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Chinese History and CultureSeventeenth Century Through Twentieth Century$
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Ying-shih Yü

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231178600

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231178600.001.0001

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The Idea of Democracy and the Twilight of the Elite Culture in Modern China

The Idea of Democracy and the Twilight of the Elite Culture in Modern China

(p.234) 11. The Idea of Democracy and the Twilight of the Elite Culture in Modern China
Chinese History and Culture

Ying-shih Yü

, Josephine Chiu-Duke, Michael S. Duke
Columbia University Press

This essay surveys the history of how the idea of democracy came to China and demonstrates that from the late 19th century to 1919 leading advocates of democracy, both reformers and revolutionaries, came almost invariably from the intellectual elite with a strong background in Confucian culture. The article sees the waning of elite culture in 20th-century China as one of the main factors explaining why China has not made much headway toward democracy. With the marginalization of the intellectuals during the revolution led by the Chinese Communist Party, democracy lost any powerful intellectual elite to champion it. The Tiananmen democracy movement in 1989, however, is seen as proof that hopes for democracy have not completely disappeared.

Keywords:   Democracy, Confucianism, minzhu, people’s rule, minquan, junmin gongzhi, junmin gongzhu guo, constitutional monarchy

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