, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 203–218 | Cite as

Huang Zongxi as a Republican: A Theory of Governance for Confucian Democracy

  • Elton Chan


Confucianism has been historically intertwined with authoritarianism in general and monarchy in specific. Various contemporary attempts to reconcile Confucianism with democracy have yielded controversial results mostly due to the theoretical tension between the authoritarian character of the former and the liberal one of the latter. This article seeks to develop an alternative route to Confucian democracy by drawing from Huang Zongxi’s 黃宗羲 Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince (Mingyi Daifang Lu 明夷待訪錄). In this well-known work, Huang argues for a form of limited government that is built upon laws, political protection of academic freedom, good institutional designs, and separation of governmental powers. While these features seem to qualify Huang only as a defective liberal, this article argues that they are in much coherence with the insights of republicanism concerning good governance. This article will argue that the republican themes embodied in Waiting for the Dawn can justify and support a particular form of Confucian republican democracy.


Confucianism Republicanism Waiting for the Dawn Huang Zongxi 黃宗羲 Democracy Constitutionalism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Sciences DivisionYale-NUS CollegeSingaporeSingapore

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