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A well-prepared lesson

By Xu Haoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-29 07:53
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Confucian teachings that espouse vigilance help China chart a stable course, Xu Haoyu reports.

China's ancient wisdom informs its contemporary leadership. In this series, China Daily explores how age-old principles and philosophies continue to steer the country's governance.

In times of peace, one must be alert to danger, and in times of stability, one must be mindful of the potential for chaos — this Confucian wisdom, originating more than 2,000 years ago, is still a golden rule for many people in China.

Such an idea forms an integral part of the spiritual consciousness of Chinese culture and is an important expression of the inner character of Chinese civilization, according to Wu Genyou, a professor at the School of Philosophy of Wuhan University in Hubei province.

"The awareness of unexpected developments not only requires individuals to consciously strengthen their moral cultivation, but also requires people to have a broader vision, to care not only for themselves, but also for others, society and humanity as a whole," says Wu.

Wu writes in his book Zhi Buwang Luan, An Buwang Wei (do not forget chaos in times of good governance, do not forget danger during peacetime) about Confucianism: "From a dialectical perspective, ancient Chinese explained the universal truth: Complacency might lead to chaos; security and danger are close friends; and misfortune and blessings go together."

He says it's reflected in history and the rise and fall of ancient Chinese dynasties, illustrating the need to "stay alert for potential distress even in times of peace, and stay alert for possible turmoil even in times of stability".

This idea is so all-encompassing that it is not limited to the political sphere, but extends to the economic, military and diplomatic spheres as well, he says.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at a ceremony marking the centenary of the CPC on July 1, 2021: "On the journey ahead, we must demonstrate stronger vigilance and always be prepared for potential danger, even in times of calm. We must adopt a holistic approach to national security that balances development and security imperatives, and implement the national rejuvenation strategy within a wider context of the once-in-a-century changes taking place in the world. We need to acquire a full understanding of the new features and requirements arising from the change to the principal contradiction in Chinese society and the new issues and challenges stemming from a complicated international environment. We must be both brave and adept in carrying out our struggle, forging new paths and building new bridges wherever necessary to take us past all risks and challenges."

Food security

Today, the world is in a period of great development, change and adjustment. As China grows into a global power, it's facing increasing risks and challenges, especially in the fields of finance, technology, network information, energy, ecology and food security.

China's total grain production has remained stable for seven consecutive years at over 650 billion kilograms.

Last year, grain production reached a record high of 682.85 billion kg, and per capita grain holdings reached 483 kg, higher than the internationally recognized grain safety line of 400 kg, achieving basic grain self-sufficiency and food security.

According to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 193 million people from 53 countries or regions suffered a food crisis or further food insecurity in 2021, an increase of nearly 40 million more people compared with 2020.

The UN's World Food Programme has warned that people might be facing "the biggest food crisis since World War II", with up to 1.7 billion people exposed to the destruction of food, energy and financial systems.

A popular saying among young internet users in China goes something like, "we are not living in an era without hunger but a country without it".

As a major grain producer, China has also put great attention on curbing food waste in recent years.

"The issue of food waste is shocking and distressing. We need to maintain a sense of crisis regarding food security, especially amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that China has scored consecutive bumper harvests," Xi said on Aug 11, 2020.

"It is necessary to further enhance public awareness of the issue, effectively cultivate thrifty habits and foster a social environment where waste is shameful and thriftiness is applaudable," he said.

The National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, enacted an Anti-Food Waste Law in April last year, to offer legal backing to the country's efforts to safeguard food security and promote traditional virtue of thrift.

Under this law, food service providers could face a fine of anywhere between 1,000 yuan ($140) and 10,000 yuan, if they induce or mislead consumers into ordering excessive quantities of food that causes waste and refuse to rectify the problem after being warned by market supervision departments.

Catering service providers are allowed to reward customers who finish their food, and charge customers who leave an excessive amount of leftovers a disposal fee when the rates for the charge are clearly advertised.

In 2021, about 4 million people online purchased food that was approaching its expiration date.

According to the China Market Analysis and Consumer Research Report 2020 published by iiMedia Research, 47.8 percent of consumers of expiring food in China are aged between 26 and 35, with young people being the main buyers.

"These figures show Chinese people's concern and attitude," said Zhang Lijun, vice-president of the China Federation of Industry and Commerce, in a previous interview.

Carbon neutrality

The ancient philosophy of ju'an siwei (staying alert for potential distress in times of peace) is also reflected in China's efforts to tackle climate change. It is no longer an academic topic, but has drawn the attention of policymakers and is gradually penetrating all levels of society.

More than 100 countries around the world have proposed carbon neutrality goals, which are to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, in order to effectively combat global warming caused by the combustion of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions as a result of industrial operations.

This requires the vigorous improvement of energy efficiency and clean, low-carbon utilization of coal, as well as disruptive breakthroughs in renewable energy production, consumption, storage, transmission and distribution. The further promotion of industrial transformation and the development of green and low-carbon industries is also a must.

Xi mentioned in his report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC on Oct 16, "Reaching peak carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality will mean a broad and profound systemic socioeconomic transformation."

The country's continuous green efforts show the government's dedication and foresight in tackling the environmental crises of today and in the future, which is a fine example of following the ancient philosophy of ju'an siwei.

On July 16 last year, the much-anticipated national carbon market officially went live for trading.

Hubei's pilot carbon trading market has been running for nearly 10 years, incorporating 373 emission-controlled enterprises. It controls 275 million metric tons of carbon emissions, accounting for about 45 percent of the province's total, and 64 percent of the enterprises have achieved a reduction in total carbon emissions or their intensity.

Qi Shaozhou, the current director of the Research Center for Climate Change and Energy Economy at Wuhan University, who is also the director of the Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Carbon Emission Trading, hopes that the market-based economic incentives and pressures provided by the carbon market will help China achieve carbon neutrality.

"The purpose of building China's carbon market is not only to restrain high-emission enterprises and force them to reduce emissions, but also to support the development of new energy enterprises and active emission reduction enterprises to achieve carbon neutrality," says Qi.

"The need for climate investment and financing is huge, and there is an urgent need for innovation in investment and financing tools, methods, valuation and institutional mechanisms of the national carbon market," he says.

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