Contemporary Chinese Political Thought

Contemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Chinese Political Thought
    Book Description:

    Westerners seem united in the belief that China has emerged as a major economic power and that this success will most likely continue indefinitely. But they are less certain about the future of China's political system. China's steps toward free market capitalism have led many outsiders to expect increased democratization and a more Western political system. The Chinese, however, have developed their own version of capitalism. Westerners view Chinese politics through the lens of their own ideologies, preventing them from understanding Chinese goals and policies.

    InContemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives, Fred Dallmayr and Zhao Tingyang bring together leading Chinese intellectuals to debate the main political ideas shaping the rapidly changing nation. Investigating such topics as the popular "China Model", the resurgence of Chinese Confucianism and its applications to the modern world, and liberal socialism, the contributors move beyond usual analytical frameworks toward what Dallmayr and Zhao call "a dismantling of ideological straitjackets." Comprising a broad range of opinions and perspectives, Contemporary Chinese Political Thought is the most up-to-date examination in English of modern Chinese political attitudes and discourse.

    Features contributions from Ji Wenshun, Zhou Lian, Zhao Tingyang, Zhang Feng, Liu Shuxian, Chen Ming, He Baogang, Ni Peimin, Ci Jiwei, Cui Zhiyuan, Frank Fang, Wang Shaoguang, and Cheng Guangyun.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3643-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Fred Dallmayr
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Fred Dallmayr

    During the past two decades or so, China has been emerging into the limelight of global economics, global science, and global politics. Having been consumed for nearly a century by the strains of internal and external troubles, the Asian giant is at long last assuming its rightful place in the global community of peoples. Yet, behind staggering growth rates and levels of productivity, something else at least equally impressive is happening: the steady burgeoning of Chinese intellectual life and its solid integration into the global market of ideas and philosophical arguments. For political pessimists, this intellectual emergence is only another...

  5. Part 1. Contemporary Issues and Debates
    • 1 Ideological Conflicts in Modern China
      (pp. 17-25)
      Ji Wenshun

      China has undergone greater changes in the past hundred years than in the whole preceding historical period, and the greatest changes have been concentrated in the past thirty-odd years. Prior to 1800 China was a populous country that enjoyed political stability and economic self-sufficiency and was admired by many European scholars. China was also a country that proudly regarded her civilization as the highest in world history and her position as being at the center of the world, surrounded by barbarians. It is possible that the Chinese viewed themselves as existing in a stage approaching a peaceful one-world kingdom, though...

    • 2 The Debates in Contemporary Chinese Political Thought
      (pp. 26-45)
      Zhou Lian

      Since the 1990s there has been a spate of interest in understanding why political philosophy is so fashionable in Mainland China. Since the viewpoints of the most influential political philosophers are very different and contradictory, more and more Chinese intellectuals have engaged in heated debate about whose theory is the most relevant to the current reality of China and its future. Because some realize that political philosophy should be assessed not only in terms of moral desirability but also with regard to cultural acceptability and socioeconomic feasibility, we should not be confused by the kaleidoscopic appearance of contemporary Chinese political...

    • 3 All-Under-Heaven and Methodological Relationism: An Old Story and New World Peace
      (pp. 46-66)
      Zhao Tingyang

      About twenty-five hundred years ago, a Chinese duke, lord of a substate in the all-under-heaven system, asked Confucius about “the most important thing” in the world. Confucius answered: “It must be politics.”¹ The Chinese word for politics means “justified order,” indicating the civilized order that determines the common fortune of all peoples. It defines a political concept not opposite but alternative to politics as the public life of the Greek polis. Earlier than Confucius, in the minds of the kings of the all-under-heaven system, the greatest and ultimate political goal was “to create harmony of all nations and all peoples,”²...

    • 4 Debating the “Chinese Theory of International Relations”: Toward a New Stage in China’s International Studies
      (pp. 67-88)
      Zhang Feng

      China’s international relations (IR) discipline is largely a creation of the past thirty years. Despite its short history, there have been some exciting developments—major achievements recognized by scholars as signifying progress, as well as sustained controversies and debates—over the past three decades. This chapter aims to review the recent history of Chinese IR and to assess one of its most important developments: the project of the “Chinese theory of IR” since the late 1980s and all the controversies and debates it has provoked.

      Recent scholarly attention to Chinese IR seems to be primarily focused on the discourse of...

  6. Part 2. Confucianism and Chinese Politics
    • 5 Contemporary New Confucianism: Background, Varieties, and Significance
      (pp. 91-109)
      Liu Shuxian

      During the Song (960–1279) and the Ming (1368–1644) dynasties, China developed one of the most advanced civilizations in the world. In the seventeenth century, Jesuits who visited China, such as Matteo Ricci, who died in Beijing in 1610, maintained good relationships as well as fruitful scholarly exchanges with Chinese intellectuals. They tried to find common ground between Chinese and Christian traditions. During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), Emperor Kang Xi continued the Ming Dynasty policy and held a tolerant attitude toward Christian missionaries. However, he insisted that the Chinese rites of ancestor worship and public homage to Confucius...

    • 6 Modernity and Confucian Political Philosophy in a Globalized World
      (pp. 110-130)
      Chen Ming

      The pressure of modernity and globalization on Chinese society in the last century has been unprecedented in all dimensions. The preservation and contemporary legitimacy of Confucianism depend on whether it can provide effective responses to the problems that have been generated by modernization and globalization. These responses should not be confined to pure academic study but should also aim at realizing its ideals in practice.

      I believe that Confucianism faces the onerous task of providing solutions to three major problems of contemporary Chinese society: namely political reconstruction, cultural identity, and religious faith. These are actually the major issues that the...

    • 7 Four Models of the Relationship between Confucianism and Democracy
      (pp. 131-151)
      He Baogang

      Confucianism is not a conceptual monolith but rather has a variety of traditions, versions, and forms including imperial, reform, elite, merchant-house, and popular Confucianism. Just as Confucianism is multidimensional, democracy is also multifaceted, including liberal, developmental, social, deliberative, and republican conceptions. The relationships between democracy and Confucianism therefore must be multiple and complex. Much of the controversy stems from the fact that scholars use different conceptions of democracy and different interpretations of Confucianism to support their positions.¹ Any single conceptualization about correlations between democracy and Confucianism will therefore, of necessity, be narrow, one-sided, and incomplete. It seems inappropriate to start...

    • 8 Confucianism and Democracy: Water and Fire? Water and Oil? or Water and Fish?
      (pp. 152-170)
      Ni Peimin

      The dominant view today still holds that Confucianism and democracy are like water and fire, totally incompatible and antagonistic to each other. According to this view, Confucianism is authoritarian, repressive, and typically associated with totalitarian policies, uniformity of ideology, social hierarchy, and discrimination against women. Democracy is the very opposite: It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It tolerates and embraces multiplicity, upholds equality and liberty. The conclusion from the contrast seems obvious—Confucianism should be rejected. In the past one hundred years or so, Chinese people have struggled hard to overcome the dominance...

  7. Part 3. Post-Maoism and the New Left
    • 9 The Dialectic of the Chinese Revolution Revisited: Desublimation and Resublimation in Post-Mao China
      (pp. 173-184)
      Ci Jiwei

      Thirty years after China set off on the path of reform that has changed it beyond recognition in so many ways, what I have called the dialectic of the Chinese revolution has yet to run its full course.¹ The contradictions that make up this dialectic—between the idealism of a lingering socialism, however threadbare and calculated, and the sheer materialism of a brave new quasi-capitalist world—retain all their potency, and in this sense China is still very much in the transition from Mao’s social order to a new one. We live amid the ever-renewed fallout of that transition, one...

    • 10 China’s Future: Suggestions from Petty Bourgeois Socialist Theories and Some Chinese Practices
      (pp. 185-208)
      Cui Zhiyuan

      How, in the final analysis, is one to comprehend today’s China? This is a puzzling intellectual and moral question. On the one hand, when one looks at the coal mine incidents, the corruption, the increases in laid-off workers, and other such phenomena, one could say that social contradictions have become vary salient. If, on the other hand, one makes comparisons with other countries in the world, China’s reforms have gained quite a number of successes. When I go to Russia for meetings, it is very hard to find a medium-grade restaurant in some big cities. All one sees are either...

    • 11 Taking the China Model Seriously: One-Party Constitutionalism and Economic Development
      (pp. 209-241)
      Frank Fang

      In the late twentieth century, few people in the West believed that China could experience an economic miracle. In the early twenty-first century, even fewer in the West believe that China can sustain its economic growth. Western logic is simple: no growth can take place without carrying out Western-style market reform, and no country can sustain its growth without developing a Western-style democracy. In fact, a growing number of people in the West believe that the problem of the Chinese government is not about how to sustain growth but about how to maintain its political survival.

      In this chapter, I...

    • 12 Why Is State Effectiveness Essential for Democracy? Asian Examples
      (pp. 242-267)
      Wang Shaoguang

      In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the “third wave” of democratization began, many were very optimistic about the future of the unfolding “worldwide democratic revolution.” Now, a decade later, the optimism has somehow faded away. Among nearly one hundred countries that appeared to be moving away from authoritarian rule in the early 1990s, over a dozen have suffered “democratic breakdown” or “democratic reversals,” and most transition states are stuck in what Thomas Carothers calls the “gray zone.”¹

      Why are so many third-wave transition countries in trouble? Or more generally, what are the conditions under which democracies can survive...

    • 13 The Legitimacy of Proletarian Political Practice: On Marxist Political Philosophy
      (pp. 268-284)
      Cheng Guangyun

      Recently, political philosophy has been proclaimed “first philosophy,” which is an opportunity and a challenge for Marxist philosophy. I believe the study of Marxist philosophy is not a closed one but is open to the following. First, it is open to other political philosophies, exploring a critical and sustainable relation to classical political philosophy and modern political philosophy and improving the conversation between Marxist political philosophy and modern political philosophy (such as Western Marxism, neo-Marxism, and post-Marxism). Second, it is open to other political thought through a discussion from the angle of democratic politics of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” which...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 285-288)
  9. Index
    (pp. 289-296)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-298)