Revolutionary Agitation 1900 - 1926

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Here is China, pretty much as it was then and is now, with pinyin rather than the old Wade-Giles spellings of place names, Beijing rather than Peking. Note location of Shanghai on the coast at the mouth of the Yangtse/Yangzi River. In the 19th century Shanghai was a major center for Europeans, who maintained homes, businesses, churches, shops, clubs, sports facilities and the like. Global investigators in 2016 will visit Kunming.

The Bund, overlooking the port, was the business and commercial hub of the Shanghai. Parks in the European Quarter sported signs, "Dogs and Chinese Not Allowed." The opening scenes of the movie, Empire of the Sun, portray this situation.

Check out above map for European "spheres of influence" in China, though they annexed little territory outright;
Hong Kong remained a British Crown Colony until 1997.
Note: Wade-Giles rather than Pinyin place names.

The opening salvo of the 20th century Chinese revolutionary movement came with the Boxers and their seige of the capital in the hot summer of 1900. The Heavenly Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists comprised primarily anti-Qing, anti-Christian peasants from northern China augmented by reforming students and intellectuals, many of them "returned scholars." As noted in your packet, the Boxers practiced martial arts and vigorous calesthenics, which they believed rendered them impervious to Western bullets. The poverty and misery of Chinese peasants' existence, compounded by disgust with the corruption of the dynasty, the failure of Self-Strengthening and the 100 Days, plus hostility to foreign railroad building and religious missionizing all fueled the Boxer Uprising. Units of the Imperial Army joined forces with the Boxers as they seized Tianjin/Tientsin and beseiged Peking/Beijing in 1900. The graphic (right) shows Boxers entering Tianjin.

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The Eight-Nation Alliance (Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, and the United States) gathered their forces (dominated by Brits and Japanese) and fought their way to the capital to rescue the beleaguered foreigners and their Chinese friends.* In the ensuing Boxer Protocol, China paid dearly for the actions of the Boxers. See left for illustration of victorious troops parading in Beijing.

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*If you are interested in a gripping, well-written novel of 20th century
China, read Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord.

Chinese author, Lin Yutang, wrote a young adult novel, Moment in Peking, about the Boxer Rebellion. In 1963, Hollywood produced a movie about the Boxers, which isn't that bad, though somewhat weakened by the wooden performances of Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner. 55 Days in Peking fairly accurately portrays, from the foreign perspective, the events of that summer. I've heard that Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and her pals) time-traveled to 1900 Peking. Anyone remember Buffy?

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The "double 10" in October, 1911, precipitated the fall of the Qing Dynasty but did not unite the country or end its travail (see "Who's Who.") What did mark a new intensity in Chinese nationalism was the May 4th Movement, ignited by outraged, striking students. On the morning of May 4, 1919, student representatives from various Peking universities drafted resolutions protesting the Treaty of Versailles and demanding the restoration of Shandong to Chinese rule. *

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*Also powerfully described in Bette Bao Lord's Spring Moon
as Spring Moon's daughter, Lustrous Jade, joins the movement.

3000 students gathered in Tiananmen Square, triggering sympathetic strikes and protests in 20 provinces and 100 cities across China ("May Fourth Movement"). Historian Jonathan Spence called the May 4th Movement a seminal moment in China's revolutionary progress. (quoted in "May Fourth Movement"). Without question, the May 4th Movement served as a catalyst to the founding of the Chinese Communist Party two years later.

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The Bolshevik Revolution and the May 4th Movement encouraged Sun Yat-sen and his lieutenant, Chiang Kai-shek, to try, yet again, to unite and liberate China. Sun announced the Three People's Principles in 1924. But it was Chiang who took advantage of the perceived Western vulnerability in the May 30 Incident, 1925, and began the Northern Expedition in 1926. At first he garnered support from both the Soviets and the CCP, although these alliances would not last. From his base in the South, and with help from his Whampoa allies and some of the central and northern warlords, Chiang virtually united China, named himself Generalissimo and President, and established Nanking/Nanjing his capital.

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Although Generalissimo/President Chiang marched triumphantly into Hankow/Hankou (right) and secured the Yangzi valley, he did not, in fact, unite China. Japan's foreign minister, Tanaka, warned Chiang off. From 1927, Chiang Kai-shek devoted his energies to defeating his internal enemies, the communists, in the so-called Bandit Extermination Campaigns of 1927-1936. He did, however, gain recognition of his government from the China Powers, already worried about the international threat of communism and involved in the first Red Scare.

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In 1927, the civil war (KMT v. CCP) began in earnest. Chiang Kai-shek crushed an uprising in Guanzhou. Mao survived the KMT purge of communists, disbanded his soviet and fled, in a "little Long March," to Jiangxi Province. Although his Autumn Harvest Uprising failed, Mao identified himself as an alternative to Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang, meanwhile, arrested opponents and instituted a "white terror" against his communist enemies.*

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*Spring Moon's lover, Bold Talent, died/was killed in the 1927 chaos.


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"Boxer Rebellion." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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Hooker, Richard. "Modern China: Nationalist China." World Civilizations. Online available.
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"May Fourth Movement." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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McKee, Peggy. "Modern East Asia: China." Palo Alto: Castilleja, 1986-2015.

"Northern Expedition (1926-1927.)" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
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Reischauer, Edwin and John Fairbank. East Asia: The Great Tradition." Boston:
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Reischauer, Edwin, et al. East Asia: Tradition and Transformation. Boston:
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