I just finished reading Henry Kissinger’s book On China, a five-hundred-page volume of detailed historical accounts of China’s relationship with the West. It was an excellent read. Few statesmen and policy makers in our time understand China as well as Dr. Kissinger.
Kissinger begins by introducing the Chinese way of thinking. He couldn’t have used a better analogy than by describing a go (wei-qi) player, in comparison to a chess player:
The chess player aims for total victory. The wei qi player seeks relative advantage…. Where the skillful chess player aims to eliminate his opponent’s pieces in a series of head-on clashes, a talented wei qi player moves into “empty” spaces on the board, gradually mitigating the strategic potential of his opponent’s pieces. Chess produces single-mindedness; wei qi generates strategic flexibility.
Many misunderstandings and miscommunications between China and the West are indeed caused by different ways of thinking. In my book The Chinese Dream, I attempted to explain the differences. But Kissinger has done a masterful job in getting inside the mind of a wei qi player, and illuminating for the reader Continue reading