Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Glimpse of India in Early Twentieth Century Chinese Intellectual History: Liang Shuming as a Focus

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

It is widely known that there was a millennia-long interaction between India and China in pre-modern times. In the early twentieth century, however, such an active exchange had already receded for centuries, with the grappling with imperialism being the main concern of the two countries’ foreign affairs at the time. While imperialist pressure did form certain affinities between Indian and Chinese people, many appeals for cooperation and unity were proposed in terms of pan-Asianism (a Japanese invention that found resonance and variations in other parts of Asia as well). This paper attempts to explore how India—both a cultural and a political reference for China, was digested by some modern Chinese thinkers in reviewing or even reconstructing China’s intellectual world. Several thinkers will be examined but the emphasis is laid on Liang Shuming (1893-1988). Being a somewhat idiosyncratic interpreter of Confucianism, Liang was well versed in Buddhism (and Indian philosophy in general) and tried hard to capture, or define, the essence of so-called Eastern culture and thought. While Liang has been a frequent focus of study, this paper seeks to weave him into a broader historical and intellectual context. The purpose is not only to reveal the image of India reflected in Chinese eyes in the early twentieth century but also to examine how active role India might have played in Chinese intellectuals’ self-knowledge at the specific historical juncture. 


Yu-Ting Lee

National Taiwan University, Taiwan

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3 - A Glimpse of India in Early Twentieth Century Chinese Intellectual History: Liang Shuming as a Focus



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