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.
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