Read e-book online Inventing China Through History: The May Fourth Approach to PDF

By Q. Edward Wang

This ebook describes the increase of nationwide background in early-twentieth-century China. It stories the careers of a gaggle of liberal historians together with famous figures akin to Liang Qichao and Hu Shi and lesser identified figures similar to He Bingsong, Fu Sinian, Yao Congwu, and Chen Yinke. Buoyed by means of the search for "Mr. technological know-how" and "Mr. Democracy" in the course of the could Fourth move of 1919, those historians hunted for a systematic presentation of China's nationwide earlier, encouraged via the Western and eastern perform of medical historical past. Their efforts to bridge the perceived hole among culture and modernity, local and overseas, previous and current, created a brand new, clinical version of background in China. The publication additionally discusses the importance of this historiographical adventure in late-twentieth-century China and Taiwan.

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Additional info for Inventing China Through History: The May Fourth Approach to Historiography (S U N Y Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)

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34 What is interesting was that Wang formed his theory mainly with his knowledge of ancient Chinese history, rather than to base it on his observation of the Franco-Prussia War. Wang chose to work on a contemporary event in European history, which was unusual at his time, but he applied the principles that he drew from his readings of Chinese history in explaining both its cause and outcome. This kind of sinicization, of course, appeared to be ethnocentric; Wang regarded world events simply as replicas of the Chinese precedents.

Wei was probably the first Chinese who realized that it was time for China to learn from the West. In his other influential work, Illustrated Treatise on the Sea Kingdoms (Haiguo tuzhi; hereafter: Sea Kingdoms), Wei summed up his idea in a famous dictum: “To learn about the advantageous skills of the barbarians in order to deal with them” (Shi yi zhi changji yi zhi yi), or in a simpler form: “to learn from the barbarians for dealing with them” (shiyi zhiyi). What made Wei known in history was his insight.

But viewing Qing military history in retrospect, Wei was not pessimistic. He instead placed his high hopes on the emperor and believed that the situation could improve if the emperor took initiatives for change. His confidence stemmed from his study of Qing military successes of earlier ages, which included, notably, its triumph over the Japanese pirates along China’s coastline in the South China Sea. Considering the Western intrusion in Asia a new group of pirates, Wei thought it possible for the Qing to defend China’s littoral in his time as well.

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