Wednesday 19 September 2018


Rana Mitter

Past, present and future: how China's turbulent past is shaping its rise to global power

China may well be the next economic and military superpower. In building that status, China’s leaders and people don’t just draw on visions of the future – they also look to the past.

China has been learning lessons from its searing experience in World War II when more than 10 million of its citizens died. It is rediscovering the thought of Confucius, the sage who gave China its cultural DNA. Its experience in the Korean War shapes its relationship with Kim Jong-un. And its Communist  Party will mark its 100th anniversary in 2021 by showing how it has changed from a tiny band of rebels to a machine that rules all China and influences the world.

Rana Mitter

Rana is Director of the University China Centre at the University of Oxford, where he is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China.

He is the author of several books, the most recent of which, China’s War with Japan, 1937-45: The Struggle for Survival, won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, was named as a 2013 Book of the Year in the Financial Times and the Economist and was named a 2014 Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

He recently presented Chinese Characters: Chinese History in 20 Remarkable Lives on BBC Radio 4. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2015.

How should we think about China’s future and how can we best prepare ourselves to work alongside China in a globalised world?

What can history tell us about the way China is likely to define its role, especially as the international order in Asia changes fundamentally around us?