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2014 events

British Imperialism, Chinese Nationalism and Sun Yatsen's All-Powerful yet Virtuous Government Concept

Professor John Wong, University of Sydney

Research seminar

4-6pm, Wednesday 15th January 

Room K-1.14, King's Building, Strand Campus

All are welcome to China Institute research seminars - no need to register


A modernised Britain in the nineteenth century crushed a pre-modern China materially, which was there for all to see; and spiritually, which was not easily discernable and is therefore the focus of this paper. Chinese attempts at modernisation ranged from ‘wholesale Westernization’ (which in effect meant Anglo-Americanization) to Sovietization (which boiled down to Communist authoritarianism). Anglo-American educated Sun Yatsen (1866-1925) was increasingly attracted, in his final years, by Soviet efficiency of the 1920s and drew wisdom heavily from indigenous Chinese culture to modernise China with his envisaged all-powerful yet virtuous government. Could that be China’s future?.


John Wong is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney, and is internationally renowned for his scholarship in the history of nineteenth-century Anglo-Chinese relations, and the life and political beliefs of Sun Yatsen. His life-long research on British imperialism was showcased in his book, Deadly Dreams: Opium, Imperialism, and the ‘Arrow’ War (1856-1860) in China (hardback 1998, paperback 2003 and 2008). An updated and greatly expanded Chinese version will be published in 2015. Professor Wong has held visiting scholarships at the University of Cambridge, Stanford University and the University of Hawaii. He was elected as a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2000, and to the Royal Historical Society (Britain) in 1978. His publications include London and the Chinese Revolution: Exploring the London Origins of Sun Yatsen's Three Principles, 1896-1897 (2007); Sun Yatsen and the British, 1883-1925 (2005); The Truth about Sun Yatsen's Kidnapping in London (1998); and Deadly Dreams: Opium, Imperialism, and the 'Arrow' War (1856-60) in China (1998).

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