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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Constructing Chinese Asianism : intellectual writings on East Asian regionalism (1896-1924) Smith, Craig Anthony


Until recent decades, historians of modern East Asia generally considered Asianism to be an imperialistic ideology of militant Japan. Although the term and its concept were certainly used in this way, especially in the 1930s and 1940s, earlier proponents of Asianism looked upon it as a very real strategy of uniting Asian nations to defend against Western imperialism. This study investigates Chinese intellectuals’ discussions of Asianism from just before the reforms of 1898 to Sun Yat-sen’s famous speech on Asianism in 1924, considering calls for regionalism in their intellectual and historical contexts. Utilizing both published and unpublished sources, I first show that there were many Chinese debates on Asianism, before exposing the convoluted relationship between regional and national identities at this crucial point in the construction of the Chinese nation. In the early twentieth century, Chinese intellectuals struggled to define both their nation and their region through a variety of relationships which posited the imperialist West as “other.” Naturally, in the construction of these political and cultural identities, intellectuals’ writings on nation, race and civilization created overlaps which are still evident in understandings of Asia and China today.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada