Academic journal article China Perspectives

Editorial

Academic journal article China Perspectives

Editorial

Article excerpt

China's "peaceful rise" on the world scene, be it on the economic or political front, has a strong and direct impact on countries with which it shares its continental borders. Such an impact can be felt in very concrete ways, including availability of Chinese goods on local markets, contracts from Chinese companies to tap energy resources, increasing flows of Chinese migrants, and Chinese involvement in regional organisations. But the impact also has a psychological dimension, especially on populations that, in spite of their geographical proximity, hardly know each other. History and the scarcity of contact over relatively long periods of time easily explain this paradoxical situation: the freeze in relations with India after the 1962 war between the two countries, the general absence of China in the economic and cultural reality of Central Asia until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the suspension of Chinese migration to the Russian Far-East between the 1917 Revolution and that same 1991 watershed... Even though the situation is now changing with an increased flow of exchanges between neighbouring states and a range of related benefits, Chinese expansion beyond its immediate continental borders remains, more often than not, associated with an ill-defined sense of threat.

The special feature on China and its continental borders that you will explore in the following pages attempts to cast some light on the situation from a variety of angles. In an introductory article, C. Patterson Giersch provides an historical retrospective of late Qing (1877-1911 ) state building in Inner Asia, which reveals, among other things, how Han elites at that time conceived of Inner Asian territories and peoples in new ways and with enduring consequences. …

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