Czech Perceptions of China: Between Matter-of-Factness and Imagination, Between Orientalism and Occidentalism
AbstractThere is a relatively short tradition of Chinese studies in Czechoslovakia, besides which such studies were seriously politicised during the communist era. In addition to political pressures, Czech perceptions of contemporary Chinese affairs were coloured by a continental, mostly German, influence, resulting in an avoidance of Western Orientalism. After World War II, an insufficient knowledge of Chinese realities led most Czech observers to uncritically accept Chinese political ideas in terms of contemporary Chinese nationalism, to which some aspects of the anti-western Occidentalism could be traced. Since the restoration of democracy in 1989, the Czech view of China still shows signs of stereotyping and a matter-of-fact deficit. Czech scholars fail to depict China's realities to the same degree as contemporary western sinology, and China's public image mostly amounts to the emotional issue of human rights and unrealistic ideas of the Chinese "economic miracle". This essay explores the unrealistic Czech perceptions of Chinese politics by dividing them into three categories: fascination, romanticism, and the extreme left.
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