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Zhongguo and Tianxia: the central state and the Chinese world

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China is playing an ever-increasing role on the world stage of international relations, and it is starting to bring its own vocabulary to the part. The terminology that comprises the core lexicon of international relations theory originates from Greek and Latin, and it was developed to describe and interpret the configurations of power that have been common in Western history, from ancient Athens to the British Empire. Chinese scholars are now actively mining the Chinese historical experience to develop new terms to apply both to their own past and to an ever-changing present. Different histories call for different vocabularies. Over three millennia, China has developed a distinct vocabulary that is well-adapted to its own place at the center of the East Asian world-system. The Chinese word for China, Zhongguo, literally means ‘central state or states’ (there is no plural inflection in Chinese), giving rise to the poetic sobriquet “Middle Kingdom.” Thus, China is not the. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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