“Religion Question” of the Late Qing and Early Republic of China’s Intellectuals


  • Thing Ho CHING


China during the Late Qing and Early Republic era was experiencing all sorts of impacts and transformations brought by the openness and diversity of thought. Some concepts from the West, such as “religion†was introduced and became popular. Chinese intellectuals were mainly in the situation of facing challenges of many problems, while the comparison between the culture of the East and West was the major concern of then, and Western concepts and discourses were apparently having the upper hand. The forming of “religion questionâ€, was highly related to the general expansion of the West in all fields, especially pertaining to the development of Christianity. In order to handle this cultural trend and implications, some intellectuals started to question about what is religion, whether there is religion in Chinese Tradition and how to reform or innovate traditional religions etc. Some of them also followed up their thinking with actions, such as the Confucius Religion Movement initiated by Kang Youwei and others. However, there are also some intellectuals resorted to deeper reflection and examination of the “question itselfâ€, and therefore discovered and stressed the differences and uniqueness of Chinese Tradition comparing to the West, at the same time argued or denied the legitimacy and universality of the question.

Keywords: Late Qing and Early Republic of China, Cultures of the East and West, Western Concepts, Religion Question


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