Twenty years after the Shekou Tempest, reporters interviewed the two protagonists, Li Yanjie (李燕杰) and Zeng Xianbin (曾宪斌). In retrospect, it seems clear that the two were already walking different roads, which headed to two different versions of contemporary Chinese society, one neo-traditional and the other neo-liberal, both with a nationalist twist.
Li Yanjie continued and deepened his neo-traditional ethical teaching and, over the past ten years has re-emerged as a cultural critic. On his blog, he occassionaly contemplates the meaning of life in highly poetic prose that receives enthusiastic accolades from his readers.
For young people, love is a sweet word. From ancient times to the present, how many people have added to its beautiful colors and poetic imaginary! In those beautifully moving romantic poems, we can frequently feel the noble and healthy way that our Chinese people love.爱情，对于青年人来说，是一个甜蜜的字眼。古往今来，曾有多少人赋予她以美的色彩、诗的意境啊！在那些优美感人的爱情诗歌里，我们常常可以感受到我们中华民族高尚、健康的爱情格调。
Ormosia blooms in the south, but who knows how many branches this year?
Please pick several, as ormosia most symbolizes love.
After a few more examples of romantic poetry, Li Yan Jie continues:
But how many young people today don’t know anything about this. After watching a few foreign films, they intentionally imitate those scenes of embracing and kissing, and some even are like this in public during broad daylight. 可是，现在有些青年人却不知道。看了几部外国故事片，就专门模仿那些拥抱、接吻的镜头，有的人大白天在公共场所也这样。
And then he concludes:
To maintain the purity of love, we need lofty ideals of love and to pay attention to romantic civilization. 爱情的格调要高，还得注意恋爱文明，要保持爱情的纯洁性。
Complete post, here.
Zeng Xianbin’s neo-liberal ethics blossomed into a career as a real estate development planner and professor at the Qinghua University Professional Management Training Center ( 清华大学职业经理人培训中心). I have been unable to find a blog under his name, but that may be because he sells video-cds of his lectures, and they aren’t cheap.
What is interesting is that Zeng Xianbin transformed his career as a journalist into that of a lecturer, much like Li Yanjie. And, like Li Yanjie, Zeng Xianbin has focused on living in the new era. However, unlike Li Yanjie, Zeng Xianbin has understood each of these changes to be an opportunity and pursued them as such. Indeed, his first opportunity was his comments on and understanding of how Shenzhen reformed public housing by gradually eliminating subsidized housing in favor of a housing market. He now provides ideas for how to use the market to provide suitable housing for low and middle income families.
Even more interestingly is that both men have shifted their ethical focus away from society and placed it firmly on the individual. Ethics has become self-expression, which may be more properly be understood as a kind of self-control (自治能力), whether in the pursuit of love or money. Which returns me to much earlier thoughts on Confucian businessmen or 儒商。