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Chinese Renaissance

New Youth magazine, a main platform of the Chiense Renaissance movement.

Since the Opium War of 1839~1842, China had been consistently subject to foreign invasions and humiliations, which led the once world superpower into an introspection on its own culture. Calls for reforms emerged in the hope of rejuvenating China. The situation culminated in the late 1910’s when a new movement was led by a group of reform-minded Peking University professors, aimed at reforming Chinese culture which was then increasingly considered corrupt and blamed for China’s reduced circumstances. This new movement, later known as the New Culture Movement, bore a striking similarity to the Renaissance in Europe.
To begin with, it was a conscious movement to promote a new literature in the living language of the people to replace the classical literature of old. Secondly, it was a wave of conscious protests against many of the ideas and institutions in the traditional culture, and of calls for emancipation of the individual man and woman from the bondage of the force of traditional ideologies (mainly Confucianism). The reformists advocated reason as against tradition, freedom as against authority, and glorification of life and human values as against dogmatic suppression.
The movement was, in this sense, a humanist movement just like the European Renaissance. It is of vital significance in the history of China’s modern culture. Almost all important literary personalities of the time were involved in the campaign in one way or another.


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