Do “Asian value” and “orientalism” exist?
For the nature of Asia itself, Asia is the largest continent by landmass and covers 8.6% of the Earth's surface and hosts 60% of the world's current human population. With so much diversity, is it possible to for Asians to share quintessential values which only exist in the area of Asia? In some extent, the answer is yes as Asians, like people of any other region (i.e. Latin Americans), hold their own cultural norms, rituals, and traditions inherited from their histories. However, the temptation to see Asia as a single unit reveals a distinctly Eurocentric perspective. Indeed, the term "the Orient," which was widely used for a long time to mean essentially what Asia means today, referred to the positional vision of Europe. The attempts at generalization about "Asian values" (with forceful and often brutal implications for masses of people in this region with diverse faiths, convictions, and commitments) cannot but be extremely crude. Further complicating the notion of Asian values is the definition of what it means to be "Asian." In a country like Malaysia where there are about 60% ethnic Malay and other indigenous peoples 59%, 30% ethnic Chinese, and 10% ethnic Indian. Do all of these people, from vastly different religious (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Islam), ethnic, and financial backgrounds, share the same set of Asian values? The ethnic Chinese population of Malaysia Chinese are dominant in both the Malaysian business and commerce sectors, controlling an estimated 40% of the Malaysian economy. They are also one of the biggest taxpayers contributing to almost 90% of the nation’s income tax. Is the ethnic Chinese "more Asian" than the Malay because they are "better" at economic development and are concerned with socio-economic well-being instead of civil liberties and human rights? The Europeans used orientalism to define themselves. As Said writes, “the Orient has helped to...
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