Since the early twentieth century, Chinese intellectuals and political elites have written about China’s “modern history” with various, often conflicting, explanatory narratives. Looking back over the last century shows that historical writing on “modern China” has evolved primarily in response to the historians’ present concerns.
It is no wonder that we cannot agree on China’s future; we cannot even agree on its past. In fact, how to interpret the past is a heavily disputed subject in China, because history has always been a tool to promote one’s political agenda at present. Huaiyin Li’s Reinventing Modern China and Zheng Wang’s Never Forget National Humiliation analyze the complex politics surrounding modern Chinese historiography.