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The Chinese State and the New Global History

By Wang Gungwu

Publication Year: 2013

Will the rise of China change the international system built by the industrial and constitutional democracies of the West of the past centuries? Should China be content with the maintenance of that system: one of competing nation-states of absolute sovereignty and relative power? Does the Confucian past contain a moral vision that may connect with universal human values of the modern world? And will the rising China become an engine for a renewed Chinese civilization that contributes to the equity in the international system? Pondering these fundamental questions, historian Prof. Wang Gungwu probes into the Chinese perception of its place in world history, and traces the unique features that propel China onto its modern global transformation. He depicts the travails of renewal that China has to face and betters our understanding of China’s position in today’s interconnected world. This collection of Prof. Wang Gungwu’s thoughts is a must-read for us to contemplate China’s root and routes along its modernization trajectory.

Published by: Chinese University Press

Half Title Page

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p. 1-1

About the Series

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p. 2-2

Title Page

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p. 3-3


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p. 4-4


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pp. v-6

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Author’s Note

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pp. vii-8

The first two chapters and the fifth are revised versions of my Yu Ying-shih Lectures in Hong Kong and one that I gave at George Washington University. Chapter three is a revised version of an essay I dedicated to Alice Tay that was first published as “China’s Long Road to Sovereignty” in G. Doeker-Mach...

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pp. ix-xi

The Chinese state has been the subject of fierce debates since the reformers and revolutionaries first fought to redefine it at the end of the Qing dynasty. After the 1912 Revolution, when empire gave way to the idea of a nation-state, the Chinese people sought a...

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1. China in World History

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pp. 1-27

Old China lived on its past. New China uses it to serve the present. This may be too simple a picture of Chinese attitudes towards their history, but it is in the Confucian tradition for classical scholars to admire a Golden Age in the distant past and to use that...

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2. Another Kind of Nation

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pp. 29-53

The late Qing dynasty saw the adoption of two words for itself– China and empire. The foreign name, “China”, was the equivalent of Zhongguo, and the European concept of empire could be translated as diguo, or emperor-state, as the Japanese had done...

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3. Sovereign RelationshipsAre Not Absolute

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pp. 55-80

For the rulers of China throughout its history, the issue was always legitimacy, not sovereignty. A Heaven-blessed victory on the battlefield settled the legitimacy of each dynasty and the empire’s sovereign power was thereafter confirmed by its capacity to protect its...

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4. A Revolution is a New Mandate

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pp. 81-101

When the ancient Chinese word geming (革命) was equated with the European idea of revolution, the Chinese experienced a major shift in perspective.1 Radical change no longer stemmed from the conjunction of the will of Tian (Heaven) and a new dynastic...

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5. Modernity, the State and Civilization

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pp. 103-129

From the end of the nineteenth century, some Chinese began to want to be modern and they even created a new word, modeng (摩登), transliterated from the English word “modern”, to mark the newness of the idea. The modernization goals were guided...

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Appendix: Tianxia. Perspectives from Outside of China

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pp. 131-152

For centuries, the China seen from the outside was nothing like what the people within China saw. For those within, the early history of Zhongguo as tianxia gave a sacral quality to the dynasties from the Xia (second millennium BC) and Shang (the latter half of...


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pp. 153-159

E-ISBN-13: 9789629969158
Print-ISBN-13: 9789629965365

Page Count: 172
Illustrations: N
Publication Year: 2013