21 May 2007

I had a request not too long ago for more maps on the site. So here are some images of the Chinese Century of Humiliation Atlas, available at this 163 forum. You can read a good analysis of the atlas and the role of humiliation in the official interpretation of Chinese history in this PDF “National Insecurities: Humiliation, Salvation and Chinese Nationalism”. This book may only be 11 yuan online, and probably not widely read in urban and middle class circles, but it is on a list of 2,090 titles recommended for 1,550 rural farmers libraries by the Central Propaganda Ministry.

The Cover

Imperialism in 1840

The “Century of Humiliation” refers to the 100+ years from the First Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. While the phrase isn’t exactly part of normal conversation these days, it certainly is still in use. An online martyrs memorial website, 血铸中华, or “Blood Casting Chinese”(?), uses the URL http://www.china1840-1949.net.cn/ has a redirect to its main domain name, which is http://xzzh.china5000.cn/, which uses the more well-known reference to China’s 5000 year history. The site is run by the China Youth League (Hu Jintao’s power base) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The introduction at the top of the window, which is not entirely visible, reads

China’s Online Revolutionary Memorial and Modern History Museum! Forever Remembering the Modern Century’s Countless Chinese Sons and Daughters for Resisting the Imperialist Great Powers Invasion, Fighting for National Independence, and Indomitable Struggle towards Liberation, to Achieve the Chinese People’s Great Rejuvenation! Forever Remember the Chinese Heroes Great Service!

China’s Once and Future Glory

The First Opium War Invasion Routes

It’s worth remembering that virulent nationalism is not pandemic across China, the idea of China’s humiliating fall (and subsequent picking itself off the ground - this corollary was the subtext of the documentary The Great Nations) is almost universally accepted, and did not begin with the Communist era. It stretches back to the end of the Qing Dynasty, as reformist Hanscholars quickly sought to interpret Chinese defeat in the Opium War as a sign of a decadent and failing Manchu court - a political battle for power between factions in the government. The Republican era embraced the idea as well, and even had a National Humiliation Day (I believe May 7th). It’s also worth remembering that China sees it’s own “modern era” as beginning with humiliation - the idea of being “modern” is deeply intertwined with being humiliated and weak. One would hope that one day this might change.

Imperialist Routes into China

Japanese Manchuria

Lost Territory



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