Why Isle Kids Should Learn Chinese

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 08, 2010
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As the biggest Hawaii primary election in recent memory nears, something just as big is occurring: The Chinese are coming. They want to join in on the Westernization of the world. It’s a global thing and Hawaii should prepare for the influx.

The governor has been spending a lot of time in China and also has spent a lot of time entertaining officials from the People’s Republic of China. There are many indications that China is reaching out to Hawaii to improve its use of leisure time and business contacts. Many have already set up shop in Hawaii in various businesses and with little fanfare.

Direct flights from China to Hawaii complete with a streamlined visa and passport process have been in the works for a long time. It’s something everyone in Hawaii can or might consider banking on.


What should our elected leaders be doing? Our outgoing governor is learning to speak Chinese. After all, eating chop suey in Chinatown or watching a Shaolin dance troupe perform isn’t going to be enough to help anyone understand the modern Chinese culture, although both experiences would probably be very entertaining. We’ve got to put China in our public school system and encourage university students to study and understand the amazing history of China. Areal good idea is for elementary school children to learn the Chinese language - whether or not they’re of Chinese heritage.

One big difference between the Chinese and us is that they have an agrarian society. Despite massive growths of cities and manufacturing in recent years, two-thirds of all Chinese people still live in rural communities while we are urban dwellers. We are very individualistic, they are not.

Their survival depends on cooperation and harmony. They have agrarian values and live close to the soil. Americans are still influenced by our cowboy roots.

Another deep belief is morality. After all these years, the writings of Confucius still serve as the foundation of Chinese education. This is why reverence for scholarship abounds in China. A contemporary of Confucius was Lao Tsu, who gave inspiration for Taoism, in which fundamental notions invoke the relationship of yin and yang, the two forces that complement one another. They can’t be separated and must be considered as a whole. To the Chinese, the secret to life was to find the tao - “the way” - between the two forces, finding a middle ground, a compromise.


So what’s a good way to prepare for the Chinese invasion of Hawaii? Well, the Chinese people have a wariness of foreigners, which they learned the hard way, from all points on the compass. They have endured years of internal squabbling, civil wars and the ebb and flow of empires. But today they are concerned about their families and their bank accounts.

Local businesspeople who want to work with the Chinese might want to start learning the rules of the game the way they play it.

Oh, and don’t expect immediate results.

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