Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

By Ralph Summy; Michael E. Salla | Go to book overview

14
In the Shadow of the Middle Kingdom Syndrome: China in the Post-Cold War World

C. L. Chiou


INTRODUCTION

Since 221 B.C. when the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, defeated other states, thereby ending the long Warring States period of ancient Chinese history and unifying the land of the Yellow River and the people of the Yellow Emperor, the centrist, irredentist, and unitary Middle Kingdom syndrome has continued to dominate Chinese political culture and political behavior. 1 Reinforced by Qin Shi Huang's construction of the Great Wall and more importantly by the installation of Confucianism as its national ideology by the Han emperors ( 196 B.C.-A.D. 167), a Sinocentrist superiority complex has been so integrated into the psyche of the Chinese people that it has become a sort of "total ideology," as defined by Karl Mannheim. 2 Thus one of the most famous statements exemplifying the Middle Kingdom superiority complex was made by the third emperor of the last imperial dynasty of China, the Qing dynasty, Qian Long ( 1736- 1795), a contemporary of George Washington, in his edict to King George III: "Our celestial empire possesses all things in prolific abundance and lacks no product within its own borders. There is therefore no need to import the manufactures of outside barbarians." 3

Superiority and inferiority complexes are, of course, often twin brothers. Their twin brotherhood has been manifested vividly in both China and Japan since the West began to knock on their doors in the eighteenth century. In China, since the 1840 Opium War, in spite of one humiliation after another at the hands of Western imperialists which created an

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