The year 1919 and the question of “what is China?”

Original Article


For the Chinese, the Great War might have been principally a war among white people, a European war, and a war between Western powers. But to the degree that China got involved in the war, the experience of the war and its aftermath forced Chinese to think about who they were and what their position in the world was and could be. In 1919, they reconsidered the relationship between Asia and the West, between Eastern and Western civilizations, with an eye to deciding how best to protect and advance themselves in the wake of the war. Given their collective disappointment with outcomes of the Paris Peace Conference, Chinese people came away with vastly diminished expectations of and respect for the Western powers. The resulting May Fourth Movement of 1919 has already been studied from many different angles, so this paper will instead address the cultural effects and civilizational significance of the Great War for China and the Chinese.


Great War China Pan-Asianism May Fourth Movement 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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