Abstract

Chin Yao-Chi (Ambrose Y. C. King) is internationally known for the knowledgeability and fluency with which he uses many of the perspectives of Western social science to discuss Chinese culture, modern Chinese history, and current developments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Born in 1935, growing up in Shanghai, he obtained a Ph.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh and today is Professor of Sociology and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His life, however, has also been rooted in Taiwan, where he lived for many years after the fall of the mainland, and where he obtained both his B.A. and M.A. degrees. Long before the promise of the Republic of China's development became obvious, at least as early as 1966, he recognized it, astutely introduced Western modernization theory to analyze it, understood that pursuing it required not iconoclasm but a process of critically and creatively building on the inherited culture, and widely influenced Taiwan intellectuals as they tried to make sense out of their complicated, often distressing situation (Chin 1979, 1987, 1991). The publication of eleven of his articles written during the last decade (a few originally in English) by Oxford University Press (Chin 1992) rightly indicates that his views about Chinese modernization should be weighed by all those around the world concerned with this issue, not just by small scholarly circles. Yet just how insightful are his views? To what extent are they shaped by premises that have commonly informed much modern Chinese thought, and that many Western scholars could not easily accept? To what extent has Professor Chin himself “self-consciously” (tzu-chueh) identified any such premises and pondered their viability?

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