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See also: sinocentrism



From Sino- (prefix meaning ‘relating to China or the Chinese’) +‎ -centrism (suffix indicating a focus on, or belief in the superiority of, one culture, people, place, or other thing).



Sinocentrism (uncountable)

  1. (historical) The belief, held by the ancient Chinese, that China was literally the centre of the world.
    • 1998, Adrian Hsia, “Preface”, in Chinesia: The European Construction of China in the Literature of the 17th and 18th Centuries (Communicatio; 16), Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg: Max Niemeyer; De Gruyter, →ISBN, ISSN 0941-1704, page 1:
      Up to now, China's encounter with the West has more or less been exclusively researched under the perspective of Sinocentrism, both by Western and Chinese scholars. [...] Nobody, however biased, can deny the existence, historical and actual, of Sinocentrism, which I at one time called the Celestial Empire Syndrome. It is well known that China had considered itself as the centre of the world since the beginning of the written record until its utter humiliation brought about by the Opium Wars in the 19th century and the Boxers' Revolt later.
    • 2000, Suisheng Zhao, quoting Wang Peiyuan, “The Origins of Chinese Nationalism”, in A Nation-state by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, published 2004, →ISBN, page 43:
      The so-called ancient Chinese patriotism that has been repeatedly discussed by many people was only sinocentrism (huaxia zhongxing zhuyi).
    • 2006, John King Fairbank; Merle Goldman, “The Paradox of Song China and Inner Asia”, in China: A New History, 2nd edition, Cambridge, Mass.; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, →ISBN, part 1 (Rise and Decline of the Imperial Autocracy), page 112:
      The early tenet of sinocentrism was that the superiority of Zhongguo, the Central State, in wen (culture and civilization) would inevitably dominate the mere military violence (wu) of the Inner Asian tribes.
    • 2012, John Shen, “Foreword: Thoughts on the Use of Chinese Documents in the Reconstruction of East African History”, in Li Anshan, A History of Overseas Chinese in Africa to 1911, New York, N.Y.: Diasporic Africa Press, →ISBN, page viii:
      Finally, Sinocentrism culminated in China's self-adulation when Malindi sent an emissary with a giraffe to the Ming Emperor via Cheng Ho's imperial fleet in 1419.
  2. (politics) The practice of viewing the world from a Chinese perspective, with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the pre-eminence of Chinese culture.
    • 1988, “Japan’s Turn to the West”, in Peter Duus, editor, The Cambridge History of Japan, volume 5 (The Nineteenth Century), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 435:
      Intellectual activity during the Edo period can be broadly classified into three categories: [...] (2) Japanese learning (kokugaku), which arose in mid-Tokugawa times as a reaction to the sinocentrism that then prevailed in scholarly circles; [...]
    • 1989, Min Tu-ki, “Chinese “Principle” and Western “Utility,” a Reassessment”, in Philip A. Kuhn and Timothy Brook, editors, National Polity and Local Power: The Transformation of Late Imperial China (Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series; 27), Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University; Harvard–Yenching Institute, →ISBN, page 63:
      Thus, he [Yokoi Shōnan] repudiated Sinocentrism, which viewed both China and Japan as Chinese in the broader sense of the word and the West as barbarian.
    • 1991, Zhang Yongjin, “An Empire Contracted in a World Expanded”, in China in the International System, 1918–20: The Middle Kingdom at the Periphery, New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, DOI:10.1007/978-1-349-21238-5, →ISBN, page 16:
      The process through which China was forcibly drawn into the worldwide European-dominated international system is that of the demise of Sinocentrism. [...] If we telescope the changes of the Chinese views of the world and of their dealings with the outside nations and states in the years from 1840 to 1900, it is clear that the physical demise of Sinocentrism can be found in China's recognition of equality of other states with China; [...]
    • 2004, Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, “Localist Position as a Product of Social Opposition”, in Literary Culture in Taiwan: Martial Law to Market Law, New York, N.Y.; Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 126:
      Finally, besides projecting a diminutive view of Taiwan as a regional entity, sinocentrism was overtly dismissive in its attitudes towards the native population. For instance, pejoratives like nuhua (becoming slaves), referring to Taiwanese people's colonial experience, appeared frequently in official documents.
    • 2013, Rey Chow, “On Chineseness as a Theoretical Problem”, in Shu-mei Shih, Chien-hsin Tsai, and Brian Bernards, editors, Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader, New York, N.Y.; Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 45:
      In the habitual obsession with Chineseness, what we often encounter is a kind of cultural essentialism—in this case, Sinocentrism—that draws an imaginary boundary between China and the rest of the world. Everything Chinese, it follows, is fantasized as somehow better—longer in existence, more intelligent, more scientific, more valuable, and ultimately beyond comparison.
  3. (politics) Ethnocentrism among the Han people of China; Han chauvinism.
    • 1997, Yingjin Zhang, “From “Minority Film” to “Minority Discourse”: Questions of Nationhood and Ethnicity in Chinese Cinema”, in Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, editor, Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, Honolulu, Hi.: University of Hawaiʻi Press, →ISBN, pages 81–82 and 95:
      [page 81] While Berry is certainly correct in identifying "sinocentrism," which he would rather term "race-centrism," in post-1949 Chinese film, what he sees as "raceization" (or "sinification" as used elsewhere by Paul Clark) is, I would contend, a politically motivated and manipulated process of cultural production. [...] [page 95] To return to Chris Berry's theory of "race," one realizes that he has made an overstatement in treating recent Chinese films as a radical challenge not only to "sinocentrism" but perhaps also "the very assumption of a fundamental duality separating the Han Chinese and the foreign."

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