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The Modern Chinese European and Chinese American Intellectuals: The Cases of Sai-Chiu Van, Ching-Chun Li, and Tung-Yen Lin
Modern Chinese European and Chinese American
The aim of this study is to investigate the life processes and the spiritual concept in professional lives of the Chinese intellectuals: Sai-Chiu Van (1912-2003), Ching-Chun Li (1912-2003), and Tung-Yen Lin (1912-2003). These were individuals who were born into a life consisting of a profession of high demand during the early modern period of China. Given this opportunity since birth, they went abroad to western advanced countries to develop their own profession. Moreover, this study particularly focuses on how they utilized their Chinese and Western knowledge and experiences to influence their era. The conclusions of this study are as follows: 1. The background of being intellectuals: In terms of the region they were reared in, they all were raised in China's eastern coastal areas or large cities, which gave them greater opportunity to associate with individuals of foreign civilizations than the people dwelling in the western inland area; in terms of parental education, although illiteracy was rampant in China during their time, their fathers acquired at least a secondary education and most belonged to the class of the intellectual elites; in terms of parental occupation and income, their fathers belonged to the upper middle class; in terms of their own education, these individuals received a higher level education than their fathers, the reason being their fathers’educational backgrounds, career earnings, and expectations of the children were exceptionally high; in terms of their choices of university majors and careers, they made their decisions based on the needs and opportunities of their respective society, the expectations and persuasion of their fathers, and their personal abilities and interests. 2. The factors of developing their own profession in western advanced countries: In the turbulent political situations, their first consideration was to find a safe place, and then further develop their own profession and career. The advantages of staying in western advanced countries were that they received personal safety, freedom of speech and academic research, and obtained the latest trends in science and technology; however, the disadvantages were that they were probably separated from their parents and close friends until death, and faced the challenges of distinct languages and cultures. 3. Their words and deeds in the professional field: In terms of the usage of their Chinese and Western background, they were generous to show off their Chinese upbringing experience and did not forget their Chinese national culture. In addition to introducing the similarities and differences between both cultures, even more is mixing them to lead to a complementary or synergistic effect. Overall, modern Chinese European and Chinese American Intellectuals: Sai-Chiu Van, Ching-Chun Li, and Tung-Yen Li faced a huge historical transformation and a great personal geographical movement, stood at a high spatial and temporal position, and further took advantage of the breadth of their cultural horizons and depth of their professional knowledge, not only for following the past and heralding the future of national culture, but also for crossing time and space to explain what are the similarities and differences between Chinese culture and Western culture in order to facilitate communication and reduce misunderstanding. They were no longer limited to a concept of “Chinese essence, Western utility,” but applied and matched the good points of two cultures based on their professions and ideas, and furthermore, created different meanings and cultural values.
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