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This article discusses the introduction of the Western concept of democracy to China from the late nineteenth century to the first two decades of the twentieth century and the formation of the Chinese concept of democracy. It suggests that the modern Chinese concept of democracy underwent two formational phases. At the beginning, the traditional elite tended to interpret Western democracy in terms of republicanism. During the New Culture Movement (1919-25), the new generation of intellectuals began a selective reconstruction of the notion of democracy, which resulted in the modern Chinese view of democracy characterized by popular participation and elections. With funding from several research grants, we have created a database of texts related to modern Chinese political thought (about 60 million words). By carrying out a frequency count and meaning analysis of the terms gonghe (republicanism) and minzhu (democracy), this article examines the roots of the replacement of the concept of republicanism by democracy from the perspective of intellectual history.
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Keywords: History of Chinese political thought; database approach; democracy; formation of modern Chinese political ideas; history of Ideas; republicanism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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