Dissertation > History, geography > Historical Theory > History of the History > World

Study of John King Fairbank’s Ideas on Chinese History

Author LiZhen
Tutor WangXinQian
School Henan University
Course International relations
Keywords John King Fairbank American China studies clash between Chinese and Western civizations impact-response model Sino-US relations
CLC K091
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
Downloads 351
Quotes 3
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The US is one of the most developed countries overseas which are engaged in China studies, and until now there’s one-half century’s history. The leader of the American Chinese studies is the renowned historian, the top-quality expert on China John King Fairbank. In more than a half century’s time, John King Fairbank had een studied this field in China. His research mode, the scholarly works and the theoretical viewpoints have represented the US mainstream society’s views, not only having affected several generations of American China reseachers and western Chinese academic world, but also having directly or indirectly affected the American political circle and the public, as well as the American government to make policy toward China. ohn King Fairbank’s ideas on Chinese history mainly include:“civization conflict”and“impact-response model”. As a proverb goes:“A stone from other hills may serve to polish the side of this one.”Carrying out the restudy on the American China studies is very helpful. Studying John King Fairbank’s ideas on Chinese history as well as his method and absorbing his reasonable compositions have academic significances in not only advancing the study of Chinese modern history but also promoting the relations between China and the West.Simultaneously, this restudy is helpful to increase Chinese citizens’understanding of Chinese and American cultural views.Thus it is good for China to develop cultural exchange to the United States.Moreover, it can also widen our horizon, help us understand ourselves better.Structurally, besides the introduction and the conclusion, the main body of this paper consists of four parts altogether:Part One tries to introduce John King Fairbank himself and American China studies. John King Fairbank was a famous historican who studied Chiese social and historical problems and a person of distinction in the field of American China modern history studies. He played a decisive role in the transformation of the modle of American China studies. Early American China studies which was influenced by the European China studies paid great attention on the research of China question in ancient times and the language and writing research. As soon as John King Fairbank stepped into China studies area, he chose the modern China question resarch. As a scholar and diplomat, he had been to China for many times and witnessed China society’s vicissitude.Part Two is mainly on the study of John King Fairbank’s ideas on Chinese history、his approach of studying history and his revision of the model of studying China.The content of this part mainly includes three points:“civilzations conflict”、“impact-response”model and model of“tradition to modern”. In the 1950’s, John King Fairbank advanced the famous“impact-response”modle as an instrument to interpret the clash between Chinese and western civilizations. Meanwhile, the establishment of such a research model had a great influence on American China studies. In the 1970’s, John King Fairbank absorbed a lot of research fruits of American scholar. As the study of history of modern China became deeper, he began to rethink his study perspective and revised the“impact-response”model, from“China-centered”approach to“West-centered”approach. This could clearly be found in his works in 1980’s, The New History of China. It is also a turning point of the transformation of John King Fairbank’s American China studies from the tradition to modern.Part Three tries to study three points: John King Fairbank’s point of view of Chinese revolution、the China-bound between John King Fairbank and the Chinese liberal intellectuals and his role in the readjustment of U.S. policies to China. John King Fairbank’s early academic career and work experience in China established his foundation to the preliminary understanding on revolution in China. In the eyes of John King Fairbank, the period from Opium War to 20th century is a history that from illusion to awareness. The invasion of the West invoked China .During the years of self-examination, China experienced three revolutions : Revolution of 1911、National Revolution and the Great Cultural Revolution. As one of the most important wise men of U.S. government, John King Fairbank came to China twice in the 1940’s. By observing and rethingking of the corrupt KMT government、the terrible fate of Chinese liberal intellectuals and the Communists, he came to the conclusion that the United States had to readjust its policies to China. It was just the far-sightedness and persuasive suggestions from John King Fairbank, et al. that the U.S. policy-making body readjusted its policy to China in time, which helped to step up the course of the liberation of the Chinese people.The last part is a conclusion of John King Fairbank’s historical contributions and world judgements on him. John King Fairbank deserved the leader in the fields of American China studies, Eastern Asia studies and had contributed a lot to the readjustment and improvement of Sino-US relations. Yet, he was also a focus of different judgements from people of various kinds. Some of his ideas were self-contradictory and thus caused criticism and blame from different fields. However, we should understand that as a foreigner who was deeply nurtured by Western culture, John King Fairbank’s view-points could not be absolutely consistent with ours. Comparatively, John King Fairbank deserved a just historian. A lot of his ideas and his approach of studying history have great significance in our studying our history.

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