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Here is one question confuse me?About when China became to exist.

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This article Understanding China argues that China is a civilization-state. It's an invented word with some explanation but no no clear definition.

I'm quoting 2 paragraphs: the problem the author sees, and the answer he gives. These are bones. Other things in the article are meats.

The West's failure to understand the Chinese has repeatedly undermined its ability to anticipate their behavior. Again and again, our predictions and beliefsabout China have proved wrong: that the Chinese Communist Party would fall after 1989, that the country would divide, that its economic growth could not be sustained, that its growth figures were greatly exaggerated, that China was not sincere about its offer of "one country two systems" at the time of the hand-over of Hong Kong from Britain -- and, of course, that it would steadily Westernize. We have a long track record of getting China wrong.

The fundamental reason for our inability to accurately predict China's future is our failure to understand its past. Although China has described itself as a nation-state for the last century, it is in essence a civilization-state. The longest continually existing polity in the world, it dates to 221 BC and the victory of the Qin. Unlike Western nation-states, China's sense of identity comes from its long history as a civilization-state.

I never studied politics. I can't even say what a "nation-state" is in my own words. But the false predictions never made sense to me. They are just so detached from reality. But we all know, "genius" can prove whatever they want to prove.

So this article is okay. I didn't see anything obviously wrong. But 2 things:

1. Is it an over-correction of past failed predictions? Is China so different? I don't think so. I feel people are gaining more rights.

2. Throw a bit more doubts on expert's opinions. I think these experts are not only wrong about China, but wrong about the general mankind progress. Do they even get right on their own (Western) history? From the grand question of why the West rose, to... let me just use a small example. I never understood why the US has a sense of achievement and keeps reminding people that Russia and Japan failed to chanllenge the US. They are 2 significantly smaller countries, both of which are under half size of the US, aren't they? The US must be a total failure so it can fell behind Russia and Japan, right?

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The Soviet Union was certainly not smaller than the US, by any measure.

That said, they started the race with a huge handicap.

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  • 2 years later...

I was just linked here and liked this topic so gonna post again haha.

1) A lot of the reason why people in the West assume the start of China at Qin was due to the Cambridge History of China books. They specifically started at a later date due to the lack of evidence at that time of much during the Shang and Xia dynasties.

2) If you took a history class in China today, you would start in the Xia Dynasty. However, even then it would be brief. At PKU, my history class(for locals, not the international kids one) really got into it at the Shang and much more during the Zhou Dynasty. Our breakdown was at 后,王,蒂/.皇. Qin Dynasty was the start of 帝国 and the 2 earlier time periods was talked about but only for about 1-2 weeks. Much of what people know of modern day China starts with the Qin Dynasty whereas the 2 earlier periods just isn't known in as much detail.

3) Even today, much of what we know has not been excavated due to the lack of preservation techniques out there. Only 1% of the terracotta warriros are excavated and there is so much to learn yet we can't open it due to the degredation that occurs.

PS: USSR and Russia is very different. While Russia today is half the population of the US. The USSR is much larger. In 1990, USSR had a population of 290 million with US at 226 million.

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