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In the last century, no other nation has grown and transformed itself with such zeal as China. With a booming economy, a formidable military, and a rapidly expanding population, China is emerging as a twenty-first-century global superpower. China's prosperity has increased dramatically in the last two decades, propelling the nation to a prominent position in the international community. Yet China's ancient history still informs and shapes its understanding of itself in relation to the world. As a highly developed and modern nation, China is something of a paradox. Though China is an international leader in modern business and technology, its past remains a source of guiding principles for the nation's foreign policy. This book demonstrates how China's historical awareness shapes its objectives and how the resulting national consciousness continues to influence the country's policymaking. Despite its increasing prominence among modern, developed nations, China continues to seek guidance from a past characterized by Confucian notions of hierarchical political order and a “moral geography” that places China at the center of the civilized world. The book describes how these attitudes have clashed with traditional Western ideals of sovereignty and international law. It speculates about how China's legacy may continue to shape its foreign relations and offers a warning about the potential global consequences. The book examines major themes in China's conception of domestic and global political order, describes key historical precedents, and outlines the remarkable continuity of China's Sinocentric stance.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-7377-1 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3974-6 (epub version)



China, Hierarchical political order, Moral geography, Sovereignty, International law, Foreign relations, Political order


Asian History | International Relations

The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations
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