Academia Sinica yesterday published The Complete Works of Hu Shih (胡適全集) to mark the writer’s 127th birthday, featuring rare pieces on freedom, democracy and communism unseen in the Hu Shih oeuvre published in China in 2003.
Hu is the most important Chinese intellectual of the 20th century and his writings are highly valuable, said Pan Kuang-che (潘光哲), the head of Academia Sinica’s Hu Shih Memorial Hall.
Hu has written extensively on freedom, democracy and criticized communism in the late 1940s and in the 1950s, when cross-strait relations were most tense, but none of the writings were included in his complete works published in China in 2003, he said.
They have been finally published after Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History spent six years collecting Hu’s works for the new compilation, he said.
For example, Hu wrote a letter to a friend in 1939, when Mao Zedong (毛澤東) first took over Beijing, saying freedom would definitely not be permitted under the Chinese Communist Party, Pan said.
His friend tried to convince Hu to switch allegiance, but he responded that he no longer had the freedom to remain silent, Pan said, adding: “How could such a letter be published in China?”
According to Hu, fighting communism was necessary to safeguard freedom and democracy, Pan said.
Early intellectuals like Hu offer examples of how people can resist communism today as readers reflect on their ideas and consider ways to further improve them, he said.
In China, people do not even have the freedom to study Hu, as he has written about the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, Pan said.
China’s censorship is unrelated to Marxism, he said.
“So many books have been banned and censored and churches are being closed down,” he said, adding that the new Complete Works of Hu Shih would likely be banned in China as well.
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