Conclusion: How to Be Chinese in the Twenty‐First Century

William A. Callahan

in China

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549955
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720314 | DOI:
Conclusion: How to Be Chinese in the Twenty‐First Century

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Summarizes the main points of China: The Pessoptimist Nation, and draws conclusions about what China's identity – security dynamic means for the United States and the EU, before looking at how China's public intellectuals are thinking about the future. It argues that rather than finding the core of “Chinese nationalism,” the book shows how Chinese identity emerges through the interplay of positive and negative feelings that intertwine China's domestic and international politics, and national security with nationalist insecurities. The book concludes that Chinese identity grows out of a dynamic of reciprocal influence that integrates official policy and popular culture. This interactive view of China's pessoptimist identity means that we need to rethink the role of the state and public opinion in Beijing's foreign policy‐making. The party‐state's pessoptimist structure of feeling actually narrows the possibilities for what it means to be Chinese by promoting a contentious paradigm of international politics. The book ends with a brief consideration of how China's opinion‐makers are thinking about their country's future – and the world's future.

Keywords: National humiliation; civilization; Chinese nationalism; public intellectuals; Chinese foreign policy

Chapter.  10532 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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