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


The China Critic - 1936 | 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


2 January—A Special Number on the Sino-Siamese Relationship

Since its first appearance Lin Yu's 林幽 'Overseas Chinese' column has frequently examined anti-Chinese movements across the southeast Asian and Pacific region, known in Chinese as 'the Southern Seas' or Nanyang 南洋. This special issue addresses this topic at greater length.

The Editorial, 'The Sino-Siamese Relationship', introduces this topic with some general comments on the importance of trade between the two countries, the need for unity in the face of imperialism and a spurious comparison between Thai Chinese, the Boers in South African and French Canadians.

In the first of the special articles Lin Hsi-Chun 林熙春 examines the 'Causes of the Anti-Chinese Movement in Siam' in a lengthy article that deals with 'remote' and 'immediate' social and historical, and racial causes for this antagonism. On the point of 'Siam's Racial Consciousness', Lin argues that 'The ruling class in Siam came … from the Chinese, albeit a Chinese lost to China… . They are anti-Chinese for this reason.'

In 'Siam's Anti-Chinese Measures and China's Boycott', Yang Hsin 楊信 writes about the conditions faced by Chinese living in Thailand today, with translated extracts from a Thai Chinese-language newspaper Lak Muang Siamese Daily News that discuss anti-Chinese bias in the Thai education system, and a Chinese boycott of Thai rice.

Lin Yu's article 'Main Issues Between Siam and China' proposes the need for more diplomatic and legal solutions to Sino-Siamese problems, comparing this situation to French anti-British nationality laws in Tunisia.

Also in this issue, Lin Yutang writes 'An Open Reply to Randall Gould', in response to Gould's criticism of My Country and My People late last year. He argues that China is abundant in satirical novels—'two of the best Chinese satiric novels are Julinwaishih (儒林外史) [also known as The Scholars] and Laots'an Yuchi (老殘遊記) [also known as Travels of Lao Can]. A very recent one satirizing Chinese official life of twenty or thirty years ago is Kuanch'ang Hsienhsing Chi (官場現形記)—and that, given censorship in China, he is already putting himself at risk in writing satire in The Analects 論語半月刊:

As I have already indicated in my book, there are plenty of 'rogues' to be made heroes in such a satirical novel. In fact, Lun Yu, the humorus [ humorous] magazine that I founded and edited, lives and prospers by merely scanning the most innocent surface of the doings of such rogues … You have quoted Ilf and Petrov as saying in New Yorker that 'it is because life is so tragical that we write funny books.'… I have to thank the present state of things and the rigid censorship for developing my present style, which many call a 'satirical' style.

Evidently moved by this exchange with Randall Gould, Lin Yutang published 'Chinese Satiric Humour', a translation of Ming-era jokes by Jiang Jinzhi (江進之, better known as 江盈科, 1553-1605) the following week.

5 March: A Special Number on Chinese Periodicals

Fig.1 A 'Famous Castles' advertisement for Three Castles cigarettes; a different castle was depicted each week, 12 March

The purpose of this week's special issue, according to the leading Editorial 'Chinese Publications' is to 'fill [the] gap in publicity' of contemporary intellectual life in China, underrepresented as it is compared to political issues, by giving foreign readers of The China Critic a better understanding of Chinese-language periodicals.

'Some Publishing Tendencies in China' by Sung I-Chung 宋以忠 provides a detailed survey the state of Chinese publishing, with the author's apologies for not being an expert: 'although I work in the publishing industry, I work only in the accounting office.' Sung discusses trends in the popularity of different genres of books, the more lucrative sources of profit in publishing, and other aspects of the industry in general.

In his article 'Chinese Periodicals' Lin Yu introduces some of the more popular periodicals at this time, which was a heyday of magazine publishing: '1934 was commonly dubbed the year of magazines, but this tendency was visible even during the previous year, and has become even more pronounced since then.' Lin agrees with Sung's analysis that the health of the magazine industry is a 'sign of our eagerness to learn', but points to: 1. the relative low cost of magazines during economic depression—'[for students] one copy of a magazine offers more variety than a book, and is cheaper'; and 2.) the fact that, in an ongoing period of 'national emergency' beginning in 1931, 'many people have found magazine articles more intelligible and comprehensive than reports in the daily papers', as additional reasons for their popularity. Lin lists a number of categories of magazines and provides a summary of the more popular titles within each.

12 March

Discussion of books and publishing continues this week. In 'Recent English Books on China' Yih Chang-meng 易常孟 discusses the 'vogue', in England and America, of books on China since 1930. Likening the appeal of Sinology to that of Egyptology and Classics, and touching on recent publications and events that have contributed to this 'vogue'—'the Chinese Art Exhibition at Burlington House is instrumental in bringing the civilization of China closer to the attention of the English-speaking peoples'—Yih introduces some prominent English-language treatises on China.

'On the Art of Bookselling', this week's 'Little Critic' essay by Sung I-Chung, is a light, humorous discussion of the different creeds of booksellers, and the strategies they employ in marketing their wares.

20 March

Ruth Earnshaw's 'Interest in Oriental Studies' is written in lieu of the publication of a 1935 study on the state of Oriental Studies in the US, undertaken by American Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations. Earnshaw includes two tables detailing the popularity of various disciplinary approaches to Oriental Studies, and the number of 'China and Japan' related courses offered at various leading US universities. She notes that, while 'American scholars seem to be more interested in the political phenomena of China', her closing words post some interesting and prophetic questions:

Will political science and sociology continue to lead? Will there be an increase in interest among western educators in eastern education? Will western theologians and religionists develop Oriental studies? Will linguists and psychologists investigate the problems of the Orient? It will be a significant chapter in American academic history to observe.

2 April: A Special Number on the Chinese Blind

The Editorial 'Spiritual Sunshine' introduces the two contributors to this special issue, both of whom are blind students. We learn that Homer S. Wong 王湘元, who has contributed to The China Critic before (see 'Fascism and China', February 1935), is a student at the Comparative Law School of China and editor of The Great Youth, 'a monthly magazine devoted to serious subjects of interest to the younger generation.'

In 'Education and Work For the Blind' a contributor called 'Luxwell' describes the history of the treatment of the blind, beginning in 'Ancient Times'—'from the story of Oedypus we learn that blindness was a punishment inflicted upon the gods for [their] evil deeds', and later, 'the advent of Christianity marked a great change of attitude towards the blind'—to 'Modern Aid for the Blind': 'In China there are over thirty schools for the blind today.'

Homer S. Wong contributes 'The Work Done By And For The Blind In China', an appraisal of conditions for blind people in contemporary China. Wong discusses Braille literacy among the Chinese: 'Those who know Braille are but a small portion of the total blind population of China … [numbering] not more than three thousand'; he provides an assessment of educational and industrial institutions for the blind; and in conclusion, offers 'Suggestions for the Future': 'Primarily … a reform of the Braille system', 'Secondly' the establishment of a uniform education system tailored to the needs of blind students.

25 June

Fig.2: Emily Hahn and her gibbon, Mr Mills

This week's 'Little Critic'—'An Open Letter to My Chinese Friends' by the noted American journalist Emily Hahn—is a light-hearted musing on the difficulties she faces communicating with her Chinese friends at social gatherings. She laments that her Chinese is not good enough: 'the trouble is that I am American, not English. Were I English, I should have attended that school in Peiping, where all the British secretaries and consuls learn their Mandarin.' She compliments her friends for their ability to 'slip back into one of your six or seven mother tongues' during conversation, praising them as witty and knowledgeable companions at dinner parties. Hahn concludes with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that her friends might one day find her intelligent were she to bring a copy of Gibbon's Decline and Fall to their next meeting; a clever double-entendre referring to her pet gibbon, which she took everywhere:

Oh, well. I am only trying to explain why I am so stupid, and why one of these days I will turn up for dinner with a copy of Gibbon under my arm. I have always meant to read Gibbon from cover to cover. Still, it is a pity that you will never see me at a dinner-party in New York. I used to be known as a pretty fair conversationalist.

6 August: A Special Number on Travel

This issue contains travel accounts by Randall Gould, Ahuna Tong 唐羅歡 and others, which describe their various trips around China and, extolling the convenience of modern highways, commercial air travel. They laud the Kuomintang regime that has made these possible.

The Editorial, 'The Chinese Wanderlust', describes the importance of travel to Chinese culture, noting its presence in the writing of Sima Qian 司馬遷 and the poetry of Li Po 李白 and the omnipotence of mountains in Chinese religion.

In modern China the ancient wanderlust has received fresh impetus. With the growth of motor highways, railway communications and aviation facilities on the one hand, and the birth of new inland cities on the other, the country will quickly emerge into closer proximity in spite of the age-old natural barriers.

Fig.3 Advertisements for China Aviation Corporation 中國航空公司 and Eurasian Aviation Corporation, 2 January

20 August

From February this year until August 1937,The China Critic features a 'Weekly Interview' column.This week Lin Yin-feng 林引鳳 contributes 'Mrs. Lin Yutang', a chat with Lin Yutang's wife, Lin Cuifeng林翠鳳.The interview focuses on the Lin family's frantic preparation to leave on 'a long stay away from China': 'Lately we have been busy. Y.T. has a lot of work to complete. I have to see to household matters. It is not easy to break up a home. Furniture has been stored. Then it is hard to choose what to take. Packing alone has taken weeks.'

While their destination is not specified in this interview, the family is preparing to depart for New York, where Lin Yutang would go on, after the success of My Country and My Peoplelast year, to pursue a career writing English-language cultural treatises and novels about China.

3 September: A Special Number on Opium Suppression

This issue focuses on the history of the opium problem in China, and current diplomatic and legal efforts to suppress the drug trade, with articles contributed by Lin Yu 林幽 and Edward Y.K. Kwong 鄺耀坤.

5 November: A Special Number on Chiang Kai-shek

Commemorating the fiftieth birthday of the Generalissimo, this issue provides perhaps the most explicit example of The China China Critic's ideological support for the Kuomintang government.The Editorial, 'China's National Hero', asserts that The China Critic regards Chiang Kai-shek 'as probably the greatest political and military leader that China has ever produced'. Following a brief biographical account of his life it concludes with an appraisal of his three greatest achievements since the establishment of the National government at Nanjing: the New Life Movement, the People's Economic Reconstruction Movement and the anti-Communist campaign.

The first special article, 'Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek: An Appreciation', by Edward Y.K. Kwong 鄺耀坤 is an appraisal of Chiang's efforts that seeks a tone of objective 'detachment and fairness'. At the beginning of this essay Kwong concedes that since Chiang is a contemporary figure one should not rush to offering an historical judgement of him. But he ultimately fails in this:

If Dr. Sun Yat-sen, as father of the Revolution, is the Washington of China, then Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, as the one who brings order and union to a war-torn and divided country, should be regarded as the Lincoln of China. If the accomplishments of the generalissimo had belonged to a man of a different age, we would have worshipped him as the greatest of the heroes. What it is then that prevents us from worshipping someone that lives in our midst and is actively working for our own interest?

In 'The Spirit of China', Lin Yinfeng 林引鳳 waxes lyrical about Chiang's glowing brilliance from the perspective of the overseas Chinese community. 'Over four thousand years of uninterrupted history—an insistent call swelling through the ages—hold them [the overseas community] fast', she writes of the Chinese 'spirit'; and Chiang Kai-shek has brought their 'faith' to new heights: 'The Chinese overseas see the bright flame of a greater China than ever before rising rapidly—a beacon and symbol of their faith.'

In the final article in this special issue Randall Gould depicts 'Foreign Views of Chiang Kai-shek', declaring Chiang as the best hope for strength and stability in the eyes of foreigners: 'At the outset I disclaimed any desire or right to speak for foreigners in general, but surely it is fair to say that among foreigners devoted in one way or another to China's cause, there is a strong majority vote for General Chiang… . Chiang Kai-shek at the time of his fiftieth birthday is one of the truly great men of the world.'

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