Independent filmmaker Evans Chan and Lingnan’s Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Sociology and Social Policy Prof Liah Greenfeld were invited to discuss on 26 November the concepts of race and nationalism as presented in a popular Chinese TV drama series Toward the Republic.
Aired on the official China Central Television in 2003, the 60-episode Toward the Republic has stirred up tremendous interest and controversies over its interpretation and re-presentation of China’s transition from the imperial to republican system. Mr Chan pointed out that Toward the Republic has actively denied or masked the immense tension between the Han Chinese and the ruling Manchus during the last years of the Qing Dynasty, which he termed as “de-racialisation”. Rather, foreign threats such as Japan’s unexpected victory in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) were highlighted to justify racial unity in China. Mr Chan believes that such “de-racialisation” was driven by the political agenda to emphasise harmony within the country at that time.
In response, Prof Greenfeld explained the concepts of “nation” and “nationalism”, and compared the rise of nation-states in Europe to the founding of the Chinese Republic. She agreed that ethnic-nationalism had played an important role in the Chinese Revolution of 1911.
Acclaimed as “one of the most singularly innovative and diverse figures in the Chinese cultural world in the last 15 years”, Mr Chan have produced four narrative features and five documentaries, the latest of which is Two and Three Things about Kang Youwei.