Changing lenses on China

China has changed but the world still holds an archaic view of it.

In fact, many of its critics from afar have not even visited the place.

They have been fed outdated information of a China that is totalitarian in rule and of people conformist to the hilt.

But for the foreigners who bother to visit China, they are shocked beyond words. Modern airports greet them. Stratospheric skyscrapers punctuate the skylines. Bullet trains connect the cities, which are all modern.

One evergreen perception of the Chinese is that they disregard human rights. In all fairness, before we cast the first stone, we should reflect upon our own histories.

China's economic success is nothing short of a miracle. It has overcome great odds through hard work, fortitude and ingenuity. It feeds the world's insatiable demand for cheap goods.

Despite a late start, it has surpassed many other countries without the exacting pre-conditions of democratic institutions, rule of law, transparency and market economy held so dear by foreign protagonists.

Should it remain seen but not heard so as to fulfil its "destiny", according to archaic notions?

It is high time we thought hard about how we look at China.

Lee Teck Chuan