‘The Backward Will Be Beaten’: Historical Lesson, Security, and Nationalism in China

Yi Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


What has China learned from the ‘Century of Humiliation’? In China’s mnemonic practices, ‘the backward will be beaten,’ which attributes the nation’s humiliation experiences to economic, military, and technological backwardness, is the most significant ‘lesson from past’ required to be remembered. Bridging the literatures on memory, nationalism, and International Relations (IR), this study conducts a detailed analysis of the making of ‘the backward will be beaten’ and examines how it helps shape China’s perception of national security based on a competitive worldview and its associated nationalist visions. This study also identifies alternative discourses that challenge the dominant historical lesson by intellectuals and netizens. It contributes to a nuanced understanding of the collective memory of the Century of Humiliation and its implications for Chinese nationalism and foreign relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-900
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number126
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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