The Search for Modern China

By Jonathan D. Spence | Go to book overview

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of The Search for Modern China was completed while the Chinese government crackdown against the Tiananmen democracy demonstrators was at its height in June 1989. One can see with hindsight that these events emphasized in my mind the fragility of the individual Chinese voices in their confrontations with the state, and made the chances for constructive change seem elusive. Nine years later, as I complete the second edition, the state of affairs in China and the world is vastly different. Deng Xiaoping, the man held most responsible for the violence of the 1989 repression, died early in 1997; his loyal lieutenant and fellow hard-liner, premier Li Peng, retired from the premiership in early 1998. The Soviet Union has disintegrated into a number of constituent republics, and the member states of its former satellite empire in Eastern Europe have gone their wildly different ways. The most prominent of the 1989 student leaders are now out of prison and living in exile in the United States, as is Wei Jingsheng, the best-known and most tenacious spokesman for the democracy experimenters of 1978.

China's government seems to have made its peace with the ghosts of both movements largely by denying their significance. Moreover, the country as a whole has become absorbed with the challenges, rewards, and ambiguities of domestic economic growth and participation in the international financial scene. These changes in focus have made it hard for human rights activitists—whether indigenous, exiled, or foreign-to keep alive the key issues concerning the Chinese leadership's rejection of representative government and its ongoing harassment of dissidents. And with Hong Kong reintegrated peacefully with China in the summer of 1997, Taiwan now attracts greater attention: China's policies there serve as a

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The Search for Modern China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Search for Modern China i
  • Title Page iv
  • Contents ix
  • Maps xv
  • Tables xvii
  • Preface to the Second Edition xix
  • Preface to the First Edition xxiii
  • Acknowledgments for the Second Edition xxvii
  • Acknowledgments for the First Edition xxix
  • The Use of Pinyin xxxi
  • Conquest and Consolidation 1
  • The Late Ming 7
  • The Manchu Conquest 26
  • Kangxi's Consolidation 49
  • Yongzheng's Authority 74
  • Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong 96
  • China and the Eighteenth-Century World 117
  • Fragmentation and Reform 139
  • The First Clash with the West 145
  • The Crisis Within 167
  • Restoration Through Reform 192
  • New Tensions in the Late Qing 215
  • The End of the Dynasty 243
  • Envisioning State and Society 265
  • The New Republic 271
  • A Road is Made" 290
  • The Fractured Alliance 314
  • The Guomindang in Power 342
  • Communist Survival 375
  • War and Revolution 411
  • World War II 419
  • The Fall of the Guomindang State 459
  • The Birth of the People's Republic 489
  • Planning the New Society 514
  • Deepening the Revolution 544
  • Cultural Revolution 565
  • Re-Entering the World 587
  • Reopening the Doors 595
  • Redefining Revolution 618
  • Levels of Power 647
  • Testing the Limits 677
  • Century's End 705
  • Appendixes A1
  • Notes and Permissions A3
  • Further Readings A23
  • Glossary A47
  • Illustration Credits A71
  • A Note on the Calligraphy A75
  • Index A77
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