Although similar in many respects, the two major Christian universities in Republican China adopted markedly different approaches to the common challenge of student nationalism. Case studies of the May Thirtieth Movement at St. John’s University and the December Ninth Movement at Yenching University illustrate the consequences of these sharply contrasting experiences. Whereas St. John’s was crippled by May Thirtieth, Yenching escaped December Ninth relatively unscathed. The explanation for the contrast, this paper suggests, lies not in any fundamental disagreement in the mission of the two universities or the philosophies of their famous and forceful presidents. It must be sought instead in the different campus cultures in which the student protests originated, and in the urban micro-environments in which the two universities were located: treaty-port Shanghai and post-imperial Peking.
Scholars often contend that civil examinations were what made imperial China a political meritocracy. They point to the examination system to show that the selection process served more as a common training program for literati than as a gate-keeper to keep non-elites out. Despite the symbiotic relations between the court and its literati, the emperor played the final card in the selection process. The asymmetrical relations between the throne and its elites nevertheless empowered elites to seek upward mobility as scholar-officials through the system. But true social mobility, peasants becoming officials, was never the goal of state policy in late imperial China; a modest level of social circulation was an unexpected consequence of the meritocratic civil service. Moreover, the merit-based bureaucracy never broke free of its dependence on an authoritarian imperial system. A modern political system might be more compatible with meritocracy, however. One of the unintended consequences of the civil examinations was creation of classically literate men (and women), who used their linguistic talents for a variety of non-official purposes, from literati physicians to local pettifoggers, from fiction-writers to examination essay teachers, from Buddhist and Daoist monks to mothers and daughters. If there was much social mobility, i.e., the opportunity for members of the lower classes to rise in the social hierarchy, it was likely here. Rather than “social mobility,” this phenomenon might be better described as a healthy “circulation” of lower and upper elites when compared to aristocratic Europe and Japan.
This article investigates a political event in modern China that has received relatively little attention in the West. The Seven Gentlemen Incident occurred in the midst of the national crisis of Japanese aggression, when an independent patriotic movement led by seven Shanghai intellectuals organized the National Salvation Association and urged Chiang Kai-shek to fight the Japanese invaders. The Chiang regime, however, arrested the seven and accused them of plotting to overthrow the government. They were released only after Japan launched a full-scale attack on China in July 1937. Scholars have offered varying images of the incident. While the Seven Gentlemen were denounced as criminals by the Nationalists in Chinese Taiwan, they were respected as national heroes in Chinese mainland. Myths with conflicting viewpoints have been created. What were the life and career backgrounds of these people? Were they petty-bourgeoisie, as some mainlanders assume? Were the seven figures, as mainland Chinese claim, motivated under communist leadership to organize their association? What were their relations with the Nationalist regime and the Communist Party? This article endeavors to answer these questions based on new primary documents in particular archival material and offers new perspectives on this fascinating episode of modern China.
In June 1950, Manhua magazine published its first issue in Shanghai. Until its closure in 1960, it remained the only national publication dedicated solely to the popularization and discussion of political cartoons. Terse cartoons were needed to promote the numerous mass campaigns initiated by the new government, remind readers of the continuing battle against enemies of the new Communist state, and rally the people in support of a new military conflict developing on the Korean peninsula. This article discusses key moments in the institutional history of Manhua and its artists. The magazine, I argue, played a crucial but often overlooked role in the contest over the form and content of popular cartooning in the first decade of CCP rule. In such, it was the satirical counterpart to the ever more popular lianhuanhua (serial comics). Cartoonists believed their art might contribute to establishing socialism through well-intentioned and constructive criticism. This, however, did not harmonize with the increasingly fervent control mechanisms of the party-state’s cultural bureaucracy. The history of Manhua magazine is therefore an example of the expanding political supervision of the popular arts throughout the 1950s. At the same time it is a study of an art that, though popular and political, never won the same political acclaim as its counterpart, lianhuanhua.
By tracing the development of social welfare systems in the six cotton mills of the Yudahua Business Group from the 1920s to the 1950s, this paper argues that some private firms experienced unprecedented wartime expansion of workers’ welfare programs. The social welfare system that was thus taking form continued during the early 1950s, but progress slowed as compared to the wartime advances. The slowness in development was largely due to the enforcement of a state policy that prioritized production requirements and class conciliation programs, thus discouraging the rapid improvements of earlier decades. State efforts to prioritize heavy industries over light industries and to standardize wages and welfare throughout the same industry within a local economy also forced some industrial workers to make sacrifices in salary and benefits.