Comparative Perspectives on East Asia
Bu, Ping: Historical Perceptions: Within the Border or beyond the Border?
Bu, Ping Historical Perceptions: Within the Border or beyond the Border? National Identity in East Asia Modern European history could be described as a history of wars between dif- ferent ‘nation states’. However, in the late 20th century, European countries be- gan to move towards a greater unity. The European Union (EU) is the most vivid example of this development. Are Europeans tired of wars and do they want to be at peace with each other? Perhaps an old Chinese proverb aptly de- scribes the European development: ‘The world evolves in unification-splitting- unification cycles.’ However, some scholars have suggested that two factors have influenced European political and cultural developments in modern times: One is the emer- gence of modern countries, that is, ‘nation states’; the other is the development of a common ‘identity’, that is, ‘the idea of European integration’. ‘The two developmental directions started from medieval times … therefore, if we want to get a better understanding of modern or even contemporary Euro- pean political philosophies, the two ”concepts” must be comprehended clearly at first, namely the national and the European concept, or ”nationalism” and ”Europeanism”. Nationalism led to the founding of the nation-state or a mul- tinational ”federal state”; Europeanism led up to today’s European Union (or the Integration Process of Europe).’1 In contrast, East Asian countries have not yet built such identity patterns.2 Some scholars believe that the successful building of a European identity is closely connected with the realities of European history, and despite the great...
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