Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries

Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries

Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries

Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries

Synopsis

The conveners (the editors of this book) of the September 1989 Four Anniversaries China Conference in Annapolis, asked the contributors to look back from that point in time to consider four major events in modern Chinese history in the perspective of the rapid changes that were shaping the Chinese society, economy, polity, and sense of place in the world in the 1980s, a time when China was making rapid strides toward becoming more integrated with the outside world. With contributions by distinguished scholars in the field, the four anniversaries considered are the High Qing, the May Fourth Movement, forty years of communism in China, and ten years of the Deng era.

Excerpt

Kenneth Lieberthal

During the course of the 1980s China began to make rapid strides toward becoming more integrated with the outside world. Domestically, it significantly decentralized its economy, adopted policies that produced major social changes, and began to tinker with the operations of its political system. Culturally, Chinese intellectuals on the mainland began to develop serious discourse with their Chinese counterparts elsewhere, and the cultural scene on the mainland grew more diverse. Television, whose widespread use really began at the start of the 1980s, added a new element to this mix. in sum, a great deal appeared to be changing in China, and these changes were occurring at high speed.

The extent and rapidity of these changes raised serious questions about the forces that were shaping the Chinese society, economy, polity, and sense of place in the world. For many years, the brunt of scholarship on the People's Republic of China had focused primarily on the aspects of that system that were imported from the Soviet Union and from socialist practice elsewhere. Some of the phenomena of the decade of the 1980s suggested the continued salience of China's prewar experience with the United States, Europe, and Japan. and those steeped in Chinese culture and history recognized familiar terrain as they looked at the types of issues that arose concerning questions such as the relationship of intellectuals to the state, the relation of regions to the central authorities, the nature of power in Beijing, and the complex interaction between China and the outside world.

The conveners of the September 10-15, 1989, Four Anniversaries China Conference in Annapolis on which this volume is based--Joyce Kallgren, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Roderick MacFarquhar--felt that the time had come to try to provide more detailed and thoughtful perspective by bringing together a highly unusual mix of people and giving them a somewhat different type of task. Fifty scholars attended this conference to review and discuss sixteen papers that had been distributed in advance of the meeting. the discussion was lively, surprisingly wide ranging, and insightful. Unfortunately, the economics of publication permit us here only to reproduce the papers themselves, along with brief intro-

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