Translated by Michael Huang, from China Elections and Governance:
China is currently experiencing a period of rapid social transformation. On the one hand, its social economy has scored tremendous achievements; on the other, various kinds of contradictions have also gradually accumulated and become ever more conspicuous. China’s intellectuals have not looked on these problems unconcerned; in fact, the liberals and the New Left have been engaging in debates since the 1990s. How should we see and understand these debates?
The change in Chinese social thought since the 1990s
Beginning in the 1990s, the transformation of Chinese society has engendered intense debates among Chinese intellectuals. Most intellectuals in the 1980s held identical views”supporting reform and opening up, identifying with values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and believing that they were carrying on the spirit of the May 4th Movement. However, development after 1990 has caused differentiation among them. One school of thought has continued to adhere to these basic values and tried exploring how to transfer ideas into institutional arrangements; they believe that human beings have universal values. Another school of thought more or less has criticized these basic values and held that they were only manifestations of the West’s ideological hegemony. [Full Text]
Xu Youyu (徐友渔) is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.