Chinese Learning as Substance, Western Learning for Application

The idea of


The idea of "Chinese Learning as Substance, Western Learning for Application" was initially proposed by Feng Guifen in his Xiaopinlu kangyi, written in 1861 after the Second Opium War. At the time, leading Chinese thinkers were interrogating how to approach the threat posed by encroaching Western states. Feng argued for China's self-strengthening and industrialization by borrowing Western technology and military systems, while retaining core Neo-Confucian principles. These ideas were further elaborated on by Zhang Zhidong in 1898 in his book Quanxue pian as "Traditional (Chinese) learning as substance, New (Western) learning as application" (“舊學為體,新學為用”). “Zhongti xiyong” became a popular slogan used in the late Qing Reforms, including the Self-Strengthening Movement and Hundred Days' Reform. The concept was widespread among intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th century, and it remains relevant in the modern studies of China-West cultural relationship.
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