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Talk: May Fourth as a Constitutional Moment
Date: 22 May 2019 
China Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU has the pleasure of inviting you to the Talk:

May Fourth as a Constitutional Moment
22 May 2019 (Wed) 4:30-6:00pm
CPD-2.58, Centennial Campus, HKU

Using political philosopher Raymond Geuss’s notion of ‘real politics’, in this talk I will approach May Fourth as a constitutional moment. According to Geuss, analysing political events means examining the actions of persons as they use the power at their disposal to pursue a range of goals, not all of them well defined and often contradictory, while keeping in view the concrete alternatives available in a particular moment to them and recognizing that most actors are motivated be a desire to do good, no matter how fallible as human beings we all are. Using this perspective, I will discuss the evolution of China’s Republican constitutions up 1919, incorporating both domestic and international factors. I will also discuss the Paris and Shanghai Peace conferences, suggesting that the May Fourth Movement was born in, fed off, and effected a constitutional crisis, a moment when a political system ceased to offer a generally accepted way of resolving political differences. The hardening of imperialist attitudes in China and a much enhanced significance of public opinion in Chinese politics were among the more significant consequences. 
Hans van de Ven grew up in the Netherlands and studied Sinology at Leiden University before moving on to Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages. He has taught for his entire career at Cambridge University. His books include From Friend to Comrade: A History at of the Early CCP; Breaking with the Past: The Chinese Maritime Customs Service and the Global Origins of Modernity in China; and most recently China at War, 1937-52. He regards the classroom and the archive as two very special places and spends a good deal of time in both. He is Fellow of the British Academy.
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