Taiwan moves to erase Chiang legacy

Posted by: Martin Winter <dujuan99@gmail.com>
Source: South China Morning Post (12/6/17):
Taiwan moves to erase Chiang Kai-shek’s authoritarian legacy with new law
Renaming of streets and schools, removal of related symbols made compulsory under new ‘transitional justice bill’
By Agence-France Presse

Tributes to Taiwan’s former dictator Chiang Kai-shek will be removed across the island after lawmakers voted in favour of the mandatory axing of symbols of its authoritarian past.

The so-called transitional justice bill, which was passed late on Tuesday, means that streets and schools will be renamed and statues taken down.

It also paves the way for a full investigation into Chiang’s “White Terror” – a purge of his political opponents between 1947 and his death in 1975.

As Taiwan struggles with Chiang Kai-shek’s legacy, a look at how China’s rulers treated their predecessors. Continue reading

Teaching the Nanjing Atrocities

Source: Sup China (11/21/17)
Teaching the Nanjing Atrocities

If you’re a history or China studies teacher, you might be interested in two online seminars to be held next week by the nonprofit Facing History, on teaching about the Nanjing Atrocities: November 29 at 8 – 9 a.m. EST and November 30 at 3 – 4 p.m. EST. Facing History has also published a blog post on “Three reasons to explore the Nanjing Atrocities 80 years later.”

Dazibao exhibition

Source: Sup China (11/14/17)
When Words Kill: ‘Big-Character Posters’ Are Testament To Tenacity And Suffering In One Of China’s Darkest Periods

In China in Ten Words, translated into English by Allan H. Barr, author Yu Hua gives a trenchant description of big-character posters (大字报 dàzìbào) as he experienced them as a child:

At the outset of the Cultural Revolution “big-character posters” started to appear. Political screeds rendered in clumsily handwritten characters — and now and again some elegantly written ones, too — these were the first acts of the disenfranchised masses in challenging the power of officialdom. Written on broadsheets are big as decent-sized windows and posted on the walls that ran alongside city streets, shorter versions took the form of two sheets of paper mounted one on top of another, while longer ones involved five or six sheets set out in a horizontal row. In the years to follow, these big-character posters would become the largest exhibition of calligraphy China has ever seen: all across the country, in cities and towns, big streets and small, walls were decorated with them. People would gather in the streets and read the posters with undisguised relish, for although they all employed much the same revolutionary rhetoric, they began to criticize officials and their high and mighty ways. Continue reading

What you didn’t know about Cixi

Source: SCMP (11/15/17)
The woman who ‘ruled’ China: what you didn’t know about Empress Dowager Cixi
The former concubine, who effectively controlled country during late Qing dynasty for nearly five decades, still divides opinion 109 years after her death

Empress Dowager Cixi, who died 109 years ago today.

Empress Dowager Cixi, who died 109 years ago today.

Although it has been 109 years (today) since the death of the Empress Dowager Cixi – also known as the “dragon lady” and the “old master Buddha” – who effectively ruled China during the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) for nearly five decades, she still divides public opinion.

Born on November 29, 1835, she was chosen as a concubine for the Emperor Xianfeng when she was a young girl. She gave birth to the emperor’s son – the future Emperor Tongzhi – in 1856 and went on to live an extravagant and privileged life in the imperial court without concerning herself with the hardships facing ordinary people. Continue reading

A Village with My Name

New Publication: A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World (University of Chicago Press, 2017)

When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai, his assignment was to start up the first full-time China bureau for “Marketplace,” the daily business and economics program on public radio stations across the United States. But for Tong the move became much more—it offered the opportunity to reconnect with members of his extended family who had remained in China after his parents fled the communists six decades prior. By uncovering the stories of his family’s history, Tong discovered a new way to understand the defining moments of modern China and its long, interrupted quest to go global.

A Village with My Name offers a unique perspective on the transitions in China through the eyes of regular people who have witnessed such epochal events as the toppling of the Qing monarchy, Japan’s occupation during World War II, exile of political prisoners to forced labor camps, mass death and famine during the Great Leap Forward, market reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and the dawn of the One Child Policy. Tong’s story focuses on five members of his family, who each offer a specific window on a changing country: a rare American-educated girl born in the closing days of the Qing Dynasty, a pioneer exchange student, an abandoned toddler from World War II who later rides the wave of China’s global export boom, a young professional climbing the ladder at a multinational company, and an orphan (the author’s daughter) adopted in the middle of a baby-selling scandal fueled by foreign money. Through their stories, Tong shows us China anew, visiting former prison labor camps on the Tibetan plateau and rural outposts along the Yangtze, exploring the Shanghai of the 1930s, and touring factories across the mainland.

With curiosity and sensitivity, Tong explores the moments that have shaped China and its people, offering a compelling and deeply personal take on how China became what it is today.


Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, no. 96

The latest issue of Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 96 is now available online at: http://www.mh.sinica.edu.tw/bulletins.aspx



Giuseppe Ros as a Scholar-Diplomat in China, 1908-1948
By Chang Li

Joseon Confucians’ “Chinese Identity”: A New Interpretation
By Kang Jieun

The Birth of the Public Spittoon: An Anti-Spitting Controversy in Hong Kong and the Response of the Chinese Community
By Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

[Book Reviews]

Onodera Shiro (trans. Zhou Junyu), National Flag, National Song, National Holiday: Modern Chinese Nationalism and State Symbols, Reviewed by Chang Jun

Tang Yan, The Two Worlds of Ye Gonchao: From Eliot to Dulles, Reviewed by Ya-Hung Hsiao

Posted by: Jhih-hong JHENG bimhas60@gmail.com

Afterlives of the Nanjing Massacre

We are rapidly approaching the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. Now that the Party Congress is over and Trump’s visit too, I expect this to be back in the spotlight. Here I chart the journey of the Nanjing Massacre as it pinballed through history, more often filling out powerful agendas than reflecting on the terrible fate of those caught in the crossfire.

The Afterlives of the Nanjing Massacre

Hopefully it will spur some discussion here about what this sort of thing means nowadays and different ways of grappling with it.

Lee Mack <leeallenmack@gmail.com>

How Mao molded Communism

Source: NYT (10/23/17)
How Mao Molded Communism to Create a New China
Roderick MacFarquhar

Mao Zedong in 1961. CreditLyu Houmin/VCG, via Getty Images

Toward the end of his life, dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Mao Zedong claimed two achievements: leading the Communist revolution to victory and starting the Cultural Revolution. By pinpointing these episodes, he had underlined the lifelong contradiction in his attitudes toward revolution and state power.

Mao molded Communism to fit his two personas. To use Chinese parlance, he was both a tiger and a monkey king.

For the Chinese, the tiger is the king of the jungle. Translated into human terms, a tiger is a high official. The agency running President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign today likes to boast when it has brought down another “tiger.” By leading the Chinese Communist Party to victory in 1949, Mao became the top tiger. Continue reading

Cross-Currents, no. 24

New China-Related Content: Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (September 2017 online issue)


Special Issue: “Naming Modernity: Rebranding and Neologisms during China’s Interwar Global Moment in Eastern Asia”
Introduction to “Naming Modernity: Rebranding and Neologisms during China’s Interwar Global Moment in Eastern Asia”
Guest editor, Anna Belogurova (Freie Universität Berlin)

Li Yujie and the Rebranding of the White Lotus Movement
David Ownby (Université de Montréal)

China as the Leader of the Small and Weak: The Ruoxiao Nations and Guomindang Nationalism
Craig A. Smith (Australian National University)

Networks, Parties, and the “Oppressed Nations”: The Comintern and Chinese Communists Overseas, 1926–1935
Anna Belogurova (Freie Universität Berlin)

New Revolutionary Agenda: The Interwar Japanese Left on the “Chinese Revolution”
Tatiana Linkhoeva (New York University)

“Awakening Asia”: Korean Student Activists in Japan, The Asian Kunglun, and Asian Solidarity, 1910–1923
Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus (Goethe University Frankfurt)

From Revolutionary Culture to Original Culture and Back: “On New Democracy” and the Kampucheanization of Marxism-Leninism, 1940–1965
Matthew Galway (University of British Columbia) Continue reading

“Dividing up the [Chinese] Melon”

Dear colleagues,

Perhaps the (exceedingly long) article “Dividing up the [Chinese] Melon, guafen 瓜分”: The Fate of a Transcultural Metaphor in the Formation of National Myth,” Transcultural Studies 1 (2017), 9-122. http://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/viewFile/23700/17435 (open access) is of interest to members of the MCLC list.


Rudolf G. Wagner <wagner@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de>

Women in the communist revolution

Source: NYT (9/25/17)
How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?
By Helen Gao

A workers delegation marching in Yumen, China, in 1958. CreditHenri Cartier Bresson/Magnum Photos

BEIJING — My grandmother likes to tell stories from her career as a journalist in the early decades of the People’s Republic of China. She recalls scrawling down Chairman Mao’s latest pronouncements as they came through loudspeakers and talking with joyous peasants from the newly collectivized countryside. In what was her career highlight, she turned an anonymous candy salesman into a national labor hero with glowing praises for his service to the people.

She had grown up in the central province of Hunan, where her father was a landlord. She talks about her mother as a glum housewife who resented her husband for taking a concubine after she had failed to give birth to a boy. Continue reading

“Youth” release postponed

Source: NYT (9/25/17)
Touching on History, a Chinese Film May Have Been Burned by It

Feng Xiaogang after winning the best director award for “I Am Not Madame Bovary” at the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, last year. The release of his new film, “Youth,” has been indefinitely postponed.CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

BEIJING — One of China’s most popular directors, Feng Xiaogang, was determined to triumph at the box office with the release of his new film “Youth” during the weeklong National Day holiday.

In the run-up to the film’s expected release later this week, Mr. Feng and his actors had been touring China, promoting the romantic drama set against the Cultural Revolution and China’s brief, harrowing war against Vietnam.

But then Mr. Feng’s premiere was abruptly canceled. Continue reading

Sha Fei exhibition

Source: China Daily (9/19/17)
Exhibition focuses on work of noted army photographer
By Lin Qi

Exhibition focuses on work of noted army photographer

Sha Fei, Chinese photographer [Photo provided to China Daily]

Two gunshots were heard at the Bethune International Peace Hospital in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, in December 1949. A Japanese doctor was shot dead by Sha Fei (1912-50), a patient of tuberculosis and a noted photographer of the People’s Liberation Army.

Two months later, Sha was sentenced to death by a military court in China.

A retrial in 1986 acquitted Sha posthumously saying he was in mental distress as he was reminded of the cruelty of war scenes when seeing the Japanese doctor, and he thought the doctor had attempted to poison him.

Sha took up photography in the 1930s and became the first full-time photographer of the Eighth Route Army led by the Communist Party of China around 1937.

But, Sha’s career as a photographer was short lived, and his work was not studied or presented until in recent times.

A Tower of Light, an exhibition now on at the museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy, sheds light on Sha’s contribution to 20th-century Chinese photography. On show are some 100 images from Sha’s oeuvre, which are printed from the negative plates owned by his family. Continue reading