The financial tsunami has turned our world into a Noah's Ark struggling to stay afloat in the tempest. It is still too early to say whether we are headed for survival or disaster. In the midst of this, all eyes are on the economically ascendant China, its role in the shifting global situation, its attempts to fix its position in the international system, its policy direction, societal growth and institutional evolution.
The truth is that in the current world structure there coexist three somewhat geographically inconsistent Chinas: the economic China, the political China and the cultural China.
The "economic China," that is, the "Chinese economic region," refers to the economic market made up of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore .
The "political China" refers to the current political framework consisting of the People's Republic of China (including the separate systems of Hong Kong and Macau) and the Republic of China, Taiwan.
The "cultural China" includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, overseas Chinese communities, and people involved in China research in the international community.
The relationships among these three "Chinas" with the international community and with each other are experiencing a rapid escalation of tensions and interactions. To develop one civilized China, it is necessary for these three Chinas to be transformed into one and merged into the international political mainstream.
The new "China in Perspective" Internet magazine hosted by the Princeton China Initiative makes its debut at this crucial juncture in history. Its main purposes : to respond to modern China's distinctive presence on the world stage; to study the interaction of the three Chinas and fix their position in the world; to explore the "China model" and its tensions with universal values, as well as its implications for the international order; to trace China's foreign policies and the development of its foreign relations; to perspective on the geopolitics at China's periphery; to observe China's political, economic, cultural and military presence in the international community, especially in Asia and Africa; to study the interaction between Chinese nationalism and the international community; to comment on ethnic nationalism in Tibet, Xinjiang and other minority areas and their interactions with Chinese nationalism; to discuss trends in cross-Strait relations; and through the prism of comparative democratization to anticipate how China might go about becoming a responsible member of the international community.
In a world filled with peril and uncertainty, the only thing that can be confidently predicted is that new controversies and conflicts will emerge between various strains of thought and ideology. In view of this, we reaffirm our spiritual pedigree: from Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao and Yan Fu to Hu Shih, Wang Guowei, Chen Yinke, Cai Yuanpei, Chu Anping, Lu Xun, Liang Shuming, Xiong Shili, Qian Mu, Zhang Junmai, Xu Fuguan, Zhang Dongxun, Shi Liangcai, Shao Piaoping, Zhang Jiluan, Luo Longji, Ma Yinchu, Fu Lei, Yin Haiguang, Lei Zhen, Lin Zhao, Gu Zhun, Yu Luoke, Li Shenzhi, Wang Yuanhua and He Jiadong; from the breakthroughs of the May Fourth Movement to the amalgamation of the National Southwest Associated University; from the arduous publication efforts of Shan Bao, Dagong Bao and Guancha Weekly to the civil society upheavals during the spring of 1957, the 1976 April Fifth Movement, the 1979 Democracy Wall movement, the 1980s, Tiananmen in 1989 and the liberal revival since 1998... In recent decades the pulse of Chinese liberalism has waxed and waned, sometimes faint and sometimes distinct, sometimes beating stronger or weaker, sometimes rebellious but never completely extinguished.
It is this eternal flame that "China in Perspective" has taken up.
"China in Perspective" will do its utmost to serve as a link between the past and the future and to fulfill its responsibility to Chinese intellectual criticism. Its basic goal is to construct for independent Chinese intellectuals in China and overseas a platform of thought, a diverse and effective international forum, and a spiritual bridge linking the ideas and values inside and outside of China's borders, and in that way to contribute to the emergence of the observations and speculations of Chinese independent intellectuals. We earnestly invite understanding and support from all circles for a worthy endeavor that aims for mutual assistance and encouragement in these troubled times.