Good Company

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

China's Century of Humilation

It is important to understand the history of a rising power, especially one seeking its "proper" place in the world - a place denied it for over 100 years - when its long history indicated it was the central focus of all human endeavor - the "Middle Kingdom."

Nice presentation here on China's "Century of Humiliation" and the role that plays in China's "national narrative" which really ought to be read in toto:
 First, the “Century of Humiliation” – a period between 1839 and 1949 when China‟s government lost control over large portions of its territory at the hands of foreigners – is a key element of modern China‟s founding narrative.
 Second, the Century of Humiliation is thought by many Chinese today to provide historical lessons that are taken as indicative of how strong Western powers tend to behave toward China.
 Third, the intellectual debates about the nature of international relations that took place during the Century of Humiliation underpin similar elite debates that are taking place in China today.  Concerns with the nature of interstate competition, with the possibility for equality among nation-states, and with the question of whether the international system might evolve into something more peaceable in the future, remain salient topics of discussion and debate in China today.
 Fourth, although the PRC government maintains that the Century of Humiliation ended when the CCP won the Chinese civil war and established itself as the ruling regime, there remain several vestiges of that period that, in the minds of many Chinese, must be rectified before China‟s recovery will be considered complete. The most important of these – and perhaps the only one that is non-negotiable – is the return of Taiwan to the mainland.
 Fifth, there is significant lack of consensus among present-day Chinese elites about what the lessons learned from the Century of Humiliation mean for China‟s future trajectory in the global arena. The Century of Humiliation provides key frameworks through which Chinese intellectuals and policy-makers may view China‟s place in the world, but there is significant variation in their interpretations. We should be cautious about assuming that one path will definitely be chosen.
Despite China‟s recent successes, deep-seated suspicions of Western intentions linger, and are stoked by the CCP‟s continual employment of the Century of Humiliation narrative. CCP and PLA writings still present China as the perpetual and innocent victim of Western nations‟ continued determination to subjugate it. Recent PLA publications on martial strategy, for instance, assert that Western nations are fundamentally rapacious, greedy, and aggressive, having grown historically out of “slave states [that] frequently launched wars of conquest and pillage to expand their territories, plunder wealth, and extend their sphere of influence.” Such writings often add that China, by contrast, is by nature a “peace-craving and peace-loving” nation. In this view, because the West has not fundamentally changed, China must seek peace, but prepare for war. Hence President Hu Jintao, in a 2004 speech laying out the new “historic missions” of the People‟s Liberation Army, warned that “Western hostile forces have not yet given up the wild ambition of trying to subjugate us.”
(footnotes omitted and emphasis added)
Okay a couple of quick videos to drive home the point:


  1. Anonymous9:23 AM

    While google hunting for some obscure stats I came across your blog. Ive just spent 20 minutes thumbing through your posts, thanks for that by the way.

    My god man you think like a child.

    1. Gee, thanks, that's exactly the thought process I've been trying to achieve.