The Burden of National Humiliation

Paul A. Cohen

in Speaking to History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255791
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942394 | DOI:
The Burden of National Humiliation

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The Qing dynasty was overturned and a new order brought into being in 1911–1912. In the years after 1912, however, China lurched from one crisis to another. During these years of anguish and almost continually frustrated hope, one persistent theme was nationalism. Patriotic Chinese in the late Qing and republican periods referred endlessly to the humiliations (guochi) their country experienced at the hands of foreign imperialism beginning with the Opium War. Indeed, in the republican period they even established days of national humiliation or shame (guochi ri) to mark the anniversaries of these painful episodes. Given the persistence of this open wound — a sense of grievance that not only failed to abate but kept being revisited — it is scarcely surprising that the Goujian story should bulk large in the minds of Chinese throughout these years. The distinguished historian Lei Haizong's observation on the late Zhou conflict between Wu and Yue is worth noting in this regard. Lei saw Fuchai and Goujian as symbolizing an important shift taking place in China at the end of the Spring and Autumn period.

Keywords: Qing dynasty; national humiliation; nationalism; guochi; imperialism; Opium War; republican period; Goujian; China; Fuchai

Chapter.  20199 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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