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Li Xueqin, Key Historian in China’s Embrace of Antiquity, Dies at 85

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, Chinese history, Li Xueqin



Li Xueqin, whose political savvy and intellectual brilliance helped shift the field of Chinese history toward emphasizing the wonders of the country’s past, a traditionalist approach in line with the Communist government’s efforts to identify itself with ancient China, died on Feb. 24 in Beijing. He was 85.

His death was confirmed by a government obituary. The official newspaper Guangming Daily paid tribute to him in an articleheadlined, “A Lifelong Pursuit of History; He Also Wrote Himself Into the History Books.”

That was hardly an exaggeration. For more than 20 years Mr. Li was deputy director and then director of the Institute of History, part of the Chinese Academy of Social Science — positions of unusual influence in a country that has alternately gloried in its history and rejected it as a burden.

He headed projects to prove that early Chinese dynasties really existed and were not just myth, as part of a Communist Party endeavor to ally itself with ancient China.

 

Read entire article at New York Times

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