Common Place 1

“For many years after the end of the Cold War, being aware that its circumscribed national strength and geostrategic position did not allow it to exert enough clout, China followed the taoguangyanghui policy-hiding its capabilities, focusing on national strength-building, and biding its timeset by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1990s, kept its head low and avoided confrontation with the U.S. and other Western powers.” I pulled this quote from a text I was reading for another course, China: Politics and Foreign Policy, because it seemed to be multileveled and steeped in interpretability.

Upon first glance, the aesthetic of the piece is obviously scholarly. It can be argued that there is a preoccupation with scholarly appearance that can cause works to lose their meaning in an attempt to sound more intelligent. The length of the sentence in combination with the vocabulary seems to do exactly that. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This Shakespearean quote epitomizes exactly what the problem with this sentence is. There is simply too much information trying to be conveyed in such an unreasonably short space.

Barring any academic styling that is supposed to make the author’s importance known, the sentence carries the possibility for a more artistic interpretation. It could be believed that the Chinese state is like a tiger slowly creeping around waiting for its time to strike. The 1990’s intense interaction between the Western powers as camouflage for the slowly intensifying China. When we apply this possible allusion to the modern day, we see the author chose these words based on the belief that Chinese power would become more prominent in the coming years. A fact that is true today.

The quote as a whole strikes an interesting balance of making a powerful point and saying nothing at all. On one hand the writer is claiming the Chinese government have masterminded a plan so clever that they will be able to avoid the confrontation which has dragged down so many other rising states. Inversely, he manages to leave the sentence rather open ended allowing for interpretation and likely covering his claims from any falsehood should the Chinese state implode in the future.

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