© 2018

Embracing 'Asia' in China and Japan

Asianism Discourse and the Contest for Hegemony, 1912-1933


Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)

Table of contents

About this book


This book examines how Asianism became a key concept in mainstream political discourse between China and Japan and how it was used both domestically and internationally in the contest for political hegemony. It argues that, from the early 1910s to the early 1930s, this contest changed Chinese and Japanese perceptions of ‘Asia’, from a concept that was foreign-referential, foreign-imposed, peripheral, and mostly negative and denied (in Japan) or largely ignored (in China) to one that was self-referential, self-defined, central, and widely affirmed and embraced. As an ism, Asianism elevated ‘Asia’ as a geographical concept with culturalist-racialist implications to the status of a full-blown political principle and encouraged its proposal and discussion vis-à-vis other political doctrines of the time, such as nationalism, internationalism, and imperialism. By the mid-1920s, a great variety of conceptions of Asianism had emerged in the transnational discourse between Japan and China. Terminologically and conceptually, they not only paved the way for the appropriation of ‘Asia’ discourse by Japanese imperialism from the early 1930s onwards but also facilitated the embrace of Sino-centric conceptions of Asianism by Chinese politicians and collaborators.


Geopolitics Internationalism Socialism Imperialism Pan-Asian East Asia Interwar

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.DIJ German Institute for Japanese StudiesTokyoJapan

About the authors

Torsten Weber is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Humanities Section at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo, Japan. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Embracing 'Asia' in China and Japan
  • Book Subtitle Asianism Discourse and the Contest for Hegemony, 1912-1933
  • Authors Torsten Weber
  • Series Title Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-65153-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-87960-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-65154-5
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXI, 407
  • Number of Illustrations 6 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Asian History
    World History, Global and Transnational History
    Modern History
    Political History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Torsten Weber offers the most nuanced account of different Asianisms that existed before Japanese official appropriation of this internationalist vision of solidarity after the Manchurian Incident, and in this way, he helps us better understand the political significance of the complex historical memory battles over the meaning of Asianism today. An essential reading for those interested in understanding the entanglement of both the emancipatory and imperialist aspects of Pan-Asianism.” (Cemil Aydin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)