Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific header image 2

Chinese – Guójiā

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Chinese, Nation, State

國家 (国家)

Guójiā

Relates to ‘state’ (guójiā is understood to be an organisation or an entity)

The term is composed of two Chinese characters:

– guó – state, the capital of a state, a manor which belongs to nobilities in the ancient time, individuals or things that are related to the emperor of the imperial family[1]

– jiā – a place where human beings live, housing, home, indoor of a house, to settle down, family, the dynasty or the imperial court, a state, nation or country[2]

The term of ‘guójiā’ can mean geographically a whole area belonging to a state. But in the past the term was also used in reference to a dynasty, an imperial court, the emperor, or the manor granted to dukes or princes under the emperor. In formal usage, the term could also refer to the capital of a country. The concepts of ‘guó (state)’ and ‘jiā (home)’ are very similar and are closely interrelated in many Chinese people’s mindsets. There is an idiom ‘Guójiā wáng (亡)’, which literally means, ‘the country is defeated and the home is lost.’ The phrase suggests the English term ‘homeland’ which has a more emotive connotation that ‘state’.

In the modern era the definition of guójiā has been strongly influenced by Marxist ideology. China’s views regarding guójiā represent its belief in class struggle and the term has been understood to imply an organisation or entity formed by the irreconcilability of class struggle. However when China begun economic reforms in 1978, it emphasised that guójiā is a social system and bureaucracy which manages the affairs of society. The ‘guójiā (state)’ has to possess sovereignty – that is, to maintain the highest claim to rule domestically and act internationally.

Although China is a guójiā with an authoritarian system led by one party – the Chinese Communist Party – its self-definition reflects a belief that the ‘guójiā (state)’ is ruled by the proletariat, or the working class.’ It is understood as a ‘people’s state’ or ‘people’s democratic dictatorship’ (Rénmín mínzhǔ zhuānzhèng rénmín mínzhǔ zhuānzhèng,人民民主專政人民民主专政). Furthermore, China does not regard itself as a ‘nation-state’, insofar as the notion of a ‘nation-state’ is understood in strong ethnic terms. China defines itself as a multi-nation state, composed not only of Han Chinese but also other ethnic groups, such as the Manchurians, Mongolians, and Tibetan groups.

In the constitution of China, it is said that, ‘with the continuous leadership of the CCP … all the ethnic groups’ people in China … insist on the upholding a people’s democratic dictatorship and … building our state as a prosperous, democratic and civilised socialist state (guójiā).’[3] The connection between the Chinese Communist Party and the state is especially close. In fact, the Chinese government often encourages the Chinese people to conflate the idea of the CCP and China as a ‘state (guójiā)’. Consequently, loving the CCP is equivalent to loving the state of China.

 

 

top


[1] Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary, the 5th Edition), Beijing: Commercial Press, 2006, p. 519. Hanyu Da Cidian (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words), Shanghai: Hanyu Da Cidian Press, 1995, Vol 3, p. 630

[2] Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary, the 5th Edition), Beijing: Commercial Press, 2006, p. 653. Hanyu Da Cidian (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words), Shanghai: Hanyu Da Cidian Press, 1995, Vol 3, p. 1457-1458

[3] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, March 15, 2004, http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2004-03/15/content_1367387.htm [accessed August 16, 2009]

Tags:

No Comments so far ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment