What is Chinese FinTech?
What is Chinese FinTech?
Is there a difference between Chinese FinTech and FinTech in the rest of the world?
Is Chinese FinTech special?
Maybe we have to go back to Chinese cultural beginnings to understand Chinese FinTech.
So let’s look at Confucius. And maybe he will shed some light on the Chinese FinTech scene?
Kongzi, otherwise known as Confucius, was a Chinese philosopher who lived in the 6th century BCE. He also lived during the Warring States which spanned from 475 BC to 221 BC which were a time of war and hardship. Kongzi believed that war was an unnecessary solution to China’s problems and called for putting wise, benevolent and reverent people into the government. He thought that such people would rule truthfully and set a great ethical example.
War was not the only topic in which Kongzi had strong opinions.
Moreover, he thought society should be run based around the five themes of confucianism: Ritual and functionalism; Revivalistic traditionalism; The family and differentiated caring; Happiness in everyday world and Ethical Cultivation. These 5 factors make up a majority of what Kongzi stood for with each factoring into different elements of society as a whole. The three I want to address are the family and differentiated caring, ritual and functionalism and ethical cultivation. The question I would like to pose is: How would one characterize Confucius’ ideal society?
In Kongzi’s mind, family was the foundation of an ideal society in China as he believed a person’s roots depicted the type of person they would become. There are two different ways in which family factors into confucianism, the first being differentiated caring. Differentiated caring is the idea that a person should have stronger moral obligations and emotional attachments to their friends and family rather than strangers. People would look after those bound to them by friendship and most importantly kinship first, and in return, expect the same care from them.
This is shown when Kongzi commented on a situation where a Duke of a state was gloating about the honestly of his people telling a story of how a son had turned his father in for stealing a sheep.
Kongzi said: “Among my people, those whom we consider ‘upright’ are indifferent from this: fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. ‘Uprightness is to be found in this.’” What is Chinese FinTech?
It is shown here that this system puts family first above everybody and everything else. This system ensured that each person had their own community of people looking out for them creating a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Kongzi also saw honesty in this system as each person felt the need to look after each other and they did. The younger generation in the family owed the elders respect and the older generation gave the youth protection and wisdom. The second way in which Family factors into confucianism is by being an active member in one’s family. Confucius believed that is it by being apart of a family that one initially learns to be a good person, “The gentleman applies himself to his roots. ‘Once the roots are firmly established, the Way will grow.’ Might we not say that filial piety and respect for elders constitute the root of Goodness?” From this it can be inferred that Kongzi thought each 1 person learned from their elders and this shaped them to be respectful citizens filled with integrity. Filial piety was a crucial part of a successful society in Kongzi’s eyes. This included treating one’s parents well, showing love and respect and treating others right in the society as to bring a good reputation to the family name. As is evident in this paragraph in an ideal confucian society, the individual is valued more in a social group then by themselves.
1 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 24 2
Societies are built on tradition and culture, these are the elements that make a society what it is and guides the people who live in it. In an ideal Confucius society, Rituals and Functionalism govern the social expectations of the people allowing them to have a basic framework of humanity. A ritual is essentially a religious activity.
What is Chinese FinTech?
There are many examples of these ingrained into Chinese culture, for example, using oracle bones for divination, performing a traditional funeral and giving offerings to the spirits. Rituals were also the means of how one carried themselves and behaved in general. Rituals reminded people of how they were connected to those around them and that they were part of a community as a whole. This connection to others led the people to form genuine communities in which respect and care were fundamental pillars. Kongzi believed that the correct basic frame of mind in a religious ceremony was awe or wonder and thought that each person should treat each activity they do with the same awe, “If I am not fully present at the sacrifice, it is as if I didn’t sacrifice at all.”2 Kongzi believed that a society should be fully present in everything they do or else it is not worth doing it. By applying this mindset to smaller tasks, the society would become a well oiled machine, with everybody doing their part to the best of their ability. Even in social interactions the idea was if the person was going to cry or laugh, they should be fully present when doing so and feel that emotion fully or it is as if this experience never happened.
Another important ritual which was a pillar in Confucius’ ideal society were funerals. These funerals were intricate and involved a lot of extra means such as garments for the deceased, inner and outer coffins and other items buried in the grave. The mourning period would reflect how
2 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 27 3
close the person was to the deceased. This was a period of time where the mourner wore simple clothes, ate plain food and avoided activities as much as possible. If the deceased was a parent, the mourning period would be three years: “ A child is completely dependent upon the care of his parents for the first three years of his life— this is why the mourning period is the common practice throughout the world.” Confucius believed that proper mourning for close family 3 members was extremely important as it reflected the importance the deceased had on their life. It also expressed the amount of respect the person had for the deceased.
Kongzi was one of the first ever recorded teachers which implies that teaching and learning were crucial elements to his life. Kongzi wanted to put benevolent, wise and virtuous leaders in charge of society and to achieve this, he created educational techniques to produce virtuous people. In an ideal Confucius society, the leaders would be not only skillful but wise, kind and respectful which in turn would lead to a similar society. The leader’s behavior and attitude would reflect upon those living in that community. Learning and thinking was a large part of a Confucius society, Kongzi wanted a society where learning was plentiful and people had a thirst for knowledge. Kongzi was a strict teacher and expected a lot from his students, he wanted them not just to memorize the information but to let it change them as a person: “If you learn without thinking about what you have learned, you will be lost. If you think without learning, however, you will fall into danger.” It is evident here the fragile intertwining between learning and 4 thinking. One cannot survive without the other, each must be present for the other to take place
3 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 28 4 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 29 What is Chinese FinTech?
successfully. Kongzi categorized two different types of people in his society as either a gentleman or a petty person. The gentleman was a person who strived for greatness and was a good person, whilst the latter was a selfish person who couldn’t endure suffering. This factored into Kongzi’s ideas about learning as he believed that the petty person didn’t allow his learning to affect him: “The learning of the petty person enters through his ears and passes out his mouth. From mouth to ears is only four inches—how could it be enough to improve a whole body much larger then that?” The people in an ideal Confucius society wouldn’t have just wanted to learn, 5 they wanted to become more knowledgeable and allow that knowledge to greater themselves as a person by making them wiser, kinder and more respectful people. Kongzi believed that learning is much more valuable than salary: “It is not easy to find someone who is able to learn for even the space of three years without a thought to official salary.” Whilst money was important, being 6 a gentleman didn’t rely on social class but rather the wisdom and knowledge one pertained.
Kongzi had many beliefs as to how a society should be run with each intricately depicting a framework for humanity. An ideal Confucius society would consist of filial piety, proper traditions and selfless learning. This would create a supportive community of people who were wise, kind and respectful. This also shows us the extreme opposition Kongzi had to war and fighting as his ideal society was one of peace and kindness.
What is Chinese FinTech?
5 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 31
6 Norden, Bryan W. Van. Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2011, 31
What is Chinese FinTech?