Tuesday, January 27, 2009

中国人的国家意识 The Chinese National Identity

It is said that cosmology and the unified Chinese nation are two most enduring structures of the Chinese civilisation. Today, cosmology and a unified Chinese nation still serve as resources for China’s national identity.
Traditional cosmology is used to represent a cultural identity that is authentically Chinese, and a unified China continues to be held by most Chinese as the only justified form of Government for China.
There has been a self-conscious Chinese state for two thousand years, since the unification of China by the first emperor Qin Shi Huang. Before the Qin dynasty, the loyalty and identity was largely due to each state within China, although the desire for such unity had been cherished for a long time. After Qin dynasty, there were continuous internal conflicts that led to civil wars and dynastic changes. However, the periods during which the country is divided or in civil wars are generally regarded as chaotic and abnormal.
Chinese cosmology has been characterised as ‘correlative’, based on interlaced pairs (correlated to Yin-yang), fours (correlated to the four directions), fives (correlated to the Five Phases or Wuxing), eights (correlated to the Eight Trigrams), and so on.
For example, Wuxing is not simply a set of concepts, a school of philosophy, a mode of thinking, or a commonly agreed upon representation; instead, it is a cultural phenomenon that changes through history, a discourse for political argument and power struggle, and above all, an art of action in a world of conflict and change. Political actors used Wuxing cosmology in arguing about imperial sovereignty, in contesting power and authority, and in defining power relations and social hierarchy.
To understand Chinese, you have to understand these two aspects of their mind.

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