China’s Relationship to Its History Is the Key to Understanding Its Behavior Today

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks to the lectern to deliver his speech during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 18, 2017. (China Daily via Reuters)
The collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the decades of pain and humiliation that followed for the Middle Kingdom continue to shape Xi Jinping’s governance.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A mericans are accustomed to looking to our history for guidance in handling external and internal threats. We are not the only ones. Beijing’s approach to international trade is deeply informed by the history of China in the mid-19th century. So is its attitude toward the country’s domestic Christian and Muslim religious minorities, and toward Hong Kong. The great crisis of the Qing Dynasty, which came to a head in the 1860s, is every bit as traumatic and still relevant to modern-day China as the American Civil War is to us. More so, in fact: Xi Jinping’s regime is deeply invested

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