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  • Print publication year: 1980
  • Online publication date: March 2008

5 - Intellectual change and the reform movement, 1890–8

The contribution of the Wan-kuo kung-pao to the intellectual ferment of the reform period should be gauged by the kind of influence it had on contemporary Chinese literati. The publication of the reformist writings in the early 1890s contributed to the changing intellectual climate in the decade, their aggregate impact was far less than that of an intellectual and political movement started at the time by a group of young Cantonese scholars whose leader was K'ang Yu-wei. From the very beginning, K'ang saw the threat of Western expansion as not simply socio-political but cultural and religious as well. After the Ch'ing court clamped down on K'ang Yu-wei's campaign in Peking in early 1896, the reform movement had to confine its activities to ideological propaganda in Shanghai and Macao in order to gain public support. But new developments were meanwhile under way in Hunan, which soon brought the centre of the reform movement to the capital, Changsha.
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