The constitutional debate in early Qing China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the first few decades of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), Chinese political thinkers engaged in a seminal debate over how to redesign the basic "constitution" of imperial authority. The pivotal figure in this rich argument was Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), who proposed a "mixed model" approach that would combine the strengths and counteract the weaknesses in the two rival systems for constituting political authority-the decentralized fengjian system versus the centralized, bureaucratic junxian system. This article reconstructs the main arguments in that debate, looking at how mixed model advocates differed from fengjian revivalists, focusing on the role and ideas of Gu Yanwu, but also drawing attention to their shared goal of using reform to strengthen the imperial state and the authority of the emperor. The concluding section shows how the consolidation of Qing ideological authority by 1680 brought a close to this constitutional debate, leaving it to be rediscovered during the crisis of the 19th century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-168
Number of pages20
JournalSungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies
Volume13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct 1

Fingerprint

China
consolidation
constitution
reform
Authority
Revivalist
Consolidation
Political Authority
Qing Dynasty
Constitution
Emperor
Thinkers
Rivals

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

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The constitutional debate in early Qing China. / Delury, John.

In: Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, 01.10.2013, p. 149-168.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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