Mainland Chinese Historiography in Search of New National and Global Narratives: Analyzing Recent Historiography on the Tributary System of Interstate Relations under the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1912 CE)
The present article is a discourse analysis of recent (since 2000) mainland Chinese historiography on the Sinocentric tributary system of East Asian interstate relations during China’s Ming (1368–1644 CE) and Qing (1644–1912 CE) dynasties. The article focuses on various strands of Chinese nationalism in the discourse, classified as “rigid”/exclusionist, “soft”/cultural, and liberal. The article discusses the various roles played by these strands of nationalism in the discourse, and the possible future influences of tributary system historiography on China’s evolving self-perception as a nation-state, as well as a regional and global actor. The article argues that “soft”/ cultural nationalism dominates the discourse with many authors emphasizing China’s supposed pre-modern culture of pacifist great power politics, implicitly or explicitly advocating the reference value of the topic for China’s present and future international relations.