China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
China—Zhonghua rather than Zhongguo—is a modern concept that emerged as part of Chinese nation-state building beginning around the turn of the 20th century, conceived of as something that both had a definable national territory and transcended the boundaries of individual nations. Greater China—Da Zhonghua—is of even more recent vintage and has subsumed territories and peoples that clearly do not share sovereignty through contested imaginings of cultural or ancestral bonds, either without regard for national boundaries or with a vision of what a sovereign China could become. As concepts that are at once descriptive, ascriptive, and prescriptive, China and Greater China were created and are sustained through processes of aggregation and disaggregation. The imagined connections that bind these spatial and conceptual entities together also fray and dissolve under certain circumstances.
This panel, which brings together scholars in Hong Kong and the United States, addresses the contingency of China and Greater China and highlights the historical moments in which they have been aggregated and disaggregated, with particular attention to visions of Greater China during the Cold War. Qingfei Yin will stress aggregation through her study of the movement of peoples and goods across Greater China’s boundaries, while Evan Dawley will emphasize disaggregation in the processes and results of identity formation in Taiwan. Xu Guoqi and Shelly Chan will investigate both intertwined themes through explorations of, respectively, participation in international sporting events and “return to the homeland” tours across multiple sovereignties, before and during the Cold War.