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  • 1947
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they work with it or against it? The T’ai P’ing always insisted that they were Christians; the missionaries hoped now to have the opportunity of converting all China to Christianity. The T’ai P’ing treated the missionaries well but did not let them operate. After long hesitation and much vacillation, however, the Europeans placed themselves on the side of the Manchus. Not out of any belief that the T’ai P’ing movement was without justification, but because they had concluded treaties with the Manchu government and given loans to it, of which nothing would have remained if the Manchus had fallen; because they preferred the weak Manchu government to a strong T’ai P’ing government; and because they disliked the socialistic element in many of the measured adopted by the T’ai P’ing.

At first it seemed as if the Manchus would be able to cope unaided with the T’ai P’ing, but the same thing happened as at the end of the Mongol rule: the imperial armies, consisting of the “banners” of the Manchus, the Mongols, and some Chinese, had lost their military skill in the long years of peace; they had lost their old fighting spirit and were glad to be able to live in peace on their state pensions. Now three men came to the fore–a Mongol named Seng-ko-lin-ch’in, a man of great personal bravery, who defended the interests of the Manchu rulers; and two Chinese, Tseng Kuo-fan (1811-1892) and Li Hung-chang (1823-1901), who were in the service of the Manchus but used their position simply to further the interests of the gentry. The Mongol saved Peking from capture by the T’ai P’ing. The two Chinese were living in central China, and there they recruited, Li at his own expense and Tseng out of the resources at his disposal as a provincial governor, a sort of militia, consisting of peasants out to protect their homes from destruction by the peasants of the T’ai P’ing. Thus the peasants of central China, all suffering from impoverishment, were divided into two groups, one following the T’ai P’ing, the other following Tseng Kuo-fan. Tseng’s army, too, might be described as a “national” army, because Tseng was not fighting for the interests of the Manchus. Thus the peasants, all anti-Manchu, could choose between two sides, between the T’ai P’ing and Tseng Kuo-fan. Although Tseng represented the gentry and was thus against the simple common people, peasants fought in masses on his side, for he paid better, and especially more regularly. Tseng, being a good strategist, won successes and gained adherents. Thus by 1856 the T’ai P’ing were pressed back on Nanking and some of the towns round it; in 1864 Nanking was captured.

While in the central provinces the T’ai P’ing rebellion was raging, China was suffering grave setbacks owing to the Lorcha War of 1856; and there were also great and serious risings in other parts of the country. In 1855 the Yellow River had changed its course, entering the sea once more at Tientsin, to the great loss of the regions of Honan and Anhui. In these two central provinces the peasant rising of the so-called “Nien Fei” had begun, but it only became formidable after 1855, owing to the increasing misery of the peasants. This purely peasant revolt was not suppressed by the Manchu government until 1868, after many collisions. Then, however, there began the so-called “Mohammedan risings”. Here there are, in all, five movements to distinguish: (1) the Mohammedan rising in Kansu (1864-5); (2) the Salar movement in Shensi; (3) the Mohammedan revolt in Yuennan (1855-1873); (4) the rising in Kansu (1895); (5) the rebellion of Yakub Beg in Turkestan (from 1866 onward).

While we are fairly well informed about the other popular risings of this period, the Mohammedan revolts have not yet been well studied. We know from unofficial accounts that these risings were suppressed with great brutality. To this day there are many Mohammedans in, for instance, Yuennan, but the revolt there is said to have cost a million lives. The figures all rest on very rough estimates: in Kansu the population is said to have fallen from fifteen millions to one million; the Turkestan revolt is said to have cost ten million lives. There are no reliable statistics; but it is understandable that at that time the population of China must have fallen considerably, especially if we bear in mind the equally ferocious suppression of the risings of the T’ai P’ing and the Nien Fei within China, and smaller risings of which we have made no mention.

The Mohammedan risings were not elements of a general Mohammedan revolt, but separate events only incidentally connected with each other. The risings had different causes. An important factor was the general distress in China. This was partly due to the fact that the officials were exploiting the peasant population more ruthlessly than ever. In addition to this, owing to the national feeling which had been aroused in so unfortunate a way, the Chinese felt a revulsion against non-Chinese, such as the Salars, who were of Turkish race. Here there were always possibilities of friction, which might have been removed with a little consideration but which swelled to importance through the tactless behaviour of Chinese officials. Finally there came divisions among the Mohammedans of China which led to fighting between themselves.

All these risings were marked by two characteristics. They had no general political aim such as the founding of a great and universal Islamic state. Separate states were founded, but they were too small to endure; they would have needed the protection of great states. But they were not moved by any pan-Islamic idea. Secondly, they all took place on Chinese soil, and all the Mohammedans involved, except in the rising of the Salars, were Chinese. These Chinese who became Mohammedans are called Dungans. The Dungans are, of course, no longer pure Chinese, because Chinese who have gone over to Islam readily form mixed marriages with Islamic non-Chinese, that is to say with Turks and Mongols.

The revolt, however, of Yakub Beg in Turkestan had a quite different character. Yakub Beg (his Chinese name was An Chi-yeh) had risen to the Chinese governorship when he made himself ruler of Kashgar. In 1866 he began to try to make himself independent of Chinese control. He conquered Ili, and then in a rapid campaign made himself master of all Turkestan.

His state had a much better prospect of endurance than the other Mohammedan states. He had full control of it from 1874. Turkestan was connected with China only by the few routes that led between the desert and the Tibetan mountains. The state was supported against China by Russia, which was continually pressing eastward, and in the south by Great Britain, which was pressing towards Tibet. Farther west was the great Ottoman empire; the attempt to gain direct contact with it was not hopeless in itself, and this was recognized at Istanbul. Missions went to and fro, and Turkish officers came to Yakub Beg and organized his army; Yakub Beg recognized the Turkish sultan as Khalif. He also concluded treaties with Russia and Great Britain. But in spite of all this he was unable to maintain his hold of Turkestan. In 1877 the famous Chinese general Tso Tsung-t’ang (1812-1885), who had fought against the T’ai P’ing and also against the Mohammedans in Kansu, marched into Turkestan and ended Yakub Beg’s rule.

Yakub was defeated, however, not so much by Chinese superiority as by a combination of circumstances. In order to build up his kingdom he was compelled to impose heavy taxation, and this made him unpopular with his own followers: they had to pay taxes under the Chinese, but the Chinese collection had been much less rigorous than that of Yakub Beg. It was technically impossible for the Ottoman empire to give him any aid, even had its internal situation permitted it. Britain and Russia would probably have been glad to see a weakening of the Chinese hold over Turkestan, but they did not want a strong new state there, once they had found that neither of them could control the country while it was in Yakub Beg’s hands. In 1881 Russia occupied the Ili region, Yakub’s first conquest. In the end the two great powers considered it better for Turkestan to return officially into the hands of the weakened China, hoping that in practice they would be able to bring Turkestan more and more under their control. Consequently, when in 1880, three years after the removal of Yakub Beg, China sent a mission to Russia with the request for the return of the Ili region to her, Russia gave way, and the Treaty of Ili was concluded, ending for the time the Russian penetration of Turkestan. In 1882 the Manchu government raised Turkestan to a “new frontier” (Sinkiang) with a special administration.

This process of colonial penetration of Turkestan continued. Until the end of the first world war there was no fundamental change in the situation in the country, owing to the rivalry between Great Britain and Russia. But after 1920 a period began in which Turkestan became almost independent, under a number of rulers of parts of the country. Then, from 1928 onward, a more and more thorough penetration by Russia began, so that by 1940 Turkestan could almost be called a Soviet Republic. The second world war diverted Russian attention to the West, and at the same time compelled the Chinese to retreat into the interior from the Japanese, so that by 1943 the country was more firmly held by the Chinese government than it had been for seventy years. After the creation of the People’s Democracy mass immigration into Sinkiang began, in connection with the development of oil fields and of many new industries in the border area between Sinkiang and China proper. Roads and air communications opened Sinkiang. Yet, the differences between immigrant Chinese and local, Muslim Turks, continue to play a role.

9 _Collision with Japan; further Capitulations_

The reign of Wen Tsung (reign name Hsien-feng 1851-1861) was marked throughout by the T’ai P’ing and other rebellions and by wars with the Europeans, and that of Mu Tsung (reign name T’ung-chih: 1862-1874) by the great Mohammedan disturbances. There began also a conflict with Japan which lasted until 1945. Mu Tsung came to the throne as a child of five, and never played a part of his own. It had been the general rule for princes to serve as regents for minors on the imperial throne, but this time the princes concerned won such notoriety through their intrigues that the Peking court circles decided to entrust the regency to two concubines of the late emperor. One of these, called Tz[)u] Hsi (born 1835), of the Manchu tribe of the Yehe-Nara, quickly gained the upper hand. The empress Tz[)u] Hsi was one of the strongest personalities of the later nineteenth century who played an active part in Chinese political life. She played a more active part than any emperor had played for many decades.

Meanwhile great changes had taken place in Japan. The restoration of the Meiji had ended the age of feudalism, at least on the surface. Japan rapidly became Westernized, and at the same time entered on an imperialist policy. Her aims from 1868 onward were clear, and remained unaltered until the end of the second World War: she was to be surrounded by a wide girdle of territories under Japanese domination, in order to prevent the approach of any enemy to the Japanese homeland. This girdle was divided into several zones–(1) the inner zone with the Kurile Islands, Sakhalin, Korea, the Ryukyu archipelago, and Formosa; (2) the outer zone with the Marianne, Philippine, and Caroline Islands, eastern China, Manchuria, and eastern Siberia; (3) the third zone, not clearly defined, including especially the Netherlands Indies, Indo-China, and the whole of China, a zone of undefined extent. The outward form of this subjugated region was to be that of the Greater Japanese Empire, described as the Imperium of the Yellow Race (the main ideas were contained in the Tanaka Memorandum 1927 and in the Tada Interview of 1936). Round Japan, moreover, a girdle was to be created of producers of raw materials and purchasers of manufactures, to provide Japanese industry with a market. Japan had sent a delegation of amity to China as early as 1869, and a first Sino-Japanese treaty was signed in 1871; from then on, Japan began to carry out her imperialistic plans. In 1874 she attacked the Ryukyu islands and Formosa on the pretext that some Japanese had been murdered there. Under the treaty of 1874 Japan withdrew once more, only demanding a substantial indemnity; but in 1876, in violation of the treaty and without a declaration of war, she annexed the Ryukyu Islands. In 1876 began the Japanese penetration into Korea; by 1885 she had reached the stage of a declaration that Korea was a joint sphere of interest of China and Japan; until then China’s protectorate over Korea had been unchallenged. At the same time (1876) Great Britain had secured further Capitulations in the Chefoo Convention; in 1862 France had acquired Cochin China, in 1864 Cambodia, in 1874 Tongking, and in 1883 Annam. This led in 1884 to war between France and China, in which the French did not by any means gain an indubitable victory; but the Treaty of Tientsin left them with their acquisitions.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of 1875, the young Chinese emperor died of smallpox, without issue. Under the influence of the two empresses, who still remained regents, a cousin of the dead emperor, the three-year-old prince Tsai T’ien was chosen as emperor Te Tsung (reign name Kuang-hsue: 1875-1909). He came of age in 1889 and took over the government of the country. The empress Tz[)u] Hsi retired, but did not really relinquish the reins.

In 1894 the Sino-Japanese War broke out over Korea, as an outcome of the undefined position that had existed since 1885 owing to the imperialistic policy of the Japanese. China had created a North China squadron, but this was all that can be regarded as Chinese preparation for the long-expected war. The Governor General of Chihli (now Hopei–the province in which Peking is situated), Li Hung-chang, was a general who had done good service, but he lost the war, and at Shimonoseki (1895) he had to sign a treaty on very harsh terms, in which China relinquished her protectorate over Korea and lost Formosa. The intervention of France, Germany, and Russia compelled Japan to content herself with these acquisitions, abandoning her demand for South Manchuria.

10 _Russia in Manchuria_

After the Crimean War, Russia had turned her attention once more to the East. There had been hostilities with China over eastern Siberia, which were brought to an end in 1858 by the Treaty of Aigun, under which China ceded certain territories in northern Manchuria. This made possible the founding of Vladivostok in 1860. Russia received Sakhalin from Japan in 1875 in exchange for the Kurile Islands. She received from China the important Port Arthur as a leased territory, and then tried to secure the whole of South Manchuria. This brought Japan’s policy of expansion into conflict with Russia’s plans in the Far East. Russia wanted Manchuria in order to be able to pursue a policy in the Pacific; but Japan herself planned to march into Manchuria from Korea, of which she already had possession. This imperialist rivalry made war inevitable: Russia lost the war; under the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905 Russia gave Japan the main railway through Manchuria, with adjoining territory. Thus Manchuria became Japan’s sphere of influence and was lost to the Manchus without their being consulted in any way. The Japanese penetration of Manchuria then proceeded stage by stage, not without occasional setbacks, until she had occupied the whole of Manchuria from 1932 to 1945. After the end of the second world war, Manchuria was returned to China, with certain reservations in favour of the Soviet Union, which were later revoked.

11 _Reform and reaction: the Boxer Rising_

China had lost the war with Japan because she was entirely without modern armament. While Japan went to work at once with all her energy to emulate Western industrialization, the ruling class in China had shown a marked repugnance to any modernization; and the centre of this conservatism was the dowager empress Tz[)u] Hsi. She was a woman of strong personality, but too uneducated–in the modern sense–to be able to realize that modernization was an absolute necessity for China if it was to remain an independent state. The empress failed to realize that the Europeans were fundamentally different from the neighbouring tribes or the pirates of the past; she had not the capacity to acquire a general grasp of the realities of world politics. She felt instinctively that Europeanization would wreck the foundations of the power of the Manchus and the gentry, and would bring another class, the middle class and the merchants, into power.

There were reasonable men, however, who had seen the necessity of reform–especially Li Hung-chang, who has already been mentioned. In 1896 he went on a mission to Moscow, and then toured Europe. The reformers were, however, divided into two groups. One group advocated the acquisition of a certain amount of technical knowledge from abroad and its introduction by slow reforms, without altering the social structure of the state or the composition of the government. The others held that the state needed fundamental changes, and that superficial loans from Europe were not enough. The failure in the war with Japan made the general desire for reform more and more insistent not only in the country but in Peking. Until now Japan had been despised as a barbarian state; now Japan had won! The Europeans had been despised; now they were all cutting bits out of China for themselves, extracting from the government one privilege after another, and quite openly dividing China into “spheres of interest”, obviously as the prelude to annexation of the whole country.

In Europe at that time the question was being discussed over and over again, why Japan had so quickly succeeded in making herself a modern power, and why China was not succeeding in doing so; the Japanese were praised for their capacity and the Chinese blamed for their lassitude. Both in Europe and in Chinese circles it was overlooked that there were fundamental differences in the social structures of the two countries. The basis of the modern capitalist states of the West is the middle class. Japan had for centuries had a middle class (the merchants) that had entered into a symbiosis with the feudal lords. For the middle class the transition to modern capitalism, and for the feudal lords the way to Western imperialism, was easy. In China there was only a weak middle class, vegetating under the dominance of the gentry; the middle class had still to gain the strength to liberate itself before it could become the support for a capitalistic state. And the gentry were still strong enough to maintain their dominance and so to prevent a radical reconstruction; all they would agree to were a few reforms from which they might hope to secure an increase of power for their own ends.

In 1895 and in 1698 a scholar, K’ang Yo-wei, who was admitted into the presence of the emperor, submitted to him memoranda in which he called for radical reform. K’ang was a scholar who belonged to the empiricist school of philosophy of the early Manchu period, the so-called Han school. He was a man of strong and persuasive personality, and had such an influence on the emperor that in 1898 the emperor issued several edicts ordering the fundamental reorganization of education, law, trade, communications, and the army. These laws were not at all bad in themselves; they would have paved the way for a liberalization of Chinese society. But they aroused the utmost hatred in the conservative gentry and also in the moderate reformers among the gentry. K’ang Yo-wei and his followers, to whom a number of well-known modern scholars belonged, had strong support in South China. We have already mentioned that owing to the increased penetration of European goods and ideas, South China had become more progressive than the north; this had added to the tension already existing for other reasons between north and south. In foreign policy the north was more favourable to Russia and radically opposed to Japan and Great Britain; the south was in favour of co-operation with Britain and Japan, in order to learn from those two states how reform could be carried through. In the north the men of the south were suspected of being anti-Manchu and revolutionary in feeling. This was to some extent true, though K’ang Yo-wei and his friends were as yet largely unconscious of it.

When the empress Tz[)u] Hsi saw that the emperor was actually thinking about reforms, she went to work with lightning speed. Very soon the reformers had to flee; those who failed to make good their escape were arrested and executed. The emperor was made a prisoner in a palace near Peking, and remained a captive until his death; the empress resumed her regency on his behalf. The period of reforms lasted only for a few months of 1898. A leading part in the extermination of the reformers was played by troops from Kansu under the command of a Mohammedan, Tung Fu-hsiang. General Yuean Shih-k’ai, who was then stationed at Tientsin in command of 7,000 troops with modern equipment, the only ones in China, could have removed the empress and protected the reformers; but he was already pursuing a personal policy, and thought it safer to give the reformers no help.

There now began, from 1898, a thoroughly reactionary rule of the dowager empress. But China’s general situation permitted no breathing-space. In 1900 came the so-called Boxer Rising, a new popular movement against the gentry and the Manchus similar to the many that had preceded it. The Peking government succeeded, however, in negotiations that brought the movement into the service of the government and directed it against the foreigners. This removed the danger to the government and at the same time helped it against the hated foreigners. But incidents resulted which the Peking government had not anticipated. An international army was sent to China, and marched from Tientsin against Peking, to liberate the besieged European legations and to punish the government. The Europeans captured Peking (1900); the dowager empress and her prisoner, the emperor, had to flee; some of the palaces were looted. The peace treaty that followed exacted further concessions from China to the Europeans and enormous war indemnities, the payment of which continued into the 1940’s, though most of the states placed the money at China’s disposal for educational purposes. When in 1902 the dowager empress returned to Peking and put the emperor back into his palace-prison, she was forced by what had happened to realize that at all events a certain measure of reform was necessary. The reforms, however, which she decreed, mainly in 1904, were very modest and were never fully carried out. They were only intended to make an impression on the outer world and to appease the continually growing body of supporters of the reform party, especially numerous in South China. The south remained, nevertheless, a focus of hostility to the Manchus. After his failure in 1898, K’ang Yo-wei went to Europe, and no longer played any important political part. His place was soon taken by a young Chinese physician who had been living abroad, Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), who turned the reform party into a middle-class revolutionary party.

12 _End of the dynasty_

Meanwhile the dowager empress held her own. General Yuean Shih-k’ai, who had played so dubious a part in 1898, was not impeccably loyal to her, and remained unreliable. He was beyond challenge the strongest man in the country, for he possessed the only modern army; but he was still biding his time.

In 1908 the dowager empress fell ill; she was seventy-four years old. When she felt that her end was near, she seems to have had the captive emperor Te Tsung assassinated (at 5 p.m. on November 14th); she herself died next day (November 15th, 2 p.m.): she was evidently determined that this man, whom she had ill-treated and oppressed all his life, should not regain independence. As Te Tsung had no children, she nominated on the day of her death the two-year-old prince P’u Yi as emperor (reign name Hsuean-t’ung, 1909-1911).

The fact that another child was to reign and a new regency to act for him, together with all the failures in home and foreign policy, brought further strength to the revolutionary party. The government believed that it could only maintain itself if it allowed Yuean Shih-k’ai, the commander of the modern troops, to come to power. The chief regent, however, worked against Yuean Shih-k’ai and dismissed him at the beginning of 1909; Yuean’s supporters remained at their posts. Yuean himself now entered into relations with the revolutionaries, whose centre was Canton, and whose undisputed leader was now Sun Yat-sen. At this time Sun and his supporters had already made attempts at revolution, but without success, as his following was as yet too small. It consisted mainly of young intellectuals who had been educated in Europe and America; the great mass of the Chinese people remained unconvinced: the common people could not understand the new ideals, and the middle class did not entirely trust the young intellectuals.

The state of China in 1911 was as lamentable as could be: the European states, Russia, America, and Japan regarded China as a field for their own plans, and in their calculations paid scarcely any attention to the Chinese government. Foreign capital was penetrating everywhere in the form of loans or railway and other enterprises. If it had not been for the mutual rivalries of the powers, China would long ago have been annexed by one of them. The government needed a great deal of money for the payment of the war indemnities, and for carrying out the few reforms at last decided on. In order to get money from the provinces, it had to permit the viceroys even more freedom than they already possessed. The result was a spectacle altogether resembling that of the end of the T’ang dynasty, about A.D. 900: the various governors were trying to make themselves independent. In addition to this there was the revolutionary movement in the south.

The government made some concession to the progressives, by providing the first beginnings of parliamentary rule. In 1910 a national assembly was convoked. It had a Lower House with representatives of the provinces (provincial diets were also set up), and an Upper House, in which sat representatives of the imperial house, the nobility, the gentry, and also the protectorates. The members of the Upper House were all nominated by the regent. It very soon proved that the members of the Lower House, mainly representatives of the provincial gentry, had a much more practical outlook than the routineers of Peking. Thus the Lower House grew in importance, a fact which, of course, brought grist to the mills of the revolutionary movement.

In 1910 the first risings directed actually against the regency took place, in the province of Hunan. In 1911 the “railway disturbances” broke out in western China as a reply of the railway shareholders in the province of Szechwan to the government decree of nationalization of all the railways. The modernist students, most of whom were sons of merchants who owned railway shares, supported the movement, and the government was unable to control them. At the same time a great anti-Manchu revolution began in Wuch’ang, one of the cities of which Wuhan, on the Yangtze, now consists. The revolution was the result of government action against a group of terrorists. Its leader was an officer named Li Yuean-hung. The Manchus soon had some success in this quarter, but the other provincial governors now rose in rapid succession, repudiated the Manchus, and declared themselves independent. Most of the Manchu garrisons in the provinces were murdered. The governors remained at the head of their troops in their provinces, and for the moment made common cause with the revolutionaries, from whom they meant to break free at the first opportunity. The Manchus themselves failed at first to realize the gravity of the revolutionary movement; they then fell into panic-stricken desperation. As a last resource, Yuean Shih-k’ai was recalled (November 10th, 1911) and made prime minister.

Yuean’s excellent troops were loyal to his person, and he could have made use of them in fighting on behalf of the dynasty. But a victory would have brought no personal gain to him; for his personal plans he considered that the anti-Manchu side provided the springboard he needed. The revolutionaries, for their part, had no choice but to win over Yuean Shih-k’ai for the sake of his troops, since they were not themselves strong enough to get rid of the Manchus, or even to wrest concessions from them, so long as the Manchus were defended by Yuean’s army. Thus Yuean and the revolutionaries were forced into each other’s arms. He then began negotiations with them, explaining to the imperial house that the dynasty could only be saved by concessions. The revolutionaries–apart from their desire to neutralize the prime minister and general, if not to bring him over to their side–were also readier than ever to negotiate, because they were short of money and unable to obtain loans from abroad, and because they could not themselves gain control of the individual governors. The negotiations, which had been carried on at Shanghai, were broken off on December 18th, 1911, because the revolutionaries demanded a republic, but the imperial house was only ready to grant a constitutional monarchy.

Meanwhile the revolutionaries set up a provisional government at Nanking (December 29th, 1911), with Sun Yat-sen as president and Li Yuean-hung as vice-president. Yuean Shih-k’ai now declared to the imperial house that the monarchy could no longer be defended, as his troops were too unreliable, and he induced the Manchu government to issue an edict on February 12th, 1912, in which they renounced the throne of China and declared the Republic to be the constitutional form of state. The young emperor of the Hsuean-t’ung period, after the Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1931, was installed there. He was, however, entirely without power during the melancholy years of his nominal rule, which lasted until 1945.

In 1912 the Manchu dynasty came in reality to its end. On the news of the abdication of the imperial house, Sun Yat-sen resigned in Nanking, and recommended Yuean Shih-k’ai as president.

Chapter Eleven

THE REPUBLIC (1912-1948)

1 _Social and intellectual position_

In order to understand the period that now followed, let us first consider the social and intellectual position in China in the period between 1911 and 1927. The Manchu dynasty was no longer there, nor were there any remaining real supporters of the old dynasty. The gentry, however, still existed. Alongside it was a still numerically small middle class, with little political education or enlightenment.

The political interests of these two groups were obviously in conflict. But after 1912 there had been big changes. The gentry were largely in a process of decomposition. They still possessed the basis of their existence, their land, but the land was falling in value, as there were now other opportunities of capital investment, such as export-import, shareholding in foreign enterprises, or industrial undertakings. It is important to note, however, that there was not much fluid capital at their disposal. In addition to this, cheaper rice and other foodstuffs were streaming from abroad into China, bringing the prices for Chinese foodstuffs down to the world market prices, another painful business blow to the gentry. Silk had to meet the competition of Japanese silk and especially of rayon; the Chinese silk was of very unequal quality and sold with difficulty. On the other hand, through the influence of the Western capitalistic system, which was penetrating more and more into China, land itself became “capital”, an object of speculation for people with capital; its value no longer depended entirely on the rents it could yield but, under certain circumstances, on quite other things–the construction of railways or public buildings, and so on. These changes impoverished and demoralized the gentry, who in the course of the past century had grown fewer in number. The gentry were not in a position to take part fully in the capitalist manipulations, because they had never possessed much capital; their wealth had lain entirely in their land, and the income from their rents was consumed quite unproductively in luxurious living.

Moreover, the class solidarity of the gentry was dissolving. In the past, politics had been carried on by cliques of gentry families, with the emperor at their head as an unchangeable institution. This edifice had now lost its summit; the struggles between cliques still went on, but entirely without the control which the emperor’s power had after all exercised, as a sort of regulative element in the play of forces among the gentry. The arena for this competition had been the court. After the destruction of the arena, the field of play lost its boundaries: the struggles between cliques no longer had a definite objective; the only objective left was the maintenance or securing of any and every hold on power. Under the new conditions cliques or individuals among the gentry could only ally themselves with the possessors of military power, the generals or governors. In this last stage the struggle between rival groups turned into a rivalry between individuals. Family ties began to weaken and other ties, such as between school mates, or origin from the same village or town, became more important than they had been before. For the securing of the aim in view any means were considered justifiable. Never was there such bribery and corruption among the officials as in the years after 1912. This period, until 1927, may therefore be described as a period of dissolution and destruction of the social system of the gentry.

Over against this dying class of the gentry stood, broadly speaking, a tripartite opposition. To begin with, there was the new middle class, divided and without clear political ideas; anti-dynastic of course, but undecided especially as to the attitude it should adopt towards the peasants who, to this day, form over 80 per cent of the Chinese population. The middle class consisted mainly of traders and bankers, whose aim was the introduction of Western capitalism in association with foreign powers. There were also young students who were often the sons of old gentry families and had been sent abroad for study with grants given them by their friends and relatives in the government; or sons of businessmen sent away by their fathers. These students not always accepted the ideas of their fathers; they were influenced by the ideologies of the West, Marxist or non-Marxist, and often created clubs or groups in the University cities of Europe or the United States. Such groups of people who had studied together or passed the exams together, had already begun to play a role in politics in the nineteenth century. Now, the influence of such organizations of usually informal character increased. Against the returned students who often had difficulties in adjustment, stood the students at Chinese Universities, especially the National University in Peking (Peita). They represented people of the same origin, but of the lower strata of the gentry or of business; they were more nationalistic and politically active and often less influenced by Western ideologies.

In the second place, there was a relatively very small genuine proletariat, the product of the first activities of big capitalists in China, found mainly in Shanghai. Thirdly and finally, there was a gigantic peasantry, uninterested in politics and uneducated, but ready to give unthinking allegiance to anyone who promised to make an end of the intolerable conditions in the matter of rents and taxes, conditions that were growing steadily worse with the decay of the gentry. These peasants were thinking of popular risings on the pattern of all the risings in the history of China–attacks on the towns and the killing of the hated landowners, officials, and moneylenders, that is to say of the gentry.

Such was the picture of the middle class and those who were ready to support it, a group with widely divergent interests, held together only by its opposition to the gentry system and the monarchy. It could not but be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve political success with such a group. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the “Father of the Republic”, accordingly laid down three stages of progress in his many works, of which the best-known are _San-min chu-i_, (“The Three Principles of the People”), and _Chien-kuo fang-lueeh_ (“Plans for the Building up of the Realm”). The three phases of development through which republican China was to pass were: the phase of struggle against the old system, the phase of educative rule, and the phase of truly democratic government. The phase of educative rule was to be a sort of authoritarian system with a democratic content, under which the people should be familiarized with democracy and enabled to grow politically ripe for true democracy.

Difficult as was the internal situation from the social point of view, it was no less difficult in economic respects. China had recognized that she must at least adopt Western technical and industrial progress in order to continue to exist as an independent state. But the building up of industry demanded large sums of money. The existing Chinese banks were quite incapable of providing the capital needed; but the acceptance of capital from abroad led at once, every time, to further political capitulations. The gentry, who had no cash worth mention, were violently opposed to the capitalization of their properties, and were in favour of continuing as far as possible to work the soil in the old style. Quite apart from all this, all over the country there were generals who had come from the ranks of the gentry, and who collected the whole of the financial resources of their region for the support of their private armies. Investors had little confidence in the republican government so long as they could not tell whether the government would decide in favour of its right or of its left wing.

No less complicated was the intellectual situation at this time. Confucianism, and the whole of the old culture and morality bound up with it, was unacceptable to the middle-class element. In the first place, Confucianism rejected the principle, required at least in theory by the middle class, of the equality of all people; secondly, the Confucian great-family system was irreconcilable with middle-class individualism, quite apart from the fact that the Confucian form of state could only be a monarchy. Every attempt to bolster up Confucianism in practice or theory was bound to fail and did fail. Even the gentry could scarcely offer any real defence of the Confucian system any longer. With Confucianism went the moral standards especially of the upper classes of society. Taoism was out of the question as a substitute, because of its anarchistic and egocentric character. Consequently, in these years, part of the gentry turned to Buddhism and part to Christianity. Some of the middle class who had come under European influence also turned to Christianity, regarding it as a part of the European civilization they had to adopt. Others adhered to modern philosophic systems such as pragmatism and positivism. Marxist doctrines spread rapidly.

Education was secularized. Great efforts were made to develop modern schools, though the work of development was continually hindered by the incessant political unrest. Only at the universities, which became foci of republican and progressive opinion, was any positive achievement possible. Many students and professors were active in politics, organizing demonstrations and strikes. They pursued a strong national policy, often also socialistic. At the same time real scientific work was done; many young scholars of outstanding ability were trained at the Chinese universities, often better than the students who went abroad. There is a permanent disagreement between these two groups of young men with a modern education: the students who return from abroad claim to be better educated, but in reality they often have only a very superficial knowledge of things modern and none at all of China, her history, and her special circumstances. The students of the Chinese universities have been much better instructed in all the things that concern China, and most of them are in no way behind the returned students in the modern sciences. They are therefore a much more serviceable element.

The intellectual modernization of China goes under the name of the “Movement of May Fourth”, because on May 4th, 1919, students of the National University in Peking demonstrated against the government and their pro-Japanese adherents. When the police attacked the students and jailed some, more demonstrations and student strikes and finally a general boycott of Japanese imports were the consequence. In these protest actions, professors such as Ts’ai Yuean-p’ei, later president of the Academia Sinica (died 1940), took an active part. The forces which had now been mobilized, rallied around the journal “New Youth” (_Hsin Ch’ing-nien_), created in 1915 by Ch’en Tu-hsiu. The journal was progressive, against the monarchy, Confucius, and the old traditions. Ch’en Tu-hsiu who put himself strongly behind the students, was more radical than other contributors but at first favoured Western democracy and Western science; he was influenced mainly by John Dewey who was guest professor in Peking in 1919-20. Similarly tending towards liberalism in politics and Dewey’s ideas in the field of philosophy were others, mainly Hu Shih. Finally, some reformers criticized conservatism purely on the basis of Chinese thought. Hu Shih (born 1892) gained greatest acclaim by his proposal for a “literary revolution”, published in the “New Youth” in 1917. This revolution was the logically necessary application of the political revolution to the field of education. The new “vernacular” took place of the old “classical” literary language. The language of the classical works is so remote from the language of daily life that no uneducated person can understand it. A command of it requires a full knowledge of all the ancient literature, entailing decades of study. The gentry had elaborated this style of speech for themselves and their dependants; it was their monopoly; nobody who did not belong to the gentry and had not attended its schools could take part in literary or in administrative life. The literary revolution introduced the language of daily life, the language of the people, into literature: newspapers, novels, scientific treatises, translations, appeared in the vernacular, and could thus be understood by anyone who could read and write, even if he had no Confucianist education.

It may be said that the literary revolution has achieved its main objects. As a consequence of it, a great quantity of new literature has been published. Not only is every important new book that appears in the West published in translation within a few months, but modern novels and short stories and poems have been written, some of them of high literary value.

At the same time as this revolution there took place another fundamental change in the language. It was necessary to take over a vast number of new scientific and technical terms. As Chinese, owing to the character of its script, is unable to write foreign words accurately and can do no more than provide a rather rough paraphrase, the practice was started of expressing new ideas by newly formed native words. Thus modern Chinese has very few foreign words, and yet it has all the new ideas. For example, a telegram is a “lightning-letter”; a wireless telegram is a “not-have-wire-lightning-communication”; a fountain-pen is a “self-flow-ink-water-brush”; a typewriter is a “strike-letter-machine”. Most of these neologisms are similar in the modern languages of China and Japan.

There had been several proposals in recent decades to do away with the Chinese characters and to introduce an alphabet in their place. They have all proved to be unsatisfactory so far, because the character of the Chinese language, as it is at this moment, is unsuited to an alphabetical script. They would also destroy China’s cultural unity: there are many dialects in China that differ so greatly from each other that, for instance, a man from Canton cannot understand a man from Shanghai. If Chinese were written with letters, the result would be a Canton literature and another literature confined to Shanghai, and China would break up into a number of areas with different languages. The old Chinese writing is independent of pronunciation. A Cantonese and a Pekinger can read each other’s newspapers without difficulty. They pronounce the words quite differently, but the meaning is unaltered. Even a Japanese can understand a Chinese newspaper without special study of Chinese, and a Chinese with a little preparation can read a Japanese newspaper without understanding a single word of Japanese.

The aim of modern education in China is to work towards the establishment of “High Chinese”, the former official (Mandarin) language, throughout the country, and to set limits to the use of the various dialects. Once this has been done, it will be possible to proceed to a radical reform of the script without running the risk of political separatist movements, which are always liable to spring up, and also without leading, through the adoption of various dialects as the basis of separate literatures, to the break-up of China’s cultural unity. In the last years, the unification of the spoken language has made great progress. Yet, alphabetic script is used only in cases in which illiterate adults have to be enabled in a short time to read very simple informations. More attention is given to a simplification of the script as it is; Japanese had started this some forty years earlier. Unfortunately, the new Chinese abbreviated forms of characters are not always identical with long-established Japanese forms, and are not developed in such a systematic form as would make learning of Chinese characters easier.

2 _First period of the Republic: The warlords_

The situation of the Republic after its foundation was far from hopeful. Republican feeling existed only among the very small groups of students who had modern education, and a few traders, in other words, among the “middle class”. And even in the revolutionary party to which these groups belonged there were the most various conceptions of the form of republican state to be aimed at. The left wing of the party, mainly intellectuals and manual workers, had in view more or less vague socialistic institutions; the liberals, for instance the traders, thought of a liberal democracy, more or less on the American pattern; and the nationalists merely wanted the removal of the alien Manchu rule. The three groups had come together for the practical reason that only so could they get rid of the dynasty. They gave unreserved allegiance to Sun Yat-sen as their leader. He succeeded in mobilizing the enthusiasm of continually widening circles for action, not only by the integrity of his aims but also because he was able to present the new socialistic ideology in an alluring form. The anti-republican gentry, however, whose power was not yet entirely broken, took a stand against the party. The generals who had gone over to the republicans had not the slightest intention of founding a republic, but only wanted to get rid of the rule of the Manchus and to step into their place. This was true also of Yuean Shih-k’ai, who in his heart was entirely on the side of the gentry, although the European press especially had always energetically defended him. In character and capacity he stood far above the other generals, but he was no republican.

Thus the first period of the Republic, until 1927, was marked by incessant attempts by individual generals to make themselves independent. The Government could not depend on its soldiers, and so was impotent. The first risings of military units began at the outset of 1912. The governors and generals who wanted to make themselves independent sabotaged every decree of the central government; especially they sent it no money from the provinces and also refused to give their assent to foreign loans. The province of Canton, the actual birthplace of the republican movement and the focus of radicalism, declared itself in 1912 an independent republic.

Within the Peking government matters soon came to a climax. Yuean Shih-k’ai and his supporters represented the conservative view, with the unexpressed but obvious aim of setting up a new imperial house and continuing the old gentry system. Most of the members of the parliament came, however, from the middle class and were opposed to any reaction of this sort. One of their leaders was murdered, and the blame was thrown upon Yuean Shih-k’ai; there then came, in the middle of 1912, a new revolution, in which the radicals made themselves independent and tried to gain control of South China. But Yuean Shih-k’ai commanded better troops and won the day. At the end of October 1912 he was elected, against the opposition, as president of China, and the new state was recognized by foreign countries.

China’s internal difficulties reacted on the border states, in which the European powers were keenly interested. The powers considered that the time had come to begin the definitive partition of China. Thus there were long negotiations and also hostilities between China and Tibet, which was supported by Great Britain. The British demanded the complete separation of Tibet from China, but the Chinese rejected this (1912); the rejection was supported by a boycott of British goods. In the end the Tibet question was left undecided. Tibet remained until recent years a Chinese dependency with a good deal of internal freedom. The Second World War and the Chinese retreat into the interior brought many Chinese settlers into Eastern Tibet which was then separated from Tibet proper and made a Chinese province (Hsi-k’ang) in which the native Khamba will soon be a minority. The communist regime soon after its establishment conquered Tibet (1950) and has tried to change the character of its society and its system of government which lead to the unsuccessful attempt of the Tibetans to throw off Chinese rule (1959) and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The construction of highways, air and missile bases and military occupation have thus tied Tibet closer to China than ever since early Manchu times.

In Outer Mongolia Russian interests predominated. In 1911 there were diplomatic incidents in connection with the Mongolian question. At the end of 1911 the Hutuktu of Urga declared himself independent, and the Chinese were expelled from the country. A secret treaty was concluded in 1912 with Russia, under which Russia recognized the independence of Outer Mongolia, but was accorded an important part as adviser and helper in the development of the country. In 1913 a Russo-Chinese treaty was concluded, under which the autonomy of Outer Mongolia was recognized, but Mongolia became a part of the Chinese realm. After the Russian revolution had begun, revolution was carried also into Mongolia. The country suffered all the horrors of the struggles between White Russians (General Ungern-Sternberg) and the Reds; there were also Chinese attempts at intervention, though without success, until in the end Mongolia became a Soviet Republic. As such she is closely associated with Soviet Russia. China, however, did not quickly recognize Mongolia’s independence, and in his work _China’s Destiny_ (1944) Chiang Kai-shek insisted that China’s aim remained the recovery of the frontiers of 1840, which means among other things the recovery of Outer Mongolia. In spite of this, after the Second World War Chiang Kai-shek had to renounce _de jure_ all rights in Outer Mongolia. Inner Mongolia was always united to China much more closely; only for a time during the war with Japan did the Japanese maintain there a puppet government. The disappearance of this government went almost unnoticed.

At the time when Russian penetration into Mongolia began, Japan had entered upon a similar course in Manchuria, which she regarded as her “sphere of influence”. On the outbreak of the first world war Japan occupied the former German-leased territory of Tsingtao, at the extremity of the province of Shantung, and from that point she occupied the railways of the province. Her plan was to make the whole province a protectorate; Shantung is rich in coal and especially in metals. Japan’s plans were revealed in the notorious “Twenty-one Demands” (1915). Against the furious opposition especially of the students of Peking, Yuean Shih-k’ai’s government accepted the greater part of these demands. In negotiations with Great Britain, in which Japan took advantage of the British commitments in Europe, Japan had to be conceded the predominant position in the Far East.

Meanwhile Yuean Shih-k’ai had made all preparations for turning the Republic once more into an empire, in which he would be emperor; the empire was to be based once more on the gentry group. In 1914 he secured an amendment of the Constitution under which the governing power was to be entirely in the hands of the president; at the end of 1914 he secured his appointment as president for life, and at the end of 1915 he induced the parliament to resolve that he should become emperor.

This naturally aroused the resentment of the republicans, but it also annoyed the generals belonging to the gentry, who had the same ambition. Thus there were disturbances, especially in the south, where Sun Yat-sen with his followers agitated for a democratic republic. The foreign powers recognized that a divided China would be much easier to penetrate and annex than a united China, and accordingly opposed Yuean Shih-k’ai. Before he could ascend the throne, he died suddenly–and this terminated the first attempt to re-establish monarchy.

Yuean was succeeded as president by Li Yuean-hung. Meanwhile five provinces had declared themselves independent. Foreign pressure on China steadily grew. She was forced to declare war on Germany, and though this made no practical difference to the war, it enabled the European powers to penetrate further into China. Difficulties grew to such an extent in 1917 that a dictatorship was set up and soon after came an interlude, the recall of the Manchus and the reinstatement of the deposed emperor (July 1st-8th, 1917).

This led to various risings of generals, each aiming simply at the satisfaction of his thirst for personal power. Ultimately the victorious group of generals, headed by Tuan Ch’i-jui, secured the election of Feng Kuo-chang in place of the retiring president. Feng was succeeded at the end of 1918 by Hsue Shih-ch’ang, who held office until 1922. Hsue, as a former ward of the emperor, was a typical representative of the gentry, and was opposed to all republican reforms.

The south held aloof from these northern governments. In Canton an opposition government was set up, formed mainly of followers of Sun Yat-sen; the Peking government was unable to remove the Canton government. But the Peking government and its president scarcely counted any longer even in the north. All that counted were the generals, the most prominent of whom were: (1) Chang Tso-lin, who had control of Manchuria and had made certain terms with Japan, but who was ultimately murdered by the Japanese (1928); (2) Wu P’ei-fu, who held North China; (3) the so-called “Christian general”, Feng Yue-hsiang, and (4) Ts’ao K’un, who became president in 1923.

At the end of the first world war Japan had a hold over China amounting almost to military control of the country. China did not sign the Treaty of Versailles, because she considered that she had been duped by Japan, since Japan had driven the Germans out of China but had not returned the liberated territory to the Chinese. In 1921 peace was concluded with Germany, the German privileges being abolished. The same applied to Austria. Russia, immediately after the setting up of the Soviet government, had renounced all her rights under the Capitulations. This was the first step in the gradual rescinding of the Capitulations; the last of them went only in 1943, as a consequence of the difficult situation of the Europeans and Americans in the Pacific produced by the Second World War.

At the end of the first world war the foreign powers revised their attitude towards China. The idea of territorial partitioning of the country was replaced by an attempt at financial exploitation; military friction between the Western powers and Japan was in this way to be minimized. Financial control was to be exercised by an international banking consortium (1920). It was necessary for political reasons that this committee should be joined by Japan. After her Twenty-one Demands, however, Japan was hated throughout China. During the world war she had given loans to the various governments and rebels, and in this way had secured one privilege after another. Consequently China declined the banking consortium. She tried to secure capital from her own resources; but in the existing political situation and the acute economic depression internal loans had no success.

In an agreement between the United States and Japan in 1917, the United States, in consequence of the war, had to give their assent to special rights for Japan in China. After the war the international conference at Washington (November 1921-February 1922) tried to set narrower limits to Japan’s influence over China, and also to re-determine the relative strength in the Pacific of the four great powers (America, Britain, France, Japan). After the failure of the banking plan this was the last means of preventing military conflicts between the powers in the Far East. This brought some relief to China, as Japan had to yield for the time to the pressure of the western powers.

The years that followed until 1927 were those of the complete collapse of the political power of the Peking government–years of entire dissolution. In the south Sun Yat-sen had been elected generalissimo in 1921. In 1924 he was re-elected with a mandate for a campaign against the north. In 1924 there also met in Canton the first general congress of the Kuomintang (“People’s Party”). The Kuomintang (in 1929 it had 653,000 members, or roughly 0.15 per cent of the population) is the continuation of the Komingtang (“Revolutionary Party”) founded by Sun Yat-sen, which as a middle-class party had worked for the removal of the dynasty. The new Kuomintang was more socialistic, as is shown by its admission of Communists and the stress laid upon land reform.

At the end of 1924 Sun Yat-sen with some of his followers went to Peking, to discuss the possibility of a reunion between north and south on the basis of the program of the People’s Party. There, however, he died at the beginning of 1925, before any definite results had been attained; there was no prospect of achieving anything by the negotiations, and the south broke them off. But the death of Sun Yat-sen had been followed after a time by tension within the party between its right and left wings. The southern government had invited a number of Russian advisers in 1923 to assist in building up the administration, civil and military, and on their advice the system of government had been reorganized on lines similar to those of the soviet and commissar system. This change had been advocated by an old friend of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, who later married Sun’s sister-in-law. Chiang Kai-shek, who was born in 1886, was the head of the military academy at Whampoa, near Canton, where Russian instructors were at work. The new system was approved by Sun Yat-sen’s successor, Hu Han-min (who died in 1936), in his capacity of party leader. It was opposed by the elements of the right, who at first had little influence. Chiang Kai-shek soon became one of the principal leaders of the south, as he had command of the efficient troops of Canton, who had been organized by the Russians.

The People’s Party of the south and its governments, at that time fairly radical in politics, were disliked by the foreign powers; only Japan supported them for a time, owing to the anti-British feeling of the South Chinese and in order to further her purpose of maintaining disunion in China. The first serious collision with the outer world came on May 30th, 1925, when British soldiers shot at a crowd demonstrating in Shanghai. This produced a widespread boycott of British goods in Canton and in British Hong Kong, inflicting a great loss on British trade with China and bringing considerable advantages in consequence to Japanese trade and shipping: from the time of this boycott began the Japanese grip on Chinese coastwise shipping.

The second party congress was held in Canton in 1926. Chiang Kai-shek already played a prominent part. The People’s Party, under Chiang Kai-shek and with the support of the communists, began the great campaign against the north. At first it had good success: the various provincial governors and generals and the Peking government were played off against each other, and in a short time one leader after another was defeated. The Yangtze was reached, and in 1926 the southern government moved to Hankow. All over the southern provinces there now came a genuine rising of the masses of the people, mainly the result of communist propaganda and of the government’s promise to give land to the peasants, to set limits to the big estates, and to bring order into the taxation. In spite of its communist element, at the beginning of 1927 the southern government was essentially one of the middle class and the peasantry, with a socialistic tendency.

3 _Second period of the Republic: Nationalist China_

With the continued success of the northern campaign, and with Chiang Kai-shek’s southern army at the gates of Shanghai (March 21st, 1927), a decision had to be taken. Should the left wing be allowed to gain the upper hand, and the great capitalists of Shanghai be expropriated as it was proposed to expropriate the gentry? Or should the right wing prevail, an alliance be concluded with the capitalists, and limits be set to the expropriation of landed estates? Chiang Kai-shek, through his marriage with Sun Yat-sen’s wife’s sister, had become allied with one of the greatest banking families. In the days of the siege of Shanghai Chiang, together with his closest colleagues (with the exception of Hu Han-min and Wang Chying-wei, a leader who will be mentioned later), decided on the second alternative. Shanghai came into his hands without a struggle, and the capital of the Shanghai financiers, and soon foreign capital as well, was placed at his disposal, so that he was able to pay his troops and finance his administration. At the same time the Russian advisers were dismissed or executed.

The decision arrived at by Chiang Kai-shek and his friends did not remain unopposed, and he parted from the “left group” (1927) which formed a rival government in Hankow, while Chiang Kai-shek made Nanking the seat of his government (April 1927). In that year Chiang not only concluded peace with the financiers and industrialists, but also a sort of “armistice” with the landowning gentry. “Land reform” still stood on the party program, but nothing was done, and in this way the confidence and co-operation of large sections of the gentry was secured. The choice of Nanking as the new capital pleased both the industrialists and the agrarians: the great bulk of China’s young industries lay in the Yangtze region, and that region was still the principal one for agricultural produce; the landowners of the region were also in a better position with the great market of the capital in their neighbourhood.

Meanwhile the Nanking government had succeeded in carrying its dealings with the northern generals to a point at which they were largely out-manoeuvred and became ready for some sort of collaboration (1928). There were now four supreme commanders–Chiang Kai-shek, Feng Yue-hsiang (the “Christian general”), Yen Hsi-shan, the governor of Shansi, and the Muslim Li Chung-yen. Naturally this was not a permanent solution; not only did Chiang Kai-shek’s three rivals try to free themselves from his ever-growing influence and to gain full power themselves, but various groups under military leadership rose again and again, even in the home of the Republic, Canton itself. These struggles, which were carried on more by means of diplomacy and bribery than at arms, lasted until 1936. Chiang Kai-shek, as by far the most skilful player in this game, and at the same time the man who had the support of the foreign governments and of the financiers of Shanghai, gained the victory. China became unified under his dictatorship.

As early as 1928, when there seemed a possibility of uniting China, with the exception of Manchuria, which was dominated by Japan, and when the European powers began more and more to support Chiang Kai-shek, Japan felt that her interests in North China were threatened, and landed troops in Shantung. There was hard fighting on May 3rd, 1928. General Chang Tso-lin, in Manchuria, who was allied to Japan, endeavoured to secure a cessation of hostilities, but he fell victim to a Japanese assassin; his place was taken by his son, Chang Hsueeh-liang, who pursued an anti-Japanese policy. The Japanese recognized, however, that in view of the international situation the time had not yet come for intervention in North China. In 1929 they withdrew their troops and concentrated instead on their plans for Manchuria.

Until the time of the “Manchurian incident” (1931), the Nanking government steadily grew in strength. It gained the confidence of the western powers, who proposed to make use of it in opposition to Japan’s policy of expansion in the Pacific sphere. On the strength of this favourable situation in its foreign relations, the Nanking government succeeded in getting rid of one after another of the Capitulations. Above all, the administration of the “Maritime Customs”, that is to say of the collection of duties on imports and exports, was brought under the control of the Chinese government: until then it had been under foreign control. Now that China could act with more freedom in the matter of tariffs, the government had greater financial resources, and through this and other measures it became financially more independent of the provinces. It succeeded in building up a small but modern army, loyal to the government and superior to the still existing provincial armies. This army gained its military experience in skirmishes with the Communists and the remaining generals.

It is true that when in 1931 the Japanese occupied Manchuria, Nanking was helpless, since Manchuria was only loosely associated with Nanking, and its governor, Chang Hsueeh-liang, had tried to remain independent of it. Thus Manchuria was lost almost without a blow. On the other hand, the fighting with Japan that broke out soon afterwards in Shanghai brought credit to the young Nanking army, though owing to its numerical inferiority it was unsuccessful. China protested to the League of Nations against its loss of Manchuria. The League sent a commission (the Lytton Commission), which condemned Japan’s action, but nothing further happened, and China indignantly broke away from her association with the Western powers (1932-1933). In view of the tense European situation (the beginning of the Hitler era in Germany, and the Italian plans of expansion), the Western powers did not want to fight Japan on China’s behalf, and without that nothing more could be done. They pursued, indeed, a policy of playing off Japan against China, in order to keep those two powers occupied with each other, and so to divert Japan from Indo-China and the Pacific.

China had thus to be prepared for being involved one day in a great war with Japan. Chiang Kai-shek wanted to postpone war as long as possible. He wanted time to establish his power more thoroughly within the country, and to strengthen his army. In regard to external relations, the great powers would have to decide their attitude sooner or later. America could not be expected to take up a clear attitude: she was for peace and commerce, and she made greater profits out of her relations with Japan than with China; she sent supplies to both (until 1941). On the other hand, Britain and France were more and more turning away from Japan, and Russo-Japanese relations were at all times tense. Japan tried to emerge from her isolation by joining the “axis powers”, Germany and Italy (1936); but it was still doubtful whether the Western powers would proceed with Russia, and therefore against Japan, or with the Axis, and therefore in alliance with Japan.

Japan for her part considered that if she was to raise the standard of living of her large population and to remain a world power, she must bring into being her “Greater East Asia”, so as to have the needed raw material sources and export markets in the event of a collision with the Western powers; in addition to this, she needed a security girdle as extensive as possible in case of a conflict with Russia. In any case, “Greater East Asia” must be secured before the European conflict should break out.

4 _The Sino-Japanese war_ (1937-1945)

Accordingly, from 1933 onward Japan followed up her conquest of Manchuria by bringing her influence to bear in Inner Mongolia and in North China. She succeeded first, by means of an immense system of smuggling, currency manipulation, and propaganda, in bringing a number of Mongol princes over to her side, and then (at the end of 1935) in establishing a semi-dependent government in North China. Chiang Kai-shek took no action.

The signal for the outbreak of war was an “incident” by the Marco Polo Bridge, south of Peking (July 7th, 1937). The Japanese government profited by a quite unimportant incident, undoubtedly provoked by the Japanese, in order to extend its dominion a little further. China still hesitated; there were negotiations. Japan brought up reinforcements and put forward demands which China could not be expected to be ready to fulfil. Japan then occupied Peking and Tientsin and wide regions between them and south of them. The Chinese soldiers stationed there withdrew almost without striking a blow, but formed up again and began to offer resistance. In order to facilitate the planned occupation of North China, including the province of Shantung, Japan decided on a diversionary campaign against Shanghai. The Nanking government sent its best troops to the new front, and held it for nearly three months against superior forces; but meanwhile the Japanese steadily advanced in North China. On November 9th Nanking fell into their hands. By the beginning of January 1938, the province of Shantung had also been conquered.

Chiang Kai-shek and his government fled to Ch’ung-k’ing (Chungking), the most important commercial and financial centre of the interior after Hankow, which was soon threatened by the Japanese fleet. By means of a number of landings the Japanese soon conquered the whole coast of China, so cutting off all supplies to the country; against hard fighting in some places they pushed inland along the railways and conquered the whole eastern half of China, the richest and most highly developed part of the country. Chiang Kai-shek had the support only of the agriculturally rich province of Szechwan, and of the scarcely developed provinces surrounding it. Here there was as yet no industry. Everything in the way of machinery and supplies that could be transported from the hastily dismantled factories was carried westward. Students and professors went west with all the contents of their universities, and worked on in small villages under very difficult conditions–one of the most memorable achievements of this war for China. But all this was by no means enough for waging a defensive war against Japan. Even the famous Burma Road could not save China.

By 1940-1941 Japan had attained her war aim: China was no longer a dangerous adversary. She was still able to engage in small-scale fighting, but could no longer secure any decisive result. Puppet governments were set up in Peking, Canton, and Nanking, and the Japanese waited for these governments gradually to induce supporters of Chiang Kai-shek to come over to their side. Most was expected of Wang Ching-wei, who headed the new Nanking government. He was one of the oldest followers of Sun Yat-sen, and was regarded as a democrat. In 1925, after Sun Yat-sen’s death, he had been for a time the head of the Nanking government, and for a short time in 1930 he had led a government in Peking that was opposed to Chiang Kai-shek’s dictatorship. Beyond any question Wang still had many followers, including some in the highest circles at Chungking, men of eastern China who considered that collaboration with Japan, especially in the economic field, offered good prospects. Japan paid lip service to this policy: there was talk of sister peoples, which could help each other and supply each other’s needs. There was propaganda for a new “Greater East Asian” philosophy, _Wang-tao_, in accordance with which all the peoples of the East could live together in peace under a thinly disguised dictatorship. What actually happened was that everywhere Japanese capitalists established themselves in the former Chinese industrial plants, bought up land and securities, and exploited the country for the conduct of their war.

After the great initial successes of Hitlerite Germany in 1939-1941, Japan became convinced that the time had come for a decisive blow against the positions of the Western European powers and the United States in the Far East. Lightning blows were struck at Hong Kong and Singapore, at French Indo-China, and at the Netherlands East Indies. The American navy seemed to have been eliminated by the attack on Pearl Harbour, and one group of islands after another fell into the hands of the Japanese. Japan was at the gates of India and Australia. Russia was carrying on a desperate defensive struggle against the Axis, and there was no reason to expect any intervention from her in the Far East. Greater East Asia seemed assured against every danger.

The situation of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chungking government seemed hopeless. Even the Burma Road was cut, and supplies could only be sent by air; there was shortage of everything. With immense energy small industries were begun all over western China, often organized as co-operatives; roads and railways were built–but with such resources would it ever be possible to throw the Japanese into the sea? Everything depended on holding out until a new page was turned in Europe. Infinitely slow seemed the progress of the first gleams of hope–the steady front in Burma, the reconquest of the first groups of inlands; the first bomb attacks on Japan itself. Even in May, 1945, with the war ended in Europe, there seemed no sign of its ending in the Far East. Then came the atom bomb, bringing the collapse of Japan; the Japanese armies receded from China, and suddenly China was free, mistress once more in her own country as she had not been for decades.

Chapter Twelve


1 _The growth of communism_

In order to understand today’s China, we have to go back in time to report events which were cut short or left out of our earlier discussion in order to present them in the context of this chapter.

Although socialism and communism had been known in China long ago, this line of development of Western philosophy had interested Chinese intellectuals much less than liberalistic, democratic Western ideas. It was widely believed that communism had no real prospects for China, as a dictatorship of the proletariat seemed to be relevant only in a highly industrialized and not in an agrarian society. Thus, in its beginning the “Movement of May Fourth” of 1919 had Western ideological traits but was not communistic. This changed with the success of communism in Russia and with the theoretical writings of Lenin. Here it was shown that communist theories could be applied to a country similar to China in its level of development. Already from 1919 on, some of the leaders of the Movement turned towards communism: the National University of Peking became the first centre of this movement, and Ch’en Tu-hsiu, then dean of the College of Letters, from 1920 on became one of its leaders. Hu Shih did not move to the left with this group; he remained a liberal. But another well-known writer, Lu Hsuen (1881-1936), while following Hu Shih in the “Literary Revolution,” identified politically with Ch’en. There was still another man, the Director of the University Library, Li Ta-chao, who turned towards communism. With him we find one of his employees in the Library, Mao Tse-tung. In fact, the nucleus of the Communist Party, which was officially created as late as 1921, was a student organization including some professors in Peking. On the other hand, a student group in Paris had also learned about communism and had organized; the leaders of this group were Chou En-lai and Li Li-san. A little later, a third group organized in Germany; Chu Te belonged to this group. The leadership of Communist China since 1949 has been in the hands of men of these three former student groups.

After 1920, Sun Yat-sen, too, became interested in the developments in Soviet Russia. Yet, he never actually became a communist; his belief that the soil should belong to the tiller cannot really be combined with communism, which advocates the abolition of individual land-holdings. Yet, Soviet Russia found it useful to help Sun Yat-sen and advised the Chinese Communist Party to collaborate with the KMT (Kuomintang). This collaboration, not always easy, continued until the fall of Shanghai in 1927.

In the meantime, Mao Tse-tung had given up his studies in Peking and had returned to his home in Hunan. Here, he organized his countrymen, the farmers of Hunan. It is said that at the verge of the northern expedition of Chiang Kai-shek, Mao’s adherents in Hunan already numbered in the millions; this made the quick and smooth advance of the communist-advised armies of Chiang Kai-shek possible. Mao developed his ideas in written form in 1927; he showed that communism in China could be successful only if it was based upon farmers. Because of this unorthodox attitude, he was for years severely attacked as a deviationist.

When Chiang Kai-shek separated from the KMT in 1927, the main body of the KMT remained in Hankow as the legal government. But now, while Chiang Kai-shek executed all leftists, union leaders, and communists who fell into his hands, tensions in Hankow increased between the Chinese Communist Party and the rest of the KMT. Finally, the KMT turned against the communists and reunited with Chiang Kai-shek. The remaining communists retreated to the Hunan-Kiangsi border area, the centre of Mao’s activities; even the orthodox communist wing, which had condemned Mao, now had to come to him for protection from the KMT. A small communist state began to develop in Kiangsi, in spite of pressure and, later, attacks of the KMT against them. By 1934, this pressure became so strong that Kiangsi had to be abandoned, and in the epic “Long March” the rest of the communists and their army fought their way through all of western and north-western China into the sparsely inhabited, underdeveloped northern part of Shensi, where a new socialistic state was created with Yen-an as its capital.

After the fall of the communist enclave in Kiangsi, the prospects for the Nationalist regime were bright; indeed, the unification of China was almost achieved. At this moment a new Japanese invasion threatened and demanded the full attention of the regime. Thus, in spite of talk about land reform and other reforms which might have led to a liberalization of the government, no attention was given to internal and social problems except to the suppression of communist thought. Although all leftist publications were prohibited, most historians and sociologists succeeded in writing Marxist books without using Marxist terminology, so that they escaped Chiang’s censors. These publications contributed greatly to preparing China’s intellectuals and youth for communism.

When the Japanese War began, the communists in Yen-an and the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek agreed to co-operate against the invaders. Yet, each side remembered its experiences in 1927 and distrusted the other. Chiang’s resistance against the invaders became less effective after the Japanese occupied all of China’s ports; supplies could reach China only in small quantities by airlift or via the Burma Road. There was also the belief that Japan could be defeated only by an attack on Japan itself and that this would have to be undertaken by the Western powers, not by China. The communists, on their side, set up a guerrilla organization behind the Japanese lines, so that, although the Japanese controlled the cities and the lines of communication, they had little control over the countryside. The communists also attempted to infiltrate the area held by the Nationalists, who in turn were interested in preventing the communists from becoming too strong; so, Nationalist troops guarded also the borders of communist territory.

American politicians and military advisers were divided in their opinions. Although they recognized the internal weakness of the Nationalist government, the fighting between cliques within the government, and the ever-increasing corruption, some advocated more help to the Nationalists and a firm attitude against the communists. Others, influenced by impressions gained during visits to Yen-an, and believing in the possibility of honest co-operation between a communist regime and any other, as Roosevelt did, attempted to effect a coalition of the Nationalists with the communists.

At the end of the war, when the Nationalist government took over the administration, it lacked popular support in the areas liberated from the Japanese. Farmers who had been given land by the communists, or who had been promised it, were afraid that their former landlords, whether they had remained to collaborate with the Japanese or had fled to West China, would regain control of the land. Workers hoped for new social legislation and rights. Businessmen and industrialists were faced with destroyed factories, worn-out or antiquated equipment, and an unchecked inflation which induced them to shift their accounts into foreign banks or to favour short-term gains rather than long-term investments. As in all countries which have suffered from a long war and an occupation, the youth believed that the old regime had been to blame, and saw promise and hope on the political left. And, finally, the Nationalist soldiers, most of whom had been separated for years from their homes and families, were not willing to fight other Chinese in the civil war now well under way; they wanted to go home and start a new life. The communists, however, were now well organized militarily and well equipped with arms surrendered by the Japanese to the Soviet armies as well as with arms and ammunition sold to them by KMT soldiers; moreover, they were constantly strengthened by deserters from the KMT. The civil war witnessed a steady retreat by the KMT armies, which resisted only sporadically. By the end of 1948, most of mainland China was in the hands of the communists, who established their new capital in Peking.

2 _Nationalist China in Taiwan_

The Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan with those soldiers who remained loyal. This island was returned to China after the defeat of Japan, though final disposition of its status had not yet been determined.

Taiwan’s original population had been made up of more than a dozen tribes who are probably distant relatives of tribes in the Philippines. These are Taiwan’s “aborigines,” altogether about 200,000 people in 1948.

At about the time of the Sung dynasty, Chinese began to establish outposts on the island; these developed into regular agricultural settlements toward the end of the Ming dynasty. Immigration increased in the eighteenth and especially the nineteenth centuries. These Chinese immigrants and their descendants are the “Taiwanese,” Taiwan’s main population of about eight million people as of 1948.

Taiwan was at first a part of the province of Fukien, whence most of its Chinese settlers came; there was also a minority of Hakka, Chinese from Kuangtung province. When Taiwan was ceded to Japan, it was still a colonial area with much lawlessness and disorder, but with a number of flourishing towns and a growing population. The Japanese, who sent administrators but no settlers, established law and order, protected the aborigines from land-hungry Chinese settlers, and attempted to abolish headhunting by the aborigines and to raise the cultural level in general. They built a road and railway system and strongly stressed the production of sugar cane and rice. During the Second World War, the island suffered from air attacks and from the inability of the Japanese to protect its industries.

After Chiang Kai-shek and the remainder of his army and of his government officials arrived in Taiwan, they were followed by others fleeing from the communist regime, mainly from Chekiang, Kiangsu, and the northern provinces of the mainland. Eventually, there were on Taiwan about two million of these “mainlanders,” as they have sometimes been called.

When the Chinese Nationalists took over from the Japanese, they assumed all the leading positions in the government. The Taiwanese nationals who had opposed the Japanese were disappointed; for their part, the Nationalists felt threatened because of their minority position. The next years, especially up to 1952, were characterized by terror and bloodshed. Tensions persisted for many years, but have lessened since about 1960.

The new government of Taiwan resembled China’s pre-war government under Chiang Kai-shek. First, to maintain his claim to the legitimate rule of all of China, Chiang retained–and controlled through his party, the KMT–his former government organization, complete with cabinet ministers, administrators, and elected parliament, under the name “Central Government of China.” Secondly, the actual government of Taiwan, which he considered one of China’s provinces, was organized as the “Provincial Government of Taiwan,” whose leading positions were at first in the hands of KMT mainlanders. There have since been elections for the provincial assembly, for local government councils and boards, and for various provincial and local positions. Thirdly, the military forces were organized under the leadership and command of mainlanders. And finally, the education system was set up in accordance with former mainland practices by mainland specialists. However, evolutionary changes soon occurred.

The government’s aim was to make Mandarin Chinese the language of all Chinese in Taiwan, as it had been in mainland China long before the War, and to weaken the Taiwanese dialects. Soon almost every child had a minimum of six years of education (increased in 1968 to nine years), with Mandarin Chinese as the medium of instruction. In the beginning few Taiwanese qualified as teachers because, under Japanese rule, Japanese had been the medium of instruction. As the children of Taiwanese and mainland families went to school together, the Taiwanese children quickly learned Mandarin, while most mainland children became familiar with the Taiwan dialect. For the generation in school today, the difference between mainlander and Taiwanese has lost its importance. At the same time, more teachers of Taiwanese origin, but with modern training, have begun to fill first the ranks of elementary, later of high-school, and now even of university instructors, so that the end of mainland predominance in the educational system is foreseeable.

The country is still ruled by the KMT, but although at first hardly any Taiwanese belonged to the Party, many of the elective jobs and almost all positions in the provincial government are at present (1969) in the hands of Taiwanese independents, or KMT members, more of whom are entering the central government as well. Because military service is compulsory, the majority of common soldiers are Taiwanese: as career officers grow older and their sons show little interest in an army career, more Taiwan-Chinese are occupying higher army positions. Foreign policy and major political decisions still lie in the hands of mainland Chinese, but economic power, once monopolized by them, is now held by Taiwan-Chinese.

This shift gained impetus with the end of American economic aid, which had tied local businessmen to American industry and thus worked to the advantage of mainland Chinese, for these had contacts in the United States, whereas the Taiwan-Chinese had contacts only in Japan. After the termination of American economic aid, Taiwanese trade with Japan, the Philippines, and Korea grew in importance and with it the economic strength of Taiwan-Chinese businessmen. After 1964, Taiwan became a strong competitor of Hong Kong and Japan in some export industries, such as electronics and textiles. We can regard Taiwan from 1964 on as occupying the “takeoff” stage, to use Rostow’s terminology–a stage of rapid development of new, principally light and consumer, industries. There has been a rapid rise of industrial towns around the major cities, and there are already many factories in the countryside, even in some villages. Electrification is essentially completed, and heavy industries, such as fertilizer and assembly plants and oil refineries, now exist.

This rapid industrialization was accompanied by an unusually fast development of agriculture. A land-reform program limited land ownership, reduced rents, and redistributed formerly Japanese-owned land. This was the program that the Nationalist government had attempted unsuccessfully to enforce in liberated China after the Pacific War. It is well known that the abolition of landlordism and the distribution of land to small farmers do not in themselves improve or enlarge production. The Joint Council on Rural Reconstruction, on which American advisers worked with Chinese specialists to devise a system comparable to American agricultural extension services but possessing added elements of community development, introduced better seeds, more and better fertilizers, and numerous other innovations which the farmers quickly adopted, with the result that the island became self-supporting, in spite of a steadily growing population (thirteen million in 1968).

At the same time, the government succeeded in stabilizing the currency and in eliminating corruption, thus re-establishing public confidence and security. Good incomes from farming as well as from industries were invested on the island instead of flowing into foreign banks. In addition, the population had enough surplus money to buy the products of the new domestic industries as these appeared. Thus, the industrialization of Taiwan may be called “industrialization without tears,” without the suffering, that is, of proletarian masses who produce objects which they cannot afford for themselves. Today, even lower middle-class families have television consoles which cost the equivalent of US $200; they own electric fans and radios; they are buying Taiwan-produced refrigerators and air conditioners; and more and more think of buying Taiwan-assembled cars. They encourage their children to finish high school and to attend college if at all possible; competition for admission is very strong in spite of the continuous building of new schools and universities. Education to the level of the B.A. is of good quality, but for most graduate study students are still sent abroad. Taiwan complains about the “brain drain,” as about 93 per cent of its students who go overseas do not return, but in many fields it has sufficient trained manpower to continue its development, and in any case there would not be enough jobs available if all the students returned. Most of these expatriates would be available to develop mainland China, if conditions there were to change in a way that would make them compatible with the values with which these expatriates grew up on Taiwan, or with the Western democratic values which they absorbed abroad.

Chiang Kai-shek’s government still hopes that one day its people will return to the mainland. This hope has changed from hope of victory in a civil war to hope of revolutionary developments within Communist China which might lead to the creation of a more liberal government in which men with KMT loyalties could find a place. Because they are Chinese, the present government and, it is believed, the majority of the people, consider themselves a part of China from which they are temporarily separated. Therefore they reject the idea, proposed by some American politicians, that Taiwan should become an independent state. There are, mainly in the United States and Japan, groups of Taiwan-Chinese who favour an independent Taiwan, which naturally would be close to Japan politically and economically. One may agree with their belief that Taiwan, now larger than many European countries, could exist and flourish as an independent country; yet few Chinese will wish to divorce themselves from the world’s largest society.

3 _Communist China_

Both Taiwan and mainland China have developed extremely quickly. The reasons do not seem to lie solely in the form of government, for the pre-conditions for a “takeoff” existed in China as early as the 1920’s, if not earlier. That is, the quick development of China could have started forty years ago but was prevented, primarily for political reasons. One of the main pre-conditions for quick development is that a large part of the population is inured to hard and repetitive work. The Chinese farmer was accustomed to such work; he put more time and energy into his land than any other farmer. He and his fellows were the industrial workers of the future: reliable, hard-working, tractable, intelligent. To train them was easy, and absenteeism was never a serious problem, as it is in other developing nations. Another pre-condition is the existence of sufficient trained people to manage industry. Forty years ago China had enough such men to start modernization; foreign assistance would have been necessary in some fields, but only briefly.

Another requirement (at least in the period before radio and television) is general literacy. Meaningful statistical data on literacy in China before 1937 are lacking. Some authors remark that before 1800 probably all upper-class sons and most daughters were educated, and that men in the middle and even in the lower classes often had some degree of literacy. In this context “educated” means that these persons could read classical poetry and essays written in literary Chinese, which was not the language of daily conversation. “Literacy,” however, might mean only that a person could read and write some 600 characters, enough to conduct a business and to read simple stories. Although newspapers today have a stock of about 6,000 characters, only some 600 characters are commonly used, and a farmer or worker can manage well with a knowledge of about 100 characters. Statements to the effect that in 1935 some 70 per cent of all men and 95 per cent of all women were illiterate must include the last category in these figures. In any case, the literacy program of the Nationalist government had penetrated the countryside and had reached even outlying villages before the Pacific War.

The transportation system in China before the war was not highly developed, but numerous railroads connecting the main industrial centers did exist, and bus and truck services connected small towns with the larger centers. What were missing in the pre-war years were laws to protect the investor, efficient credit facilities, an insurance system supported by law, and a modern tax structure. In addition, the monetary system was inflation-prone. Although sufficient capital probably could have been mobilized within the country, the available resources either went into foreign banks or were invested in enterprises providing a quick return.

The failure to capitalize on existing means of development before the War resulted from the chronic unrest caused by warlordism, revolutionaries and foreign invaders, which occupied the energies of the Nationalist government from its establishment to its fall. Once a stable government free from internal troubles arose, national development, whether private or socialist, could proceed at a rapid pace.

Thus, the development of Communist China is not a miracle, possible only because of its form of government. What is unusual about Communist China is the fact that it is the only nation possessing a highly developed culture of its own to have jettisoned it in favour of a foreign one. What missionaries had dreamed of for centuries and knew they would never accomplish, Mao Tse-tung achieved; he imposed an ideology created by Europeans and understandable only in the context of Central Europe in the nineteenth century. How long his success will last is uncertain. One school of analysts believes that the friction between Soviet Russia and Communist China indicates that China’s communism has become Chinese. These men point out that Communist Chinese practices are often direct continuations of earlier Chinese practices, customs, and attitudes. And they predict that this trend will continue, resulting in a form of socialism or communism distinctly different from that found in any other country. Another school, however, believes that communism precedes “Sinism,” and that the regime will slowly eliminate traits which once were typical of China and replace them with institutions developed out of Marxist thinking. In any case, for the present, although the Communist government’s aim is to impose communist thought and institutions in the country, typically Chinese traits are still omnipresent.

Soon after the establishment of the Peking regime, a pact of friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union was concluded (February 1950), and Soviet specialists and civil and military products poured into China to speed its development. China had to pay for this assistance as well as for the loans it received from Russia, but the application of Russian experience, often involving the duplication of whole factories, was successful. In a few years, China developed its heavy industry, just as Russia had done. It should not be forgotten that Manchuria, as well as other parts of China, had modern heavy industries long before 1949. The Manchurian factories ceased production because, when the Russians invaded Manchuria at the end of the war, they removed the machinery to Russia.

Russian aid to Communist China continued to 1960. Its termination slowed development briefly but was not disastrous. Russian assistance was a “shot in the arm,” as stimulating and about as lasting as American aid to Taiwan or to European countries. The stress laid upon heavy industry, in imitation of Russia, increased China’s military strength quickly, but the consumer had to wait for goods which would make his life more enjoyable. One cause of friction in China today concerns the relative desirability of heavy industry versus consumer industry, a problem which arose in Russia after the death of Stalin.

China’s military strength was first demonstrated in the Korean War when Chinese armies entered Korea (October 1950). Their successes contributed to the prestige of the Peking regime at home and abroad, but they also foreshadowed a conflict with Soviet Russia, which regarded North Korea as lying within its own sphere of influence.

In the same year, China invaded and conquered Tibet. Tibet, under Manchu rule until 1911, had achieved a certain degree of independence thereafter: no republican Chinese regime ever ruled Lhasa. The military conquest of Tibet is regarded by many as an act of Chinese imperialism, or colonialism, as the Tibetans certainly did not want to belong to China or be forced to change their traditional form of government. Having regarded themselves as subjects of the Manchu but not of the Chinese, they rose against the communist rulers in March 1959, but without success.

Chinese control of Tibet, involving the construction of numerous roads, airstrips, and military installations, as well as differences concerning the international border, led in 1959 to conflicts with India, a country which had previously sided with the new China in international affairs. Indeed, the borders were uncertain and looked different depending on whether one used Manchu or Indian maps. China’s other border problem was with Burma. Early in 1960 the two countries concluded a border agreement which ended disputes dating from British colonial times.

Very early in its existence Communist China assumed control of Sinkiang, Chinese Central Asia, a large area originally inhabited by Turkish and Mongolian tribes and states, later conquered by the Manchu, and then integrated into China in the early nineteenth century. The communist action was to be expected, although after the Revolution of 1911 Chinese rule over this area had been spotty, and during the Pacific War some Soviet-inspired hope had existed that Sinkiang might gain independence, following the example of Outer Mongolia, another country which had been attached to the Manchu until 1911 and which, with Russian assistance, had gained its independence from China. Sinkiang is of great importance to Communist China as the site of large sources of oil and of atomic industries and testing grounds. The government has stimulated and often forced Chinese immigration into Sinkiang, so that the erstwhile Turkish and Mongolian majorities have become minorities, envious of their ethnic brothers in Soviet Central Asia who enjoy a much higher standard of living and more freedom.

Inner Mongolia had a brief dream of independence under Japanese protection during the war. But the majority of the population were Chinese, and already before the Pacific War, the country had been divided into three Chinese provinces, of which the Chinese Communists gained control without delay.

In general, when the Chinese Communists discuss territorial claims, they appear to seek the restoration of borders that China claimed in the eighteenth century. Thus, they make occasional remarks about the Hi area and parts of Eastern Siberia, which the Manchu either lost to the Russians or claimed as their territory. North Vietnam is probably aware that Imperial China exercised political rights over Tongking and Annam (the present-day North and part of South Vietnam). And, treaty or no, the Sino-Burmese question may be reopened one day, for Burma was semi-dependent on China under the Manchu.

The build-up of heavy industry enabled China to conduct an aggressive policy towards the countries surrounding her, but industrialization had to be paid for, and, as in other countries, it was basically agriculture that had to create the necessary capital. Therefore, in June 1950 a land-reform law was promulgated. By October 1952 it had been implemented at an estimated cost of two million human lives: the landlords. The next step, socialization of the land, began in 1953.

The co-operative farms were supposed to achieve higher production than small individual farms. It may be that any farmer, but particularly the Chinese, is emotionally involved in his crop, in contrast to the industrial worker, who often is alienated from the product he makes. Thus the farmer is unwilling to put unlimited energy and time into working on a farm that does not belong to him. But it may also be that the application of principles of industrial operation to agriculture fails because emergencies often occur in farming and are followed by periods of leisure, whereas in industry steady work is possible.

In any case, in 1956 strains began to appear in China’s economy. In early 1958 the “Great Leap Forward” was promoted in an attempt to speed production in all sectors. Soon after, the first communes were created, against the advise of Russian specialists. The objective of the communes seems to have been not only the creation of a new organizational form which would allow the government to exercise more pressure upon farmers to increase production, but also the correlation of labor and other needs of industry with agriculture. The communes may have represented an attempt to set up an organization which could function independently, even in the event of a governmental breakdown in wartime. At the same time, the decentralization of industries began and a people’s militia was created. The “back-yard furnaces,” which produced high-cost iron of low quality, seem to have had a similar purpose: to teach citizens how to produce iron for armaments in case of war and enemy occupation, when only guerrilla resistance would be possible. In the same year, aggressive actions against offshore, Nationalist-held islands increased. China may have believed that war with the United States was imminent. Perhaps as a result of Russian talks with China, a detente followed in 1959, but so too did increased tension between Russia and China, while the results of the Great Leap and its policies proved catastrophic. The years 1961-64 provided a needed respite from the failures of the Great Leap. Farmers regained limited rights to income from private efforts, and improved farm techniques such as better seed and the use of fertilizer began to produce results. China can now feed her population in normal years.

Chinese leaders realize that an improved level of living is difficult to attain while the birth rate remains high. They have hesitated to adopt a family-planning policy, which would fly in the face of Marxist doctrine, although for a short period family planning was openly recommended. Their most efficient method of limiting the birth rate has been to recommend postponement of marriage.

First the limitation of private enterprise and business and then the nationalization of all important businesses following the completion of land reform deprived many employers as well as small shopkeepers of an occupation. But the new industries could not absorb all of the labor that suddenly became available. When rural youth inundated the cities in search of employment, the government returned the excess urban population to die countryside and recruited students and other urban youth to work on farms. Reeducation camps in outlying areas also provided cheap farm labor.

The problem facing China or any nation that modernizes and industrializes in the twentieth century can be simply stated. Nineteenth-century industry needed large masses of workers which only the rural areas could supply; and, with the development of farming methods, the countryside could afford to send its youth to the cities. Twentieth-century industry, on the other hand, needs technicians and highly qualified personnel, often with college degrees, but few unskilled workers. China has traditionally employed human labor where machines would have been cheaper and more efficient, simply because labor was available and capital was not. But since, with the growth of modern industry and modern farming, the problem will arise again, the policy of employing urban youth on farms is shortsighted.

The labor force also increased as a result of the “liberation” of women, in which the marriage law of April 1950 was the first step. Nationalist China had earlier created a modern and liberal marriage law; moreover, women were never the slaves that they have sometimes been painted. In many parts of China, long before the Pacific War, women worked in the fields with their husbands. Elsewhere they worked in secondary agricultural industries (weaving, preparation of food conserves, home industries, and even textile factories) and provided supplementary income for their families. All that “liberation” in 1950 really meant was that women had to work a full day as their husbands did, and had, in addition, to do house work and care for their children much as before. The new marriage law did, indeed, make both partners equal; it also made it easier for men to divorce their wives, political incompatibility becoming a ground for divorce.

The ideological justification for a new marriage law was the desirability of destroying the traditional Chinese family and its economic basis because a close family, and all the more an extended family or a clan, could obviously serve as a center of resistance. Land collectivization and the nationalization of business destroyed the economic basis of families. The “liberation” of women brought them out of the house and made it possible for the government to exploit dissension between husband and wife, thereby increasing its control over the family. Finally, the new education system, which indoctrinated all children from nursery to the end of college, separated children from parents, thus undermining parental control and enabling the state to intimidate parents by encouraging their children to denounce their “deviations.” Sporadic efforts to dissolve the family completely by separating women from men in communes–recalling an attempt made almost a century earlier by the T’ai-p’ing–were unsuccessful.

The best formula for a revolution seems to involve turning youth against its elders, rather than turning one class against another. Not all societies have a class system so clear-cut that class antagonism is effective. On the other hand, Chinese youth, in its opposition to the “establishment,” to conservatism, to traditional religion, to blind emulation of Western customs and institutions, to the traditional family structure and the position of women, had hopes that communism would eradicate the specific “evil” which each individual wanted abolished. Mao and his followers had once been such rebellious youths, but by the 1960’s they were mostly old men and a new youth had appeared, a generation of revolutionaries for whom the “old regime” was dim history, not reality. In the struggle between Mao and Liu Shao-ch’i, which became increasingly apparent in 1966, Mao tried to retain his power by mobilizing young people as “Red Guards” and by inciting them to make the “Great Proletarian Revolution.” The motives behind the struggle are diverse. It is on the one hand a conflict of persons contending for power, but there are also disagreements over theory: for example, should China’s present generation toil to make possible a better life only for the next generation, or should it enjoy the fruits of its labor, after its many years of suffering? Mao opposes such “weakening” and favours a new generation willing to endure hardships, as he did in his youth. There is also a question whether the Chinese Communist Party under the banner of Maoism should replace the Russian party, establish Mao as the fourth founder after Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, and become the leader of world communism, or whether it should collaborate with the Russian party, at least temporarily, and thus ensure China Russian support. When, however, Chinese youth was summoned to take up the fight for Mao and his group, forces were loosed which could not be controlled. Following independent action by youth groups similar in nature to youth revolts in Western countries, the power and prestige of older leaders suffered. Even now (1969) it is impossible to re-establish unity and order; the Mao and Liu groups still oppose each other, and local factions have arisen. Violent confrontations, often resulting in hundreds of deaths, occur in many provinces. The regime is no longer so strong and unified as it was before 1966, although its end is not in sight. Quite possibly far-reaching changes may occur in the future.

Three factors will probably influence the future of China. First, the emergence of neo-communism, as in Czechoslovakia in 1968, in an attempt to soften traditional communist practice. Second, the outcome of the war in Vietnam. Will China be able to continue its eighteenth-century dream of direct or indirect domination of South-east Asia? Will North Vietnam detach itself from China and attach itself more closely to Russia? Will Russia and China continue to create separate spheres of influence in Asia, Africa, and South America? The first factor depends on developments inside China, the second on events outside, and at least in part on decisions in the United States, Japan, and Europe.

The third factor has to do with human nature. One may justifiably ask whether the change in human personality which Chinese communism has attempted to achieve is possible, let alone desirable. Studies of animals and of human beings have demonstrated a tendency to identify with a territory, with property, and with kin. Can the Chinese eradicate this tendency? The Chinese have been family-centered and accustomed to subordinating their individual inclinations to the requirements of family and neighborhood. But beyond these established frameworks they have been individualistic and highly idiosyncratic at all times. Under the communist regime, however, the government is omnipresent, and people must toe the official line. One senses the tragedy that affects well-known scholars, writers and poets, who must degrade themselves, their work, their past and their families in order to survive. They may hope for comprehension of their actions, but nonetheless they must suffer shame. Will the present government change the minds of these men and eradicate their feelings?

Communist China has made great progress, no doubt. Soon it may equal other developed nations. But its progress has been achieved at an unnecessary cost in human lives and happiness.

That the regime is no longer so strong and unified as it was before 1966 does not mean that its end is in sight. Far-reaching changes may occur in the near future. Public opinion is impressed with mainland China’s progress, as the world usually is with strong nations. And public opinion is still unimpressed by the achievements of Taiwan and has hardly begun to change its attitude toward the government of the “Republic of China.” To the historian and the sociologist, the experience of Taiwan indicates that China, if left alone and freed from ideological pressures, could industrialize more quickly than any other presently underdeveloped nation. Taiwan offers a model with which to compare mainland China.


The following notes and references are intended to help the interested reader. They draw his attention to some more specialized literature in English, and occasionally in French and German. They also indicate for the more advanced reader the sources for some of the interpretations of historical events. As such sources are most often written in Chinese or Japanese and, therefore, inaccessible to most readers, only brief hints and not full bibliographical data are given. The specialists know the names and can easily find details in the standard bibliographies. The general reader will profit most from the bibliography on Chinese history published each year in the _Journal of Asian Studies_. These Notes do not mention the original Chinese sources which are the factual basis of this book.

_Chapter One_

p. 7: Reference is made here to the _T’ung-chien kang-mu_ and its translation by de Mailla (1777-85). Criticism by O. Franke, Ku Chieh-kang and his school, also by G. Haloun.

p. 8: For the chronology, I rely here upon Ijima Tadao and my own research. Excavations at Chou-k’ou-tien still continue and my account should be taken as very preliminary. An earlier analysis is given by E. von Eickstedt (_Rassendynamik von Ostasien_, Berlin 1944). For the following periods, the best general study is still J.G. Andersson, _Researches into the Prehistory of the Chinese_, Stockholm 1943. A great number of new findings has been made recently, but no comprehensive analysis in a Western language is available.

p. 9: Comparison with Ainu has been made by Weidenreich. The theory of desiccation of Asia is not the Huntington theory, but I rely here upon arguments by J.G. Andersson and Sven Hedin.

p. 10. The earlier theories of R. Heine-Geldern have been used here.

p. 11: This is a summary of my own theories. Concerning the Tungus tribes, K. Jettmar (_Wiener Beitraege zur Kulturgeschichte_, vol. 9, 1952, p. 484f and later studies) has proposed a more refined theory; other parts of the theory, as far as it is concerned with conditions in Central Asia, have been modified by F. Kussmaul (in: _Tribus_, vol. 1952-3, pp. 305-60). Archaeological data from Central Asia have been analysed again by K. Jettmar (in: _The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Bulletin_ No. 23, 1951). The discussion on domestication of large animals relies on the studies by C.O. Sauer, H. von Wissmann, Menghin, Amschler, Flohr and, most recently, F. Han[vc]ar (in: _Saeculum_, vol. 10, 1959, pp. 21-37 with further literature), and also on my own research.

p. 12: An analysis of the situation in the South according to Western and Chinese studies is found in H.J. Wiens, _China’s March toward the Tropics_, Hamden 1954. Much further work is now published by Ling Shun-sheng, Rui Yi-fu and other anthropologists in Taipei. The best analysis of denshiring in the Far East is still the book by K.J. Pelzer, _Population and Land Utilization_, New York 1941. The anthropological theories on this page are my own, influenced by ideas of R. Heine-Geldern and Gordon Luce.

p. 14: Sociological theory, as developed by R. Thurnwald and others, has been used as a theoretical tool here, together with observations by A. Credner and H. Bernatzik. Concerning rice in Yang-shao see R. Heine-Geldern in _Anthropos_, vol. 27, p. 595.

p. 15: Wu Chin-ting defended the local origin of Yang-shao; T.J. Arne, J.G. Andersson and many others suggested Western influences. Most recently R. Heine-Geldern elaborated this theory. The allusion to Indo-Europeans refers to the studies by G. Haloun and others concerning the Ta-Hsia, the later Yueeh-chih, and the Tocharian problem.

p. 16: R. Heine-Geldern proposed a “Pontic migration”. Yin Huan-chang discussed most recently Lung-shan culture and the mound-dwellers.

p. 17: The original _Chu-shu chi-nien_ version of the stories about Yao has been accepted here, together with my own research and the studies by B. Karlgren, M. Loehr, G. Haloun, E.H. Minns and others concerning the origin and early distribution of bronze and the animal style. Smith families or tribes are well known from Central Asia, but also from India and Africa (see W. Ruben, _Eisenschmiede und Daemonen in Indien_, Leiden 1939, for general discussion).–For a discussion of the Hsia see E. Erkes.

_Chapter Two_

p. 19: The discussion in this chapter relies mainly upon the Anyang excavation reports and the studies by Tung Tso-pin and, most strongly, Ch’en Meng-chia. In English, the best work is still H.G. Creel, _The Birth of China_, London 1936 and his more specialized _Studies in Early Chinese Culture_, Baltimore 1937.

p. 20: The possibility of a “megalithic” culture in the Far East has often been discussed, by O. Menghin, R. Heine-Geldern, Cheng Te-k’un, Ling Shun-sheng and others. Megaliths occur mainly in South-East Asia, southern China, Korea and Japan.–Teng Ch’u-min and others believe that silk existed already in the time of Yang-shao.

p. 21: Kuo Mo-jo believes, that the Shang already used a real plough drawn by animals. The main discussion on ploughs in China is by Hsue Chung-shu; for general anthropological discussion see E. Werth and H. Kothe.

p. 22: For the discussion of the T’ao-t’ieh see the research by B. Karlgren and C. Hentze.

p. 23: I follow here mainly Ch’en Meng-chia, but work by B. Schindler, C. Hentze, H. Maspero and also my own research has been considered.

p. 24: I am accepting here a narrow definition of feudalism (see my _Conquerors and Rulers_, Leiden 1952).–The division of armies into “right” and “left” is interesting in the light of the theories concerning the importance of systems of orientation (Fr. Rock and others).

p. 25: Here, the work by W. Koppers, O. Spengler, F. Han[vc]ar, V.G. Childe and many others, concerning the domestication of the horse and the introduction of the war-chariot in general, and work by Shih Chang-ju, Ch’en Meng-chia, O. Maenchen, Uchida Gimpu and others concerning horses, riding and chariots in China has been used, in addition to my own research.

p. 26: Concerning the wild animals, I have relied upon Ch’en Meng-chia, Hsue Chung-shu and Tung Tso-pin.–The discussion as to whether there was a period of “slave society” (as postulated by Marxist theory) in China, and when it flourished, is still going on under the leadership of Kuo Mo-jo and his group. I prefer to differentiate between slaves and serfs, and relied for factual data upon texts from oracle bones, not upon