Writer are: Xiong Yihan (熊易寒) and Li Hui (李辉), who are associate professors at Fudan University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs, also Tang Shiping (唐世平), who is a professor of International Politics in the same school.
1, The fundamental problem that there is no real comparative political studies in China is because most scholars don’t want to engage in serious comparative studies. There are also many reasons, but we can’t attribute all the reasons to just “ideological red zone”. Though “ideological red zone” does exist to some degree, but these zones are not completely forbidden. Another reason is more psychological, which is the theory of the “unique China”. A large number of scholars and researchers believe that for contemporary China, it is most necessary and urgent to study the absolute sense of “China issues” However, only when we put China’s experiences in a comparative horizon with other countries, can we effectively understand and interpret phenomenons in China. We should avoid making China “unique” or generalize the West.
2, There are flaws when scholars quote research. Among most of the essays published in the field of Comparative Political Studies in China, there is little literature review. Even if there is any, they either completely ignore Western studies, or the literature they choose in English is very random. They never really mastered the most important theories or examples in the research area. Also, among the research results scholars quote from other countries, they highlight European and American counterparts, and pay much less attention on Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. But actually the comparative studies of the third world has always been the hotspot and highlight of comparative political studies.
3, The progress of China’s comparative political studies not only requires great academic horizon and sound scientific methodology, but it also relies on relevant political support. Generally speaking, real comparative political studies need a relatively long period of time, a relatively larger number of research fund and resources, and generally we need teamwork. Therefore, besides scholars’ efforts on their side, external factors and systematic encouragement is also important.
China Reading Weekly and Journal of Literature, History and Philosophy co-organized a forum on the top 10 hot topics in social sciences
Here is some quotes from an article on the forum, synthesizing history professor Xiao Gongqin of Shanghai Normal University
Professor Xiao Gongqin started from talking about changes in China’s academia.
He pointed out that in the beginning of 1980s, China’s academic scene could be concluded as having three characteristics: the first is emotional. As soon as you start talking, others will criticize based on their own version of “freedom”. The second is Westernized, extremely anti-tradition. The third is that academic achievement is relatively vague. They didn’t need rationality. You could voice as long as you have some feelings. However, today’s academia is drastically different. The first difference is that it has rich accumulation of knowledge, which is not built up in one day or two, but in the past a couple of decades. The second is that everyone has their own specialized field, and when they are talking about things in their field they all have their solid stands. The third is that they are relatively calm. Calm things are replacing emotional things. Being emotional can’t solve problems anymore.
According to professor Xiao, these following points of consensus are being formed in academia: first, the Western package is losing its overarching position, leftists and rightists both consider it as one regional school of thought and have learned to extract the good and get rid of the bad. The second, local Chinese culture is considered as useful resources, rather than something that could be completely thrown away. Leftists, rightists and the middle-way believers all start to have this recognition. As time goes by this recognition is becoming increasingly salient. For example, concepts of equality, harmony and justice in the core socialist value system is particularly highlighted in Confucian culture. Among Liberalism there is Confucian Liberalism (like professor Huang Yushun has said), which highlights that everyone’s internal freedom could be the foundation of choice. The third, can we say there is an authoritarian Confucian political model? The Confucian political concept of “choosing the capable” and the rulers give moral constraints and attach meanings of life is actually a very important strategy.