What is China? Two perspectives

July 23, 21 | Books

First Book: The Invention of China, by Bill Hayton, published by Yale University Press in October 2020. Second Book: China and Her Neighbours: Asian Diplomacy from Ancient History to the Present, by Michael Tai, published by Zed Books in October 2019.
In the Invention of China, Bill Hayton looks for the origins of the contemporary conception about China. The book reconstitutes the history behind notions of Chinese identity, language, culture, civilisation, country and sovereignty. The book is interesting in that it highlights the appropriation processes that have taken place over time and continue to this day. I found it particularly interesting to read China and its Neighbours from Michael Tai on the back of Bill Hayton’s book. Tai explores similar historical forces but tells the story from an Asia-centric perspective. Contrasting both books makes it even more obvious how challenging it is to dissociate the observer from the narrative.

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