About the author
Professor Wang Gungwu is the Chairman of the East Asian Institute and a University Professor at the National University of Singapore. He is also Emeritus Professor of the Australian National University. Professor Wang is a Commander of the British (CBE); Fellow, and former President, of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science; Member of Academia Sinica; and Honorary Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. He was conferred the International Academic Prize, Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes. In Singapore, he is Chairman of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS.
Brief introduction about the book
Professor Wang Gungwu, one of the finest historians of our time, reminds us once again to take a fresh look at the past from today’s perspective. In this book, he presents his insightful analysis of the state as an apolitical institution in the modern world and his idea of Chinese history up to the 20th century. The concept of the “state” in the modern world was developed in the 17th century after the Thirty Years’ War. At that time, European nation-states had exclusive sovereignties. The concept of tianxia （天下）refers to the form of an empire throughout Chinese history. More often than not, tianxia is a cultural, political, and economic network with various components interwoven into a complex coalition that has administrative functions, economic interdependence, and cultural affiliations. Ethnic entities have various levels of autonomy, and tributaries are in ad hoc relationships with China proper. Neighboring states that are politically independent from China also remain within Chinese cultural and economic spheres. In this context, the extent of the sovereignties of each constituency is often relative and not exclusive. Professor Wang, realizing the phenomenon of globalization in the world today, has brought to our attention that alternative forms that affect the organization of a viable global order deserve our consideration. Today, following the ceaseless conflicts among nation-states since the end of the unprecedented violence of World War II, we must reexamine the current conditions that the concept of the nation-state and its exclusive sovereignty has created for the world.