States are forged by war and modern China is no exception. Between 1894 and 1953 the country had less than a decade of peace, and war laid waste to significant parts of the country. But out of these sixty years of strife came a state so cohesive and powerful that it has been able to shift its economy from capitalism to socialism and back again without losing power. The state also learned how to terrorise its own population and get away with it. This is what wars teach states, except in cases when a well-educated and politicised citizenry demands that other lessons be learned.