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Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg

Fifty Influential Public Intellectuals

edited by Nicolai Volland


Top | Access | Introduction | The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list | The List of Six

Access

To access to the articles and sources of "Fifty Influential Public Intellectuals" quoted below, please apply for a password (free of charge) from the DACHS staff, stating your research purpose and institutional affiliation. From within the Heidelberg University campus there is no access restriction.

Top | Access | Introduction | The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list | The List of Six

Introduction

The "Public Intellectuals" issue was heatedly debated in the Chinese media and on the Internet in fall 2004 and proved to be one of the most contentious topics of the year. The debate was initiated by Nanfang renwu zhoukan 南方人物周刊 (archive copy), a journal belonging to the Nanfang ribao group and run by Nanfang zhoumo 南方周末, the newspaper renowned for its cutting-edge investigative journalism. In a special issue cover-dated Sept. 8, 2004, Nanfang renwu zhoukan presented a list of fifty intellectuals and public personages it considered essential in shaping public discourse in the PRC (in fact, the list adds up to fifty-six if a "honorary list" is added, the latter comprising the names of six intellectuals deceased in recent years, but whose contributions continue to influence current debates). The list was accompanied by short biographies of each individual, as well as several articles discussing the concept of "public intellectuals."

The concept of "public intellectuals" was not of Chinese coinage. It reached the PRC through the publication in 2002 of Richard A. Posner's book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline (Harvard University Press, 2001; in Chinese as Gonggong zhishifenzi: shuailuo zhi yanjiu 公共知识分子:衰落之研究. Beijing: Zhongguo zhengfa daxue chubanshe). In contrast to Posner's book, however, the Chinese debate centered less on the topic of decline, but rather on the idea itself, of public-minded individuals with an independent opinion fighting for a just cause. Susan Sontag, whose name appeared time and again in the Chinese debate (see for example the lead article of the Nanfang renwu zhoukan issue), was seen not as the last of a dying species, but as a role model for emulation.

Nanfang renwu zhoukan set out to find individuals in China with a mindset and role comparable to that of the intellectuals described in Posner's book. The list it came up with in the end was certainly eclectic. Others could have been named and were named in the course of a widening public discussion. Some of the more radical voices among China's intellectuals were conspicuously absent from the original list - ironically, the Chinese government did its part to reinstate these individuals: later in the year, in the course of a general crackdown against intellectuals, lists of all too outspoken intellectuals were distributed to the press which was told not to mention them any longer or print their articles. One such list of six names, issued in early November by the CCP Propaganda Department, is reproduced below.

When the public intellectuals debate proved to be ever more contagious, with an emerging consensus regarding the need for intellectuals to maintain an independent position and intervene on behalf of the public on major issues of relevance to society, the Hu Jintao leadership became unnerved. Two months after the publication of the Nanfang renwu zhoukan article, the government decided to intervene. A November 15 editorial in the Shanghai Jiefang ribao 解放日报 criticized the concept of "public intellectuals" for its foreign origins and alleged that the debate was designed to lead to the estrangement between the intellectuals and the CCP. The editorial was consequently reprinted by Renmin ribao in Beijing, and newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets were ordered to discontinue the use the term "public intellectuals" and bring the debate to an end.

Over the past twelve months, DACHS has made an effort to find out who these fifty individuals are, what they are doing, and why they may have been nominated for the list of fifty. We have downloaded from the Internet articles written by these fifty individuals, including whole collections, as well as other sources relating to them. Under each name, our database can be searched for (1) articles available online in DACHS or (2) more works in the holdings of the library of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Heidelberg University. The collection is dynamic and continues to grow.

Comments and suggestions highly welcome - please contact me.

Top | Access | Introduction | The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list | The List of Six

The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list

The list of fifty in Nanfang renwu zhoukan is arranged according to occupational groups:

Economists 经济学家
Lawyers and Legal Specialists 法学家
Historians 历史学家
Philosphers 哲学史家
Political Scientist 政治学家
Sociologists 社会学家
Writers and Artists 作家、艺术家
Scientist 科学家
Public Personalities 公众人物
Media Anchors 传媒人
Columnists and Commentators 专栏作家、时评家
Honorary List 致敬名单

Economists:

Mao Yushi 茅于轼: b. 1929; founder of the non-official think tank Tianze jingji yanjiusuo 天则经济研究所. A prolific writer, Mao is board member of numerous magazines and is one of China's internationally most visible economists.
Articles available online and more works.

Wu Jinglian 吴敬琏: b. 1930; professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and long-term member of the Development Research Center at the State Council (Guowuyuan fazhan yanjiu zhongxin 国务院发展研究中心). In recent years, Wu has been campaigning for strengthening the legal mechanisms governing the PRC's market economy.
Articles available online and more works.

Wen Tiejun 温铁军: b. 1951; economist at Zhongguo renmin daxue 中国人民大学 and editor of Zhongguo gaige 中国改革 magazine. Wen became known for his research into China's "san nong" problems - nongcun 农村 (the countryside), nongye 农业 (agriculture), and nongmin 农民 (peasantry).
Articles available online and more works.

Zhang Wuchang 张五常: b. 1935; economist at Hong Kong University. Zhang, a graduate from the University of Chicago, is said to have made an impact in particular with his popular books and articles explaining economics to the common reader; he is also said to have been an adviser to Zhu Rongji.
Articles available online and more works.

Lang Xianping 郎咸平: b. 1956; U.S. trained management specialist, teaching in Hong Kong. Taiwan-born Lang Xianping (Larry Lang) became well-known through his fight for the rights of small shareholders in listed Chinese companies. He has likened himself to "that child in 'The Emperor's New Clothes' that tells the truth."
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Dingding 汪丁丁: b. 1953; liberal economist at Beijing University. In his thinking, Wang moves beyond the confines of his specialty and frequently comments on Chinese society and Chinese culture.
Articles available online and more works.

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Lawyers and Legal Specialists:

Zhang Sizhi 张思之: b. 1927; Zhang has been called "the conscience of Chinese lawyers" for his willingness to defend controversial cases in the courtroom. He stepped into the public spotlight as the defense lawyer for Jiang Qing during the 1980-81 tribunal of the "Gang of Four."
Articles available online and more works.

Jiang Ping 江平: b. 1930; president of Zhongguo zhengfa daxue 中国政法大学; Moscow-educated law specialist, was involved in the formulation of laws crucial to the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. He boasts to "lower his head only in front of truth."
Articles available online and more works.

He Weifang 贺卫方: b. 1960; professor at Beijing University's Law School; He is one of China's most visible legal specialists, campaigning publicly and in the media for more popular awareness of legal issues and citizens' rights. His best-known intervention was motivated by the death in policy custody of computer engineer Sun Zhigang in March 2003.
Articles available online and more works.

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Historians:

Yuan Weishi 袁伟时: b. 1931; professor of philosophy at Zhongshan daxue 中山大学 in Guangzhou who says of himself he had never in his life taught philosophy. Yuan is known in particular for his writings on 19th and 20 century Chinese history.
Articles available online and more works.

Zhu Xueqin 朱学勤: b. 1952; teaches history at Shanghai daxue 上海大学; Zhu maintains high visibility in the PRC with frequent comments on current affairs and on Chinese modern history. He is seen as one of the "standard bearers" of China's "liberal" intellectuals.
Articles available online and more works.

Qin Hui 秦晖: b. 1953; professor at Qinghua University; Qin started from writing on Ming and Qing agriculature, and since has expanded to contempoary issues ranging from politics to economics and philosophy. He is seen as one of China leading "liberal" intellectuals.
Articles available online and more works.

Wu Si 吴思: b. 1957; acting editor of the important magazine Yan Huang chunqiu 炎黄春秋. From outside of the academic establishment, Wu Si has produced penetrating analysis of contemporary Chinese society and thought, published in his provoking bestsellers Qian guize 潜规则 and Xue chou dinglü 血酬定律 (fulltext version in .exe format, must be downloaded before reading) and elsewhere.
Articles available online and more works.

Xu Jilin 许纪霖: b. 1957; professor at Huadong shifan daxue; Xu's research centres on twentieth century Chinese history and the experience of China's intellectuals. He frequently intervenes into public discussions, such as during the SARS crisis in 2003..
Articles available online and more works.

Ding Dong 丁东: b. 1951; associated with the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences. Ding's research interest focuses on those of China's intellectuals that were forgotten in the course of the nation's numerous upheavals and political campaigns. He has been the driving force behind important publishing endeavours, such as the diaries of Gu Zhun 顾准 and the writings of Yu Luoke 遇罗克.
Articles available online and more works.

Xie Yong 谢泳: b. 1961; editor-in-chief of the magazine Huanghe 黄河. Writing from outside of the scholarly establishment, Xie has been trying to bring the fate of 20th century intellectuals back to public consciousness. In particular his research on Southwestern United University (Xinan lianda 西南聯大) during Wold War II and on the magazine Guancha 觀察 have drawn wide attention.
Articles available online and more works.

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Philosophers:

Du Weiming 杜维明: b. 1940. The Harvard professor is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary proponents of New Confucianism. His culturalist notion of Confucianism as an integrating and mediating factor for Greater China has recently attracted much attention in mainland China, too.
Articles available online and more works.

Xu Youyu 徐友渔: b. 1947; researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Outspoken Xu belongs to China's "liberal" intellectuals. He has published widely on both European thought since the Enlightenment, and on China's Cultural Revolution.
Articles available online and more works.

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Political Scientist:

Liu Junning 刘军宁: b. 1961; political scientist. In 1999, Liu fell out with the government and left his post at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; he works now as an independent scholar. His research includes issues of democracy, constitutionalism, and liberalism.
Articles available online and more works.

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Sociologists:

Li Yinhe 李银河: b. 1952; sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Li specializes in sexology and has been the public face of efforts to talk more openly about matters of love and sex. She has been breaking taboos in particular with her work on China's homosexuals.
Articles available online and more works.

Zheng Yefu 郑也夫: b. 1950; professor of sociology at Beijing University. His research ranges from urbanization and poverty to China's intellectuals. In contrast to many others on this list, Zheng retains a low visibility and says he was surprised to find himself listed.
Articles available online and more works.

Yang Dongping 杨东平: b. 1949; teaches at Beijing ligong daxue 北京理工大学. Yang focuses on problems in China's education system, especially education for those groups left behind by the country's economic transformation. His contrastive study of Beijing and Shanghai mentalities, Cheng shi jifeng 城市季风, became a bestseller in 1994.
Articles available online and more works.

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Writers and Artists:

Shao Yanxiang 邵燕祥: b. 1933; essayist and poet. Shao is known in particular for his efforts to revive the tradition of zawen 杂文. Many of his essays are auto-biographical and inquire into the fate of Chinese intellectuals during the Maoist era.
Articles available online and more works.

Beidao 北岛: orig. Zhao Zhenkai 赵振开, b. 1949, poet. Bei Dao emerged as one of the leaders of the "misty poetry" (menglong shi 朦胧诗) movement in the late 1970s, and co-founded the journal Jintian 今天. He has been living in exile since 1989; Beidao has received numerous awards and his works have been translated into many languages.
Articles available online and more works.

Li Ao 李敖: b. 1935; Taiwan writer with political ambitions. A perennial dissident who spent years in prison, Li is writing feverishly, having produced over 100 books to date, dealing mostly with history and politics. He launched an (unsuccessful) bid for the presidency in the 2000 elections. Infamous for his outspokenness, Li Ao did not even hesitate to attack the CCP leadership during a September 2005 speech at Beijing University.
Articles available online and more works.

Long Yingtai 龙应台: b. 1952; essayist and novelist from Taiwan. After living and teaching in Heidelberg for several years, she returned to Taiwan in 1999 for a short political career. She now shares her time between Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Shuo 王朔: b. 1958; Beijing-based novelist. Wang Shuo shocked the nation with what has been dubbed "hooligan literature." Many of his novels were adapted to the TV screen. After the "Wang Shuo fever" subsided in the mid-1990s, he has kept a lower profile.
Articles available online and more works.

"Lin Da" 林达夫妇: This is the pseudonym of a husband and wife team who emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1990s and since have been writing sympathetic and enormously popular essayistic accounts of daily life in America. Their real identity is a well-kept secret.
Articles available online and more works.

Liao Bingxiong 廖冰兄: b. 1915; cartoonist. Ever since his first exhibition in 1938, Liao's cartoons have been art works, but also political and social commentaries. His post-Cultural Revolution series "Zichao" 自嘲 is widely seen as his masterpiece (Liao Bingxiong website).
Articles available online and more works.

Chen Danqing 陈丹青: b. 1953; painter. Since 1982, Chen lived and worked in New York, but returned to the PRC in 2000 to assume a teaching position at Qinghua daxue. However, in spring 2005 he quit his job, publicly expressing his disappointment about the Chinese educational system and complaining about the restrictions put on his work.
Articles available online and more works.

Cui Jian 崔健: b. 1961; rock musician. It was Cui who brought rock music to China in 1986. With his ambiguous texts, he more than once enraged the Chinese authorities, resulting in a ban of his performances. His song "Yi wu suo you" 一无所有 became the unofficial anthem of the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen square.
Articles available online and more works.

Luo Dayou 罗大佑: b. 1954; pop musician from Taiwan. Back in the 1980s, the "godfather of Taiwan pop music" became known for his rebellious song texts, such as "Zhi hu zhe ye" 之乎者也. In recent years, he has conquered mainland China.
Articles available online and more works.

Hou Xiaoxian 侯孝贤: b. 1947; Taiwanese art house director. In his films, Hou Xiaoxian tries to blend a lyrical language with Taiwan's harsher sociopolitical realities. His 1989 movie Beiqing chengshi 悲情城市 was a milestone in addressing the Feb.28, 1947, GMD-led massacre on the island. In recent times, he has repeatedly intervened in political debates in Taiwan.
Articles available online and more works.

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Scientist:

Zou Chenglu 邹承鲁: b. 1923; Cambridge-trained biochemist with international reputation, retired from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Notwithstanding his high age, Zou is campaigning tirelessly for moral and ethical standards in the sciences, and fights against academic corruption.
Articles available online and more works.

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Public Personalities:

Hua Xinmin 华新民: b. 1954; essayist. Since 1990, the daughter of a former chief city planning official has become the most outspoken advocate for the protection of Beijing's traditional alleys, the hutong 胡同, and a perservationist with considerable public impact.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Xuan 王选: b. 1952; rights campaigner. Since the early 1990s, Wang Xuan has been campaining passionately for the Chinese victims of Wolr War II. She won her most important battle in 2002 when a Japanese court acknowledged for the first time the poison gas experiments of the Japanese army on Chinese soil.
Articles available online and more works.

Gao Yaojie 高耀洁: b. 1927; AIDS activist. A doctor from Henan province, Gao was one of the first in China to alert the public about the danger of HIV and AIDS. For her efforts to raise public awareness of the disease, she has received numerous national and international awards.
Articles available online and more works.

Ruan Yisan 阮仪三: b. 1934; conservationist. If it weren't for the professor from Tongji daxue in Shanghai, many outstanding examples of China's architectural heritage would have been gone by now. Ruan Yisan was instrumental in the conservation of places like Pingyao 平遥 in Shanxi and Lijiang 丽江 in Yunnan.
Articles available online and more works.

Liang Congjie 梁从诫: b. 1932; historian and environmental activist. Liang Congjie is the son of architect Liang Sicheng 梁思成 and the grandson of Liang Qichao. In 1994, he founded "Friends of Nature," the earliest Chinese environmental pressure group and one of the first Non-Governmental Organizations in the PRC.
Articles available online and more works.

Fang Zhouzi 方舟子: b. 1967; U.S.-based freelance writer and poet. In 1996, Fang set up the Xin yusi 新语丝 website, named after a journal founded by Lu Xun. Since then, his one-man enterpise his become the best feared watchdog against scholarly corruption and plagiarism in the PRC.
Articles available online and more works.

Yuan Yue 袁岳: b. 1965; entrepreneur. Yuan heads the Lingdian yanjiu Group 零点研究集团, which he established in 1994 as the first independent company doing market research. His pioneering work included opinion polls on social and political issues..
Articles available online and more works.

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Media Anchors:

Jin Yong 金庸: b. 1924; orig. Cha Liangyong 查良镛, writer and journalist. Jin Yong is known to practically every Chinese for his martial arts novels, but he is also an influential journalist and commentator in Hong Kong. In 1959 he founded the Mingbao 明报 newspaper, followed by the monthly Mingbao yuekan 明报月刊 and Mingbao chubanshe 明报出版社.
Articles available online and more works.

Dai Huang 戴煌: b. 1928; journalist. Ever since his retirement from the official Xinhua news agency, Dai Huang has been fighting courageously to keep alive the memory of the dark sides of recent Chinese history; his books and articles deal in particular with the Anti-Rightist movement and the Cultural Revolution.
Articles available online and more works.

Lu Yuegang 卢跃刚: b. 1958; journalist with Zhongguo qingnianbao and author of reportage literature. With his cutting-edge stories, Lu has tried to test the limits of investigative journalism in China. He has raised eye brows with articles on SARS and an open letter to Youth League secretary Zhao Yong.
Articles available online and more works.

Hu Shuli 胡舒立: b. 1953; journalist. In 1998, Hu founded Caijing 财经 magazine that since has become China's hardest-hitting economic journal, uncovering cases of corruption and other irregularities on a weekly basis. The editor-in-chief is considered China's foremost muckraker.
Articles available online and more works.

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Columnists and Commentators:

Lin Xingzhi 林行止: b. 1940; Hong Kong media entrepreneur. Lin started his career at Mingbao, but founded his paper, Xinbao 信报, in 1973. He has an enormous output of commentaries that fill dozens of volumes, and is known for his popular elaborations on economic knowledge, his independent spirit, and a sharp style.
Articles available online and more works.

Yang Jinlin 杨锦麟: b. 1953; columnist and TV host. The current affairs commentaries of mainland-born Yang can be found in many Hong Kong newspapers; he is best known, however, for his influential programme "You bao tian tian du" 有报天天读 on the popular Phoenix TV channel.
Articles available online and more works.

Yan Lieshan 鄢烈山: b. 1952; writer and long-time columnist for Nanfang zhoumo 南方周末. Yan has an enormous output of essays that cover an astonishing range of topics including politics, society, economic affairs, and education. At Nanfang zhoumo, he had to use pen names after 2002 to continue publishing.
Articles available online and more works.

Xue Yong 薛涌: b. 1961; columnist for Nanfang dushi bao 南方都市报. Xue, a controversial writer currently living in the U.S., had a widely read column in Beijing wanbao 北京晚报 and has published numerous essays on the United States.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Yi 王怡: b. 1973; lecturer of law at Chengdu daxue 成都大学. Wang has made an impact in particular through a number of influential websites and discussion forums he has hosted, including Guantian chashe 关天茶舍, Shiji shalong 世纪沙龙, and Xianzheng lunheng 宪政论衡. He writes for numerous cutting-edge newspapers and has compiled an alternative list of 50 in response to that of Nanfang renwu zhoukan.
Articles available online and more works.

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Honorary List:

Yin Haiguang 殷海光: 1919-1969; professor at Taiwan University. A proponent of liberal thinking, Yin translated the works of Friedrich Hayek to Taiwan; he was one of the founders and a frequent contributor to the influential journal Ziyou Zhongguo 自由中国. He was forced out of Taiwan University in 1966 and died three years later of cancer.
Articles available online and more works.

Gu Zhun 顾准: 1915-1974; economist and historian. Gu was brandmarked as a rightist in 1957 for advocating a socialist market economy and his opposition to the utopian politics of the 1950s and 1960s. He was rediscovered in the 1980s and since become a model and inspiration for many liberal intellectuals.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Ruoshui 王若水: 1926-2002; deputy editor-in-chief of Renmin ribao (1977-1983). An independent and original thinker, Wang advocated "socialist humanism" as an alternative to more orthodox interpretations of the ideology. He was criticized during the 1983 campaign against "spiritual pollution" and expelled from the CCP in 1987. In the ensuing years, he frequently travelled and spoke abroad, but refused to go into exile permanently.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Xiaobo 王小波: 1952-1997; courageous sociologist, essayist, and novelist. After having obtaining a PhD degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Wang lectured at prestigious Beijing University and People’s University before he quit his job to concentrate on writing. Together with his wife Li Yinhe, he wrote a path-breaking 1992 book on homosexuals in China. His novels and essays achieved cult status among China’s youth after Wang’s untimely death at age 45.
Articles available online and more works.

Yang Xiaokai 杨小凯: 1948-2004; outstanding economist teaching at Monash University, Melbourne. Yang became known throughout China by a critical article he published in 1968 under his original name, Yang Xiguang 杨曦光 (1968). Emigrating in the 1980s to the U.S. and later to Australia, he worked on economic theory but continued to comment frequently on economic developments in China. He died of cancer in 2004.
Articles available online and more works.

Huang Wanli 黄万里: 1911-2001; hydrologist at Qinghua university. Huang has become known for his frank criticism of politically motivated engineering mega projects. In the 1950s he was branded a rightist for voicing doubts about the design of the Sanmenxia 三门峡 dam on the Yellow river – it later turned out that he had correctly predicted exactly the kind of problems the dam encountered upon completion. In the 1990s, Huang was among the most outspoken critics of the Three Gorges Dam.
Articles available online and more works.

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Top | Access | Introduction | The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list | The List of Six

The Propaganda Department's List of Six

In early November 2004, shortly after the ban on the "public intellectuals" issue, the CCP's Propaganda Department issued a circular banning six influential public commentators from the press nationwide. Only two of them, Mao Yushi 茅于轼 and Wang Yi 王怡, had appeared on the Nanfang renwu zhoukan list. The inclusion in this new black list of Yao Lifa 姚立法 came as a surprise to many observers, as Yao did not enjoy the same publicity as the others and wrote much less frequently in the press (see report).
While the ban on the "public intellectuals" discussion did not implicate those listed by Nanfang renwu zhoukan, this time the individuals themselves were targeted and media outlets were told not to print articles by or reports about the six intellectuals named.

The six are:

Jiao Guobiao 焦国标: b. 1963; outspoken former professor of journalism at Beijing University. In spring 2004, Jiao published an online article lambasting the CCP’s Propaganda Department. After refusing to submit to pressure from his employer, he was first banned from teaching and consequently fired..
Articles available online and more works.

Li Rui 李锐: b. 1917; former secretary of Mao Zedong and senior Party member. In spite of his high age, Li is writing at a frenzied pace and keeps warning the public about the harms of leftist influences. He has frequently appealed to the CCP for essential political reform.
Articles available online and more works.

Wang Yi 王怡: b. 1973; (see above).
Articles available online and more works.

Yu Jie 余杰: b. 1973; graduate from Beijing University's Chinese literature department a and prolific writer. Considered a rising star due to his early popularity, Yu Jie frequently touches political issues in his essays and books.
Articles available online and more works.

Mao Yushi 茅于轼: b. 1929; (see above).
Articles available online and more works.

Yao Lifa 姚立法: b. 1958; teacher in the rural backwaters of Hubei province. Yao has become known as a campaigner for the rights of peasants, particularly in his home area of Qianjiang 潜江.
Articles available online and more works.


Comments and suggestions highly welcome - please contact me.


Top | Access | Introduction | The Nanfang renwu zhoukan list | The List of Six


Last update: 13 Feb 2006 (NV)