Jerome Keating on “the Myth of One China”

The following is a guest post.

“Restore the Ming,” the Myth of One China, and Post-Colonial Revisionism

Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

My first mistrust of historical nomenclature came in a European History Class. Speaking about the German King Otto I (912—973) who wanted to be known as the temporal—not spiritual—sovereign of Christendom, our professor made this point about Otto the Great’s self-proclaimed Holy Roman Empire—the area he ruled. “The first point I would like to make about this kingdom,” he said “is that it was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”

Whether Otto’s kingdom was “Holy, Roman, or an Empire or not” made little difference in the lives of us undergraduates. It didn’t affect us; we had memorized it and that was that. The same could be said about many other historical titles and labels. Thus I began to develop a healthy skepticism of the convenient nomenclature used by historians. At the same time, however, I also began to realize that many times historical labels can affect lives. Too often they are used and manipulated to deny people basic human rights like self-determination as well as to disenfranchise people of their heritage. One classic example that remains is that of the Mongolians, Tibetans, Uighurs and Taiwanese.

Examine and judge for yourself some misnomers that continue in western historical parlance and point to a need of post-colonial revisionism. In 1206, the Mongol Ghengis (c.1162—1227) was named the Great Khan by the Mongol nobility. He would soon embark on one of the greatest conquests in the history of man. When he and his successors had finished the Mongol Empire extended from Korea to Hungary, from Moscow to India. So large was this empire that it was divided into four different khanates for administrative purposes, control and perhaps also to avoid Mongol in-fighting, or shall we say the “internal affairs” of the Mongol Empire.

One of the many countries that the Mongols conquered was the Chinese Southern Song Kingdom which finally fell in 1279. Before that they had conquered the lands in the west as well as the Tangut His-Hsia Kingdom (present day northwest China) and the Jurchen Jin Empire which had originated in Manchuria and encompassed present day north China and Beijing. They also had conquered Korea, Russia, Tibet and the Uighur people as they stretched their borders to present day Hungary. All of the above would then become one of the four khanates that the Mongol Empire was divided into.

Kublai Khan (ruling 1260—94) moved his capital to present day Beijing in the conquered Jurchen Jin Empire (1264) and named his rule Yuan in 1271. For Chinese historians, however, the Yuan Dynasty could only officially be recognized and begin in 1279 when the last of the Song Dynasty armies were defeated. Fair enough from their perspective.

When Marco Polo visited Kublai Khan circa 1274, most western history books will say that he visited China, but in reality, he crossed through vast amounts of “inviolable and/or inalienable” parts of the Mongol Empire and visited one of its capitals. He used the name Cathay which seems to have come from the Khitan people. Mongolian historians had recognized Kublai’s title and rule over this part of the Mongol Empire. Unfortunately since the nomadic Mongolians were not strong on libraries, their sparse records and viewpoints are rarely recognized in the West.

For the Chinese historians following a select tradition, the Yuan Dynasty did not yet exist; however, the area around modern Beijing while part of a Khitan kingdom for over 300 years and not part of Song Dynasty China could still be considered China. Westerners continued to repeat such positions and when Marco visited Kublai’s Empire, most western history books will conveniently say he visited China and not a Mongolian Empire; it is barely admitted that what Kublai ruled more than the soon to be conquered Song China.

The Mongolians never did have good marketing and/or public relations skills to get their perspective of history known. When the Chinese would conquer a land, it became a part of China, but when Mongolia conquered a land, it did not become part of Mongolia, at least as presented to and acknowledged by outsiders.

Part of this comes from a convenient inconsistency in the use of the name China. It is alternately applied to lands that used an administrative system developed by Han Chinese, to lands that exhibited Chinese culture but were ruled by others, to lands that had once been conquered by Han Chinese, and finally to lands that are ruled by the Han.. This allows for great flexibility in nomenclature so that one form can be used (in land acquisition) when another does not apply. Take for example, Tibet which has a totally different culture and language from the Chinese but still is an “inalienable” part of China.

Returning to the Mongolians, as their Empire fell apart, the many conquered lands that were under the various khanates began to break free and regain self-rule. The Tibetans regained their territory, the Manchus theirs, the Uighurs staked out areas for themselves. As the Han Chinese broke free, they did not return to the Song lands. They expanded. Some would say they “took back” territory that 450 years previous roughly fit the borders of the ancient Tang Dynasty (618–907) with the exception of the Tarim and Turfan Basins. Tibet of course was never a part of Tang China.

These new Chinese rulers called their reign the Ming Dynasty. As for the Yuan Dynasty Mongolians, they were never fully defeated like the Song Dynasty and they retreated to rule in the steppes from whence they had come. Though they still ruled there, as far as the Chinese historians were concerned, the Yuan Dynasty ended in 1368.

Tibet, Mongolia, the Uighur kingdom etc. were never under the Ming Emperors who reigned from 1368—1644. In the latter years of this reign the Manchus regrouped and began to build a new kingdom northeast of the Great Wall. They expanded into Inner Mongolia and then taking advantage of favorable Ming internal weakness and in-fighting, the Manchus got through the Shanhaiguan pass and started their conquest of Ming China.

After they conquered the Ming, they continued their conquest of the neighboring countries including Tibet, Mongolia and that of the Uighurs. They also occupied the island of Taiwan to prevent any Ming loyalists safe harbor there. Interestingly enough all of these conquered lands of Tibet, Mongolia, Taiwan, and China etc. now became a part of China and not Manchuria. The Manchus like the Mongolians did not have good spin historians.

Like the Mongolians, the Manchus (not having the required manpower) kept the administrative structures of the countries they had conquered. Like the Mongolians of course, the top men were always Manchus. For the Han Chinese that they were under alien rule was not lost on them. They all had to shave their heads and wear the Manchu queue. Even now, many Chinese still smart at the “indignity” of any mention of that fact; it was a disruption of the order of the universe as they perceived it. Ironically when they in turn Sinicized lands that they conquered it was different. The Manchu queue requirement was an indignity; but required Sinicization was not. Perhaps someone should ask the Tibetans or other dispossessed.

In the same way there are many Chinese who still cannot forgive or forget the humiliation of the Opium wars with England, even though at that time the English were “humiliating” the Manchu Empire and not China. But, of course in their historians’ minds all the countries that the Manchus had conquered had now miraculously become China and not the Manchu Empire.

Throughout the long Manchu reign, the Chinese cry was “Down with the Qing and restore the Ming.” There was however one catch. The Han Chinese wanted to restore the Han rule of the Ming, but they did not wish to restore the borders of the Ming. They preferred to keep the borders of the other countries that the Manchus had conquered, i.e. Tibet, Mongolia, Xinjiang and even Taiwan which the Qing had since given to the Japanese “in perpetuity.”

The Tibetans had a slightly different phrase, they said “Down with the Qing, restore Tibet” but they did not get outside acknowledgement. Only the Mongolians were lucky in this regard; this was ironically due to their relationship with Russia (not the democratic West) who preferred a buffer between their long border with China. Outer Mongolia even got into the United Nations in 1961; Inner Mongolia was not as lucky.

Somewhere in all these discussions someone will also bring up the nomenclature of dependant “tributary states.” This also has a variety of applications and interpretations. More often than not, it applies to bordering states wishing to keep peace on their borders and to facilitate trade with and gain access to the lucrative China market.

Not long ago, I read about how Henry Paulson, chief executive of Goldman Sachs recently worked out a lucrative deal with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Goldman Sachs was given much greater access than any other foreign investment bank to China’s growing financial services market. In exchange for this access, Goldman Sachs made a US$67 million “donation or gift” to cover investor losses at a failed Chinese brokerage firm, and agreed to lend US$100 million to Fang Feng Lei, a Chinese banker who brokered the deal. US$167 million is no small change.

Now in some circles, the nomenclature of the above could be called “sweetening the pot,” a “bribe” or even setting up a “well-executed kickback.” In other circles it might be termed “business as usual,” and probably as it was put to the board of Goldman Sachs it was “getting one leg up on the competition.” I often wonder however that in some future history book, an enterprising and loyal Han historian will point out how Henry Paulson of the kingdom of Goldman Sachs paid homage to and offered “tributary fealty” to the Chinese Emperor, I mean, President Hu Jintao.

A friend of mine once said, Taiwan is a part of China inasmuch as China is a part of Mongolia or of Manchuria for that matter. It is a matter of perspective or perhaps finding a more adequate paradigm.

Face it, a post colonial revisionist history that represents oppressed voices is still noticeably lacking and still remains in order. All of the above could be considered academic trivia if peoples’ lives were not affected. Except for a few, most sinologists still don’t want to touch this. They don’t want to challenge, clarify or to talk openly about the perpetuation of out-dated nomenclature as regards China because first of all it is complex and secondly in the process they would probably endanger their research in the People’s Republic of China. Fair enough, but then again, not so.

Decades ago, historians were able to separate their appreciation of Russian culture and their analysis and critique of Russian history. Sinologists still have not measured up in that regard.

What does this have to do with Otto’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire? Well, whenever you hear someone talking about what “has always been a part of China,” what is an “inalienable and/or inviolable” part of China, and/or what is “splittist” talk about the “internal affairs” of China, this is the first warning sign. Check to see what history books they have been reading, because what you are really witnessing is the cover up and justification for a simple, good old-fashioned “land grab,” and a lot of people are being dispossessed.

Jerome F. Keating Ph.D., co-author of Island in the Stream, a Quick Case Study of Taiwan’s Complex History and numerous articles on Taiwan’s politics, has lived in Taiwan for the past 16 years. Other writings can be found at

The Discussion: 61 Comments

So right on! So right on!

September 20, 2005 @ 11:16 pm | Comment

Nice effort, but…
You have paid too much attention to the government or administration stuffs. The people who live in the area and the culture which has been developed in the area basically weigh nothing in your arguement. Unlike most other historians, you don’t understand the true meaning of “CHINA”. Probably you just don’t want to make your theory even more complicated?
According to your theory, India should not be called India all along in the history, or probably India should not be called India today.
I think, people, it is the people who makes the country instead of governing powers. I would like to pay more attention to the people, ordinary people in this history, who have been omitted by Chinese historians as well.
Perhaps, one day our planet will disapper, and our land will be gone. Chinese may occupy another area in some other planet. The land will still be called “CHINA”
If Jew didn’t succeed building Israel in Mideast, the Israel today might be in Africa. However I am sure it still will be called Israel.

September 20, 2005 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

Lin, I think you’re right that a people can persist independent of a state. But I don’t think Jerome is disagreeing with you. His point is about claims to territory and governance historically – he’s not trying to say there was no “China” in the cultural sense, but that there was no China in the political sense. The current government claims a continuous political lineage that isn’t really continuous.

As for China existing through the people… I’m curious Lin, which people would those be? As an American of Irish descent, can I join that group? In fact, if the people make the nation, then isn’t it really a nation constructed in the imagination? Why can’t I be part of imagining what “China” means?

September 21, 2005 @ 12:04 am | Comment

To equate the Mongol empire or the “Mongol Hoards” with the counry of Mongolia is misleading. The tribes that conqured what came to be the Mongol empire were a collection on stateless nomadic tribes who united under the leadership of Ghingis Khan. There was nothing like a country of “Mongolia” at the time. While the country took its name form the steppe people and is populated by their ethnic decsendents, there was nothing like a Mongolia until a long time after there was a China.

As for the Mongols’ lack public relations. Actually, they had a very effective machine. There is nothing quite like a pyramid of skulls to convey the message “surrender or die”.

September 21, 2005 @ 2:23 am | Comment

Leaving Taiwan last week, I noted that it still styles itself: The Republic of China. So it is not just Beijing which clings to “out-dated nomenclature.” And whatever aboriginal (and later Japanese)element may yet exist in Taiwan, it is a small pebble in an overwhelmingly Chinese country. By language, culture, political organization, and history, it is hard to argue that Taiwan is not Chinese when it so obviously is, or that Taiwanese are any less Chinese than Fukienese, Beijingese, Macanese, or Hong “Kongese”. It is obvious that certain political circles in Taiwan wish to emphasize their Taiwanese identity first, I assume as a means of generating more support among voters who still view Taiwan as “the ROC”. They have every right to do so. Singapore, despite a larger percentage of non-Chinese and an obvious multicultural political constitution, is essentially an overseas Chinese state. Why can’t there be room for two or more such states? China itself has seen more than one period with multiple Chinese states. Unfortunately, that would require a level of political maturity that the most powerful Chinese state of the moment has yet to exhibit. And as there is nothing in Taiwan that is presently worth the bones of a single U.S. marine, it is up to Taiwan to look to defending its own independence by allocating a porportionate amount to upgrading its defence forces and systems. It can hardly guarantee that it will never be invaded, but by means of judicious diplomacy and serious defence preaparations, Taiwan could make itself an especially bitter pill to swallow.

September 21, 2005 @ 2:23 am | Comment

How about an application of Keating theory in Great Britain?

September 21, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment


Taiwan “clings to outdated namenclature” because China ha all but promised to invade if it ever changes its name to Taiwan, which change China claims would be “splitest”.

Chen would love to change the name but dare not because of China’s reaction.

September 21, 2005 @ 2:42 am | Comment

Taiwan is called ROC because the defeated KMT refused to accept the fact the China is no longer theirs 60 years ago. It’s not present day Taiwanese’s choice. Before and during KMT’s occupation, the idea of using Taiwan as the country’s rightful name was raised many times, and ruthlessly and bloodily put down. Conrad’s comment explains the present day dilemma.

The point of Keating’s piece is that China is not a pre-defined concept as claimed by CCP. It’s obviously not backed by history in terms of ethnic makeup or boarder. If I follow Lin’s argument that people define what China is, by the same token, people can also unmake China. It’s called the right to self-determination. Through out history, China had multiple political entities in more than one occasions. To have many China’s may not be a bad thing.

September 21, 2005 @ 3:29 am | Comment

I agree that Taiwanese are partly to blame. They have always stuck to the fact that they are Chinese. As far as history is concerned Taiwan has been a part of other countries just as long as it has been apart of China. Holland, Japan, Renegade Ming generals, not to mention that the aboriginies were there first.

September 21, 2005 @ 4:15 am | Comment

It’s a simple of matter of whats mine is mine and whats yours is also mine. Jumping through convoluted intellectual hoops to rationalize Taidu doesn’t change anything, albeit I will admit Keiting is too clever by half for his own good. Manchuria is already some 90+% han, Inner Mongolia is over 80%, Xinjiang already 50% and Tibet is on its way. Give it a few more decades and the process will be complete. What you will be left with will the bleating of powerless minorities and dispossessed schismatics.

If Keating’s article is an attempt at post-colonial discourse, its a poor one. All I see is a hackneyed attempt of no more detail than a high school history textbook to obfuscate the actual issue of Taiwan.

p.s. I can smell a separatists whenever “In perpetuity” is mentioned when referencing the treaty of Shimonoseki. The problem with treaties is that they are rarely in perpetuity, particularly those met as a result of a military engagement. In fact, Shimonoseki was abrogated no sooner than it was concluded as other territories also ceeded “in perpetuity” were renegotiated back to China (Southern Fengtien now no longer even exists). Shrill pedantry has always been a staple of separatists and one wonders how their minds work if they expect two mere words enough to rationalize it.

September 21, 2005 @ 6:49 am | Comment

Jing, it looks like Jerome has struck a nerve. “Shrill pedantry.” Now, keep those words in mind, and re-read your comment. 🙂

September 21, 2005 @ 7:03 am | Comment

What can I say, I have a poor tolerance for what I perceive to be “asshattery”. My nerves are otherwise like steel. 🙂

September 21, 2005 @ 7:07 am | Comment

interesting article from a historical perspective.

other than that, pls refrain from trying to justify the taiwan independence by playing the “culture” or “history” cards. this is rather an elementary trick not different from CCP propaganda war.

September 21, 2005 @ 7:39 am | Comment


are you traveling in china?

September 21, 2005 @ 7:55 am | Comment

Yes, I am still waiting for my passport to come back though. It should be here within a week and I am hoping it hasn’t been lost somewhere along the way.

September 21, 2005 @ 8:03 am | Comment


You seem to be infering that there’s nothing wrong with Han Chinese flooding an area belonging to another ethnic group and taking it over. Isn’t that basically a land grab and thus conquest.

I thought China was against imperialism. Or is it only against non-Chinese imperialism, because China deserves special dispensation?

September 21, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment

Keating’s description are quite accurate in terms of historical facts.

i would just like to add a few points
1. the fact that China (or Han Chinese) idenitified with Qing (and less with Yuan) is due to the fact that Qing is sinified. (to the extent that the Manchurian language is more or less dead today)
2. this actually helped to show that the Han Chinese culture is inward looking and not expansionist. almost all the terriroty expansion were the effort of Mongol and Jurchen. (and for jurchen, once they sinified, the expansion stopped)
3. a minor point about inner mongolia: it is largely Han inhabited, and arguably the people are more “fortunate” (economically) under China rule, than those in outer mongolia today, where kids live under Ulan Bator sewage in winter. (but people in HK/TW are luckier than those in mainland)
4. keating probably tried to use this to show that tibet and taiwan may not neccessarily belong to China. he could/should also draw parallel and compare to the Russian Siberia, Pacific America/Florida, Sikkim, Okinawa and many other areas in the world. His argument is certainly a lot more rational compared to DPP’s fake history claim (e.g. China “relinquished” (should be ceded) taiwan to Japan in 1895, Japan passed control of TW to china (should be returned or ceded back), or total nonsense like Japan ceded TW to US in SF Treaty, or bigger nonsense of changing the name of brief resistant movement “Forever Qing” 1895 into “Republic of Taiwan”).

my personal view is that historic argument is only valid as far as preventing foreign intervention (from japan or US). what the local people vote supersedes history. whether TW should be an independent country or part of a ‘china federation’ is entirely up to the people’s vote.

September 21, 2005 @ 11:38 am | Comment

Why is it a land grab Raj? The land is already the territory of the PRC. By all measurements, it is an internal demographic migration, a common enough phenomenon.

Keating’s history is more or less accurate, but my issue is primarily with the semantic games he plays with it as well its incompleteness. His modus operandi is of course to precipitate the ideological expansion of Taidu and the easiest method of this is to assault the construct of “One China”. However his attack on the Chinese state relies on the fact that the territorial boundaries of the Chinese state(s) have shifted in the course of a millenia. An occurence that is hardly unique in the course of civilization. All states today encompass territory that they did not a few centuries ago or vice versa.

As I said earlier, Keating’s history is also woefully incomplete. It suffices in a generalist manner, yet his description of central and east Asia post Mongol injects modern absolutist conceptions of ethnicity and state is misleading. Furthermore, his history completely ignores the complex interplay of Han and non-han peoples and ironically falls prey to the same sinocentric biases he presumes to rail against. Keating operates under the false assumption of a static and monumental boundary between the han and non-han worlds when this was not truely the case. It hadn’t been the case even in the earliest days of Imperial China and it is due to the unbridled arrogance of past Chinese historiography that even today few people realize the genuine complexity of Chinese history. For example, it maybe a surprise but Han peoples have regularly populated areas north of the Great wall, regions in the past regarded as beyond the pale of civilization. Yet they have had a significant impact on the developement of the Chinese state as well as quasi-barbarian states on the periphery of the Chinese world.

Keating’s analogy between the tributary states of the past and present business practices is without a doubt insipid. He is simply mincing words and definitions and is redefining the English language in the process. A tributary state is a vassal state that is in a superior-subordinate relationship with another and retains internal autonomy while yielding external freedoms. Goldman-Sachs is neither nation or state.

Furthermore, I have issues with Keating’s cr*pshoot indictment of academic sinologists. I think perhaps he should realize that the goal is to gain a more thorough understanding and knowledge of Chinese history and not to use a sophmoric version history to push his political agendas.

September 21, 2005 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

All this talk about Chinese history reminds me of our own history:

– What was Manifest Destiny all about? Land grab? Flooding an area belonging to others? You bet.

– What cultural and historical significance was there in Linclon’s “preserve the Union”? So much so it trumps the Confedracy’s right to self-determination? We can have our cake but they can’t?

(Um, no, our civil war wasn’t about freeing the slaves, don’t even try that.)

September 21, 2005 @ 2:03 pm | Comment


You said:

“Manchuria is already some 90+% han, Inner Mongolia is over 80%, Xinjiang already 50% and Tibet is on its way. Give it a few more decades and the process will be complete. What you will be left with will the bleating of powerless minorities and dispossessed schismatics.”

Call it what you will, but this is appropriation of power in someone’s else land (i.e. not that of the Han) by making them a minority there. You seem to show no sympathy for this and actually seem to be taking pleasure in it.

China’s borders, like any other country’s, have changed over time. But current territorial claims seem to have been based upon China at its height – that it was “once a part of China” makes it right to retake it now. If one followed that theory, China would be “justified” to retake places like Vladivostok.

The simple fact is that countries often have to settle for less to promote global harmony. Both France and Germany have been much larger in the past than they are now. The same applies to Russia, India, Iran, Turkey, etc, etc. So why can’t China accept that places like Tibet, Xinjiang, etc can go their separate ways? Why must China reclaim every inch of land that was ever “Chinese”?

September 21, 2005 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

If you don’t believe that Tibet or Xinjiang should ever be separate from China, then tell me your view about Poland. Poland was a country swallowed up by Germany and Russia for hundreds of years – if you think Tibetans and others don’t have a right to self-determination, you’re saying the Poles don’t either.

September 21, 2005 @ 2:06 pm | Comment


i believe in self determination and i think we should be open to what the people decide.

however, any presumption that tibet/xinjiang should be a separate country is just as wrong as saying russia should be limited to the Duchy of Moscovite, or comparing to andaman in india, oir hawaii in USA.

there is already a set of (though imperfect) international rules to determine what comprise of soverignty (# year of de facto occupation/etc), and all our discussions here (including and esp. Keating’s) tend to muddle the fact that this is never a clear cut issue and also that there is already a set of international rules governing such dispute (incl self-determination).

let history be history, and let international laws be international laws. all our amateur discussions (including that from myself and keating’s) would only lead to irrational debate based on one’s own POV. so i stop here.

September 21, 2005 @ 2:26 pm | Comment


All most of us, including the Tibetans, want is for Tibet to gain real autonomy free from the domination of the CCP. The right to control their own affairs (I don’t think they care about international politics atm). That’s it.

September 21, 2005 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

For whatever tangential “agendas” others may derive from the article, I do applaud it for dismantling the often heard, “X has always been a part of China” rhetoric.

I think the main thrust of Keating’s article is to attack the underlying bases for this argument, for it rests on the assumption that “China” is the central and controlling factor in what is otherwise a bilateral relationship. When someone says “X has always been a part of China,” what X constitutes and what kind of relationship X had with China is always deemed irrelevant. China is the dominating and controlling factor, even where it has been the subordinate. It can never be the other way around, “China has always been a part of X” is never a consideration.

What Keating does do is to reveal the illogical leaps people make when they mix and blur the line between modern China and the different past forms of “China,” the disconnect between application of modern concepts of ethnicity, statehood, and identity.

For instance, the use of the term “tributary state” typically refers to a political unit that is under the direct suzerainty of a larger and more powerful state. However, as applied to the past Chinese dynasties in their relations to their neighbors, this definition is often incorrect. In modern terms, the relationship between the tributary states and the Chinese dynasty would be akin to Most Favored Nation status. Depending on the era, most tributary states became part of the tributary system willingly. Most of the “tributary states” never had military or direct dealings with China, and many, such as Vietnam, Korea, were able to rebuff Chinese military advances. For most of China’s tributary states, submission to the tributary system was by their own free will, in recognition of the larger economic and political benefits that would be derived from it. Submission to the tributary system did not necessarily mean submission to Chinese political or military authority. For instance, after a millennium of Chinese colonization, Vietnam still submitted to the tributary system, while it nonetheless rebuffed Chinese military advances and did not recognize Chinese political/military interference in its internal affairs. It also pursued separate economic and foreign policies. Especially during and after Song China, the tributary system basically amounted to a formalized system of economic trade, a system whose main goal was to perpetuate the idea of China being the central and preeminent state. As a side note, the system often resulted in huge trade deficits with tributary states, for China was always obliged to give out more impressive “gifts” in return for “tribute.” The system also meant that so as long as the “tributary state” recognized China’s preeminence, China would by and large not interfere with that state’s internal matters. As used today, people mistakenly assert that the tribute system meant actual Chinese control, militarily and politically.

I would also take exception to the Manchus. Although they were Sinified, they are nonetheless a separate and distinct ethnicity, any amount of Sinification does not change the fact that they are different, and are treated by Han differently. Most of the Sinification occurred within the last hundred years, during the late-Qing for Manchus living in the South, and overall speeding up during the early Republican Era and Mao years due to actual and feared persecution. There is a distinction between nationality and ethnicity.

Separatist or unification arguments basically rest on two grounds, on one hand a historical-cultural one, on the other hand, a political-military one. Keating’s article focuses on the historical-cultural grounds. Justifications would be factually incorrect if one were to use the “X has always been a part of China” argument. It would be more correct if one were to say, “X has been conquered by China, and China is unwilling to let it go.” In the modern world, just like in the past, the issue is ultimately settled on political-military might. I believe it is primitive and hardly speaks to a vision of the world where equal justice is at least acknowledged, but as the saying goes, might still makes right, fair or not.

September 21, 2005 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

I think the article of Keating can be labelled as “quibbling”. However, he proves the point that history is not a science and vulnerable for political bias.

Currently, the US has gained more territory than China ever has in her history. Starting with the original 13 states, it expanded quite rapidly Westwards. By colonisation and migration, it was able to keep its hands on these territories, and nowadays, these territories are solidly part of the US.

China is not much different I guess, just wait for a couple more decades.

September 21, 2005 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

Here’s the standard line on Xinjiang’s history as part of China, courtesy of CRI’s new website:

Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been inhabited by many ethnic groups believing in a number of religions. Since the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24 A.D.), it has been an inseparable part of the unitary multi-ethnic Chinese nation. In the more than 50 years since the People’s Republic of China was founded, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, with concerted and pioneering efforts, have jointly written brilliant pages in the annals of its development, construction and frontier defense, causing earth-shaking changes in the social outlook of the region.

This little paragraph has been reproduced in multiple languages for nearly any book coming out of China regarding Xinjiang. University, high school and primary textbooks begin with it. Most Xinhua and CRI articles on Xinjiang contain some variation on it. This is not an anomaly – most people who study Xinjiang have seen it way, way too many times (that’s a google search using the complete first 2 sentences, giving 41 returns, notably the Xinjiang White Paper – a PRC public document).

Now, show of hands: who finds this language heavy handed and eyebrow raising? You don’t even have to know that Xinjiang was absolutely not part of the Ming Dynasty (map) to find the word “inseperable” odd. How many other national governments throw that word around as part of its propaganda language?

If you’ve ever heard of Tibet and you don’t live on the mainland, then “unitary” and “multi-ethnic” sound awkward together, don’t they?

But if you do know the history, you know that the inseperable 2000 years theory put forward here falls completely to pieces when you mention the following things:

– Mongols
– Qocho
– Yakub Beg
– Ming Dynasty
– Khanate of Khokand
– Zhungars

There are centuries of history being just complete wiped away by the assertion that Xinjiang has been, without interruption, part of a static China. Just like centuries get wiped away every time Americans claim the Indians invited us to thanksgiving dinner and said “take all the land you want, we’re cool”.

The difference is, most American books on Hawaii, California, Utah, etc. don’t start with this. Tell me if this sounds weird:

Since ancient times, California has been inhabited by many ethnic groups believing in a number of religions. Since the time of Hernan Cortes (1535), it has been an inseparable part of the unitary multi-ethnic American nation. In the more than 200 years since the United States of America was founded, the people of all ethnic groups in California, with concerted and pioneering efforts, have jointly written brilliant pages in the annals of its development, construction and frontier defense, causing earth-shaking changes in the social outlook of the region.

September 21, 2005 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

One word, Dave: Brilliant.

September 21, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Nice comments, Everlasting. This is just the game about the balance of the powers. Every country wants to max its benefits. Treating history in the eyes of current ethical guidelines just won’t work. However, still many other commentators may be right as well. Bashing one country without doing comparison with other countries or Dr. Keating’s mother nation will naturally lead to the double standards and incompatibleness of the ethical guidelines that Dr. Keating applies himself in this problem…

Justifications would be factually incorrect if one were to use the “X has always been a part of China” argument. It would be more correct if one were to say, “X has been conquered by China, and China is unwilling to let it go.” In the modern world, just like in the past, the issue is ultimately settled on political-military might. I believe it is primitive and hardly speaks to a vision of the world where equal justice is at least acknowledged, but as the saying goes, might still makes right, fair or not.

Brilliant conclusion, are you a lawyer?
I quit, just can’t argue with you although I admit that I was looking for some thing in your post to lauch an attack.

September 21, 2005 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Personally I’m all for reunification of the former USSR (although not under a Communist government – I simply mean, it would be better for most of the CIS countries to unite with Russia again – EXCEPT for the Baltic states.)

And the reunification of Russia should ESPECIALLY include Kazakhstan, which is of course around 50 percent ethnically Russian, and the majority of ethnic Kazakhs are Russian speakers and very Russified as well. And Kazahstan has been part of Russia for longer than many US states have been part of the US.

So (and I think I raised this on a TPD thread some weeks ago):

After we reunite Kazakhstan with the Mother Russia, then why don’t we also invite the Uighurs to hold a referendum on joining Russia? After all, Xinjiang was part of the Russian Empire within living memory. I’d be willing to be all of my savings, that the majority of native-born people of Xinjiang would vote to give up their “benefits” of belonging to China, and choose instead become part of Russia (and to become closer to their Turkic neighbors there)….
….freedom of religion for starters. The Russian state does not meddle in the religious practices or teachings or doctrines of its millions of Muslims, as China does to its Muslims…..


September 21, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

Haha, Ivan, Great!
I wish Chinese will eventually take over the far east part of current Russia …and
…USSR no more…

September 22, 2005 @ 12:01 am | Comment


“other than that, pls refrain from trying to justify the taiwan independence by playing the “culture” or “history” cards.”

Is this parody or serious? I honestly can’t tell…

September 22, 2005 @ 12:09 am | Comment

One of my favorite moments in Urumqi, which I saw repeat over and over with different Han Xinjiangers and my Canadian friends:

Han: You are Canadian?

Albertan: Yes.

Han: So you understand my feelings on Taiwan! How would you feel about Quebec seperating?

Albertan: I wouldn’t care. In fact, it would save us some money and time and I wouldn’t have to listen to the Quebecois complain all the time.

Han: [flabbergasted, speechless, agape… recovers] hahahaha… good joke.

Albertan: I’m not joking, I don’t care.

Han: [confusion]

September 22, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

I specify Han because you’d never, ever here that line of thinking from a Uyghur.

Unless, of course, he’s regional Chairman Ismaili Tiliwaldi, who claims this is what happens on a typical day in Xinjiang:

“Terrorists are now hated and detested in Xinjiang,” regional Chairman Ismail Tiliwaldi said. “They are like rats running onto the street, and everyone is screaming: ‘Smash them!’”

The Dean Scream, Xinjiang style.

September 22, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment



And as a US citizen from deep in the Blue States (descended from Bluecoat Yankees, on my American side), I can tell you that I, and many other Yanks like me, would be happy to see Texas and many other Southern states secede and just, just go away.

More and more, these days I’m sorry that the North won the Civil War. We should have just let the Southern states go away when we had the chance.

And lin, about your suggestion of China taking over the Russian Far East (which used to be Manchurian, not Chinese) – well, I don’t want to rattle sabers on Richard’s site, but I will say: In your dreams. If China ever threatened Vladivostok, Russia would turn Beijing into an ashtray without warning.

And I know what Russian troops are made of. Solid stuff which you don’t want to test. In a combat situation, or in a street fight, I’d rather have one good Russian on my side, rather than 100 Chinese – because I’ve seen the difference between Russian mettle and Chinese mettle. Simply put: For all of their blather and hot air, overall the Chinese lack personal valour. But Russians have a surplus of it….

…and that’s why the Russians threw back Hitler at Stalingrad almost single-handedly, and they were indispensable to the war against Hitler – while the Chinese were never able to liberate themselves from Japan until America did it for them, and then the Russians finished the job for China….

….and so, I think the CCP is very ungrateful to Russia now. The CCP owes its existence AND its power,
to Russia….


September 22, 2005 @ 2:23 am | Comment


Why not just take over the whole world while you’re at it…… :p

September 22, 2005 @ 4:05 am | Comment

What can I say, I have seen some insightful comments here. More are watching exactly what I am getting at and not jumping when flashpoint words come up.
(I will say however, I am not sure how to take Ivan–Russian, Yankee ???)

For the record, though I know Jing, Bing Feng etc. won’t believe me, my beef has been on and remains with western historians and sinologists who for reasons I mentioned don’t want to take on the nomenclature issue.

Ok, I also admit to a dig or two at Chinese historians and use the words post-colonial and revisionism because in their didactic tradition the use of such words would be tantamont to admiting one can question 5000 years of tradition.

As for Taiwan, I actually agree with Sun bin; let the Taiwanese people vote; but with missles piling up on the other side of the Strait, I don’t hear sentiment allowed.

As everlasting noted, my aim has been to dismantle the rhetoric (western historians as I have said woefully avoid and/or fail in their duty as historians by perpetuating it)

From Davesgonechina’s excellent quote, I would bet that Chinese historians are likewise doing little in dismantling the same rhethoric–(anyone want to bring up the Japanese historians issue in comparison)

Oh yes, I was tongue in cheek on Goldman Sachs as a nation (no I don’t consider it such) but it does illustrate how one action can be spoken of in so many different ways and from different points of view. History is not the science that historians would like to claim it is.

As for Jing’s comment, I would like to know what he feels the actual issue of Taiwan is. I don’t think he answered Raj’s responses and questions on land grabs? Please don’t answer that with the usual, “well other people have done it.” What are the principles you believe in?

And as for Jing’s speaking of the “genuine complexity of true Chinese History” that is too much of a fudge factor statement saying “therefore I don’t have to try to explain my position.”



September 22, 2005 @ 4:27 am | Comment


Good one! But you know, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you suggest that China take over the whole world…

…because, China’s ghastly and Dark Age political tradition (inherited derivatively – through the trade routes – from Darius of Persia, the “King of Kings”) is to assume that China is the centre of the World. All the world ALREADY belongs to China. “All Under Heaven”

….most “Sinologists” (as well as most Chinese “historians”) do not know, that the origin of this Sinocentric Imperialism, actually came from ancient Persia….

….the First Emperor (221-206 BCE)
learned his psychotic notion about being the “Son of Heaven”, the “King of Kings”, secondhand, derivatively, from stories which came into his barbarian part of Western China through the old trade routes – and the original idea was from Persia, from Darius, the King of Kings….

….just like most aspects of “traditional” Chinese culture, the cult of Emperor worship and of a strong centralized Empire, came from outside of China, and then the Chinese adapted it and corrputed it in their own ways. Sinocentric imperialism has its roots in ancient Persia….

….and the Persian ideal of the “Son of Heaven, the King of Kings” had its roots in ancient Sumer (in what is now Iraq). That is where the most ancient collective royal tombs were/are. The terra-cotta warriors of XiAn, are an imitation of a far older ritual from Sumer. And so is the entire Chinese cult of the Emperor-God, the Centre of the Universe, the Solar God, the Son of Heaven….it all comes from Sumer, through Persia, to relatively recent China circa 200 BCE….

….and so, in that sense, yes China CAN claim to be 5,000 years old, in the sense that China’s conception of the Centralised State is still very much like that of Sumer, of Mesopotamia of 5,000 years ago……

September 22, 2005 @ 5:13 am | Comment


And even the halo, the radiant penumbra of light radiating around Chairman Mao’s head in the propaganda posters of the Cultural Revoution:

…that halo around Mao’s head, ALSO comes from Persia! The King of Kings, the Solar God, the Son of Light.
Throughout the world, all “halos” come originally from Persian influences, from the Middle Eastern cult of the “King of Kings, the Son of Heaven….”

So in THAT sense, yes, China is very old. Too old, in that sense. Politically, China was stuck in the year 3,000 BCE, during the Cultural Revoltion of the 1960s……..

September 22, 2005 @ 5:18 am | Comment


Ah, now I see, you wrote, “I am not sure how to take Ivan – Russian, Yankee?”

You got it. Both. American born, US citizen, part Russian, lived in Russia for some years.

September 22, 2005 @ 5:24 am | Comment

Just a parting shot:

SLAVA! Za Vellikii Rossiya!
Slava, za Rossiya i Christos!
Slava Bogu!
Slava Bogu, i slava za vcyo zemlyeh za Velkikii Rossiya!

All glory to Great Russia, the great Defender of God, the defender of God on Earth!

Slava, Slava za svatoii Christos Vosckressenye! Slava Bogu! Slava, za Maria, Mat, Mother Maria, the Sainted Mother of Great Russia! The Mother of All the World, Saint Mary blesses all the World!

Slava, za Svatoii Alexander Nyevskii!

Slava, velikii Kitai! (Great China)

Slava, velikii America!

Slava, slava, and blessings to Great Russia and – as all Russians say – Glory and blessings to ALL THE WORLD! Iy Zdrastvuitye VCYOOOOOOOOH!…..! 🙂

You can never go wrong with a Russian blessing. Russia wants ALL the world to be blessed by God……


…now, can the CCP come up with anything to match THAT?

September 22, 2005 @ 9:15 am | Comment

you have been high for quite some time in this post. That’s not healthy…:)

September 22, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

I am glad Jerome agrees with me. 🙂

The discussion his essay initiated lead to this conclusion: the “this has been my territory” argument is outdated. I guess we could all agree more or less to it. What matters in the 21st century, is to respect the people’s choice. All the history arguments are irrelevant and should be superseded.

I would raise a couple hypothetical questions to illustrate this point:
If Guangdong voted to be independent, should it be allowed?
On the other hand, before Xinjiang cast a vote, can anyone of you here bet all your assets that they would vote for independence?
My take is that, it is equally wrong to assume that 67% of Taiwan people would vote for independence than to assume they would not. So it is equally wrong to blame China’s claim of Taiwan than blaming Chen SB’s DPP’s independence. Because niether knows the vote result today. (But you can certainly blame CCP for blocking such vote! and blame them for threatening the use of force)
I am surprised that many of our firends here (presumably americans?) would assume that they know what the local people think.

On the history issue:
My take is rather simple. this is realpolitik and it applies to any nation in the world.
So some people in mainland China is trying to play with the rule of what the West (and “international law”) has set, through citing history to prove one’s sovereignty. Of course this could sound ridiculous (but isn’t it also riduculous for many other democratic countries as well? India’s NEFA, Japan’s Kurile, and what about the present day border of Poland). China is not alone, and it is unfair to accuse them just for its bad choice of language.
A fair deabte is to argue in the legal perspective, using definition of “how many years of occupations = soveriegnty”/etc. Apparently no one seems to point to this except, maybe “everlasting”.

You could get technical into this argument, and I am not sure you can blame China to be worse than US/Russia/UK(gibraltar) when you apply the same criteria. However, as i alleged in the beginning, the result is not even relevant, because this is an outdated concept, if one believes in self-determination.

September 22, 2005 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Good comment Sun-Bin. I would raise one further point, most ‘Americans’ and other non-Chinese, especially those who have strong opinions on the Taiwan issue have actually lived and worked in Taiwan.

The same cannot be said for 99% of Mainland Chinese people (who hold VERY strong views towards Taiwan) and perhaps a fair number of commenters above like, for example, Jing.

Therefore I would say that those who have actually lived in Taiwan understand the feelings of Taiwanese people above and beyond the vast majority of “Taiwan is China – because we say so” blinded-by-nationalism people who not only twist history to their liking but also steam-roller over the feelings of Taiwanese people.

Like Jerome, I am not necessarily an advocate of Taiwanese ind3pendence but, unlike the Chinese nationalists, I do support the right of Taiwanese people to decide this matter for themselves. This point, however, seems to be lost on Chinese nationalists – most of whom will never set foot in Taiwan.

September 22, 2005 @ 4:43 pm | Comment



note also that we only see the more vocal in the internet. the moderates in china tend to stay silent.

michael thurton disagreed with my hypothesis that a democratic china will be very unlikely to use force against taiwan. i don’t have data to prove my point. but i would like to point out how people’s opinion would change over time. 15 years ago DPP (of Taiwan Independence) supporters were around 10% in taiwan at best. Today it is 30-40%+ (some said this is in part a result of the childish reaction from CCP, which alienated the moderates in Taiwan).
The same might apply to the % of those who disagree with a force solution in China (10% today), esp after they have themselves fought for and succeeded in getting their own right to choose a leader (40% in 1 or 2 decades?).

i came into this view after spending 2 years living and doing business in taiwan. in the process i got to know many people, blue and green. that helped me to understand why some do not want to be chinese (KMT/CCP both turned out to become big disappointments, while the japanese colonists had done less evil in taiwan!) and respect their choice.

what Chen SB needs to do is to encourage more mainland chinese to visit taiwan and learn about what has led to the current thinking. unfortunately he does not seem to understand this.
for chinese people (i guess for all human being in general as well), it is hard to endorse such a war if they have some good friends living in the war-zone. the first thing they think about is would my friend suffer from this conflict.

September 22, 2005 @ 7:26 pm | Comment

Point taken about the moderate voices often being silent. However, I’d slightly disagree by saying that there are few moderate voices concerning Taiwan in Mainland China…certainly according to my own knowledge and experience.

Actually, your own site is a bit of a treasure trove of Taiwan posts, the contents of which I (mostly) heartily agree with.

For the benefit of other readers, I’m thinking of three posts in particular. I’ll link to them via proxy so they are available to all as the latest one STILL isn’t on your mirror site!

Sun Tze: “supreme excellence is winning the war without fighting” – there’s no point stocking weapons.

Taiwan’s defense options.

Taoist Lao Zi as a strategist, and the Taiwan issue

September 22, 2005 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

Some interesting comments in this thread, but generally it’s the same old same old …

There was one comment that really made me sit forward and laugh though. Bingfeng’s “Other than that, pls refrain from trying to justify the taiwan independence by playing the “culture” or “history” cards. this is rather an elementary trick not different from CCP propaganda war.”

I see I wasn’t the only person to be a bit startled by it. My own view is that Bingfeng means it seriously … which makes it either funny or outrageous. If it is intended as parody, then it’s brilliant.

I’ll repeat a comment I made before in a previous thread. Everyone seems to assume that it is inevitable that Tibet will be swallowed. Quite the contrary … if you take a long term historical perspective, you’ll see that as soon as Chinese stability comes to an end, so will its possession of Tibet, and there will be floods of Han getting the hell out.

Oh yeah … someone else said something about how all Chinese are the same whether they were within the borders of China or not, at a particular historical point. Or something along those lines. The problem with this point is that it isn’t correct … the northern Chinese are mostly descended from Mongol, Jurchen, and various other peoples … it’s onlt really the southern Chinese who represent any kind of continuous link … I guess the reason you’re not aware of this is because no one in China is permitted to study it or talk about it because they would be accussed of being “splittist”. Why do you think northerners look different? It’s because they have a different genetic heritage. If, instead, we’re talking about being culturally Chinese, then that’s all well and good, until you care to examine the rest of the world to see if it’s justified for people of same/similar cultural heritage to form separate countries or not … Of course, that’s why there’s alway such a shrill insistence that you can’t apply examples from anywhere else in the world to China … because then it would be too obvious what the right answer would be.

September 22, 2005 @ 7:52 pm | Comment

p.s. perhaps many of the non-chinese poster here have been to taiwan. but there are 40% votes against the DPP view which they seem to have ignored, by taking side and making assumptions. (same for tibet and xinjiang issues). but it is not credible to criticize CCP if one is not fully objective from the start.

i am not trying to defend CCP’s view, i actually think it is wiser for china to spin off HK and Macau to get 2 more seats in UN/IOC (like ukraine inside USSR) -:). i am all for TW joinging the UN, as a personal opinion.

September 22, 2005 @ 7:55 pm | Comment


The “Han” Chinese are certainly not a coherent, single ethnic group – far from it. The term “Han” is a political term not a racial one. That’s why, of course, we have tall, pale northeners and squat, dark-skinned southerners. Han doesn’t even have a single culture or language never mind simialr racial traits.

Saying someone is Chinese is more akin to saying they are European.

The stuff about “we’re all descendants of the Yellow Emperor” is…a bit desparate to say the least.

September 22, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

Sun Bin said:

p.s. perhaps many of the non-chinese poster here have been to taiwan. but there are 40% votes against the DPP view which they seem to have ignored, by taking side and making assumptions. (same for tibet and xinjiang issues).

What? Huh? Where? 40% of Tibet and Xinjiang voted against the DPP? 40% of Taiwan is against Tibet and Xinjiang seperating? Help me out, Sun, how does this apply to Xinjiang and Tibet?

September 22, 2005 @ 9:44 pm | Comment


please don’t put your words into my mouth.

i said,
1. there are 40% in taiwan who may not agree with you that taiwan does not belong to china. i keep an open mind on this issue, but you are clearly taking side, even though you are not eligible to vote in taiwan.
2. i said we should also keep an open mind on xinjiang/tibet issue, because we have no data to support either view yet. but i support finding that out with a vote.
martyn said you guys have been to taiwan, ok. but i do know how many of you have been to xinjiang or tibet. and what made you concluded that they should be independent, and what right do you have on such issue. (i don’t have any right other, but i am not trying take side. that is the difference)

now i have not been to tibet, so i keep my mouth shut, except that i think the decision should be left to the people there.
i have been to xinjiang, i know there are many other ethnic groups, like kazakh/etc. i have talked to uighurs and kazakhs.
they may (i said “may” as a possibility not a prediction) feel more comfortable under the china umbrella than uighurs taking charge. but i have no good data, and i would keep an open mind, unlike you.

September 22, 2005 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

OK, who’s putting words in who’s mouth here? Settle down, Sun. My last post was simply to ask what you meant, because you were rather ambiguous. That’s why I asked if it meant Xinjiang’s opinion of Taiwan or vice versa.

and what made you concluded that they should be independent, and what right do you have on such issue. (i don’t have any right other, but i am not trying take side. that is the difference)

Excuse me, did I say something to give you the impression that I “concluded that they should be independent”? I was simply asking if you meant there had been votes re: Tibet and Xinjiang.

and i would keep an open mind, unlike you.

Alright, now you’ve inferred quite a bit from my asking what on earth you meant. All you should have come away with is that you wrote a confusing sentence.

I’m all for a vote. After 3 years in Xinjiang, I’m pretty sure I can tell you the breakdown – assuming it was held tomorrow and Uighurs felt confident it wasn’t a trap (yknow, like the 100 Flowers Bloom trap). I figure the Uighurs would overwhelmingly vote for independence. Is that a good idea? Geopolitically, I have a hard time seeing how that would be better. Personally, if I had a say, I’d go for Xinjiang remaining part of China but the PRC not publishing mindless crap about Xinjiang being eternally part of China. I think they could live together if there was less repression, paranoia and inequality.

September 22, 2005 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

dave……i looked at earlier comments and see that you have been to xinjiang. so i take back part of my words and apologize. but i stand with my comment that we as outsiders are not elegible (and not knowledgeable enough) to take side, except for the issue of a fair vote.

thanks for the links. i have to say my thoughts are also rather preliminary and am open to debate.
regarding the difference among chinese, yes you are right that the gene pool of Han is quite diverse. however, the culture is rather coherent.

i have to disagree with #9’s claim that it is forbidden to study the variation among “han” people. there are a lot of studies on Manchurian, mongolian and other ethnic language and culture (CCP set up an Ethnic University also). if you know people in beijing, you would know many manchurian people who are no different from Han except on their ID card. and it is ok to study their family histories. they are also incentived to keep the ethnic lable as there are some preferential treatments.
another evidence is that there are even studies on a jewish village in Quanzhou, Fujian (a marooned group of jewish merchant left there many centuries ago)

the reason that there is not much study going on is simply a result of lack of interests, or that these culture subcumbed to Han influence, way before CCP took power, hence not much available data.
the reasons such studies are not suppressed is because they do not pose a threat to CCP, or to split the country. because, not many people care or can trace their ancestors now. and as i said before, the culture and language is rather coherent.
I am sure it would have been forbidden if it is really a threat of ‘splitting the country’. but the situation is just not like that.

September 23, 2005 @ 12:02 am | Comment

dave…you beat me to my apologies with a few minutes 🙂

September 23, 2005 @ 12:04 am | Comment

and i apologize again for a confusing sentence. (and for being lazy to write with clarity). please accept 🙂

September 23, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment


“other than that, pls refrain from trying to justify the taiwan independence by playing the “culture” or “history” cards.”

Is this parody or serious? I honestly can’t tell…

Posted by Johnny K at September 22, 2005 12:09 AM


some taiwan separatists have been trying to justify their political airms by proving that taiwanese have less “chinese blood” but more “pacific islander blood”

my point is that any of their attempts should be based on valid discussions such as the “democracy card”, trying to prove that taiwanese are not culturally and ethnically chinese are just stupid and doesn’t help their separation movement and i won’t like to discuss such topics with them

September 23, 2005 @ 9:33 am | Comment

Sun Bin

Firstly I disagree that your Taiwan posts are ‘preliminary’. I consider those posts I linked to above as some of the best quality Taiwan-related articles on any of the blogs I’ve read. That’s why I linked to them because they are well worth reading.

Re what consititutes “Han” and “Chinese”, I also disagree that Han share a coherent culture. That’s pushing it to say the least.

Chinese historians/anthrapologists take the facts, twist them, turn them upside down, inside out, wrong way round, on their head and serve the whole lot of half-baked half-truths, exagerrations and misnomers as a true dog’s dinner – and they expect the whole world not to see it for what it really is: a dog’s dinner.

For example, Ghengis Khan wasn’t Chinese then but he is now.

Manchu culture was completely differnent from what one might call ‘Chinese’ culture. The bloody qipao for instance is Manchurian not Chinese – although it’s Chinese now.

T1bet was always Chinese, rubbish, during large parts of history China was part of T1bet – a fact never mentioned in Mainland history books – as those Chinese princesses who went to marry T1betan kings in order to keep the T1betans happy would testify.

Too many examples to mention.

I’m with davesgonechina on one point, I just wish that sometimes the CCP would tell the truth instead of expecting the world to believe rubbish.

T1bet and Xinj1ang are part of China through military might. China won’t be allowed dem0cr@cy because the CCP don’t want to lose power. I wish they’d just say these things rather than the rubbish they currently spout.

September 23, 2005 @ 9:44 am | Comment

“i am not trying to defend CCP’s view”


just amazed how many chinese (and laowai) say this nonsense bullshit when they ARE actually trying to defend CCP’s views

there is another similar saying in china – “i don’t like japanese, but you have to admit that japan …” or “i am always anti-japan, but this time you know …”

September 23, 2005 @ 9:50 am | Comment

i was talking about specifically the narrow definition of “Han”, 92% of the population, including those who assimilated 1000 years ago, but not the manchurian who has their ID card as manchurian.

within this 92% it is very coherent.

you are talking about the generalized concept of ‘chinese’ (zhonghua m1nzu).

we are not talking about the same thing.

September 23, 2005 @ 1:24 pm | Comment


I think you are probably referring to the term “zh0ng-hua m1nzu”, not “han zu”. The way they defined ‘zh0nghua m1nzu’ include all 56 ethnic groups in china (100% population). If this is what you referred to, you have a point.

Han and Chinese have been both translated into Chinese by careless translators. If you read into the original text there is a difference.

But that is not what “han ethnic group” is defined. i thought we were talking about HAN chinese. but you were obviously talking about the more generic definition of Chinese as PRC has defined ( i.e. by definition, everyone living within the current border of PRC).

Han chinese (those who identified themselves with Han in their identity cards, = 92% of the population), would not include the Manchurians (even if they never learned to speak manchurian, muslim (some are genetically han), but includes descendents of cross marriage from 1000 years ago (who were not genetically han). This group of people is quite coherent. this is what i have said in my previous comment.

i think even in the PRC definition, these are different concepts. But, of course, they tried to emphasized the broader definition.

September 23, 2005 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

Sun Bin

You completely miss the point of what I was saying about restrictions on studying the different origins of the Chinese. Just have a look at the WAY in which the different races are studied. Even by calling them “ethnic minorities” you’ve already presupposed a certain political ownership over them. One thing that constantly bugs me concerns one of my specialist areas: Xiongnu studies. I get annoyed when Chinese people frequently try to tell me that they’re a Chinese ethnic minority. It’s the same old same old … because they happened to inhabit an area that is (partly) within the borders of modern China, then they must have always been Chinese. It’s the same nonsense spouted about Taiwan: because Taiwan came to be politcally Chinese (at a relatively late stage of Chinese history), then it becomes, retrospectively, “China’s for all eternity”

September 25, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

The posting by Dr. Keating provides a logical description about the topic of “Territorial integrity of One-China”, but only from a Western point of view. He clearly missed the point of what an “Empire / state” in the Chinese mindset means. From the Confucian Chinese perspective, there can only be one and only one emperor on the land, just as only one sun in the sky. All the other rulers of the land can only carry a title of “kings”. China had a long tradition of granting self-rule to her border people. But that doesn’t mean the border people didn’t accept the Chinese emperor as their soverign overlord. As a matter of fact, the official historical map of China would never have (and never need) a border. It was not necessary because there is only one soverign state – the state of China.

As a result, the Chinese territorial claim is not irrevelant from the Chinese perspective, nor the Chinese are holding double standards. There is no such thing called the Mongolian Empire nor the Machu Empire in Chinese history. Offically Yuan or Qing are just the names of the Chinese state at those time periods of time. And China would never claim Japan nor The European part of Russia as part of China. These lands were always outside China and never accepted the soverignty of the Chinese Emperor. (Eurpoean Russia was part of the Golden Horde Khanate of the “Mongolian Empire” but was never part of Kublai Khan’s Yuan. Kublai Khan ascended to the throne without getting the universal agreements of all the Mongolian princes and was never regarded as the Khan of the pan-Mongolian Empire. He was treated as the founder of the Chinese dynasty of Yuan. The rule of Yuan extends from Tibet to Korea, and from Vietnam to Siberia.)

Throughout the Chinese history, Chinese civilization and so as the state of China has been expanding geographically, just like the Western Civilization. The difference is the Western civilization championed the concept of independence, while the Chinese civilization emphasizes on centralization. Disrepecting the Chinese territorial claims is just like taking away Palestine from the Arab world or telling Israel to give up Jerusalem. It is culturally insensitive and unwise if only the Weatern perspective is considered in dealing with such topic.

June 5, 2006 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

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