China and the World Since 1750
Odd Arne Westad
Basic Books, $32, 528 pp.
Studies of China’s engagement with the outside world have been with us for well over a century. Those written in the West used to reflect an established orthodoxy, which held that reverence for the desiccated traditions of Confucianism kept China back from modernity, and that any change and progress must come from outside forces—meaning the West, and its surrogate, Japan. They were the activists, and China merely the passive recipient of their efforts.
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