This introductory chapter offers some insights into the durability of the Chinese political system. In particular, the chapter attributes the Chinese imperial experience from that of other comparable polities elsewhere to the empire's exceptional ideological prowess. The Chinese empire, as the chapter shows, was an extraordinarily powerful ideological construct, the appeal of which to a variety of political actors enabled its survival even during periods of severe military, economic, and administrative malfunctioning. Moreover, the chapter provides a number of arguments against merely reducing Chinese political culture to this peculiar historical trajectory. To conclude, the chapter lays out the three main goals to be accomplished in this volume, as well as some notes on references and translations.
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