Matthew Mc Ginty
Supervisor: Dr. Peter Lamb
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Masters in International Relations, Faculty of Arts, Media and Design, Staffordshire University.
Submitted on 11th January 2014.
The recent dominance of neo-Realism and neo-Liberalism in International Relations has come at the cost of the exclusion of culture, and yet culture, to some undetermined degree, does affect a countries perception of the world. And, in as much as it affects a countries definition of its identity, rights, and security, culture also affects a nation’s international relations. China is a case in point. It has maintained a persistent belief in its own cultural superiority and a rich tradition of turning to its own long history for guidance. The legacy of the millennia old civilized / barbarian distinction so pervasive throughout China’s traditional culture has resulted in a distinctive interaction with the world and a distinctive type of nationalism. As China continues to grow in power its culturally tainted approach to international relations is becoming evermore the focus of attention.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction page 4
The Weight of History page 11
The Formative Years (~1766 BC– 220 AD) page 15
Cultural Consolidation and the Maintenance of
Centrality (220 – 1793) page 20
Status Rivalry (1793 – 1894) page 24
Inferiority and Reform (1893 – 1949) page 28
A New Emperor: Revolutionary Centrality (1949 – 1976) page 35
Development and the Quest Centrality (1976-) page 44
Conclusion page 56
Bibliography page 63
Total Word Count: 16, 123.
The dominance of the parsimonious and superficially scientific ‘neo’ paradigms in International Relations (IR) is giving way to theories that are returning to their less restrictive classical roots. The sterile ‘neo-neo’ debate, which denuded Realism and Liberalism of their complexity and subtlety, application of agency, and understanding of power, is making room for studies that are full of the rich complexity of realists such as Max Weber, E.H. Carr and Hans Morgenthau and of liberals whose analysis includes the Kantanian constraints of Democracy, International trade, and International organizations.
This paper makes the point that history and culture do matter in determining a country’s international relations and foreign policy, albeit to some unspecified degree. It does not attempt to surmount the well known theoretical difficulties in defining, describing and isolating the influence of culture and identity on foreign policy and makes no attempt to quantitatively untangle this influence from that of the structural environment, domestic politics, or class machinations. Its modest aim is merely to show, by taking China as an example, that more in-depth studies and fuller narratives are essential to understanding the true complexity of IR. Neo-realism and neo-liberalism can be good first cuts at portraying some aspects of international relations, but they are just that, we ignore history and culture at our peril.
Nebulous, slow to change, and, in a politically correct world, sometimes difficult or dangerous to approach, culture has for a lengthy period been excluded from mainstream IR. As in other social sciences, it played a meaningful part in IR theory and research from the 1940s to 1960s, but interest in culture as an explanatory variable broadly declined thereafter. And, although from the 1980s onwards, social scientists have increasingly turned to culture to explain such things as modernization, political democratization, military strategy, and the behaviour of ethnic groups, within IR, the ‘return of culture’ has been less prominent. Today, it is still possible for culture to be described as a neglected factor in international relations, an explanation of last resort in foreign policy studies, and to still appear nascent in scholarly IR writing.
Within China studies, David Shambaugh has described the Historical and Cultural approach as being one of four central paradigms.  In contrast to Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism, which all look at how structures – be they material, institutional, or ideational (normative) – shape China’s foreign policy, the Historical or Cultural approach looks at domestic sources – “what psychological and experiential ‘baggage’ China brings to its international relations.” This paradigm is further split by what Samuel Kim has called the ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ schools, with each taking a position on the contemporary impact of the traditional Chinese worldview and world order. 
This paper argues that the weight of the past – that psychological and experiential ‘baggage’ – has always loomed large in China’s international relations. There are two main reasons. Firstly, China is “perhaps the most historically conscious nation on earth,” using a glorified version of its own past as a reference and guide to the present and future in a way that is inconceivable to the contemporary Anglo-Saxon mind. Secondly, China’s culture’s formative years were over three millennia ago; certain myths, traditions and habits formed then were allowed to go unchallenged for over two millennia and have significantly influenced China’s dealings with the modern world.
Culture is not a pre-given, fixed, and unitary entity and China’s traditional culture does not mandate an intellectual ossification and sterile scholasticism that makes it immune to change. Nevertheless, change has not come easy. Several academics find a persistent strain of narcissism and xenophobia in Chinese culture that has always profoundly influenced its interaction with the Other. In the words of Lucian Pye: “The most pervasive underlying Chinese emotion is a profound, unquestioned, generally unshakable identification with historical greatness. Merely to be Chinese is to be part of the greatest phenomenon in history.” Ross Terrill sees the world’s last remaining empire, whose religion, “in the absence of a pervasive transcendental religion, may be said to be China itself.” While William A. Callahan finds a virulent nationalism that “flourishes in China because it grows out of the dynamism of reciprocal influence that integrates official policy and popular culture.” [italics added]. Both encourage a chauvinistic identity politics that is an outgrowth of the civilization/barbarism distinction (huayizhibian华裔之便) prevalent through China’s history.
For over two millennia China has been a highly successful imperializing and colonizing power, with a tradition of hegemony in Asia implemented by a strong bureaucratic, authoritarian state. It may not be an exaggeration to write, as Steven Mosher does, that…
“the role of Hegemon is deeply embedded in China’s national dreamwork, intrinsic to its’ national identity, and profoundly implicated in its sense of national destiny. An unwillingness to concede dominance to any foreign power is deeply rooted in China’s imperial past as the dominant power in Asia and in the on-going certainty of the Chinese that they are culturally superior to other peoples.”
Ethnocentrism and Imperial ambitions are, of course, not unique to the Chinese, the White man’s burden of the European Colonialists is well known and studied, and contemporary intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and Mark Curtis remind us of the parochial biases that continue to pervade US and Western foreign policy. However, whereas World-War II and the Holocaust sounded the death-knell for already debased ideas of European’s superiority over others, paving the way for reasonably well entrenched ideas of cultural relativism, no similar event has entered into the Chinese cultural conscious. As William C. Kirby has noted “ideological campaigns attacking ‘Chinese culture’ for modern China’s backwardness have been few and short-lived compared with those stressing, in a positive way, the uniqueness of Chineseness.” Even if one puts together the most iconoclastic of May Fourth era writing and the worst years of the Great Leap forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Even at times of marginality in international relations, China maintained a belief in its centrality to world affairs, placing itself, successively, at the vanguard of Fascism, Capitalism, and then Communism, and blaming its backwardness entirely on the oppression and exploitation administered to it by foreign imperialists. Today, the prefaces of many modern history textbooks begin with a summary description of China’s glorious past: “Our great motherland with its long history, vast territory, cultural riches, was founded long ago, and created the most glorious culture in human history, which contributed to the advancement of human civilization.”
Christopher A. Ford finds that Chinese conceptions of international order are grounded in lessons drawn from its Warring States period three millennia ago, forming a tradition “that has as its primary model for interstate relations a system in which the focus for national policy is, in effect, a struggle for primacy, and legitimate stable order is possible when only one power reigns supreme.”
“This tradition is suffused with a monist ideology that conceives of world order in fundamentally hierarchical terms, idealizes interstate order as tending towards universal hegemony or actual empire, and lacks a meaningful concept of coequal, legitimate sovereignties pursuant to which states may coexist over the long term in non-hierarchical relationships.”
This cultural tradition has intensely influenced how China has adapted to its dealings with foreigners operating under a rival, Westphalian world order. First through a prolonged struggle (particularly with Britain) over status prerogatives and the symbolisms of hierarchy and inequality, and then through the period of reform, revolutionary Marxist ideology, down to today’s awkward, and as yet unresolved, position in the Western-derived international law and order. Modern scholars find China exhibits a significant ambivalence, shallow normative conformity, and only tactical cooperation in many international regimes. In today’s China, its 150-year-old search for wealth, power, and a return to centrality, means foreign countries are measured by a simple metric: Are they contributing to, or trying to impede, China’s grand national mission. Convinced of its own superiority, imperial China had no automatic allies, and to date modern China has no tradition of trying to forge and maintain genuine alliances.
The desperate desire to ‘right historic wrongs’ also leads to an obsession with power, a desire for face (respect), and the reclamation of territories lost during China’s ‘century of national humiliation’, all of which sometimes shows itself in prickly, parochial behaviour on the international stage. Yong Deng states that judging by the frequency of the term’s use in official Chinese discourse and scholarly analyses, “the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) may very well be the most status-conscious country in the world.” In Ross Terrill’s words, its territorial integrity is defined, regardless of its neighbours’ views, “with endless reiteration, as the claim to any territory or waters that any Chinese ruler may have controlled, however briefly and however long ago.”
Chinese chauvinism is Han chauvinism. The Han Chinese comprise over ninety-three percent of China’s people and they rule, unapologetically, over the other ethnic minorities. Han chauvinism is evident throughout China’s popular culture and contemporary scholarly works. The Internet is rife with, what the author of one study describes as: ‘Han Supremacism’, for example, and China’s (Han) leaders have been described as having a “pathological need to overtake the West.” China’s constant and consistent vituperative denunciation of the hegemony of other stronger powers, when set against its own, openly stated hegemonic aims, reveals something of a Freudian slip. Arguments about whether America is containing China or not miss the point, America is already containing China by its presence in Asia, and it is offending China by being the number one power in the world.
The Weight of History
Culture and history do matter in shaping a country’s international relations and its’ views of the prevailing international order. Events long past influence subsequent generations through shared recollections of these events and beliefs about their meaning. As Lucian Pye has observed:
“Culture is unquestionably significant, in some undetermined degree, in shaping the aspirations and fears, the preferences and prejudices, the priorities and expectations of people as they confront the challenges of social and political change…Culture is also a remarkably durable and persistent factor in human affairs.”
Cultures sustain myths – beliefs, whether grounded in fact or not – shared by all members. Often these are formed in a cultures early formative stage. Alastair Iain Johnston theorises on a ‘strategic culture’ with states having different: “predominate sets of strategic preferences that are rooted in the ‘early’ or ‘formative’ military experiences of the state or its predecessor.” For culture in general, myths, attitudes and behaviours can also be “influenced to some degree by the philosophical, political, cultural, and cognitive characteristics of the state and state elites as these develop through time.”
Traditional IR theory assumes that state behaviour can best be explained by more ‘objective’ factors such as the structure of the international state system; the bureaucratic incentives of the institutional actors competing for influence within a particular country’s socio-political structure or in the transnational realm; or the self-serving economic interests of a countries elites. Despite this, the idea that socially constructed views of the past and assumptions about the nature of one’s environment can exert a powerful shaping effect on how actors see the world around them and order the miscellany of information inputs they receive every day is, however, today neither novel or surprising. Decision makers – especially in times of crisis, but by no means only then – commonly resort to rules of thumb and stock assumptions about historical patterns and geopolitical causality in order to help them cope with the press of events. Such patterns may, at times, be…
“influenced by highly personal and idiosyncratic factors, but information organizing is also learned behaviour, in which patterns are both projected backwards on the past and passed forward by means of education and socialization of individual human beings.”
This is not to suggest any sort of rigid cultural determinism, whereby a culture and its members are immune to new ideas or resistant to change. It is to suggest that different countries and peoples do have different experiences of the world and do understand their present at least in part through the prism of the past or at least through what they take the past to have taught them.
“Culture is not destiny, and cultural baggage is seldom so heavy that its owners cannot carry it some distance down a road they themselves choose, yet culture, does matter, and, by understanding its ‘historically imposed inertia on choice’ we can often make great strides toward understanding the motivational structure and behaviour of specific groups, people, and national elites”.
This is perhaps no more so than China, where thousands of years of history have an extraordinary presence in contemporary Chinese life and thought. As Witold Rodzinski has observed, “the Chinese have long been almost uniquely concerned with history, seeing in it not only the main source of knowledge regarding the functioning of human society…but viewing it also as providing a model for the present.” “In no country”, agrees Samuel Kim, “does history seem to be playing as omnipotent and omnipresent a role as in China.”
One factor that has greatly enhanced the perceived salience of the past throughout the long course of China’s history has been the relative uniformity and stability of its written language. Educated Chinese students of history can read most of their culture’s master-works in the original, thanks to the Qin dynasty’s establishment of a uniform Chinese script at the end of the third century BC. Another is that ancient works in China are not turned to principally for cultural or spiritual points of reference, as they are in other countries – for the Chinese, a sprawling classical cannon of texts is felt to provide a reservoir of wisdom and historical instruction on issues of present-day livelihood and policy relevance.
This powerful written tradition, and the apparent cultural uniformity it has encouraged, has helped foster the intense and inwardly focused classicism that is a distinguishing feature of Chinese intellectual life. If, indeed, it is true that China is “perhaps the most monolithic cultural and political system anywhere,” it owes this in large part to its literary tradition. As Najime Nakamura has noted, “The thought and life of the Chinese people must always be examined in relation to the Chinese classics, for the life of the Chinese has been strongly conditioned by the classics.”
The texts of every period abound in allusions to previous periods, and the legitimacy and validity of contemporary views or approaches are to be judged first and foremost by the ability of their proponents to demonstrate congruence with “the fruits of the past experiences of people of older times.” The overpowering historicism of Chinese tradition has often constrained and channelled change by giving special advantages to those who can denounce and resist what they do not like by appealing to the authority of precedent. Conceptual entrepreneurs frequently find it necessary to frame new arguments by making them seem to be the true and authentic embodiment of old wisdom. This was the method of Confucius himself, who in the fifth century BC forged a powerful new tradition by describing his own work as merely an exposition of the ancient wisdom of the golden age of the Zhou dynasty. As we shall see, by Confucius’s time, Chinese culture was already very old.
The Formative Years (~1766 BC– 220 AD)
The Chinese bureaucratic, authoritarian state started early. The Shang dynasty (approx. 1766 – approx.1027 BC), the earliest in China for which there is documentary and archaeological evidence, was a highly developed autocratic state with a single ruler, standing army, tax collection system and a penal code noted for its severity. This period saw the development of the pictographic Chinese writing system, of superb craftsmanship in Bronze ware, the use of chopsticks and the ritualisation of ancestor worship. It was succeeded by the more feudal Zhou dynasty (approx. 1027 – 249 BC), which initially exercised a kind of sovereignty over 122 princely fiefs and states. In the new morality, the Mandate of Heaven was granted to a single ruler – the Son of Heaven – making him the intermediate between Heaven’s command and human fate.
By the ninth century BC the Zhou King’s central authority had declined, reducing his status to merely the head of one of a number of rival kingdoms. There emerged a series of rulers who exercised “a general primacy over the other states in the name, at least, of the Zhou Emperor”, and whichever ruler was in charge was given the official title of Ba (霸) or hegemon. The sense of unity – of belonging to a civilization – was already very strong, and, whatever the political reality may have been, there existed a general sense of cultural and racial unity between the states, expressed in the belief that all the rulers were descended from the semi-divine Sage Kings of remote antiquity. In times where no one state was dominant, Hegemony, and the seizing of the Mandate of Heaven, remained the ideal to which they all aspired.
In contrast to the turbulent 17th century European experience of competing princes, of which this period in Chinese history has many similarities, no sense of sovereign equality evolved amongst these proto-nations. War amongst the kingdoms was the only option. At stake were the grim alternatives of conquest or extinction, for “it was clear that all but one of them would be destroyed.” By 481 BC only twenty-two states remained. To survive they had strengthened their power at the expense of the nobility, created standing armies and better regulated their populations. Warfare throughout the aptly named Warring States period (481 BC – 231 BC) became more vicious, and, although by now regional, ‘national’ identities had emerged, the drive for hegemony – domination over all the other states – continued.
This was also a period of intellectual ferment. By the time only seven states remained, a doctrine called Legalism had emerged, and many states were reforming along Legalist lines.
“Legalism was at its core nothing less than the achievement and consolidation of absolute power. With respect to state organization the Legalists emphasized the importance of setting up the ruler as the sole dispenser of rewards and punishments in the state and the exclusive arbiter of a system of general and objective laws enforced by the swift, harsh punishment for all transgressors.”
This doctrine was most extensively adopted by the state of Qin, and in 231 BC the Qin King was powerful enough to launch a decade long campaign that resulted in the welding together of all the other states into an empire which encompassed most of today’s Central China.
The Qin King adopted the title Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor and the Qin administration system was extended to the entire country, replacing the aristocracy with a bureaucracy, and centralizing power into the hands of the Son of Heaven. Weights and measurements were standardized, as was the written form of the Chinese language. Although Qin rule only lasted for twelve years, it was during this time that the Qin Legalist autocratic system – with its absolute monarch and associated personality cult; centralized bureaucracy; state domination over society; law as a penal tool of the ruler; mutual surveillance and informer network; persecution of dissidents; the treatment of ordinary people as disposable resources of the state; thought control; and political practices of coercion and intimidation – became embedded into China’s political culture, continuously replicated down through the centuries and the dynasties.
The Han Dynasty that followed the Qin and ruled for around the next four hundred years consolidated this political culture, welding Legalism with another doctrine that had emerged during the time of Warring States ferment: that of Confucianism. Confucian emphasis on respect for authority, strict adherence to social norms, and knowing ones place in – and fulfilment of responsibilities within – a web of social networks, beginning with the family and extending throughout the society as a whole, provided a better form of control than the brutal Legalist one. Legalism did not disappear, but became cloaked in Confucian paternalism. Control was enforced, not by fear, but via the cultivation of a culture that contained a high degree of self-regulation. Social shame, and the importance of avoiding it, became a tool in which individual needs could be subsumed to that of societies. The importance of maintaining ‘face’ gave control to those who decided which social norms were to be accepted and which weren’t. Society was hierarchical, authority unquestioned and formal learning, where it took place, was done by memorization of texts controlled by the state.
The Han dynasty also further consolidated and adopted the ideal of monist rule, “setting in place the basic model of rule toward which every aspect of Chinese statecraft has since aspired, even (or perhaps especially) during periods when China had no single sovereign.” Importantly, these patterns of interstate relations – the ideal of hegemony – remained the only conceptual model of ‘international’ politics available for thousands of years of China’s history. During times when China lacked a single ruler, rival regional warlords fought each other, all claiming the natural right to rule over the whole of China. Hegemony was buttressed by Legalism and Confucianism, which both saw power extending from the authority of the ruler. Legalism “seeing no hope in halfway measures of alliance and coexistence” exhibited “a single and overwhelming purpose of international domination.” And Confucian notions of a hierarchical morality meant that “sovereigns could not exist alongside each other, coequal in legitimacy: one of them had necessarily to be the more virtuous, and, thus, in time dominate the other, either simply by swallowing it up or subjecting it to de facto vassalage.”
The Legalist and Confucian doctrines built on, and developed, conceptions of world order which placed China at the centre of the civilized world. The marked isolation China enjoyed in its formative years where it was a relatively advanced culture surrounded by ‘barbarians’ had already given Chinese culture a strong sense of its superiority. The Shang regarded the area outside their own as forming another square, occupied by their vassal states, and saw the remainder of the world as a third and final square, occupied by barbarians. Confucian ideas of a politico- moral hierarchy dovetailed neatly with already well-entrenched beliefs that each step away from the central Chinese states led only to less civilized, more unrighteous cultures. Barbarians were sub-human, and could only be made human by Sinicization and integration into the Confucian empire. These were ideas that would become entrenched over time.
Cultural Consolidation and the Maintenance of Centrality (220 – 1793)
Over the two thousand years that followed the Qin dynasty “the ideal and driving political force behind China’s inter-state relations were dominated by Hegemony – resisting hegemony, by anyone else and, in effect, seeking it for oneself.” The problem of war was solved by Empire, and for twenty-two centuries foreign relations were not so much a process of continuing relations with foreigners as one of expansions and absorption of more peoples and territories into an increasingly large empire. Expansion was fitful and erratic but the historical trajectory was one of growth and expansion. Domestically Monism and the Legalist-Confucian authoritarianism retained their appeal. Although the Confucian bureaucratic system ensured cultural continuity, there were great stretches of time where the empire was not united, giving rise to a belief that history was cyclical, and embedding a fear of disunity and fragmentation into the culture. New Dynastic Emperors would inevitably seek to centralise governance into their own hands and to discredit the previous dynasty, re-writing history so as bolster their own claim.
Sinocentrism also became institutionalised. Barbarians that did not recognise China’s superiority were attacked, or if they were too powerful, subterfuge, which maintained illusions of Chinese superiority – and hence the proper order of the world – was employed. Only in “the most extraordinary circumstances of humiliation and weakness would the emperors accept any other arrangement.”
Thus for two-millennia China sustained a world-view that saw China envisioned as the head of a family of nations, presiding with patriarchal wisdom over the junior members around her. The chief problem of China’s foreign relations was to square the ideological claim to supremacy with actual practice – which could vary considerably.
“China may not have been above cooperating with foreigners on a basis that approached equality when circumstances demanded it, and Chinese statesmen proved flexible in dealing with problem cases, but these were only the most problematic of cases. Anything other than a symbolically hierarchical relationship that favoured China was philosophically offensive and ideologically untenable.”
This Sinocentric view of the world took its most visible form in the tribute system. Diplomatic envoys from foreign kingdoms were willing – at least to proclaim – tributary status in return for gifts and on occasion military protection. There were also traders claiming, in what has been described as an open-secret, to be envoys, willing to give subservience in return for travel subsidies and facilitated travel.
The practical arrangements and timing of tribute relationships varied enormously for different states and over time, but their symbolic content – their reinforcing of the Sinocentric hierarchical view of world order – was constant. The tribute system was an integral part sustaining the myth of Sinocentrism that was so critical to the legitimacy of the entire political system and indeed the very foundations of Confucian society. Over the centuries, it was a recurring challenge for the imperial court to sustain the symbolic baggage of Chinese moral geography, first in the face of the geographic fact of nomadic Inner Asian fighting power and then thereafter when confronted by European power projection. It did so by devising a cornucopia of fictions to disguise their departures from doctrine.
One common practice was extortion, payments made to keep barbarians at bay, and/or for them to give symbolic acts of deference and tribute to China. In this and other ways, the Chinese court continually deceived its people and even its own Son of Heaven. During its long history, the Chinese court has compromised with Tibet and the Turkic Khanate in the west, and with the Khitan and Jurchen states in the north, without admitting it in the official histories. Fictions often became self-delusions, and on several occasions led the Chinese to underestimate or provoke their enemy. This happened with the Koreans in the 7th Century and with Tamer-lane in the 14th. Ming Dynasty records stated that Tamer-lane had offered to the Chinese courts a tribute of 200 horses and a letter of submission. In 1395, the Ming Emperor, evidently believing this account, sent a ‘return embassy’ to thank the Muslim Leader for his submission. But Tamer-lane had not paid tribute. When he discovered that China considered him a vassal the Muslim chief locked up the Chinese ambassador and vowed to avenge the insult with a military attack. Fortunately for the Ming Dynasty, in 1405, when Tamer-lane eventually did get round to making good on his vow he died while on route to Beijing.
A century earlier, following the Mongol conquest of China the Chinese bureaucracy’s traditional practice of compiling the official history of the preceding dynasty was delayed for seventy years – most of the dynasty – as if Confucian officialdom were struggling to decide how to record the conquest of their land by their new foreign overlords. The subsequent Chinese dynasty of the Ming found it wiser to not comment on any events of the Mongol Empire at all. It was as if the whole Mongol imperial experience was beyond rationalization. “What could not be explained within the conceptual framework of Sinic supremacy had to be simply ignored or denied.”
Later in Chinese Dynastic history, when the Europeans arrived on China’s shores, the contortions continued. The Qing dynasty was a foreign Manchu one, but over four centuries of rule; it had so fully absorbed Chinese culture that it now believed itself at the head of the Sinocentric order. In the face of European encroachment the Qing court either refused to acknowledge, or simply could not comprehend, a world in which other states did not recognize Chinese superiority. Eager to gain favourable trade terms the Dutch, and other early traders, did not baulk at accepting Chinese forms of inequality and consequently the Chinese continued to count the European barbarians as just another set of foreign tributaries. As of the early 19th Century at least, the Portuguese, Dutch, English and Italians were all recorded as Chinese vassals. Chinese documents asserted, and perhaps the Chinese courts believed, that King George III presented tributary gifts to the Jia Qing emperor in 1804. In fact he did not. Four decades later the ‘humble tributaries’ from London dealt a stinging military defeat to a surprised Qing Dynasty.
Status Rivalry (1793 – 1894)
In the late eighteenth century, it was the British, who, by insisting on the formalities of coequal sovereignty of diplomatic partners, first began to seriously challenge the Sinocentric view of the world. Three diplomatic missions all ended in failure as British ambassadors refused to kowtow and accept subservience to the Chinese court and China continued to be unable to recognize the existence of any nation in the sense of being a sovereign independent power. For these two powers, the nineteenth century was, in large part, a century of diplomatic wrangling and ideological war that pitted Sinic universalism against Western-style national sovereignty. “The remarkably explicit ideological and symbolic sparing match was felt acutely by both sides”, with “each feeling the full implications” of “every perceived nuance of status and prerogative insisted on by the other.”
As European contact with Chinese society grew it became increasingly aware of the xenophobia that lay just under the surface of official politeness and popular indifference. Lord Macartney arrived with no illusions. Long before, a Russian friend had told him that, in China, Chinese superiority in all things was axiomatic. Everyone was either civilised or barbarian. He was also provided before hand with a paper explaining China’s xenophobia and fear of foreign traders, passion for stability, and avoidance of social change. The mission was given endless verbal assurances and flatteries; “but for all the coldly exquisite Chinese courtesy, for all the exchange of presents, the way the mission was treated left it exhausted and wary.”
Similarly, the third British official, Lord Napier, who arrived in 1834, stated that no one did symbolism, or political one-upmanship, more artfully than the Chinese. The boats, which carried the diplomats up to Beijing, all flew a banner proclaiming ‘The English ambassador bringing tribute to the Emperor of China.’ In the end, the manufactured wares of the industrial revolution were sent away as toys of which the Celestial Empire had no need.
London’s outrage at reports of China’s affront to the British crown, the denial of state equality, the seizure of property without due process and, above all, the danger to British women and children in the areas where foreigners were allowed to trade led to the first Sino-English war. In May 1841, while the war was under-way, John Quincy Adams, a former President of the United States, explained to the Massachusetts Historical Society that opium was…
“a mere incident to the dispute, but no more the cause of the war than the throwing overboard of tea in Boston harbour was the cause of the American revolution…the cause of war is the kowtow – the arrogant and insupportable pretensions of China that she will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind not upon terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms of the relation between lord and vassal.”
The subsequent humiliating defeat forced China, grudgingly, to accept formal equality with Great Britain. Treaties with the English were followed, with other Europeans and, despite the view of the US as ‘the most remote and least civilized’ of the barbarians, the Americans gained one in 1844. These retreats, however, did not banish the empire’s spirit of Sinic Universalism – though they had been persuaded that ‘the British barbarians are the most fierce and arrogant.’ For the Chinese “signing treaties was one thing, doing what they said was quite another.” They would soon insist, as they have done ever since, that these were ‘unequal treaties’ whose very name implied that they were unfair and needed to be revised. Resistance to treaty obligations from local authorities was persistent and bureaucrats continued to treat the Europeans with studied contempt, denying them the market access they sought.
Throughout the 1840s, Western patience was tried by the continued “bureaucratic intransigence, diplomatic slights, and popular anti-foreign sentiment, which, fuelled by the war and its outcome, resulted in riots and the burning and looting of foreign factories, as well as sporadic anti-foreign violence, including murder.” All that was needed to spark another war was a suitable casus belli. In 1856 when the Chinese seized a commercial ship (the Arrow) on suspicion of opium smuggling, the British then claimed, falsely, that it was under the protection of the crown and used the excuse to quickly take Canton and Tianjin. A few years later, in 1859, while the Chinese were prevaricating over the new treaties the British had forced on them, when a French missionary was arrested for preaching the gospel – despite, by law, being under protection of the French crown – then caged, beheaded and his head thrown to the dogs, France joined Britain in its hostilities. They joined forces to deliver Beijing another humiliating military defeat. The Chinese again prevaricated in treaty implementation, and then captured and tortured some envoys and officers sent to parley under a flag of truce. Allied tempers flared and the French and British marched on Beijing, destroying the imperial summer palace.
Throughout this period, despite the repeated diplomatic and military defeats it suffered, Sinic-Universalism missed “few opportunities to reassert itself, or at least preserve some elements of the pre-eminence it had earlier enjoyed.”
“For some time, China still seems to have assumed that there was nothing quantitatively different between its encounters with the Europeans and its past encounters with powerful barbarian kingdoms.”
It was only, during 1861, after further defeat in the Second ‘Opium War’, that a single government office was finally officially devoted to foreign affairs, replacing the previous system whereby multiple departments, with no specific foreign focus, were employed to manage the various barbarians. It was, however, “only a concession to the need for some structure in managing relations with the Europeans and it was a deliberately minimalist one.” Designated a temporary office, with low prestige and importance within government affairs, and staffed by officials largely ignorant of the world outside China, it had little major influence on court politics.
Even into the 1880s, Chinese officials persisted in trying to describe their recent setbacks as being inconsequential or merely temporary ones. According to one Qing document, during the 1862-1874 period China had not merely successfully resisted European encroachments but achieved a dramatic success in bringing them within the sphere of the Son of Heaven’s all-embracing virtue. In face of this obstinacy, skirmishes in the on-going ideological war between the two competing views of international order were destined to continue.
Inferiority and Reform (1893 – 1949)
Unfortunately, the foreigners progress in eliciting – or, rather, exhorting – symbolic concessions from China to modern notions of coequal sovereignty and diplomatic reciprocity quickly created a desire for so much more that these very principles were soon undermined. In the context of the subjugation of other non-Europeans during the same period, China’s plight was not materially great, but the severity of its perceived wounds was a function more of its prior self-esteem. As an American, Robert Hart, serving in China’s diplomatic service identified at the time: the symbolic losses suffered by the Son of Heaven were more troubling than China’s mere military defeats.
The Chinese sense of superiority – as Lord Curzon put it at the time “the sullen resistance of a national character, self-confident and stolid…wrapped in the mantle of a superb and paralysing conceit”, increasingly existed uneasily alongside an ever clearer position of outright inferiority. Humiliating military defeat suffered at the hands of ‘little brother’ Japan in 1895, “an inferior within the realm of Sinocentric civilization”, generated huge psychological and political shocks, as well as increased bitterness and xenophobia.
At first it tended to be assumed that the empire could simply adopt from the West whatever technology and methods it needed to grow strong without having to change anything fundamental about how China itself worked, that is learn the techniques of the barbarians in order to control them.
“This, after all, was what the Middle Kingdom had sometimes done rather successfully in the centuries past, such as the adoption of full-size horses from Central Asia or the employment of sophisticated astronomical calculations through the use of non-Chinese Muslim and Jesuit experts.”
Conceptually, as the Chinese attempted to understand their modern plight, the Warring States period had a strong attraction to late-Qing thinkers, who saw China as struggling to “manipulate the situation” against rebels within and barbarians without, in a world “startlingly similar to that mythical age.” Success in this struggle, it was hoped, would come as China learned to mimic the barbarians’ technological tricks, creating an irresistible combination by marrying such useful legerdemain to the underlying virtue and cultural strength of the Celestial Empire.
After this approach appeared to make little headway, deeper critiques of China’s malaise emerged. A few late nineteenth century reformers were deeply influenced by Western ideas and argued that China had to reject aspects of its own culture that kept it backward and weak vis-a-vis the West. Even those that explicitly rejected the idea that human society was some sort of a universal moral order centred around China felt, however, there had to be some kind of unique moral essence at the centre of Chinese civilization. Efforts at reform were thus half-hearted and conservative; the doctrine of ‘Chinese learning as the fundamental structure, Western learning for practical use’ simply embodied too many contradictions. If China wanted to acquire the West’s industry and technologies it would need the political, legal, and technical ideas that went with them. That would mean imitation of, and help from the West, or at least some Western individuals.
But the Chinese were still perennially suspicious of foreigners and foreign efforts within their spheres of influence brought disruption to Chinese society. Foreign resentment morphed into public detestation and they were assumed to be responsible for all oppression, humiliation, and difficulties. In time, resentment led to condemnation of foreign activities generally and, yet more potently, reinforced China’s sense of victim-hood. That also helped to stall economic modernisation. Furthermore, the confused mixture of patriotism, anti-foreigner resentment, and impatience with China’s impotence, began to boil over into nationalist and revolutionary movements, including a further upsurge of resistance to the foreign Manchu (Qing) rulers.
The period after the 1911 Revolution and the end of Qing rule saw the beginnings of a genuinely nationalist sentiment in China. Its starting point was recollections of ancient grandeur combined with outrage at a ‘century of humiliation’, and variations on the theme of ‘humiliation’ came to infect every aspect of China’s cultural, psychological and political being. As a result of a combination of foreign invasions and corrupt Chinese regimes sovereignty was lost, territory dismembered, and the Chinese people thus humiliated. Restoring China’s lost grandeur became the goal towards which all policy since then has aimed.
New reformers viewed much of China’s cultural tradition as an obstacle to modernization and urged rejecting Confucianism outright, their ideas coalescing into what became known as the May Forth Movement. European learning, however, was essential only to save China, “not valuable in itself; not necessary for a full and wider understanding of the whole achievement of the human race, but necessary to give back to the Chinese the power to compete on equal terms with the West.”
Even the die-hard modernizers and nationalists found it hard to entirely escape the seductions of ancient Chinese conceptions of world order as a virtue-centric hierarchy with the Middle Kingdom at its apex. The May Fourth thinkers…
“saw parallels between China’s situation and other oppressed peoples but nonetheless took a position that…they saw China as still having a special role as an inspiration for other peoples, a repository of experience and wisdom, and a source of revolutionary and / or development models for the rest of the colonized world as a result of its position as an exemplary state at the Vanguard of the anti-imperialist struggle.”
The popularity of Lenin’s theory of imperialism among revolutionary Chinese in the 1920s was explicable in part because of the important role it could accord China’ own anti-imperialist effort. It also dovetailed with traditional Confucian ideas about the duty of the individual to support the state. The result was that for most of the 1920s the unification and independence of China was sought by two party dictatorships, each organised on Leninist lines, the Nationalist and the Chinese Communist Party or CCP.
“In their various discussions, internally or with each other, the Chinese politics of resentment echoed strongly. If China was lamentably weak, the most obvious and congenial explanations were two. Each resonated with traditional Chinese attitudes and each blamed barbarian wickedness. One of them, following Karl Marx and Lenin, focused on general anti-imperialism. The other emphasised the greed of particular Western powers.”
The Nationalist were nominally in charge, but politically China’s affairs were impotent and incoherent, both at home and abroad. Elected President, Yuan Shikai’s, declared himself emperor and reinstalled autocratic central rule. To build up his own authority, as in the case of new dynastic emperors past, he promoted a militarising, centralizing Confucianism that had at its heart a belief in a Chinese ‘essence’. Later Chiang Kai-shek’s own nation-building effort, similarly centralised along Confucian lines and saw a Chinese ‘essence’ that must be protected not because it was, as nineteenth-century culturalists perceived it, a universal ‘true way’, but because it was Chinese: a national essence (guocui国粹). Throughout this period, the Nationalists sought to construct citizenship and identity around the national humiliation theme, at one point commemorating twenty-seven ‘National Humiliation days as official holidays.
Efforts to maintain Chinese centrality also led Chiang to identify publicly first with the resurgent Fascist powers of Germany and Italy, when they seemed the wave of the future in the 1930s, and then, more out of necessity than conviction, with the ‘great democracies’ of the anti-Japanese wartime alliance. Throughout this period, while beginning to experiment with how Western-derived international legality could serve China’s interests, and long enamoured of the idea of ‘using barbarians to control barbarians’ by playing them off against one another through various treaties and agreements, China remained reluctant to enter into any actual alliances with any foreign powers.
Not until the onset of full-scale war with Japan in July 1937 did China seek a military alliance with any nation willing to fight on China’s side. Alliances remained, however, temporary and tactical, Chiang’s only permanent aim being to stay in power so as to unify and restore China. Continuing in the age-old monist tradition, Chiang fetishized the moral strength of Chinese unity, so much so that during the 1930s he preferred suppressing the Communists to fighting the Japanese invaders. The Nationalist were not alone in seeing in China a three-cornered fight. Mao, having Sinified Stalinism into ‘Mao Zedong thought’ – thus making it acceptable to China’s patriots and intellectuals – and having obtained the leadership of the CCP, made various attempts to use the Japanese to weaken the Nationalists – defying Moscow’s promotion of a united front, and hoping the two sides would destroy each other in the fighting.
Despite the intense bitterness between the two Chinese sides, there was, however, one thing both Chiang and Mao shared: “Neither, even now, fully appreciated the extent to which China’s political and social frailties made it impossible to play a larger role in Allied councils or the Pacific balance, still less in the design of any Pacific order.” And they both had a traditional inability to accept that China might be less central in the politics and strategy of the globe, or in America’s perceptions.
Throughout, and after the war, the single issue on which Nationalists and Communists in China saw eye to eye was hostility to the ‘imperialists’.
“The Anglo-American campaign between 1941-1945 may have given China security from Japanese aggression – but that was a side-effect of a much larger design. Anyway, it came decades after Western ‘exploitation’. No one in China felt they owed the Anglo-Saxons much gratitude.”
Thus when Mao Zedong inaugurated the third ‘new China’ of the twentieth century on 1 October 1949, he declared that the Chinese people had finally ‘stood up’ in the world. This was a ‘liberation’ from a ‘century of humiliation’ in which China’s fall from grace was due entirely to ‘foreign imperialism’ and ‘domestic reactionary forces’.
A New Emperor: Revolutionary Centrality (1949 – 1976)
In policy terms, Mao Zedong and the CCP, although clearly in many ways powerful anti-traditionalist, were notably influenced – sometimes explicitly so – by China’s long history and classical traditions and it was not uncommon for CCP officials to cite ancient precedents and examples when discussing modern social politics. The revolution itself carried many echoes of the imperial past, with a new Mandate of Heaven conferred on a leader, the nature of whose power made him a new emperor in all but name. The cult of Mao, which soon developed to monstrous proportions in the 1960s, was in many ways just another version of the cult of the old emperors: Confucian teachings about the dutiful “allowed him an almost free reign and everything came to depend on his will, including the fate of even the most eminent favourite.”
Mao’s apparent disdain for Confucianism was rooted in his appreciation, and the finding of the most obvious ancient analogies for China, in the totalitarian literature of Legalism. Communist to all outward appearances, the new Chinese state was Legalist in essence. Marxism-Leninism was an enabler for Mao.  While formally acknowledging civil rights and equality of man, its insistence of the unity of theory and practice fitted almost seamlessly into Confucianism practices, defending the monopoly of an educated elite and defining a relationship between state and society very much in keeping with China’s autocratic tradition.
In the tradition of the imperial state, the CCP imposed an official ideology; concentrated power in the hands of a tiny minority (with power deriving ultimately from control of the military and wielded without appreciable institutional constraints); treated the penal code and the legal system as tools of governance; dominated most, and at times all, aspects of domestic commercial and economic life; controlled all forms of social organization outside the nuclear family; regarded the people as its property, as subject rather than citizens; and engaged in political practices familiar from dynastic times such as large-scale literary persecution, purges of the bureaucracy, court intrigues, and elite factional conflicts. The new regime displayed much of the old determination to conquer nature, the same ruthless disregard for life in the pursuit of ‘higher’ ideological and social aims, the same tug-of-war between outward- and inward-looking policies: The desire to learn and use foreign ideas and inventions ran, once again, in parallel with the old distrust of foreigners.
Anti-foreignism was not simply instrumental in the efforts of the CCP to reunite and develop China; it was an important constituent part of the CCP’s personality. The CCP came to power seeing itself as the “embodiment of heroic imperialist nationalism” in a “nationalist tale of modern Chinese resistance to foreign marauders…imagined as one with the struggle of China’s people history to defend their land from foreign marauders.” Thus the ‘national narrative’ of China in the modern era, continuing up to today, was to always be constituted in relation to the outside. Anti-foreign themes seem to have clear connections to long-standing assumptions about moral civilizational gradients and the general depravity of barbarian societies remote from the Sinic cultural core.
If anything, the very precariousness of China’s military and economic situation vis-a-vis the intruding West, made it necessary to accentuate perceptions of the wickedness of the new barbarian marauders in order to sustain the Middle Kingdom’s self-image of virtuous primacy. Such a proud and worthy civilization could be brought low only by such an extraordinarily crafty and malevolent coalition of outside oppressors. Backwardness was only sustainable with assumptions of virtuous primacy, and weakness and dysfunction could only be due to evil and unfair outside interference.
“At this door can probably be laid much of the purple prose of Chinese propaganda and hyperbole that poured forth in the first decades of Communist rule, first against the ‘imperial’ West, and then against the Soviet ‘revisionists’”.
Additionally, it was important that China’s successes be its’ own and not attributable to others. It was vital to the CCP that it always presented itself as “totally Chinese, nationalistic, and patriotic, opposed to the foreign aggression that weakened China so severely.” Consequently, party officials over the years downplayed the role of foreigners and foreign ideology in their own history. The qualifier ‘with Chinese characteristics’ was, and is, commonly used to label any successful importation of foreign approaches as having, in fact, some kind of intrinsic Chineseness. “Distinguishing each triumph from its foreign origins and signalling that the Middle Kingdom has once again adapted a few trifling barbarian tricks for service to higher ends.”
In foreign policy Mao dominated, he believed – like an Emperor in the Legalist fashion – that China’s greatness demanded that lost territories be recaptured, straying vassals be recovered, and one-time tributary states be once again forced to follow Beijing’s lead. Maps were drawn up showing China’s borders extending far to the north, south, and west of the area that the People Liberation Army (PLA) actually controlled. China’s weakness, however constrained him. Hemmed in by the Soviet and American superpowers, China resorted to stratagems. The first was for China to play the loyal member of the Soviet-dominated communist block; tying itself very closely, in a decidedly subordinate position, to the Soviet Union. The second was taking an anti-colonial posture as a member – indeed the leading member – of the Third World.
The acceptance of a junior-partner role to the Soviet Union did not come easily. For the Chinese, Soviet ascendency always meant domination by a people that they regarded as culturally inferior. However, Mao was driven by an acute sense of China’s economic backwardness, marginalization, and humiliation and his focus on China’s ‘national stature’ was intense. China, weak and battered on account of foreign oppression and exploitation, needed ‘foreign friends’. But, while grateful for Stalin’s aid, he was always suspicious that the Soviet Leader was trying to keep China disunited and weak, and often ignored his advice, quite happy to occasionally express his discontent at Russian ‘colonialism’.
From an early date the Party seems to have entertained the view that Chinese communism had – or ought to have – some special, unique status as a moral example and model for the global revolution. Their revolution was a more appropriate model for much of the world than the Bolsheviks in Russia. Maoism retained a strong emphasis on the role of China as paragon of righteous – in this case, revolutionary – conduct that was expected to catalyse a transformation of the international environment.
Throughout the 1950s, Chinese discomfort with junior partner status grew and Chinese diplomats increasingly began to promote theories of the autonomy and equality of all Communist parties. Mao came to regard himself as the legitimate heir to Marx, Lenin and Stalin and, after them, the leading Marxist-Leninist theoretician of his day; he felt strongly that after Stalin’s death in 1953 the next leader of the Communist world should have been him. When Khrushchev visited Beijing in 1958 and again in 1959 Mao treated him like an emperor dealing with a tribute bearer. By now Mao’s worries about a deplorable tendency toward mere imitation of Soviet examples in social and economic matters had resulted in the ‘Great Leap’, which employed economically suicidal ‘new’ methods of development that actually revived classic imperial habits of using masses of peasants to build dams or roads by hand. Covering up the famines and the 30-million or so who starved to death, the Chinese Communists now claimed to have devised a novel path to socialism that did not need to follow the Soviet model. Their sense of superiority vis-a-vis the Soviet Union actually increased.
Mao was also desperate to acquire nuclear weapons. The Soviets had planned to hand over a prototype bomb when Mao’s callous disregard to the dangers of nuclear war and sabre rattling over Taiwan spooked them. In the tradition of monism, the 1950s had seen much bluster between the Communists and the Nationalists, now encamped in Taiwan, over the issue of who was in fact the rightful leader of China. For the Communists, Taiwan was seen as an internal matter whose separation from the ‘Motherland’ was a legacy of the ‘century of humiliation’. When Khrushchev tore up the agreement that was to have provided China with the bomb, Mao was furious, denouncing Soviet meddling in Chinese affairs. The Soviets were ‘revisionist’, China was soon telling the world and a greater threat than American ‘imperialism.’ China now had a clear competitor and the battle for world-revolutionary primary status was a zero sum game.
Even before these rising tensions China had cultivated a notably superior attitude toward Communist parties other than the Soviet’s. This dynamic was now thrown into high gear, spurring Beijing to spare no effort and expense to cultivate impressions of China’s merit as an example worthy of emulation and adherence. Beijing began once more to manifest a new militancy to countries in Africa and Asia and decided to “establish ideological ascendency and political influence in all the countries of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, by moving farther and farther away from Moscow and embodying more and more the true revolutionary ideal.” Beijing made the strongest possible bid for leadership and pride of place as the political system to which all others should look to for both guidance and inspiration: “The saviour of Asia, leading all its’ people to a glorious future.”
The idea that reassertion of China’s prerogatives as a nation was not just consistent with internationalist world revolution but, in fact, essential to it, became more extreme even as China turned inwards during the Cultural Revolution. There is “no paradox in finding the Cultural Revolution to have been ‘both internationalist and nationalist’, as, seen through Maoist eyes, the proper ideological purification and moral reconstruction of Chinese society was the necessary starting point for China’s supreme engagement with the outside world: the revolutionary transformation of world order.”
“As in ancient Confucian notions of political structure, establishing perfect virtue at home would have a ripple effect in reordering the world around China, naturally establishing a perfect and harmonious order everywhere. Through this lens, the internal struggles of the Cultural Revolution – and throughout the Maoist period – were not really isolationist, they were, perhaps, the most important internationalist revolutionary task.”
However, despite professed solidarity with the third world, China seems only to have ever identified itself as the natural leader of the non-aligned countries. In truth, China really identified with the Western world. The rest of the world was peripheral to the fundamental goal of achieving China’s pre-eminence in international affairs. As a result, Maoist China’s relationship with its third world clients was characterized by a…
“blend of intimacy and distance. Warm relations of ostentatious friendship and solidarity were proclaimed, symbolically consummated, and backed up by foreign aid. Beijing, however, did not seek military alliances, countenanced no obligations actually binding on China, and refused to consult anyone about changes in Chinese policy. There remained in fact an underlying suspicion of foreign societies and China’s purportedly benevolent interest in the developing nations did not extend beyond their utility in sustaining Beijing’s own self image, its developmental rise, and its effort to ensure itself the global status it deserved.”
The incessant anti-imperial rhetoric was particularly hypocritical given China’s own conduct in Asia. Between 1949 and 1979, as China sought to reassert its’ traditional influence, it came in dispute, often conflict, with almost everyone. In 1950-3 it battled with the United States and South Korea over influence on the peninsula; initially aiding North Korea’s invasion, and then pushing back an American probe at the cost of some 250,000 Chinese lives (compared to America’s 34,000).
While the world’s attention was distracted with this war, China also forcibly and violently suppressed Tibet and Xinjiang. The Communists squared their assertion of the values of national sovereignty and territorial integrity by declaring that they had always been integral parts of China, this despite the fact that both had only earlier, episodic attachment to China via the weight of the Middle Kingdom’s military power under non-Chinese barbarian conquest dynasties. Ever since then its brutal suppression of uprisings, the use of punishment and labour camps, and its state policy of sponsored migration of Han Chinese that cannot fail to swamp local culture and communities, has been, and is, regarded by the Chinese as being entirely their own business.
Other areas on China’s periphery were also in China’s sights, but these had superpower protectors. Mongolia too had previously come under the Qing dynasty’s control and Mao resented its independence and Soviet protection, coming to be seriously at odds with the Mongols and periodically reminding Khrushchev that it, and parts of eastern Russia, had been ‘stolen’ from China. It was the recovery of Taiwan, which remained Mao’s principal obsession though, and throughout this period China remained in a state of cold war with the island, bringing it into confrontation, and on occasion almost war, with the United States, now aligned with the Nationalists.
China also sought to achieve primacy over would be regional rivals. In 1962, despite a decade of rhetoric portraying the PRC as a country with impeccable anti-colonialist credentials, and a natural ally of Nehru, and the fact that during the 1950s India had bent over backwards to befriend China, the Chinese decided it was time to “teach New Delhi a lesson about the regional pecking order.” When India began establishing frontiers posts in disputed border areas, China invaded; inflicting a humiliating defeat and causing Nehru to call for Soviet and American help. Afterwards, it developed a relationship with India’s archenemy Pakistan that continues today.
Finally, by 1969 China had brought itself into danger of being attacked by both superpowers. The Sino-Soviet relationship was in such disarray that armed conflict with the Russians broke out along their common border and full-scale conflict appeared imminent. Meanwhile, China was intervening in Vietnam, deploying troops against the Americans in the Vietnam War. Intervention in Vietnam was to be followed with clashes with South Vietnam over the South China Sea in 1974 and from then on periodically afterwards. When a united-Vietnam’s regional aspirations grew in 1979, the Chinese responded with an invasion of their ‘little brother’ to ‘teach Vietnam a lesson.’ However, while Vietnam’s aspirations to regional power could be defeated, that of the superpowers could not. In 1969, China was in a dangerous position, which necessitated accommodation with one of its superpower rivals.
Development and the Quest Centrality (1976-)
Under Deng’s rule, China, for the first time, came to see that it would be better to pursue its long-term objectives through the international system, using conventional institutions to help insure developmental breathing space in which to increase its strength. It wasn’t an easy transition for the country to make, “anti-foreigner nationalism, always prevalent, occasionally boiled over to fierce and racist anti-foreigner views, quite reminiscent of some of the anti-foreign missionary diatribes of the 1870s and 80s.” Even for proponents of reform, there were qualifications. Deng himself conceded that, once China’s doors were open ‘flies and insects’ would come in. However, the peaceful external environment gave China room to manoeuvre and it increasingly began to enjoy the power and perquisites of a great power, playing up its role in multilateral institutes, “while yet continuing to play its self-styled role as the virtuous champion and natural leader of a global community of underdogs long abused by cynical would-be hegemons.” Through Beijing’s eyes, this was not “hypocrisy and disingenuous conceit, but rather the natural privilege of China’s status as the exemplar of virtue in an otherwise self-interested world order.”
Initially leaders in Beijing viewed both the Soviet Union and America as ‘paper tigers’ and the end of the Cold war was thought to have brought in a new era of multi-polarity. Continued US power, and the emphatic victory in the first Iraq war, thus presented a major shock for the Communists that resulted in the sudden reversal of the priorities of the 1970s and 80s: now Beijing once again saw the US, not the Soviet Union, as the hegemonic threat.
Increased integration with the world economy and development along Capitalist lines became the answer to the ‘threat from the American hegemon’. This had the benefit of pleasing a population for whom loyalty to Communist ideology had worn thin and provided the cash for a significant military build up. It carried dangers though; during the Maoist years many Chinese had believed their country was amongst the most advanced in the world and that the Western countries were plagued with massive unemployment, racial violence and tension. The truth was bound to breed discontent. When economic dislocation produced mass protests in 1989, the CCP renewed the submission of the Chinese people with the killing of thousands of demonstrators. Following this challenge to Party authority it was felt prudent to turn to state nationalism, re-emphasising past injustices suffered at the hands of imperialists and publishing a spate of anti-Western books warning darkly of plots to ‘contain’ China, and fretting about the secret hegemonic agenda behind the West’s interest in human rights.
The new nationalism was not entirely ‘constructed’ by the state, as some have argued, the school curriculum, newspapers, and billboards merely reinforced the emotions and narratives that were already available. With China’s backwardness in the modern world now apparent, the “combination of ancient civilization and modern victimization; pride in historic greatness and anger and shame at recent weakness” once again found ready ground. From the 90s onwards, this fundamentally unstable, nationalist sentiment flourished as a new generation of nationalists sought to define their patriotism.
Naturally, America, Japan and the West remained ‘jealous’ of China and interested in keeping China weak and Chinese strategic propaganda writings came to resonate strongly with anti-hegemonic rhetoric, while slights were perceived everywhere. America was blamed for China’s failed bid for the 2000 Olympics, for example, and the elected President of Taiwan’s informal visit to the US was part of a plot to keep the island separate from the mainland.
In policy terms, when Chinese leaders realised that the populaces overwrought and uncompromising positions on international events and crises only served to stoke fears of a ‘China threat’ in the US and elsewhere, a pragmatic, realist assessment began, stressing that – “at least, for now, under the circumstances – direct opposition to the hegemon is likely to be more harmful than helpful to China’s interests.” China began a steady and deliberate campaign to mollify the concerns and suspicions in the US and the World about China’s intentions, and a concerted effort to allay fears about the international role a rising China will play in the future.
As the state propaganda system expanded and modernized, it successfully exploited new technologies to promote China’s ‘Peaceful Rise’ to outsiders, and to engender servile patriots at home. The ‘Patriotic Education Campaigning’, which continues today, promotes the glories of Chinese civilization, the superiority of the Han race, and commemorates China’s defeats in a moral tale that omits all the self inflicted tragedies that have rocked the PRC since 1949 and “knits together all the negative events – invasions, massacres, military occupations, unequal treaties, and economic extractions – of pre-revolutionary history that can be blamed on outsiders.”
This discourse has come to saturate the country. In textbooks, films, television, novels, photos, songs, blogs, online videos, and, once again, public holidays, the Chinese people produce, consume and celebrate ‘humiliation’. The ruins of the old Summer Palace remain as a ‘Ground Zero’, a site where schoolchildren are taken on school trips to see and hear how the mighty Chinese nation was brought low by those uncouth and barbaric Westerners. A sign at this ‘humiliation museum’, reminds the Chinese never to forget their fall from grace.
Popular culture and official state policy intertwine with reciprocal influence with the result that a central Han identity is produced and consumed by the state and its people “in an interactive and inter-subjective process” and state foreign policy and popular practice interact to produce a particular type of security. Foreigners are still written into Chinese history as a wholly negative force: “invaders, capitalist, imperialists, barbarians and devils, who are ‘pirates’ when on sea, and ‘bandits’ when on land.” Rather than an empire that has invaded, occupied, and exploited Tibet, East Turkestan, Vietnam and Korea, and many other countries, and one of several rival, expansionists imperial powers – Russia, the West and Japan – fighting over the same territorial prey, China is presented as an innocent victim that has never invaded another country.
While much of China’s post Cold-War foreign policy has been “highly pragmatic in order to prevent international disruptions to domestic growth, the foreign policy issues that receive a lot of attention are treated symbolically, as issues of principle instead of problems to be solved.”. The three most emotive ones are the principle that Japan must atone for its historical sins; of opposition to American ‘hegemony’; and of reclaiming back much of the territory from the Qing dynasty high-water mark, including the ‘one (indivisible) China’ principle that Taiwan must accept. On these issues passions are easily inflamed and policy and popular movements have become intimately intertwined. China’s foreign ministry regularly chastises foreign critics for ‘hurting the feelings of Chinese people’, citing cleansing (xixue洗雪) national humiliation – which can, in Mandarin, be read as revenge – as a major policy objective.
Emotions with regard to Japan are highly volatile. The modern Chinese view of the Japanese is intimately woven into the national humiliation discourse. During World War II the Chinese viewed the Japanese as paradigmatic ‘devils’ (guizi鬼子) and this view remains today. In contemporary China, popular Chinese memory and broad cultural structures use Japanese ‘barbarism’ to construct Chinese civilization and this has been deliberately manipulated and intensified by the CCP for its own benefit. Many individual Chinese feel deep personal enmity towards Japan, believing that Japan is trying to keep China weak and anti-Japanese sentiment is of such intensity that it constrains Chinese leaders.
Within Japan, the perpetual pressure to atone for its war-time crimes, and intense Chinese pressure to deny Japan a seat at the UN Security Council, has caused a mounting backlash and increased nationalism amongst the Japanese, most of whom feel genuinely sorry for the crimes committed in their name and seek recognition that they too suffered greatly in the war. The result is that the two countries healthy economic relationship is based on complementary trade, aid, and investment ties that exist against a backdrop of deepening mutual wariness and suspicion, and increasingly antagonistic political ties.
China’s overall management of relations with Japan seem to have failed, reaching a crisis with mass anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2005, 2010, and 2012, which broke out in most major Chinese cities, causing rioting and damage to Japanese embassies and businesses. At the peak of tensions over disputed territorial claims in 2010, Chinese claims were backed by military patrols around its periphery and restrictions on the export of critical rare earth metals – of which China is the source of over 90% of the world’s supply – threatening key high-tech industries in Japan. China seemed prepared to upend global trading arrangements and practices in retaliation for a bilateral dispute, and to give it international consequences.
The relationship with America has been somewhat better. As the world’s only remaining Superpower it generates a certain amount of admiration, and no doubt envy, despite its ‘mere’ 200 years of history. From the late 1990s onwards, officials repeatedly affirmed that – whether they personally liked it or not – they saw China’s interests best served in trying to get along with the US. As China’s economy continued its rapid growth, deepening economic interdependence and cooperation over key issues in world affairs – notably the six party talks on North Korea – reinforced each government’s tendency to emphasises the positive and pursue constructive relations with each other, and this provided a basis for greater cooperation over economic and security interests and issues. There were limits, though, the China perceived slights and attempts to ‘contain’ it everywhere, and high-level meetings always began with Chinese’s formulaic reiteration of critical differences over key issues – notably Taiwan. Mutual suspicion of each other’s intentions served as a natural brake on the growth of the relationship.
The third symbolic and emotive issue in China’s foreign policy – the issue of China’s geographical limits – is a principle cause of friction with almost everyone in the region. National humiliation discourse and maps make expansive and aspirational claims to huge tracts of land and ocean as China’s national territory and yearnings to recover a vast collection of ‘lost’ territories continue to emerge in official, semi-official, and popular discourse. ‘National maps’ and ‘humiliation maps’ often contain the same images and information, and are published by the same geographical societies and commercial presses. Although the PRC has negotiated most of its disputed boundaries, compromising when it faced internal threat to regime security from transnational ethnic groups that straddled its international border, it has also drawn a red line over certain ‘core issues’.
In the case of Tibet and Xinjiang, the natives are seen as backward barbarians, whose unenlightened nature means they continue to resist assimilation. International support for the maintenance of their unique culture and way of life, feeds into Chinese suspicions of foreign motives and their enduring anxiety of falling apart. The Dalai Lama is seen as a secessionist, seeking Tibetan independence, and international leaders – most particular US ones – meetings with him provoke, not only a popular back lash, by ‘hurting the feelings of the Chinese people’, but also sometimes a diplomatic one.
Above all, there is Taiwan, which is still seen as a renegade province, whose capitalist leaders contrive to keep the natives separated from the mainland in an anti-China alliance with the US. The issue became particularly sensitive during the early and middle 1990s when a growing independence movement on the island began to argue for a separate international standing. There was an immediate response from Beijing, which repeatedly warned that on this vital issue of sovereignty it would use force. In 1996 China even fired some missiles into the sea not far from Taiwan, but retreated when the US sent two carrier task forces into the vicinity. In 2000, the PLA staged exercises off the mainland coast, simulating an invasion of the island. Since then the Taiwanese sense of national identity has only solidified and continued US support to the democratic island is a major source of friction between the US and China. Every arms sale to Taiwan is followed by subsequent breaking of military and other diplomatic ties.
Finally, a major bone of contention between China and South East Asia is the territorial dispute over the hundreds of minuscule islands in the South China Sea that sit astride the major sea-lanes and may have rich deposits of oil and gas under the seabed. China’s makes a claim based on the ‘9 dashed-line’ a piece of historic cartography which China insists gives it indisputable sovereignty over almost all the entire South China Sea, despite Taiwan’s, Vietnam’s, the Philippines’s’, Brunei’s, and Malaysia’s own claims to particular islands and waters. Up until the late 1990s, China used force to enforce its expansive claims, alarming its South East Asian neighbours and undercutting the conciliatory noises Beijing was making at the same time. Its bullying forced a united ASEAN response and China backed down, taking a new tack towards the peaceful resolution of disputes and negotiating a ‘code of conduct’ for all claimants. This and its subsequent ‘good neighbour’ policy, which meant active participation in regional, ASEAN led, multilateral forums, made remarkable progress, for a time, in ameliorating many of the concerns of South East Asian governments.
By 2010, however, the reservoir of goodwill that China had built up had all but evaporated. China saw the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 as the decline of the West and a ‘historic opportunity’ for China to increase its influence in Asia. It once again began using a more bellicose tone, often backed up by military force, to enforce its territorial claims. At the high-point of China’s assertiveness, in a meeting between ASEAN leaders with the US in attendance, China foreign minister warned ASEAN leaders not to become involved in a cabal organized by an outside power, exclaiming: China is ‘a big country, bigger than any country here’. Later, Chinese passports were issued which included a map of the country including not just Taiwan, the Diaoyus and all of the South China Sea, but also the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, further angering its neighbours.
Whether a string of accidents, or forced reactions to outside pressures, as Chinese scholars claim, several recent disputes, which broke out with India over their on-going border dispute, with Japan over the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands, and with the Philippines and Vietnam over the Paracel and Spratly isles, have significantly damaged China’s image in the region. Many countries feared they saw an alarming preview of Beijing’s long-term intentions and moved to strengthen their diplomatic, military and economic ties with the US. And after late 2009, renewed friction in US-China relations increased Washington’s readiness to cooperate with Beijing’s nervous neighbours.
Christopher Ford finds that China’s view of its role in the world has proceeded from the only (Chinese) historical analogy that China can draw upon to explain a world where it is not dominant – that of the Warring States. Modern Chinese writings on statecraft, strategy, and international politics are rich…
“with analogies to the pre-unification period. Chinese writing about the future security environment describes the future in terms of the Warring States period in Chinese history and extensive references to the classics of ancient statecraft are embedded throughout modern Chinese strategic writing, providing lessons or metaphors for the future.”
The principles that have consequently emerged are not obscure. China sees the world, entirely unsentimental, as a highly competitive system of independent states among which relations are arranged by a balance of power. There is deep suspicion of interdependence as “anything other than a mechanism for enhancing one’s own advantages and total disbelief in the myths of multiculturalism.” “Thus China will remain ‘independent’, meaning unaligned”, and it will proceed on the basis of building ‘comprehensive national power’ – the only term which the Chinese have, fittingly, uniquely, contributed to the study of IR – the measure of which, as should by now be expected, has become something of a national obsession.
Recent events seem to further corroborate this thesis. Inevitably, within China, there is little recognition that the US’s ‘pivot’ to Asia – and its welcome by China’s neighbours – is a response to China’s own recent bellicose behaviour. And the newly appointed Mr Xi’s talk of a new great power relations appears wrong-headed, expecting America as the stronger power to make the most concessions. The new model seems to require the Americans to concede to Chinese interests in regions it was once dominant, respect its self-defined “core interests” and to admit that America’s backing for Japan over the disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu islands is a breach of trust.
The recent declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) above a stretch of the East China Sea that includes the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands, and parts of territory which the Korean’s identify as theirs, seems further to fit the mould of a culturally shaped foreign policy. It has further damaged its two-decades of pragmatic realism by, again, angering and frightening all China’s neighbours, and the fact that the ADIZ, as the Chinese described it, is illegal under commonly accepted international law, will provide the US and Japan a casus belie for years to come. Japan has already since made moves to become a more ‘normal’ country able to project military power from its shores.
While the full reasons for China’s apparently reckless behaviour will remain speculation for time to come, the reading of Chinese history and culture presented here would suggest that nothing in its commitment to a peaceful rise is meant to trump the reclamation of former territory and the cleansing of humiliation. With China’s persistent xenophobia and destructive nationalism, no Chinese leader can afford to look weak on issue of national humiliation, and compromise will be hard. Expect tensions in the region to only rise further.
The national myths formed in China’s formative years and its long history of maintaining the myths has meant that its collision with the modern world has been awkward, at times painful, and is not yet fully resolved. Chinese culture has never escaped the inertia behind the ideas of monism, hegemony, and the Sino-centric ‘civilization / barbarian’ distinction, even if it comes at a certain level of psychological dissidence. During early contact with foreigners, ways – military, diplomatic, or, if all else failed, perjurious – were found to maintain these myths. When these methods proved insufficient in the face of European power, a prolonged battle for their maintenance began. And when that failed, internal chaos and disarray resulted.
There were several ways of preserving conceptions of Chinese ‘centrality’ to the modern world even during a century of consistent defeat and humiliation. “One lay in the realm of national (and international) myth and ideology. Another had to do with the endurance of certain traditional diplomatic methods – what we might call centrality in practice – in a modern world in which China was in fact reduced to peripheral status.” “Ideological campaigns attacking ‘Chinese culture’ for modern China’s backwardness have been few and short lived compared with those stressing, in a positive way, the uniqueness of Chineseness.” At the same time, modern Chinese leaders have repeatedly promoted the theme of their nation’s centrality to global movements in our century. A backward China might still be the vanguard of world developments.
When psychological crutches have been less available, as during the Nationalist era and since the collapse of global Communism, the discourse of ‘national humiliation’ has been the fall-back position. Commemorating all China’s ‘defeats’, it lays the blame of China’s past and current weakness entirely at the hands of morally inferior foreigners and seeks revenge, or the cleansing of humiliation, through the recovery of all territory from the Qing dynasty high water mark. This nationalism is partly constructed by the state, as many scholars have argued, but it also, draws on, grows out of, and interacts with, China’s cultural heritage. Peter Gries, for one, finds a grass-roots nationalism in China in which foreigners’ views of China are central to the Chinese national identity. “China’s nationalism cannot be understood in isolation, but must be understood in its international and historical contexts.”
For Stephen Mosher what the patriotic education campaign comprises is,
“in broad strokes, a kind of Mein Kampft. The Chinese it suggests are a great race, which for millennia has rightly dominated its known world. But the foreign imperialists humbled us, tearing off and devouring living parts of the Chinese race and nation, even threatening the whole with disunity. But now China has stood up and is fighting back, determined to recover her lost grandeur no less than her lost territories.”
China’s approach to maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas is often seen by its neighbours as bullying and irredentist. And China’s perennial suspicion of foreigners, often limits the extent that it is willing to cooperate with others. In the face of Japanese expansionism, or when faced with overwhelming superpower threat in the bipolar world, alliances have occasionally been covenanted, but lack of trust has hindered them flourishing into true friendships. The strongest relationships have been with states that are in an obvious position of inferiority and can stymie rivals for regional power i.e. North Korea, Cambodia, and Pakistan. Feeling no kinship with other countries, China has no formal allies and strong relations built on mutual trust – even its closest bilateral relationship, with North Korea, shows growing signs of fraying.
Its domestic political model does not help. But China has always been ruled by an authoritarian, bureaucratic state. The modern Chinese state uncannily resembles the 2,500 year old Legalist prescription for achieving ‘wealth and power’: “invest in a technologically advanced military, encourage commerce through a mixture of private enterprise and state monopoly over key industries, and maintain social order through a brutal set of laws enforced uniformly by an authoritarian state.” The fear of chaos in a country that reveres monism but has suffered several periods of fragmentation; is also almost pathological, further hindering political change. And the CCP has adapted, allowing both for generational change and a mix of meritocracy and nepotism. Many scholars expect its current political model to continue for some time.
Moreover, whatever China’s political evolution, the idea of cultural uniqueness and Chinese cultural superiority are unlikely to disappear quickly. This does not necessarily preclude global antagonism, today’s Japan retains a strong sense of Japanese cultural uniqueness and a weak superiority / inferiority complex,  while managing healthy relationships with the world’s other nations. But one wonders, given the extraordinary strength of the ‘civilization/ barbarian’ thesis in Chinese culture and the tenacity with which it has been maintained over the millennia, whether any Chinese government will be able to entirely escape its pull. It may be that Taiwan and Hong Kong have so successfully integrated into the world precisely because they have escaped the cultural legacy of the mainland.
One should not forget, of course, the genuine slights China has suffered over the course of it tumultuous interaction with the world – and no one doubts the unenviable external environment the CCP faced during the Cold War. It may be true that, during this period, as Yong Zhang has argued, that China was more alienated by the international society of states than it would have liked – but one should also put things in context. India suffered a century of direct colonial rule, but seems to have largely put that behind it, and although the Japanese occupied China and committed great war-time atrocities there, they also attacked Pearl Harbour and killed many American GIs, but most Americans have forgiven them by now. As this paper has shown, for such a solipsistic country being surpassed by the ‘Other’, not least the territorially smaller, and historically less powerful, Japan, has been difficult.
Many students of China find both a superiority complex and an inferiority complex in Chinese culture, and expect this unstable structure of feeling to continue to shape both China’s identity and security as well as its reactions to critical events: such as the US’s mistaken aerial bomb attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which the Chinese assumed was deliberate, in 1999, and the 2001 EP-3 surveillance plan incident. And beneath surface politeness to foreigners living and travelling through China, may lie a much more intense xenophobia than most people realise. It is common for Chinese to refer to outsiders – either historical neighbours, modern Westerners, or, indeed, China’s own ethnic minorities – as ‘barbarians.’ In books, film and radio Westerners are referred to as monkeys. Some Chinese even believe that non-Chinese are actually genetically closer to apes and a sizeable portion of the Chinese claim a separate evolutionary lineage than with the rest of humanity.
During the 2008 Olympic torch relay and the reactions to the March 2008 unrest in Tibet, rather than wonder why Tibetans would protest Beijing’s rule, many Han Chinese around the world rallied against the ‘bias’ of Westerners, who they felt had unfairly criticised their homeland. The Tibetan unrest was thus not treated as being a serious domestic issue of racial politics, but an international issue of pride and humiliation that pits China against the West. It was another example of what William Callahan sees amongst the Chinese as “an increasingly prevalent right-wing nationalism” that “restricts political possibilities.”
This may subside as China’s wealth and power grows, but these may not bring the Chinese the status and influence they expect, and the national humiliation narrative is so interwoven with deep-seated Chinese beliefs of moral and cultural superiority, that its demise is likely to be a long, slow process. In the past ‘national humiliation’ has declared to have been cleansed, only for the goal to reappear as new humiliations become central. And for the foreseeable future, China will remain a relatively weak power.
Although China’s economic heft means that it will never be lacking for influence on the global stage, and it has strengthened its relations with Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, it has made little progress in cultivating the soft power around which international support is often more effectively built and maintained. In part this is due to the limited appeal of its domestic political model, but its chauvinism also results in a personalized notion of world politics, which is quick to take offence and demands a submissive style of respect. This combined with its history of bullying and violence, and its contemporary secrecy, ‘irredentism’, and shallow normative conformity, inclines its’ neighbours to balance against it, and intensifies the natural rivalry with other great powers.
Further, as China’s power grows and it seeks out the status it believes is its natural birth-right it will come under increasing criticism. Global power certainly can generate respect; but it also generates criticism, simply because superpowers often become the target of the international media. Yet, the Chinese government and people continue to label foreign criticism as ‘disrespectful’ and ‘hurting the feelings of the Chinese people’. Foreigners cannot understand China and should not therefore criticise. Foreign criticism can only arise out of either jealousy or conspiracies to keep China weak. Emotional reactions to international crises and perceived slights are likely to remain a staple of China’s interaction with the world.
And for a country which prides itself on its historicism and its millennia of statecraft designed for the control of empire adjusting to the concept of coequal sovereignty will also remain difficult. As one Chinese politics specialist put it, “China may well be the high church of Realpolitik in the post-Cold War world.” Its Warring states conception of international society – as one in which countries pursue narrow, self-interested goals – appears ill suited to an era of interlocking economies, mass migration and shared technology, and an era where soft power is of ever more importance.
While much instability in the region may simply be the result of the natural friction that arises out of such rapid and momentous changes in global balances of power and it is quite likely, as John Ikenburry as argued, that the current international order has the openness, economic integration, and capacity to peacefully absorb China, the path may be long and rocky one. China is in a weak strategic position for a rising power and risks setting out on a course towards becoming a lonely global power, desperately seeking outside confirmation of its superiority and secretly scathing of a world that sees differently. Understanding how China’s culture and history shape its views of the ‘Other’, of its external environment, and of the range of policy options available to it, will continue to be an area of essential scholarly and policy-making interest.
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 Lapid, Yosef and Kratochwil, Friedrich, The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1996, 3-9.
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Books, 2000, xiiv.
 Lapid and Kratochwil, The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory, 4.
 Wiarda, Culture and Foreign Policy, 1-5.
 Lapid and Kratochwil, The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory, 3.
 Harshe, Rajen ‘Culture, Identity and International Relations’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 41. No. 37. Sep
16-22, 2006, 334.
Shambaugh, David ‘Introduction’ in Shambaugh, David, (Ed.) Tangled Titans: The United States and China
Rowman and Littlefeid, 2013, 5.
Ibid, Page 5-6.
Kim, Samuel S. China and the World: Chinese Foreign Relations in the Post-Cold War Era. Westview, 1994. 12.
Deacon, Richard , The Chinese Secret Service, Ballantine, 1976, 5. Quoted in Ford, Christopher A., Mind of
Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relation, University Press of Kentucky, 2010, 12.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 15.
 Ibid, 12.
 Townsend, James. ‘Chinese Nationalism’, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No. 27. Jan 1992, 102.
 Lucien W. Pye The Spirit of Chinese Politics: A Psychocultural Study of the Authority Crises in Chinese
Development, MIT Press, 1968, 50.
 Terrill, Ross, The New Chinese Empire, Basic Books, 2003, 304.
 Callahan , William A., China: Pessoptimist Nation, Oxford University Press, 2010, 24.
 Blunden, Catherine and Elvin, Mark, Cultural Atlas of China, Equinox, 1983, 12.
 Mosher, Steven W, Hegemon: China’s Plan to Dominate Asia and the World, Encounter Books, 2002, 1.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 24.
 Chomsky, Noam, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations with Noam Chomsky on the Post-9/11 World, Penguin Group,
 Hitchens, Christopher, The Trail of Henry Kissinger, Verso, 2001.
 Curtis, Mark, Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World, Vintage, 2003.
 Finnemore, Martha ‘Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention’ in Katzenstein. (Ed.), The Culture of
National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics New York: Columbia University Press,1996, 159.
 Kirby, William C. ‘Traditions of Centrality: Authority and Management in Modern China’s Foreign Relations’ in
Robinson, Thomas W. and Shambaugh, David, (Eds.) Chinese Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice, Oxford
University Press, 1994, 15.
 Ibid, 15.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 16.
 Cheng Shiewei et al. (Eds.), Never Forget National Humiliation (Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 1998, 1. Quoted in
Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 8.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 4.
 Ibid, 4.
 Ibid, 4.
 Shambaugh ‘Introduction’, 17.
 Ibid, 8.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 18.
 Economist, ‘Chinese Foreign Policy: Discord’, Jan 13th, 2011.
 Deng, Yong, China’s Struggle for Status: The Realignment of International Relations, Cambridge University Press,
 Terrill The New Chinese Empire, 253-278.
 Leibold, James, ‘More than a Category: Han Supremacism on the Chinese internet.’ The China Quarterly, 203, Sep.,
 Schell, Orville and Delury, John, Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the 21st Century, Little Brown, 2013, 6.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 2.
 Ibid, 7-9, 13.
 Garver, John W., Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, Prentice Hall, 1993, 2.
 Pye, Lucian, Asian Power and Politics: The Cultural Dimensions of Authority, Belknap, 1983, 20. Quoted in Ford,
Mind of Empire, 9.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 2.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 9.
 Jonston, Alastair Iain, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History, Princeton
University Press, 1995, 1.
 Ibid, 1.
 Ford Mind of Empire, 9.
 Ibid, 9.
 Smith, Steve, Hadfeild, Amelia, Dunne, Tim (Eds.), Foreign Policy: Theories, actors, Cases, Oxford University
Press, 2008, 104.
 Ford Mind of Empire,10.
 Ibid, 11.
 Rodzinski, Witold, The Walled Kingdom, Free Press, 1984, 62.
 Kim, Samuel S., China and the World, 3, 12.
 Gascoigne, Bamber, The Dynasties of China, Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2003, 15.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 14.
 Rodzinski, Witold, The Walled Kingdom, 20.
 Tinker, Hugh, South Asia: A Short History, Praeger, 1966, 3. Quoted in Ford, Mind of Empire,14.
 Nakamura, Najime, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India-China-Tibet-Japan, East-West Centre Press, 1964,
 Ibid, 206. Quoted in Ford Mind of Empire, 14.
 Mosher, Hegemon,16.
 Gascoigne, The Dynasties of China, 18-25.
 Franze, Michael, China through the Ages: History of a Civilization, Westview Press Inc, 1986, 34.
 Ibid, 28.
 Blunden and Elvin, Cultural Atlas of China, 60.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 18.
 Fitgerald, C.P., The Chinese View of their Place in the World, Oxford University Press, 1964, 6.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 76.
 Rodzinski, The Walled Kingdom, 32.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 17.
 Blunden and Elvin, Cultural Atlas of China, 61.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 50.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 19.
 Ibid, 26.
 Ibid, 28.
 Ibid, 29
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 26.
 Ibid, 4-5.
 Ibid, 51.
 Ibid, 38.
 Gascoigne, The Dynasties of China, 25.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 81.
 Ibid, 81.
 Gelber, Harry, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, Bloomsbury publishing Plc., 2007, 21.
 Ibid, 21.
 Franze, China through the Ages, 107.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 86.
Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 25.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 100.
 Ibid, 94.
 Ibid, 95.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 25.
 Terrill, The New Chinese Empire, 63.
 Ibid, 64.
 Ibid, 82.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 101.
 Ibid, 101.
 Ibid, 101.
 Ibid, 113.
 Terrill, The New Chinese Empire, 82.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 121.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 161.
 Ibid, 161.
 Ibid, 163.
 Ibid, 180.
 Gascoigne, The Dynasties of China, 184.
 Ibid, 187.
 Quoted in Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 188.
 Ibid, 191.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 128.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 192.
 Ibid, 192.
 Ibid, 192.
 Ibid, 196.
 Ibid, 141.
 Ibid, 142.
 Ibid, 143.
 Ibid, 143.
 Ibid, 153.
 Ibid, 169.
 Quoted in Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 232.
 Gries, Peter, China’s New Nationalism, University of California Press, 2005, 70.
 Ibid, 232.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 181.
 Ibid, 181.
 Hunt, Michael, The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy, Columbia University Press, 1996, 7.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 182
 Ibid, 182.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 217.
 Ibid, 219.
 Ibid, 219.
Townsend, ‘Chinese Nationalism’, 101.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 20.
 Schell and Delury, Wealth and Power, 6.
 Ibid, 20.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 182.
 Fitgerald, The Chinese View of their Place in the World, 40.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 183.
 Ibid, 183.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 15.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 260.
 Ibid, 260.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 15.
 Ibid, 15.
 Callahan , China: Pessoptimist Nation, 68.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 16.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 175.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 297.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 15.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 26.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 298.
 Ibid, 311.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 37.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 189.
 Terrill, The New Chinese Empire, 119.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 39.
 Ibid, 40.
 Ibid, 40.
 Ibid, 42.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 344.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 218.
 Friedman, Edward, ‘Anti Imperialism in Chinese Foreign Policy’ in Friedman, Edward (Ed.) National Identity and Democratic Prospects in Socialist China, M.E.Sharpe, Inc, 1995, 117.
 Brady, Anne-Marie, Making the Foreign Serve China: Managing Foreigner’s in the People’s Republic, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, 3.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 218.
 Ibid, 218.
 Ibid, 218.
 Brady, Making the Foreign Serve China, 26.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 219.
 Ibid, 219.
 Robinson, Thomas W. ‘China’s Foreign Policy from the 1940s to the 1990s.’ in Robinson and Shambaugh, Chinese Foreign Policy, 555, 557.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 43.
 Ibid, 43.
 Robinson, ‘China’s Foreign Policy’, 562-3.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 44.
 Ibid, 44.
 Ibid, 45.
 Hamrin, Carol Lee ‘Elite Politics and Development of China’s Foreign Relations’ in Robinson and Shambaugh, Chinese Foreign Policy,76.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 183.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 199.
 Ibid, 201.
 Fitgerald, The Chinese View of their Place in the World, 49-50.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 351.
 Ibid, 351.
 Ibid, 358.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 48.
 Fitgerald, The Chinese View of their Place in the World, 58.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 212.
 Levi, Werner, Modern China’s Foreign Policy, University of Minnesota Press, 1953, 321.
 Brady, Making the Foreign Serve China, 144.
 Levi, Modern China’s Foreign Policy, 326-9.
 Ibid, 332.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 193.
 Ibid, 193.
 Ibid, 193.
 Fitgerald, The Chinese View of their Place in the World, 49.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 215.
 Ibid, 215.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 368.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 196.
 Ibid, 196.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 50.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 270.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 196.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 114.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 308.
 Gelber, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, 369.
 Ibid, 379.
 Zhang, China in International Society Since 1949.
 Ibid, 387
 Ibid, 387.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 229.
 Ibid, 229.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 49.
 Ibid, 226-276.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 206.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 49.
 Zhao, Suisheng, A Nation State by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism, Stanford University Press, 2004.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 63.
 Callahan , China: Pessoptimist Nation, 19.
 Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 45-53, 67, 65, 74.
 Ibid, 6.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 64.
 Shambaugh, David, Beautiful Imperialist: China Perceives America, 1972-199, Princeton University Press, 1991,
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 222, 224.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 233.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 232.
 Swaine, Michael D. and Tellis, Ashley J., Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present and Future, RAND,
 Ibid, 32.
 Ibid, 14.
 Ibid, preface, xi.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 65.
Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 47.
 Schell and Delury, Wealth and Power, 45.
 Callahan , China: Pessoptimist Nation, 25.
 Ibid, 59.
 Ibid, 41.
 Ibid, 41, 109.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 77.
 Ibid, 77.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 162.
 Callahan , China: Pessoptimist Nation, 199.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 153.
 Ibid, 162.
 Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 10.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 162.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 144.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 165.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 180.
 Ibid, 145, 179.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 145.
 Ibid, 145.
 Deng China’s Struggle for Status, 167.
 Sutter, Robert. G, Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War, Rowman and Lithfeild, 2012,
 Ibid, 175.
 Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 103-109.
 Bader, Jeffery, A., Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of America’s Asia Strategy, Brookings Institution
Press, 2012, 107.
 Goldstein, Avery, ‘U.S.-China Interactions in Asia’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titan’s, 269.
 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 108.
 Shambaugh, Beautiful Imperialist.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 132.
 Ibid, 222-225.
 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 22-24.
 Sutter, Chinese Foreign Relations, 131.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 98.
 Ibid, 99.
 Ibid, 110.
 Ibid, 112.
 Ibid, 131.
 Ibid, 98
 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 48.
 Ibid, 48-49.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 152.
Sutter, Chinese Foreign Relations, 156.
Carpenter, Ted Gallen, America’s Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan, Palgrave Macmillan,
2005, 46-47 and 66-70.
 Ibid, 86-94.
 Sutter, Chinese Foreign Relations, 308.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 144.
 Sutter, Chinese Foreign Relations, 308.
 Jakoban, Linda, ‘China’s Foreign Policy Dilemma, The Lowy Institute, 2013, 2.
 Quoted in Foreign Policy, March 28th, 2013, ‘China’s Glass Ceiling.’ Accessed 05/01/2014.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 256.
 Sutter, Chinese Foreign Relations, 228.
 Bader, 105.
 Economist, The Rocky Road to Revival, December 15th 2012.
 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 108.
 Goldstein, Avery, ‘U.S.-China Interactions in Asia’, 269.
 Ford, Mind of Empire, 245.
 Ibid, 246.
 Ibid, 249-280.
 Ibid, 273 .
 Ibid, 246.
 Kirby, ‘Traditions of Centrality’, 16.
 Ibid, 16.
 Ibid, 16.
 Ibid, 117-119.
 Ibid, 19.
 Ibid, 18.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 78.
 Garver, Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic, 111.
Schell and Delury, Wealth and Power, 21.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 8.
 Freedman, Noah, Cool War: The Future of Global Competition, Random House, 2013, 71-85.
 Zhao, Suisheng, ‘We are Patriots first, Democrats Second’, Freidman, Edward and Barrett L. McCormick (Eds.),
What if China doesn’t Democratize: Implications for War and Peace, M.E.Sharpe, 2000, 21-43.
 Buruma, Ian: A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture, Jonathan Cape Ltd. 1984.
Robinson, ‘China’s Foreign Policy from the 1940s to the 1990s.’, 556, 560.
 Zhang, Yongjin, China in International Society Since 1949: Alienation and Beyond. St. Martin Press Inc. 1998.
 Ford, Mind of Empire,153 .
 Luce, Edward, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, Little, Brown, 2006.
 Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower, 153.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 9.
 Friedman, Anti Imperialism in Chinese Foreign Policy, 95.
 Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 1-4.
 Mosher, Hegemon, 14.
Callahan , China: Pessoptimist Nation, 42.
Gries, Peter, China’s New Nationalism, 24, 131.
 Ibid, 42.
 Kynge, China Shakes the World, 204.
 Ibid, 204.
 Marr, Andrew, A History of the World, BBC, 1996, 38.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 9.
 Ibid, 196.
 Ibid, 74.
 Nye, Jr. Joseph S, The Future of Power, Public Affairs, 2011, 184-6.
 Shambaugh, David,(Ed.), China Goes Global: The Partial Power, Oxford University Press, 2013, 1-13.
 Callahan, China: Pessoptimist Nation, 197.
 Gries, China’s New Nationalism, 10.
 Ibid, 185.
 Swaine, Micheal D. And Tellis, Ahsley J., Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present and Future, RAND,
 Nye, Jr. Joseph S, Soft Power: The Means to Success In World Politics, Public Affairs, 2004.
 Ikenberry, John, G., Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crises, and Transformation of the American World Order, Princeton University Press, 2011.