Third World Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2008, pp 467 – 482
From Post-imperial to Late
Communist Nationalism: historical
change in Chinese nationalism from
May Fourth to the 1990s
ABSTRACT This article compares Chinese nationalism of the 1990s with the
historic beginning of modern Chinese nationalism in the 1910s and argues that
they are two diﬀerent nationalisms. While the post-imperial May Fourth
nationalism of the 1910s arose in a poor and backward China to seek wealth
and power for the nation, the 1990s saw the resurgence of nationalism rooted in
China’s late communist authoritarian prosperity. Following a Weberian
framework to examine nationalism’s connections with material interests,
political power and cultural orientations, the paper ﬁnds that the Chinese
nationalism of the 1990s reversed all the radical features of early 20th century
developmental and cosmopolitan nationalism, as it defended the Chinese model
of development, endorsed political authoritarianism, and sought sources of
legitimacy and identity in traditional Chinese culture.
All great world-historical facts and personages occur, according to Hegel and
Marx, twice: ﬁrst as tragedy, then as farce. This is also true for great ideas
that shape human history, at least in the case of the rise of Chinese
nationalism in the 1910s and its resurgence in the 1990s. While nationalist
sentiment has underlain all the continuing revolutions and fundamental
changes in 20th century China, the nature of Chinese nationalism has
undergone a historical change. Post-imperialist nationalism was a develop-
mental nationalism which addressed the modernist challenges of nation
building, economic development and popular participation in those historic
processes. As the Chinese state embraced, and was swallowed by, globalising
neoliberal capitalism, late communist nationalism, a cultural nationalism,
enabled the Chinese communist party-state to survive the world-wide
collapse of communism and played a key role in the articulation and
assertion of a new national identity and interest in the context of late
Guoguang Wu is in the Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, PO Box 3500 STN CSC,
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3P5, Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/08/030467–16 Ó 2008 Third World Quarterly
DOI: 10.1080/01436590801931454 467
To illustrate this change, this contribution compares how the two main
waves of Chinese nationalism in the 20th century dealt with political
authority, material interest and value orientation within a Weberian
framework. In his political sociology Max Weber sought to analyse the
inﬂuence of ideas on human behaviour and the inﬂuence that interest in
material gains and social honour can have upon the development of ideas
along three overlapping critical dimensions in political – social life: authority,
material interest and value orientation.2 This paper will follow him by
focusing on the interrelationships between the major socioeconomic changes
in 20th century China and the ﬂux of nationalism as a powerful set of ideas,
both arising from this history and helping its further evolution.
The ﬁrst wave of modern Chinese nationalism of the early 20th century
reached its height in the May Fourth movement, when 3000 college students
assembled at the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing in 1919 with a manifesto
denouncing the decision of the Paris Peace Conference to accept Japanese
territorial rights in Shandong province. This wave of nationalism laid the
foundation of China’s modern national identity, and of the Chinese
nationalist and communist revolutions that followed.3 Before and after that
an intellectual movement calling for ‘new culture’ swept China by
introducing ‘Mr Democracy’ and ‘Mr Science’ to the Middle Kingdom. In
the last decade of the 20th century nationalism again emerged as a powerful
ideology on the Chinese political stage. It was embodied in patriotic
government propaganda and intellectual discourses on the quest for national
power and wealth;4 and in a popular culture that was ﬁlled with various
forms of xenophobia.5 This wave too had its peak in demonstrations in many
Chinese cities against the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in
Belgrade, Yugoslavia and ‘American hegemonism’ generally. It also
coagulated ever-present sentiment about Taiwan, to which attention turned
as Hong Kong peacefully reverted to China in 1997. It is widely anticipated
that in due course nationalism will, once more, determine the future of the
nation both in terms of domestic change as well as of its position on the
world stage, although the direction of this historical march remains unclear
The following pages attempt to interpret the resurgence of Chinese
nationalism in the late 20th century through a historic comparison with the
May Fourth movement. Each a dominant intellectual trend and a popular
mood reﬂecting the national spirit of its times,6 these two major tides of
modern Chinese nationalism occurred during a period of profound social
transformation. May Fourth occurred at a time when great revolutions were
to usher China from its imperial past to its distinctive communist modernity,
whereas the 1990s witnessed the socioeconomic transition from communism.
Between the two waves, Chinese nationalism changes from revolutionary and
cosmopolitan to conservative and anti-foreignist, and from a primary
concern with economic progress towards one with political and cultural
survival—essentially from a developmental to a cultural nationalism in the
context of a pronounced change in political economy in an economically
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
How did such transitions aﬀect China’s self-identiﬁcation and its
perception of its place and role in the world? How was Chinese nationalism
transformed over the course of the 20th century? The paper will ﬁrst highlight
the contrast between the late Qing period, when China suﬀered backwardness
in economic development7 and modern Chinese nationalism originally arose
‘in search of wealth and power’ to save the nation,8 and the communist
reform era, characterised by China’s economic ascent, its growing interna-
tional status, and a political authoritarianism which reﬂected an underlying
legitimacy problem. This contrast in historical conditions is reﬂected in the
contrasting moods of these two waves of Chinese nationalism. The chapter
will then move on to discuss the relationship between the authority of the
state and the rise of each wave of nationalism, canvassing the views of
Chinese intellectuals toward government authorities and their contrasting
thinking about political legitimacy in each period. Finally, I discuss the
contrasting value orientations of the two waves of nationalism—the
passionate urge for modernisation and ‘Westernisation’ represented by
May Fourth and the propensity to insist on traditional culture, which is
expressed in the spiritual inclination of many recent nationalist writers.
From backwardness to ascent: the changing mood of Chinese nationalism
Modern Chinese nationalism arose in the early 20th century as a passionate
and somehow despondent response to the country’s decline from being the
‘Middle Kingdom’ to a weak, poor and backward country as it encountered
the West. In nationalist imagery China’s prestige and glory of thousands of
years stood in stark contrast to mid-19th century China, besieged and
beleaguered by the forces of imperialism and expanding Western capitalism.9
A feeling of humiliation was rife among Chinese intellectuals and oﬃcials,10
and reached a climax in the May Fourth movement of 1919.
No school of modern Chinese thought emerged without a nationalist
colour:11 all joined China’s search for countervailing power and wealth.12 As
a scholar on contemporary Chinese political thought states:
Mainstream Chinese political thinking during the ﬁrst decade of the century
revolved around the question of how to make China into a nation, to forge a
cohesive political system out of the loosely organized power structure of a
bureaucratic monarchy, and to ward oﬀ the threat to the country’s existence in
a new world where the competition for power of expansive nation-states
promised to consume those societies unable to emulate their example.
The most urgent question was ‘how to develop the country economically to
establish a material foundation for national strength—and the conditions for
political sovereignty in a world where national political power seemed to be
contingent upon the control of global economic resources’.13 The pursuit of
national ‘wealth and power’ seemed to rule the world, and ‘static’ Chinese
society had to be revitalised by this pursuit if it was to survive.14 Such a
pursuit, whether successful or not, would dominate the history of China in
the decades to come.
In the late 20th century, however, the deﬁning concern of Chinese history
changed primarily because, after many failures and frustrations, the national
dream of becoming a wealthy world power seemed close to realisation for the
ﬁrst time in living memory after close to two decades of economic reforms.15
The new and resurgent nationalism celebrated the rise of China (Zhongguo de
jueqi) as a world-class power in serious and popular publications, delighting
in this ‘epochal’ national achievement, citing various statistics from both
domestic and international sources to support such self-congratulation.16 In
sharp contrast to the depressing mood of early nationalism—of humiliation,
dejection, and indignation—China was now proud and conﬁdent, perhaps
too much so, about its rising status as a power in world politics.
In the post-cold war world, however, China was still troubled by its
relations with other powers, particularly with the USA, the single superpower
during the 1990s. While making an eﬀort to involve China in the US-led
capitalist project of globalisation, the Chinese regime was also anxious about
being the major exception among major powers, an authoritarian power in a
‘globalising’ world which had announced the ﬁnal victories of capitalism and
democracy in the world. After the shock of the military crackdown on the
Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989, Chinese intellectuals gradu-
ally became ‘realistically’ collaborative with the party-state, and they came to
share such worries about potential isolation from such a world.
The historical changes of the 1990s altered the basic features of late
Chinese nationalism, marking a transition from developmental to cultural
nationalism, in at least three ways. First of all, in contrast to the previous
anxiety about Chinese exceptionalism, in the 1990s the Chinese became
conﬁdent about, or at least eager to defend, their own road to development
and modernisation. China’s energetic search for modernity and prosperity
over the previous century had, it appeared, repeatedly failed,17 and in the
post-Mao era the nation was forced to open itself to the world just as it once
did in the 1910s. The communist revolution had failed to make China ‘catch
up with the West’ and to create material abundance. In the 1990s the Chinese
regime and intellectuals could not only claim economic success but could also
claim to have achieved it in their own distinctive manner. According to
nationalist writers in the 1990s, this path was more advanced, more socially
robust and just, and more benevolent internationally (in terms of sharing the
prosperity with other countries), than Western paths to prosperity.
This ‘China advantage’ thesis, or the argument that China had charted its
own successful course of modernisation, was a central conviction of resurgent
Chinese nationalism, shared by government oﬃcials and intellectuals. For Li
Tieying, a member of the communist party’s Politburo and president of the
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, for example, China’s 11th rank in world
trade, ﬁrst as a market for capital and goods in Asia and second in the world
in attracting foreign investment, meant that ‘China has already become the
locomotive of economic growth in East Asia’.18 China had taken the lead in
stabilising the economy and regional security in East Asia during the Asian
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
Financial Crisis while what he termed ‘Western hegemonism and power
politics’ led by the USA had led to conﬂict and instability in the region. The
economic problems and crises of the Asia-Paciﬁc region were the result of an
‘unfair and unreasonable’ international economic order that was dominated
by the Western powers and especially by the USA. Oﬃcially or not, the
message from the new Chinese nationalism was clear: China’s successful
autonomous pursuit of economic prosperity showed how the West’s policy
prescriptions and advice were, in fact, exploitative and counter-productive.
Li emphasised how the West had always threatened security and develop-
ment in the Third World, just as it had done in China over the past century.
China’s successes demonstrated moral and practical capabilities superior to
those of the West and would better help the developing countries in the
construction and stabilisation of their economies.
The second way in which the material conditions in China shaped the new
Chinese nationalism concerned Chinese attitudes towards Westerners and
Western civilisation. Either the end of the 20th century found the Chinese
feeling rich, powerful and assertive just at its beginning had found them
humiliated in the face of the West, or they liked to highlight their recent
economic achievements to compensate for their political insecurity. An editor
of a leading nationalist magazine, who had studied in Japan and Canada,
described this diﬀerence: ‘When reforms and opening began, even elites in
China had a sense of inferiority when they met a foreigner and unconsciously
fawned on those foreigners. After more than ten years of reforms and
opening today, when some of the elites already enjoy a better life than the
middle and lower classes in the West, it is diﬀerent. Now they look down
upon these ordinary foreigners.’19
This approach is frankly materialist. The Chinese, though admitting their
material backwardness, had long felt superior spiritually and morally: at one
time this sense of superiority derived from Chinese cultural traditions and
later from communism.20 But this form of ‘sour grapes’ could only go so far
in the face of continuing material backwardness: in a classic short story by Lu
Xun, who wrote ironically about ‘‘national heroes’’, spiritual superiority was
found to be an obstacle to modernisation. In the 1990s the mood had shifted
decisively toward material achievements. To get rich was glorious, not only in
Chinese domestic life but also in international society.
Whereas in the early 20th century the Chinese merely sought wealth and
power, on the threshold of achieving it at its close new nationalist concerns
emerged: how should China manage its rise and its challenge to the status
quo in the international order, particularly to the hegemony of the USA, and
eventually ‘gain the position of the leader of the world’?21 The tables now
having been turned, other countries, particularly the Western capitalist
powers that had humiliated China for a century and still did so politically as
they criticised authoritarianism, should seriously consider how they could
accept China as a rising star and even an equal power in world politics. This
was the third, and possibly the most important, way in which material
interests shaped late 20th century Chinese nationalism. Whereas early
nationalists discussed possible ways to save China (jiu guo), the question of
how a ‘rising China’ (jueqi zhong de Zhongguo) was to interact with the
outside world now occupied the central agenda of Chinese nationalism.
The rise of China as a ‘global power’ (shijie qiangguo) was projected to
occur at the turn of the 21st century when the USA had already ‘passed away
as a world power’ and a ‘new cycle of power redistribution on the globe had
already begun’.22 ‘The rise of China and the choice of strategies’, in the words
of a scholar educated at the University of California at Berkeley and a policy
adviser to the Chinese government, became a major topic in the new
nationalism.23 Government-sponsored research on the international environ-
ment for China’s rise assumed that the centre of the world was turning to the
Asia-Paciﬁc and that China would become a new superpower.24 A series of
articles featured in a leading defence magazine discussed the so-called
‘centurial law of change in world politics’ and found that China would soon
replace the USA on the world stage. In this vast chorus of assent to ascent,
the range of disagreements was narrow; even factors hitherto regarded as
liabilities to the rise of China, such as its huge population, were now
reinterpreted as advantages.25
There was no longer any anxiety about ‘cancel[ing] [China’s] global
citizenship’ (kaichu qiuji), voiced as late as the 1980s and traceable to the
older patterns of nationalist thinking of the late Qing in the early 20th
century.26 If there was still a danger of China becoming alienated from global
society, it could not be the result of any Chinese fault or backwardness. It
must be the result of the mistreatment of China by the status quo powers that
dominated the capitalist world system.
Only against this background can we understand how perceptions of the
Tiananmen Square massacre, a watershed dividing China’s reforms into an
early and cosmopolitan stage in the 1980s and the nationalist resurgence of the
1990s, changed. Chinese intellectuals initially reacted to the regime’s violence
with condemnations of communism; soon, with nationalism being promoted by
the party-state,27 liberal responses of the Western countries to the June Fourth
crackdown came to be seen as aﬀronts to China as a nation and not to the
communist regime. This shift linked Western condemnations with collective
memories of the humiliation of the Chinese nation in the late 19th and the early
20th centuries. It was no accident that ‘since 1989 there have been numerous
indications of a growing disenchantment with the West and its allies’.28
Legitimacy, statism and nationalism: from social
revolutions to political stability
The economic situation of a country is relevant to nationalism not only in
terms of the people’s feelings about their status in the world, but also in terms
of domestic political legitimacy. As Gellner argues, ‘nationalism is a theory of
political legitimacy’.29 Good economic performance can reinforce a govern-
ment’s legitimacy: ‘Life is a diﬃcult and serious business. The protection
from starvation and insecurity is not easily achieved’, Gellner states in
another place. ‘In the achievement of it, eﬀective government is an important
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
The modern Chinese passion for eﬀective and capable government
originated in the political chaos that accompanied the decline of the late
Qing dynasty. The developmental nationalism which arose at that time was
critical of the ruling Manchu and of traditional Chinese political institutions,
identifying both as major causes of China’s corrupt and ineﬀective
governance. The question of how to ‘save’ the nation was, in the
circumstances, answered by nationalist reform and, eventually, the equally
nationalist communist revolution. Chinese nationalism in the early 20th
century was, therefore, anti-regime, revolutionary and progressive. Scholars
agree that ‘Nationalism was . . . the chief stimulus behind Chinese reform
thought’ in the late 19th century,31 and that it was led ‘to re-examine the
institutional foundation of the Chinese socio-political order’.32 While reform
and, to a lesser degree, the strengthening of existing political institutions to
ward oﬀ imperialist challenges were options,33 radical alternatives increas-
ingly occupied the mainstream in the early 20th century and Chinese history
lurched from constitutional reforms and social changes to violent revolu-
tions, as nationalism was drawn towards ever more radical positions and
practices.34 In any case this early idea of nationalism was an ‘animating and
directing power’,35 bringing forth social reform and revolution as the degree
of change preferred by diﬀerent thinkers varied.
The last years of the 20th century, by contrast, saw the rise of a cultural
nationalism which endorsed and reinforced the legitimacy of the existing
regime, calling for stability rather than change. Although blatant political
loyalty to the regime or ideological commitment to communism was hard to
come by in serious writings of the early post-Tiananmen intellectuals,36 in
time the dominant trend in scholarship—typically focused on narrow policy
matters—was compatible with, if not unreservedly supportive of, oﬃcial
justiﬁcations of authoritarianism and political repression. Such scholarship
echoed the party-state’s emphasis on the importance of political stability, on
a strong state to foster economic development, and on national loyalty to the
regime in international struggles against the Western powers. This new
nationalism valued and appreciated the residual capacity of the Chinese
communist state, and regretted the regime’s declining capacity for total
control of a society increasingly empowered through market reforms.
In contrast to the critique of political institutions embodied in early
Chinese nationalism, the new nationalism maintained that China was now
equipped with both internal and external political conditions for its rise.
Internationally China’s resumption of its membership in the United Nations
in 1971, it was argued, was all that was institutionally necessary for its rise as
a world power. Domestically China’s political institutions were now deemed
strong and stable enough to nurture China’s superpowerdom. The allegedly
smooth transfer of power to the so-called third generation of the communist
leadership evinced the political stability that was a precondition to becoming
a world power.37 Disputes occurred only as some went further back to
conclude that the establishment of the communist regime in 1949 had already
been the accomplishment of China’s political modernisation.38 Nevertheless,
all late 20th-century Chinese nationalist writers shared two critical views:
ﬁrst, that political stability was crucial; second, and more importantly, that
only the existing political institutions of the party state could guarantee it.
No substantial change in these institutions was necessary; change would
simply threaten the status quo and stability.
Above all, democracy was the most dangerous threat.39 Democracy, at
least as it existed in the West, was incompatible with Chinese traditions and
realities, contended the new nationalists. This was another contrast with the
nationalists of the early 20th century. As the Chinese heirs of the European
and American enlightenments, where nationalism and democracy proceeded
hand in hand in modern history,40 they were naturally and notably pro-
democracy at both the conceptual level, where democracy (minzhu) and
nationalist patriotism (aiguo) rose as political ideas in connection with one
another, and in the practice of social movements, in which Mr Democracy
served as a political and moral tutor to the students demonstrating against
imperialism and the corrupt Chinese government during May Fourth. Both
Western academic studies and Chinese communist propaganda agreed on the
great historical role of the May Fourth movement giving birth to the
concepts of modern democracy and nationalism in China.41 From then on
calls for a democratic revolution, either bourgeois or proletarian, either old
or new, in Mao Zedong’s terms, were interwoven with the ﬁrst wave of
Chinese nationalism and dominated China’s national thinking. In contrast,
the 1990s wave of Chinese nationalism criticised even the more moderate of
its predecessors’ attempts to introduce Western constitutionalism to reform
the late Qing Empire. The historical eﬀorts of those early nationalists to
establish a parliamentary system in China were now rejected because,
according to a leading nationalist conservative writer, such political
institutions did not ﬁt China’s needs. The reformers in late Qing were
criticised for being ‘pre-mature’, ‘misleading’ and ‘blind’ ‘worshipers’ of
Western novelties like constitutionalism. The early reformers were mocked
by their grandchildren of the 1990s for thinking that ‘China would become
rich within a short time and that the national crisis China faced would be
eradicated only when China adopted a parliamentary system as in the politics
of the West’.42
The political institutions now deemed desirable were the existing communist
regime combined with the elements of traditional Chinese culture and
governance which would strengthen the regime. That it would best promote
economic development and national progresses was agreed by both right and
left in the 1990s.43 In taking this line the nationalist intellectuals went even
further than the communist state. The latter had been liberalising the Chinese
economy, reducing state control over enterprises and markets, but nationalist
intellectuals expressed a preference for more Maoist elements in economic
governance. For example, although decentralization programmes were
successful, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai suggested socialist
re-centralisation for future reforms. Centralisation, he argued, was a crucial
comparative advantage that originated in the ‘socialist state’. And it would be
stupid to give it up merely for the sake of embracing liberalism. Citing statistics
to support his argument, he contended that during the Third Five-Year Plan
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
period from 1966 to 1970—the high tide of the Cultural Revolution—the
average annual growth rate of China’s GDP was a relatively high 6%. So the
new statism could even be critical of market reforms and economic
liberalisation if these implied a loss of central state control.44
Domestically the new Chinese nationalists defended the authoritarian
regime, maintaining that, although being an oppressive and coercive force,
the state was the major protector of the weak: it was their most ‘reliable’
community.45 Internationally, their defence included intellectual and political
criticism of Western political, cultural, moral and economic ideas, which
escalated for ﬁrst time since the Cultural Revolution. Writers complained
about the spread of market mechanisms aiding foreign control of the Chinese
economy, culture, and politics and about the incursion of ‘commodity
fetishism’. Only the communist state could protect the national community
against the market and imperialism.46
The new nationalists were clearly less critical and more credulous about a
government that was, however ambivalently, struggling to join the very
world system which earlier nationalists condemned. In their eyes, this
ambivalence justiﬁed expectations that their political leaders would combat
the Western capitalist invasion. In an ironic twist communism now appeared
as a virtue: since the West was capitalist, China could be proud of
communism. One overseas Chinese scholar, writing in a Chinese publication
on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Manifesto
of the Communist Party, criticised Marx and Engels for their ‘ignorance’ of
the ‘evergreen vitality of nationalism and nation-states’, as well as praising
their critique of capitalism. ‘Scholars of the world, unite! You have nothing
to lose but your shame’, she said, paraphrasing the Manifesto: intellectuals
must stand together with oppressed nations and people against world
capitalism. The repressive practices of the Chinese regime against its citizens,
which she too had condemned only a few years ago, were now forgotten. The
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was now considered a ‘representative’ of
China as an oppressed nation in world politics and a promising model for the
world in a ‘post-capitalist’ era, rather than as a repressive machinery of the
ruling class against the people.47
In other words, China was internationally rather than domestically
communist or Marxist. The regime and the new nationalist intellectuals
now employed Marxism to defend the interests of the Chinese nation against
Western powers in international relations rather than as a revolutionary
doctrine to struggle against a corrupt and privileged ruling class in domestic
politics. Thus they regret Marxism’s ignorance of nationalism, while trying to
harness Marxism to serve Chinese nationalism. When they called for
‘awakening from the century of capitalism’,48 questioned ‘the end of history
or comprehensive democracy’,49 urged others to ‘break up the worship of
Western institutions’,50 the attention of these scholars, some of whom held
advanced degrees from the USA, was focused on their dislike of ‘liberal
democracy’, the ‘single global market’, and the ‘macro international
environment’ in which some ‘status quo privileged interest groups that have
already gained advantages in economic competition always want to maintain
the upper hand’. Domestically, they criticised ‘the commodity economy [that]
sweeps over Chinese avenues and streets with its revengeful passion’, and the
reforms that smacked of copying of the West. They would be absolutely right
if there were no issues in China like its bad human rights record, political
repression, rampant corruption and abuse of public power, and an increasing
gap between the Chinese poor and the rich and powerful who aﬃliated
themselves with both the ‘socialist’ state and capitalist globalization. In the
eyes of these nationalists, those who were drawing attention to these things,
including the international media and Chinese political dissidents, were
merely trying to demonise China.51 The Chinese people had to ﬁght
international discrimination; all the things the West criticised China for were
things which the Chinese should love and be proud of. Communism was
good because it enabled China to establish a successful model diﬀerent from
the West.52 The people must support the oppressive regime because it was
oppressed by foreign countries. Such were the ways in which the communist
state and its institutions were legitimised.
In this regard the nationalists of the 1990s could be divided into two
groups according to their approach to state authority. One group, often
called New Leftist, supported the regime as long as it fought foreign
capitalism, even though it practised ‘Chinese’ capitalism at home. The right-
wing nationalists endorsed state authority without any such ideological
precondition. For them the state must defend and promote national interests,
regardless of its political nature.53 Both supported the authoritarian and
repressive party-state. The statist inclination of the new Chinese nationalism
was so strong that some writers even suggested that nationalism be directly
replaced by statism to support a strong Chinese nation-state.54
Value orientations, cultural identities, and nationalism:
from anti-traditionalism to cultural chauvinism
Even though the communist regime and Chinese political institutions were
rhetorically legitimised by the resurgence of nationalism, they had undoubt-
edly suﬀered a loss of prestige compared with periods during and after the
revolution. In the new cultural nationalism traditional Chinese culture was to
compensate for this shortfall and even save humankind from the crises created
by Western capitalist civilisation. The critique of Chinese tradition had been a
crucial part of the progressive character of Chinese nationalism at the
beginning of the 20th century,55 and a certain cultural iconoclasm dominated
Chinese politics and culture for more than half a century.56 At the end of the
century, however, the mood of Chinese nationalist sentiment was being
transformed from anti-traditionalism to pro- or neo-traditionalism.
The anti-traditionalism of China’s early nationalism included diﬀerent
schools of thought. People like Liang Qichao, Lu Xun and many others, in
spite of their diﬀerent political inclinations and social philosophies,
incontestably believed that the Chinese national character had so many
serious shortcomings that cultural and spiritual restructuring programmes
were urgently needed for curing and even, for some radical thinkers like Lu
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
Xun, remaking the nation. Culturally conservative nationalists of the time,
like Liang Shuming, who advocated resistance to Westernisation by restoring
China’s traditional Confucian cultural values, also admitted the necessity of a
fundamental remaking of Chinese culture, as his programmes of rural
modernisation sought to revitalise traditional values through social reforms
and cultural changes.57
For the cultural nationalist writers in the 1990s by contrast, all China’s
contemporary shortcomings—social, cultural, economic and political—
emanated from Western inﬂuences or from the departure from Confucian
principles.58 As a close observer of the recent resurgence of Chinese nationa-
lism has noted, after the initial ‘cultural shock’ during the early years of
reform, in the 1990s Westernisation found ‘less and less enthusiasm among
Chinese intellectuals.’59 Confucianism, attacked most brutally during the May
Fourth movement, was now identiﬁed as one of the sources of East Asian
economic success.60 Going against the longstanding association between
nationalism and the defence of rights,61 this new nationalism devalued
individual rights in the pursuit of national glory. The imperial system of
ancient China was now credited with economic advances and spiritual glory
over 2000 years before the late 19th century.62 In a barely disguised defence of
the current regime, the ancien re´gime was credited with stimulating economic
growth by combining market mechanisms and absolutist political power. The
imperial absolutism which the intellectuals in the 1910s and 1920s had
criticised for blocking economic advance now revealed its indispensable
merits to the nationalist writers of the late 20th century.
Several factors account for this turnabout in the cultural direction of
Chinese nationalism. First, the rise of nationalism, as Ernest Gellner points
out, is closely connected relations between structure and culture.63 As the
cement of communist political – economic structures began to crack as a
result of economic reforms, ‘cultural’ relations thus became prominent in
functioning to connect Chinese citizens. If, as Gellner noted decades ago,
‘Marxism contained the anticipation of the decline of nationalism’,64
ironically, it was now nationalism that contained the anticipation of the
decline of Marxism. Indeed, many among the new nationalists were
conscious of this connection when they urged the regime to mobilise
traditional cultural resources for national integration and social stability in
the face of the legitimacy crisis after the Tiananmen crackdown.65 They
frankly recommended Confucianism as ‘a new source to unify the Chinese
nation-state’ since the Marxism of the CCP had lost its appeal.66 It was as
though Confucianism took revenge on Marxism for having been humiliated
by it during the May Fourth movement and replaced by it during the
Communist Revolution. Even more ironically, as in the early 20th century,
nationalism was once more the midwife of a national intellectual
transformation, but this time in the opposite direction.
Second, there was a desire to re-establish China’s pride as a great nation—
not only wealthy and powerful in its own right but also capable of oﬀering
universal values to mankind, mixing national self-interest and a utopian
cosmopolitan passion in a way one may either call ‘cultural chauvinism’ or
‘moral benevolence’—something that lurks in the breast of every ‘great’
nation. Indeed, bereft of a vocation to provide the world with spiritual values
and moral leadership, the Chinese nation would feel ashamed: a leading
civilisation such as theirs must contain many things universally beneﬁcial to
all mankind. In the new nationalism this entirely understandable urge took
the form of extolling China’s merits as a model for developing countries and
for the entire world, not only in terms of economic development but also in
terms of culture.67 It was argued that ‘some legacies of the disappearing
oriental civilisation’ could be a ‘harbinger of a new, non-capitalist
This neo-traditionalist feature of the 1990s nationalism was also a Chinese
response to various ‘declinist’ theses about the West, and in particular, to the
thesis of the clash of civilisations.69 The hostile attitudes these licensed
towards China in the post-cold war Western world helped to account for the
Chinese move from an open-door mentality cultural confrontation with the
rest of the world.70 Chinese responses to the thesis of a clash of civilisations
were basically critical, but did not go beyond the terms set by Huntington in
the sense of focusing on the clash of civilisations against a post-cold war
background.71 This stimulated Chinese nationalism to oppose Chinese
traditional civilisation to Western civilisation.
The most striking contrast between the two waves of nationalism examined
here lies in the contrast between their respective connections with the
changing political – economic realities. As a response to China’s historical
humiliation in the face of Western imperialism, early nationalism painfully
recognised the economic backwardness of China and, to ‘save China’, keenly
realised the corruption of China’s traditional political institutions and the
shortcomings of Confucian cultural principles. The core of early nationalism
at that time did not lie in any ‘national essence’ (guocui), although some
intellectuals talked about it, but in a passion to borrow whatever it could
from others to make the nation wealthy and powerful. This was a rational,
progressive and developmental nationalism, which focused on resolving
fundamental economic problems as well as on promoting social, cultural and
political change. Profound social reforms and even revolutions were
advocated for the nationalist purpose, and radical criticisms of Chinese
value systems became prevalent then and after. This was a revolutionary and
anti-establishment nationalism, evoking the most profound popular senti-
ment. It was successful in mobilising the masses for social reforms, cultural
changes and political revolutions in order to ‘save China’ from the aggression
of the Western powers.
In contrast, the resurgence of Chinese nationalism in the late 20th century
was mainly stimulated by China’s economic successes. China’s rise in a world
still dominated by the West formed the historical background to this
nationalism and the question that deﬁned its basic mood shifted from ‘How
to save our motherland’ to ‘How to make our nation a (if not yet the) world
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
leader’. Conﬁdence bred of economic success also spread to the political and
cultural domains and oﬃcial Chinese nationalism turned inward in its search
for the cultural resources of its own political legitimacy and spiritual
resources to support its international emergence. China’s unique political and
cultural resources were emphasised to shape the nation’s identity in the post-
cold war world. This was a cultural, conservative, and identity-centred
nationalism which, politically, took a statist approach. Although the early
nationalism had also viewed the state as a weapon to change the international
distribution of tangible resources,72 the diﬀerence between the two waves of
Chinese nationalism lay in their opposite attitudes to the domestic authority
of the state and its political institutions. Whereas early nationalism rose
against the Qing Empire, late nationalism endorsed the legitimacy of the
communist regime and aﬃliated itself with China’s authoritarian political
institutions. A conservative and pro-establishment political mentality
replaced the pro-reform and pro-revolution overtones that had been
prevalent in the early nationalism. Meanwhile, whereas the pioneers of
Chinese nationalism in the 1910s critically targeted Confucian principles in
particular and the nation’s cultural traditions in general, the nationalist
writers in the 1990s were respectful towards Confucianism, various other
elements of traditional politics and culture and, in general, toward the
Chinese historical legacy as a whole.
Therefore, contrary to many scholars who emphasise the continuity of
Chinese nationalism from the beginning of the 20th century to the turn of the
21st century,73 this chapter concludes that there were two distinct
nationalisms in contemporary China: one was the developmental nationalism
of the Chinese people rightly struggling to be free; the other was a cultural
nationalism which endorsed a view of domestic politics as well as
international relations in terms of tribal conﬂicts.74 In other words, one
was reform-minded and progressive, supportive of citizens’ endeavours to
improve their economic and political conditions, the other was conservative,
concerned much less with citizens’ rights than with how to maintain the
domestic status quo and reinforce the national identity by authoritarian
political and cultural means if necessary.75
The transition from the developmental to the cultural nationalism in
China was not the result of any political or intellectual nostalgia for
ancient China. It was a reﬂection of other, primarily economic, transitions
occurring both in the Chinese nation internally and in the world order.
The meaning of nationalism in China is closely bound up with its
historical transitions, ﬁrst from the pre-revolutionary empire to Maoist
communism and more recently from communism to the unknown. As
early as in 1901, a leading ﬁgure in contemporary thinking and its political
practice in China, Liang Qichao, began to recognise that ‘China is in
transition’.76 It remained in transition throughout the 20th century and
beyond, although to what is still unclear even today. What is incontestable
is that distinct waves of nationalism have accompanied these transitions.
This paper has argued that the early rise of nationalism during the May
Fourth movement drove China in the direction of a century of revolution,
while, in contrast, the resurgence of nationalism in the late 20th century
was seemingly pushing the nation in the opposite direction.
1 For theoretical discussions of the relationship between early nationalism and modernism, see, for
example, A Smith, Nationalism and Modernism, London: Routledge, 1998. For the development of
cultural nationalism in the neolibral era, see, for instance, R Desai, ‘Neoliberalism and cultural
nationalism: a danse macabre’, in D Plehwe, B Walpen & G Nuenhoeﬀer (eds), Neo-Liberal Hegemony:
A Global Critique, New York: Routledge, 2006, pp 222 – 235.
2 R Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1977, p 286.
3 TS Chow, The May Fourth Movement: Intellectual Revolution in Modern China, Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1960; and BI Schwartz (ed), Reﬂections on the May Fourth Movement,
Cambridge, MA: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1972.
4 S Zhao, ‘Chinese intellectuals’ quest for national greatness and nationalistic writing in the 1990s’,
China Quarterly, 152, 1997, pp 725 – 745; and Y Zheng, Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China:
Modernization, Identity, and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
5 GB Lee, Troubadours, Trumpeters, Trouble Makers: Lyricism, Nationalism and Hybridity in China and
its Others, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996; and GR Barme, ‘To screw foreigners is
patriotic: China’s avant-garde nationalists’, in J Unger (ed), Chinese Nationalism, Armonk, NY: ME
Sharpe, 1996, pp 183 – 208.
6 Here I do not cover peasant nationalism, which arose during the anti-Japanese war and ﬁnally gave the
upper hand to the Communist Party in its struggle against the Guomindang. The reason is simple:
peasant nationalism is not an intellectual phenomenon, therefore it is not comparable to May Fourth
intellectual nationalism; furthermore, it has been argued that its rise in the 1930s was an aftermath of
the early nationalism at the beginning of the 20th century. As we await thorough studies of the political
and policy impacts of the recent resurgence of nationalism, this article will focus on the history of ideas,
on the written rather than real-life reﬂections of Chinese nationalism, leaving an examination of the
linkages between the ideas and sentiments of nationalism, on the one hand, and the possible events that
manifested in nationalism, on the other, for further studies.
7 A Feuerwerker, ‘Economic trends in the late Ch’ing Empire, 1870 – 1911’, in JK Fairbank & KC Liu
(eds), The Cambridge History of China, Vol 11, Late Ch’ing, 1800 – 1911, Part 2, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1980, pp 1 – 69.
8 BI Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press,
9 Chow, The May Fourth Movement; and Schwartz, Reﬂections on the May Fourth Movement.
10 MH Hunt, ‘Chinese foreign relations in historical perspective’, in H Harding (ed), China’s Foreign
Relations in the 1980s, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984, pp 1 – 42.
11 Anarchism is perhaps the only exception. For Chinese anarchism during the May Fourth period, see
RA Scalapino & GT Yu, The Chinese Anarchist Movement, Berkeley, CA: Center for Chinese Studies,
Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1961; and A Dirlik, Anarchism in the
Chinese Revolution, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991.
12 Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power; JW Esherick, Reform and Revolution in China: The 1911
Revolution in Hunan and Hubei, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976; and ICY Hsu, The
Rise of Modern China, New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
13 Dirlik, Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution, pp 47, 48.
14 Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power.
15 WH Overholt, The Rise of China: How Economic Reform is Creating a New Superpower, New York:
WW Norton, 1993; P Nolan, China’s Rise, Russia’s Fall: Politics, Economics, and Planning in the
Transition from Stalinism, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995; and G Mastel, The Rise of the Chinese
Economy: The Middle Kingdom Emerges, Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 1997.
16 For example, see Wang Bingcai, Yu lang gong wu: Zhongguo jiaru WTO (Dancing with Wolves: China
Joins the WTO), Beijing: Zhongguo shuji chubanshe, 1998; Zhong Tai, Xu Chaoqing, Ma Wei, Jin
Yingji, Jin Dongxu & Ouyang Dan, Weiji bijin Zhongguo: Yazhou ji shijie jinrong weiji dui Zhongguo de
jingshi (The Crisis is Approaching China: Warning of the Asian and Global Financial Crises to China),
Beijing: Yanshan chubanshe, 1998.
17 JD Spence, The Search for Modern China, New York: WW Norton, 1990; and BI Schwartz,
Communism and China: Ideology in Flux, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968.
18 Li Tieying, ‘Dongya zhengzai gaibian shijie geju’ (East Asia is changing the world structures), Zhanlue
yu guanli, 26, 1998, p 3.
HISTORICAL CHANGE IN CHINESE NATIONALISM
19 Wang Xiaodong, ‘Xinxi shidai de jieji, zhongzu yu guojia’ (Classes, races, and the state in the
Information Age), Zhanlue yu guanli, 22, 1997, pp 25 – 26.
20 JK Fairbank (ed), Chinese World Order: Traditional China’s Foreign Relations, Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1968.
21 Wang Zaibang, ‘Shijie lingdaozhe diwei jiaoti de lishi fansi’ (Historical reﬂections on status changes of
the world leadership), Zhanlue yu guanli, 13, 1995, pp 1 – 5.
22 Yang Zheng, ‘Shijie zhengzhi jincheng de zhouqi guilu yu Zhongguo de jiyu’ (Cyclical laws in world
politics and the opportunities for China), Zhanlue yu guanli, 13, 1995, p 6.
23 Yan Xuetong, ‘Zhongguo jueqi de zhanlue xuanze’ (Strategic choices for China’s rise), Zhanlue yu
guanli, 13, 1995, pp 11 – 14.
24 Yan Xuetong, Wang Zaibang, Li Zhongcheng & Hou Ruoshi, Zhongguo jueqi: Guoji huanjing pinggu
(China Arises: Assessing its International Environment), Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1998.
25 Shi Yinhong & Shi Bin, ‘Meiguo yu ershiyi shiji shijie zhengzhi de genben wenti’ (The USA and the
fundamental issues of world politics in the 21st century), Zhanlue yu guanli, 22, 1997, pp 1 – 11.
26 Lu Yi (ed), Qiuji: Yige shijiexing de xuanze (Global Citizenship: A World-Wide Choice), Shanghai:
Baijia chubanshe, 1989.
27 S Zhao, ‘A state-led nationalism: the patriotic education campaign in post-Tiananmen China’,
Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 31, 1998, pp 287 – 302.
28 Barme, ‘To screw foreigners is patriotic’, p 187.
29 E Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983, p 1.
30 E Gellner, Thought and Change, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1964, p 153.
31 PA Cohen, Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past, New
York: Columbia University Press, 1984, p 31.
32 H Chang, Chinese Intellectuals in Crisis: Search for Order and Meaning, Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1987, p 6.
33 Dirlik, Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution, p 52.
34 T Bottomore, Political Sociology, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993, p 81; and
CA Johnson, Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence of Revolutionary China,
1937 – 1945, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962.
35 A Waldron, From War to Nationalism: China’s Turning Point, 1924 – 1925, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1995, p 267.
36 A remarkable exception to this observation is found in He Xin’s writing. See, for example, He Xin, Wei
Zhongguo shengbian: Zhi Zhongnanhai mizha (Arguing to Defend China: Secret Letters to the Chinese
Leadership), Hong Kong: Mirror Books, 1997.
37 Yan Xuetong et al, Zhongguo jueqi: Guoji huanjing pinggu, pp 146 – 150.
38 Gui Yong, ‘Zhengzhi xiandaihua: Guojia liliang de zengzhang he qianghua’ (Political modernisation:
the growth and strengthening of state power), Zhanglue yu guanli, 22, 1997, p 101.
39 This Chinese trend is consistent with the general development of nationalism in Asia. For a discussion
of Asian nationalism in this regard, see R Desai, ‘Nation against democracy: the rise of cultural
nationalism in Asia’, in F Quadir & J Lele (eds), Democracy and Civil Society in Asia, Vol I, London:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp 81 – 110.
40 J Dunn, Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979;
and L Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
41 Chow, The May Fourth Movement; and Hu Sheng, Cong yapian zhanzheng dao wusi yundong (From the
Opium War to the May Fourth Movement), two vols, Beijing: Renmin chubanshe, 1981.
42 Xiao Gongqin, ‘Jingdai Zhongguo ren dui lixian zhengzhi de wenhua wudu jiqi lishi houguo’ (Cultural
misinterpretations of constitutional politics and the after-eﬀects in modern China), Zhanlue yu guanli,
23, 1997, p 30.
43 AJ Nathan & T Shi, ‘Left and right with Chinese characteristics: issues and alignments in Deng
Xiaoping’s China’, World Politics, 48, 1996, pp 522 – 550.
44 Hu Wei, ‘Zhongguo fazhan de bijiao youshi hezai’ (What is the comparative advantage for China’s
development?), Zhanlue yu guanli, 12, 1995, pp 69 – 78.
45 Wang Xiaodong, ‘Xinxi shidai de jieji, zhongzu yu guojia’.
46 For example, see Zhang Xudong, ‘Cong zichan jieji shiji zhong xinglai’ (Wake up, from the century of
the bourgeois), Dushu, 11, 1998, pp 28 – 38.
47 Lin Chun, ‘Buxiu de xuanyan: jinian Gongchandang xuanyan yibai wushi zhounian’ (Immortal
manifesto: the 150th anniversary of the Manifesto of the Communist Party), Dushu, 10, 1998, pp 3 – 7.
48 Zhang Xudong, ‘Cong zichan jieji shiji zhong xinglai’.
49 Chen Yangu, ‘Lishi zhongjie haishi quanmian minzhu?’ (The end of history, or overall democracy?),
Dushu, 12, 1998, pp 3 – 8.
50 Wang Xi, ‘Wei jianli yige zhengyi minzhu fuqiang de Zhongguo er gaige’ (Reform for building a China
with justice, democracy, wealth and power, Dushu, 6, 1998, pp 56 – 62.
51 Li Xiguang et al, Yaomohua Zhongguo de beihou (Behind the Demonization of China), Beijing:
Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1996.
52 Wang Xi, ‘Wei jianli yige zhengyi minzhu fuqiang de Zhongguo er gaige’.
53 A third type of nationalism existed to reject these pro-status quo approaches of nationalism. For example,
it tried to direct nationalism to help remake the political institutions in China, calling for a ‘rational
nationalism’ as opposed to the current irrational political institutions that cannot produce rational
legitimacy in a Weberian sense. See Wu Guoguang, ‘Yi lixing minzu zhuyi kangheng weidu Zhongguo’
(Rationalizing nationalism against the containment of China), Ershiyi shiji (Twenty-First Century), 34,
1996, pp 25 – 33; Wu Guoguang, ‘Zailun lixing minzu zhuyi’ (Rational nationalism revisited), Ershiyi shiji,
39, 1997, pp 125 – 131; Wu Guoguang & Liu Jinghua, ‘Weidu Zhongguo: Shenhua yu xianshi’
(Containment of China: myth and reality), Zhanlue yu guanli, 14, 1996, pp 52 – 61; and Zheng Yongnian,
Zhongguo minzu zhuyi de fuxing: Minzu guojia xiang hechu qu (The Resurgence of Chinese Nationalism:
Whither the Nation-State?), Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1998. See also Liu Jiaming, ‘Zhongguo xin
minzu zhuyi de xin dongli: cong huiying tiaozhan dao neizai zhidu de tisheng’ (The new momentum for
China’s new nationalism: from the responses to challenges to the reconstruction of domestic institutions),
Mingbao yuekan, March 1996, pp 15 – 17. But this type of nationalism was not prevalent in mainland
China and its major publications mostly appeared through overseas Chinese outlets.
54 Liu Wenhai, ‘Xinxihua yu shijie zhengzhi zhixu’ (The Information Age and world political order),
Zhanlue yu guanli, 12, 1995, pp 47 – 53.
55 Schwartz, Reﬂections on the May Fourth Movement, p vii.
56 M Meisner, ‘Cultural iconoclasm, nationalism, and internationalism in the May Fourth Movement’, in
Ibid, pp 14 – 22.
57 GS Alitto, The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity, Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press, 1986.
58 For instance, see He Xin, Wei Zhongguo shengbian, 1996.
59 Zhao, ‘Chinese intellectuals’ quest for national greatness and nationalistic writing in the 1990s’, p 730.
60 Jiang Shixue, ‘Lamei, Dongya fazhan moshi de bijiao ji qishi’ (Comparison of Latin American and
East Asian models of development and its revelations), Zhanlue yu guanli, 12, 1995, pp 58 – 68.
61 For this association, see JS Coleman, ‘Rights, rationality, and nationality’, in A Breton et al (eds),
Nationalism and Rationality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp 1 – 13.
62 Chen Qingde, ‘Huangquan zhidu de erchongxing yu Zhongguo minzu jingji jincheng’ (Duality of the
emperor system and the progress of the Chinese national economy), Zhanlue yu guanli, 28, 1998, pp
66 – 75.
63 Gellner, Thought and Change, pp 153 – 157.
64 Ibid, p 147.
65 For example, Xiao Gongqin, ‘Minzu zhuyi yu Zhongguo zhuanxing shiqi de yishi xingtai’]
(Nationalism and ideology in transitional China), Zhanlue yu guanli, July 1994, pp 37 – 45; Xiao
Gongqin, ‘Ningju xiangxinli de xin minzu zhuyi’ (New nationalism that condenses centripetal force,
Mingbao yuekan, March 1996, pp 18 – 20.
66 Xiao Gongqin, ‘Ningju xiangxinli de xin minzu zhuyi’, p 19.
67 For example, He Xin, Wei Zhongguo shengbian, 1996.
68 Lin Chun, ‘Buxiu de xuanyan: jinian Gongchandang xuanyan yibai wushi zhounian’, p 4.
69 For this thesis, see SP Huntington, ‘The clash of civilizations?’, Foreign Aﬀairs, 72 (3), 1993, pp 22 – 49.
70 Zheng, Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China.
71 See, for example, Wang Hui & Yu Kwok-leung (eds), Qaunqiu guanxi zhong de Zhongguo chujing
(China’s Situation in Global Connections), Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1998.
72 For a systematic discussion of the use of the state to change the international distribution of property,
see A Breton & M Breton, ‘Nationalism revisited’, in Breton et al, Nationalism and Rationality, pp 98 –
73 For example, Zhao, ‘Chinese intellectuals’ quest for national greatness and nationalistic writing in the
74 Jonathan Glover clariﬁes these two histories of nationalism in a broad and conceptual sense. See
J Glover, ‘Nations, identity, and conﬂict’, in R McKim & J McMahan (eds), The Morality of
Nationalism, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, pp 11 – 30.
75 For conservative nationalism, see for instance, JD Lafay, ‘Conservative nationalism and democratic
institutions’, in Breton et al, Nationalism and Rationality, pp 159 – 172. It should be noted, however,
that Lafay discusses this concept within the political context of democratic institutions. Further, his
threefold category of nationalism (expansionist, separatist and conservative) does not cover the type of
nationalism in early 20th century China that was politically progressive.
76 Liang Qichao (1901), ‘Guodu shidai lun’ (On the Age of Transition), in Zhang Dan & Wang Renzhi
(eds), Xinhai geming qian shinian jian zhenglun xuan (Selections of Political Commentaries in the Decade
prior to the 1911 Revolution), Vol 3, Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 1978, pp 3 – 7.