CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
Nos. 30/31, June/September 2012


Editorial | China Heritage Quarterly

Guest Editors: William Sima and Christopher G. Rea

Accounting for The Critic

Fig.1 Mercury (Hermes), the fleet-footed god of trade, merchants and travel. The statue is located on what was once the Shanghai District Head Post Office (completed 1924), Sichuan Road, Suzhou Creek. The building now houses the Shanghai Postal Museum. (Photograph: Lois Conner, 1999)

I am particularly grateful to Duncan Campbell, a good friend and colleague at ANU, for introducing me to William Sima following a guest lecture that I presented during one of Duncan's (many) teaching programs. Will had only recently returned from a period in Nanjing and he was reading, among other things, essays by Lu Xun and Lin Yutang. His enthusiasm and reading interests eventually led me to work with him on his honours thesis, which he submitted under the title 'Reflecting the Times: Politics and Humourin Lin Yutang's Analects and The China Critic' in October 2011.

Will's close reading of The Critic led me to suggest devoting an issue of China Heritage Quarterly to the subject. It seemed a perfect opportunity to continue the work we began in September 2009, when we introduced readers to T'ien Hsia Monthly, a journal that appeared in Shanghai in the 1930s.[1]

I later encouraged Will to attend a conference at the City University of Hong Kong on 'The Cross-cultural Legacy of Lin Yutang in China and America' (19-20 December 2011) and subsequently wrote a report on the proceedings for the Quarterly.[2] At that conference Will approached on our behalf a number of participants in the discussion to contribute to China Heritage Quarterly.

In the early stages of The China Critic issue Will and I were joined by Christopher Rea, a scholar of Chinese literature at the University of British Columbia who had a fellowship with the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU for the year 2012 to work on a major book project. Chris found time in a busy research and writing schedule to solicit important new work, edit contributions to the issue as well as to write an editorial, a major essay on Qian Zhongshu for Features and an extensive entry for the China Heritage Glossary. Our two Guest Editors have made this issue a rich, complex, and I hope highly readable contribution to the understanding of China's present and past. Both Will and Chris have also written editorial essays.

In developing our approach to, and appraisal of The China Critic, we have been helped by a number of scholars of Chinese letters and history. I am very grateful for their support, their generous contributions, and their considerable patience—what was originally envisaged as being the June 2012 issue of China Heritage Quarterly gradually expanded to become this rather unwieldy June/September combined issue. They are (in alphabetical order): Frank Dikötter, Fan Liya 範麗雅, Michael Hill, Qian Suoqiao 錢鎖橋, Leon Rocha, Shuang Shen 沈雙 and Rudolph G. Wagner. Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom kindly allowed us to reprint an essay on Emily 'Mickey' Hahn, and the ANU graduate scholar Shuge Wei 魏舒歌 responded to a last-minute request for an overview of her recently completed thesis on Republican-era English-language propaganda.

China Heritage Quarterly is a particular kind of publication. Each issue is something of an invention; each issue demands of its editor(s) a willingness to experiment with and expand on academic practices in the context of an open-access publication-by-invitation digital publication. It is a process that can be as confronting as it is challenging. As I have just noted in the above, the present issue continues on from our earlier attempt to bring back to life another Republican-era journal, T'ien Hsia Monthly. In the future, I hope that we will have the opportunity to reanimate other journals from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as important 1940s publications, in particular The Observer 觀察 edited by Chu Anping 儲安平.

—Geremie R. Barmé


[1] 'The Heritage of T'ien Hsia, All-Under-Heaven', China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 19 (September 2009), at:

[2] William Sima, 'The Cross-cultural Legacy of Lin Yutang in China and America', conference report, China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 29 (March 2012), at: