May Fourth Movement

(redirected from May fourth era)

May Fourth Movement

(1919), first mass movement in modern Chinese history. On May 4, about 5,000 university students in Beijing protested the Versailles Conference (Apr. 28, 1919) awarding Japan the former German leasehold of KiaochowKiaochow
or Jiaozhou
, former German territory, area c.200 sq mi (520 sq km), along the southern coast of Shandong prov., China. Its administrative center was the city of Qingdao. Germany leased Kiaochow in 1898 for 99 years, but in 1914 Japan seized it.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Jiaozhou), Shandong prov. 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 warlordswarlord,
in modern Chinese history, autonomous regional military commander. In the political chaos following the death (1916) of republican China's first president and commander in chief, Yüan Shih-kai, central authority fell to the provincial military governors and
..... Click the link for more information.
. 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. The latter advocated gradual cultural reform as exemplified by Hu ShihHu Shih
, 1891–1962, Chinese philosopher and essayist, leading liberal intellectual in the May Fourth Movement (1917–23). He studied under John Dewey at Columbia Univ., becoming a lifelong advocate of pragmatic evolutionary change.
..... Click the link for more information.
 who interpreted the pragmatism of John Dewey, while leftists like Chen DuxiuChen Duxiu
or Ch'en Tu-hsiu
, 1879–1942, Chinese educator and Communist party leader. He was active in the republican revolution of 1911 and was forced to flee to Japan after taking part in the abortive "second revolution" of 1913 against Yüan Shih-kai.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and Li DazhaoLi Dazhao
, 1888–1927, professor of history and librarian at Beijing Univ., cofounder of the Chinese Communist party with Chen Duxiu. He was the first important Chinese intellectual to support the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
..... Click the link for more information.
 introduced Marxism and advocated political action. The movement also popularized vernacular literature, promoted political participation by women, and educational reforms.

Bibliography

See Hu Shih, The Chinese Renaissance (2d ed. 1964); V. Schwarcz, Chinese Enlightenment Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May 4th Movement of 1919 (1986).

May Fourth Movement

 

a mass anti-imperialist movement in China in May and June 1919.

Influenced by the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, the May Fourth’ Movement developed in response to the decision of the Paris Peace Conference not to return to China the former German concessions in Shantung, which had been captured by the Japanese. It began on May 4,1919, in Peking, where students demonstrated against the decision and the betrayal of Chinese national interests by the venal leaders of the Peking government. The police arrested several dozen demonstrators; the students of Peking responded the following day by boycotting classes and declaring a strike.

The action of the students in Peking was supported by students in other cities, and in early June workers, the urban petite bourgeoisie, and the nationalist bourgeoisie joined the struggle. The principal center of the movement shifted from Peking to Shanghai, where 50,000–70,000 workers and nearly all the merchants went on strike. Under pressure from the popular masses, the Peking government was forced to dismiss the three officials who had compromised themselves most by their ties with the Japanese imperialists. The May Fourth Movement provided a strong impetus to the development of the working-class and national liberation movement in China and fostered the dissemination of Marxism throughout the country.

REFERENCE

Dvizhenie “4 maia” 1919 goda v Kitae. Moscow, 1971.

V. P. ILIUSHECHKIN

References in periodicals archive ?
Grieder sums up the crux of the problem: "Nationalism in the May Fourth era manifested itself as a concern for the invisible foundations of the social order, a problem of cultural identity at the level of both individual and collective self-consciousness" (209).
Lu himself translated Verne's science fiction which prioritized "science" rather than "fiction." Yet, the quest for a scientific worldview did not fully emerge until the May Fourth era (see Furth 62).
Both Hao Zhang and Zhitian Luo called attention to the interesting coexistence of nationalism and cosmopolitanism in the May Fourth era. Luo also went a step further to analyze Hu's nationalism which he maintained was deeply mediated by cosmopolitan thinking.
These reforms dissipated during the May Fourth era of 1919-1923, during which Peking opera was viewed as feudal and backward.
Their subjects include early modern scientist, an adventurer courtesan in late imperial China, a pioneer in vision and photography in the nineteenth century, a reformer in colonial Hong Kong, a Manchu princess and author who was also a cultural adviser, a factory owner and populist, Beijing University students in the May Fourth era, a reluctant mendicant, a rebellious woman and survivor, and a peasant woman who became a domestic worker in Beijing.
One article deals specifically with images of Jesus among intellectuals of the 1919 May Fourth era. Two essays investigate the place of Jesus in Chinese Islam, and one considers the Christocentric mission of Karl Ludvig Reichelt to Chinese Buddhists.
Has poetry not been at the forefront of the transformation of modern Chinese literature and culture, for example, the New Poetry in the Literary Revolution during the May Fourth era, modernist poetry in Taiwan and Hong Kong modernism in the 1950s-60s, and Misty Poetry in post-Mao China?
Also emphasizing continuities between the May Fourth era and the contemporary period, Lydia Liu uses an interesting non-Lacanian literary motif of mirror-gazing to argue that constructing a viable female subjectivity is still about as problematic for 1980s writers like Zhang Jie as it had once been for the early Ding Ling.