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


The China Critic - 1935 | 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


February 7

This week's 'A Chinese Student's Number' contains two essays by Chinese students. The Editorial 'Chinese Students Speak for Themselves' introduces some common problems in contemporary education and careers ('For example, it has been said very often that the students of today never love knowledge for its own sake'), and talks about the two special articles in this issue

In 'Complaints of a College Graduate' E.E. Liu 柳生祺 recounts his difficulty finding a fulfilling career with a degree in English literature. Zia Yee Chen 謝貽珍 writes about his thoughts on education, careers and changing patterns of family life in 'Thoughts of an Undergraduate': 'The much eulogized home is now more than ever before a center of conservatism and a field for tragedy. It ruins the career of the male and kills the female… . I therefore will either remain single or marry a who, among other things, can be economically independent.'

Unrelated to the theme of this issue the essay 'Fascism and China' by Homer S. Wong 王湘元 denounces this political philosophy on 'Theoretical', 'Political', 'Financial, Social and Cultural' grounds, as being a quintessentially European system that is entirely unsuited to Chinese conditions.

Fig.1 An advertisement for the Shanghai Times 時事新報, 7 February

21 February

An obituary, 'The Death of Professor Giles' recounts the life of the great English Sinologist Herbert Allan Giles, praising him foremost for his achievement in the field of Sinology and his ability to adapt his thinking to new conditions in China:

Unlike many of his generation why had been in this country before the days of revolution, and consequently had no sympathies with the thoughts and outlook of the younger and more progressive elements in China, Professor Giles remained to the end appreciative not merely of her past glories, but also of her present problems and aspirations for the future.

28 March

In 'I Daren't Go to Hangchow', the 'Little Critic' column for this issue, Lin Yutang describes criticisms he was subjected to during recent excursions to Hangzhou. They came both from communists and from fascists who took him to task for his 'three great sins', namely that he 'introduced humour through the Analects Fortnightly'; 'advocated the familiar style through Jen Chien Shih (This Human World); and 'unearthed and reprinted some authors of the Ming dynasty, which I loved so much, because it is to me the most interesting period in Chinese literature'. Lin Yutang's Hangzhou is a place where young and impressionable ideologues lurk at every corner, '[not those] who kill with their guns, but those that grill with their pens'. He is forced to visit the city 'stealthily' to avoid their ire:

I met two young men with long hair, long cravats and in foreign dress, smoking Russian cigarettes, and each hugging a volume of some Dummkopfsky under his arm. It was so frightened to be seen enjoying the chrysanthemums that I immediately pulled a long face and knitted my brow, pretending to be thinking energetically of the sorrows of my country.

'I Daren't Go to Hangchow' is at once a fantastic illustration of the influence of Lin Yutang's magazines on the periodical scene at this time, and of this writer's 'humourous' response to the politically motivated criticism he received. It brims with a kindly, self-depreciating style that was the hallmark of his satire.

2 May

This week's 'Special Number on Chinese Art' is introduced by the Editorial 'A National Art' which declares that this issue was 'inspired by the Chinese Art Exhibition shortly to take place in London'. The author discusses calligraphy as a unique Chinese art form, decrying the popularity of pens and typewriters that has 'threatened its banishment into relative oblivion.'

In 'Chinese Calligraphy, Poetry and Painting' Florence Ayscough discusses the features of, and relationship between, these three great art forms. Wen Yuanning's 溫原寧 article 'Chinese Painting' explains the aesthetic principles of Chinese painting, and the relationship between painting and calligraphy.

Commenting on reactions to Chinese art in the West, Anne K. Sun in 'Western Reactions to Chinese Landscape Painting' discusses the 'many reasons why, in the past, foreigners have found it hard to respond whole heartedly to Chinese landscape'. She proposes that this is because Western tradition, based heavily on the human form and religious iconography, 'has suffered a complete separation of man from nature'—in contrast to 'the East', whose religion has inspired man to greater harmony with nature. In her article 'Chinese Influence on English Porcelain and Furniture', Kuo-Sieu Wong 王國秀 describes the influence of Chinese styles on English domestic life since the establishment of the East India Company.

(Fan Liya 范麗雅 discusses these articles in her essay 'The 1935 London International Exhibition of Chinese Art: The China Critic Reacts', in the 'Features' section of this issue).

4 July—A Special Number on Wang An-shih

Prompted by Chiang Kai-shek's recent encouragement of the study of Wang Anshi王安石, this special issue is dedicated to the economic theory of this enduring and controversial Song-dynasty reformer. The editorial 'Wang An-shih and China Today' introduces this topic:

Though in the centuries that followed his death, there were scholars who recognized his greatness, yet it is the 20th century China that gives him the full credit for his statesmanship. Not only Liang Chi-chao, the scholar-statesman, painted him a full length portrait, but General Chiang Kai-shek, a military man and a realistic political leader of present day China also pays him a tribute by ordering General Hsiung, governor of Kiangsi, where Wang An-shih was born 9 centuries ago, to institute and encourage the study of his reforms.

In 'Wang An-shih and His Time', Lin Yu 林幽 details the historical background of the man, and comments upon the enduring controversy surrounding his ideas: 'In contrast with the Latin proverb that about the dead there is nothing but good, the Chinese say that the time to pronounce the last word of a man's character is after his death (蓋棺論定). But of Wang An-shih for centuries after his death no one seemed able to give a final appraisal of his achievements.'

A detailed account of 'Wang An-shih's Reform Measures' is presented in an anonymous contributed article, which draws heavily on the book Wang An-shih, by the English SinologistH.R. Williamson, the first volume of which was published this year.

T.K. Chuan 全增嘏 provides a summary of notable historical criticisms of Wang's thinking in his article 'Wang An-shih and His Critics'.

15 August

Fig.2 Advertisement for T'ien Hsia Monthly, 30 January 1936

The Editorial column 'Introducing The “T'ien Hsia Monthly”' welcomes the first appearance of this new magazine, noting its connection with The China Critic: 'It's editorial board consists of Dr. John C.H. Wu (Managing editor), Mr. T.K. Chuan, Dr. Lin Yutang, and Mr. Wen Yüan-ning (Editor-in-Chief)—nearly all of whom, we are proud to say, are connected with The China Critic.'

(The September 2009 issue of China Heritage Quarterly is dedicated to the heritage of T'ien Hsia Monthly.)

29 August

Randall Gould writes on 'The Foreign Press in China'. 'Although twenty years ago the situation of the foreign press in China could be covered in a few words', Gould writes, 'today it is next to impossible to be thoroughly complete.' The author provides a highly informative overview of the subject which includes lists of foreign press associations, newspapers, daily press publications and magazines of British, American, French, German, Japanese, White and Soviet Russian communities. Describing the Australian journalist George E. Morrison as an 'heroic figure' from the 'old days' of pre-Republican China, Gould writes: 'For years he reigned supreme and virtually alone in Peking, and so great was his name that the news came to his desk without the necessity for going out after it.'

(See also 'The Foreign Mentality in China' by Randall Gould in China Heritage Quarterly, September 2009. An extract from Gould's China memoir China in the Sun and be found in the Articles section of this issue.)

5 September—A Special Number on Greater Peiping

This week The China Critic presents a 'Special Number on Greater Peiping', with articles discussing Beiping/Beijing's development, public utilities and welfare, and its aspirations of becoming a 'world tourist centre'.

Unrelated to the theme of this issue 'The China Quarterly' notes the recent appearance of this new journal—published under the joint auspices of the China Institute of International Relations, the Pan-Pacific Association of China and the Institute of Social and Economic Research (it is unrelated to the eponymous journal published by the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London). The author likens this journal to the American Foreign Affairs, and notes the contributing writers to the first issue.

Another Editorial, 'Progress of Sinology' comments on the development of Western Sinology from the first Jesuit missions during the late Ming to the present day. 'Judging by the tremendous number of [Western] books on China and things Chinese that have recently appeared', the author predicts, 'we may as a matter of fact predict that the future of sinology will be as bright as ever, which, as everyone will admit, is a very good sign indeed.'

Fig.3 Advertisement for the state lottery, 19 September

10 October

The editorial article 'Western Study of Oriental History' provides insightinto The China Critic's stance on Sinology:

[Western interest in Chinese History] hardly existed before the publication of such scholarly works as those by Hirth, Cordier, Williams, Maspero, Granet, Karlgren and Anderson. Under the influence of these men, sinology, so-called, has become a subject which is considered worthy to be taught at the Western academics of learning… . To a Chinese, of course, this is indeed a most gratifying sign, because it shows that the occidentals have at least given up their erroneous ideas that Chinese civilization is so alien to that of the West that no points of contact can ever be established between them.

The author of this editorial quotes at length a recent article from the journal Pacific Affairs, 'The Teaching of Modern Oriental History in the West' by William R. Shepard, as an example of work that has challenged 'the conception of things Eastern as “queer and outlandish.” ' In conclusion, he writes:

Professor Shepard, it may be noted, has never taught oriental history; his fame rests essentially on his brilliant studies on the history of Latin America. Because of this very fact, his opinions on the teaching of modern oriental history are all the more valuable, expressed as they are by a man who, being, so to speak, an outsider, naturally could see things more clearly than those who are themselves teaches of the subject.

7 November: A Special Number on Physical Culture

Coming shortly after China's Sixth National Athletic Meet, held in Shanghai, 10-20 October, this issue discusses the state of physical culture and education in China. Introducing this topic the Editorial 'Physical Culture in China' challenges: 'the popular [fallacy that] sports and athletics are purely Western in origin' with a summary of sport in Chinese history. Among other things, the author argues that 'Football was a popular game as far back as the Han dynasty, for in the Han Shu Yi Wen Chi (漢書藝文誌) … a treatise on football, or as it was called, ch'u chiu (蹴鞠), is mentioned.'

K. Lock 駱光 recountshis experience of the 'The Sixth National Athletic Meet', commenting particularly upon unprecedented levels of female participation, the varying popularity of different events, and China's prospects at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. K.S. Chang 張國勳 provides a summary of 'New Records Made in the National Meet'.

Ahuna Tong 唐羅歡, who contributed to last year's special issue on 'Chinese Womanhood', describes the state of 'Women's Physical Education in China'. She believes it has 'improved in vast strides' over the past five years: '[the modern girl] is full of life and energy, and properly developed, in contrast to the weak, fragile, and anemic-looking girl of yesterday.'

In 'The Other Side of the Question' Lin Yu 林幽 questions whether the competitive zeal surrounding the selection of sports teamsmight compromise the quality of physical education in schools more generally, and whether enthusiasm for sport could interfere with young people'sinterests in other aspects of their education.

14 November

Fig.4 Advertisement for Lin Yutang's My Country and My People, 21 November

Yao Hsin-nung 姚莘農, a notable playwright and co-editor of the journal T'ien Hsia, contributes 'An Open Letter to Lin Yutang', a respectful but forthright criticism of Lin's recently published My Country and My People. He praises the honesty and 'familiar, chatty and personal' tone of the book, but contends that Lin focuses too much upon Chinese intellectuals (despite promising to he readers an affinity with the common man—'my people'):

The Western readers of your book, I am afraid, will take it for granted that the phrase 'my people' covers all Chinese without exception. This is why I personally don't like the title of your book… . I have not the slightest doubt that your Western readers will smile at their cook-boys, after going through your book, and feel themselves enlightened or pretend to have understood the Chinese people as well as their 'pidgin.' Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that understanding, unlike knowledge, cannot be acquired through going to lectures, attending classes and, least of all, through reading books.

Yao also takes issue with Lin's downplaying of the suppression of women in China, his conception of Chinese 'progressiveness', 'conservatism' and 'face'.

Yao's 'Open Letter' is prefaced by a lengthy response byLin Yutang himself, who was 'privileged to read' Yao's letter before it went to print. Lin defends his work by painting himself as a 'peasant boy of Fukien', who grew up surrounded by peasants and working people.

19 December

Randall Gould's 'An Open Letter to Lin Yutang' strikes a different tone of criticism from Yao Hsin-nung's letter of the previous month. Professing to have enjoyed the 'Little Critic' for years, Gould is disappointed at the lack of satire in My Country and My People. He talks at length in this letter about China's need for the equivalent to the Russian Satirists Ily Ilf and Eugene Petrov:

China is a land rich in natural resources, if you want to look long and far enough for them, but two it lacks. These are Ily Ilf and Eugene Petrov, writers who are undisputed property of a Soviet Russia they have harpooned, lampooned, roasted to a turn and probably improved no end… . That Ilf and Petrov flourish in the U.S.S.R. seems to me an impressive recommendation of the country. But that is straying from the point, which is not weather Soviet Russia is tolerant of satirical literature but that Soviet Russia is producing (or perhaps I should say enduring) some which should have its counterpart in China, but has not.

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