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How China Debates

Yu Keping

Liu Junning

Hu Angang

Zhan Jiang

How China Debates New Essays and Images from China

How China Debates New Essays and Images from China

How China debates New Essays and Pictures from China Ed. By the Heinrich Bll Foundation

1st edition, Berlin 2009 Heinrich Bll Foundation All rights reserved Concept and editing: Katrin Altmeyer, Zhu Yi Collaboration: Kimiko Suda, Nora Sausmikat, Shi Ming, Josie-Marie Perkuhn Photos by the authors: Yu Jie, Chen Jie, Ma Yixing, private Binding, layout and typesetting: blotto, Berlin Printing: agit-druck, Berlin Ordering address: Heinrich-Bll-Stiftung, Schumannstrae 8, 10117 Berlin T 030-285340 F 030-28534109 E [email protected] W ISBN 978-3-86928-009-7

How China debates

New essays and pictures from China

With photos by Michael Ende, among others

Heinrich Bll Foundation 2009


Foreword by Katrin Altmeyer and Barbara Unmig T he authors

7 9


The role of the intellectual


X u Youyu


The change in thinking in times of change

2. Cui Weiping


Where did we miss Heinrich Bll? II.

Looking back on 30 years of reform

3. Qin Hui


30 years of reform and opening

4. u Guoyong F


The most profound change of the last thirty years took place in civil society Images from China I. III.


About the social challenges and reform approaches

5. Li Changping


The real reasons for the poverty of the farmers

6. Hey Weifang


The difficult reform of the judiciary in China

7. Yu Jianrong


Challenges for authoritarian politics Images from China II.

8. Zhan Jiang 113


The media as a driving force for citizen participation



Globalization and China in the world

9. Xu Youyu


10. Qin Hui


The interaction of two tensioning caterpillars Pictures from China III.

11. Hu Angang


On the way to Copenhagen V.

Visions for a new China

12. iu Junning L


From reforms to system reform

13. Yu Keping


Democracy is a good thing

Information about the work of the Heinrich Bll Foundation in China at:


In recent years, the German public's interest in China has increased significantly. The media is reporting more than ever, and a plethora of book titles cover China's economic rise and how the country is affecting the global economy. Less is published about the political and social changes in China. For 30 years, China has been in a profound transformation that has not yet ended. The socio-political and economic reforms in China are increasingly the subject of public and controversial debates. Outside of China, however, this is hardly noticed. The actors and content of these debates are even less known, as Chinese sources have previously only been accessible to linguistic experts. With this book we are addressing everyone who is interested in China and who wants to gain a better understanding of the challenges and debates surrounding political and social reforms. This volume introduces some of the intellectuals who shape China's public debate. Of course, the selected texts cannot give a complete overview of the socio-political issues in China. But they allow an insight into the most current debates. The authors presented here represent different spheres of the academic landscape. Contributions by scientists from state or party-affiliated research institutes, from universities as well as from independent intellectuals are combined in this volume. All texts have been published in China, most of them within the last three years. All of them have had a major impact on political discourse and public opinion. With the exception of one article, these are German first publications; they give the German reader the chance to get to know these debates and to gain an internal perspective on the Chinese development. Additional information in the funotes and short introductions to the individual articles and chapters are intended to facilitate classification and understanding for German readers. Some of the texts have been shortened, but we have tried to stay as close as possible to the Chinese original when translating into German. The editors thank the authors for kindly making their texts available.
Beijing and Berlin, September 2009 Barbara Unmig, Board Member of the Heinrich Bll Foundation Katrin Altmeyer, Head of the Beijing Office of the Heinrich Bll Foundation

the authors


the authors

the authors


Xu Youyu
born in 1947

Xu Youyu, born in 1947 in Sichuan in southwest China, has been actively involved in reform discussions for over two decades. He is professor em. for Western Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and is considered the leading exponent of liberalism in China. For him, a regulated market economy, rule of law and checks and balances are the core components of liberalism. In his publications he repeatedly distances himself from the New Left, with whose representatives he sat at a table in the political debate clubs more than twenty years ago. Xu was a member of the Culture: China and the World editorial team. This book series was intended to bring the Western world of thought closer to the Chinese audience. For Xu, the current discourse on liberalism is a continuation of the discussions about Chinese humanism and the Enlightenment. Xu has repeatedly spoken out in the course of his life on sensitive issues of Chinese history and the present. Taking into account his personal experience as a so-called Red Guard, he publicly deals with the Cultural Revolution (1966 1976). Xu clearly describes the retention of the four cardinal principles (adherence to the socialist path, the democratic dictatorship of the people, the leadership of the CPC and Marxism / Leninism / Maoism) as a remnant of a totalitarian state. He advocates a combination of different approaches to democratization and does not believe in a genuinely Chinese way. He thinks the latter is a strategy of preserving face. His most urgent concern is to educate citizens about their own past and to disseminate knowledge about different Western models of democratization.


the authors

the authors


Cui Weiping
born 1956

Cui Weiping prefers to describe herself as an intellectual worker than an intellectual. It rejects the attitude widespread among intellectuals of setting themselves apart from the rest of the population. She sees her task in particular in making a concrete contribution to a positive development of political and social conditions in China with her work beyond the framework of purely scientific research and theoretical discourses. She has been a professor at the Beijing Film Academy since 1999. In addition to film theory, her research area also includes political philosophy, literary theory, modern Chinese poetry and culture, and the politics of Eastern Europe. Born in 1956 in the coastal province of Jiangsu, she belongs to the generation of urbanites who were sent to the countryside in 1969. Memories from that time still affect their lives, including: she remembers well how she and her brother secretly read forbidden books on Western literature and philosophy during that time. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, she was one of the first years to be admitted to university. In 1982 84 she studied Chinese, art and literature at Nanjing University before going to the Beijing Film Academy. She translated the works of Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik into Chinese and thus brought their ideas to China. Havel had a strong influence on her thinking: intellectuals have a social responsibility to consciously interfere in culture and politics and to articulate themselves in both private and public space. In reflection of her own social position, she also had a great interest in gender-specific perspectives in politics and society. Like many of the public intellectuals, Cui Weiping maintains her own blog, in which she uses current events as an opportunity to comment on the decline in social values, Chinese nationalism and political reforms. It repeatedly calls for a critical examination of the recent history of the People's Republic. With this appeal, she dares to venture into dangerous territory, because the rehabilitation of the protest movement of 1989, for example, is one of the most sensitive issues in China.


the authors

the authors


Qin Hui
born 1953

Qin Hui is an economic historian and Eastern Europe expert. He is one of the most recognized intellectuals of the so-called lost generation of young urbanites and students who were sent to the countryside for re-education during the 1960s. This experience shapes him and his research to this day. It was not until 1978 that he was admitted to study and thus belonged to the first generation of young Chinese who received an academic education after the Cultural Revolution. His basic work Issues and -isms (1999) was published in a series that addressed the political thoughts of this generation. Qin Hui has been teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing since the 1990s. As part of his research on transformation in China, he is particularly concerned with the privatization of collective property and comments critically and comparatively on the situation of farmers in China and Eastern Europe. Together with other prominent intellectuals, he is vehemently committed to building a civil society and in particular to founding independent farmers' associations. For him, representing the interests of various groups through self-organization represents the basis of a democratic form of government. He describes a democracy without the right to assemble as an unfree false democracy. Qin Hui cannot be assigned to any specific faction within the Chinese discourse. He explicitly does not refer to Western models of democracy. He is one of those intellectuals who emphasize the specific national conditions in China without being caught up in nationalist arguments. He is one of the few who also keep an eye on the international context. He repeatedly interferes when it comes to defending freedom of expression and the right to information. In particular, he repeatedly raises the question of justice in a rapidly changing China, which officially still claims to be a socialist country.


the authors

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Fu Guoyong
born in 1967

Fu Guoyong, born in 1967 in the coastal province of Zhejiang, studied theater studies and is a writer and cultural critic. He takes the view that the social group of intellectuals should continuously remember their ethical obligation to remain independent in their thoughts and actions. The Chinese intellectuals of the republic at the beginning of the 20th century. should serve as role models for them. In 1989 he was sent to a re-education camp for two years for participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, and again for three years in 1996 for an article on democracy published in the United States. With this résumé, he was denied access to a position in government institutions or state-owned companies. Therefore, he initially taught as a village teacher, worked in an advertising agency and took other jobs as a freelancer before he was able to establish himself as a writer in 1999 and make a living with his publications. He initially published shorter texts in the magazines of critical intellectual circles such as Shu Wu (Bookroom), Dongfang (The East) and in the weekly newspaper Southern Weekend (Nanfang zhoumo). His books were downright bestsellers in 1949: Personal Documents of Chinese Intellectuals, Our Backbone Annotated Biographies of Three Generations of Chinese Intellectuals, and The Search for Lost Traditions. His publications reach a wide readership, not least because of the growing opportunities offered by the Chinese Internet public. The focus of his work is on the role of intellectuals in the present and recent history of the People's Republic. He primarily interferes with social issues that he can discuss in connection with specifically Chinese history and development. In his opinion, the current Chinese society suffers from a vacuum of values ​​and is in a search movement and reorientation or reorientation.


the authors

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Yu Jianrong
born in 1962

Yu Jianrong comes from the central Chinese province of Hunan. His family was branded counterrevolutionary during the Cultural Revolution and their housing papers were revoked. This forced the family to keep moving. The chaos and legal uncertainty of these years shaped Yu Jianrong as well as many of his peers. After the Cultural Revolution he studied law and initially worked as a lawyer for a few years. In 2001 he received his doctorate from Huazhong University in Wuhan / Hubei. His dissertation, a case study on the political transformation process in a Chinese village, caused a sensation in professional circles. Since 2001, Yu Jianrong has been a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the largest state think tank. His research is mainly concerned with civil protests and the petition system. In his opinion, the petition system cements the precarious situation of a population without rights. It does not rely on independent judicial decisions, but surrenders the complainants to the arbitrariness of the authorities and thus prevents the implementation of a real constitutional state. The system carries the risk of being abused by corrupt cadres, and the petitions ordinance, which was reformed in 2005, did nothing to change that. He attributes the growing number of citizen protests to inadequate political reforms and the resulting social upheaval in Chinese society. Together with friends like He Weifang, Cui Weiping and others, Yu participates in a reform discussion aimed at eliminating political corruption. He supports the call for the system of people's congresses to be converted into a functioning parliament. Like Qin Hui, he demands a fair system that grants all citizens in the state the same rights and, above all, the same economic opportunities. For him, the central means for this is citizen participation, and as an important prerequisite for this, freedom of expression and the possibility of independent representation of interests.


the authors

the authors


Li Changping
born in 1963

Li Changping comes from a farming family in Hubei, central China. There he first attended a technical school and then studied agricultural economics and later economics in the provincial capital Wuhan. For seventeen years he gained experience in the countryside. He earned a reputation as one of the most notable party cadres at the community level through his open letter to then Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, written in 2000. In the letter he denounced the desolate living conditions in the rural areas: the farmers are desperately poor, the villages are in need and agriculture is in dire straits. Following this open letter, Zhu ordered investigations and authorized Li to pilot reforms. But this venture failed due to resistance from local interest groups. Li was forced to give up his party career. Since then he has been drawing attention to the difficult situation of farmers in China as a journalist and scientist. In 2002, he published a book called I Tell the Truth to Prime Minister Zhu. A million copies have been sold. A short time later he began working for China's Reform (zhongguo gaige) and Reform in the Middle (zhongguo neican), both publications under the auspices of the National Reform and Development Commission. He also publishes in specialist newspapers and news media and writes books. Since 2003 he has been the head of the Chinabro of Oxfam, the international non-governmental organization for development and poverty reduction. For this activity he travels to villages all over China and observes rural developments up close. At the center of his approach to solving the problems of Chinese farmers is justice, which should always precede the pursuit of profit. The interests of large investors should no longer precede those of the farmers, and they should be given a chance to improve their situation on their own.


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Hey Weifang
born in 1960

He Weifang has been a law professor at Beijing University since 1999. For a long time he was the editor-in-chief of the trade journal Chinese and International Law. In China, among other things, he is known for his vehement rejection of the death penalty. The lawyer from the coastal province of Shandong belongs to the first generation of students after the end of the Cultural Revolution. In addition to his work as a lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law from 1985 to 1995, he advised the National People's Congress in the 1990s and presented reform proposals for the judiciary. In China, he became known beyond intellectual circles when he and several other lawyers petitioned the National People's Congress in 2003 to end the arbitrary arrests of migrant workers and subsequently to obtain a ban on these arrests. The current reason for the petition was the case of worker Sun Zhigang, who was beaten to death in police custody. In December 2008 He signed Charter 08, a resolution written with reference to the Czech Charter 77, which was published on the Internet on the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights and which contained a long list of concrete reform proposals. Just a few months later, in March 2009, he was transferred from Beijing University to Shihezi University in western Xinjiang Province for two years. While there is official talk of academic cooperation, other intellectuals assume that the transfer came about as a result of political pressure that has built up against him since 2003.He Weifang is continuously involved in public discussions on current affairs by providing information on legal matters in his blog and, for example, moderating discussions on the abolition of the death penalty, the situation of migrant workers or the enforcement of freedom of the press. Above all, he advocates the implementation of an independent judiciary and press, the reform of the petition system and the abolition of the death penalty.


the authors

the authors


Zhan Jiang
born 1957

In 1976, Zhan Jiang joined the Chinese People's Army to support his family. When it became possible again a year later, after the end of the Cultural Revolution, to take up university studies, Zhan applied for several years to be dismissed from the army in vain. It wasn't until nine years later, after being injured in an accident, that he was given permission. In his hometown in the east Chinese province of Jiangu, Zhan Jiang initially worked as a librarian. He then worked for the local party newspaper for a few years. In 1991 he gave up this privileged position to study journalism at Beijing Renmin University. After receiving his doctorate in 1996, he researched and taught at the Journalism Institute of the University of the Communist Youth League in Beijing. From 2001 to 2009 he was dean of the institute. Unlike the majority of scholars, who concentrated on publishing their own theories and research results, Zhan Jiang used his energies to translate Western journalism theories and textbooks in order to integrate them into Chinese journalism training. In addition to dealing with media science texts from the USA, Zhan Jiang is currently working on German media laws. Zhan is one of the staunch supporters of a Chinese media law that aims to create the framework for independent journalism. In 2008, Zhan Jiang debated in a public forum against his friend, legal scholar He Weifang, who is skeptical of a media law because such a law could serve more as a means of restricting media freedom. As a result of his critical research and teaching activities, especially through his famous interdisciplinary seminars on the control function of the public, Zhan came into conflict with the party secretary of the university, and his scientific freedoms were subsequently restricted. At the end of 2009, his letter of termination appeared on the Internet. Colleagues and students supported him, and the letter initiated a public discussion on academic freedom. Zhan Jiang has been researching and teaching at the Journalism Institute of the Beijing University of Foreign Languages ​​since the 2009/2010 winter semester.


the authors

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Hu Angang
born 1953

There are hardly any current political events in the People's Republic that Hu Angang does not comment on. Hence, he is well known in the Chinese public as a media personality. Hu Angang was born in Liaoning Province in northern China in 1953. From 1978 to 1988 he studied engineering, first in Tangshan, then in Beijing. In 1991 he went to Yale for his PhD in economics and returned after graduation in 1993. Hu is currently director of the Center for China Studies, a cooperation between Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The institute is one of the most important think tanks for the Chinese government. For more than 15 years, Hu Angang has published the State of the Union Report, which is recognized as an important document by the central government. Hu Angang does not deny that he has developed a special strategy in order to get the Chinese government officials to hear his proposals. In his opinion, reform proposals must first be formulated in the language of the political decision-makers and in harmony with them in order to be implemented. In fact, various suggestions have been taken up by the Chinese government. As early as 1988, Hu discussed the importance of resource and environmental issues for China's long-term development in a publication. Nevertheless, it was surprising that he published an article in a medium such as the China Dialogue Net that differs significantly from the official statements on climate change and suggests concrete reduction targets for China.


the authors

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Liu Junning
born in 1961

Liu Junning, born in 1961 in the east Chinese province of Anhui, is a political scientist and worked at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In 2002 he had to leave the academy because of his political views and started to work in a research institute under the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Together with some like-minded people, he founded an independent think tank, the Cathay Institute for Public Affairs, in order to continue his political science research and to integrate it into a broader public and international context. A wide range of topics such as climate change and civil society, globalization and the economy up to the constitution of the European Union are discussed from an explicitly liberal point of view on the institute's internet platform. The institute is networked with similar politically oriented think tanks in the USA, Switzerland, India and Great Britain. Liu believes that change within the current political system in China is not possible. He sees the development of a constitutional state that can guarantee the protection of human rights, free and secret elections and a controllable government as a prerequisite. He gives priority to building a representative democracy and allowing individual freedoms and duties. In his view, the Chinese intellectuals, not the rural population, are preventing the progressive development of political reforms. He certifies that the Chinese people have a basic understanding of democracy. That is why he proposes federalism as a model for reform in the People's Republic.


the authors

the authors


Yu Keping
born 1959

Yu Keping, born in the coastal province of Zhejiang, became known far beyond academic circles and became one of the most influential public intellectuals in China after his essay Democracy is a Good Thing was published in the 2006 Beijing Daily News. He received his doctorate in political science in 1988 from the University of Beijing and in 2008 an honorary doctorate from the University of Duisburg-Essen for his oeuvre. Yu has been invited to Duke University (USA) and Freie Universitt in Berlin for visiting professorships. The renowned professor, who has been described as the new theoretical shooting star of the CP of China, conducts research in the fields of political philosophy, comparative political science, globalization, civil society, governance and politics in China. He is considered a specialist in Marxist foundations who is able to introduce new theoretical ideas into classical areas of theory. As director of two think tanks, the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics (CCCPE) and the Center for Chinese Government Innovations at the University of Beijing, he influences the discussions of political decision-makers in the field of political reform in the People's Republic.


I. The role of intellectuals

In September 2004, the Chinese magazine Nanfang Renwu Zhoukan (Southern People Weekly) published a list of the 50 most influential public intellectuals. Based on lists from Western media, 44 men and six women from science, civil society and the arts were listed who are significantly influencing the transformation of China. In addition to professional and academic competence, above all critical spirit, moral sense of responsibility and involvement in public affairs were recognized. The party newspaper Renmin Ribao (Peoples Daily) criticized the list as an expression of western elite thinking that drives a wedge between the working masses and intellectuals. Intellectuals have always had a hard time in China. They were ostracized and politically persecuted during the anti-right-wing deviator campaign in the late 1950s and again during the Cultural Revolution. It was not until the early 1980s that they played a role in social development again. In shaping reform policy, the government relied largely on the expertise of scientific institutions and think tanks. Critical intellectuals were also heard. But the relationship between the state and intellectuals remained difficult, and there were repeated campaigns against views that

deviated from the official ideology. Intellectuals were either captured or silenced. Outside the system, there were no publication or employment opportunities for them. This situation has changed over the past ten years. The new media landscape enables representatives of all scientific disciplines to address a broad audience directly and to initiate and influence public debates. A number of commercial periodicals have emerged as a forum for debate on the reform of state and society. Many intellectuals also publish on the Internet and write their own blogs. As critical observers of social and political developments, even freelance authors can publish today without affiliation to a party authority or a state educational institution and thus earn their living. But a culture of public discussion is only just emerging in China. As controversial and extensive as the academic debates are, there are still taboo subjects and boundaries in the public sphere. Calls for radical reform are often found between the lines or left to the reader's conclusion.


I. The role of intellectuals

Xu Youyu's contribution appeared in the progressive weekly newspaper Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) in late 2008. In it he describes the changing ideological and philosophical debates since the end of the Cultural Revolution. He outlines the different schools of thought and currents such as nationalism or neo-Confucianism that have shaped the debates over the past few years.

In her text, Cui Weiping reflects on the responsibility of literature and intellectuals for politics. She describes Heinrich Bll's interference in political and social issues in Germany and Europe as a role model and calls for the political position and interference of writers and intellectuals in China as well. The article first appeared in 2006 in a scientific magazine at Tongji University, Shanghai.


Xu Youyu

The change in thinking in times of change

Since the beginning of the reform and opening policy 30 years ago, Chinese society has changed radically. This is reflected in the increasing diversity and contradictions in social thinking. In order to guarantee the smooth running of the reform and opening-up policy, the head of state and party leader Deng Xiaoping ordered in 1992 not to have any debates. Nevertheless, debates took place, albeit not within the party and government apparatus, but among the people. Today, the culture of thought no longer follows traditional ideological conventions: The social debates in China today are shaped by independent observations and people's own experiences. Although neglected in the official media, these debates reflect the real situation of Chinese society and have a profound impact on the modernization and future development of the country.
The origin of thought and the culture fever of the 1980s

With the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution 30 years ago, thought was also liberated, and this created the conditions for the reform and opening of China. The cultural revolution, with its modern personality cult and the complete smashing of the legal system, had subjected the people to a fascist dictatorship, which had finally brought the Chinese economy to the brink of bankruptcy. All Chinese, from the top management to the common people, drew painful lessons from this and agreed to radically bid farewell to the Cultural Revolution. What were the causes of the enormous destruction, the great tragedy of the Cultural Revolution? According to the previous view, the answer to these questions was to be found in the class struggle, in the line struggle 1 and in the restoration of capitalism. The conclusions drawn by Ye Jianying, Hu Yaobang, Li Weihan, Deng Xiaoping and others of the new generation of leaders from the long reign of left-wing thinking and the experiences of the Cultural Revolution can be summarized as follows: The harmful influences of feudal despotism should be removed; the members of the Gang of Four are feudal fascists; one of the most important tasks in the liberation of thought is that


Line fighting is called the wing fighting in the Communist Party. Note from the editor


I. The role of intellectuals

To overcome the influences of feudal thought.2 These findings found such a resonance among intellectuals and such support among the broad masses that they formed a consensus among the entire people. The road to freedom of thought is long and winding. The intellectual culture in the 1980s stood above all for the elimination of remnants of feudal-authoritarian thinking, for enlightenment, a new knowledge and a turn to the rest of the world. During the culture fever at this time, many non-governmental academic associations emerged: The Chinese Academy of Culture (Zhongguo Wenhua Shuyuan) was committed to reviving the Guoxue (National Studies 3). Theorists associated with the New Enlightenment (Xin Qimeng) magazine endeavored to revive the humanistic ideals of Marxism. The editorial management of Looking into the Future (Zouxiang Weilai), which consists mainly of natural scientists, propagated a scientific spirit and the integration of scientific knowledge for a new worldview. In a series of publications such as Culture: China and the World (Wenhua: Zhongguo yu Shijie), modern western philosophy could be presented. The book series 20th Century (Ershi Shiji Wenku) contained translations of books and essays from Western social, economic, legal, political, historical and cultural studies. The culture fever of the 1980s was enthusiastic about every kind of ism (e.g. Marxism, existentialism, Freudianism). The weakness for spirit and culture was greater than the interest in questions of institutional regulations. One strived for depth and principles and paid little attention to the direct application of the new thinking in politics. The most important questions at that time were of an aesthetic or philosophical nature. That is understandable, because just escaping the inhuman cultural revolution, ultimate questions urgently needed to be clarified, for example what makes humans human.
Social change and philosophical reorientation

Despite many obstacles and complications, the reform and opening up of the 1980s was consistently pursued. While the reform of the state-owned enterprises into market economy-oriented enterprises proceeded only slowly, new private enterprises emerged at the same time and made a rapid development of this sector possible. In some coastal cities in the south-east of the country, special economic zones emerged, which became bridgeheads for the opening of the country. The number of foreign investors increased from year to year. After the events of the late 1980s 4, reform and opening-up policies were faced with abrupt changes at times. Deng Xiaoping's trip to the south in 1992, as well as several speeches in support of reform and opening up, put an end to the tendency to return to the traditional and gave reform and opening up new impulses. If the beginning of the reform and the opening was still inspired by ideals and historical responsibility, the second attempt concentrated more on

The new generation of leaders wants to overcome left-wing thinking and open up the market economy. However, it cannot explicitly turn against left ideology. Therefore, they cannot brand the Gang of Four either as capitalists or as left deviants. Hence feudal fascists. Note from the Red. Guoxue is an academic-cultural program that should not only have Chinese philosophy, poetry, painting, calligraphy and medicine as an object of research, but also advocate that the methods should be specifically Chinese. Editor's note. Meant are the student protests of 1989. Editor's note.



1. Xu Youyu

The change in thinking in times of change


pragmatic points of view. The reform has now become irreversible, but the resounding power of ideals and the moral inspiration of the reform have now waned. Various interest groups have emerged, and the social injustice that economic reforms in particular brought about is becoming increasingly evident. The question is no longer whether there should be reforms, but what these reforms should look like. The gap between rich and poor is widening every day. Problems in medical care, education, housing, production and food safety are increasing. What people face every day, what they discuss, what they argue about, are real problems. This is in marked contrast to the ism debate in the 1980s. If one considers Li Zehou's The Development of Beauty (Mei de licheng) and Critique of Critical Philosophy (Pipan zhexue de pipan) as representative works of the 1980s, then He Qinglian's The Trap of Modernization (Xiandaihua de xianjing) and Publications by Sun Liping on the differentiation of social classes. In the 1980s, the commitment to modernization was the leitmotif in intellectual culture, and in the 1990s, postmodernism made itself loudly at times. Postmodernism had come to China in the 1980s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that the conditions for rapid spread were in place. Values ​​such as enlightenment, science, democracy and reason, which the May 4th Movement had advocated and which the cultural fever of the 1980s had revived, have now been criticized and rejected. The search for meaning and order was given up.Regardless of the fact that China was essentially still in a premodern state, the avant-garde young intellectuals insisted on skipping the modern and following the latest trends in the West. Fortunately, that was just a fad. The basic tone of the culture of thought in the 1980s was radical (and also idealistic and revolutionary), while the 1990s ultimately showed critical reflection. The destructiveness of a world-shattering revolution was analyzed, and values ​​that were previously considered negative, such as the preservation and appreciation of tradition, were re-emphasized. Some called for a farewell to the revolution. Others suggested that the Communist Party transform itself immediately from a revolutionary party to a ruling party. The debate did not produce any result, but the reflection was definitely an advantage. The loss of the humanistic spirit provoked a great deal of debate. Some saw the reason for this in the atrophy of the personality and the spirit of the intellectuals, brought about by the literary inquisition: an ideology that sticks to its dogmas, in connection with autocratic politics, displaces the humanistic spirit, which in turn leads to a solidification of thought . Others saw the cause in the market orientation, which brought with it a flood of products and a culture of mass consumption and thereby led to a vulgarization of thinking. Still others saw a loss of humanistic spirit as early as the end of the Ming, at the beginning of the Qing period. Wang Meng 6 declined to accept the loss of the


In a narrower sense, the May 4th Movement refers to the student patriotic protests that culminated in the May 4th incident in 1919. The trigger for this was the handling of the Shandong question at the Versailles Peace Conference. In a broader sense, the term describes the intellectual and cultural renewal movement of 191721, the so-called movement for new culture. Editor's note Chinese writer, born 1934. Editor's note)



I. The role of intellectuals

humanistic spirit to be traced back to the market economy. In his opinion, there was no humanistic spirit in China's modern times and modernity, which is why it could not be lost. Unfortunately, it is no longer seriously discussed, and today almost everyone agrees that the humanistic spirit has been lost in the market economy.
The so-called struggle between liberalism and the New Left

The problems, seductions and pressures of the social transformation phase led to a differentiation of the views of intellectuals, which resulted in confrontations and controversies. One of the currents that shaped the debates is the so-called New Left. Their views are inspired by the new left in the West such as Samir Amin, Immanuel Wallerstein, Andre Gunder Frank, Edward Said, Nelson Pereira Dos Santos, Noam Chomsky and have even been published in their publications. Like the old Chinese left, the New Left turned against capitalism and the market economy, but not against autocracy. She advocated the left-wing orientation of Mao Zedong with the Great Leap Forward, the People's Communes and the Cultural Revolution, and claimed for herself to continue this socialist legacy. Another trend is the so-called liberal faction, which invokes Western liberal ideas and the theories of Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith. It advocates a market economy, freedom and fair competition, the guarantee of individual freedoms and rights, such as freedom of speech and the right to property, as well as constitutional government and the rule of law, control and balancing of government power. Both directions have different views on almost every political, social and cultural issue, especially with regard to the main reasons for social grievances and social injustice. The New Left sees the problems in the market economy itself. Therefore, they must be fought. For the liberal faction, the cause of the grievances lies in the fact that the market has not broken away from the control of the old system of power. The market is not ripe and a standardization and perfecting of the market economy is therefore necessary. Related to this are the views on globalization and China's accession to the WTO. According to the liberals, China must face globalization with an active, positive attitude. The New Left, on the other hand, believes that China would become part of the unjust capitalist world system. Sections of the New Left are of the opinion that the countries of the third world cannot develop on an equal footing at the moment. You therefore see the task of these countries in fighting against capitalism worldwide. Only a new and just economic order enables participation in the globalization process. The New Left states that China is already a capitalist or market-oriented society and thus part of the global capitalist system. China's problems are also the problems of the global capitalist market. For the liberals, reform, opening up and the market economy have not brought about any fundamental change in China's social system or essence. Even if both groups are partially oriented towards Western views, they are facing real Chinese problems. Market economy cannot simply be reduced to good or bad. The key question is whether there is anything that is more practicable and more efficient than the market economy.

1. Xu Youyu

The change in thinking in times of change


Take bribery and corruption, for example: what are the causes? The former party secretary of Hunan Province, Yang Minzhi, who fought against corruption on the front line for a long time: The severe cases of corruption that China is currently experiencing are due to the old system. Fighting against corruption essentially means dealing with the old system and the old mechanisms over and over again. Therefore it is necessary to deepen the reform and the opening up and to continuously improve the system of the socialist market economy. 7th
The rise of nationalism