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A Cautionary View of Rhetoric about China’s Imagined Future in Liu Cixin’s Alternate History “The Western Ocean”

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This article examines Liu Cixin’s “The Western Ocean” (Xiyang), a story in which Liu satirizes Zheng He’s voyages into the Indian Ocean and presents an alternate history of China from the fifteenth century to the present. The combination of China’s imagined future and the historical memory of its past provides a political and social commentary on the Chinese narrative of “peaceful rise.” “The Western Ocean” is also a good example of how the subgenre of alternate history can become a tool for Chinese writers to tactfully express their concerns and criticism of contemporary world politics while strict restrictions on the media and internet, as well as self-censorship among PRC intellectuals in general, still prevail in the country.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, Montana State University


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