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Publisher's Summary

A provocative account showing that "China" - and its 5,000 years of unified history - is a national myth, created only a century ago with a political agenda that persists to this day.

China's current leadership lays claim to a 5,000-year-old civilization, but "China" as a unified country and people, Bill Hayton argues, was created far more recently by a small group of intellectuals.

In this compelling account, Hayton shows how China's present-day geopolitical problems - the fates of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea - were born in the struggle to create a modern nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reformers and revolutionaries adopted foreign ideas to "invent" a new vision of China. By asserting a particular, politicized version of the past the government bolstered its claim to a vast territory stretching from the Pacific to Central Asia. Ranging across history, nationhood, language, and territory, Hayton shows how the Republic's reworking of its past not only helped it to justify its right to rule a century ago - but continues to motivate and direct policy today.

©2020 Bill Hayton (P)2020 Tantor

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Detailed Discussion of how China has

attempted to define itself. And this is not easy, but has been a real struggle.