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Author Linda Jaivin Explains ‘The Shortest History of China’

The history of China may be long, but it’s not necessarily that complicated according to Linda Jaivin, author of The Shortest History of China, which runs less than 300 pages. In a Zoom talk hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, she identified several recurring themes which are key to understanding China no matter what time period you’re looking at: corruption; anxiety over orderly succession; and stress over borders, different countries and tribal groups. 

“When we talk about China, it’s a constantly evolving concept,” said Jaivin, who said her book is filled with wild characters, arts and culture and stories of women who have played important roles in Chinese history. 

The author also spoke about what she called China’s “woman problem,” arguing that there is a lack of gender equality and a lack of women in prominent positions of power in spite of communist ideals of everyone being equal. 

Placing the Chinese Communist Party in a historical context, Jaivin said that the party cloaks itself in Confucian themes. The reality, she said, is that many of its policies, including the social credit system, have a Legalist slant, i.e. “do the right thing and get rewarded.”

Still, she said, “the Communist Party is in power because it does the right thing.”

Watch the full discussion below:

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