A very sketchy history of China as a mirror for a History of Italy for Chinese
In all of my time as a student of China, which started in October 1979, the grand problem on the surface or hidden between the lines, has always been the same: why did China, which for most of its history was ahead of the West, suddenly lost steam and fell behind? The question is also at the root of the problems of modern China, which wants to recover the lost time and glory, and find its way back to the forefront of development and civilization.
Preface Why This Book? And Introduction
China has always believed in history. Since antiquity, since the times of Confucius and Mozi, since the Zhou dynasty compiled the Record of Rites, the Li Ji, one of the most important cultural elements, if not the most important, has been history and its recording rather than holy religious scriptures, be they something like the Bible or the Quran. Then comparing states and civilizations is to compare history and to look into other people’s histories to know them. Every dynasty considered its top ideological priority to set the record straight on the past dynasty or period. Writing history was the ultimate instrument of ideological justification and legitimacy of power.
A very sketchy Chinese History as a reference for the Western reader Part 2
Unlike in the Mediterranean, the miracle of unity occurred again in China at the end of the sixth century, at the time when Muhammad founded Islam. The coincidence of timing is interesting. Between the second and third centuries BC, Rome was defeating Carthage and becoming the main player of the Mediterranean; in 221 BC, the first Qin emperor vanquished all his enemies. In the third century AD, both the Roman and the Han empires suffered a crippling crisis, yet Rome survived, while the Han vanished. In the sixth century AD, China again found its unity, while the imperial Roman rule of the Mediterranean was never again recovered.
Part II: The Rise and Fall of Italy, its City-States and eventual Loss of Centrality of the Mediterranean
Chapter 6: Wasted Italy of the high Middle Ages, and the beginning of its rebirth
6.1 Italy and the former Western Empire turned into a wasteland in the 7th century
A very sketchy history of China as a mirror for a History of Italy for Chinese Part 3
The first Opium War (1839–42) opened the floodgates to modernity for China. Yet at the time the imperial court underestimated the significance, busy coping with the Russians who once again were pressing from the north. There was indeed debate at the court over whether the threat of the English in Canton was greater than that in the north. But actually, despite its massive trove of reserves (possibly 70% of all global silver was in the possession of Beijing), resources were stretched and politically Beijing was not prepared to face war on two fronts at the same time.