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Research Articles

Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals

Pages 85-101 | Published online: 18 May 2020
 

ABSTRACT

This article examines the puzzling phenomenon that many Chinese liberal intellectuals fervently idolize Donald Trump and embrace the alt-right ideologies he epitomizes. Rejecting ‘pure tactic’ and ‘neoliberal affinity’ explanations, it argues that the Trumpian metamorphosis of Chinese liberal intellectuals is precipitated by their ‘beacon complex’, which has ‘political’ and ‘civilizational’ components. Political beaconism grows from the traumatizing lived experience of Maoist totalitarianism, sanitizes the West and particularly the United States as politically near-perfect, and gives rise to both a neoliberal affinity and a latent hostility toward baizuo. Civilizational beaconism, sharing with its nationalistic counterpart—civilizational vindicativism—the heritages of scientific racism and social Darwinism imported in late-Qing, renders the Chinese liberal intelligentsia receptive to anti-immigrant and Islamophobic paranoia, exacerbates its anti-baizuo sentiments, and catalyzes its Trumpian convergence with Chinese non-liberals.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks CHEN I-Chung, Deborah DAVIS, Paul GEWIRTZ, Darius LONGARINO, Andrew NATHAN, Guido PARIETTI, WANG Chaohua, Robert WILLIAMS, ZHANG Chenchen and two anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback on earlier drafts; CHEN Chun, Sechin Yeong-Shyang CHIEN, CHOW Po Chung, Jon ELSTER, LIU Qing, Tenzin Jinba, WANG Yan, WANG Yaqiu, YOU Tianlong, Liya YU, YUAN Yuan, ZHOU Lian and many others for conversations and encouragements that propelled the completion of this project; and LIANG Shan for timely assistance with source materials. The author is also grateful for the organizers and participants of Roundtable on Chinese Perspectives on the American Presidential Election (Xuan Mei [iAmElection] & 706 Youth Space, Beijing, 19 December 2015), Frontiers of Democracy Conference (Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, 23 June 2017), Workshop on Liberalism in Contemporary China (Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 6 October 2017) and Contemporary China Research Seminar (Yale Law School, 6 February 2019 & 17 April 2019), where core ideas and precursory versions of this project were presented and discussed. Finally, the author would like to express his gratitude to the contributors, editors, readers and audiences of Xuan Mei [iAmElection], a civic engagement program the author co-directed with HUA Jianping, HUA Sirui, SHEN Xincheng, YOU Tianlong and ZHUANG Qiaoyi, which, throughout its existence from 2015 to 2019, strived to provide in-depth analyses of American politics for the Chinese-speaking world and to combat Trumpian misinformation on the Chinese Internet.

Disclosure statement

The author reports no potential conflict of interest.

Notes

1 This was in part attributable to the Western media’s lack of interest in sophistication when covering non-Western affairs. For example, when this author was interviewed by an American news outlet before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he discussed both liberal and non-liberal Trump fandoms in China. The published version, however, omitted the entire liberal part of the story and talked only about Chinese non-liberal Trump supporters. See Louise Liu, ‘There Are Tons of Trump Supporters in China—Even Though He Keeps Bashing the Country’, Business Insider, October 10, 2016, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/why-some-chinese-people-support-trump-2016-10. Later he was told that the editor(s) believed Chinese liberal Trumpian metamorphosis was ‘too distant and complicated’ a phenomenon to draw the attention of the outlet’s American readers.

2 Javier C. Hernández and Iris Zhao, ‘“Uncle Trump” Finds Fans in China’, New York Times, November 9, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/world/asia/trump-china-fans.html.

3 Benjamin Carlson, ‘Why China Loves Trump, Atlantic, March 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/trump-china/550886/.

4 See, e.g., Chenchen Zhang, ‘The Curious Rise of the “White Left” as a Chinese Internet Insult’, Open Democracy, May 11, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/chenchen-zhang/curious-rise-of-white-leftas-chinese-internet-insult; Chi Zhang, ‘WeChatting American Politics: Misinformation, Polarization, and Immigrant Chinese Media’, Columbia Journalism Review, April 19, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/wechatting-american-politics-misinformation-polarization-and-immigrant-chinese-media.php/; Li Luohan, ‘97% of Chinese Would Reject Receiving Refugees: Online Poll’, Global Times, June 20, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1107731.shtml; Tony Lin, ‘After New Zealand Massacre, Islamophobia Spreads on Chinese Social Media’, Columbia Journalism Review, March 21, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/analysis/weibo-new-zealand-massacre.php.

5 Chenchen Zhang, ‘Right-wing Populism with Chinese Characteristics? Identity, Otherness and Global Imaginaries in Debating World Politics Online’, European Journal of International Relations, OnlineFirst version, (2019), pp. 3, 4, 7, accessed March 11, 2020, doi: 10.1177/1354066119850253.

6 Zhaoyin Feng, ‘Why I Translate All of Trump’s Tweets into Chinese’, BBC News, August 8, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49092612.

7 Yuan Li, ‘Donald Trump, China Savior? Some Chinese Say Yes’, New York Times, April 16, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/16/business/trump-china.html.

8 The author thanks an anonymous reviewer for articulating this hypothesis.

9 For example, when legal scholar Xu Zhangrun was censured for his criticism of Xi Jinping’s abolition of presidential term limits, both Guo Yuhua and Gao Quanxi, prominent liberal Trump-admirers, publicly voiced their support for Xu. See 郭于华 [Guo Yuhua], ‘哪有学者不表达?’ [‘How Can Scholars Not Be Allowed to Talk?’], FT Chinese, March 26, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.ftchinese.com/story/001082041; 高全喜 [Gao Quanxi], ‘清华蛮横处罚许先生有违法治之道与大学自治精神’ [‘Tsinghua’s Capricious Punishment of Mr. Xu Undermines the Rule of Law and Academic Autonomy’], Weibo, March 29, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.21join.com/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=10&id=964.

10 Chinese liberal Trump-mania grew as early as he led the Republican field of presidential candidates in late 2015 and early 2016; see, e.g., 程凯 [Cheng Kai], ‘2016美国总统大选,川普挑战美国的“政治正确”’ [‘2016 American Presidential Election, Trump Challenging America’s “Political Correctness”’], Boxun, January 21, 2016, accessed March 11, 2020, https://boxun.com/news/gb/pubvp/2016/01/201601210617.shtml.

11 @yuhuaguo, Twitter, June 17, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://twitter.com/yuhuaguo/status/1019102149437894656.

12 孙立平 [Sun Liping], ‘整个世界可能都忽视了这个信号:谈特朗普对政治正确的冲击’ [‘The Whole World May Have Missed This Signal: On Trump’s Attack on Political Correctness’], Liping Guancha, February 17, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://qnmlgb.tech/articles/5c68c064ce56ab804b44e280/.

13 萧瀚 [Xiao Han], ‘政治正确与言论自由:关于“冯钢”事件的几点看法’ [‘Political Correctness and Freedom of Speech: Remarks on the “Feng Gang” Incident’], Weibo, October 23, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://pic2.zhimg.com/80/v2-f526ead9566da1109afca0a7fd9360f3_hd.jpg.

14 高全喜、田飞龙 [Gao Quanxi and Tian Feilong], ‘归化、自由帝国与保守宪制’ [‘Assimilation, Liberal Empire and Conservative Constitutionalism’], Pengpai, February 4, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1976492.

15 包刚升、周濂、施展、刘苏里 [Bao Gangsheng, Zhou Lian, Shi Zhan and Liu Suli], ‘多元主义的陷阱——当代政治的挑战与危机’ [‘The Pluralism Trap: Challenges and Crises of Contemporary Politics’], China Strategic Analysis, December 2, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, http://zhanlve.org/?p=6356; see also 包刚升 [Bao Gangsheng], ‘西方政治的新现实——族群宗教多元主义与西方自由民主政体的挑战’ [‘A New Reality of Western Politics: Ethnic-Religious Pluralism as a Challenge to Western Liberal Democracies’], 政治学研究 [CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) Journal of Political Science] 2018(3), (2018), pp. 103–115.

16 See, e.g., Andrew Kipnis, ‘Neo-leftists versus Neo-liberals: PRC Intellectual Debates in the 1990s’, Journal of Intercultural Studies 24(3), (2003), pp. 239–251; Chaohua Wang, ‘Minds of the Nineties’, in One China, Many Paths, ed. Chaohua Wang (London: Verso, 2003), pp. 9–45; Xu Youyu, ‘The Debates Between Liberalism and the New Left in China Since the 1990s’, Contemporary Chinese Thought 34(3), (2003), pp. 6–17.

17 For discussions on the various early-21st-century Chinese political thoughts, see 陈宜中 [Chen I-Chung], ‘德意志独特道路的回声?——关于中国“反民权的国族主义”’ [‘Echoes of the German Sonderweg? The Issue of “Nationalism Against Citizenship Rights” in China’], 政治科学论丛 [Taiwanese Journal of Political Science] 45, (2010), pp. 107–152; Leiwan Weng, ‘The Straussian Reception of Plato and Nationalism in China’, The Comparatist 39, (2015), pp. 313–334; 陈纯 [Chen Chun], ‘中国自由保守主义的没落’ [‘The Decline of Liberal Conservatism in China’], Initium, January 6, 2016 (Part 1), accessed March 11, 2020, https://theinitium.com/article/20160107-opinion-decay-of-conservatism-liberalism-china/, and January 8, 2016 (Part 2), accessed March 11, 2020, https://theinitium.com/article/20160108-opinion-conservatism-liberalism-china-chenchun/; Tang Xiaobing and Mark McConaphy, ‘Liberalism in Contemporary China: Questions, Strategies, Directions’, China Information 32(1), (2018), pp. 121–138; Shi Anshu, François Lachapelle and Matthew Galway, ‘The Recasting of Chinese Socialism: The Chinese New Left Since 2000’, China Information 32(1), (2018), pp. 139–159; Jun Deng and Craig A Smith, ‘The Rise of New Confucianism and the Return of Spirituality to Politics in Mainland China’, China Information 32(2), (2018), pp. 294–314; Dongxian Jiang, review of Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss in the Chinese-Speaking World, ed. Kai Marchal and Carl K.Y. Shaw, Voegelin View, June 17, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://voegelinview.com/carl-schmitt-and-leo-strauss-in-the-chinese-speaking-world/; Sebastian Veg, ‘The Rise of China’s Statist Intellectuals: Law, Sovereignty, and “Repoliticization”’, The China Journal 82, (2019), pp. 23–45.

18 See, e.g., 李丹 [Li Dan], ‘中国左翼自由主义的“香港共识”’ [‘The “Hong Kong Consensus” of Chinese Leftwing-Liberalism’], Pengpai, August 6, 2014, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.gongfa.com/html/gongfaxinwen/201408/06-2649.html; 周保松 [Chow Po Chung], ‘左翼自由主义的理念’ [‘The Ideal of Liberal Leftism’], 二十一世纪[The Twenty-First Century] 149, (2015), pp. 36–54; 林垚 [Lin Yao], ‘左翼自由主义需要怎样的中国化?’ [‘What Kind of Sinicization Does Leftwing-Liberalism Need?’], Initium, December 4, 2015 (Part 1), accessed March 11, 2020, https://theinitium.com/article/20151204-opinion-liberalism-left-linyao/, and December 5, 2015 (Part 2), accessed March 11, 2020, https://theinitium.com/article/20151205-opinion-liberal-left-linyao/.

19 Jennifer Pan and Yiqing Xu, ‘China’s Ideological Spectrum’, Journal of Politics 80(1), (2018), p. 255. See also Ronggui Huang, Yong Gui and Xiaoyi Sun, ‘Beyond the Left-Right Spectrum: A Typological Analysis of Ideologues in China’s Weibo Space’, Journal of Contemporary China 28(119), (2019), pp. 831–847 (dividing ‘liberal’ Weibo users into three subgroups: pro-market ‘economic liberals’ who are relatively silent on political issues, ‘political liberals’ who favor liberal democracy over the Party-State regime but do not say much on economic issues, and ‘full-fledged liberals’ who are expressive on both fronts).

20 See, e.g., 孙立平 [Sun Liping], ‘当前中国的贫富格局’ [‘Rich-Poor Stratification in Contemporary China’], Aisixiang, April 6, 2011, accessed March 11, 2020, http://m.aisixiang.com/data/39821.html; 郭于华 [Guo Yuhua], 倾听底层 [Listening to the Lower Class] (Guangxi: Guangxi shifandaxue chubanshe, 2011).

21 Steven Lukes, ‘The Grand Dichotomy of the Twentieth Century’, in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought, eds. Terence Ball and Richard Bellamy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 623–624; see also Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

22 See, e.g., Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Ian Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields, The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

23 See 刘军宁 [Liu Junning], ‘特朗普的胜利是左派的挫败,而非自由的挫败’ [‘Trump’s Victory Is Leftists’ Defeat, Not Freedom’s Defeat’], Insight, November 10, 2016, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.sohu.com/a/118579005_460385; 王建勋 [Wang Jianxun], ‘特朗普要做的是回归“美国精神”’ [‘What Trump Plans Is A Return to the “American Ethos”’], Aisixiang, January 25, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/102926.html.

24 刘瑜 [Liu Yu], ‘民粹与民主:论美国政治中的民粹主义’ [‘Populism and Democracy: On Populism in American Politics’], 探索与争鸣 [Exploration and Contestation] 2016(10), (2016), p. 74. Notice that her argument is different from Friedrich Hayek’s (in)famous ‘road to serfdom’ argument against socioeconomic redistribution, in that the latter predicts communist totalitarianism at the end of the slippery slope, instead of Chavizmo authoritarianism as Liu does.

25 See, e.g., Janet Hook, ‘“It Is the Era of Trump”: How the President is Remaking the Republican Party’, Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/it-is-the-era-of-trump-how-the-president-is-remaking-the-republican-party-1535380861; Jan Zilinsky, ‘Why Didn’t More Congressional Republicans Condemn Trump’s Racist Tweets About the “Squad”: This Graph Explains’, Monkey Cage, July 20, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/20/why-didnt-more-congressional-republicans-condemn-trumps-racist-tweets-about-squad-this-graph-explains/. Arguably, this process of electoral appeasement has been greatly accelerated by the fact that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric emboldens the GOP’s racially prejudiced voters; see Benjamin Newman, Jennifer L. Merolla, Sono Shah, Danielle Casarez Lemi, Loren Collingwood and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, ‘The Trump Effect: An Experimental Investigation of the Emboldening Effect of Racially Inflammatory Elite Communication’, British Journal of Political Science, OnlineFirst version, (2020), pp. 1–22, accessed March 11, 2020, doi: 10.1017/S0007123419000590.

26 For example, Cui Zhiyuan, a leading New Left intellectual and allegedly the economic mastermind behind the ‘Chongqing Model’, has talked approvingly of Trump’s ‘intention to make American great again’ and his assault on ‘mass illegal immigration to the United States’, as well as Steve Bannon’s ‘international campaign of economic nationalism and political populism’. See 崔之元 [Cui Zhiyuan], ‘川普前顾问班农和传说中的普京顾问杜金之思想比较’ [‘A Comparison Between the Views of Steve Bannon, Former Counsel to Trump, and the Views of Aleksandr Dugin, Rumored Counsel to Putin’], Aisixiang, February 23, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/108229.html.

27 Notice that the ‘beaconism’ explanation, along with its refutation of the ‘neoliberal affinity’ explanation as offering a plausible mechanism, does not contend that beaconism is the only mechanism underlying the Trumpian metamorphosis of Chinese liberal intellectuals. As subsequent sections show, sociopolitical and informational conditions play important roles in triggering and amplifying beaconist psychologies. Whether further distinctions can be made between different types of mechanisms—for example, between ‘causes’ and ‘conditions’—and whether there are good reasons to categorize beaconism as a (or the) ‘cause’—vis-à-vis other sociopolitical and informational ‘conditions’—of liberal Trumpian metamorphosis in China are important philosophical questions that this article cannot address. The author thanks Chen I-Chung, Guido Parietti and Zhang Chenchen for urging him to clarify on this matter.

28 Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 6.

29 See, e.g., 马勤 [Ma Qin], ‘自由与苦难:不同的民国记忆’ [‘Freedom and Suffering: Different Memories of the ROC’], Huaxia kuaidi, May 25, 2010, accessed March 11, 2020, http://my.cnd.org/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=25892; 梁文道、张鸣、杨奎松、陈丹青 [Liang Wendao, Zhang Ming, Yang Kuisong and Chen Danqing], ‘民国是历史还是现实?’ [‘Does the ROC Belong to the History or the Present?’], Aisixiang, September 21, 2011, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/44487.html; 周怀宗 [Zhou Huaizong], ‘学者:怀念民国时代来自于对当前学术环境的不满’ [‘Scholars: The ROC Nostalgia Reflects Discontents with the Current Academic Environment’], Beijing Morning Post, October 21, 2014, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.cssn.cn/st/st_wybht/201410/t20141021_1370248.shtml.

30 For example, the late Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo unequivocally ‘support[ed] U.S.-led wars, which he called “all ethically defensible”, including the U.S.-led war in Iraq’. Krishnadev Calamur, ‘Remebering Liu Xiaobo’, Atlantic, July 13, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/07/liu-xiaobo-dies/533529/; see also 刘晓波 [Liu Xiaobo], ‘伊战与美国大选’ [‘The Iraq War and American Presidential Election’], Liu Xiaobo Archives, October 31, 2004, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.liu-xiaobo.org/blog/archives/6968.

31 刘瑜 [Liu Yu], ‘民粹与民主:论美国政治中的民粹主义’ [‘Populism and Democracy: On Populism in American Politics’], 探索与争鸣 [Exploration and Contestation] 2016(10), (2016), pp. 73–74.

32 刘军宁 [Liu Junning], ‘纳粹与希特勒:姓左,还是姓右?’ [‘The Nazis and Hitler: Leftwing, or Rightwing?’], Chinese PEN, August 8, 2014, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.chinesepen.org/blog/archives/4380.

33 See, e.g., 李泽厚、刘再复 [Li Zehou and Liu Zaifu], 告别革命:回望二十世纪中国 [Farewell to Revolution: Looking Back upon China of the Twentieth Century] (Hong Kong: Tiandi, 1995); 林毓生 [Lin Yu-Sheng], 中国激进思潮的起源与后果 [The Origins and Consequences of Chinese Radical Thoughts] (Taipei: Linking Publishing, 2019).

34 For a critical review of this analogy, see 刘波 [Liu Bo], ‘拆李将军像等于“破四旧”吗?’ [‘Does Demolishing Statues of General Robert Lee Equal “Destroying the Four Olds”?’], Tengxun Dajia, August 19, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://xw.qq.com/iphone/m/category/7cb74407125873315ea8225aacd97e6d.html.

35 See, e.g. 丛日云 [Cong Riyun], ‘特朗普反对什么样的多元主义?’ [‘Which Pluralism Is Trump Against?’], Aisixiang, September 13, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/112289-2.html. Cong is a liberal professor at Chinese University of Political Science and Law, and an avowed Chuanfen.

36 See, e.g., 刘瑜 [Liu Yu], ‘关于metoo’ [‘On MeToo’], Matters, July 27, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://matters.news/forum/?post=16439143-1a75-497a-bad2-875d2fcd5d28-. For a critical response to Liu, see 林垚 [Lin Yao], ‘“我也是”:作为集体行动的公共舆论运动’ [‘“Me Too”: Public Opinion Movement as Collective Action’], 思想 [Reflexion] 38, (2019), pp. 253–326.

37 See, e.g., 萧瀚 [Xiao Han], ‘政治正确与言论自由:关于“冯钢”事件的几点看法’ [‘Political Correctness and Freedom of Speech: Remarks on the “Feng Gang” Incident’], Weibo, October 23, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, https://pic2.zhimg.com/80/v2-f526ead9566da1109afca0a7fd9360f3_hd.jpg. For a critical response to Xiao, see 孙金昱 [Sun Jinyu], ‘政治正确“杀死”言论自由:真实忧虑还是话术陷阱?’ [‘Political Correctness “Killing” Freedom of Speech: Genuine Concern or Rhetorical Trap?’], 思想 [Reflexion] 35, (2018), pp. 115–132.

38 Nancy Tang, ‘Ferguson, Staten Island, and the People’s Republic’, Foreign Policy, December 12, 2014, accessed March 11, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/12/ferguson-staten-island-china-racism/.

39 Zhaoyin Feng, ‘Why I Translate All of Trump’s Tweets into Chinese’, BBC News, August 8, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49092612; emphasis added.

40 梁启超 [Liang Qichao], ‘论中国之将强’ [‘On China’s Inevitable Revival’], 时务报 [The Chinese Progress], June 30, 1897. Unsurprisingly, Liang (and most of other Chinese intellectuals) refused to accept the ‘orthodox’ racial hierarchy in which the ‘yellow race’ is as inferior as other non-white races, and instead maintained that ‘only the yellow race is comparable to the white race …, capable of doing anything the white race is capable of’. Ibid.

41 See, e.g., Frank Dikötter, ‘Racial Identities in China: Context and Meaning’, China Quarterly 138, (1994), pp. 404–412; James Reeve Pusey, China and Charles Darwin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1983); Michael Keevak, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011); Yinghong Cheng, ‘From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: Discourse of Race and Chinese Nationalism’, China Quarterly 207, (2011), pp. 561–579.

42 See, e.g., 袁洪亮 [Yuan Hongliang], ‘中国近代国民性改造思潮研究综述’ [‘A Review of Studies on Thoughts about Reforming the National Characteristics in Modern China’, 史学月刊 [Journal of Historical Science] 2000(6), (2000), pp. 135–141.

43 Careful readers would notice that the historical overview offered here skips the Maoist era, which arguably saw a brief break from civilizational-beaconist discourses, as the Party-State officially promulgated the ideals of gender, racial and ethnic equality and denounced Western imperialist-colonialist cultural hegemony; see, e.g., Zheng Wang, Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1964 (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016); Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (New York: Knopf, 2019). Nonetheless, to the extent that the CCP only paid lip services to those ideals, and to the extent that their implementations were inextricably intertwined with the memories of Maoist totalitarianism, the appeal of those ideals soon faded in the Reform-and-Opening era, not least due to the effects of political beaconism as post-Mao pilgrimage. Moreover, the fact that social sciences and humanities in China had stagnated under decades of Party-State disciplination also made intellectuals in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, who were thrown into globalization, rapid socioeconomic transformation and the abrupt end of the Cold War, ill-prepared to critique and resist the re-popularization of civilizational discourses. The author thanks Wang Chaohua and Zhang Chenchen for pressing him on this point.

44 See Xiao Xu, ‘A Comprehensive Review of the River Elegy Debate’, Chinese Sociology & Anthropology 25(1), (1992), pp. 6–27.

45 强世功 [Jiang Shigong], ‘陆地、海洋与文明秩序’ [‘Land, Ocean, and the Civilizational Order’], 读书 [Reading] 2019(5), (2019), p. 20.

46 Luwei Rose Luqiu and Fan Yang, ‘Islamophobia in China: News Coverage, Stereotypes, and Chinese Muslims’ Perceptions of Themselves and Islam’, Asian Journal of Communication 28(6), (2018), pp. 598–619; see also Human Rights Watch, ‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims, September 9, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/09/09/eradicating-ideological-viruses/chinas-campaign-repression-against-xinjiangs; Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, ‘“Absolutely No Mercy”: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims’, New York Times, November 16, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/world/asia/china-xinjiang-documents.html.

47 Tony Lin, ‘After New Zealand Massacre, Islamophobia Spreads on Chinese Social Media’, Columbia Journalism Review, March 21, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/analysis/weibo-new-zealand-massacre.php.

48 包刚升 [Bao Gangsheng], ‘西方政治的新现实——族群宗教多元主义与西方自由民主政体的挑战’ [‘A New Reality of Western Politics: Ethnic-Religious Pluralism as a Challenge to Western Liberal Democracies’], 政治学研究 [CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) Journal of Political Science] 2018(3), (2018), pp. 106–107.

49 叙拉古之惑 [Xulaguzhihuo], ‘为高全喜老师一辩——基于古典政治哲学的进路’ [‘A Defense of Professor Gao Quanxi: An Approach Based on Classical Philosophy’], Sohu, December 20, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.sohu.com/a/211513053_788167.

50 刘瑜 [Liu Yu], ‘民粹与民主:论美国政治中的民粹主义’ [‘Populism and Democracy: On Populism in American Politics’], 探索与争鸣 [Exploration and Contestation] 2016(10), (2016), p. 73.

51 See Chi Zhang, ‘WeChatting American Politics: Misinformation, Polarization, and Immigrant Chinese Media’, Columbia Journalism Review, April 19, 2018, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/wechatting-american-politics-misinformation-polarization-and-immigrant-chinese-media.php/; Han Zhang, ‘The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News’, New Yorker, August 19, 2019, accessed March 11, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-post-truth-publication-where-chinese-students-in-america-get-their-news.

52 See, e.g., 北大飞 [Beidafei], ‘错误信息导致错误结论——评秦晖老师《欧洲穆斯林政策的两大弊病》’ [‘Misinformation Leads to Wrong Conclusions: Comments on Professor Qin Hui’s “Two Problems with Europe’s Muslim Policy”’], WeChat Public Account, June 26, 2017, accessed March 11, 2020, http://www.dunjiaodu.com/qizhouzhi/2017-06-26/1389.html.

53 Jessica Chen Weiss, ‘How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at “Rising Nationalism” and Chinese Foreign Policy’, Journal of Contemporary China 28(119), (2019), pp. 679–695.

Additional information

Notes on contributors

Yao Lin

Dr. Yao Lin is a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School, and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University Department of Political Science.

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