The University of Sydney China Studies Centre
Pushing the Boundaries: Assessing the Potential of Intersections between China’s Current National Self-image, Tianxia (‘all under heaven’) and the Traces of Confucian Morality and Aesthetics
Date: Wednesday, 8 September 2021
Time: 1:00PM-2:00PM AEST
This seminar is free and open to the public!
In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has become increasingly assertive in the upholding of its national territorial limits. The reasons for this assertiveness are not far to seek. Exponential domestic economic growth over the last four decades has greatly enhanced the PRC’s confidence on the world stage in addition to strengthening the country’s military reach, regionally and internationally. Alongside a desire to re-establish Greater China’s former geographical integrity following the divisions wrought by civil conflict as well as Euro-American and Japanese colonialism/imperialism there is also a necessity to secure vital trading routes and access to resources. Less materially to the fore, but also important, are intersections between the PRC’s current national territorial assertiveness and the recent revisiting by Chinese academics of an uncertainly bounded governmental authority signified by the term tianxia (‘all under heaven’)—and by association cognate Confucian conceptions of morality and aesthetics—during China’s dynastic-imperial past as the basis for a new harmonious, non-interfering “post-West” world order. It will be argued that while those intersections are open to interpretation as tracing a durable Chinese civilization-specific cultural habitus in support of the PRC’s contemporary national self-image they have by turns a potential to shape China as a renascent world power deconstructively/reciprocally—as a matter of parallaxic discursive positioning—somewhere (and nowhere) between the dual imaginaries of empire and the nation-state. Continue reading