This introductory chapter presents a historical overview of Chinese history writing. It briefly examines how Chinese intellectuals have viewed China's “modern history” through their incessant construction of various, often conflicting, explanatory schemes and narratives since the early twentieth century. Central to the analysis is the proposition that historical writing on “modern China” has evolved primarily as a response to present challenges and concerns that have faced individuals; to write about modern China was primarily to trace the historical roots of the country's current problems in order to legitimize their solutions rather than a truth-seeking process or the reconstruction of the past as it actually happened. Chinese history writing, in other words, was inseparable from their participation in the social and political discourses of their own times and from their embrace or elaboration of ideologies that served to justify political claims.
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