Xu Jilin 许纪霖, professor of history at East China Normal University, is a historian of 20th Century Chinese thought and culture.
Recent major publications include How the Enlightenment was Reborn《启蒙如何起死回生》 (Peking University Press, 2011), and Readers Stand Up 《读书人站起来》 (Renmin University Press, 2011). Xu serves on the editorial board of the journal Twenty-First Century Bimonthly 《二十一世纪》, published by Chinese University of Hong Kong. Well known for disavowing political extremes of the right and the left, he was and remains a leading exponent of the ‘third way’ 第三条道路 in intellectual discussions about China’s present and future.
In an article published in China Reforms 中国改革 in May 2012, ‘Grass-roots Design is Needed for Chinese Reform’ 中国改革也需要基层设计, Xu Jilin weighed in on the much-debated question of which development model best suits China’s conditions. He did not mention the Chongqing Model but wrote disapprovingly of the leftist agenda with which it was associated. Xu wrote of his preferred model: the ‘small government, big society’ (小政府，大社会) approach that was being promoted in Guangdong after a decade-long absence from the national discourse. He also spoke favourably of the province’s handling of the Wukan protests. Xu argued that a strong civil society was necessary for communal well-being. He implied that draconian policing, such as the ‘Strike Black’ campaign launched by Bo Xilai in Chongqing in 2009, was ineffective in eradicating crime.
Xu Jilin keeps a blog where he posts new essays as well as writing by him published in other outlets. He also maintains a microblog on Sina’s Weibo service, where his frequent activity typically takes the form of reposting updates about injustice and corruption.
- Douban 豆瓣 group for discussion of Xu Jilin’s writings
- 21ccom.net 共识网 archive of Xu Julin’s writings
- Window of the South 南风窗 interview with Xu Jilin on the institutionalization of academic intellectuals: 与其诅咒黑暗，不如点亮蜡烛 (2012.06.11)
- China Heritage Quarterly, ‘Historical Memories of May Fourth: Patriotism, but of what kind?‘, an essay translated by Duncan M. Campbell ahead of its publication in Dushu (2009.03)