China in the 21st Century: on Borrowing, Translation, and Mixed Economies
Literature Compass: the Global Circulation Project
Reason for embargo
Chinoiserie—the European appropriation of “China”—has counterparts in Zhongxi hebi and nalai zhuyi. Part I, “Translating Literatures,” shows that creative translation and borrowing are indigenous to modern China. From the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, when foreign novels were regarded as a primary requirement for social and cultural rebirth, modern Chinese literature was inseparable from the introduction of world literature into China. The pioneers of modern Chinese literature were all professional translators. Lu Xun’s “hard translation” was specifically intended to introduce a change in Chinese characteristics. Esperanto was proposed at Peking University to replace written Chinese, and moves were made to institute a language for science, technology, and democratization. From the 1920s to 1966 under various forms of self-styled Marxisms, literature first from the Eastern Bloc and then from the Third World was translated. After 1978, the Chinese diaspora have written in both adopted languages and Chinese, and the majority of writers within the PRC have drawn on indigenous and cosmopolitan traditions. Part II, “Translating Political Economies,” shows that just as languages and literatures are selectively appropriated through processes of transculturation, so also are economic and political systems. These are the result of concrete historical processes, and labels like capitalism and socialism are not easily translated between countries with very different cultures and histories. When modernizing, democratizing, or liberalizing indigenous institutions, each country has to respond effectively to specific challenges, so political institutions are gradually developed rather than rationally designed.We argue that previous ideological debates between forms of capitalism and socialism are less urgent today than degrees of government as China’s financial and commodity markets take a leading role in the global economy. Neoliberal governments worldwide want less governance, letting the market regulate goods and services. Whether China liberalizes politically or merely neoliberalizes economically, whether liberal democracies give up on demands for equality in the face of neoliberal regimes, will be the key issues of our time. Ultimately we have choices and freedoms, and these should not be limited to the consumer choice and market freedoms of neoliberalism, in China or the west.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 12 (8), pp. 428–438