The Invention of China (2020)

This book tells the story of how China came to think of itself as China. It show how the idea of 'China' that we hold today was created around the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries by a small group of nationalist intellectuals.

It shows how China’s present-day geopolitical problems—the fates of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea—were born in the struggle to create a modern nation-state. A century ago, reformers and revolutionaries adopted foreign ideas to “invent’ a new vision of China. By asserting a particular, politicized version of the past the government bolstered its claim to a vast territory stretching from the Pacific to Central Asia.

With chapters on the emergence of ideas about a 'Han Race', national history, nationhood, language, and territory, the book shows how the Republic’s reworking of its past not only helped it to justify its right to rule a century ago—but continues to motivate and direct policy today.

Click here to buy this book at Yale University Press (UK)