China’s Colonial Past Key to Understanding its Future

Photo: The Nine Dragon Screen, Datong, Shanxi, China (Photo by Wikimedia user Doron, licensed under the Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Attribution).
Photo: The Nine Dragon Screen, Datong, Shanxi, China (Photo by Wikimedia user Doron, licensed under the Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Attribution).
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China's complicated attitude towards its past appear to be evolving. From a modern geostrategic viewpoint, however, the era of colonial China, above all others, plays a significant role in shaping Beijing's intentions and behaviors on the international stage. BEIJING—The current wave of restoration of historical sites across China, such as the reconstruction of the 14th-century city walls at Datong, is sometimes seen as evidence of the country's changing attitude towards its past: The destructive tendencies of the Mao years have been replaced by a new curiosity and respect for the Middle Kingdom's long history. This interpretation, however, fails to capture […]

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