In China, the period from 1979 to 1989 was one of thawing and awakening. Moving away from the rigors of the “political winters” in Mao's time, Chinese society revived its diversity and vigor that had been harshly depressed for a long time by a revolutionary-totalitarian regime (Tsou 1986). One of the tremendous changes occurred in the cultural realm. In the mid and late 1980s thousands of Chinese cultural intellectuals, from well-known professors to junior university students, were caught up in a nonofficially initiated cultural movement, which has been widely called the “culture fever” (wenhua re). They engaged with great eagerness in searching for an alternative intellectual framework, derived from modern Western theories in social sciences and humanities, to replace the official ideology. They undertook a passionate reexamination of the virtues, weaknesses, and possibilities of Chinese traditional culture. They warmly debated what should make up the cultural prerequisites for China's modernization and whether or how Chinese traditional culture could be relevant to China's present and future. With the alteration of the structure of ideological alternatives, the legitimacy of the Party's orthodox ideology—Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Zedong—became marginalized. As many China scholars have pointed out, the legitimacy crisis was one of the most important historically contextual factors to play a key role in the events leading to the 1989 Tiananmen movement (see, for example, Tsou 1991, 277–80; and Ding 1994, 145–48).

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