Seeking a dialogue in cross-cultural communication between China and the West: An examination on Chinese alternative
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The idea of alternative modernities arises as a reaction to the presumption that modernization means processes of westernization. Although Chinese modernization was believed to be based on "learning from the West" from its outset, contemporary Chinese intellectuals contend that the Chinese experience of modernity is not merely a "variation" of Western modernity. Drawing from different theoretical inspirations, Chinese intellectuals have claimed that China has its own model of modernization, buttressed by a restoration of Chinese culture. This dissertation calls into question such an alternative discourse on the basis that its assertion of Chinese essence becomes another form of Orientalism. This dissertation aims to address how contemporary Chinese intellectuals' anxiety to valorize Chinese difference in the idea of "Chinese alternative" bespeaks a dichotomous way of thinking. It argues that Chinese alternative modernity emphasizes the essence of traditional culture. Such an alternative discourse replicates the same Orientalist mode of Self/Other confrontation which Chinese intellectuals accuse the West of employing as a way of understanding non-Western cultures. Therefore, the Chinese alternative repeats how the West views China and thus is trapped in binarism. That is, in talking about China and the West, what seems to have persisted is a binary opposition between the Self and the Other, the West and the East.