China, the youthful and ever growing country that it is, has taken many lessons from the rest of the world. As a result, great men from other countries have come to be revered by the Chinese for their advancements: from Issiac Newton to Michael Jordan, many have made lasting impressions on the Chinese psyche. In preparation for the 60th anniversary of the PRC, the Global Times compiled a list of the sixty most influential foreigners in the country’s short history. We’ll give you a few guesses.
Colonial Sanders, or maybe Walt Disney? Yep, they’re one the list. Of course you’re going to have your Soros and Gates, your foreign dignitaries and heads of state, and maybe even an actor or writer thrown in the mix. Generally, the types of idols chosen can be split up into three categories.
From Global Times:
Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Beijing University, told the Global Times that the foreigners could be classified into three types: the first type is those who are symbolic of Western civilization such as Newton, philosopher Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Ludwig van Beethoven. They are the driving force of human civilization and still exert great influence on the world of today.
The second type are those closely related to China’s global strategy after China won an important position in the international community such as Henry Kissinger and former Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.
The third type are those who have influenced Chinese society after China began reform and opening-up, such as fashion designer Pierre Cardin, Bill Gates and Michael Jackson. They are mostly entrepreneurs and celebrities in the entertainment or sports fields, and have changed Chinese people’s way of living and values.
Seventy percent of the candidates was compiled through online polls on the Global Times’ website, and the other thirty percent of were recommended by academics. Which makes the list pretty fascinating: it reflects both expert opinion of foreign influence on China as well as contemporary popular opinion. For instance, if Michael Jackson hadn’t died this summer, chances are he wouldn’t have made the list. Then again, we’re stumped as to how Bora Milutinovic, the “former football coach of former Yugoslavia,” found his way onto the list.
You can basically trace the economic and cultural opening of China through the foreigners chosen: the most revered foreigners of the past were all scientists, philosophers and politicians, but once you get into the modern era, the list changes to entrepreneurs and superstars. And interestingly, Margaret Thatcher was the only woman who made it on the list. In any case, we had fun making up our own suggestions of foreigners to add: we’re amazed Da Shan didn’t make it on the list!
Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.