On 26 July 2018, Xu Zhangrun (許章潤, 1962-), a well-known professor of law at Tsinghua University published an essay titled ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes’ 我們當下的恐懼與期待. Written in a succinct and powerful form of literary Chinese, Xu’s jeremiad analysed the authoritarian revanchism of what the Chinese media were hailing as the New Epoch of Xi Jinping Thought.
Following a lengthy analysis of China’s political woes, Xu also offered concrete policy suggestions aimed at ameliorating what many liberal thinkers and constitutional activists in China see as being a systemic crisis. ‘Fears and Hopes’ was an extension of arguments that he had been making since at least 2016, and it was followed, in December 2018 and January 2019, by three interconnected essays in which Xu further outlined his view of modern Chinese history, the role played in it by the Communist Party, and the threat that it now poses not only to the continued modernisation but to the international community as a whole.
Here we pause to commemorate the second anniversary of the publication of ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes’ and to celebrate Xu Zhangrun’s contribution to a debate about modern China and its civilisation that has raged for well over a century. We do so by offering a series of links to audio-visual versions of speeches and articles by Xu Zhangrun published online over the last two years. For more details and translations of Professor Xu’s work, see our Xu Zhangrun Archive.
— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
26 July 2020
- Samuel Wade, ‘Xi Critic Xu Zhangrun Released from Detention, Fired from Tsinghua University’, China Digital Times, 14 July 2020
- Xu Zhangrun Archive, China Heritage
This audio version was published on 26 March 2020
A lecture from 2014; this video was published online on 28 July 2018
An excerpt from an old lecture re-published online on 3 July 2019