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China Lunch #9: Gu Mengyu and His Search for an Alternative Path in Modern Chinese History

17.02.2022 | 12:00 - 14:00

Dr. Max K. W. Huang (Visiting Scholar from the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan)

Join the meeting here:


Thursday, 17 Feb, 2022 12:00 | 2 hours | (UTC+01:00) Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

Meeting number: 2731 995 7994

Password: CsgyuFDX826


In this talk, Dr. Huang is going to introduce his Chinese Book: Above and Apart: Gu Mengyu and His Search for an Alternative Path in Modern Chinese History (Gu Mengyu de Qinggao: Zhongguo Jindaishi de Lingyizhong Xuanze顧孟餘的清高:中國近代史的另一種可能) published by the Hong Kong Chinese University Press in 2020. 

Gu Mengyu (1889-1972) was a returned student from Germany. He gained prominence as an academic and politician in modern China, but today few people know his name.

As a professor at Peking University, he was once regarded as the counterpart of Jiang Menglin and Hu Shi. During the War of Resistance, he was even appointed as the president of Central University. On the recommendation of Cai Yuanpei and Li Dazhao, he entered the realm of politics, joined the Guomindang, and became a trusted advisor of Wang Jingwei, who was at the time recognized as the successor of Sun Yat-sen. As a leader of the Guomindang leftists, Gu advocated “cultivation and consolidation of democracy.” When Wang chose to establish a collaborationist government with Japan in 1938, Gu departed from Wang and took the side of Chiang Kai-shek for the cause of resistance against Japanese aggression. After 1949, disappointed by both the Guomindang and the Communists, he went to Hong Kong to organize the Fighting League for Chinese Freedom and Democracy, a “third force” organization led by Gu, Zhang Fakui and Zhang Junmai but which ended in failure.

This is a study of Gu’s life and thought. By tracing his political decisions and social networks, this book not only reconstructs political negotiations among leaders of the Guomindang, but also drastic changes in twentieth century China amid the GMD-Communist rivalry and the US-Soviet Cold War. For the author, the life of Gu encapsulates the transformation of his time, as well as efforts of modern intellectuals to search for China’s future.

 Dr. Max K. W. Huang was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History from Nation Taiwan Normal University. He subsequently pursued his studies in the United Kingdom and the United States, receiving a second master’s degree from Oxford University and his Ph. D degree from Stanford University. He is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica and was the director of this institute from 2009-2015. His major fields are Ming-Qing studies and Modern Chinese intellectual history. He has published nine books and more than 100 articles. Dr. Huang’s most recent book is Hu Shi’s Frustration: The Political Choice amid the Clash between Liberty and Authoritarianism (Taiwan Commercial Press, 2021, in Chinese).