1st Edition

The Power of Relationalism in China

By Leah Zhu Copyright 2018
    230 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In the 21st century, China has become impossible to ignore. At the same time, a vast array of perceptions and judgments of China’s actions and future have arisen. The confusion, Leah Zhu postulates, is explained by decades of traditional modus operandi, which began in the Maoist Era and misconceives China as a ‘collectivist’ culture.

    This book, however, seeks to re-explore thousands of years of China’s history to demonstrate the country’s adherence to an alternative principle, ‘relationalism’. Tracing the pervasive power of ‘relationalism’ before and after Maoism, it examines the major aspects of Chinese culture, including politics, sociology, psychology and diplomacy. In doing so, it reveals the power of ‘relationalism’ as the core frame of reference behind contemporary Chinese beliefs and practices. Furthermore, armed with this newly established framework, this book ultimately provides a helpful analysis of China’s past political, economic, and judiciary reforms and of how they are faring under the control of the current regime.

    Featuring extensive evidence and analysis of Chinese culture from ancient rites through to the 21st century, this book will be invaluable to students and scholars of Chinese culture, politics and society. It will also appeal to social scientists and sociologists more broadly.


    Part I: The Roots of Relationalism in Chinese History

    1. Some Starting points

    2. The "Universal Order"

    3. The Traditional Chinese Family

    4. Relationalism Meets Foreign Challenges

    5. Relationalism Triumphs

    Part II: The Roots of Relationalism in Chinese Belief systems

    6. Some Starting Points

    7. Confucius: Relationalism in Human Society

    8. Daoism: Relationalism in the Cosmos 

    9. Buddhism: Relationalism in Zen

    10. Unification under Relationalism

    Part III: " Guanxi"-- The Sociological Roots of Relationalism

    11. Some Starting Points

    12. Qin qing (Kinship Emotions)

    13. You qing (Friendship Emotions)

    14. Ren qing (Generic Human Emotions)

    15. Guanxi Opens Access to Resources

    16. "Face" and Reciprocity

    17. "The Cat-and-Mouse Game"

    Part IV: The Psychological Roots of Relationalism

    18. Some Starting Points

    19. Relational Human Nature 

    20. The Chinese "Heart"

    21. Cognition and Emotion

    22. Relational Thinking in the Chinese Language

    23. Development of "Selfhood" Part V: Relationalism in the 21st Century

    24. Some starting points

    25. The CCP Factional Politics in the 21st Century

    26. The CCP-State Relationships in the 21st Century

    27. The CCP-Chinese Society Relationships in the 21st Century

    28. A Judiciary System with "Chinese Characteristics"?

    29. On the World Stage: China’s Relational Diplomacy in the 21st Century

    Epilogue: the Chinese Family in the 21st Century


    Leah Zhu is a retired psychotherapist and academic at the University of Washington, USA. Her publications include A Comparative Study of Youth Mental Health Education in the United States and China (2015) and Cultivating the World of Self (1997).