Last month famous Sino-historian Jonathan Spence visited China and gave a series of lectures triggering an avalanche of reports far too numerous to be covered here and not all relevant for this blog. Below a text summarizing his impact discussing the reasons for the hype (information provided by Liang Xin).
“Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future”: Interview with Jonathan Spence on his understanding of Chinese history
Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future
(Beijing) –British-born public intellectual, Jonathan Spence, has just released the 3rd edition of his most acclaimed work, “The Search for Modern China,” in the United States. This book, a survey of Chinese history spanning from the dawn of the Qing dynasty to the present day, emerged from his introductory courses given at Yale University, where Spence served as Sterling Professor of History for 15 years.
Taking aim at the prevalent idea of Chinese history which begins with the collapse of the dynastic political structure, Spence provides a view in which the country’s periods of weakness can be understood as part of a larger process in its development. China has absorbed many ideas from abroad and in some instances this emerged from both imperial weakness and imperial pressure, said Spence.
In a recent interview with Caixin, Spence talked about his understanding of Chinese history and the modern China. Excerpts of the interview follow.