power that was centered on overseas Chinese socio-economic networks rather than on centralized state control. In Megatrends Asia, John Naisbitt wrote: “It is not China. It is the Chinese network” to explain the grand shift in economic activity from nation-states to transnational networks (Naisbitt 1996, 7). In the early 1990s, Tu Weiming likewise argued that the “periphery [i.e. the Chinese diaspora] sets the agenda for the center” in Beijing (Tu 1994, 12). With Sino-speak, the state has returned with a vengeance, but in new forms. Sino-speak asserts China as the center of Asia not as a nation-state, but as a civilization-state, a military-state, an empire-state, and a party-state. Naisbitt’s latest book China’s Megatrends (2010) turns volte-face to praise Beijing’s centralized state power as an enterprise-state, and Tu Weiming has moved from Harvard to Beijing. Even Yuan-Kang Wang and Horner, who take a more critical view of Chinese exceptionalism, are still fascinated with what state power can and cannot do. Rimspeak worked according to a creole-logic that wove together cultures, ideas and concepts from different places (albeit according to a neoliberal grammar) into a network; outsiders, like the celebrated overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, Australia and North America, constituted some of this network’s main nodes of transmission. Sino-speak, on the other hand, is fascinated by essential identity and pure “race.” Jacques criticizes Chinese attitudes about racial superiority even as he promotes China’s superior civilization. Liu envisions the Chinese nation as the “yellow race” in competition with the “white race.” Liu, Kang, and Wang exclude “impurities” (Mongols, Manchus and Americans) to test the Chinese race’s attitude towards violence. Cosmopolitanism here is no longer a transnational alternative to ethnonationalism, but the means through which China’s national culture is transmitted around the world. Rimspeak’s futurology was largely ahistorical; or, for Japan, it was about escaping the historical legacy of its wartime atrocities. Overseas Chinese identity emerges from mobility and flexibility, rather than from the weight of 68
Orientalism K SDI 3-Week 2016 history. Sino-speak , however, is resolutely historical, asserting epic History to explain China’s inevitable rise as a rejuvenation , one that returns China to its rightful place at the center of the world. Reading these books gives one the sense of déjà vu. In addition to mirroring Japan’s arguments from the 1980s, Sino-speak raises topics that were very popular in China a century ago: the value of Confucianism, China’s proper role in the world, the global race war, and others in this vein.9 It is as though some of the writers are building a time machine to take the world back to 1911 (the Republican Revolution) to have a do-over for Chinese modernity, or to 1799 (the death of the Qianlong emperor) to resume the historical narrative of imperial greatness. While the Asian century looked to Asian values to explain the region’s
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