Introduction: The Diverse Society and Segmented Nationalism in China

  • Simon Shen


In a Chinese documentary titled Crazy English, Li Yang, a self-taught English ‘teacher’ in China, turned English-teaching into an eclectic nationalist campaign.2 Li’s students, who were encouraged to ‘learn’ English by shouting loudly, no longer feared being labelled pro-Western, because they had had inculcated into them the idea that: ‘in order to overcome the US, we must first understand them completely’.3 This attitude — revealing the eagerness of the Chinese to embrace Western culture — might be viewed as supporting Clinton’s reference to an ‘outward-looking China’. Such a hysterical, un-English method of learning English could, however, also support the reference made by Clinton to a nationalist-driven and ‘inward-looking’ China. Are there alternatives to understanding the complicated revival of Chinese nationalism — as exemplified by the difficulty of categorizing Crazy English in a Manichean manner — besides the China as ‘threat’ and the China as ‘friend’ theories? Does an undemocratic China, as Thomas Christensen argued, necessarily imply escalated Chinese nationalism: ‘since the CCP is no longer communist, it must been more Chinese’?4 Many contemporary academics, such as Rosemary Foot, believe that despite substantial Chinese mistrust of the contemporary world order, China does follow norms ‘that allow it to present itself as a responsible power’.5 How can this ‘responsible power’ grow under its nationalist jacket?


Civil Society Chinese Communist Party Ordinary Citizen Chinese Foreign Policy Cultural Nationalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Simon Shen 2007

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