A most interesting piece from the BBC on China’s love-hate relationships with things foreign – indeed they spent millennia building a string of walls Ripley’s Believe it or Not claimed could be seen from outer space (yes that is the genesis of the fantastical notion that became part of some school textbooks). The study of Kublai Khan provides unique insights into what it takes for the Chinese mind to subsume a different paradigm of thinking into their collective identity.
For those who are fans of Star Trek, the Chinese, in my mind, are not unlike the Borg – they learn, assimilate making it their own.
The very last emperor of all loved bicycles, by the way. He is said to have removed doorstops in the Forbidden City so that he could cycle around, but that is another story. The point I want to make is that there is complicated history around what is Chinese… and what is not. Carrie Gracie
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Kublai Khan: China’s favourite barbarian
By Carrie Gracie
Source – BBC News Beijing, published October 11, 2012
China has a love-hate relationship with what is foreign. Traditionally all people beyond the Great Wall were barbarians – only part human. But invaders have sometimes been welcomed, in time, into the Chinese family. One was Kublai Khan.
In the 13th Century, no-one knew how big the world was so it was not so wild for the Mongols to set off from the grassland with the idea that they were going to conquer all of it.
When the mighty Genghis Khan died in 1227, he had already claimed an empire stretching from the Pacific to Europe. His grandson Kublai set out to finish the job, and started by moving south to attack China’s Song dynasty. Read the rest of this entry »