east Asian hyper-growth economies as the conjunction of Protestantism and the rise of capitalism in the West.” Both of them wisely predicted the rise of East Asian economies 30 years ago.

If we turn now to the people, Chinese Americans, along with Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, and a few other Asian American ethnic groups, have been recognized as “the Model Minority” by the American media since 1960s. In the Pew Research Center Report “The Rise of Asian Americans” of June 19, 2012, Asian Americans are applauded as “the highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing racial group in the US.” They succeed in many critical areas in which our nation on the whole is struggling, such as science and math education, money management, family stability, and crime and obesity control.  They have also weathered the financial crisis better than any other racial group.

What are the secrets of success for Chinese, Japanese and Korean Americans? Again, they are the many inspiring Confucian values that have been influencing China and other East Asian countries for more than two thousand years. After the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans emigrated to the US, they embraced and benefited from many important Western values such as rule of law, equal rights, and independent thinking. At the same time, they retained much of their own cultural heritage, predominantly Confucian values, such as the emphasis on education, saving, and devotion to the family. It is the combination of positive values drawn from both Confucianism and Western culture that make many Chinese/Asian Americans successful in their pursuit of the American Dream!

For many decades, despite many publications by Herman Kahn, Roderick MacFarquhar, Tu Weiming, and other scholars on China/East Asia, these success secrets largely have been confined to the academic world. Most mainstream readers outside Asian societies do not know these inspiring Confucian values and thus are unable to reap the benefits from them. The Chinese Secrets for Success: Five Inspiring Confucian Values is the first book to introduce the untold secrets of Chinese and Asian successes to mainstream American readers.