The Invention of the Chinese nation

Date: Friday 16 October
Time: 10am-11am

Venue:  Online Zoom Webinar
Register Here

The Invention of the Chinese nation book cover


How many nations are there in China? Is there just one or are there many? What does the Chinese word for nation - ‘minzu’ actually mean? In this talk, Bill Hayton will trace the origins of the contemporary problems in Tibet and Xinjiang to debates among exiled Chinese reformers and revolutionaries in the early twentieth century about how to translate European ideas of ‘race’, ’nation’, ‘people’ and ‘citizen’ into Chinese. He will show how arguments between key figures such as Liang Qichao and Sun Yat-sen about how to reconcile questions of racial purity with territorial control, led to expedient ideological compromises that created the conditions for today’s crises in the peripheries of the People’s Republic.

About the Speaker

Image of speaker Bill Hayton

Bill Hayton is the author of ’The Invention of China’ to be published in October by Yale University Press. He is an Associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House, a journalist with BBC News in London, and a regular writer on Asian issues. He previously authored ’The South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia’ (Yale, 2014) and ‘Vietnam: rising dragon’ (Yale, 2010, second edition 2020). In 2006/7 he was the BBC’s reporter in Vietnam and in 2013/14 he was seconded to the Myanmar state broadcaster to work on media reform.