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Zhang’s Critique Of Kang Youwei: Anti-Manchuism, The National Essence, And Revolution

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Chapter Summary

Soon after leaving the Gujing Academy, Zhang, who was to become one of China's most famous anti-Manchu propagandists, entered a debate with Kang Youwei, the foremost proponent of reform. Kang Youwei built what we could liken to a discourse of civilization out of the materials of the Chinese tradition and New Text Confucian interpretations of the classics. Zhang's turn to revolutionary politics was gradual and involved both intellectual exposure to new ideas and political setbacks such as the failures of the Hundred Day Reform of 1898 and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. This essay supports the Kang-Liang reformist line, but in it there are already hints of anti-Manchu sentiment. Zhang's essay, "On Bacteria," forms the base of his early theory of anti-Manchu racialism, which he developed more fully in the second edition, completed in 1902.

Keywords: anti-Manchuism; critique; Kang Youwei; national essence; revolution



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