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A 5,000-year Odyssey

First Edition
  • Padma Bhushan Tan Chung - Professor of Chinese, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.

June 2018 | 312 pages | SAGE Select


In this endearing book on China, Tan Chung distills tons of information about China’s historical evolution and complex vicissitudes in a freewheeling style describing how the third longest river in the world, Yangtze River, and the fifth longest, Yellow River, carved out the contours of China on the globe millions of years before the arrival of man-apes. From this geographical entity, there emerged a common civilization, political entity, and common entity of destiny within and around the valleys of these two civilization-forming rivers.

The author advocates that China is a “civilization country” that has existed for more than two millennia but the nation-state world interrupted the Chinese odyssey for many centuries. Like the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes, China resumes its odyssey and also joins the comity of globalization leaving behind the “Thucydides Trap”.

Foreword by Wang Gungwu
Common Geographical Entity of China
China-The “Enchanting Bride”
The Himalaya Sphere
Early Chinese Civilization
China-India Resonance
The Chinese Common Political Entity
Yu Created the Common Political Entity
The Three Dynasties Before Unification/ Confucius and the “Hundred Schools”
“Tianxia” and “Zhongguo”
A Unified Empire sans Imperialism
Qin Emperor Shihuang Created the Chinese Empire
Tyrant or “Once-in-a-Millennium” Emperor?
Liu Bang and the New Dynasty
Good Governance by Emperors Wen and Jing
The Empire sans Imperialism
External Security and Internal Stability
Emperor Wu’s Resolution in Driving Away the Xiongnu
The Eastern Han Dynasty and Beyond
Foreign Members into the Chinese “Common Entity”
The Prosperous Tang Dynasty and Its Golden Culture
China’s Reunification Under the Sui Dynasty
Two Great Tang Emperors
The Golden Tang Culture
The “Common Civilization Entity” of Asia
The Glorious and Pathetic Song Dynasty
Prosperity of Song China
Market Economy and New Lifestyle
Academic Achievements During Song Dynasty
Vulnerable China Ravaged by Nation-states
Civilization Highway Damaged but Extended
Chinese Civilization Hijacked by the Nation-state
Yuan Contributions to Chinese Civilization
Ming China Returned to the Civilization Highway
Zheng He’s Seven Expeditions to the Indian Ocean
Manchu China and the Challenge of the Sea
The “Thriving Period from Kangxi to Qianlong”
Continental Common Entity Challenged by the Sea
Opium Imperialism along the Gunboat Road
The Taiping and Boxer Movements
The Awakened Lion Shaking China, Not the World
Awakening of the Chinese “Sleeping Lion”
Sun Yat-sen and the Guomindang
Sleeping Lion Pricked by Japanese Militarism
Mao Zedong Roared Like a Real Lion
China Joins the Comity of the “Nation-state” World
Three Decades of “Reform and Opening Up”
Two-way Globalization
China and the World Common Entity of Destiny

The book collects the results of Tan Chung’s life-long study. Standing at the forefront of academic research, he reviews China’s development and predicts the future trend of Chinese civilization with a well-rounded, global perspective. The new opinions and ideas in this book are thought-provoking and greatly inspire me.

Xue Keqiao,
Researcher, National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing

In this book, Tan Chung presents the outcome of his long-term studies, illuminating the peaceful nature of Chinese development and highlighting the perils along the way. In general, this is a great story about China and an innovative monograph with both academic value and practical significance.

Jiang Jinkui,
Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Peking University, Beijing

Reading this book, I feel Tan Chung’s romantic spirit about Chinese history. He is an elder scholar who experienced his life in three representative civilized countries: China, India, and the United States. In the book, he discusses the successes and failures in the development of Chinese civilization. Although one may disagree with his arguments, you cannot deny that this book is not only an expedition, but also a long-lost innovation.

Wang Wen,
Executive Director, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China

Such a bird’s eye view of Chinese history is rare and will be of use to millions of general readers as well as all students who study China, the emerging global power, all over the world.

Manoranjan Mohanty,
Former Professor, University of Delhi, and Honorary Fellow and Former Chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

“Such a bird’s eye view of Chinese history is rare and will be of use to millions of general readers….”

Manoranjan Mohanty,
Former Professor, University of Delhi and Former Chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

“[T]his is a great story about China … with both academic value and practical significance.”

Jiang Jinkui,
Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Peking University, Beijing
Key features

·         A path-breaking research on China’s geo-civilizational paradigm.

·         It presents a macro holistic picture tracing China’s genesis to the Himalaya Sphere.

·         The book offers a simple and easy reading of a difficult and complex subject—China.