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Political unification and China’s Grand Union ideal

On this site, we’ve come back to the question of secession several times. The news a week ago that Ireland, with less than 1% of the EU’s population, single-handedly derailed the second EU attempt at political centralization (Lisbon Treaty) strikes me as the perfect opportunity to talk about the flip side of the coin: the ideology of unification.

Because let’s face it, unification is an ideology.

The EU prides itself on moving towards unification only through debate, consensus, and democratic decision-making. But increasingly, it finds itself in the impossible position of trying to convince every member state that there is something to be gained, when in many cases, the benefits are uncertain, long-term, or abstract. The EU leaders had high hopes of being written in history books when they signed this and the last treaty. In the aftermath of this episode, however, we have seen ideas seriously floated like ignoring Ireland’s vote, of procedurally maneuvering around it, of making them vote again and again until passed, even of expelling Ireland from the EU! If this isn’t the unification ideology working, I don’t know what is.

To Chinese people, the existence of such ideologically driven motivation seems only natural. Human history is one of successively larger units of cooperative society. Without pre-commitment (generally founded on an ideological faith), there is nothing to guarantee cooperation among actors, no matter what their best intentions are. If you want gains, you have to put your chips in, even as you don’t know what you will get out of it for certain. The only thing to make people realize this is a negative consequence for not participating, which often means war. Chinese thinkers have figured this out thousands of years ago, when they faced the kind of calamitous warfare like the two World Wars that finally drove Europe to embark on its current path…

It can be said that the unification ideology — or more precisely the Da Yi Tong (Grand Union) ideology — is ingrained in Chinese cultural consciousness. It is perhaps the key culture characteristic that makes China, well, China. So when you think you see nationalism or patriotism, there is often something more. Or if you came away from the movie Ying Xiong (Hero) thinking it was “stupid Communist propaganda”, then you missed the point that the cultural (and not merely political) statement predates 1949 by a long shot.

I will translate the first portion of an article that appeared in the Guangming Daily newspaper last month called Grand Union: the conception, its extent, and its historical impact. Whether you think it’s the “right” interpretation of history or not, keep in mind that it is how many Chinese themselves interpret history. (If it’s too long-winded for you, skip to the end for my summary/thoughts):

Abstract: As early as the pre-Qin era, the Grand Union ideology first proposed by Confucius already existed and described an ideal state of a prosperous country and a happy people, and included such components as unification of the domain, honest and enlightened governance, social stability, and economic prosperity — the primary component being unification of the territorial domain of China. The Grand Union ideology that co-developed with the history of China is one that expanded continually whether in ethnographic or geographic scope. Grand Union of the ethnographic sphere includes the ethnic brotherhood in which the majority Han belongs, which we today call the “Chinese nation” (Zhonghua Minzu). Grand Union of the geographic sphere historically referred to the metropolitan territories of the “unified” dynastic empires of Qin, Han, Tang, Yuan, Ming, and Qing, and today refers to all the sovereign territory of China as defined by currently practiced international law. The Grand Union ideology is ingrained in the cultural bloodstream of the Chinese nation, and has for thousands of years influenced how Chinese thought about the fate of their country. It not only pushed forward the development of Chinese history, but is also an important yardstick by which we judge historical figures.

I. The Concept of “Grand Union”

In “Ci Hai” (equivalent of the OED for the Chinese language), the definition for “Da Yi Tong” (Grand Union) is: “Da (Grand): as to indicate importance, value, respect; Yi Tong (Union): referred to all dukes in the land united under the Son of Heaven (Emperor) of the Zhou Dynasty; subsequently refers to the ability of feudal empires to rule over the whole country.” The word “Grand Union” first appeared in “Commentary of Gongyang on the Spring and Autumn Annals”. In his “Spring and Autumn Annals”, Confucius had written that, in recording the enthronement of each Zhou emperor, the notation Wang Zhengyue (lit. the king’s first month, i.e. the dukes follow the new emperor’s calendar) always appeared. The Commentary explains “What is ‘Wang Zhengyue’? It is Grand Union”. Later scholars have expounded on this further, for instance, Dong Zhongshu of early Han Dynasty, the first to systematically interpret Confucian thought, wrote: “The Grand Union of the ‘Spring and Autumn Annals’ is the common law for all lands and the universal value for all times.” The Tang Dynasty scholar Yan Shigu explained further, “Union means the totality of all things is encompassed by a singular entity … Here it means the dukes are ruled by the Son of Heaven, and may not create local monopolies.” From these we can grasp the original meaning of “Grand Union”, which is: the orderly organization of society with the Son of Heaven of Zhou at its core so that China may complete true political unification.

Although the philosophy embodied in the concept of “Grand Union” was developed interpretively by latter-day scholars of the Confucian school, it indeed fits with the intents of Confucius himself. Confucius lived in a time of a weakened Zhou Dynasty, where dukes fought for dominance and wars raged without end. His lifelong ideal was the political unification of China. The Analects contains a few words of his own that even better expresses his thought along this line: “The world has the Way when the rites and military expeditions issue from the Son of Heaven; the world has lost the Way when the rites and military expeditions issue from the dukes.” The meaning of this sentence is very clear: the Son of Heaven should control the decision making power of all major events of the country. The “kingly way” of unification under Heaven that Confucius pursued had its own prior historical background. Although we lack complete historical records, we roughly know that the area in which the Hua-Xia people lived already began coalescing into a unified political entity when the Xia Dynasty was established, and that the Dynasties of Shang and early Zhou extended this arrangement begun by Xia. It was only in late Zhou Dynasty that China gradually sank into divided rule by dukes. But even during this time, “unification” remained a mainstream thought. So we have a famous poem collected by Confucius in his Book of Songs, the first Chinese poetry anthology, which said in part, “Under the broad Heaven, nothing is not kingly soil. On the banks enclosing the soil, nothing is not kingly subject.” Most scholars contemporaneous with Confucius and slightly afterwards all promoted the Union ideology, like Mencius, who succinctly answered a duke’s query about “how all under Heaven will be calmed” with “by One”. Another representative of the Confucian school, Xun Zi, also proposed such views as “all within the four seas as one family” and “unite all under Heaven, utilize all things, nurture the people, derive mutual benefit for all, such that none in the reachable parts of the domain disobey”.

Certainly, the meaning of “Grand Union” is not a simple unification of territory. It has broader implications, including honest and enlightened governance, social stability, and economic prosperity. These can be expressed, respectively, with “has the Way” of Confucius, the “calm” of Mencius, and the “utilize all things” of Xun Zi. The late Warring States period classic “The Book of Guan Zi” summarized the implications of “Grand Union” even further: “The Son of Heaven commands all under Heaven, dukes take commands from the Son of Heaven, officials take commands from the sovereign”; “Use the resources under Heaven to benefit the people under Heaven; use clear display of authority to collect the powers under Heaven; use acceptable virtue in action to endear the dukes; judge all the minds under Heaven as guilty of guile; on account of your authority under Heaven, campaign with all righteousness; attack states that rebel, reward meritorious service, acknowledge sagely advice; with the exemplary action of one, the common people are calmed”. Taiwanese scholar Li Xinlin summarized the relationship between “Grand Union” and “unification”, and said, “The so-called ‘Union’ sees all under Heaven as home, and One World as goal; benevolent governance is the epitome of ‘Union’. Then ‘Union’ has ‘unification’ as complement, for bringing order requires stamping out chaos as the first step. There is a dependence relation … so “unification” is implied by ‘Union’.” We can also say, the concept of “Grand Union” has political unification as its methodology, while “great order under Heaven” is its ultimate goal. Political unification is the necessary condition for realizing the ideal state of “Grand Union”. The structure of unity is advantageous for enhancing economic connections between the various regions of China, for raising the productivity of society and the level of cultural and technological achievement, for promoting social harmony. One only needs to browse history to find that the few well known peaceful and prosperous periods of China’s feudal era, whether it be Han Dynasty’s Wenjing Rule, Tang Dynasty’s Zhenguan Rule and Kaiyuan Prosperity, Ming Dynasty’s Yongxuan Rule, or Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong Prosperity, none occurred without political unification as a premise. These experiences of history mean most Chinese people often broadly equate “Grand Union” with unification of the country.

Looking over the two thousand plus years of history from Qin Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, the lofty ideal state of “Grand Union” (i.e., “great order under Heaven”) actually occupies a rather small number of years. Even the basic condition underlying “Grand Union” (i.e. the state of national unity) did not occur often. In ancient history, China nominally had four periods of great unity: the Qin-Han period, the Western Jin period, the Sui-Tang period, and the Yuan-Ming-Qing period, covering 1422 of the 2132 years of imperial history, or about 66%. But if we deduct the civil warfare and division that always accompanied periods of dynastic succession (about 174 years, or 8%), the times of true unity only account for 1248 years, or 58% of the total imperial era. In other words, China of the feudal era actually spent 42% of its time in a non-unified state. However, the principal meaning of “Grand Union” is not necessarily its existence as an actual state of affairs, but as an ideology that has long influenced the Chinese nation’s thinking on national development. As a “state of affairs” or “institution”, “Grand Union” has been intermittent; as an “ideology”, “Grand Union” has never been suspended or broken. Especially since the time when Wudi (Emperor) of Han Dynasty (156 BCE – 87 BCE) established Confucianism as China’s state ideology, the “Grand Union” thinking first created by Confucius has seeped deeper and deeper into the cultural bloodstream of the Chinese nation, becoming an enduring and significant component of China’s national identity. Since those ancient times, the Chinese people have seen all too many divisions and reunions, so they only treasure the “Grand Union” ideal more and see realizing the political unity of China as the primary pathway for the drive toward a thriving and advanced country.

There are three more parts to this article, which I will not translate in the interest of time and labor, but leave for discussion:

II. The Ethnographic Extent of a “Grand Union” China
III. The Geographic Extent of a “Grand Union” China
IV. Historical Figures under the “Grand Union” Perspective

That isn’t to say there are no contrarian views. There are many — remember that Confucius was persona-non-grata in the liberal circles of 20th century China and especially the early PRC. His graves were even dug out during the Cultural Revolution, although now Confucianism is making a small comeback (blog post for another day). And today, there exists debate about the degree of regionalism vs. centralism in China — especially in developed coastal regions that feel they’d be better off with more devolved power — not to mention the “three separatisms” of Tibet, Xinjiang, and most especially Taiwan. But it isn’t a coincidence that the contrarian views generally draw from Western liberalist philosophy while the unification ideology draws on very Chinese roots. Which is exactly the point that the separatism/unification issue is not just political but also cultural, and so this flip side of the coin deserves to be told and told more.

At the end of the day, unification is still a strong mainstream ideology in China. In two thousand years, the racial composition of China changed (greatly), the rulers changed, but “ancient” China remains as one of the only countries in the world (some argue the only one) that maintain a continuous political-cultural-geographical trinity consciousness all the way back to the dawn of civilization. That gives China its defining meaning. If “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” defines the American ideal (god knows America doesn’t actually want your tired and poor, just the best of the best — Mexico are you listening? Cuba?), then a unified, stable, harmonious, and prosperous China open and accepting of all ethnicities of our big family might as well be China’s ideal.

  1. Anon
    June 23rd, 2008 at 12:25 | #1

    Ahem. Sorry, but this is just too silly. Telelogical propagandistic history at its worst…

  2. June 23rd, 2008 at 13:01 | #2

    One key point to remember in China’s Grand Union ideal is the irrelevance of consent. A ruler’s ability to maintain control is evidence of Heaven’s consent to his rule, and Heaven gets the only vote. That is, might makes right.  Not including Ireland in a new EU, should Ireland reject the treaty while all other countries accepted, would be the only logical choice.

    This is the reason Chinese rulers adopted the Grand Union ideal; it is very flattering way to paint a despotic regime that asks nobody’s permission for anything.

  3. June 23rd, 2008 at 15:12 | #3

    The fact is that Britain and a lot of other countries would have voted no to this treaty had it been put to a referendum – Ireland had a vote only because its constitution required it. Likewise, none of the peoples who make up China’s ‘family’ have ever been asked whether they wanted to be part of it except the Mongolians, who decided that independence was the way to go. Compare Mongolian GDP per capita to that of neighbouring PRC provinces and you can see that independence has hardly been disasterous, and low and behold! Maongolia is also a democracy! One might also ask if Mongolian independence relied on “Western liberalist philosophy” or from a simple calculation on their part that it would be better to be ruled by someone who speaks their language and comes from the same background.

    As for ‘unification’ being an ideology, I would say that it is no more capable of being an ideology than ‘splittism’, ‘terrorism’, or ‘reaction’.

  4. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:17 | #4

    @Nimrod,

    Wonderful translation (much more difficult material than anything I had done), great article, and fascinating topic.

    But if we deduct the civil warfare and division that always accompanied periods of dynastic succession (about 174 years, or 8%), the times of true unity only account for 1248 years, or 58% of the total imperial era.

    That’s a record which Europe would love to emulate. I think there are clear cultural differences that drive all of this; the Irish aren’t unique, they’re descendents of a Judeo-Christian tradition that emphasizes personal communion with God, and has therefore always be suspicious of rule by other men.

    I’ve been poking around on a lot of “minority” forums in China, in addition to the minkaohan one. I’ll put up a blog post in a few days listing all of the sites I’ve found… it’s a great way to get perspective on what it means to be Chinese and to be Han, from those who might be Chinese but are definitely not Han.

    In a popular forum for Chinese Miao (also called Hmong in southeast Asia), they were discussing differences between Han and other races. One key observation that many argued: the Han have no “beliefs”. This is often held up as criticism by Uygurs/Tibetans/Muslims in China, that the Han majority are atheist and money-driven (I’ve seen Kazakhs describe this as being “scary”)… but in the case of this debate, they described it as actually being a plus.

    They describe the Han as having almost no racial consciousness, and being driven by no ideology other than prosperity and stability. They talk about how the Han are, compared to all other races in China, “tolerant”. They point to the fact the Han nation was conquered again and again by non-Han tribes with 1/100th the population. This only became possible because the Han didn’t resist “foreign” dominion, if the dominion provided prosperity and stability, the only ideology that *mattered*. The Miao posters described this as being the Han’s greatest strength, and the primary reason why what we today call the Han coalesced out of thousands of smaller tribes in east Asia to become over a billion people today.

    So, perhaps that’s more or less the core tenet of “Grand Union” ideology? Its raison d’etre?

  5. June 23rd, 2008 at 15:30 | #5

    @Buxi –

    That’s a record which Europe would love to emulate

    I hope you will not be offended if I say that, as a European, I do not in slightest bit envy China’s historical record. European unity is worthwhile only if it is acheived through consent – otherwise it is nothing but a way of scamming the people of Europe into dictatorship.

  6. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:37 | #6

    @FOARP,

    You’re speaking as an intellectual after 60 years of European peace. You’re entitled to your opinion, but they are only yours.

    I was speaking more broadly of “Europeans” throughout history (which is convenient because, since they’re all dead, you can’t prove me wrong!). I believe French and English peasants would’ve settled for Chinese-style peace, stability, and prosperity by around year 99 of the 100 year war. That’s not to say a wholesale emulation of China… you have your history and we have ours, and I don’t think many people on this planet are ready to discard their history (cultural revolution aside).

    But in this aspect, historically speaking, the Chinese have the advantage.

  7. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:41 | #7

    The Miao posters described this as being the Han’s greatest strength, and the primary reason why what we today call the Han coalesced out of thousands of smaller tribes in east Asia to become over a billion people today.

    Oh, I just remembered something else the Miao posters said. They were talking about a different internet forum discussion they had read, in which a Tibetan asked rhetorically: “How would you like it if one of us became your rulers?” And apparently, the Han responses were basically: “Sure, as long as you’re qualified, we have no problems with that”… a great surprise for the Tibetans and other minorities who are less “tolerant”.

    I think the vast, vast majority of Chinese feel that way.

    If anyone is interested, I’ll try to drag up that thread and translate it in full. But it’s basically what I said above.

  8. CLC
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:47 | #8

    Maongolia is also a democracy!

    I have a colleague who is from Mongolia. She always shakes her head whenever we talk about her country’s democracy. Iraq is also a democracy, but it isn’t doing so great. In any case, It was communist Russia that helped Mongolia gain independence.

  9. June 23rd, 2008 at 15:53 | #9

    @Buxi – Strangely enough, the question of whether it is preferable to have European unity under a dictatorship or freedom in disunity is actually one that has been put to the European people on more than one occasion.

  10. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:53 | #10

    CLC,

    Oh right, forgot about Mongolia.

    Compare Mongolian GDP per capita to that of neighbouring PRC provinces and you can see that independence has hardly been disasterous, and low and behold!

    Mongolia’s GDP is lower than that of Inner Mongolia as of 2005 or 2006, and the difference is widening quickly.

  11. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 15:57 | #11

    @Buxi – Strangely enough, the question of whether it is preferable to have European unity under a dictatorship or freedom in disunity is actually one that has been put to the European people on more than one occasion.

    Of course. We’re not disagreeing here. Every time there’s a Charlemagne or Napolean, many Europeans rise up in opposition to “tyranny”; this is more or less the tradition that the Irish are voting under. As I said, there’s a huge cultural difference between east and west, and this is the clearest example.

    I’m not at all suggesting the Europeans wish they could be Chinese but have failed. I’m saying that the Chinese have a better historical record in terms of maintaining peace and stability, and we look forward to preserving that. The Europeans have a better historical record of “resisting tyranny” (which unfortunately comes at the expense of peace and stability).

  12. June 23rd, 2008 at 16:05 | #12

    @Buxi – And Gansu?

  13. yo
    June 23rd, 2008 at 16:09 | #13

    I don’t think we should be making generalized statements in regards to the continent of Europe. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

    Nimrod,
    I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get past the first two paragraphs so I’ll take your word on the summary. Irregardless, good work translating, it must be mind numbing to do it.

  14. Nimrod
    June 23rd, 2008 at 17:04 | #14

    To lead the discussion a little bit, let me first say that for the most part, people all over the world share some core values, so the differences are not so overwhelming that we can’t understand each other. You just need to put aside your own ingrained culture and try. There is a lot of cultural background to how our societies developed, and why our outlooks differ in important ways. Anon dismisses this as “telological [sic] propagandistic history”. Okay. I guess he should also consider it teleological propagandistic history when Westerners tunnel through the thousand years of feudalism to Athenian democracy and Mesopotamian law tablets to explain modern European history? I just don’t think this kind of attitude is very helpful.

    The second thing I want to emphasize is that the “Grand Union” ideology is a philosophy first. Fine, it may have served and still serve a political purpose, but that’s beside the point. As the article explains and as Buxi nicely put, it is more about what Chinese want out of life. Philosophers from the pre-Qin times have simply analyzed that and put it in books — none of them pulled it out of thin air, they all got it from the cultural settings of their own times. If they lived in times when all they knew were warlords, kings, and emperors, then they wrote about society using those as backdrops and examples. Again, they are examples. Don’t get hung up on “dictatorship” (FOARP). That part isn’t the prescription of “Grand Union”. Stability and prosperity through unity is. If that can actually be achieved best with a Western liberal democracy in today’s China, Chinese people would be the first to jump on it.

  15. Nimrod
    June 23rd, 2008 at 17:45 | #15

    A-gu,

    I’m sure the emperors of ancient China did like to think they had legitimacy, and were flattered by any philosophy that gave them that legitimacy. But I disagree that the so-called “mandate of heaven” equates to “might makes right” and involves no consent. It is also absolutely not divine monarchy. This is one of the greatest Western misinterpretations of Chinese philosophers of the era.

    Unlike divine monarchy, which says the right to rule derives from God and not from any subjects or aristocracy, Chinese philosophers held, in very Confucian fashion, that the rule must be benevolent and mutually beneficial such that the subjects and ducal powers naturally obey and therefore consent to rule. The head of state actually has sweeping responsibilities in this model beyond preserving his own rule (somewhat parent-like). This is perhaps post-consent, or contractual consent, not pre-consent like that understood in the democratic sense, but still consent. The mandate, if you want to call it that, is just symbolism. How you get it and maintain it is the key.

    Of course the philosophy is subject to abuse, like any other. Might makes right has been a fact of life for aggressive entities the world over, but is not something that Chinese philosophers particularly advocated. If anything, the European Machiavelli comes closer to that, although even he doesn’t quite advocate something so absolute.

    ::

    On Ireland: If you read the article, expulsion from the EU is a threat to compel acceptance, like the stick in the carrot-and-stick combination, not some democractic mechanism. In general, I’m quite curious how the European unification experiment will pan out. Any Europeans want to chime in?

  16. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 18:47 | #16

    In general, I’m quite curious how the European unification experiment will pan out. Any Europeans want to chime in?

    Nimrod and/or others,

    I’m not really very informed on what the ultimate goals of the EU experiment are. I just knew there were pragmatic moves that make things “better”, without knowing where the ultimate destination would be.

    Is there actually an activist movement in Europe that eventually hopes to see a pan-European state? Is the European Parliament expected to hold real power? Will there ever be a European executive branch? Will the European state be able to redistribute wealth between different European nations?

  17. Nimrod
    June 23rd, 2008 at 19:00 | #17

    Buxi,

    There is a link in the main post on this, and also at the EU website: europa.eu
    For example, here is Europe in 12 lessons which answers your questions. I know there are more “Eurosceptics” in the British Isles than on the Continent (island frog joke, anyone?), but for those who do believe in the EU, it is quite intriguing to see them make all the arguments that Chinese people have long made. Observe the first four reasons for “why the European Union”:

    – provide peace, prosperity and stability for its peoples;
    – overcome the divisions on the continent;
    – ensure that its people can live in safety;
    – promote balanced economic and social development;

  18. Jing
    June 23rd, 2008 at 19:08 | #18

    Im surprised that all the discussion on “Unionist” philosophy has focused on Confucianists. They may have advocated a united China, but it was men of a different stripe that carried it out. Politican unification as we know it in China owes much more to Shang Yang and Han Fei than they do to Confucius and Mencius.

  19. June 23rd, 2008 at 19:49 | #19

    @Nimrod – I’m sure the EU are in favour of free beer for everyone also – there just isn’t a majority in any of the major EU countries (or even a significant minority) who want to see a single European superstate any time soon. I’m curious – what is the island frog joke?

    There is already a European executive embodied in the Council of Ministers. The European parliament is supposed to be there to play an advisory role and in an increasing number of areas is supposed to ‘co-decide’ on EU legislation with the Council of Ministers, but since no-one follows its workings there is little pressure on them to deliver. The European Union already does redistribute wealth from rich countries to poor ones – Ireland and Spain owe much of their current prosperity to their membership of the EU. Problems have occured as a result of the eastern expansion as areas that were once considered poor in comparison to the European average (e.g., French farmers) are much richer than their eastern European cousins, however western European governments are unwilling to give up the subsidies that they received in the past. The main activists (in public) for the creation of a European Superstate are mainly members of the Brussels set like Giscard d’Estaing, however other politicians (like Tony Blair for example) are widely considered to be private enthusiasts.

  20. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 20:15 | #20

    @Nimrod,

    Very interesting. My ignorance is dissipating. Seems to me just Lesson 1 from the EU experience is enough of a response to anyone that asks… why does China care about unification anyways?

    It seems to me there’s much that we can learn from the EU model. The EU, for example, dictates that all European citizens have the right to work and live anywhere else in Europe. It also dictates that all European citizens have the right to stand in local elections. It does this while still making the point that it believes it can preserve the unique aspects of their constituent cultures. Applying a similar model to Tibet would alleviate my concerns about “autonomy” there.

    @FOARP,

    What’s the mechanism for wealth transfer? Is it just the removal of trade tariffs through the common market, or is there *actual* redistribution of wealth? Is there (or will there be) a common continental tax scale? It’ll be very interesting to see if the EU succeeds.

  21. June 23rd, 2008 at 21:19 | #21

    Yes, my understanding of the Mandate of Heaven was not so much a means to legitimize a government but to explain why it would fall. Why would any government fall? If it is benevolent, seeks to protect the people, and follow the rituals (not really sure what this all entails), why would it fall? Once a government fails in governing well and allows the various factions to fracture it, why would it continue to have the Mandate of Heaven? Once it has fallen, you say it has lost the Mandate of Heaven.

    In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t grasp the concept of the “Grand Union” for Chinese hasn’t made the first step in understanding Chinese history, culture, etc. At least as far as the Han go. The current government isn’t the inventor of the concept at all. Because of the Grand Union, I fully expect that eventually Taiwan will eventually rejoin the Mainland in some way.

    I’m not so convinced that the Grand Union is as embraced by non-Han.

    And it isn’t fair to compare European history to Chinese history in this area. Confucius was wandering from state to state some 500 years BC. What was happening in Europe during that time? Unity in language, culture, etc? Perhaps under the Roman sword…

    Today, my feeling is that a sort of Grand Unity in Europe would be difficult to achieve and harder to maintain. The impetus seems to be unity against some outside economic force – The Americas on one side, Asia on another, and China on another side. The unity doesn’t come from a feeling of a cultural bond between say the Irish and the French or Greeks. In other words, the unity lacks the cement of history/culture. It is more like making a brick out of pressed sand.

    In contrast, my feeling is that the Han look at all Chinese as part of the larger family. Any member that is pulled away is still part of the larger family. Anyone who is not Chinese is not expected to understand this. Han born outside of China are expected to inherently understand this.

  22. JL
    June 23rd, 2008 at 21:59 | #22

    I have been curious about Datong ever since I first encountered it, partly because in some way the kind of society Kongzi seemed to be describing struck me as quite… un-Confucian. He suggests that in the Datong nobody cared about their own family, and instead children were raised by the community -to the extent that people didn’t even know (pay special attention to) their fathers and children. Is it not the case that Datong is more like a Chinese Garden of Eden, a past state of innocence with quite different moral standards that what people were prescribing for their present day? Interestingly, the post Datong society (the opposite of Datong, really) was called Xiaokang 小康 by Confucians, the definition of which modern rulers have changed a little and adopted as a label for the kind of economy and society they are trying to build.

    Regarding Europe, I don’t think anyone is seriously discussing a pan-European state at this point. But Pan-Europeanism has been espoused as an ideology for as long as Chinese unity. In fact, you could argue that Europe was at its least united at the beginning of the 20th Century. In the medieval period, the great force for unity was, of course, not a state structure, but the Catholic Church, which possessed real social, economic and political power -it was called the Universal Church -and if unification-ism is regarded as an ideology, then the medieval church is as good an example as Confucianist Chinese state builders are.

  23. yo
    June 23rd, 2008 at 22:03 | #23

    MutantJedi,
    I totally agree with your views about the motivation of starting the EU. If it unifies, they will be an economic force to be reckoned with.

    Nimrod,
    Thanks for the “mandate of heaven” refresher course, I totally forgot about the whole implicit contract thing. I am surprised to hear Confucianism is making some sort of come back, I’m curious about the context.

  24. June 23rd, 2008 at 22:35 | #24

    @Buxi – Wealth is redistributed through EU projects and agricultural subsidies, I hear that if you go to Spain half the roads and bridges you see have signs on them saying that they were built with EU money. The EU’s income comes from trade tariffs (extra-EU that is), so the expense of EU falls disproportionately on a certain European island nation which trades a lot with countries outside the EU that you might have heard of.

    As to whether the EU will be successful – that relies a lot on whether a constitution can be drawn up that satisfies every country in the EU, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of mainland Europe decided something and left the UK out of it.

  25. Buxi
    June 23rd, 2008 at 23:15 | #25

    @FOARP,

    I’m obviously guilty of a little tunnel vision myself… despite the fact, mentioned earlier, that I toured Spain/Italy/France just two summers ago, I really knew little about the EU. All very interesting. For what its worth, I think the movement makes sound economic, political, and social sense. And if the EU is also continuing in this path, then China must maintain what we’ve already achieved.

    So that’s my next question. If EU is indeed trying to forge a continental identity similar to what China has done (and I do believe zhonghua minzu can be related to being “European citizen”)… then how will EU deal with eventual separatism? And how does this movement affect European opinions on separatism in the case of China?

    On reading about the European constitution from its critics, interesting to read that in every country other than Ireland, approval has been taken out of the hands of the electorate (via referendum) and placed into that of parliament. If Europeans are proud of the EU’s formation through democratic mechanisms (as opposed to China’s unification under Qin Shihuang’s sword), then how do they defend the rejection of referendum?

  26. June 23rd, 2008 at 23:43 | #26

    “how will EU deal with eventual separatism”

    This is problem #1 – and there is no real answer.

    “then how do they defend the rejection of referendum?”

    The same way as with the French and Dutch rejection of the constitution – by ignoring it and trying to arm-twist the Irish behind the scenes. The ‘democratic deficit’ is a real phenomenon – it is humiliating that Gordon Brown has signed us up for it without even giving anyone a choice in the matter and I am glad that the Irish have thrown a spanner in the works . Really this is how the EU has operated since Maastricht at least – the majority of EU citizens are unhappy with it, but can be made to vote in favour of a vague ‘EU prosperity’.

    As for the idea of ‘EU citizens’, I think it is great that I can use my UK passport to travel to any EU country, I love travelling to the continent, but there is no way I would willing sacrifice democratic government for it.

  27. Leo
    June 24th, 2008 at 01:24 | #27

    Britain is always an odd part of EU. It is not in the Schengen Pact, not in the Euro zone, and its foreign policy is closer to the other side of the Big Pond. A lot of continental Europeans consider Britain a mole of Uncle Sam.

  28. Lime
    June 24th, 2008 at 03:00 | #28

    I’m not convinced that this idea of ‘Grand Union’ is at all unique to China. When you compare the desire for a united China against the desire for a united Europe among those regions’ respective populations, the desire for a united China wins hands down. But this is because China is perceived as the legitimate social unit that should be bound together politically at the highest level by most of its people, whereas, with Europeans, opinion is mixed as to whether Europe should serve as that same kind of social unit, not necessarily because the Chinese have some sort of stability and unity trumping freedom and disunity ideology that is lacking in Europeans. The whole individual freedom ideology is not something that has ever had equal strength across Europe. It has always been much stronger in Northern Europe, and in Britain in particular. Many nations of Europe have spent most of their history under tyrannies just as despotic as any of China’s various regimes.

    Individual Europeans are not now, and not historically, lacking in desire to be part of nations. It’s just that it is more often what they see as their own nation (meaning Ireland, England, Britain, Romania, Florence, Spain, etc.) rather than some kind of Pan-European Empire. Look at Germany; its people weren’t totally apathetic about reuniting when the Berlin Wall fell, were they? And there is something that still seems to be keeping the English, Scots, and Welsh bound in a united Britain (and unlike the PRC, it’s not force or even the threat of force). You can find many equivalents of Qin Shihuang the Unifier or Reunifier in Europe; Isabel and Ferdinand, King Arthur, Joan d’Arc, William of Orange and so on. The Napoleonic Empire, the Third Reich, or the European Union may not have been every individual European’s choice for their Grand Union, but this didn’t mean they didn’t have one.

    @Buxi (CCT, I presume)
    I see you’re doing some of your own blogging now. This is fairly recent I take it? I haven’t had much chance to read many of the articles, but the ones I’ve looked through look pretty good. As much as I like the Peking Duck, it sometimes gets a bit emotional for me. I’m especially looking forward to reading your latest assault on the Dalai Lama.

    @Nimrod
    Thanks for the interesting article and discussion.

  29. Nimrod
    June 24th, 2008 at 04:19 | #29

    MutantJedi,

    Ritual (礼) is just a formalized set of expected behavior. For instance, tipping in the US can be considered a ritual.

    JL,

    I think you’re slightly confusing Da Tong (大同) with Da Yi Tong (大一统). But yes, Datong was the golden age utopia that supposedly existed. It’s not really opposite of Confucian, just different. The idea is, utopia is best because people behaved well out of nature, ritualism is second best where people were trained/shamed into behaving well, and legalism is the last resort where people behaved well purely out of fear of punishment. Confucius thought it was hopeless to get utopia back and the best you could do is build a Xiao Kang society based on ritualism.

  30. NZer
    June 24th, 2008 at 04:36 | #30

    Buxi said:
    “Oh, I just remembered something else the Miao posters said. They were talking about a different internet forum discussion they had read, in which a Tibetan asked rhetorically: “How would you like it if one of us became your rulers?” And apparently, the Han responses were basically: “Sure, as long as you’re qualified, we have no problems with that”… a great surprise for the Tibetans and other minorities who are less “tolerant”.

    I think the vast, vast majority of Chinese feel that way.”

    That wasn’t my experience when touring Xinjiang. Admittedly I was only there for a few weeks and can’t claim any special expertise or knowledge. However, my conversations with Han (mostly taxi drivers, guides and so on – we’re not talking political philosophers) mostly reiterated the theme that Uigurs were disqualified from holding positions of real authority based on their minority status. The idea was that China is a Han country and Han must run it – even the non-Han parts.

  31. S.K. Cheung
    June 24th, 2008 at 05:21 | #31

    “The idea was that China is a Han country and Han must run it – even the non-Han parts” – if that is the case, what kind of “autonomy” is left to offer to places like Tibet. If China won’t allow separation, and doesn’t give minorities much in the way of autonomy either, then boy, doesn’t leave much breathing room for minorities.

    I think any forced unification is doomed to eventual separation…kinda like arranged marriages. You guys are the experts on Chinese history, so I’m sure you can tell me if the creation of Chinese cultural heritage was entirely voluntary or not.

  32. Nimrod
    June 24th, 2008 at 05:40 | #32

    NZer,

    There are certainly prejudiced people out there, but what did you actually ask and what was actually said, if you recall? Because “disqualified … based on their minority status.” could be an observation, a prediction, or a claim, each of which would have a different meaning. Which was it? You also write “The idea was … Han must run it.” Is it your idea or their idea?

    S.K. Cheung,

    I don’t think force has much to do with eventual separation. Plenty of arranged marriages work and plenty of free marriages fail. Same goes for states. What determines the outcome of a union is whether the participants believe in it or can find something in it. Also you can’t “create” cultural heritage because it develops organically. Force may hasten the process though (both success and failure).

  33. kailing
    June 24th, 2008 at 07:38 | #33

    About inner Mongolia and Mongolia’s development, that’s true, and that is the only “good” point that Chinese Mongolians have when considering keeping themselves under China’s sovereignty… but… they resent what they feel as exploitation of their resources, too much control from political cadres, and the feeling that … yes, we are better-off than Mongolians, but mostly the Han inner Mongolians. At least this was what ethnic Mongolians shared with me. I see this unity, as China’s history shows, feeble. China has been dividing, expanding and contracting throughout their history, it is a “nation of nations”, and it may be difficult to find 2 consecutive dynasties with a similar territory, may be the last one Qing-ROC-PRC is the only one.

  34. JL
    June 24th, 2008 at 10:10 | #34

    Nimrod,

    Thanks, I had assumed that Da Yi Tong was another term for 大同.
    大一统 is new to me, as a Confucian concept. I’ll try to do a bit more reading.

  35. Buxi
    June 24th, 2008 at 16:52 | #35

    @kailing,

    As far as exploitation of resources, many “old Xinjiang” Han have also complained about similar things. In other words, it’s no longer a racial thing, it’s a regional thing. The same kind of complaints can be heard in every corner of China.

    I now have two cousins married to ethnic Mongolians. One actually from Inner Mongolia, the other is just a Mongolian “in name”. I don’t believe for a second that there’s any potential for an independent Mongolian movement, any more than there’s potential for an independent Manchu movement. The concept of a distinct Mongolian nation within China is really not realistic (no matter how much the United States government invests in making it realistic), and the Mongolians on Chinese forums will tell you the same.

    I think technology has really made “grand union” easier. Look at the European Union… with easier travel, easier communication, integration has become easier, not more difficult. As long as the majority of Chinese subscribe to this ideology, I don’t see it failing.

    @Lime,

    Individual Europeans are not now, and not historically, lacking in desire to be part of nations. It’s just that it is more often what they see as their own nation (meaning Ireland, England, Britain, Romania, Florence, Spain, etc.) rather than some kind of Pan-European Empire.

    Right, I think we understand that, but the difference in priority is precisely the point.

    For a thousand years, what we now call Han Chinese were basically willing to accept even foreign occupation in order to achieve “grand union”. That’s a fundamental philosophical difference, that’s the “tolerance” that the Miao were talking about – see comment #6/#7 above.

  36. Nimrod
    June 24th, 2008 at 17:36 | #36

    Well, I wouldn’t say it was a proactive acceptance of foreign invasion or occupation. Certainly, past Chinese states, so long as they were legitimate (正统), didn’t lay down and accept invasion by whomever. But when the foreign rule took on Chinese characteristics as they inevitably did, they were then conferred legitimacy on that basis and were no longer foreign. Race was not a large part of this determination, if at all.

    This may sound strange, but one should keep in mind that the contrast between “nation” and “foreign” is an 19th century European invention. Much of Europe (except Germany and Italy) took feudal domains and turned them into nation states, so these concept made sense. But China took feudal domains and merged them into a single world domain, “all under Heaven” (to people in East Asia, it was the whole world for all practical purposes). People of different regions of China still had local identities (what would be the national identities of Europeans), but they also had a strong supernational secular identity. That did not exist in Europe and probably still doesn’t to the same degree.

    Most supernational entities like the UK and some Continental empires were made by personal unions of royalty, on an ad hoc basis, so they never became a fixture. The most “unionist” in action seemed to be the German kingdoms. In fact, I’d say the loose Holy Roman Empire was at the stage of Zhou Dynasty, and the 19th century European alliances and the German Confederation experience were at the stages of Warring States and pre-unification.

  37. Lime
    June 24th, 2008 at 23:23 | #37

    @Nimrod & Buxi
    My reading of Chinese history may be flawed, but I never got the impression that China was ever perceived as the whole world, in spite of the ‘all under heaven’ phrase. It was the center of the world and the most important part of it, but there was an understanding that there were other nations beyond the Middle Kingdom’s borders, albeit ones that were or should have been submissive to the Chinese throne.

    I got take issue with your “Most supernational entities like the UK and some Continental empires were made by personal unions of royalty, on an ad hoc basis, so they never became a fixture” statement too. I’m assuming that in describing the UK as a supernational entity you’re talking about the union between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, rather than the larger English or British Empires? Well Wales was conquered in 1284 for by the English and was legally united with England in 1536. Scotland and England were ruled by the same monarch since 1603 when James the I of England (IV of Scotland) was offered the English throne and their parliaments were united by the Act of Union in 1707. I think we can safely say it’s a fixture now.

    But your regional vs national vs supernational division seems pretty arbitrary. Why do we have to see someone’s Shanxi identity as a ‘national’ identity, and his Chinese identity as a ‘supernational’ identity, where with an Englishman we see Cornish as his ‘regional’ identity and English as his ‘national’ identity, and British and/or European as potential ‘supernational’ identities? It seems to me that it would be just as easy to say that a supernational identity is something that may (or may not) be developing in Europe and something that China has never had.

    “Oh, I just remembered something else the Miao posters said. They were talking about a different internet forum discussion they had read, in which a Tibetan asked rhetorically: “How would you like it if one of us became your rulers?” And apparently, the Han responses were basically: “Sure, as long as you’re qualified, we have no problems with that”… a great surprise for the Tibetans and other minorities who are less “tolerant”.”

    As you say, the Chinese have historically been willing to absorb many minorities, and even let some of the ones that would have been a pain to resist become the the rulers of some or all of China. But, with the notable exception of the Japanese, they almost all joined China on China’s own terms, meaning that even as the rulers of the China, the minorities had to conform to Chinese ideas of society and governance. I’m sure you’d have no problem with a government of China led by Tibetans, provided they governed in the manner of the current government, but how would you feel if they governed it in a more traditionally Tibetan matter; choosing the reincarnations of infallible bodhisattvas for government posts and staffing the civil service (or what remained of it) with monks? The European Union is a whole different kettle fish as there is no one nation (region?) that is or could demand that their institutions become the standard for all.

    Finally, the willingness to accept occupation in order to achieve the ‘Grand Union’ is not exclusive to China. The one European example that comes to mind is the House of Normandy’s conquest of England. William the Conqueror was a French speaking Norman who took England by force in 1066 and whose house ruled it for about 60 years afterwards.

  38. may
    June 25th, 2008 at 03:10 | #38

    To Buxi: I am your fan :). I followed you from The Peking Duck to here. Do you know this Chinese blog? They have some great discussions there. And recently they introduced one your artiles here.

    here is the link
    http://david.pengfamily.net/

  39. Buxi
    June 25th, 2008 at 05:29 | #39

    @May,

    Yes, I saw the links from his blog earlier… thanks much! This blog is really a collaborative effort, I’m happy to say, and this very interesting article is written by Nimrod. I hope you stay around and help keep things interesting and informed.

    @S.K.Cheung,

    The fact that there are 1 billion+ Han in the world today should give you some hint that sometimes, just sometimes, forced marriages actually do work out.

  40. S.K. Cheung
    June 25th, 2008 at 06:17 | #40

    Well, if the evaluation of a forced marriage is a binary worked-out/not work out, then on a coin flip you should get 50% success. Hopefully, some of these arrangements even resulted in some happiness among the participants, to account for the fact that divorce rates I presume are <<50% in China. But I’m not sure procreation = a marriage that has worked out; just means that physiology has. I prefer one where the participants had some input, be it marriage, or unification.

  41. NZer
    June 25th, 2008 at 06:48 | #41

    Nimrod said to me: “There are certainly prejudiced people out there, but what did you actually ask and what was actually said, if you recall? Because “disqualified … based on their minority status.” could be an observation, a prediction, or a claim, each of which would have a different meaning. Which was it? You also write “The idea was … Han must run it.” Is it your idea or their idea?”

    I must have have covered the issue with a dozen or so taxi drivers during a few weeks spent in Xinjiang. I didn’t take transcripts of all the conversations so I’m not going to get into what was an ‘observation’ versus a ‘prediction’ versus a ‘claim’. I just summarized what was said. I don’t mean ‘my idea of what was said’. I mean ‘what was said’.

    If you prefer not to believe me that’s fine. Lots of people on the Internet talk a load of shit so I can understand that. If you travel round Xinjiang sometime and chat to people you will get your own sense of attitudes there, and that’s more useful than either accepting what I say or questioning it.

  42. Nimrod
    June 25th, 2008 at 07:10 | #42

    NZer,

    Why take umbrage? It’s not about believing you or not, but about finding out what you are actually saying. It wasn’t clear. If it’s just your personal opinion, then there is no more we need to extract from that comment. But if you put it like you are transmitting what Xinjiang residents are saying, I want to know what they said: was it a plain observation about current state of affairs, was it a personal declaration of prejudice or boast, was it a candid prediction about future Chinese society? What was it? Help us understand by also letting us know how you brought up the conversation.

    Look, if you do want to say something useful, then say it.

  43. NZer
    June 25th, 2008 at 11:20 | #43

    Nimrod, I thought I already made it very clear that it was not MY personal opinion. I am talking about the opinions of HAN residents of Xinjiang (not me).

    How did I bring the matter up? I just chatted about this and that. Asked how Uigurs and Han got on. Asked if there were many intermarriages. Asked if Uigur kids took Mandarin classes. Asked if Han kids took Uigur classes. Asked if the driver spoke Uigur. Could he understand but not speak. Did he have Uigur friends. Did Uigur men ever go to KTVs and drink? Was the religion just for show. Would a Uigur eat in a restaurant that served pork? What did he think of Uigur women – hot or not? Were there many fights between Uigur and Han taxi drivers – picking up customers and such? (Actually a bit of a dick-head Uigur taxi driver nearly attacked some Chinese in a fight about my business and they paid him off) Did they belong to the same taxi unions or were is always separate companies? What happened in Yili with the Han-Uigur violence a few years back? Why had I been stopped by plain clothes policemen and questioned? Where there lots of plain clothes policemen in Xinjiang? Did they ever get stopped? With all the police around was everything well under control? Did Uigur terrorists really exist? Did the Uigur clerics get involved in politics? Where the Hui sympathetic to Uigurs because of a common religion? Did the city have a Uigur mayor? Would it be OK to have a Uigur mayor? Wouldn’t having more Uigurs in senior positions in government maybe help avoid the type of Uigur terrorism/uprising the state was so concerned about? What about Khazaks and other minorities? Relations with them? Blah blah blah. .. . . I just asked a ton of questions – to the talkative taxi drivers anyway. Sometimes I was hiring the same guy to drive me around all day long so there was plenty of time to chat and build up a bit of a rapport. Lots were nice guys, but generally there seemed to be a bit of tension in the whole Uigur-Han thing, and with the sense that Han control was necessary to keep things running OK.

    I didn’t speak with Uigurs themselves in as much depth because mostly their Chinese wasn’t great so it was hard to communicate. Overall they seemed to be more anti-Chinese than the Chinese were anti-Uigur, but then they clearly felt very much on the defensive (the most commonly expressed fears that their language was dying out – odd to me since few could speak good Chinese). I only met the occasional Uigur with fluent Chinese, and their views were interesting in that they were simultaneously anti-Chinese (passionately so) and anti-Japanese (the product of the education system so far as I could see).

    Now is that ‘useful’?

    I have to say that you accusing me of not saying anything ‘useful’ (essentially because you don’t like what I’m saying) is a bit tiresome.

  44. June 25th, 2008 at 11:54 | #44

    @SK Cheung – Actually, divorce rates in the under 35s in China are little different to those in the west.

  45. Buxi
    June 25th, 2008 at 15:22 | #45

    @FOARP,

    I don’t know where you pulled those numbers from, but they don’t seem realistic to me. A quick google search tells me in 2007, 9.5 million couples married and 1.4 million couples divorced. Keeping in mind that the vast majority of marriages would’ve been amongst the population of those under 35, while divorcing couples are at best equally likely in any age range… it suggests to me the divorce rate for those under 35 is well under 10%.

    Pretty different from most countries in the West.

    @S.K.Cheung,

    Sigh, sometimes I wonder whether you’re being intentionally difficult.

    The fact that there are 1.3 billion Han doesn’t indicate tremendous physical breeding capability. As discussed in the “race complex” thread, the vast majority of what we call Han today have very different tribal/ethnic backgrounds. Even the original zhongyuan/central plains Han were divided into numerous kingdoms, as our history tells us. But there are 1 billion people who self-identify as Han and Chinese primarily because forced political “marriages”, starting in the era of Qin Shihuang, have been very effective and lasting.

  46. Buxi
    June 25th, 2008 at 15:29 | #46

    @NZer,

    You have quite a touchy attitude, considering the fact you don’t seem willing or interested in substantiating or adding much context or color to your rather controversial statement. Although the majority of us don’t intuitively agree with the assertion that you made, we’re open-minded enough to give your words fair consideration, and even change our own views in response.

    In other words, don’t take it personally, but expect to be challenged.

    In your previous post, you stated unequivocally that Han drivers in Xinjiang told you explicitly and repeatedly that China is a “Han country” and that “Han must run it”. Your second description seems more nuanced:

    generally there seemed to be a bit of tension in the whole Uigur-Han thing, and with the sense that Han control was necessary to keep things running OK.

    It seems to me a reiterated statement has been downgraded to “a sense”?

    There’s clearly tension out there, some of which is discussed in my previous thread. By the way, that’s a forum for all of the Chinese-speaking Uygurs you didn’t have a chance to meet in person.

    As someone else mentioned above. Wuer Kaixi, the Uygur student leader of the 89 student protests, didn’t face any questions about his race. And that’s the China that the vast majority of us recognize and support, not the one in which “China is a Han country”.

  47. June 25th, 2008 at 15:46 | #47

    @Buxi – Ooops – it seems I was fooled by the pre-2005 stats, which gave China a divorce rate close to that of the US:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6302357.stm

    Still – I would be willing to bet that the figures for the urban population are much higher than the national average.

  48. NZer
    June 25th, 2008 at 23:13 | #48

    @Buxi

    Buxi said: “You have quite a touchy attitude, considering the fact you don’t seem willing or interested in substantiating or adding much context or color to your rather controversial statement.”

    Reply: I don’t think the statement would be considered very controversial by somebody who has spent time in Xinjiang. What do you want me to do to back it up? Write a thesis? I went to Xinjiang as a tourist. Not a researcher. What do you actually want from me?

    Buxi said: “Although the majority of us don’t intuitively agree with the assertion that you made, we’re open-minded enough to give your words fair consideration, and even change our own views in response.”

    Reply: Not that open minded. . I’m getting demands that I say something ‘useful’, ‘back up my statements’ etc. My statements are just summaries of my experiences. I can’t make it into academic research.

    The usual story with you guys seems to be that when you hear something you don’t like you get to attacking the messenger.

    Buxi said: “In your previous post, you stated unequivocally that Han drivers in Xinjiang told you explicitly and repeatedly that China is a “Han country” and that “Han must run it”. Your second description seems more nuanced:

    generally there seemed to be a bit of tension in the whole Uigur-Han thing, and with the sense that Han control was necessary to keep things running OK.

    It seems to me a reiterated statement has been downgraded to “a sense”?”

    Reply: One driver said precisely those words “China is a Han country and Han must run it”. Exactly those words. Many others ended up repeating the same idea in different forms.

    I am summarizing numerous conversations. I am not downgrading my original statement into ‘a sense’ – you’re absolutely incorrect there.

    I haven’t even bothered with repeating some of the nastier stuff some individuals told me. I’ve stuck to the bits that seemed representative of wider views (i.e. the stuff that numerous people repeated in one form or another). Apologies for not transcribing everything and having it published by a prestigious academic journal before presenting it here.

    Buxi said: “There’s clearly tension out there, some of which is discussed in my previous thread.”

    Absolutely.

    OK, my work in this thread is done. Time to hang out in the coffee room and scoff doughnuts with my CIA coworkers.

  49. Nimrod
    June 26th, 2008 at 00:27 | #49

    NZer,

    For what it’s worth, your #43 response was useful, so thanks for it. The rest of them, not so much. I think we all see why, so next time try to not see antagonism in everything. This is a place for exchange. All right, let’s not dwell on this.

  50. S.K. Cheung
    June 26th, 2008 at 05:52 | #50

    To Buxi:
    no wonder you find me frustrating, since you seem keen to move the goalposts of the discussion all the time. My initial reference to marriage was an “arranged” marriage, in comparison to the forced-unification theme; hence my follow-up comments about divorce and child-bearing. I wasn’t referring to “forced political marriages”, whatever that is.
    Besides, are there 1.3B Han, or 1.3B PRC citizens?

  51. Buxi
    June 26th, 2008 at 06:02 | #51

    S.K.Cheung,

    Sometimes we do talk across each other, don’t we. But I think in this case I understood you correctly. Here’s what you said before:

    I think any forced unification is doomed to eventual separation…kinda like arranged marriages. You guys are the experts on Chinese history, so I’m sure you can tell me if the creation of Chinese cultural heritage was entirely voluntary or not.

    The creation of Chinese cultural heritage was definitely not voluntary… it was mostly done by conquest, and then conquest again when the empire split apart time and time again. (It’s a fundamental law of physics; human society has entropy, too.) This is the forced marriage I’m referring to. And my point is that the fact there are 1 billion Han today tells us this forced cultural unification/arranged marriage, whatever we want to call it, seems to have worked pretty well.

    As far as the # of Han… you got me, my brain hiccuped. I don’t actually know the actual number, but if the PRC’s population is 1.3 billion and 91% or so is Han… 1.12 billion Han.

  52. S.K. Cheung
    June 26th, 2008 at 07:00 | #52

    To Buxi:
    ok, now I know what you were talking about. I was talking about “arranged”, as in two families making their kids get together. Those marriages are by their nature “forced”, and may not lead to “happiness”, whatever that is. Likewise, “forced” unification can understandably result in unhappiness among some of the newly unified. Perhaps such unhappiness dissipates with time; perhaps not. How well you keep the members of this new family sufficiently satisfied with their circumstances will, IMO, determine how likely some members will seek eventual separation, in an inverse fashion, of course.

  53. Sino Federation
    July 21st, 2008 at 11:20 | #53

    Bus explosions in Sw China, police say deliberately set

    “Yunnan, July 21 (Xinhua) — Local police say that preliminary evidence indicates that two separate explosions on public buses here, which killed two people and injured 14 on Monday morning, were deliberately caused.

    Both explosions in this southwestern China city involved Route 54. One blast occurred on West Renmin Road at 7:10 a.m., while the second was at the nearby intersection of Changyuan Road and West Renmin Road at 8:05 a.m.”

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/21/content_8739304.htm

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