T16b Nationalism and cosmopolitanism (WT17) - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

T16b Nationalism and cosmopolitanism (WT17)

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Following the workshop on nationalism which took place in 2007 in Paris


- Preparatory documents for the workshops - meeting in Paris in July 2009

- China-Europa Forum catalogue

Workshop presentation

Globalization and identification: the paradox of Chinese nationalism.

Adopting an approach which makes a distinction between the great historical periods, we make out two major categories of nationalism: the nationalism of the colonial era and post-colonial nationalism. In general, the nationalism of a colonized people has not only the purpose of establishing the legitimacy of a nation state; it is also a fight for individual liberation. Nationalism can also be qualified according to two tendencies opposite in nature: the one rather open and political, the other closed and ethnic. The nationalisms that emerged in France and in Germany after the French revolution respectively correspond to these two tendencies.

Of course, it is quite a long time since China freed itself from colonialism and semi-colonialism but present-day nationalism still feeds on the past humiliations of the modern epoch. It is evident that Chinese nationalism cannot easily be affiliated to one or the other of the afore-mentioned tendencies. In contrast, can we say that the current nationalism derives more from a desire of revenge and exclusion?

The nineties recorded a forceful return of nationalism. At that time various kinds of nationalisms appeared in China: nationalism as strategy, nationalism as alternative ideology, moral nationalism, anti-Western nationalism etc. Since the turn of the century, China has welcomed globalization with enthusiasm and has integrated into the global system. At the same time, globalization furnished China with material to feed upon and with a new space never known before. From anti-Americanism to anti-French phobia to a deep-rooted anti-Japanese hatred, from the book titled “China can say no” to the more recent “China is not pleased”, everything leads us to affirm that each new target of Chinese nationalism will soon be replaced by another one. The Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 should have been an event symbolizing China’s integration into the global system. In the end, they were just an occasion for the expression of an ostentatious nationalism on a world-wide scale.

In Europe, a long-standing battlefield of nationalisms, the European Union has established an institutional space that made it possible to surmount nationalism. Nevertheless, Europe is still today the scene of manifold forms of nationalisms. Can the comparative analysis of the various forms of nationalism in Europe and of the evolution in progress help us to better understand the current tendencies of Chinese nationalism? How can we define the nationalism of so great and ancient a civilization on the verge of becoming again the center of the world? How can we anticipate the forms Chinese nationalism will take in the future? Will it hold back or catalyze Chinese society’s development? In accordance with the influence on the rest of the world of China’s growing power, the expanse of its territory, its cultural heritance, its uncertain political orientation and the rapid transformation of its society, all these issues concerning nationalism should be a major subject of academic study but also a matter of public discussion in society as a whole.

About us

Prime Mover:Mr Chen Yan

One of the Founders of the Forum, he is vice-president of the China-Europa-Forum Foundation (European office). He obtained his PHD in history from the University of Paris. He is a visiting professor of Wu Han University, chief editor of the French series “He Zhong Guo yi qi si kao” and the series “Fa Guo dang dai si xiang xin lun” by sanlian publishing house. He has many academic works, some of them: “Zhong Guo de jue xin——Wen ge hou Zhong Guo si chao de yan pian li cheng”, “Zhong Guo lai hong: zou jin Zhong Guo si xiang” (in French: Nouveau monde sinise) “Xin Han wen hua quan”.

Participants to the workshop held in Hong Kong, July 2009

Mr 坂井臣之助 from Japan, Mr Feng Chongyi, Mr Gao Hua, Mr Gil Delannoi, Mr Haïm Korsia, Mr Hans J. Roth, Ms Rowena He, Mr Jean Bæchler, Mr Li Chunfu, Mr Pierre Charau, Mr Qiu Zhenhai, Mr Tang Hao, Mr Tang Shaocheng, Mr Ting Wai, Mr Xiao Gongqin, Mr Xiong Peiyun, Mr Yang Hengjun, Ms Yu Min, Mr Zhang Boshu, Mr Zhu Xueqing

Workshop’s news

Following the workshop on nationalism which took place in 2007 in Paris, the China-Europe Forum organizes another meeting of different participants on the same subject. Representatives of European and Chinese teams will meet in Hong-Kong to discuss and exchange on the subject.

The approach referring to Europe and the analysis taking into account the historical evolution of Chinese nationalism will be the chief points of view of the workshop. Under the heading “Globalization and identification: the paradox of Chinese nationalism” the workshop seeks to discuss in depth the paradoxes and tensions of nationalism in its different aspects: cultural identity, systems of value as well as political, economic, sociological or geostrategic aspects. Let us mention the most evident: cosmopolitism and Sino-centrism, soft power and hard power, power policy and noninterference in internal affairs, global system and national specificity, political dictatorship and economic opening, values and interests, political identification and cultural clash, etc.

In order to facilitate the progress of the workshop, participants have to choose in advance a main subject of consideration to sustain the debate and, after the workshop, to put together a written synthesis of what the discussions will have produced.