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A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World by Rana Mitter

By Rana Mitter

China this day is poised to play a key position at the international level, yet within the early 20th century the placement used to be very diversified. during this strong new examine sleek China, Rana Mitter is going again to a pivotal second in chinese language historical past to discover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to fashionable global.
Mitter identifies may well four, 1919, because the defining second of China's twentieth-century historical past. On that day, outrage over the Paris peace convention prompted an enormous scholar protest that led in flip to "the may possibly Fourth Movement." simply seven years prior to, the 2,000-year-old imperial approach had collapsed. Now a brand new staff of city, modernizing thinkers started to reject Confucianism and conventional tradition quite often as stumbling blocks within the struggle opposed to imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of ladies and the negative. Forward-looking, individualistic, embracing adolescence, this "New tradition movement" made a long-lasting influence at the serious a long time that undefined: the Nineteen Forties, with the warfare opposed to Japan and the civil conflict among the Nationalist get together and the Communists; the Sixties, with the unusual, possible anarchic global of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution; and the Nineteen Eighties, with the increase of a semi-market economic system opposed to the backdrop of endured single-party rule and turning out to be inequality. all through every one of those dramatically diversified eras, the may possibly four issues persevered, from the madness of the Cultural Revolution to the hot romance with space-age technology.
China, Mitter concludes, nonetheless seems looking for a brand new narrative approximately what the rustic is, and what it's going to develop into. and will four is still a touchstone in that seek.

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Therefore, political philosophers over the centuries adapted Confucian thought to make it more compatible with the realities of statecraft, often retaining harsh and coercive laws while using a rhetoric of persuasion and loyalty. However, the basic tenets that underpinned Confucius’s ideas remained engrained in Chinese minds at all levels of society: the imperial family and the poorest farmers alike believed in the importance of family and obligation to one’s parents (hence the dread in Chinese society of dying without any children to cherish one’s memory) and in the importance of maintaining government that was regarded as benevolent and therefore legitimate.

It also reflected continuity with the past: Confucius was forgotten or condemned only by the most radical of that era, while others put the spin of modernity on the venerable sage to help them make sense of the new world. The May Fourth era represented, then, a distinct break from the late Qing empire and the era of the Nationalist government in the s, which was cut short by war. It took place during a period when the world, weary after the Great War, turned its face outward and celebrated internationalism.

Although a countercoup by the Dowager Empress Cixi put an end to the reforms, their legacy lived on into the next century. Yet reformers 21  did not have to wait two decades after  for the May Fourth Movement to turn up to justify their demands for change. After the disaster of the  Boxer War against the imperialist powers, which saw the Qing government defeated and humiliated by having to pay crippling reparations, the dynasty itself realized that it would have to change. 25 Students also studied in Japan in ever-greater numbers, bringing their new-found knowledge back with them.

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