- Year of publication: 2014
- Source: Show
- Pages: 3-6
- DOI Address: -
Liang Qichao’s 1896 „Records of the Destruction of Poland“ and the Emergence of the Polish Topos in the Chinese Reformist Discourse
This article discusses the historical role of Liang Qichao’s text on the destruction of Poland in the late eighteenth century, and his “discovery of analogy” between these historical events and the state of the Qing empire a hundred years later. The warning example of Poland introduced skilfully by Liang through his use of the new medium of modern press became subsequently one of the most popular rhetorical tools employed by Chinese intellectuals throughout the reform era leading to the establishment of the Chinese nation state, and hence can be regarded as situated close to the roots of the modern Chinese identity. By analysing the choice of sources made by Liang, it is argued that Liang made a conscious decision to present the fate of Poland in a sympathetic, yet alarming manner, and at the same time chose to ignore other Chinese-language sources produced in the scholarly circles closer to him including Timothy Richard’s translation of a book on the history of Russia. The article contends that Liang chose Poland as an example of a failed state, which did not reform and react to geopolitical perils in a proper manner, in the context of the growing fear of Russia among the late-Qing elites. The article also argues that the authors of Liang’s sources, most notably Xu Jingluo, should be recognized as equally important contributors to the “discovery of analogy” between the fates of Poland and late Qing empire’s political quandary.
Images of China in the West: do not Trust Common Stereotypes
F. Mote’s thesis that Chinese civilisation differs in the most fundamental aspects from Western civilisation explains to a certain extent why it is so difficult to comprehend China. This is clearly exemplified by, for instance, the patterns of change. In the West, as A. Toynbee indicates, it is the principle of substitution that predominates, i.e. old customs, fashions and ideas are substituted by the new ones. In China, on the other hand, it is the principle of juxtaposition that predominates, i.e. new elements are added to the old ones and function side by side. According to Soviet archaeologists, this difference has been visible since the end of the Palaeolithic Age and it concerns the entire East Asian region. It results, as A.C. Graham points out, in particular syncretism in intellectual life, where a thesis promoted by the opposition is not rejected as wrong but presented as “partial” and included into a broader context. This allows the Chinese to maintain consensus and avoid controversies, which are avoided. It is also manifested in politics; in 1912, a representative of the imperial court was invited to the rostrum at the first military parade of the Republic at the Tiananmen Square. In a similar way, in 1949, the last commander of the Guomindang forces was invited to the rostrum at the Tiananmen Square to assist them in their first military parade to celebrate victory. Nobody would have acted in such a way during the French or the Bolshevik Revolution. Numerous Chinese intellectuals have noticed this difference.
When facing such complex realities, a Western observer is usually perplexed, and makes wrong conclusions as his/her mind uses the archetype of Good fighting against Evil to eliminate it, or the New fighting against the Old. Meanwhile, since ancient times, the Chinese mind has adopted a scheme of complementary dualism, like Yin and Yang, which consists in complementing, rather than fighting, one another. Hence, the process of transformation in China differs significantly from that in Central Europe, where the New system has substituted the Old system, and the Western capitalist and political model has triumphed. The Westerners usually believe that their civilisation and concepts are universal. Meanwhile, the Asians are rather reluctant in adopting a similar view although they are willing to adopt some of its most useful aspects. In this way, as S.N. Eisenstadt points out, various modernities evolve.
Lynn T. White introduces an enlightening metaphor. According to him, since the seventeenth century, the Westerners have looked at China through a mirror, in which they usually see their own dreams or fears rather than what really exists in China. Consequently, the images of China diffused in the West reflect mostly the states of the Western souls rather than changing and complex “true China”.
The Impact of the Policy of the People’s Republic of China on the Reforms of “the Polish October” 1956.
The death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 started a brutal power struggle between different factions within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Although Nikita Khrushchev, promoting some reforms, became a new Soviet leader, his position was never as strong as the position of Stalin. His report “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” known as the “Secret Speech”, was in fact an element of his struggle against the enemy factions. However, the Speech did not improve the position of Khrushchev radically. First of all, it shocked the leaders of the satellite states. For the first time, communist methods were condemned not by “western revisionists”, but by the highest communist leader. For some satellite communist party leaders, the Speech was a threat to their positions based on an almost supernatural authority of the Soviet Union. For others, it was a sign that it was time to express their reformist ideas. This situation provoked factional struggles in other communist countries.
In the light of these events, Mao Zedong as well as other Chinese leaders hoped that the position of China in the Communist block would strengthen and that China could even lead the block.
The Russian factional struggle brought Mao Zedong both certain opportunities and threats. The criticism of a cult of personality encouraged factional struggle in the Communist Party of China. Some factions started to criticise the cult of Mao and his radical ideology and promoted an idea of collective leadership instead. Those tendencies became apparent at the first session of the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of China held on 15–27 September 1956.
On the other hand, Khrushchev needed Mao’s support because of his weak position in the party and the Soviet Block (Stalin tried to keep Mao on a short leash instead). In fact, in the beginning of Khrushchev’s era, China was officially recognised as a second communist power. In official speeches, communist leaders would use the phrase “the block led by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China”. The conflict between Moscow and its satellites allowed Mao to play a role of a mediator. It could also lead to a situation when Khrushchev would not be able to make any move in this matter without consulting it with Peking.
All these circumstances led to a conflict between Peking and Moscow, which saved the Polish reforms in 1956. Basing on the “Chinese support”, the reformists won their battle for the completion of the reformist program. Khrushchev was forced to accept the new Polish leadership of Wladyslaw Gomulka who was imprisoned earlier in 1950s as a right wing representative, a nationalist and the First Secretary. Russians also established a new relationship giving more independence to Poland.
The conflict between the Chinese and the Soviet communists had also a great influence on the official propaganda in Poland. In the Polish United Workers’ Party (PUWP), anti-Stalinist movements were growing constantly from 1954. In the mid-1950s, the members of the reformist Pulawian faction in the party controlled the press and other media, and in that time China was recognised as the great power within the Communist Block that adopted much more liberal policy then the Soviet Union did.
Sixty Years of Polish Studies in Beijing
This paper reviews the history of the exposure of the Chinese people to the Polish language, with a particular emphasis on the development of Polish Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). In 2014, BFSU will mark the 60th anniversary of its Polish Studies. The author makes a systematic review of what has been achieved with this program of study in personnel training, academic research, international cooperation etc. This paper gives a detailed analysis of the problems and challenges that this program encounters in the new situation.
The Development of Martial Arts in Poland. From Reception of Physical Techniques to Deep Cultural Reflection
In Poland, the tradition of being in contact with Asian cultures through the experience related to martial arts coming from this region is over one hundred years old. We assume that the first contacts of Polish people with Japanese martial arts can be traced back to the Russian- Japanese War (1904–1905). After the First World War, in free Poland, jujutsu was practiced as an element of body building classes and army training for students of secondary schools. From 1945 to 1955, close combat, based on wrestling, boxing and jujutsu elements, was promoted only within the framework of army and militia training. At this time, sport sections of judo and self-defence called jujutsu started to develop rapidly in the academic environment. In the 1970s and 1980s, jujutsu became a chance for continuation of careers of former judo competitors or army instructors of self-defence. In the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, karate was gaining popularity in Poland apart from judo that had already had a strong position. At the same time, Polish kung fu styles turned out to be great success and were brought to an unprecedented international level.
The 1980s was the golden age of martial arts and sports in Poland. However, later, in the 1990s and in the beginning of the twenty first century, many different commercial types of martial arts and sports came to Poland. As they were far from those practiced in Asian cultures, it was somewhat a new experience. Hundreds of books imported by Ars Polonia were then translated and many specialist periodicals were published. Now, as far as this field is concerned, there is a great niche on the Polish market.
In Poland, Asian Martial Arts have become an effective and highly estimated tool of education because many parents whose active children practice Asian Martial Arts see the positive changes after a very short time of training. Training Asian Martial Arts brings many benefits to people’s everyday life. It improves their health and, what is more, its strategies can be applied in business, contacts or negotiations.
Boundaries of Taste. Anthropological Reflection on the Development of Vietnamese Cuisine in Poland from the 1990s
Vietnamese cuisine in Poland carries cultural intimacy that researchers can interpret and use in order to identify the boundaries of taste. Through that lens we can see a number of new dishes in Poland made by Vietnamese cooks from Vietnamese ingredients and products, but, simultaneously, created by Polish consumers in urgent need for different tastes from the world after the regime change. Sajgonki, a localised spring-roll with original rice paper outside, but mainly cabbage inside, is a good example here. It offers a familiar taste in an oriental cover, it is cheap, and it breaks the monotony in the former Polish People’s Republic. Moreover, five-flavours has become the name of the Asian annual film festival in Warsaw; currently the eight edition of the festival takes place. As a result of globalisation, Phở and Bá nh Mì , after their success in the world’s largest cities, have been brought to Warsaw recently. It is only a part of Vietnamese cuisine in Poland that carries ethnic markers, reinvented with locally produced elements. Those three distinguished groups of food show the complexity of Vietnamese cuisine produced by Vietnamese migrants in Poland.
2011 – A Breakthrough Year in Myanmar
Myanmar, the former British colony, began its independence as a parliamentary democracy in difficult circumstances. Gen. Aung San, the national leader, who had come to an agreement with the British government for the transfer of sovereignty, was assassinated before the proclamation of independence. From the beginning, the new government was confronted with insurrection started by two Communist parties and a number of ethnic minority insurgencies. The economic difficulties and chaotic situation in the state pushed gen. Ne Win to organise a military coup in 1962. Under military rule, the country started to realise the Myanmar Way to Socialism. In 1988, acute economic crisis provoked student unrest which was matched by ruthless military repression. The army organised a new coup. During that time Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, a national hero, returned coincidentally to Myanmar. She participated in the creation of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a new party, and finally she became its leader. The NLD won an overwhelming electoral victory at the polls in May 1990 over the party supported by the army. The military junta did not recognise the elections. Myanmar entered into a new period of military rule with countless instances of human rights abuse. The country faced ostracism from the international community, especially from western countries. Despite the fact that Myanmar joined the ASEAN in 1997, accepted the new constitution and organised new elections by the end of 2010, the United States and the European Union continued the policy of sanctions and treated Myanmar as a pariah state. At that period Myanmar was found as a political and economically reliable partner only by the authorities in Beijing.
Unexpectedly, in the middle of 2011, a new civil government with Thein Sein, the president, a former general and a member of junta, began a complicated process of democratisation of the country. In a very short time, the leading world and regional powers changed their policies and started a fierce competition to increase their position in Myanmar. The normalisation of relations with the international community is undoubtedly the most successful area of activities of the government. The progress was achieved owing to the unexpected loyal cooperation between president Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi between the opposition and the government. Unfortunately, at present, Myanmar still confronts extremely difficult problems such as relations with ethnic minorities, tensions between Buddhists and Muslims, the modification of the constitution to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to present her candidacy for presidential elections in 2015 and the reduction of the role of militaries in the country. Additionally, Myanmar remains the object of dispute and rivalry of big powers, at present China versus USA and Japan, and in the future probably China versus India.
The Manggha Museum – Japan in Cracow
The Manggha Museum, the only state institution popularising Japanese culture in Poland, combines museum work with projects typical for a modern cultural institution. In addition to quality of content and artistic form, attractive methods of communication are the primary criteria in devising our programmes of events. The methods developed by the Manggha Museum team enable us to produce insightful and multifaceted presentations of issues that are often very specialised, whether relating to old or modern Japan.
Our major projects are accompanied by scholarly conferences and open lectures covering important topics in the political and social history, art history, everyday life, culture and customs of Japan and the Far East. Our Academy of Japanese Cinema is an ongoing project dating back several years.
We offer excellent concerts in a wide range of genres, from traditional Asian music to contemporary jazz, classical compositions played by celebrated pianists, and alternative music performances. One of our assets is our special offer for children and young people as well as for the visually-impaired participants. For several years now, we have been preparing special educational exhibitions, featuring interactive playgrounds; our regular events dedicated to children include meetings with Japanese fairy tales, Sunday workshops and the annual Japanese Children’s Day, Kodomo no hi. Our Museum is a Child-Friendly Venue – we have an indoor Japanese playground for our youngest visitors.
The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology also operates a Japanese Language School – the only school in Poland with affiliation to the Japan Foundation – offering language courses at all levels, in addition to calligraphy, the tea ceremony and ikebana classes, special activities for children, and morning classes for senior citizens. There are numerous clubs and associations affiliated with the Museum, promoting various forms of Japanese culture: the tea ceremony, ikebana, bonsai, go and shogi. Since 2011, the Manggha Museum has held the collections forming the Andrzej Wajda Archives. We put a particular emphasis on our exhibitions of old and contemporary art (over 40 a year), which have been widely acknowledged and can be viewed not only at our gallery, but also in many cities across Poland and abroad. The Museum publishes books documenting its exhibitions and lectures and it provides well-researched information in a variety of fields such as culture, art, architecture, anthropology, etc. Our publications are compendia prepared by the best Polish and foreign (frequently Japanese) specialists. Every year, the Manggha Museum is visited by over 100,000 people.
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