May Fourth Movement and the Rise Term Paper

Pages: 11 (4193 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian

¶ … May Fourth Movement and the Rise of the Chinese Communist Party

as a Reaction to Foreign Imperialism

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The May Fourth Movement was one of the most famous anti-foreign movements in China and the first mass movement in modern Chinese history. Some scholars have called it "the Chinese Enlightenment," with the purpose of unifying patriotic Chinese of all classes. On May 4, about 3,000 university students in Beijing protested the Versailles Conference (April 28, 1919), which had awarded Japan the former German leasehold of Jiaozhou, Shantung province. Demonstrations and strikes spread to Shanghai, and a nationwide boycott of Japanese goods followed. The May Fourth Movement began a patriotic outburst of new urban intellectuals against foreign imperialists and warlords. Intellectuals identified the political establishment with China's failure in the modern era, and hundreds of new periodicals published attacks on Chinese traditions, turning to foreign ideas and ideologies. The movement split into leftist and liberal wings, with the latter advocated gradual cultural reform as exemplified by Hu Shih who interpreted the pragmatism of John Dewey, while leftists like Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao introduced Marxism and advocated political action. Dewey, visiting China in 1919 said, "there seems to be no country in the world where students are so unanimously and eagerly interested as in China in what is modern and new in thought, especially about social and economic matters, nor where the arguments which can be brought in favor of the established order and then status quo have so little weight -- indeed are so unuttered."

The movement also popularized vernacular literature, promoted political participation by women, and championed educational reforms.

Term Paper on May Fourth Movement and the Rise of Assignment

There is little doubt that this seminal event in the history of China had far reaching effects. There is also little doubt that the May Fourth Movement led to the birth of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). "The Party was founded two years after the outbreak of the May Fourth movement, and official historiography still traces the intellectual origins of the CCP to the May Fourth movement."

Historians now mark the May Fourth Movement as the beginning of modern China. Originally a demonstration against Japanese expansionism into China, the protest rapidly coalesced into a political, social, and cultural movement that gave birth to China's Communist Party. Interestingly, Chinese contact with the Russian Bolsheviks first occurred a year before the May Fourth Movement. The Chinese government of Sun Zhongshan received a letter from the Bolshevik Foreign Minister during the summer of 1918, proposing an alliance. Although initially skeptical, when "Bolshevik representatives suggested that allying with Moscow could provide Sun with funding, military advisors, and arms, therefore, did Sun agree to establish a formal alliance."

During World War I, Japan and the United States seized the opportunity to speed up their occupation of lands in China. "The overthrow of the Qing Dynasty represented a watershed in Chinese history, but the 1911 revolution did little tot strengthen China's hand against foreign imperialism or change Chinese society. On the contrary, foreign powers took advantage of Chinese weakness in the fall of 1911 to advance their ambitions in China."

Japan, in particular, was at the fore-front of such activities. "Japan's seizure of the German position in Shantung in 1914 and her Twenty-one Demands of 1915 were fresh in memory. National concern had been mounting that the Versailles peace conference might let Japan stay in Shantung."

As a result, increasing anti-imperialist feeling was aroused in the Chinese people, and the victory of the October Revolution in Russia encouraged many Chinese in their quest for liberation from foreign control. Protests were coming in to Paris from Chinese all over the world, and passions increased when it was discovered, "Japan's claim based not only on secret wartime agreements with Britain, France, and Italy in 1917 but also on a similar secret deal by the Japan with the corrupt Anfu government in Peking in 1918."

Even the United States, in the Lansing-Ishii Agreements of November 1917, in which the United States "recognized that 'geographical propinquity creates special relations between nations' -- i.e. Japan had a special position in China -- while Japan paid lip service to the Open Door Policy."

On one hand, the government of the Northern Warlords yielded to the pressure exerted by the imperialist foreign powers and failed to act in the general interests of the Chinese people. It greatly increased its control of land, industry and mining, resulting in large increases in taxation. This, together with the tangled warfare among warlords which was still continuing led to great suffering among the population. The domestic class contradictions, which were deepening day by day, became the fundamental cause of the outbreak of the May Fourth Movement. On the other hand, during World War I, the national industries developed, the working class rapidly grew in strength, and the workers struggled by frequently going on strike. The development of the New Cultural Movement promoted the emancipation of the mind, and spurred the advanced elements, especially young students, to actively participate in patriotic activities. This prepared the class and ideological foundation for the outbreak of the May Fourth Movement.

In early 1919, the victorious nations of World War I convened a peace conference in Paris. The representatives of the Chinese government put forth the following requests: do away with the privileges of the imperialist countries in China; cancel the "Twenty-One Demands" of the Japanese; and take back the privileges in Shantung that Japan had taken from Germany during World War I. Britain and the United States dominated the meeting and rejected the Chinese representatives' demands. The failure in diplomacy of China at the Paris Peace Conference became the incident that touched off the May Fourth Movement.

The Twenty-One Demands were a set of demands which the Japanese government of Okuma Shigenobu sent to the Chinese government in 1915. Seizing the opportunity brought about by the onset of war in 1914, and by its status as an Allied power, Japan presented China with a secret ultimatum in January 1915 designed to give Japan regional ascendancy over China. The ultimatum was backed up by the threat of war. The Twenty-One Demands - comprising five groupings - required that China immediately cease leasing its territory to foreign powers, and to ascent to Japanese control over Manchuria and Shantung. The Japanese government, following revision of the demands on April 26, 1915, sent a final demand requiring agreement of the demands on May 7, 1915. The following day the Chinese government, aware of its inability to wage war against Japan, reluctantly agreed to Japan's demands, although the intervention of both Britain and the U.S. annulled demands by Japan that China accept government policy "advisors." The result was a boyctt of Japanese goods in Japan and the return home by groups of Chinese students in Japan. "The Twenty-One Demands had the unexpected effect of precipitating a fear of imminent extinction and a consequent outburst of nationalism."

The U.S. In particular was wary of Japanese intentions in the Pacific. The Twenty-One Demands were subsequently annulled by the Washington Conference of 1921-22 when Japan agreed to withdraw its troops from Shantung and to restore sovereignty to China:

1. China must recognize all German rights, interests, and concessions related to the province of Shantung.

2. China must not cede or lease any property on Shantung, or along its coast, to any power.

3. China must allow Japan to build a railway connecting Chefoo or Lungkow with the Kiaochou Tsinanfu Railway.

4. China must open up cities in Shantung for foreign residence and trade.

5. China must extend the lease of Port Arthur, Dairen, the South Manchuria Railway, and the Antung-Mukden Railway for an additional 99 years.

6. China must allow Japanese to lease or own land in South Manchuria and Eastern Inner Mongolia.

7. China must allow Japanese freedom of movement in those regions.

8. China must allow Japanese to mine in these regions.

9. China must obtain Japanese permission before constructing (or permitting) a railway in these regions, and before loaning tax revenue from these regions to foreign powers.

10. China must consult Japan when it needs political, financial, or military advisors.

11. China must relinquish control of the Kirin-Chungchun Railway to Japan for a term of 99 years.

12. China must make the Han-Yeh-Ping Company a joint concern of China and Japan.

13. China must protect the rights of Han-Yeh-Ping to mine in the areas adjacent to its existing mines.

14. China must not cede or lease any harbor or bay on its coast to any other power.

15. China must utilize Japanese political, financial, and military advisers.

16. China must allow Japanese hospitals, temples, and schools to own land.

17. China must place its police under joint Japanese and Chinese administration, or employ Japanese policemen.

18. China must obtain from Japan a supply of a certain quantity of arms, or establish an arsenal in China under joint Japanese and Chinese management, and must use experts and materials from Japan.

19. China must allow Japan to build… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"May Fourth Movement and the Rise."  May 15, 2005.  Accessed October 31, 2020.