Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate: Memories of Empire in a New Global Context

Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate: Memories of Empire in a New Global Context

Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate: Memories of Empire in a New Global Context

Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate: Memories of Empire in a New Global Context

Synopsis

China's sense of today and its view of tomorrow are both rooted in the past--and we need to understand that connection, says China scholar Charles Horner. In Rising China and Its Postmodern Fate, Horner offers a new interpretation of how China's changed view of its modern historical experience has also changed China's understanding of its long intellectual and cultural tradition. Spirited reevaluations of history, strategy, commerce, and literature are cooperating--and competing--to define the future.

The capstone of modern China was the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 and its rejection of Confucianism, capitalism, and modernity. Yet today's rising China retains few vestiges of what Mao wrought. What then, Horner asks, is post-Mao, postmodern China? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Where is it going?

Contemporary views of the great periods in Chinese history are having a significant influence on the development of rising China's national strategy, says Horner. He looks at the revival of interest in, and changing interpretations of, three dynasties--the Yuan (1272-1368), the Ming (1368-1644), and the Qing (1644-1912)--that, together with the People's Republic of China, provide examples of great power success.

The future of every major country is now connected to China's, and this book explains how China, now seeing itself as the complex and thriving result of the old and the new, is poised to change the world.

Excerpt

On November 19, 2004, Xu Jialu, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, announced the completion of a vast literary enterprise he had been supervising. For more than thirteen years Xu had been editor in chief of a translation of China’s twenty-four official dynastic histories from the classical literary Chinese in which they had been composed into modern vernacular Chinese, the language as it is spoken and written today. The project had employed more than two hundred professors from seven academic institutes and universities. These twenty-four histories represent the accumulated effort of centuries and cover all the officially recognized dynasties save the last one, the Qing (1644–1912). Taken together, the histories contain about 470 million Chinese characters in their original classical language and more than 600 million characters when rendered into the modern tongue. These writings are what the Chinese call zhengshi, “official” or “standard” history. They begin with the renowned Records of the Grand Historian, completed in 93 BC during the reign of the Han dynasty. Records established the model that would be used until 1739, when the standard history of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) was finally completed.

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