Do traditional values still exist in modern Chinese societies?
- Cite this article as:
- Yin, L. Asia Europe Journal (2003) 1: 43. doi:10.1007/s103080200001
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The stellar economic performance of the Asia-Pacific region in the 90s led many scholars to credit Confucianism as the impetus for it provided the cultural background conducive for entrepreneurs of this region to excel. Some even believed that a “Confucian Revival” is at hand and have proposed the 21st century to be the “Confucian Century”.
Although the causes of economic growth and success are complex and likely to vary from one country to another, the significance of culture has been emphasized. Hicks and Redding (1983) commented, “as there are well over a hundred developing countries, the almost perfect correlation between Chinese heritage and economic success could hardly be due to chance.” Another study by Gordon Redding (1990) on the spirit of Chinese capitalism suggested a strong link between Confucian values and modern overseas Chinese business enterprises.
However, when the same region triggered a global economic crisis a few years ago, fingers were also pointed at Confucianism, naming it as the culprit behind the downfall of Chinese entrepreneurship. Further, people often loosely refer to Confucianism or Asian Values when analyzing factors relevant to the economy and social matters. They do so without first synthesizing the system of thought upon which they base their claims, thereby weakening their arguments. Moreover, studies on Chinese values are certainly insufficient if not misconstrued by scholars with no Chinese background. How then does Confucianism influence Asian countries? Do Chinese values still exist in modern Chinese societies? Using quantificational tools to support our thesis, this comparative study attempts to investigate whether Confucianism or traditional Chinese values still played an important role in shaping the mind and attitude of modern Chinese in Singapore and China.