Glossary

Autonomous Regions: Areas that are considered part of China, but that which are not under direct control of the central government. Currently Taiwan is the only truly autonomous region as all of the other governments are heavily influenced by Beijing politics. Hong Kong’s new chief executive for example is hand picked by Beijing to head Hong Kong’s government.

Colonialism: control by one power over a dependent area or people (courtesy of Merriam-Webster online dictionary). Due to the negative connotation, different minority groups at times use this term to describe their condition causing the term to expand well beyond the concept of European Colonialism that emerged five hundred years ago. This site focuses mainly on the European colonialism of China which involved placing parts of China under direct control of certain European powers.

Communism: A generally socialist style of government. For many Americans, Communist countries is a stand term for the “bad guys” (e.g. North Korea, USSR). Many Americans still call China a communist country, however China’s economy is perhaps a much better example of capitalism than of socialism.

Diaoyu Island: The Chinese name for Islands off the coast of Taiwan. The Diaoyu Islands are currently under Japanese control, however the Chinese still stake claim to the island and resent the use of the Japanese name for the island. A discussion on this island can be found here.

Isolationism:A term used to refer to countries seeking to keep out foreign influence. This was common practice in parts of Asia during the 19th century. In China’s case this policy allowed them to trade tea and other goods to Europe but tried to stop the importation of opium from India. This policy’s negative influence on Great Britain’s economy led them to force China to open up ports through a series of treaties. This term is not popular in Asia, but it is common elsewhere. This is because this term deflects some of the criticism that has been placed on colonial powers, and shows China’s foreign policy was detrimental to the rest of the world.

Mainland China: The word ‘mainland’ has become a popular term to differentiate between the traditional boundaries of the PRC, and the areas that have not been under direct Chinese rule (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau). This is not a popular term on the mainland, who view Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as territories that because of colonialism had been torn from central Chinese authority. However this term has become popular in these three territories to various degrees and in foreign countries as well. It shows how these regions continue to view themselves ,and are often viewed as, separate from the traditional Chinese boundaries.

Nationalism: according to Anthony Smith nationalism involves a connection between the people and the state to which they belong and is “an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity (Guo 110).” Nationalism often carries a more negative connotation than patriotism though their definitions are similar as they both describe a sense that one’s nation is superior. Theoretically nationalism is a feeling within society as a whole, but this feeling can often by swayed by external factors and internal events. This topic is discussed in both this web page and this interview.

People’s Republic of China (PRC): The official name of Mainland China. This is the more technical term is used to distinguish between mainland China and Taiwan and the other autonomous regions.

Opium Wars:Also called the Anglo-Chinese Wars. The name is significant as Great Britain has been blamed for forcing China to import opium in the nineteenth century. Opium usage was a big problem in China at this time and demand was high. China imported opium both from India and from fields in western China. These conflicts led to a number of treaties the first being the “Nanjing Treaty,” which is now generally referred to as one of the Unequal Treaties.

Semi-Colony: The term generally accepted when discussing China’s colonial status. The term was coined by Lenin in 1916. It is a not a particularly politically charged term, unlike the sub-colony term coined by Sun Yat-sen.

Senkaku Islands: The Japanese name for Islands off the coast of Taiwan. The Senkaku Islands are currently under Japanese control, however the Chinese still stake claim to the island and resent the use of the Japanese name for the island. My blog on the island is here.

Sub-Colony: This term comes from the Chinese original which is sometimes also translated as ‘Hypo-Colony.’ This term is meant to illustrate how China’s status as a partially colonized country divided by multiple countries was a status worse than that of other fully colonized nations. It was coined by Sun Yat-sen in 1927 (Goodman 3), and may be overly bias to the plight of China during their colonial period. I make mention of this term in my introduction to the site.

Taiwan: A former Japanese colony that became the destination for the retreating Nationalist party, who set up an government independent of the mainland. Currently Taiwan and the PRC agree on a one nation policy, however they have retained completely separate forms of government and the topic remains generally controversial in both nations.

Unequal Treaties:This name originated in the twentieth century as a way to refer to a number of treaties that were signed between China and either western or Japanese powers. They often came on the heels of military defeats (e.g. The Opium Wars). These treaties are considered unfair because China was unable to dictate the terms of these treaties which forced China to give up territory and money to these foreign powers. Whether or not treaties are ever truly equal is surely a debate for another day.

勿忘国耻:literally translated as “Don’t forget National Shame” and pronounced WuWangGuoChi. This term refers to China’s years of colonialism highlighted by events such as the Opium Wars and occupation of Chinese territory. It places the context of colonialism in an undeniably negative light. This term is mentioned on my webpage here.

一國兩制: literally translated as “One country, two systems” and pronounced YiGuoLiangZhi. This term was created by the PRC to solve concerns about how to incorporate Hong Kong into the rest of China. It has also been used for Macau, and some refer to it with Taiwan as well. This policy has created autonomous regions which are in principle not under direct control of the PRC. However in practice Hong Kong’s leaders are in fact chosen by the PRC, and local citizens complain that their leaders are becoming more closely connected with central Chinese leadership.

振兴中华:literally translated as “Promote China” and pronounced ZhenXingZhongHua. This is a popular phrase on the mainland, and it is translated by Pleco as meaning ‘rejuvenate China.’ However the word ‘ZhongHua’ does not refer to the state of China but to the people of China or to the concept of the nation that is China. This subtle difference is important as it shows that China’s feelings go beyond that of national exploitation and enter the realm of personal exploitation on a massive scale. This then is a call to restore the Chinese people to the place where they once stood at the Center of the Asian continent and perhaps even the world. This term is also discussed here.

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