The ingenuity and inventiveness of the Chinese, which have given so much to mankind silk, tea, porcelain, paper, printing, and more would no doubt have enriched China further and probably brought it to the threshold of modern industry, had it not been for this stifling state control. It is the State that kills technological progress in China. Not only in the sense that it nips in the bud anything that goes against
or seems to go against its interests, but also by the customs implanted inexorably by the raison d’État. The atmosphere of routine, of traditionalism, and of immobility, which makes any innovation suspect, any
initiative that is not commanded and sanctioned in advance, is unfavorableto the spirit of free inquiry.
“Etienne Balazs (1968)1
The spirit of free enquiry – what does it take to cultivate it? Certainly something to mull over.