A Travellerspoint blog

The May Fourth Movement & Why China is CHINA!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Have you ever sat and wondered who or what actually made China turn down the path way that took it to COMMUNISM? Like me many years ago most people probably never actually gave it or have given it five minutes.

No real thought and simply followed the crowd of shouters who have never gotten past the fact that China went Communist and that made them different than us. Behind most changes in my life there is always a reason. Most times I don't know what that reason is until later when I finally open my eyes to the problem or situation etc. There is a reason behind China's dramatic pathway change and it made this change after dealings with the Western World, especially America who very much slapped it about and treated it without importance. I have been working through my huge list of Chinese Festivals and Public Holidays and if there is one that you SHOULD read it is very much this one. I wonder what the world would be like now if America and several other countries were actually 'nice to China' all those years ago. Don't ask me what it would be like. China boggles me now let alone trying to think of how 'different' it could be if things were different. Now I'm just confusing myself and you! Beers N Noodles toya...shane _______________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this part of the entry was by The Doors The album was the awesome 'Morrison Hotel' Peace Frog, what a song! ________________________________________________________

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and other sites <u>The May Fourth Movement </u> The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement in early modern China. Beginning on May 4, 1919, it marked the upsurge of Chinese nationalism, and a re-evaluation of Chinese cultural institutions, such as Confucianism. The movement grew out of dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles settlement, termed the Shandong Problem. Coming out of the New Culture Movement, the end result was a drastic change in society that fueled the birth of the Communist Party of China. Following the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown. This marked the end of thousands of years of powerful imperial rule, and theoretically ushered a new era in which political power rested with the people. However, the reality was that China was a fragmented nation dominated by warlords, who were more concerned with their own political powers and private armies than national interests. The Chinese Beiyang government was occupied with suppressing internal affairs, and did little to counter the influence exerted by imperialist foreign powers. The Beiyang government made various concessions to foreigners in order to gain monetary and military support against their rivals. This, together with the continuing tangled warfare among warlords, led to great suffering among the population. Furthermore, the development of the New Culture Movement promoted the questioning and re-appraisal of millennia-old Chinese values. Defeats by foreign powers and the presence of spheres of influence only further inflamed the sense of nationalism among the people. <u>Cause and outbreak</u></b> China had entered World War I on the side of the Allied Triple Entente in 1917 with the condition that all German spheres of influence, such as Shandong, would be returned to China. That year, 140,000 Chinese laborers (as a part of the British army, the Chinese Labor Corps) were sent to France. Instead of rewarding China for its contribution to the Allies' victory, the Versailles Treaty of April, 1919, awarded Shandong Province to Japan. The representatives of the Chinese government put forth the following requests: The abolition of all privileges in China of foreign powers, such as extraterritoriality; the cancelling of the "Twenty-One Demands" with the Japanese; and the return to China of the territory of Shandong, which Japan had taken from Germany during World War I. The Western Allies dominated the meeting and paid little heed to the Chinese representatives' demands. Britain and France were primarily interested in punishing Germany. Although the United States promoted Woodrow Wilson's utopian Fourteen Points and the ideals of self-determination at the conference, Wilson abandoned most of these ideals in the face of stubborn resistance by David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau. American advocacy of self-determination at the League of Nations was attractive to Chinese intellectuals, but the failure of the United States to follow through was seen as a betrayal. Chinese diplomatic failure at the Paris Peace Conference became the incident that touched off the outbreak of the May Fourth Movement, and became known as the "Shandong Problem". <u>Protest</u></b> On the morning of May 4, 1919, student representatives from thirteen different local universities met in Peking and drafted five resolutions. Opposed the granting of Shandong to the Japanese under former German concessions. Draw awareness of China's precarious position to the masses in China. Recommend a large-scale gathering in Peking. Promote the creation of a Peking student union Hold a demonstration that afternoon in protest to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. On the afternoon of May 4th over 3000 students of Peking University and other schools gathered together in front of Tiananmen and held a demonstration. The general opinion is that the Chinese government was "spineless". They voiced their anger at the Allied betrayal of China and the government's inability to secure Chinese interests in the conference. They shouted out such slogans as "Struggle for the sovereignty externally, get rid of the national traitors at home", "Do away with the 'Twenty-One Demands'", "Don't sign the Versailles Treaty". They demanded punishment to figures as Cao Rulin, Zhang Zongxiang, and Lu Zongyu, who held important posts as diplomats. The enraged students even burnt down Cao Rulin's house. The Beiyang government suppressed the demonstration and arrested many students, with one student dying in the event. The next day, students in Beijing as a whole went on strike, and students in other parts of the country responded one after another. From early June, in order to support the students' struggle, workers and businessmen in Shanghai also went on strike. The center of the movement moved from Beijing to Shanghai. In addition to students and intellectuals, the lower class was also very angry at the current state of affairs, such as mistreatment of workers and perpetual poverty of small peasants. Under intense public outcry, the Beiyang government had to release the arrested students and dismiss Cao Rulin, Zhang Zongxiang and Lu Zongyu from their posts. Also, the Chinese representatives in Paris refused to sign on the peace treaty: the May Fourth Movement won the initial victory. However, this move was more symbolic than anything else. Japan still retained control of the Shandong Peninsula and the islands in the Pacific it had obtained during World War I. <u>The New Culture Movement</u></b> To many the existence of the May 4th Movement was proof that Confucianism had failed to make China strong, and that China's position in the world was second-class. Intellectuals in search of causes looked for ways to strengthen China, which was fragmented and had been exploited by foreign nations. Chen Duxiu was one of the key figures in starting the New Culture Movement in 1915, publishing a journal called New Youth. He began with the intention of promoting individual freedom, science, democracy and the emancipation of women. Another direction was the introduction of Vernacular Chinese by Hu Shi. In theory, the new format allowed people with little education to read texts, articles and books. Classical Chinese, which had been the written language prior to the movement, was only understood by highly educated people (who were mostly government officials). The literary output of this time was huge, with many writers who later became famous (such as Mao Dun, Lao She, Lu Xun and Bing Xin) publishing their first works around this time. Lu Xun was the first novelist to write articles in the vernacular, in a book titled The True Story of Ah Q. A large number of Western doctrines became fashionable, particularly those which reinforced the cultural criticism and nation-building impulses of the movement. Anarchism, which had been influential earlier in the century, was largely displaced by socialism. The pragmatism of William James and John Dewey became popular, the latter through the work of Hu Shi, who later championed Chinese liberalism more broadly. Lu Xun was associated with the ideas of Nietzsche, which were also propagated by Li Shicen, Mao Dun and many other intellectuals of the time. <u>Birth of Chinese Communism</u></b> After the demonstrations in 1919 and their suppression the discussion became more and more political. People like Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao shifted more to the Left and were among the leading founders of the 1921 Communist Party of China. Originally voluntaristic or nihilistic figures like Li Shicen and Zhu Qianzhi made similar turns to the Left as the 1920s saw China become increasingly turbulent. According to the CCP: The May Fourth Movement was a thoroughly anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolutionary movement. Young students acted as its pioneers. The Chinese working class went up on the political stage, and functioned as the main force in the later period of the movement. Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu and other intellectuals directed and promoted the development of the movement, and played leading roles in it. On the local level, future Communist Party leader Mao Zedong rallied opposition against Hunan's warlord Chang Ching-yao. The May Fourth Movement covered more than 20 provinces and over 100 cities of the country. It had a broader popular foundation than the Revolution of 1911. Its great contribution lay in arousing the people's consciousness and preparing for the unity of the revolutionary forces. The May Fourth Movement promoted the spreading of Marxism in China, and prepared the ideological foundation for the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party. The October Revolution pointed out the direction for the Chinese revolution. The May Fourth Movement, which took place after the October Socialist Revolution, was a part of the world's Proletarian Revolution. The May Fourth Movement served as an intellectual turning point in China; it was a seminal event that radicalized Chinese intellectual thought. Western-style liberal democracy had previously had a degree of traction amongst Chinese intellectuals, but after the Versailles Treaty (which was viewed as a betrayal of China's interests), lost much of its attractiveness. Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, cloaked as they were by moralism, were also seen as Western-centric and hypocritical. Many in the Chinese intellectual community believed that the United States had done little to convince the imperialist powers (especially Britain, France, and Japan) to adhere to the Fourteen Points, and observed that the United States itself had declined to join the League of Nations; as a result they turned away from the Western liberal democratic model. Marxism began to take hold in Chinese intellectual thought, particular among those already on the Left. It was during this time that communism was studied seriously by some Chinese intellectuals such as Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. Some historians have speculated that Chinese history might have taken a different course at this time had the United States taken a stronger position on Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and self-determination. The United States was not yet a major imperialist power and was in a relatively strong position to take an anti-imperialist stance. However, it did not do so. <u>Other aspects</u></b> A boycott of Japanese products during this period boosted the Chinese industry slightly. Some historians consider the May Fourth Movement to be the central feature in modern Chinese history, a point of view seen in Rana Mitter's A Bitter Revolution.

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.