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


The China Critic - 1929 | China Heritage Quarterly

The China Critic: a Chronology

William Sima
Australian Centre on China in the World

William Sima, whose research into the history and contents of The China Critic led to this combined issue of China Heritage Quarterly, has created a Chronology of the weekly. It follows the progress of The Critic from its first appearance in May 1928 through the highs and lows of the 'Nanjing Decade', and then through its various wartime permutations.

Will's Chronology, which is arranged by year below, accounts for the changing fate, and the friable editorial stance, of The Critic. It also provides numerous links to the articles under discussion allowing for them to be appreciated in an historical context.—The Editor

1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1945


3 January

The editorials 'Happy New Year' and 'The National Flag in Manchuria' proclaim an optimistic start to the New Year, the first in which the Republican flag has flown over a united China. The second Editorial reads:

The White Sun in the Blue Sky shall henceforth outshine the Red Sun in a white space that has been trying to appear on [the] Chinese horizon. General Chang Hsueh-liang [張學良] may be justly commended on taking this bold step in deference to popular wishes and in defiance of the imperialist dictates of our island neighbor. Any cynic who has believed in the impossibility of a united China has only his own face to slap.

Fig.1 P.K. Chu 朱少屏, The China Critic's business manager, offers subscription discounts for educational institutions that use the newspaper as a learning tool, 3 January

7 February

Chang Nai-yen 張乃燕, Chancellor of the National Central University (國立中央大學, still operating in Taiwan under this name; its mainland counterpart has been known as Nanjing University 南京大學 since 1949), contributes 'The National Central University—A General Statement'. Chang describes with statistical detail the adoption of a 'University District System' linking all primary and secondary schools, colleges and research institutes in Jiangsu province into an administrative system headed by the university.

30 May

This week the special article 'Moral Dictatorship: the Way of Revolution' by 'A Chinese Contributor' proposes a dictatorship grounded on Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People (Nationalism民族主義, Democracy 民權主義, and the People's Livelihood 民生主義).The article is prefaced with an editorial disclaimer, expressing agreement with Sun's moral principles, but distance the editor's from this author's advocacy of dictatorship. In part a response to The China Critic's 16 May Editorial 'China at the Cross-Roads', which had expressed hope that China's leaders would 'choose the road to peace and prosperity' rather than 'seek self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment', this article proposes a strict 'moral dictatorship' as constituting the only way forward for China:

The dictator of our dictatorship is the spirit of our Tsungli [總理, Sun Yat-sen]. Its ministers, daily responsible to the dictator through the medium of prayer and so likewise inspired by him, shall be those who spear allegiance to his Revolutionary cause, pledge themselves to the execution of his Will, confess their own sins, give up their propriety, leave their families to live a pure and simple life for three years, and work together under one roof without any business secrecy from each other until dismissed by the dictator or voluntarily retiring from Government and policies on a word of honor.

27 June

Fig.2 Announcement of the 'Extraterritoriality Essay Contest', 27 June

The issue of extraterritoriality (sometimes abbreviated 'extrality') has been a central political discourse of The China Critic since its inception, and is particularly evident this year. The editorial 'Extraterritoriality and Justice' in this issue celebrates the attempt by the Shanghai Municipal Government to prosecute three Mexican operators of clandestine gambling establishments, along with a number of their foreign and Chinese associates.

In the special article 'The Development of Extraterritoriality in China', the first of six pieces by Edwin L.T. Fang 方樂天 on the subject, the author discusses the legal treatment of foreign nationals in China, beginning with the notorious 1785 execution of the British sailor on the Lady Hughes. Five more articles on extraterritorial were published in consecutive weeks.

An 'Extraterritoriality Essay Contest' is also announced and cash prizes are offered for essays not exceeding 5000 words, to be awarded at the end of August.

18 July

'The Toast for a Free Press' comments on a speech by Gideon A. Lyon of the Washington Star at a function held at the Daily Press Association of Shanghai. Lyon had made a toast for a 'free press, a responsible press and an unhampered court of justice in China'. These are values with which The China Critic editors agree 'in general principle'. But Lyon's criticism touches on a recent request from Nanking—quoted in this Editorial—to expel Hallett Abend, a correspondent for The New York Times, from China. Abend had been charged with 'repeatedly [making] slanderous comments on the National Government and the various national leaders during the past nine months'. The China Critic defends Nanjing's request for his expulsion:

Neither the Government nor the Chinese nation resents criticism, but when criticism develops into mere scandal and slandal [slander], then the government has the right to put an end to it. A state is like an individual. Only a state with its diversified activities is more apt to err than an individual. No sane person would object to frank and useful criticism, but any person with a shred of self-respect left in him would most assuredly seek redress for any slander or libel against his good name. An individual may obtain such redress through the process of law, but a state is unfortunately handicapped in that respect as it has to be its own judge.

This editorial highlights the tension betweenThe China Critic Group's purported liberal position of support for free speech, their generalallegiance to a government that often compromised this belief, and between themselves, as an English-language publication, with elements of the foreign presence that they felt it their duty to confront.

(Hallett Abend wrote of the order for his expulsion,among other things, in his China memoir My Life in China, 1926-1941, 1943)

15 August

Conceding that 'cultured, far-sighted, and broad-minded' foreigners do exist in China, the writer of the Editorial 'The Triumph of Stupidity' laments that they constitute only a minority. While commenting generally on the 'narrow-minded and arrogant' attitudes of the majority of foreign residents in Shanghai, the particular focus of this Editorial is the unnecessary and provocative construction of iron gates at the entrances to the International Settlement as the latest episode of 'foreign die-hardism':

The so-called foreign 'die-hards' in China are decidedly behind the times. In spite of the rise of Chinese nationalism and the changing trend in international diplomacy, they still cling desperately to their ill-gotten privileges like a drowning person clinging to dear life itself. The most recent decision of foreign 'die-hardism' is the decision of the Municipal Council to guard the main entrances to the International Settlement by means of iron gates; one of which, indeed, has already been put up at the junction of North Szechuen Road and Range Road.

5 September

'The Triumph of Stupidity' provoked an incendiary response from the British newspaper The Shanghai Times, which printed an article titled 'Something Worse that Stupidity' on 25 August. This week The China Critic responded to the article in an Editorial titled 'Die-hardism and the Shanghai Times':

If anyone still entertains the fond hope that foreign die-hardism has died out in Shanghai, he needs only to be a reader of The Shanghai Times in order to be unpleasantly disillusioned. In an editorial entitled 'Something Worse Than Stupidity', which appeared in The Times of August 25 and was intended as a rejoined to our editorial of August 15 entitled 'The Triumph of Stupidity', the editor of The Times endeavored to uphold the sanctity of the Settlement authorities and berated The China Critic for opposing the erection of iron gates at the Settlement boundaries.

This editorial lambastes the Times for failing to address the arguments of The China Critic Editorial in the first instance, challenges the contention of its author that 'Chinese and foreigners, happily, mix happily and share privileges and risks' of the settlement community, and responds to charges of 'meanness':

The Shanghai Times charges that The Critic 'descends to abuse and provocative language'. Yet in the same editorial it calls The China Critic 'mean' and 'mendacius' [sic]! Is that not provocative language? If to defend China's interests and attack foreign aggression is meanness, then by all means let The Critic be meaner!

Fig.3 The China Critic announces the winners of the Essay Prize, naming the winners, runners-up and 'honorable mentions' on 12 September

3 October

The first part of Wang Wen-jui's 王文瑞 'Abolition of Extraterritoriality in China', winner of the essay competition announced in June, is printed in this issue. The second part features in the 10 October issue of the journal.

17 October

Li Tz-hyung's 李芷馨 second-prize winning article on 'Abolition of Extraterritoriality in China' is published in this week's issue. [Part 2]

7 November

In his special article 'Early Chinese Colonization of Manchuria', Quentin Pan 潘光旦 begins a series of essays about the history of Chinese 'colonization' in the northeast, a process that he traces back to the early years of the Ming dynasty. 'We find that almost no sooner had the Mings unified the country', writes Pan, 'than a policy of extensive colonization was adopted'.

Two further articles appear in the next fortnight: in 'The Qualitative Aspect of Chinese Colonization in Manchuria' Pan explores the 'biological and qualitative bearings' of Chinese migration to the indigenous populations of the northeast; and, 'Recent Chinese Colonization in Manchuria' is an account of Chinese migration further north, after 'the Manchu Government made repeated efforts to clear Kirin [Jilin 吉林] of all Chinese settlers after 1776'.

These three essays epitomize Quentin Pan's penchant for race theory, something he employs here as a tool for historical analysis. And he presents a provocative view that in this age of foreign imperialism the history of Chinese settlement in Manchuria can rightly be considered to be one of deliberate 'colonization'.

12 December

Fig.4 '中國評論週報啓事'—an announcement from The China Critic Group, advertising special rates for educational institutions, 12 December

Lin Yutang's 林語堂 special article 'Analogies Between the Beginnings of Language and of Chinese Writing' discusses the formation of Chinese characters, describing them as 'specimens of fossilized thinking of the early Chinese, reflecting their manners, customs, religion and conceptions of things'. First, Lin invokes the Danish philologist Otto Jesperson's theory on the origin of language:

Jesperson's theory is that language originated in emotional songs, especially in songs of love, not songs in our usual sense, but songs which were half sung and half spoken (a way of rhythmic modulated expression pretty well expressed by the Chinese words: 吟咏).

According to Lin, Jesperson's idea is 'analogous' to the formation of Chinese characters because, he writes, 'just as there was a stage in language when it was half speaking and singing, so there was a stage in the characters when it was impossible to distinguish between drawing and writing.' Lin traces the development of characters from their origin, when they where purely illustrative pictographs—he includes a list of seventeen hand-drawn figures as examples—explaining how the meanings of characters have changed over time. Concluding, he uses the following amusing example to show how characters have largely lost the original meaning:

We have long forgotten entirely to associate the word for 'willing' (肯) with the idea of 'meat' and the word for 'able' (能) with the picture of an animal, and think of ridiculous it is to teach our children that England is classified under 'grass' (英), America under 'goat' (美), France under 'water' (法), Italy under 'heart' (意), Russia under 'man' (俄), and Germany under 'march' (德 ).

1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1945