Online Cultural Conservatism and Han Ethnicism in China

Matthew M. Chew, Yi Wang


This research note analyzes the intellectual and ideological contents of cultural conservative discourses on the internet in the past several years in China. Our findings show that online cultural conservatives valorize Han ethnic culture and Chinese cultural tradition at the same time through conflating the two. They also demonstrate that online cultural conservatives reinterpret historical China in order to represent it in a totally positive light and that they vehemently attack the negative images of historical China found in intellectual, official, and popular cultural discourses. They claim that the real culprit that had prevented historical China from progressing into modernity was a non-Han ethnic group (the Manchus). Our analysis on political thoughts of online cultural conservatives shows that they partially agree with Chinese neo-leftists and liberals on critical assessment of contemporary Chinese reality but they diverge greatly from the two schools on the choice of solution for the problems. Online cultural conservatives’ proposal is to reinvigorate traditional Chinese culture and their political vision combines international relations realism, cultural determinism, and Han ethnicism.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)    Email: 

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