Despite the long distance between the two countries, the Netherlands have profoundly influenced China。
1567 was the first year of Longqing of the Ming Dynasty. The Chinese emperor then issued an imperial edict to designate silver as the currency for people to pay their taxes in this year. Since then, a great deal of silver was transported through the Philippines to china from America. Spain occupied Cebu port and named it after Philip II.
In 1620，the Spanish encountered a strong opponent，the Dutch, in the Pacific area. The Netherlands occupied Taiwan, and blocked the way the Spain transported silver to china, which led to the huge inflation crisis of the Ming Dynasty. Twenty years later, the Ming Dynasty collapsed and was replaced by Qing Dynasty.
In the book "Who Made the History of Past 500 Years: China and the World since 1500", I described this in detail. This book was a best seller in China. It was said that most of the leaders in China had read it.
Though in my new books I didn't mention the impact the Netherlands had on modern China, but I want to emphasize here that the Netherlands had influenced modern China almost more than any other country in the world.
The first book written by Mao Zedong on philosophy was actually his notes while reading the book“ A system of Ethics” when he was twenty-four years old. The book was written by Friedrich Paulsen and was a popular version of the creative book "The Ethics" written by Baruch de Spinoza.
When the twenty-two-year old Mao Zedong studied in the provincial library in Changsha, he had read this book written by Spinoza. As a poor student, Mao Zedong had the same kind of life that Spinoza had lived. He could only afford two rice cakes
to fill his belly.
Both of Marx and Mao Zedong were revolters. They were people who violated the traditional value. Because both of them defied the order established by God. In my mind, the first country which publicly struggled against “the order established by God” represented by the the Catholic Church was the Netherlands. The original theory of rebellion and revolution in modern times is just the book "The Ethics" written by Spinoza.
The Netherlands had contributed the philosophy of revolution to the modern world. May be that’s why one corner of their national flag is red.
In my opinion, there was no philosophy that was so revolutionary like the “The Ethics” of Spinoza before the time of Marx and Mao Zedong.
Spinoza said: Order and disorder means nothing to the universe and nature. But people incline to regard the world that they can understand and the world from which they can benefit as ordered, and regard the world they couldn't understand and fit and the world from which they couldn't benefit as disordered. We can put it like this: People inclined to regard a new world as disordered. So revolution and rebellion is often interpreted as turmoil and illegality.
Spinoza said in "The Ethics", "People regard the world they could understand and imagine as ordered. They said that God created a perfect world. So in their mind, God has imagination too. It seems they want to express that God created a perfect world in which everything was in perfect order for people to use their imagination. But they didn't realize that the things beyond our imagination in this large world is infinite, and our imagination is not so powerful. Moreover, there are so many things which could disturb our imagination."
The philosophy of Spinoza is for the brave people. The Dutch are brave, because they dare directly face the world that ordinary people think as disordered, just as they bravely confront the violent storms and big waves of the ocean.
In 1972, when Mao Zedong was talking with Nixon, He used a pun to express that he took the laws into his own hands. When the interpreter interpreted it as "A lonely monk walked with an umbrella in a rainy day"，Mao corrected him, "In Buddhism, it was said that 'Thousand laws are invalid', because order and disorder means nothing to the universe." It was said by Spinoza. The pantheism he said had the same meaning with this."
Mao added, "Sun Wukong create a tremendous uproar in the heavenly palace. Now we are trying to overthrown the devil and liberate the imps around him."
In 1972, Mao Zedong didn't argued with Nixon over ideologies, But talked merely about philosophy according to Nixon's requirements. Because philosophy is a language leading to tolerance in terms of ideologies. In my opinion, tolerance is the Netherlands' greatest contribution to the world.
By the way，with this in the mind, my two books about Marx and Mao Zedong were finally able to publish in the Netherlands.
I also want to emphasize here that the philosophies of Spinoza and Mao Zedong are different from other philosophies in the world. Philosophy is a kind of language about mind and spirit since Plato. But from their standpoint, mind and spirit is only a part of the body, and it is the softest and most fragile, sensitive and variable part of the body.
Spinoza also put forward a well-known idea that mind and spirit is the source of desire, and if people don't want to be controlled by desire, they need strong and healthy bodies rather than rational mediation. In the same way, if we want to stop the misbehaviors and fighting among people driven by their desires, we can't depend on the laws of God. Spinoza said, "Nationalize the natural rights to revenge and judge, and give the rights to society. Then society will get the power to regulate the activities of people within it. I don't mean laws and rationality here, because the effective implement of laws have to rely on penalty rather than rationality. Society that established on the solid power of self-preservation is nation, and people under the protection of nation is citizen."
In my opinion, Mao became a Marxist through learning the philosophy of Spinoza rather than Lenin. And most biographies of Mao in the world incline to agree with the later.
When he was twenty six years old，Mao Zedong published his first academic paper in the magazine "New Youth", the title of which is "A Study of Physical Education." In the paper, he put forward the idea "Strengthen the physique and civilize the spirit". At that time, advanced people in China are all studying the issue of mind and spirit, such as the national spirit of the Chinese, but Mao insisted that mind and spirit is only a part of the body, and only strong and healthy body can help people overcome their desires. Of course, he learned the philosophy from Spinoza.
Mao didn't just talk, but really lived up to it. In his youth, Mao and his two classmates read and exercised beside the Xiang River during summer vacation. Stripped to the waist, they stood in violent storms, heavy rains and burning sun，and Mao called it "a shower in the rain""a shower in the sun". He wrote in his diary then "If you struggle together with nature, the joy is endless. If you struggle together with the earth, the joy is endless. If you struggle together with people, the joy is endless, too."
Mao Zedong said later that only with a strong and healthy body was he able to finish the Long March.
When he was seventy years old, Mao Zedong swam in the Yangtze river again. He called on the communists to walk into the violent storms and waves to get rid of the dirt and decay in their bodies.
Spinoza said, "It's impossible for people to be separated from nature and violate the common order of nature." Spinoza and Mao Zedong provided a kind of outlook of nature which was quite different from that of Darwin. From the standpoint of Darwin, the resource is limited, so people can only obtain most resources through brutal competitions. But in Mao's opinion, this view of nature only provide a pretext for the social policy under the principle of "Every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost."
From the view of Mao Zedong, the relationship between all things in nature is stimulation, devotion and cooperation. Freedom means cooperation rather than competition. In his youth, he wrote in the poetry" Eagles cleave the air, Fish glide under the shallow water; Under freezing skies a million creatures contend in freedom". In his mind, people can benefit most from the behavior they help others. He also wrote, "The destination of humans is self-actualization. And self-actualization means to give full play to their physical and mental potentials. We can only achieve this through activities, and the activities rely on all kinds of social organizations. "
Mao Zedong is 1.84m tall, and he is higher than his contemporaries in china. But according to the standard of the Dutch, he is of medium height. In his later years, Mao told Kissinger, "I want to swim in the Mississippi river, just to swim as a tourist. " If Mao was still alive, I couldn't imagine what he would feel when he knew a book about him was published in the Netherlands. But I believe he must like the Netherlands very much. It's not only because he is a loyal reader of Spinoza, but also because what he love most is wind, ocean and violent storms. He loved to swim and navigate in the violent storms all his life.
Mao Zedong wrote in his youth, "Strong storms sweep the sea, great waves unfold on a magnificent scale. People who board on the boat take it as great sight. The waves of life and death is greater, isn't it? "
In his later years, when Mao met with Japan premier Tanaka Kakuei, he said "I'm going to meet Marx" ,which frightened Tanaka Kakuei. He knew Mao hinted that he was going to die. Tanaka Kakuei didn't know how to answer it, so he said, "It's impossible." Mao answered with a smile on his face, "Yes, Marx is going to hold a academic meeting to discuss about the future of humans. I received his invitation card and will attend the meeting there."
I guess may be at that time Spinoza's words came to his mind, "A free man thinks of nothing less than of death; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death, but of life."
And what is life? In my mind, life means to bravely confront the unknown world. Life means to grow up in the violent storms and waves.