HIST 2384 CHINA IN REVOLUTION 1
Hist 2384 China in Revolution
I was born in 1892 in Guangxi-Zhuang province during the era ofself-strengthening. I am a girl while my other two siblings are boys.I belong to the Miao community and as such, I was married off at thetender age of 16 years. My community engages in grabbing marriage.Under this type of marriage, the man chooses several of his friendsto accost the girl that he wants to marry as she engages in varioushousehold duties. Immediately the men notice the girl away from herhome, they chase her and take her to the house of the person who hadsent them. This is what happened to me when I was 16 years old but itnever came as a surprise since I was well aware of the customs of myethnic tribe. When my brothers realized that I was missing, theystarted asking where I had gone until they learned that I was someoneelse’s wife. As it was the tradition, the person who had ordered myabduction sent a delegation of men to my parents to initiate theprocess of arranging for our wedding. Two weeks later, I wasofficially someone’s wife.
I belong to the Miao group. The term Miao is a Chinese term thatmeans the four Districts. On this note, I come from the Hmong grouphence most of my relatives live in the Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, andGuangxi districts. Before the coming of the Christians, the majorityof the members my community worshiped ancestral spirits. None of mybrothers went to school since during those days men`s place was inthe battle field. However, during the entire period the country wasengaged in various forms of wars and rebellion, my younger brotherdid everything he could to avoid being enlisted in the army. This isbecause according to my culture the youngest son usually stays withthe parents and inherits the house. On the other hand, all the othermale children must move out of their father’s house to establishtheir own household far from their parents. As such, by the time Iwas getting married my elder brother had moved to Shandong while theother remained in Guangxi. As a child, just like all my age-mates, Iwas taught to be obedient to the dynasty. My parents cultivatedcorns and rice, among other crops. On the other hand, my grandfatherwas a wealthy person. He traded in animal skin and hides. At thetime, merchants such as my grandfather were socially despised.However, my grandfather never seemed to be bothered by how peopleperceived him. He was a happy man mainly because he could afford tolive in a town while most of his relatives lived in villages. Tosurvive, he had to maintain good relationships with the governmentofficials, and he did this by giving them bribes and gifts.
I was only one-year-old when the first Sino-Japanese War erupted as aresult of disputes over territorial control of Korea. During thisperiod, all the able-bodied men were forcefully recruited into thearmy. This is how my father and husband ended up joining themilitary. In 1895, the first Sino-Japanese War came to an end afterseven months of battle. In the battle, China was defeated. My fatherwas injured during the fight and succumbed to the wounds one yearafter the war. On 1st November 1897, a ground ofanti-foreign bandits attacked a German Precinct in Juye Shandongprovince and killed two missionaries (Zarrow, 2005). My brother, whohad migrated to Shandong and who was now married with one child, waspart of a revolutionist group known as the “Boxers.” The BoxerRebellion lasted between 1898 and1900. The individuals who werefighting in the rebellion believed that they had magical powers thatshielded them from being killed by the enemy bullets (Crossley,2010). At first, they targeted the government officials. However,after a few months, they turned their attention to the embassies andmissionaries. The destruction caused by the Boxer Rebellion increasedthe call for reforms (Zarrow, 2005). However, to my mother, the BoxerRebellion caused the death of her first-born son in the hands ofGermans who had come in the country to protect their missionaries anddignitaries.
I was only six years old when Emperor Qing initiated The Hundred Daysof Reform that lasted for 103 days. The reforms aimed at modernizingthe country’s education system, particularly the curriculum and theexaminations. It hoped to establish a modern educational system thatwould emphasize on science and mathematics instead of the Confuciantexts. Also, the campaign sought to establish national schools andcolleges. Before the One Hundred Days of Reforms movement, theteachings and ideas of Confucius formed the largest part of thecurriculum taught in schools (Smith, 1984.)
For me, I had only started school when the education reforms wereinitiated. However, initially, the reforms did not have muchinfluence on the curriculum since we continued learning the Confuciustextbook, particularly those of us who were in the rural areas. Someof the teachings that I received from the Confucius-based curriculumincluded obedient to parents, loyalty to the dynasty, filial piety,harmony, humanity, and morality. One of the reasons for the failureof the One Hundred Days of Reform is that most government officialswho were supposed to implement the emperor’s decree were uneducatedhence they did not know what to do (Smith, 1984.) In other parts ofthe country, the reforms encountered outright opposition. I was luckythat my auntie lived in the province of Hunan. Unlike hiscounterparts, the governor of the province of Hunan was dedicated tothe implementation of the reform. When I was ten years old, my mothersent me to stay with my auntie where I got the opportunity to acquirewestern education. The death of my father during the Sino-JapaneseWar made my mother resolve to ensure that she kept her children outof the war. This is why despite the cultural practices that favoredthe boys over girls, she enrolled me at a Confucius school at anearly age. I stayed with my auntie for five years. She advised me topersevere the problems that were associated with going to schools,particularly for girls. The old Confucian-based examination systemwas abolished in 1910. In the same period, more schools wereestablished (Cheng, Michael, & Jonathan, 1999). Some of myfriends even got a chance to study abroad. As a result of theintroduction of the Western ideas, more girls were allowed to go toschool. However, even though I was one of the few girls who were setto get scholarships to study in Japan, I never took the opportunity.The sole reason for doing so was because I still blamed the Japanesefor the death of my father. However, now I blame myself for allowingmy feelings to stand on my way to success.
I passed my exams, but my culture placed more emphasis on marriage asopposed to education, particularly for girls. As such, I was marriedin 1908 and had my first child the same year. I had just deliveredmy second child when the Wuchang uprising erupted, and my husbandtook part in it. The Wuchang uprising that occurred on October 10 in1911 was the major turning point in the social, economic, andpolitical aspects of my country. The revolution ended four monthslater with the arrest of the last empower a six-year-old Puyi onFebruary 12, 1912 (Lawrence, 2003). During the uprising, many peoplewere killed, and my husband was one of the casualties. Two monthsbefore the revolution come to an end, I was informed that my husbandwas seriously injured after falling into a trap set by the emperor`ssoldiers. That marked the beginning of my journey as a widow and theonly breadwinner to my two sons.
I was a college student when the Xinhua revolution erupted. XinhuaRevolution of 1912 is the uprising that overthrew the country`s lastimperial dynasty and paved the way for the establishment of theRepublic of China (Cheng et al., 1999). Several reasons resulted inthe rise of the Xinhua revolution. However, the major one was theinability of the Qing’s dynasty to modernize China and confrontforeign aggression. Consequently, numerous anti-Qing groups wereformed and they all wanted to overthrow the young emperor. Duringthis time, I was still grieving the death of my husband hence I didnot want to be involved in politics. Instead, I choose to concentrateon reading hoping that peace will be restored if more people becameeducated. I also made sure that my two sons went to the best schools.
I was a prolific reader of the magazine known as the New Youth sinceits inception in 1915 by Chen Duxiu. The magazine urged young peoplelike me to concentrate on achieving consciousness while shunning awaythe party politics. It reminded us that our country was trailing theWest in terms of the adoption of new technology According to Zarrow(2005), over 700 new journals, most of which short-lived, emergedbetween 1915 and 1923. However, New Youth was the most widely readmagazine, particularly by young people. Chen argued that the countryhad to adapt to a life of brutal competition as the world was slowlymoving from the hierarchical and autocratic societies to moreegalitarian and democratic ones. During this period, ideas such asthe importance of science-based education, individual autonomy, anddemocracy were rampantly promulgated by scholars such as Chen(Zarrow, 2005). The teachings of Chen were a wake-up call to me thatI had to be the change that I wanted. From that point, I ditched theidea of ever getting remarried and resolved to join movements thatsought to restore peace in the country. The ideas promulgated byChen soon materialized in the May Fourth Movement when together withother scholars we took part in a demonstration that aimed at callingfor the eradication of the Confucius-based education system.
I completed my college education in 1915. I graduated with anequivalent of a diploma in education, and I got a job as a teacher inBeijing. Being provided with an opportunity to impact my country mademe love my job even more. However, sometimes, the effects of theFirst World War made my job unbearable. This is because apart fromteaching, I had to act as a counselor to the hundreds of children inmy school and the neighboring settlements who lost their parentsduring the war. When the First World War came to an end, the Chinesepeople felt betrayed, me being one of them. Consequently, thefrustration and anger harbored by people resulted in the May Fourth1919’s demonstrations that took place in Beijing (Zarrow, 2005). InBeijing, all educated persons had established professionalorganizations that mostly dealt with bringing together young personsto initiate the change that we felt would liberate our country. I waspart of the group that initiated the May Fourth 1919 demonstration.Merchants and workers joined us in the demonstrations and theuprising that started in Beijing spread to other major cities. During the movement, we mainly attacked Confucianism terming it asoutdated.
The Chinese Communist Party was initiated in 1921 in Shanghai(Zarrow, 2005). During its inception, the party acted as a studygroup under the umbrella of the Nationalist Party. By this time, Iwas no longer working as a teacher. I would consider myself as one ofthe few women who even though never fought in the guerilla warfareoffered meaningful advice on the way to defeat the enemy outside thebattlefield. We were very excited when The Chinese Communist Armyjoined hands with the Nationalist Army in what come to be termed asthe Northern Expedition of 1926-1927 with the aim of eliminating thecountry`s warlords that were halting the efforts of the establishmentof a strong centralized government. However, the collaboration didnot last for long since in 1927 the Nationalist betrayed theirCommunists counterparts killing some of them (Atwill & Yurong,2010).Just like other Communist, I mistrusted The Nationalists.The hope that they would restore peace in the country starteddwindling as a result of the corruption that had ridden theNationalist-led government. Besides, the Japanese aggressive attacksworried everybody. Together with my two sons, we traveled to Jiangxiwhich appeared to be a haven since it had not experienced the heinousJapanese attacks.
By the first half of the 1930s, the Japanese army had taken controlof the Inner Mongolia and some parts of the Northeastern China.Several months later, the Japanese troops started finding their wayinto the country, and they took over the Mukden in 1931 (Atwill etal., 2010). At this point, Chiang did not know what to prioritizeand therefore, ended up neglecting social and economic reforms. OnNovember 1, 1931, the Communists led by Mao Zedong declared theformation of the Chinese Soviet Republic that was supposed to reignover the Southern Province of Jiangxi. Although the priority of theMao Zedong-led group was to conduct guerrilla warfare, it was alsoinvolved in agrarian revolution (Crossley, 2010). The aim of theexpansion of agricultural activities in the region was to ensure thatthe countryside was isolated from the cities. The only way this couldhave been achieved was by ensuring that the countryside had enoughfood supply. I was one of the people who benefited from theagriculture initiatives that were initiated by the Mao Zedong-ledCommunist group. Though accidental, my entrance in the agriculturalsector provided me with an opportunity to exit active politics. Bythen, my two boys were grown up. The older one had shown muchinterest in joining the Communist-led army. The other one had startedventuring in business and operated a small hide and skin business inShanghai.
Following the Japanese attack of the Manchuria in 1931, theGovernment of the Republic of China faced threats from three frontsthe rise of warlords, the uprising of the Communist, and the Japaneseinvasion (Zarrow, 2005). Unaware of the danger the Japanese attackposed to the country, the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai continued todirect all his energy towards the eradication of the internalthreats, particularly the Communist soldiers. This move left seniormembers of his army frustrated. Several generals in Cheng-ledfunction opted to abduct him and force him to consider seeking thehelp of the Communist army in fighting the Japanese Army in 1937(Zarrow, 2005). When the general released Chiang, they made himpromise that he would work together with the Communist soldiers.InChina, the Second World War began in July 1937. The Marco Polo Bridgeincident was the first encounter between the Chinese troops and theJapanese army. The much stronger Japanese side managed to takecontrol of the Perking. Between 1937 and 1939, the Japanese militarytook control of the larger part of China`s East Coast includingcities such as Canton, Nanjing, and Shanghai (Lawrence, 2003).
Consequently, many years passed without ever seeing my younger sonwho was working in Shanghai as a merchant since the Japanese soldierscould not allow anyone to leave the territories that they hadconquered. When the Japanese approached Guangxi together with otherChinese Communists scholars we fled and settled in Guilin whichserved as the national capital in 1936. When the Second World Warerupted, the United States military established an air base in thecity. In 1939, a terrible battle broke out in the region followingthe Japanese invasion of Guangxi. However, the setting up of anairbase controlled by the United States soldiers helped the communisttroops to defeat the Japanese soldiers, and this brought the war toan end in 1945 (Lawrance, 2003). Once the Japanese soldierssurrendered, I returned to Guangxi where I resumed my teaching careerand helped my mother was ailing from an unknown disease.
From that point, I followed the development of the Civil War mostlythrough the narrations of my elder son who had been promoted to acaptain in the Communist party. Through him, I learned that when theSecond World War ended, China was left vulnerable to the rise ofCivil War and the emergence of warlords such as Wu Peifu and ZhangZongchang, among others (Atwill & Yurong, 2010). However, ChiangKai-Nationalist government continued receiving support from theUnited States. American had two reasons for continuing to supportChina. First, it was the only way of preventing the Communist sidefrom taking control of China. Secondly, China was one of her partnersduring the Second World War (Atwill & Yurong, 2010). In 1945, theleaders of the Communist and the Nationalist parties Mao Zedong andChiang Kai-Shek started holding talks over the establishment of apost-war government. The two agreed on the need for democracy,equality of all political parties in the country, and a unifiedmilitary. However, the talks did not last for a year despite theintervention by the America’s General George Marshall. In 1946, thetwo sides started fighting each other, and a Civil War erupted. Anyattempt to form a coalition government was thwarted by the high levelof mistrust between the two sides (Crossley, 2010).
As the Civil War progressed from 1947 to 1949, it became apparentthat the Communist would emerge victorious. This is because even ifthe Communist had no control of China’s major cities following theend of WWI, they had a strong grassroots support and a superiormilitary (Zarrow, 2005). For instance, in Guangxi, where I lived theparty had helped many people to become farmers hence most of theindividuals who inhabited the region supported the Communist side. OnOctober 1, 1949, Mao Zedong the leader of the Chinese Communist Partydeclared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Thedeclaration brought to an end the conflict between the NationalistParty and The Chinese Communist Party that had started immediatelyafter the Second World War (Zarrow, 2005). At the end of the CivilWar, I was grateful that I had offered my son to restore peace in thecountry by fighting alongside the Communist soldiers.
In conclusion, between 1890 and 1949, China witnessed numeroussocial, economic and political reforms most of which were triggeredby uprisings and revolutions. The most important revolution is theXinhua uprising that resulted in the removal of the Emperor Qing. Onsocial matters, the One Hundred Days of Reforms movement, as well asthe May Fourth uprising, had the biggest implication. For instance,The One Hundred of Reform culminated in the eradication of theConfucius-based education and its replacement with a more modernsystem that placed more emphasis on science and technology as opposedto morality. However, the several revolutions that occurred in thecountry left thousands of casualties. For instance, I lost my fatherin the Sino-Japanese war while my husband died in the Xinhuauprising.
Atwill, D. & Yurong, Y. A. 2010. Sources in Chinese History:Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present. Toronto: Pearson.
Cheng, P., Michael, J., & Jonathan, D. (1999). The Search forModern China: A Documentary Collection. N.Y.: Norton.
Crossley, P. (2010). The Wobbling Pivot: China since 1800.Wiley-Blackwell.
Lawrance, A. (2003. China since 1919: Revolution and Reform, ASourcebook. N.Y.: Routledge.
Smith, A. (1984.) Chinese Characteristics. N.Y.: Fleming H.Revell Company.
Zarrow, P. (2005). China in War and Revolution, 1895-1949.N.Y.: Routledge.