Mandarins and Merchants: After Tiananmen

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Newspapers, magazines, citizen societies, and chambers of commerce offered support for the students. Merchants threatened to withhold tax payments if China's government remained obstinate. Chinese representatives in Paris refused to sign the Versailles Treaty: the May Fourth Movement won an initial victory which was primarily symbolic, since Japan for the moment retained control of the Shandong Peninsula and the islands in the Pacific. Even the partial success of the movement exhibited the ability of China's social classes across the country to successfully collaborate given proper motivation and leadership.

For many years, the orthodox view in the People's Republic of China was that after the demonstrations of and their subsequent suppression, the discussion on possible policy changes became more and more politically realistic.

People like Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao shifted more to the left and were among the leading founders of the Communist Party of China in , whilst other intellectuals, such as the anarchist writer and agitator, Ba Jin also took part in the movement. Originally voluntarist or nihilist figures like Li Shicen and Zhu Qianzhi made similar turns to the left as the s saw China become increasingly turbulent.

In , Mao Zedong claimed that the May Fourth Movement was a stage leading toward the fulfillment of his vast Communist Revolution :. The May Fourth Movement twenty years ago marked a new stage in China's bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism. The cultural reform movement which grew out of the May Fourth Movement was only one of the manifestations of this revolution. With the growth and development of new social forces in that period, a powerful camp made its appearance in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, a camp consisting of the working class, the student masses and the new national bourgeoisie.

Around the time of the May Fourth Movement, hundreds of thousands of students courageously took their place in the van. In these respects the May Fourth Movement went a step beyond the Revolution of The May Fourth Movement served as an intellectual turning point in China; it was a seminal event that radicalized Chinese intellectual thought. Western-style liberal democracy had previously had a degree of traction amongst Chinese intellectuals, but after the Versailles Treaty which was viewed as a betrayal of China's interests , lost much of its attractiveness. Woodrow Wilson 's Fourteen Points , despite being rooted in moralism , were also seen as Western-centric and hypocritical.

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Many in the Chinese intellectual community believed that the United States had done little to convince the imperialist powers especially Britain, France, and Japan to adhere to the Fourteen Points, and observed that the United States itself had declined to join the League of Nations ; as a result they turned away from the Western liberal democratic model.

Marxism began to take hold in Chinese intellectual thought, particularly among those already on the Left. It was during this time that communism was studied seriously by some Chinese intellectuals such as Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. Scholars rank the New Culture and May Fourth Movements as significant turning points, along with the abolition of the civil service system in and the overthrow of the monarchy in Participants at the time, such as Hu Shih , referred to this era as the Chinese Renaissance because there was an intense focus on science and experimentation.

The challenge to traditional Chinese values, however, was also met with strong opposition, especially from the Nationalist Party. From their perspective, the movement destroyed the positive elements of Chinese tradition and placed a heavy emphasis on direct political actions and radical attitudes, characteristics associated with the emerging Chinese Communist Party. On the other hand, the Communist Party, whose two founders, Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu, were leaders of the movement, viewed it more favorably, although remaining suspicious of the early phase which emphasized the role of enlightened intellectuals, not revolution.

Although the Movement was highly influential, many of the intellectuals at the time opposed the anti-traditional message and many political figures ignored it.

Chiang Kai-shek , as a nationalist and Confucianist was against the iconoclasm of the May Fourth Movement. As an anti-imperialist, he was skeptical of western ideas and literature.

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He and Dr. Sun Yat-sen criticized these May Fourth intellectuals for corrupting morals of youth. The New Life Movement promoted Confucianism and the Kuomintang purged China's education system of western ideas, introducing Confucianism into the curriculum. Textbooks, exams, degrees and educational instructors were all controlled by the state, as were all universities.

Some conservative philosophers and intellectuals opposed any change, but many more accepted or welcomed the challenge from the West but wanted to base new systems on Chinese values, not imported ones. Chinese Muslims ignored the May Fourth movement by continuing to teach Classical Chinese and literature with the Qur'an and Arabic along with officially mandated contemporary subjects at the "Normal Islamic School of Wanxian". Although the May Fourth Movement did find partial success in removing Chinese traditional culture, [ citation needed ] there were still proponents who steadfastly argued that China's traditions and values should be the fundamental foundation of the nation.

From these opponents of Western civilization derived three neotraditional schools of thought: national essence, national character, and modern relevance of Confucianism. Each school of thought denounced the western values of individualism, materialism and utilitarianism as inadequate avenues for the development of China. Each school held to specific objectives. The "national essence" school sought to discover aspects of traditional culture that could potentially serve the national development of China.

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Such traditional aspects consisted of various philosophical and religious practices that emerged parallel with Confucianism. Most particularly, China imported Buddhism , a religion from their neighboring countries, India and Nepal. Under the "national character" school, advocates promoted the traditional family system, the primary target of the May Fourth Movement.

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In this school, reformers viewed Westerners as shells without morals. Finally, the modern relevance of Confucianism was centered on the notion that Confucian values were better than Western ones. In response to western culture's primary concentration on rational analysis, China's neotraditionalists argued that this was misguided, especially in the practical, changing milieu of the world. Most importantly, these three neo-traditionalist thoughts gave no consideration to the individual, which was the main theme of the May Fourth Movement.

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China portal Literature portal. New York: Viking Press, , pp. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, World Policy Journal. Retrieved November 18, Journal of Contemporary China. Retrieved November 21, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Chen The May fourth movement in Shanghai: the making of a social movement in modern China. Brill Archive. Retrieved June 28, Goodman China's communist revolutions: fifty years of the People's Republic of China.

Psychology Press. Retrieved April 9, Schoppa, R. Berkeley: University of California Press. Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Wasserstrom, Jeffrey N. May Fourth Movement at Wikipedia's sister projects.


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Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. During China's dynastic period , emperors planned the city of Beijing and arranged the residential areas according to the social classes of the Zhou Dynasty — BC. The term "hutong" appeared first during the Yuan Dynasty , and is a term of Mongolian origin, meaning "water well".

Citizens of higher social status were permitted to live closer to the center of the circles. The large siheyuan of these high-ranking officials and wealthy merchants often featured beautifully carved and painted roof beams and pillars and carefully landscaped gardens.