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Showing posts with the label chinese history

Law In Imperial China – Confucianism And Legalism

Killing the scholars and burning the books   (anonymous 18th century Chinese painting depicting the alleged burning of books and killing of scholars under China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang; source: Wikipedia )  The legal system of imperial  China  developed from two schools of thought:  Confucianism  and  Legalism . Although both of them exerted a deep influence on China’s state-building as well as on its moral and legal traditions, at the beginning these two philosophies were bitterly opposed to each other, as they were based on entirely different principles (see: Xin Ren:  Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China , 1997, p. 19). Confucianism  (儒家) originated from the teachings of  Confucius  (551 – 479 BC), a Chinese scholar, politician and philosopher who lived in the  Spring and Autumn period . The main body of the Confucian canon comprises the Four Books and the Five Classics (四書五經), texts which have been traditionally attribut

"Listen To The Masses" - Xi Jinping Wants Chinese Government To Take Citizens' Petitions Seriously

Mao Zedong once said that Communist cadres "must be models in applying the Party's democratic centralism, must master the method of leadership based on the principle of 'from the masses, to the masses', and must cultivate a democratic style and be good at listening to the masses".  "Listening to the masses" - whatever this may mean - has become a common catchphrase of Xi Jinping 's new vision for China's Communism . In perfect Maoist rhetorical style, Xi coats his ideology in vague high-sounding phrases, a vagueness that suits a Party leader who doesn't have to engage in debates with opponents and who needs ideological ambiguity in order to rule. Xi's last attempt at reviving the old Maoist principle of "listening to the masses" is the strengthening of Communist China's system of popular petitions , the so-called xinfang (信访).  The xinfang system dates back to 1951, when the Government Administration Council is

Hot Sale in Hong Kong - A Lucky Charm That Promises Wealth

This little figurine of a smiling man holding a gold ingot is a hot sale in Hong Kong at the moment. And judging by the number of luxury cars on the city's street, it is not that surprising. Perhaps it really works, so I am thinking about buying one. Getting wealthy for just 30 dollars (around 3 euros) is a pretty good deal.  The name of the figurine is 元寶財神公仔 (pinyin: Yuánbǎo cáishén gōngzǐ), which literally means: Doll of the Gold Ingot God of Wealth.  Shoe-shaped silver or gold ingots (元寶) were used as money in ancient China and they have thus become traditional symbols of wealth in Chinese culture. According to Vivien Sung, the yuanbao first appeared in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). In the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) they became an actual standard currency. Because the Chinese dumplings resemble the shape of gold ingots, they are also associated with wealth and are an auspicious dish to eat on New Year's Eve in various part of China (see Vivien Sung:

The Blue Express Incident - How 30 Foreigners Were Kidnapped in Republican China

On the evening of May 5, 1923, everything seemed quiet on the Blue Express , China's luxury railway line connecting Tianjin and Pukou . The train, recently purchased by the Chinese Railway Administration from an American company, boasted Asia's first all-steel coaches. Its first class carriages consisted of compartments which, on that day, were filled not only by Chinese, but also by foreign passengers of various nationalities, some of them businessmen or long-term residents of China , others, using a modern word, 'tourists'. Among the passengers were Miss Lucy Aldrich , the sister-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, Jr . and daughter of Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island; two officers of the US Army, Major Allen and Major Pinger; Angelo Musso , a wealthy Italian lawyer based in Shanghai and an early supporter of Benito Mussolini's Fascists; he was accompanied by his private secretary, the young Alba Coralli. There was a Mexican industrialist with his wife, on

The Guomindang and the Victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Eyes of K.M. Panikkar

In his book " In Two Chinas: Memoirs of a Diplomat ", Kavalam Madhava Panikkar (1895 – 1963), an Indian intellectual, journalist, historian and ambassador, born in the Kingdom of Travancore, then part of the British Indian Empire, recounted his impressions of the transition between the Guomindang -led Republic of China (ROC) and the newly founded People's Republic of China (PRC).  Shortly after India had obtained its independence from Britain, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed Panikkar as India's first ambassador to China (then ROC). During the following two years, Panikkar would experience the chaos and turmoil of the Chinese Civil War , which ended with the complete collapse of the Guomindang regime and its retreat to Taiwan. Panikkar remained in China until 1953.  *** What was my general impression of New China? I had spent over two years in Peking in close contact with the leaders of the Central People's Government. I had also lived

Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and the China-Taiwan Issue

As I explained in my previous post , the claim of the People's Republic of China to Taiwan derives from the nationalist tradition that developed in China after its tragic encounter with Western powers. In this post, I would like to show how the concepts of sovereignty and territorial integrity in China have been shaped by the country's unequal relationship with Western imperialist states and how these concepts have become an integral part of Chinese nationalist discourse. Sovereignty and Territory - Premodern vs Modern States The terms 'modern state', 'sovereignty' and 'territorial integrity' are too complex and controversial to be discussed here. However, some definitions are necessary in order to examine the evolution of the Chinese state in modern times, so I will just provide a general description of them. 

Is Taiwan Chinese? - Or, Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism

Time and again I stumble upon pro- or anti-Chinese articles that try to prove or disprove that Taiwan is a part of China. And I always wonder why - in the year 2014 - we are still discussing such issues as if the past had taught us nothing. Recently I read another one of those posts in which the author tried to show that Taiwan 'never belonged to China'. This question is as irrelevant to Taiwan's future as the question whether Alaska ever belonged to Russia is for the United States. There is a clear distinction between politics and history, and this distinction should be maintained and explained, so that people do not confuse the two categories. Chinese Nationalism and the New State Theory First of all, we must understand why the People's Republic of China (PRC) claims that Taiwan is part of its territory. Simply put, when the Qing Empire was defeated, humiliated and colonised by Western powers, Chinese intellectuals began to absorb Western ideas, among t