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The “Eastern Miscellany” Informs the Chinese Public

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The “Eastern Miscellany” Informs the Chinese Public

Li Anshan*

By the early twentieth century the de facto partition of China wasproceeding relentlessly as the major powers grabbed its land or laidclaim to exclusive territorial spheres of influence. Britain was consolidatingits base in Guangdong, the Yangzi River area, and Tibet.France took Guangxi, Yunnan, and Hainan, while Germany assertedcontrol over Liaodong. Japan, already in occupation of Taiwan, wasnow intensifying its economic penetration of central China as wellas its coastal regions. The United States took the advantage of the“open door” policy to compete with earlier comers. Under cover ofthe allied army’s invasion of Peking during the Boxer Rebellion in1900, Russia occupied the northeastern provinces (Manchuria), andthen refused to withdraw. This caused the great “Ju E” (Resistanceagainst Russia) protest movement in China, especially among students.1

 

The sense of crisis intensified when the Russo-Japanese War started within China, a theoretically sovereign state. Because of this as well as the surprising victory of Japan, the war shocked Chinese intellectuals.How was it possible for Japan, a small Asian country, to defeat Russia, a big European power? The answer to this question was vital if they were to understand how to go about strengthening their own obviously weakening nation. Through an analysis of Dongfang Zazhi (The Eastern Miscellany), a highly influential journal of international affairs at the time,this paper assesses the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Chinese nationalism, a subject heretofore neglected by Chinese and Western scholarship.3It will argue that Chinese nationalism of a new type emerged in this period, directlyrelated to the war and the consequent ambivalence that developed toward Japan, China’s once weak and now strong neighbor.

 

 

* I would like to thank Dr. Wang Chaoguang, senior fellow of the Institute of Modern Chinese History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, for helping me find some materials, and Professor Steven G. Marks, for offering some suggestions in revision. All the errors, of course, remain mine.

1 This explained why, when the Russo-Japanese War started, most of the Chinese stood on the side of Japan. One of the communist pioneers, Wu Yuzhang, described his experience of the Ju-E movement while in Japan as a student, recalling in his memoirs that “the movement was going on for a long time. After the Russo-Japanese War started in February 1904, people sympathized with Japan because of their hatred towards Tsarist Russia. When they heard of the Japanese victories, they were very happy. How naïve and ridiculous from today’s viewpoint! Both were imperialists and both enemies that invaded China.” Wu Yuzhang, Xinhai Geming [The 1911 Revolution] (Beijing, 1969), 55–59.
2 The materials used in this paper are mainly from the first three volumes of the journal (1904–1906), but it was published until 1948. In 1910 it became the largest journal in the country with a circulation of 15,000. Aside from editorials written by the journal’s staff, many important articles from other papers were alsoreprinted therein, making it an important source for contemporary intellectual trends in general.
3 Few of the recent studies on Chinese nationalism touch on this subject. See Tang Wenquan, Juexing yu Miwu: Zhongguo Jindai Minzu Zhuyi Sichao Yanjiu [A Study of the Ideology of Nationalism in Modern China], (Shanghai, 1993); Tao Shu, Wan Qing Minzu Zhuyi Sichao [The Ideology of Nationalism in the Late Qing Era] (Beijing,1995); Luo Fuhui, ed., Zhongguo Minzu Zhuyi Sixiang Lungao [A Tentative Study of the Ideology of Chinese Nationalism], (Wuhan, 1996); Wang Lixin, Meiguo Dui Hua Zhengce yu Zhongguo Minzu Zhuyi Yundong (1904–1928) [American China Policy and Chinese Nationalism] (Beijing, 2000); Luo Zhitian, Luan Shi Qian Liu: Minzu Zhuyi yu Minguo Zhengzhi [Nationalism and Politics in the Republic Period] (Shanghai,2001); Yang Sixing, Wenhua Minzu Zhiyi yu Jindai Zhongguo [Cultural Nationalism and Modern China] (Beijing, 2003). Jonathan Spence, a guru of modern Chinesehistory, discusses Chinese nationalism of the period, but fails to mention the significant role of the war in his classic In Search of Modern China (New York, 1999), 229–36. Similarly with John E. Schrecker, Imperialism and Chinese Nationalism: Germany in Shantung (Cambridge, MA, 1971). Germaine Hoston, State, Identity, and the National Question in China and Japan (Princeton, 1994), is an exception in treating the impact of the war on Chinese nationalism.