Modern Chinese intellectual history was dominated by rejection and criticism of much of Chinese traditional culture and thought in general and of Confucianism in particular. Chinese communism was one of the products of the May Fourth tradition of radical anti-traditionalist thought. So was Chinese liberalism, which however failed to exert significant influence on Chinese politics and society in the mainland, nor on the island of Taiwan during the authoritarian era of one-party rule by the Nationalist Party. In the early twenty-first century, both the fates or prospects of Confucianism and of liberal democracy in China seem to be changing. In mainland China, there has been a revival of interest in classical learning (guoxue) in general and in Confucianism in particular. In Taiwan, the transition from authoritarianism to liberal democracy that was initiated by the Nationalist Party in the late 1980's has been successful. The case of Taiwan, as well as the progress made in the democratization of Hong Kong and the successful practice of liberal democracy in South Korea, raise the spectre of "Confucian democracy". Jiang Qing, a leading Confucian thinker in contemporary China, opposes the introduction of Western-style liberal democracy in China. So does Kang Xiaoguang, another influential contemporary Chinese thinker who advocates Confucian benevolent governance (renzheng) instead of democracy. On the other hand, the most well-known neo-Confucian philosophers of the twentieth century fully embrace liberal constitutional democracy in the form that has evolved in the West. Xu Fuguan was one of them. This paper will first introduce the key elements of Jiang Qing's political thought (part II). It will then (in part III) compare it with that of Kang Xiaoguang, whose thought demonstrates that Jiang is by no means a lone voice in contemporary Chinese political discussion. It then (in part IV) introduces the political thought of Xu Fuguan, probably the most insightful thinker on political philosophy among the neo-Confucian scholars of his generation. The chapter will conclude (in part V) by arguing that Xu's version of Confucian political philosophy, though half a century old, is more persuasive to us in China today than that of Jiang Qing's.
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