The Fall and Rise of China: Healing the Trauma of History

The Fall and Rise of China: Healing the Trauma of History

Language: English

Pages: 128

ISBN: 1780231687

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

 Today, China is a global power, home to the world’s fastest-growing economy and largest standing army—which makes it hard to believe that only 150 years ago, China was enduring defeats by Western imperial powers and neighboring Japan. For a time, the Middle Kingdom seemed like it was on the verge of being overtaken by foreign interests—but the country has quickly and ambitiously become a player on the world stage once again.

In this absorbing account of how China refashioned itself, Paul U. Unschuld traces the course of the country’s development in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Faced with evidence of the superiority of Western science and technology, Unschuld shows, China delivered an unsparing self-diagnosis, identifying those aspects of Western civilization it had to adopt in order to remove the cultural impediments to its own renaissance. He reveals that China did not just express its many aversions to the West as collective hatred for its aggressors; rather, the country chose the path of reason and fundamental renewal, prescribing for itself a therapy that followed the same principles as Chinese medicine: the cause of an illness lies first and foremost within oneself. In curing its wounds by first admitting its own deficiencies and mistakes, China has been able to develop itself as a modern country and a leading competitor in science, technology, and education.
Presenting an entirely new analysis of China’s past, this crisp, concise book offers new insights into the possibilities of what China may achieve in the future.

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and would go on to become one of the most widespread medicines in the European pharmacopoeia. Yet the composition of the medicine remained unknown to Chinese doctors. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the rapid expansion of pure opium, whose early names a-fu-rong and ya-pien mimicked the drug’s foreign name, likewise took place through pharmacy. The wealthier classes could afford opium as a sexual stimulant. Its use would not end there. Over time, opium abuse spread through all social

kind of glacis. Still, the Treaty of Nerchinsk could only delay direct confrontation between China and Russia. Since the 1840s the increasingly apparent feebleness of the Chinese, caused by domestic uprisings and the aggression of the Europeans along parts of the eastern coast, gave the Russians enough reason to resume their advance into regions claimed by the Chinese in the west. The lower reaches of the River Amur (Heilongjiang in Chinese) and Sakhalin Island were tempting prizes for the

Mechthild Leutner and Klaus Mühlhahn, eds, Kolonialkrieg in China. Die Niederschlagung der Boxerbewegung, 1900–1901 (Berlin, 2007). Fairbank, ed., The Cambridge History of China, vol. xii, Part 1, pp. 177–82. Reliable studies estimate that Japan’s acts of warfare and occupation in East and Southeast Asia between 1931 and 1945 caused more than 17 million deaths. In one pointless orgy of violence, for example, the Japanese army alone killed more Philippine civilians in Manila after u.s. troops

also Benjamin A. Elman, On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550–1900 (Cambridge, ma, and London, 2005). 47 Despite all of this pioneering work’s forgivable errors and misjudgments, the multi-volume work by British natural scientist and scientific historian Joseph Needham and his staff and colleagues remains the most impressive document of Chinese achievements in the understanding of nature and technology of the past two millennia and more: Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge,

Wilhelm Mann. Eine Biographie, unpublished manuscript, pers. comm. Kim Taylor, Chinese Medicine in Early Communist China, 1945–1963: A Medicine of Revolution (London and New York, 2005), p. 16. Ibid., p. 120. Unschuld, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, pp. 252– 60. The name ‘Great Leap Forward’ was the term for the second Five Year Plan of the People’s Republic. It was intended to apply from 1958 to 1963 and to align the various levels of economic and social development and ideological

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