Chinese conservatism is often reduced to a cultural movement the main concern of which is the preservation of traditional culture. This article proposes a new framework with which to analyze modern Chinese conservatism. It identifies late Qing culturalist nationalism, which incorporates traditional culture into concrete political reforms inspired by modern Western politics, as the origin of conservatism in the Republican era. Conservatism in this period was a reaction against New Culture activists’ denial of the political utility of this culturalist nationalism and constituted a response to World War I, leading some to question the merits of Western civilization. As a result, tradition no longer unitarily evoked the cultural elements corresponding to modern Western politics. Adopting a typological approach in order to distinguish different types of conservatism by differentiating various political implications of traditional culture, it divides the Chinese conservatism of the Republican era into four typologies: liberal conservatism, antimodern conservatism, philosophical conservatism, and authoritarian conservatism.
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