Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Perception of the Indian Independence Movement in Late Qing China

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

For half a century after the First Opium War, many Chinese intellectuals recognized the legitimacy of the rule of the British Empire in India and showed interest in learning its means of governing. This reflected the desire of Chinese intellectuals to join the club of European colonialism at that time. Although information about the Indian independence movement had been disseminated in China through newspapers of Protestant missionaries and travel writings, most Chinese people viewed it as simply an Indian rebellion against British rule without showing much sympathy with its nationalist appeals. At the turn of the twentieth century, however, the rising consciousness of crisis made Chinese intellectuals change their positions and they started to regard both China and India as the victims of European colonialism. Revolutionaries such as Zhang Taiyan (1869-1936) were keen to (re)introduce and interpret the Indian independence movement to Chinese readers during the last decade of the Qing period (roughly equivalent to the first decade of the twentieth century). Therefore, the discovery of historical similarities and differences between China and India played an important role in fostering modern national thought among Chinese intellectuals. This simultaneously brought about the earliest comprehensive expression of anti-colonialist discourse in modern China, along with the enhancement of anti-Manchu sentiment. This paper attempts to explore the process of Chinese people “discovering” their own nation through their perception of the Indian struggle with the British Empire.

Ke Zhang

Fudan University, China

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