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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Qing Dynasty and Modern Chinese Nationalism

This article is fascinating for what it tells you about China's nationalism:

Qing Costume Dust Up At Elementary School - Danwei

A question a non-Chinese may ask, is why is there such strong feelings over the Qing Dynasty with:

An author being slapped? The schools web site being hacked? The Qing's being called barbarians?

The Ching or Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China (no, we are not going to argue over whether any Chinese governments since the 1911 revolution were dynasties, or certain leaders acted like emperors). The Qing dynasty was from an ethnic group called the Manchus, that are a small minority of Chinese (just under a million), or less than 1% of China population. During the Qing Dynasty China was humiliated by foreign powers, including the Opium War, Boxer Rebellion, Japanese occupation of Taiwan, and the Sino Japanese War.

After the dynasty was overthrown the Treaty of Versailles gave the German possessions in China to Japan and the US support of Taiwan in 1949 and the 1969 Russian border incident all impacted China. The acts that Japan did during WW2 (rape of Nanjing for example) are seen as foreign powers humiliating China.

The end result is there is a very strong degree of nationalism in China and anger at how China was humiliated in the past. Part of the communist parties way to keep in power is by using Nationalism and the need for a strong China to keep in power. The danger of course, is if they are seen as not Nationalistic enough. The rise of the Internet and texting has made managing this balance, of enough nationalism to keep China united, and not to much to upset neighbors has been challenging as seen with the relations with Japan.

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