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Edited by Michael Lackner, Kwok-kan Tam, Monika Gänssbauer and Terry Siu Han Yip

The essays collected in Fate and Prognostication in the Chinese Literary Imagination deal with the philosophical, psychological, gender and cultural issues in the Chinese conception of fate as represented in literary texts and films, with a focus placed on human efforts to solve the riddles of fate prediction. Viewed in this light, the collected essays unfold a meandering landscape of the popular imaginary in Chinese beliefs and customs.
The chapters in this book represent concerted efforts in research originated from a project conducted at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.

Contributors are Michael Lackner, Kwok-kan Tam, Monika Gaenssbauer, Terry Siu-han Yip, Xie Qun, Roland Altenburger, Jessica Tsui-yan Li, Kaby Wing-Sze Kung, Nicoletta Pesaro, Yan Xu-Lackner, and Anna Wing Bo Tso.

Becoming Human

Li Zehou's Ethics


Jana Rošker

Chinese Character Manipulation in Literature and Divination

The Zichu by Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672)


Anne Kathrin Schmiedl

In Chinese Character Manipulation in Literature and Divination, Anne Schmiedl analyses the little-studied method of Chinese character manipulation as found in imperial sources. Focusing on one of the most famous and important works on this subject, the Zichu by Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672), Schmiedl traces and discusses the historical development and linguistic properties of this method. This book represents the first thorough study of the Zichu and the reader is invited to explore how, on the one hand, the educated elite leveraged character manipulation as a literary play form. On the other hand, as detailed exhaustively by Schmiedl, practitioners of divination also used and altered the visual, phonetic, and semantic structure of Chinese characters to gain insights into events and objects in the material world.

Finding Allies and Making Revolution

The Early Years of the Chinese Communist Party

Tony Saich

Foreign Devils and Philosophers

Cultural Encounters between the Chinese, the Dutch, and Other Europeans, 1590-1800


Edited by Thijs Weststeijn

Moulding the Socialist Subject

Cinema and Chinese Modernity (1949-1966)


Xiaoning LU

Powerful Arguments

Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China


Edited by Martin Hofmann, Joachim Kurtz and Ari Daniel Levine

The essays in Powerful Arguments reconstruct the standards of validity underlying argumentative practices in a wide array of late imperial Chinese discourses, from the Song through the Qing dynasties. The fourteen case studies analyze concrete arguments defended or contested in areas ranging from historiography, philosophy, law, and religion to natural studies, literature, and the civil examination system. By examining uses of evidence, habits of inference, and the criteria by which some arguments were judged to be more persuasive than others, the contributions recreate distinct cultures of reasoning. Together, they lay the foundations for a history of argumentative practice in one of the richest scholarly traditions outside of Europe and add a chapter to the as yet elusive global history of rationality.

Remembering May Fourth

The Movement and its Centennial Legacy


Edited by Carlos Yu-Kai Lin and Victor H. Mair

Visualising Ethnicity in the Southwest Borderlands

Gender and Representation in Late Imperial and Republican China


Jing Zhu

This book explores the mutual constitutions of visuality and empire from the perspective of gender, probing how the lives of China’s ethnic minorities at the southwest frontiers were translated into images. Two sets of visual materials make up its core sources: the Miao album, a genre of ethnographic illustration depicting the daily lives of non-Han peoples in late imperial China, and the ethnographic photographs found in popular Republican-era periodicals. It highlights gender ideals within images and develops a set of “visual grammar” of depicting the non-Han. Casting new light on a spectrum of gendered themes, including femininity, masculinity, sexuality, love, body and clothing, the book examines how the power constructed through gender helped to define, order, popularise, celebrate and imagine possessions of empire.

The Annotated Critical Laozi

With Contemporary Explication and Traditional Commentary


Guying Chen

Edited by Paul D'Ambrosio


Fanxi Wang

Edited by Gregor Benton

Wang Fanxi, a leader of the Chinese Trotskyists, wrote this book on Mao more than fifty years ago. He did so while in exile in the then Portuguese colony of Macau, across the water from Hong Kong, where he had been sent in 1949 to represent his comrades in China, soon to disappear for decades into Mao’s jails. The book is an analytical study whose strength lies less in describing Mao’s life than in explaining Maoism and setting out a radical view on it as a political movement and a current of thought within the Marxist tradition to which both Wang and Mao belonged. With its clear and provoking thesis, it has, since its writing, stood the test of time far better than the hundreds of descriptive studies that have in the meantime come and gone.


Joanne Tsao

In The City of Ye in the Chinese Literary Landscape, Joanne Tsao demonstrates how the city of Ye changed from an iconic space that represented Cao Cao’s heroic enterprise to a symbol of the fruitlessness of human endeavour, and then finally to a literary landmark, a synecdoche for the vicissitudes of human life caught in the predictable cycles of dynastic rise and decline. Through a close reading of literary works on Ye, she illustrates how the city transformed from a lived to imaginative space to become a symbol in the poetic lexicon.
Making use of literary and historical texts on Ye and its material remains through the Song and beyond she shows the potency of place as a generative force in literary production and in historical discourse.


Pierre-Étienne Will

The 1,165 entries of Handbooks and Anthologies for Officials in Imperial China by Pierre-Étienne Will and collaborators provide a descriptive list of extant manuscript and printed works—mainly from the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties—created with the aim to instruct officials and other administrators of imperial China about the technical and ethical aspects of government, and to provide tools and guides to help with the relevant procedures. Both generalist and specialized texts are considered. Among the latter, such disciplines as the administration of justice, famine relief, and the military receive particular attention. Each entry includes the publishing history of the work considered (including modern editions), an analysis of contents, and a biographical sketch of the author.

Life-Practice Educology

A Contemporary Chinese Theory of Education


Lan Ye

In Life-Practice Educology: A Contemporary Chinese Theory of Education Ye Lan presents the theory of a contemporary Chinese school of Educology. It consists of two main parts. The first part proposes a fully formulated view on Life-Practice School of Educology and expounds on current thinking in China that denies the independence of educology as a discipline. The second part explains both inherited and new understandings of the Life-Practice School of Educology, covering Chinese traditional culture and the current debate. It further refines the Chinese understanding of Education (jiaoyu 教育) as teaching the knowledge of nature and society, and cultivating a self-conciousness towards life.

Edited by Paul Goldin and Elisa Levi Sabattini

Lu Jia's New Discourses: A Political Manifesto from the Early Han Dynasty is a readable yet accurate translation by Paul R. Goldin and Elisa Levi Sabattini.
Celebrated as “a man-of-service with a mouth [skilled] at persuasion”, Lu Jia (c. 228-140 BCE) became one of the leading figures of the early Han dynasty, serving as a statesman and diplomat from the very beginning of the Han empire. This book is a translation of Lu Jia’s New Discourses, which laid out the reasons for rise and fall of empires. Challenged by the new Emperor to produce a book explaining why a realm that was conquered on horseback cannot also be ruled on horseback, Lu Jia produced New Discourses, to great acclaim.

Chinese Research Perspectives on Society, Volume 5

Analysis and Forecast of China's Social Conditions (2016)


Edited by Peilin LI, Guangjin Chen and Yi ZHANG


Edited by Xiaofei Kang

This volume includes 14 articles translated from the leading academic history journal in China, Historical Studies of Contemporary China (Dangdai Zhongguo shi yanjiu). It offers a rare window for the English speaking world to learn how scholars in China have understood and interpreted central issues pertaining to women and family from the founding of the PRC to the reform era. Chapters cover a wide range of topics, from women’s liberation, women’s movement and women’s education, to the impact of marriage laws and marriage reform, and changing practices of conjugal love, sexuality, family life and family planning. The volume invites further comparative inquiries into the gendered nature of the socialist state and the meanings of socialist feminism in the global context.

Chinese Research Perspectives on Society, Volume 6

Analysis and Forecast of China's Social Conditions (2017)


Edited by Peilin LI, Guangjin CHEN and Yi ZHANG


Nanny Kim

The commercialized economy of late imperial China depended on efficient transport, yet transport technologies, transport economics as well as its role in local societies and in interdependencies of environments and human activities are acutely under-researched. Nanny Kim analyses two transports systems into the Southwest of Qing China through the long eighteenth century and up to the mid-nineteenth century civil wars. The case studies explore shipping on the Upper Changjiang in Sichuan and through the Three Gorges into Hubei, and road transport out of the Sichuan Basin across northeastern Yunnan and northwestern Guizhou into central Yunnan. Specific and concrete investigations of a river that presented extreme dangers to navigation and carriage across the crunch zone of the Himalayan Plateau provides a basis for a systematic reconstruction of transport outside the lowland centres and their convenient networks of water transport.

China's Old Churches

The History, Architecture, and Legacy of Catholic Sacred Structures in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province


Alan Richard Sweeten

China’s Old Churches, by Alan Sweeten, surveys the history of Catholicism in China (1600 to the present) as reflected by the location, style, and details of sacred structures in three crucial areas of north China. Closely examined are the most famous and important churches in the urban settings of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as lesser-known ones in rural Hebei Province.
Missionaries built Western-looking churches to make a broad religious statement important to themselves and Chinese worshippers. Non-Catholics, however, tended to see churches as sociopolitically foreign and culturally invasive. The physical-visual impact of church buildings is significant. Today, restored old churches and new sacred structures are still mostly of Western style, but often include a sacred grotto dedicated to Our Lady of China--a growing number of Catholics supporting Marian-centered activities.

Edited by Yishan Duan

Chinese Medicine Periodicals from the Late Qing and Republican China: An Overview includes an introduction of 49 periodicals on Chinese medicine published in the late Qing and Republican periods in China. Considered one of the best sources for observing the changing nature of medical practice and education during the late Qing and Republican eras in China, this collection of periodicals provides unique insight into not only the modern transformation of Chinese medicine, but also the larger role of medicine in Chinese society.

The collection of 49 periodicals on Chinese medicine is available online, full-text searchable. For more information on the online database, please visit the Brill webpage.


Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros

In The Culture of Love in China and Europe Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros offer a survey of the cults of love developed in the history of ideas and literary production in China and Europe between the 12th and early 19th century. They describe parallel evolutions within the two cultures, and how innovatively these independent civilisations developed their own categories and myths to explain, exalt but also control the emotions of love and their behavioural expressions. The analyses contain rich materials for comparison, point out the universal and specific elements in each culture, and hint at differences and resemblances, without ignoring the peculiar beauty and attractive force of the texts cultivating love.

The Mandate of Heaven

Strategy, Revolution, and the First European Translation of Sunzi’s Art of War (1772)


Adam Parr

The Mandate of Heaven examines the first European version of Sunzi’s Art of War, which was translated from Chinese by Joseph Amiot, a French missionary in Beijing, and published in Paris in 1772. His work is presented in English for the first time. Amiot undertook this project following the suppression of the Society of Jesus in France with the aim of demonstrating the value of the China mission to the French government. He addressed his work to Henri Bertin, minister of state, beginning a thirty-year correspondence between the two men. Amiot framed his translation in order to promote a radical agenda using the Chinese doctrine of the “mandate of heaven.” This was picked up within the sinophile and radical circle of the physiocrats, who promoted China as a model for revolution in Europe. The work also arrived just as the concept of strategy was emerging in France. Thus Amiot’s Sunzi can be placed among seminal developments in European political and strategic thought on the eve of the revolutionary era.

Contentious Politics in China

Causes, Dynamics, and Consequences


Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li

Alastair Ewan Macdonald


This paper examines the reactions to the trauma of the Ming-Qing dynastic transition in the novellas of a writer known only as “Xiaoxiang mijinduzhe” (The Hazy Crossing Ferryman of Xiaoxiang). His works provide an informative contrast to the more celebrated loyalist literature of the same era: they express unease at foreign rule but do not show an idealistic loyalism to the Ming. Though the Yongle period (1402–1424) of the Ming is held up as a lost golden age, the post-Yongle Ming dynasty is portrayed as an era of corruption and chaos, presided over by incompetent and/or dissolute emperors. The novellas also reflect on the lessons of the transition on a deeper level, questioning the long-standing cultural preference for the civil arts over the martial arts. While the novellas acknowledge the poignancy of the passing of an era, they also strike hopeful notes for the future under the Qing.

Gregory Adam Scott


The Taiping War (1850–1864) destroyed tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of religious sites across China. In the wake of the destruction, Buddhist and other religious leaders led reconstruction campaigns to rebuild temples and monasteries that had been destroyed. This article examines some general trends in the post-Taiping religious reconstruction, and looks at a few case studies of well-known Buddhist monasteries that were rebuilt in the years following the war. I argue that not only was the post-war reconstruction a lively and energetic process, but that it helped to shape Buddhist religious culture long after the first phase of reconstructions were completed. Reconstruction was not simply a return to the status quo ante bellum, but rather an opportunity to introduce change into what was normally a highly stable system.

Olivia Milburn


Zhao Luanluan 趙鸞鸞 is the main protagonist of an early Ming dynasty work of fiction, the “Luanluan zhuan” 鸞鸞傳 or “The Tale of Luanluan” by Li Changqi 李昌祺 (1376–1452), which is found in his collection of twenty-two short stories: Jiandeng yuhua 剪燈餘話 (More Stories Written While Trimming the Lamp). Zhao Luanluan is here described as a woman poet who is caught up in the fall of the Yuan dynasty, but subsequently she was further fictionalized as a Tang dynasty courtesan, and her poetic works reattributed to this imaginary person. Furthermore other related fictional female poets of the Ming dynasty have also been treated as genuine historical individuals, and their writings are included in many major anthologies of women’s poetry. This paper argues that the boundaries between genuine female poets and fictional female poets created by male writers have been consistently ignored.

Cheng Shaoxuan

By examining the Zhoujiatai Qin Tomb 30 Bamboo Slip End Profile Chart, one can see that the various sections of the rishu (Daybook) formed an ovular rolled bundle that was, for the most part, closed. These slips appear to have belonged to a common manuscript. However, the slips of the calendrical manuscript saliu nian ri (Days of the 36th Year) did not belong to this rolled bundle and instead were wrapped around a separate axis. On this basis, we can determine that Days of the 36th Year and the daybook were separate manuscripts when they were placed in the tomb.

Liu Xinfang

Many scholars have already studied the daybook (rishu 日書) text titled “Stars” (Xing 星), which was included among the excavated Qin manuscripts at Shuihudi 睡虎地. The Corpus of Qin Documents Written On Bamboo and Wood (Qin jiandu heji 秦簡牘合集) can be seen as a consequential culmination of these studies. Based on a collative approach, this article offers a comparative reading by citing ancient theories on astrological divination in order to clarify the provenance of passages found within the “Stars” text. Through such a comparative study, it is possible to provide an enhanced explanation of certain passages, somewhat different from the understandings of other scholars.

Qiu Xigui

This paper proposes that the character in the sentence 生乃呼曰 “was born and called out: ‘Jin!’” in the Shanghai Museum manuscript Zi Gao 子羔 should be transcribed as 銫, pronounced jin, and was a special way of writing the word jin 金 “metal.” The myth of Xie in Zi Gao may be related to the virtue of Metal of the Shang dynasty, which can still be seen in a story in the Shiyi ji 拾遺記 in which the divine mother asks Jian Di 簡狄 to give birth to Xie to “succeed the Virtue of Metal.” This paper also traces the myths of Shaohao 少皞 and Xie in order to show that Shaohao and Xie derive from the same mythical source. This paper argues that the association of Shang with the virtue of Metal already existed prior to the time that Zou Yan 鄒衍 systematized the Five Virtues.

Song Huaqiang

On the Chu 楚 bamboo slips from Geling 葛陵 there appears a character written in the form of 米. Most scholars agree that it is identical to the graph 柰 on the Baoshan 包山 bamboo slips and should also be read as sui 祟. This essay assumes that the reading of 柰 as sui on the Baoshan slips is correct, but that the graph written as 米 on the Geling slips is most likely a simplified version of , which in the texts is to be read as sheng 眚, a synonym for sui.

Yan Changgui

This article examines the names of five gods and spirits that appear in Chu divination records. It proposes that “Dashui” 大水 refers to the god of the sea, the Sea Approver in Zhuangzi; “Weishan” 危山 is the mountain Sanwei in Chuci, a land of immortality; “Gongmei” 宮禖 is likely the high goddess of childbirth, who was once a Chu ancestress; and “Sijin” 司祲 and “Sizhe” 司折 are two heavenly gods, the former in charge of people’s fortune, and the latter in charge of people’s lifespans. The latter is similar to the Overseer of Youth’s Fate in Chuci.

Liu Guosheng

The “Five Conquerors” passage of the Han daybook from Kongjiapo is written on slips 105–7. Slip 107 should be rejoined with fragment 24. The “Five Conquerors” passage uses the conquest theory of the five agents to realize “untimely urgent travel.” The method requires one who would undertake urgent travel to carry an item representing the particular agent that will “conquer” the agent associated with the direction of travel.

Chen Kanli

Among the Liye Qin strips published to date (March 2017), there are in total 138 records that tell the time. These records utilize both descriptive names for phases of the day (shicheng 時稱) and clepsydra (water clock, lou 漏) gradations as methods for timekeeping. Both methods appear, for the most part, evenly distributed across the entire range of years found in the Liye strips. Local climatic conditions may account for this simultaneous use of descriptive names and clepsydra gradations. Furthermore, both of these methods for timekeeping, as they appear on the Liye Qin strips, are relatively imprecise. This suggests that government work in Qianling County during the Qin period proceeded in a less-regulated fashion, particularly when it comes to the precision of deadlines imposed on administrative activities.

Edward L. Shaughnessy

Volume 6 of Qinghua daxue cang Zhanguo zhujian, published in 2016, includes two copies of a text entitled by the editors *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo 鄭文公問太伯 (Duke Wen of Zheng Asks Tai Bo). The two copies of this single text are extremely similar, both in terms of content and in terms of calligraphy, but also display certain occasional differences and one systematic difference in the positioning of the “city” (yi 邑) signific (bushou 部首) within characters. This leads the editors to argue that they “were copied by a single scribe on the basis of two separate source texts.” This is the first time we have seen such evidence of scribal practice, and it is crucial for the question of manuscript production in early China. In the present study, I first present a codicological description of these two manuscript versions of *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo, followed by a full translation of their text. Then I consider their implications for the question of manuscript production in ancient China.

Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li


China has become a land of social protests. Yet the Chinese state possesses considerable capacity and is rising on the world stage day by day. Why and how do Chinese people take to the streets? Where does their activism lead? This paper draws on a rich body of existing literature to provide an overview of the broad landscape of Chinese contentious politics and to dig deeper into a few common or emerging forms of social conflict. It then explores the various structural and political opportunity-based explanations for why protest occurs in China, before describing the ways in which different organizations and different framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where protests lead, the paper briefly surveys a variety of coercive and conciliatory institutions China possesses for social control and then documents distinct patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance—repressive, tolerant, concessionary, and mixed approaches—followed by an examination of the multifaceted impact of unrest. The conclusion offers suggestions for future researchers. Reviewing major concepts, debates, perspectives, and emerging research directions in studies of contentious politics in the world’s most populous country, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of authoritarian politics and authoritarian resilience more generally.

Dispute Resolution in the People’s Republic of China

The Evolving Institutions and Mechanisms

Zhiqiong June Wang and Jianfu Chen

Dispute resolution reforms in China in the last decade or so have all centred around the strategy of establishing an integrated dispute resolution system as part of China’s modern governance system. This new integrated system, referred to as the ‘Mechanism for Pluralist Dispute Resolution (PDR)’ in China, serves as a dispute resolution system as well as a comprehensive social control mechanism. This book is the first academic attempt to explain the methods of civil and commercial dispute resolution in China from the perspective of PDR. It systematically and critically examines the development of China’s dispute resolution system, with each chapter analysing in detail the development and transformation of the different institutions, mechanisms and processes in their historical, politico-economic and comparative context.

Hongbo Jia (賈洪波)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham


This paper proposes an alternative chronology for the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] based on the respective year counts and generation numbers of the Xia, Shang [ca. 1600-1046 BCE], and Zhou [1046-256 BCE] dynasties. It argues that Qi 啟 founded the Xia dynasty midway through the twentieth century BCE and further discusses questions relating to the capital cities and culture of the Xia. By integrating archeological material, it further contends that the ancient city of Wangchenggang 王城崗 located in Dengfeng 登封 was Yangcheng 陽城, the capital established by Yu 禹. It also argues that the Wadian 瓦店 site in Yuzhou 禹州 may have been inhabited by Yu and Qi, that the ancient city of Xinzhai 新砦 was an early capital of the Xia dynasty from the reigns of Qi to Shao Kang 少康, and that the Erlitou 二里頭 site was the capital of the Xia dynasty during its middle and late periods after the reign of Di Huai 帝槐. Xia culture should be approached as a concept that blends the disciplines of archeology and history and defined as the Xia people and the Xia dynasty within its region of governance or a culture whose creators mostly consisted of the Xia people. Furthermore, the ruins of the Xinzhai period represent Xia culture during its formative period, while Erlitou culture represents Xia culture during its maturity.

Hong Xu (許宏)

Translator Yin Zhang


The abundance of classical literature and the conventions of historical studies have shaped the archaeological exploration of the origin of the state in China, starting with and centering on the identification of specific dynasties. The linear evolutionary account of the Chinese civilization, based on royal genealogies, has become mainstream. The emergence of the state has been continuously dated earlier. I argue that theoretical flaws, nationalism, and disciplinary limits have obscured the complexities of this research project. Drawing on archaeological findings, I propose a two-stage model regarding the origin of the state in East Asia.

Edward L. Shaughnessy


David Shepherd Nivison (1923-2014) devoted the last three and a half decades of his life to an attempt to reconstruct the original text of the Bamboo Annals and to use that text to reconstruct the absolute chronology of ancient China. Nivison’s attempt to reconstruct that chronology involved astronomy; textual criticism, especially—though not exclusively—of the Bamboo Annals; and a considerable amount of historiographical conjecture concerning both the period of the Xia dynasty and of the Warring States period, during which, Nivison argues, the Bamboo Annals was undergoing multiple revisions. This attempt was also based on three major theses: (1) the Xia kings were named for the tiangan 天干 of the first day of the first year of their reign; (2) irregular gaps of zero, one, two, three, four, and even forty years recorded in the Bamboo Annals between the reigns of Xia kings should invariably have been two years; and (3) the final Xia king, Jie 桀, is completely mythical.

In this article, I first present Nivison’s arguments and then present a critique of those arguments, based on my own study of the Bamboo Annals. My own study of the Bamboo Annals in turn has shown three points that are important for understanding its annals of Xia: that at least some of the manuscript was damaged or lost when it was taken from the tomb, that the Western Jin editors made some mistakes in their editing of the text, and that they added commentary to the text. Based on this discussion, I conclude that Nivison’s hypothesis concerning the chronology of the Xia dynasty remains just that: a hypothesis.

Qi Sun (孫齊)

Minzhen Chen (陳民鎮)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham


Three debates on the historicity of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] have occurred, spanning the 1920s and 1930s, the late 1900s and early 2000s, and recent years. In the first debate, Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 [1893-1980], Wang Guowei 王國維 [1877-1927], and Xu Xusheng 徐旭生 [1888-1976] pioneered three avenues for exploring the history of the Xia period. The second debate unfolded in the context of the Doubting Antiquity School [Yigupai 疑古派] and the Believing Antiquity School [Zouchu yigu 走出疑古] and can be considered a continuation of the first debate. The third debate, which is steadily increasing in influence, features the introduction of new materials, methods, and perspectives and is informed by research into the origins of Chinese civilization, a field that is now in a phase of integration.

Qingwei Sun (孫慶偉)

Translator Ady Van den Stock


In a broad sense, the term “Xia culture” means the culture of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] period. In a narrower sense, however, it refers to the culture of the Xiahou 夏后 clan of the mythical founder Yu 禹. In much of the contemporary research, the question of the primary ethnic affiliation of Xia culture is often overlooked and obscured, thus blurring the distinction between Xia culture in the broad and narrow senses. This has resulted in considerable conceptual and epistemological imprecision. Research on Xia culture can be conducted in two main ways: on the one hand, what has been called “metropolitan conjecture” and, on the other, cultural comparison. Departing from the method of cultural comparison and bringing together temporal, spatial, and cultural elements in our analysis allows us to distinguish a primary central area within the “region of Yu” that coincides with Xia culture in the narrow sense, as reflected in later phases of the Wangwan 王灣 and Meishan 煤山 regional subtypes of Longshan culture [Longshan wenhua 龍山文化], from the later phases of the various archaeological remains found within a secondary and tertiary central area, which can be included in the category of Xia culture in a broad sense. Erlitou 二里頭 culture should be regarded principally as part of Xia culture. As such, the Meishan and Wangwan subtypes of Henan Longshan culture, along with the first to the fourth phases of Erlitou culture, can be seen as making up a consistent Xia culture.

Forgotten Diplomacy

The Modern Remaking of Dutch-Chinese Relations, 1927–1950


Vincent K.L. Chang

In this meticulously researched volume, Vincent Chang resurrects a near forgotten yet pivotal chapter of Dutch-Chinese ties to narrate how World War II, the civil war in China, and Indonesia’s decolonization redefined and remade this age-old bilateral relationship.
Drawing on a unique range of hitherto unexplored archives, the book explains how China’s nascent rise on the global scene and the Netherlands’ simultaneous decline as a colonial power shaped events in Dutch-controlled Indonesia (and vice versa) and prompted a recalibration of their mutual ties, culminating in the Netherlands’ recognition of the People’s Republic and laying the foundations for Dutch and Chinese policies through to the present.
Offering insightful analyses of power dynamics and international law at the close of empire, this book is a critical resource for historians and China specialists as well as scholars of international relations.

Ling Li and Wenzhang Zhou

By focusing on the underlit corners of authoritarian governance in China, this article challenges the thesis that constitutions matter to authoritarian regimes because they provide solutions for problems of governance. We argue to the contrary: the constitution appeals to the Chinese Communist Party (the Party or the ccp) because it does not provide solutions to fundamental issues of governance. Instead, such issues are kept out of the constitution so that they can be addressed by the Party through other regulatory mechanisms outside of the constitutional realm. In support of our thesis, we provide a unique review of the most up-to-date authoritative research on three key constitutional issues: central-local relations, party-state relations and power relations in the Politburo. These three issues correspond to three distinctive fields in China studies that were treated only in isolation but here we consider them together under the single framework of authoritarian constitutional governance.

Ewan Smith

This article reviews the development of three important themes in the Chinese Communist Party’s (ccp’s) description of the rule of law since China’s opening up and reform began in December 1978. It expands upon key Party documents that frame the meaning of the rule of law in ccp doctrine. It sets out the doctrine, identifies significant changes, and considers what they might mean for the Party’s present stance toward law and legal construction. It builds upon a broad literature that explores those documents and that doctrine, focusing on three connected points of tension in the Party’s articulation: the relationship between rule of law and rule by law, the relationship between the rule of law and Party leadership, and the relationship between the rule of law and Party discipline.

Zhange NI

This paper studies Su Xuelin’s imaginative and scholarly writing from the 1940s to the 1980s as a series of projects aimed at building a utopian world to reconcile the conflicting claims of Chinese nationalism and her Christian faith. In her short stories celebrating the Ming loyalists, Confucian and Catholic, who defended the Manchus unto death, she highlighted the image of the mountain as the center of their moralpolitical universe. She continued to work on the mountain in her scholarly articles and, under the influence of the European school of Pan-Babylonianism, traced the origin of Mount Kunlun, the Biblical Eden, and other sacred mountains to ancient Mesopotamia. On this basis, she postulated that Qu Yuan produced his rhapsodies by drawing from the repository of world mythologies brought to him by ancient migrations, the forgotten foundation of the Chinese civilization. Although Su’s work is limited to the medium of print culture, her seemingly disconnected projects coalesce to enact a fantastical world mediating diverse times and places. A representative of the Chinese Catholics, a knowledge community actively participating in what Henry Jenkins calls trans-media world-building, Su reimagined China and Christianity as both located in a global network of migrations and mutations.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Satoru Hashimoto

This paper examines the performative significance of Lu Xun’s historical short stories collected in Gushi xinbian (Old stories retold, 1936) by focusing on the mediality of his idiosyncratic writing, which he himself called “facetious.” It revisits the young Lu Xun’s uneasy engagement with medical science as student documented in his lecture notebooks bearing corrections by his teacher as well as his early essays. This provides an analytical framework for discussing the stakes of his historical fiction as a critique of the discourse of scientific historiography which was increasingly gaining currency in May Fourth China. Lu Xun’s historical fiction is conspicuously not meant to function as a stable medium between the past and the present but betrays its opaque and even arbitrary mediality, which disrupts identity in historical representation and thus critiques ideological, “cultural” power inherent in scientific discourse that tries to establish that identity. The paper then reads Gushi xinbian as attempts at recovering history from such power and envisioning new possibilities of historical transmission in the midst of an aporetic search of a prehistory of Chinese modernity—attempts hinged on anachronistic textual moments whose meanings circulate in defiance of any identity of time with itself, thereby bespeaking an alternative power to “make” history.

Stephanie SU

This paper examines the visual representation of the famous poem The Song of Everlasting Sorrow in modern China. Painted by Li Yishi in 1929, this sequential set of paintings was based on the Tang poet Bai Juyi’s poem, written under the same title. First shown at the National Art Exhibition in Shanghai and then published as an illustrated book in 1932, Li’s work rekindled public imagination of the tragic romance. Li’s choice of subject, format, as well as style and its mixed reviews raise crucial questions regarding the notion of realism and the authenticity of historical representation. This paper argues that Li’s work revealed new transmedia aesthetics and cross-cultural fascination with China’s past that shaped the cultural identity of East Asia in the early twentieth century.

Yuqian Yan

This article examines the effect and affect of historical representations in wartime Chinese theater and cinema, as well as the interplay between the two media. With the burgeoning of late Ming stories on stage and on screen, the fall of the Ming became a “chosen trauma” that connects the nation’s past with its historical present. However the traumatic fate of the nation was never the actual subject of representation, but served to enhance the affective power of tragic‐heroic figures. Focusing on A Ying’s Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming, one of the most popular wartime historical plays, the paper studies the narrative structure, performance style and adaptation strategy of the play to demonstrate how patriotic spirit was foregrounded as the key to national survival. It was through the audience’s resonation with the characters’ passionate speech on stage and on screen that individuals’ emotional attachment to the nation was consolidated, both horizontally across space and vertically through history.

Pu Wang

“Make the past serve the present!” Thus goes Mao Zedong’s slogan on how to appropriate the ancient in revolutionary times. In my previous studies, I have argued that the Chinese writers’ engagement with the ancient gave rise to a platform of “necessary anachronism” in cultural transformation. This new project carries further this argument and draws attention to the transmediality in the leftist historical imagination. From the 1940s through the 1970s, the revolutionary representations of the ancient were simultaneously poetic, theatrical, intellectual, and cinematic, to say nothing about the calligraphic and visual adaptations they elicited. This current of reinventing the ancient manifested itself in the historical drama in wartime China and found a coda in the anti-colonial leftist cinematic adaptation of the historical play Qu Yuan in 1970s Hong Kong. Starting with a broader theoretical intervention into the issue of media, this paper emphasizes that the transmedial reinterpretation of the ancient in fact formed a mode of mediation between revolution and history, between politics and aesthetics. In the cultural regime of China’s long revolution, the transference or translation of the allegorical-anachronistic energies among different media was a key site of signification, contestation, and crisis.

Guofu Liu (刘国福) and Qian Zhu (朱倩)


The Chinese diaspora broadly includes the groups of huaren (华人, ethnic Chinese of different nationalities), huaqiao (华侨, overseas Chinese who are Chinese citizens overseas), guiqiao (归侨, returned overseas Chinese), and qiaojuan (侨眷, relatives in China of overseas Chinese). In the Chinese legal system, the determining of Chinese diasporic status is an important issue in the Chinese diaspora law, as it pertains to the protection of diaspora rights and interests by governmental authorities. The diaspora law in China identifies Chinese diasporic status and grants rights and duties according to nationality and residential qualifications but does not consider the actual contact between the Chinese diaspora and China. This has caused substantive legal procedural issues regarding the confirmation of the legal identity of Chinese diaspora and the issuing of relevant certifications both in China and abroad. These legal issues have presented significant challenges for the Chinese government in its efforts to engage with and manage the Chinese diaspora and it has created a bureaucratic barrier to the protection of their rights and interests. This paper aims to explore the current issues in determining the legal status of the Chinese diaspora, to critically review relevant laws, policies, and empirical research, and to suggest possible solutions for improving diaspora law in the legal system.

Diaspora of Chinese Intellectuals in the Cold War Era

From Hong Kong to the Asia-Pacific Region, 1949–1969

Kenneth Kai-chung Yung (容启聪)


On the eve of the Communist takeover in 1949, a considerable number of Chinese intellectuals were reluctant to live under Communist rule. They began their self-exile and the search for a new home outside China. Many travelled to places on China’s periphery such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Others continued their journey and finally settled down in Southeast Asia and North America. Sojourning abroad, most of these self-exiled intellectuals still kept a close eye on Chinese politics and society. They were eager to promote their political ideal for a liberal-democratic China in the overseas Chinese communities. However, they were at the same time facing the challenge of assimilation into local society. This article traces the journey of the self-exiles in the 1950s and 1960s from Hong Kong to Southeast Asia and North America. It examines several representative figures and studies their activities in their new place of settlement. It argues that, although the self-exiles largely maintained a strong commitment to the future of their homeland, they varied in their degree of assimilation into their new homes. Age was not a key factor in their decision to adapt to the local community. Instead, the existence of a politically and economically influential Chinese population played a more important role in such a decision. Intellectuals who lived in Hong Kong or Southeast Asia were more willing to adjust their life to the locality, while those who went to North America were less attached to the local society.

Hong Liu and Min Zhou

Looking Beyond Ruins

From Material Heritage to a Grassroots-based Modernity in Southern China

Christopher Cheng (鄭藝超)


Many qiaoxiang in southern Fujian and Guangdong appear derelict, but documenting the material heritage and interviewing people about its social significance reveals another image. The homeland of Overseas Chinese was not only found to be significant for the diaspora but serves as an enduring reminder of a grassroots-based modernity in rural China. The qiaoxiang effectively became a transnational legacy of migration from southern China that has undergone the following stages of transformation: exodus-led emergence of a remittance landscape, sudden abandonment, and sometimes revival. Today, it has become a “repository” or “living museum” where tourists and scholars alike can visit and ponder how humans adapted to post-rural life.

Lijie Zheng (郑丽洁), Mariëtte de Haan and Willem Koops


This paper assesses whether China’s policies for providing educational support to overseas Chinese match the educational needs of current Chinese immigrants around the world. Firstly, the paper presents the different migration backgrounds of four waves of Chinese global migration in contemporary history: labor immigrants to the Global North, international students in the Global North, businessmen in the Global South and the new rich investors in the Global North. Using the concept of intergenerational contract, we found the four waves have distinct parental investment strategies in relation to their migration background, which comes along with their different educational needs. After carefully reviewing China’s policies in overseas education in terms of the assumptions, purpose and background of their implementation, we argue that these policies are outdated and serve the needs of only a limited number of Chinese immigrants due to their ignoring the variety of certain intergenerational contracts. Lastly, some specific suggestions for policy makers are given.

Wenzhou Restaurants in Paris’s Chinatowns

A Case Study of Chinese Ethnicity Within and Beyond the Linguistic Landscape

Caroline Lipovsky and Wei Wang (王玮)


In light of the large number of Chinese immigrants in Paris originally from the Wenzhou region in China’s Zhejiang Province, this research focuses on two case studies of Wenzhou restaurants situated in different Paris Chinatowns. It seeks to identify the ways in which the Wenzhou owners mark their presence in the Parisian linguistic landscape through the signage of their shopfronts and premises. By infusing existing multimodal analysis with ethnographic linguistic landscape analysis (ELLA), this study examines the ways in which two Wenzhou restaurateurs display their specific cultural and ethnic identity in the linguistic landscape. The analysis of the signage of their premises, combined with ethnographic interviews, unveils the restaurateurs’ strategies to enact their cultural and ethnic Wenzhou identity through their shopfront signs, menus and premise decorations, and how they distinguish themselves from their Chinese competitors.

Kevin Buckelew


According to many recent scholars, by the Song dynasty Chan Buddhists had come to identify not primarily as meditation experts—following the literal meaning of chan—but rather as full-fledged buddhas. This article pursues a deeper understanding of how, exactly, Chan Buddhists claimed to be buddhas during the eighth through eleventh centuries, a critical period in the formation of Chan identity. It also addresses the relationship between Chan Buddhists’ claims to the personal status of buddhahood, their claims to membership in lineages extending back to the Buddha, and their appeals to doctrines of universal buddhahood. Closely examining Chan Buddhists’ claims to be buddhas helps explain the tradition’s rise to virtually unrivaled elite status in Song-era Buddhist monasticism, and illuminates the emergence of new genres of Chan Buddhist literature—such as “discourse records” (yulu)—that came to be treated with the respect previously reserved for canonical Buddhist scriptures.

Tristan G. Brown


Near the beginning of the Qing dynasty (1636-1912), the mausoleum of a Sufi saint, the Pavilion of Lingering Illumination, was constructed on an ancient Daoist mountain in the town of Baoning, Sichuan province. Over the following centuries, the shrine became one of the most heavily patronized religious sites in the province. There, state officials oversaw rain-making rituals, local gentry supplicated for success in the civil examinations, and Manchu bannermen bestowed dedications celebrating the empire’s military campaigns in Xinjiang. While Qing officials recognized it as an Islamic site, many of the town’s residents treated it like any other Chinese shrine, emphasizing its connections to the region’s fengshui and its efficacy for rain-making. Through exploring the shrine’s history, this article provides a new window into Islam as a “local religion” in China, a survey of the flexible religious contours of the imperial state, and a richer understanding of Qing patronage for the institutions of minority groups. It argues that this Islamic site played a central role in the wider social life and governance of the area.

Zhan Beibei


The Hongwu emperor’s marriage arrangements between members of the noblity and his own children, particularly the imperial princes, are widely recognized as efforts to centralize imperial power. On the other hand, a rivalry for power has been assumed between the nobles and imperial princes. Some scholars even suggested that the ruler intended to first affiliate with the nobles and then to eliminate them. This essay first explains that the significance of these marriages lay in the reproduction and sustainability of the system of princedoms, which Hongwu held in high regard. Then through an extensive analysis of the development of the system of princedoms and the marriages involved, a comparison between the marriages of the princes and princesses, and a study of the fates of purged in-laws, this essay demonstrates that Hongwu’s marriage arrangements for the princes were crucial to his institutional and political designs for the empire.

Yubin Shen

Inspired by recent environmental historical studies on animal extinctions and human-animal relations, this paper shifts scholarly attention from the plague-centered narrative of the great Pneumonic Plague Epidemics (1910–11) to the fate of the plague host animals, Tarbagan marmots (Marmota sibirica), and examines their near-extinction in Northwest Manchuria (Hulunbuir) from the 1900s to 1930s. Focusing on changing images of Tarbagan marmots from “inexpensive,” “sacred,” and “beneficial” in the pre-modern period to “valuable,” “dangerous,” and “noxious” in the early twentieth century, it argues that three interrelated factors: the international fur trade, pneumonic plagues, and environment changes together resulted in the “retreat of the marmots.” It also uses this case study to help us better understand larger historical changes that occurred by contextualizing them in terms of human-marmot relations in Manchuria, China and beyond.

Editors Frontiers of History in China

Yuan Chang

This paper examines the predicament of modern Chinese conservatism. I use the eminent historian Qian Mu (1895–1990) as an example to show that under the influence of modernity and in an effort to preserve tradition, a prominent conservative like Qian needed to “modernize” Chinese tradition so that it could be saved. I will examine Qian’s reconstruction of Chinese history, which was not just a reiteration of China’s past, but a new type of understanding of Chinese tradition influenced by modern Western concepts. By focusing on Qian’s most prominent work, Guoshi dagang , we can get a sense of the struggle of modern Chinese conservatives as they tried to fend off the detractors of Chinese tradition.

Yi Ren

At the beginning of the 20th century, American officials, newspapermen, and businessmen in China promoted and participated in the establishment of a branch of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) in China. The purposes of the China station were to compete with other foreign states seeking influence in China, to promote American values and to eventually lead China down an “American” path. The CPI China station built an image of America as a friendly country which offered political and economic assistance and held a leading position in the new postwar order, an example which China could use for its own development. Chinese people were quick to respond to this propaganda as they wanted their concerns to be addressed at the Paris Peace Conference and sought to reform their national identity. The idea of a Wilsonian international order gained support in China through effective propaganda. After the diplomatic defeat in Paris, however, some Chinese began to consider a path very different from that of America. The CPI’s promotion of a particular development path for China and new world order had various effects on the country. The propaganda came at a time when the Chinese were searching for a new national identity and gained support from many groups. In addition, the Chinese people were not passive listeners of the propaganda and did not blindly accept the information that was “fed” to them.

Pavel Ratmanov, Yan Liu and Fengmin Zhang

This study analyzes medical practitioners’ adaptation to a dynamic cultural and political scene and examines the impact of medical refugees on a local community. In the early 1920s, there was an influential Russian medical community in Harbin that established medical societies and medical schools. The organization of medical societies was a part of the active formation of a professional community and represented a thoughtful measure for countering the control of Chinese officials. The high degree of cooperation between Russian and Chinese medical personnel in the medical-sanitary department of the Chinese Eastern Railway and in Harbin municipal medical facilities was a part of Harbin physicians’ activities.