Centre for Comparative and Public History Department of History
Chinese University of Hong Kong In-Service Teacher Training Course
Modernization and Transformation of Twentieth-Century Asia
Growth and development of Hong Kong
Xianggang zaji (miscellaneous notes on Hong Kong) was originally written in English and little is
known about the author. Chen Huixun, a Hong Kong Chinese literati, translated it into Chinese and had it published in 1894:
Political Institutions…Governor Robinson served the country and the people with his genuine heart and practical effort. To enhance education, he had the Central College established in Central and employed Mr. Shi An as teacher. To benefit the community, he had the market established and supervised by inspectors from the Urban Council. As for the postal service, it was originally meant for the delivery of documents between Hong Kong and the home country, now a Postal Office is set up and delivers messages for the merchants. The commercial well being is greatly enhanced.
Chinese and Western hospitals… The country cares about the people like it cares about its wounds. No tiny details are left unnoticed in matters concerning people’s life and death.
Underground water and sewage pipes… The construction of water-pipe is a grand undertaking. The determination and hard work of the British officials cannot be appreciated unless one sees with his own eyes. …Now that roads and pipes are thoroughly renovated, Hong Kong can be regarded as a clean land in the East and is no less spectacular than London.
Ge Yuanxu’s Huyou zaji (miscellaneous notes on the travels of Shanghai) was an important book about Shanghai in the late nineteenth century. It was published in 1876. The following passage is from Yuan Zuzhi’s preface:
At the end of the Daoguang period (1820-1850), five ports were opened for commerce, and China and foreign countries started to trade with each other. Shanghai therefore becomes a spectacular scene. Recently, more and more steam ships arrive. From the outer sea to the Yangzi River, everywhere can be reached. As for people who arrive at Shanghai, they include the 18 provinces from within China, and 24 countries from the outer ocean. Ah! How prosperous! Never since the birth of human beings has there been a place as perfect as this. In the past, it was said that there were four towns that were the most prosperous under the heaven: Zhuxian, Foshan, Hankou, and Jingde.
Since the rise of Hong Kong, the four towns have dwindled away. Since the rise of Shanghai, Hong Kong has also dwindled away.
Yuhuang riji (a diary behind a frail curtain) was written by Zhou Xingyi, a famous literati from Shaoxing of Zhejiang in the late nineteenth century. The following passage mentioned about his
sojourn in Shanghai:
My servant Zhang Sheng loves to visit the Bund on foot, passing every dockyard and watching steam ships arriving and anchoring. He keeps talking about what he sees and can think of nothing more pleasant. He visits the Bund everyday and never gets tired of it. His silliness is hundred times that of the visitors of the Jing'an Monastery.
1. Is there any similarity in the ways Source I and II described Hong Kong and Shanghai, then foreign colonies? If there is, what does such similarity reveal?
Guidelines Both Source I and II do not adopt the rhetoric of Chinese nationalism. They do not regard Western colonies or concession areas as a symbol of Chinese humiliation and defeat. Instead, they reveal the fact that modern Chinese urban dwellers identified with their own cities more than with their nation or country. Xianggang zaji (miscellaneous notes on Hong Kong) was written by an English and translated into Chinese by a local Chinese literati. Doubts can therefore be cast as to whether it really represented the views of Hong Kong Chinese literati in the late nineteenth century.
However, in translating this English text, Chen Huixun adopted the Classical Chinese language style and praised the achievement of the British Hong Kong colonial authority as if he were praising virtuous Chinese officials. Huyou zaji (miscellaneous notes on the travels of Shanghai), written and published by Shanghai Chinese literati, provides even stronger evidence of the rise of Chinese urban identification. The sentence in Yuan’s preface, “never since the birth of human beings has there been a place as perfect as this”, is derived from a sentence in Mengzi, a famous Confucianist text. Whereas the subject in the sentence in Mengzi is none other than Confucius, that in Huyou zaji refers to the city of Shanghai. Nothing reveals the proud identity of urban Chinese better than this example.
2. Yuhuang riji (a diary behind a frail curtain) reveals the contrast between a servant Zhang Sheng and his master Zhou Xingyi in their observation of modern Shanghai. What does such contrast reveal and how can it be related to Hong Kong?
Guidelines Zhou Xingyi was a highly educated Chinese literati, while Zhang Sheng, his servant, can be assumed to be poorly educated. They therefore represented the cultural elite and the commoners in late nineteenth century China, respectively. Giant seafaring steamers, one of the many wonders of industrial revolution, should have impressed any human being with ordinary curiosity and common sense. Therefore Zhang Sheng’s obsession can only be said to be quite normal. However, such obsession was dismissed by Zhou Xingyi as “silliness”. It shows that a significant portion of Chinese literati in the late nineteenth century had not the slightest curiosity towards Western technology, let alone understanding and learning from Western culture and social institutions. Within Shanghai and Hong Kong, there rose a group of Chinese literati which identified with modern city, but the majority of Chinese cultural elite still regarded modern Chinese cities as exotic and barbaric.
Lu Xun arrived at Hong Kong on 28th September 1927. On the next day he was harassed by Hong Kong maritime customs officers who solicited bribe from him:
1. How did Hong Kong maritime customs officers solicit bribe from Lu Xun?
Guidelines The notorious practice of Hong Kong maritime customs officers soliciting bribes from passengers was not unknown to Lu Xun and he was ready to pay them to avoid trouble. The officers first searched his ten luggage cases in the saloon and demanded 10 dollars as bribe. Lu Xun agreed to pay 5 while the officers only agreed to ask for 7 and both sides refused to compromise further.
Realizing that half of his luggage had been searched and maliciously stirred, Lu Xun refused to pay.
The officers then proceeded to search his luggage in his cabin, and suggested that the small knife and mosquito incense in his cabin served illegal purposes. Lu Xun surrendered and paid 10 dollars.
2. Through what kind of literary technique does Lu Xun relate Hong Kong maritime customs officers’ practice of soliciting bribe to Western imperialism?
Guidelines Lu Xun addresses Hong Kong Chinese maritime customs officers as tongbao (compatriots), their British supervisors, zhurenweng (boss). In this essay which contains about 3,300 Chinese characters, the term tongbao (compatriots) appears 20 times, in two occasions of which the term yingshu tongbao (British compatriots) is used; the term zhurenweng (boss) appears 6 times. Unlike the authors of Xianggang zaji (miscellaneous notes on Hong Kong) and Huyou zaji (miscellaneous notes on the travels of Shanghai), Lu Xun was very sensitive to the fact that Hong Kong was a British colony on Chinese land. The Hong Kong Chinese maritime customs officers, being Chinese, were indeed Lu Xun's “compatriots”. However, as part of the British Hong Kong colonial authority, they solicited bribe from Lu Xun. This is certainly not what a compatriot is supposed to do to his compatriots. Hong Kong being a British colony, the British supervising officer was indeed the “boss”. However, colonial regime itself was illegitimate, it was the product of Western imperialist invasion of China and unequal treaties. Lu Xun therefore employs these two terms to create an irony effect and relates Hong Kong maritime customs officers’ practice of soliciting bribe to Western imperialism.
Leo Ou-fan Lee writes about Shanghai and Hong Kong:
A Chinese cosmopolitanism I would therefore put forth the argument that for all their flaunted Westernism, the Shanghai writers treated in this book never imagined themselves, nor were they regarded, as so “foreignized” [yanghua] as to become slaves to foreigners [yangnu]. From their works I draw the obvious conclusion that their sense of Chinese identity was never in question in spite of the Western colonial presence in Shanghai. …
…Had Levenson been able to read more about Schnitzler in China, he would have realized that almost all the important works by this Viennese writer were either translated or introduced in the journals edited by Shi Zhecun. …Schitzler's plays ere mostly translated by Zhao Boyan. How did this tiny segment of the Chinese intelligentsia succeed in translating such a wealth of Western literature in such a short period? The easy answer is that there was obviously a demand from the urban reading public, no matter how small compared to the Chinese population as a whole.
…if cosmopolitanism means an abiding curiosity in “looking out” - locating oneself as a cultural mediator at the intersection between China and other parts of the world - then Shanghai in the 1930s was the cosmopolitan city par excellence, which had earned from Western tourists the popular epithet of the “Paris of the Orient”. Despite the “Orientalist” implications, the epithet nevertheless served to underscore Shanghai's international significance and to connect it in the Western popular imagination to the other metropolises in Europe and America. In Asia, Shanghai replaced Tokyo (damaged by an earthquake in 1923) as the center of a network of cities linked together by ship routes for purposes of marketing, transportation, and tourism.
Hong Kong as the “Other” of Shanghai Chang's complicated response,
gathered from her essays and stories, seems to be that whereas the Hong Kong of her time (circa 1940) was unabashedly colonial, Shanghai was not, or at least not exactly, because Hong Kong did not have Shanghai's “cultivation” [hanyang], a word that originally referred to the cultured sophistication of a person who has the elegant appearance of self-restraint. …Hong Kong is too blatant, too vulgar and flamboyant in its Western imitation, hence producing cultural kitsch. Hong Kong is also, in Chang’s description, too eager to “prostitute” itself to the desires of its colonial master. Thus, the city presents itself, purposely, as the object of a Western Orientalist gaze by materializing what existed only on the colonist’s fantasies.
Nostalgia: Shanghai as the “Other” of Hong Kong In the midst of this mad race toward economic development, however, a curious cultural phenomenon was observable: while Hong Kong left Shanghai far behind, the new metropolis has not forgotten about the old; in fact, one could discern an increasing nostalgia for old Shanghai perpetuated largely by the mass media.
1. How does Leo Lee define a metropolitan city? How does he prove that Shanghai in the 1930s was a metropolitan city?
Guidelines To Leo Lee, cosmopolitanism is a cultural curiosity backed by strong self-confidence.
People with cosmopolitanist orientation define themselves as mediator between their and foreign cultures. Shanghai in the 1930s, known as “Paris of the East”, was a metropolitan city. The Chinese writers in Shanghai are westernized but they did not regard themselves, nor were regarded as
“foreign slaves”. They had no doubt about their Chinese identity and out of strong self-confidence and curiosity, they introduced western literature and art into China. Most of Arthur Schnitzler’s drama and literary works, for instance, had been translated or introduced by Zhao Boyan and Shi
Zhecun, a proof that the intellectuals in Shanghai were willing and capable of appreciating foreign literature and art.
2. Was Hong Kong a metropolitan city? Will it become one?
Guidelines In may ways Hong Kong is more westernized than Shanghai and started much earlier in terms of institutional innovation, such as the drafting and implementation of the Company Law, the introduction of modern departmental stores, etc… However, in the sphere of humanity, in terms of the development of culture, literature, and arts, for instance, Hong Kong indeed lagged behind Shanghai of the 1930s. Many famous Chinese writers, artists and politicians had indeed visited Hong Kong. They regarded Hong Kong as a temporary shelter and did not speak highly of Hong Kong culture. Zhang Ailing (Chang Eileen), the famous female Chinese writer, for example, regarded Hong Kong as a vulgar “prostitute anxious to charm her colonial boss”, in contrast to Shanghai’s cultural sophistication. Now, the Hong Kong SAR government vows to enhance the development of cultural industry in Hong Kong and to transform Hong Kong into an international city. The actual result remains to be seen.
3. Please discuss Leo Lee's argument about Hong Kong’s nostalgia of Shanghai, using recent Chinese films as examples.
Guidelines Shanghai has always been something of an obsession to Chinese film directors, whether from Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong. In the last two decades, they produced a lot of films in which the people and place of Shanghai are given very significant presence. Noticeable examples are Hong Kong film director Stanley Kwan’s Centre Stage (1991), Mainland film director Zhang Yimou’s Shanghai Triad (1995), Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000), and Taiwan film director Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007).
Chen Huixun, Xianggang zaji (miscellaneous notes on Hong Kong), 1894 edition, (rpt. Guangzhou:
Jinan University Press, 1996), pp. 40, 67, 84-85.
Ge Yuanxu, Huyou zaji (miscellaneous notes on the travels of Shanghai), 1876 edition, rpt. Shen Yunlong ed., Jindai zhongguo shiliao congkan (Taipei: Wenhai, 1988), ser. 3, vol. 42, no. 411 Source III
Zhou Xingyi, Yuhuang riji (a diary behind a frail curtain), rpt. Shen Yunlong ed., Jindai zhongguo shiliao congkan (Taipei: Wenhai, 1969), no. 305-306, pp. 6-7.
Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang trans., Lu Xun: Selected Works (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1980), Vol. 2, pp. 359-366.
Leo Ou-fan Lee, Shanghai Modern: the Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 312, 314, 315, 327, 331-332.
Modernization and transformation of China
Lord George Macartney visited China as the embassy of Britain. In his journal dated between 2nd and 7th November 1794, he had the following observation about China:
The Empire of China is an old, crazy First rate man-of-war, which a fortunate succession of able and vigilant officers has contrived to keep afloat for these one hundred and fifty years past, and to overawe their neighbours merely by her bulk and appearance, but whenever an insufficient man happens to have the command upon deck, adieu to the discipline and safety of the ship. She may perhaps not sink outright;
she may drift some time as a wreck, and will then be dashed to pieces on the shore; but she can never be rebuilt on the old bottom.
The breaking-up of the power of China (no very improbable event) would occasion a complete subversion of the commerce, not only to Asia, but a very sensible change in the other quarters of the world. The industry and ingenuity of the Chinese would be checked and enfeebled, but they would not be annihilated. Her ports could no longer be barricadoed; they would be attempted by all the adventurers of all trading nations, who would search every channel, creek, and cranny of China for a market, and for some time be the cause of much rivalry and disorder. Nevertheless as Great Britain, from the weight for her riches and the genius and spirit of her people, is become the first political, marine and commercial power on the globe, it is reasonable to think that she would prove the greatest gainer by such a revolution as I have alluded to, and rise superior over every competitor.
But to take things solely as they are now, and to bound our views by the visible horizon of our situation, without speculating upon probable events (which seldom take place according to our speculations), our present interests, our reason, and our humanity equally forbid the thoughts of any offensive measures with regard to the Chinese, whilst a ray of hope remains for succeeding by gentle ones. Nothing could be urged in favour of an hostile conduct, but an irresistible conviction of failure by forbearance.
1. Comment on Macartney’s analysis and prediction of China
Guideline Macartney’s analysis and prediction of China was remarkably accurate. The Qing empire of 1794 was a fragile country with various social and political crises brewing. The imperialist invasion of China, beginning by the First Opium War in 1840, was also the main cause of unrest and disorder of China. Nevertheless, the industry and ingenuity of the Chinese was not annihilated. Capitalist economy started to grow. Britain also became the biggest gainer during the collapse of the Qing empire.
2. Macartney argued that no offensive action against China should be adopted “now” (1794).
Apart from the reasons he provided, was there any other practical reason?
Guideline From 1792 to 1815, Europe was plagued by the Napoleonic War. Britain would have found it difficult to launch military expedition in East Asia.
3. Suppose Britain chose to go to war with China, what would have been the result?
Guideline Macartney mentioned more than once in his journal that the Chinese naval force was no match to British one. Assuming Britain could be rid of the constraint of the Napoleonic War, Britain would have gained the upper hand against China in terms of military force. Nevertheless, China in 1794 enjoyed stronger political leadership and determination, national strength, and better equipped army than it did in 1840s. Therefore, it remains unclear if Britain could have won the war as easy as it did in the 1840s.
4. Suppose China accepted Britain's suggestions, allowing Britain to establish a trading base in the Zhoushan Islands opposite the coast of Zhejiang, and opening China’s domestic market for trade, what would have been the result?
Guideline Theoretically, it would have made it less likely for the two countries to go to war and China could have paid a less heavy cost for the painful modernization. In reality, such ideal scenario is unlikely to be realized. Chinese perception of the world order was one in which China remained the morally superior “middle kingdom” to which foreign countries paying tribute. European perception of the world order was one in which nation-states relied on military might and did not take the superiority of any nation for granted. Such two perceptions were not compatible. The Qing government understood overseas trade in terms of “barbaric nations” paying tribute in return for rewards from the “middle kingdom”. The European capitalistic system regarded overseas trade as a means to create market and to gain profit, a means that was usually accompanied with military force.
Conflict will almost certainly break out between China and Britain.
Liu E’s Lao Can youji [the travels of Lao Can (Lao Ts'an)] was first published in 1903 as a serial story. The first chapter tells a nightmare of Lao Can:
1. Paragraph  mentions about two layers of cloud, one in the north and the other in the east.
Explain this metaphor with reference to the geopolitical dynamics of East Asia in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Guideline The cloud in the north refers to Russia, that in the east, Japan. Having defeated China in 1894, Japan’s rise upset Russia. In coalition with France and Germany, Russia succeeded in forcing Japan to give up its claim for the Liaodong Peninsular. In return for her “help”, Russia was able to lease Port Arthur from China in Liaodong Peninsular. Hostility between Japan and Russia was brewing. In 1903, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was concluded and one year later, in 1904, the Russo-Japanese War broke out.
2. Paragraphs ,  and  mention about a large boat wondering about a rough sea. Explain this metaphor with reference to China in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
---The large boat was about twenty-three to twenty-four chang long. The number refers to the provinces of China.
---The captain sitting on the poop refers to Emperor Guangxu the puppet king, and Empress Dowager Cixi the real political leader.
---The six masts with six old sails refer to the traditional Chinese government, i.e., the six Ministries (of Personnel, Revenue, Rites, Defense, Justice, and Works). Of the two new masts, the one with a rather worn sail can be regarded as the Zongli yamen (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) established in 1860. The mast with a completely new sail refers to China’s Maritime Customs. In
1860, Horatio Nelson Lay (Li Taiguo) was appointed by the Qing government as the Inspector General of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service. In 1863, the Qing government dismissed Lay and appointed Robert Hart (He De) in his stead. As China’s Inspector General of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service until his death in 1911, Robert Hart helped brokered many important diplomatic negotiations for China. Many foreign loans to China were also underwritten by revenue of China’s Imperial Maritime Customs. The Imperial Maritime Customs, run by foreigners, can therefore be regarded as the new mast with completely new sail.
---The countless passengers with no means of livelihood refer to the misery of Chinese people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
---The three-chang-long gash on the east side refers to the fact that the invasion and colonization of China by imperialist powers started from the southeastern coast of China: Guangdong (Hong Kong), Fujian (Taiwan), and Jiangsu (Shanghai). “Another bad place” farther to the east refers to Liaodong and Shandong, a strategic area hotly contested among Japan, Russia and Germany after 1894.
---The seamen searching passengers for food and stripping them of clothes refer to local Chinese government officials and soldiers who exploited the Chinese people.
---Each of the eight men looking after his own sail refers to the fact that the different Chinese government departments did not coordinate to cope with crises from within and without.
3. According to Paragraph , the boat was about to reach land, but suddenly several people were killed and the boat went off toward the east. Explain this metaphor.
Guideline No doubt this refers to Empress Dowager’s coup against Emperor Guangxu in 1898.
The coup brought an end to the Hundred Days Reform. Lao Ts’an thought that Cixi was wrong in starting the coup, but he also defended Cixi, arguing that Cixi meant to do something good, but since she had lost sense of direction, she committed more and more mistakes.
4. Paragraphs , ,  and  mention about a hero making money for himself while telling
others to shed their blood. Explain this metaphor.
Guideline No doubt this refers to the anti-Qing revolutionaries, notably Sun Yat-sin. Sun wondered about Southeast Asia, North America and Japan to raise fund for his revolution.
5. In Paragraph  and , Lao Ts’an and his friends were accused as “Catholics” and
“traitors”. Explain this metaphor.
Guideline Obviously this refers to the Boxer Uprising in 1900. After the 1898 coup, Empress Dowager imprisoned Emperor Guangxu and regained her power. However, both domestic and international opinions disapproved her action. In a desperate attempt to consolidate her position, she endorsed the boxer movement in Hebei and Shandong and even summoned the boxers to Beijing.
Once they were in Beijing, the boxers killed foreigners and attacked foreign embassies. The situation was out of control, finally resulting in China’s declaration of war against foreign countries and foreign allied force's occupation of Beijing. “The captain's uncle” probably refers to Prince Gong (Yixin) in the 1850s and 1860s; or Prince Qing (Yikuang) in the 1890s and 1900s. Yixin, the younger brother of Emperor Xianfeng and therefore Emperor Tongzhi’s uncle, was known for his pragmatism and willingness to deal with the Western powers on a more or less equal ground. In 1860, Yixin concluded the Peking Treaty with Britain and France and brought an end to the Second Opium War. In the same year he also established the Zongli yamen (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Yikuang was considered much less competent than Yixin. Nevertheless, Yikuang opposed the boxer movement from the very beginning. When the foreign allied force occupied Beijing, it was Yikuang and Li Hongzhang who concluded the peace treaty in 1901.
J. L. Cranmer-Byng ed., An Embassy to China: Lord Macartne’'s Journal, 1793-1794 (1962), in Patrick Tuck ed., Britain and the China Trade 1635-1842 (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), vol. VIII, pp. 212-213.
Liu E, trans. Harold Shadick, The Travels of Lao Ts’an (Nanjing: Yilin Press, 2005), pp. 8-23.
Change and development of Japan and Southeast Asia
Below is the editorial of a Japanese newspaper Jiji Shimpo [new current affairs journal] published on 16th March 1885:
Datsu-A Ron [On disassociation from Asia]
Recent movement of westerner’s global rapid action is remarkable. However, this is only a result of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent steam engines and does not mean there was some kind of progress in terms of human mind. Therefore, in order to prevent the invasions to orient by western great powers, first of all we only need to get ready in our mind. Westerners are the same human being. But, that does not mean we can disregard the fact of Industrial Revolution. In order to keep an independence of a country, it is necessary to just jump into the wave of the Industrial Revolution and accept not only it’s benefits but also it’s disadvantages as well. This is now required to survive in this modern civilized society.
Modern civilization is like influenza. Can we prevent infection of influenza on the sea front? No, I strongly believe we can’t. Influenza has no benefit, and we can’t avoid infections once it spreads. But, modern civilization bares both benefits and disadvantages, and how can we protect ourselves from modern civilization which has more benefits than disadvantages. It is, in a way, a duty for intellectuals to push the infections while providing antidotes.
It was when Perry’s black ships appeared in Edo Bay, Japanese learned about the Industrial Revolution of the west. Since then Japanese gradually had begun to
recognize the needs to accept modern civilization. However, the Tokugawa shogunate was the obstacle. As long as the Tokugawa shogunate existed, we could not accept modern civilization. We had only 2 choices; modern civilization or sticking to the old regime. If we had chosen the old regime, the independence of Japan had been in danger. It’s because westerners, who went out to the world while taking advantage of technologies and competing each other, had no mercy to leave the oriental island country asleep.
Hereby, the faithful retainers, holding a faith to the country and the emperor, destroyed the Tokugawa shogunate and built a new government. This way, Japan as a country and the whole nation decided to accept technologies and modern civilization born in the west. This was the first amongst the all Asian countries and this also meant leaving Asia for Japan.
In terms of Japan’s national mind, despite the fact that country is located in Asia, Japan accepted the modern civilization of the west. However, it is unfortunate that Japan has two neighboring countries. One is Sino, the other, Chosun. It might possibly be because we are just racially different from the beginning or the educational level is different, the difference of the national mind between Japan and the two countries is just tremendous even though these two countries also possess the same classic and belong to the Chinese character cultural sphere as well. In this era of a rapid information exchange, while knowing the modern civilization and the international law, two countries still adhere to the past. This national mind is nothing more than the one from the 1000 years ago. In this actively progressive era of the modern civilization, the education is limited to Confucianism where they learn superficial knowledge, and in practice, their attitudes seem not only disregarding the scientific principles, but also morally collapsing while they have no self-examinations but arrogance.
In my view, China and Korea cannot survive as independent nations with the onslaught of modern civilization to the East if they keep the way they are. There is no
doubt that ruins and divisions of countries are inevitable unless noble men of reform appear in these two countries and manage to reform the countries from top to down just like the Meiji Restoration. It is because locking self up in a closed room and shutting the air flow avoiding the wave of modern civilization, will only suffocate themselves.
Although the phrase fuche chunchi [like spare parts of a cart, like lip and teeth] in Zuo Zhuan stands for reciprocity of neighboring countries, Sino and Chosun today
have nothing helpful for Japan while Japan might be mistakenly confused with these two countries by the westerners because the three countries are geographically close.
For instance, if Sino and Chosun are under dictatorship or if they are country of Confucianism, the western scholars might misunderstand that Japan might as well be so. Or if Sino ignores the international law or manners without hesitation / shame, some might think Japan may do the same. If Chosun brutally executes people, some might doubt Japan do the same. And there are countless examples like this. This is as if outsiders looking at a village full of cruel and crazy people. Even if one person in the village is criticizing other members of the village, it does not make much difference to outsiders. Outsiders would consider every one in the village are pretty much the same.
In fact, this kind of view in Asian diplomacy can be seen here and there. That is one big unfortunate matter to Japan.
Japan should no longer wait nor expect the two countries to possess international common sense. Japan should now ditch the illusion that those countries, together with Japan, will help archive the prosperity in Asia. Instead, Japan should leave those countries behind and join the western civilization to go forward. Just because they are neighboring countries, Japan should not associate with these countries with special emotional attachments. For these two countries, Japan only need to keep relationships according to the international law and common sense. Those who are intimate with bad friends are also regarded bad, therefore I deny friendships with those bad East
Asian friends from my heart.
In July 1940, Konoe Fumimaro, Japan’s Prime Minister, proposed to establish the “New Order of the Greater East Asia”:
We call this war against the United States and Britain, including what was known as the China Incident, the Greater East Asian War. The purpose of the war is to create the Greater East Asian Order, and therefore the war is not limited to the areas of the Greater East Asia.
To maintain their own prosperity, the United States and Britain oppress other peoples, invade and exploit the Greater East Asia. The purpose of the Greater East Asian War is to overthrow the subordination of the Greater East Asia to the United States and Britain, to liberate the Greater East Asia from the domination of the United States and Britain, to establish a co-prosperity sphere in which nations co-exist and co-prosper, maintain independence, eliminate racial difference and contribute to global peace.
1. According to the editorial Datsu-A Ron (on disassociation from Asia), Japan should disassociate itself from Asia and joined the rank of “western civilized nations”. Why?
Guideline The editorial argued that the globalization of western civilization was unstoppable and there was no choice for Japan except accepting western civilization. Japan had already done so by launching the Meiji Restoration. China and Korea, the two neighboring countries of Japan, on the
other hand, did not realize the crisis and refused to reform. They were doomed to collapse and extinction. However, out of ignorance, western countries might associate Japan with China and Korea. Japan would then be discriminated and humiliated. Consequently, Japan must quickly disassociate itself from Asia and join the rank of western civilized nations, and dealt with China and Korea in the same ways western civilized nations did.
2. While Datsu-A Ron (on disassociation from Asia) argued for Japan’s disassociation from Asia, Konoe Fumimaro’s “New Order of the Greater East Asia” called for Japan leading Asian countries against the domination of the United States and Britain. The two arguments seem to be contradictory. Please comment.
Guideline The two arguments seem to be contradictory but in fact they are not. They both served to legitimize Japan’s invasion and colonization of Asian countries.
3. Hirayame You, in his book Fukuzawa Yukichi no shinjitsu [the truth of Fukuzawa Yukichi]
(Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 2004), argues that the editorial Datsu-A Ron (on disassociation from Asia) was not written by Fukuzawa Yukichi, but by Ishikawa Kanmei. Please comment.
---Hirayame You noticed that when the editorial was published on 16th March 1885 in the Japanese newspaper Jiji Shimpo [new current affairs journal], it was without author. After careful examination he concludes that the real author of the editorial was Ishikawa Kanmei. Therefore, he argues, it is unfair to blame Fukuzawa Yukichi for advocating Japan’s alienation of Asia.
--- Hirayame You might have overlooked the fact that the newspaper Jiji Shimpo [new current affairs journal] was founded by Fukuzawa Yukichi himself. All the editors and reporters of the newspaper, Ishikawa Kanmei included, were Fukuzawa Yukichi’s disciples. In this sense, even though the editorial Datsu-A Ron was not written by Fukuzawa Yukichi, he would have endorsed
such a view.
---To relate the Datsu-A Ron of 1885 to the declaration for the establishment of “Greater East Asia Order” of 1940, the purpose is not to single out Fukuzawa Yukichi as the scapegoat of Japan’s invasion and colonization of Asia. Instead, the purpose is to identify the theoretical logic in Japan’s Meiji Restoration in 1860s and Japan’s invasion of Asia during 1930s to 1940s. Indeed, from late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, just like what the editorial Datsu-A Ron advocated, Japan transformed itself into an industrialized and militarized country basing on western model, and invaded and colonized China and Korea in the same ways western powers did. Whoever the author of the 1885 editorial Datsu-A Ron was, he certainly provided an accurate prediction of the development of Japan in the next six decades.
Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said on “Orientalism”:
Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) the Occident”.
Taking the late eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient - dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.
In brief, because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action.
Thus Orientalism is not only a positive doctrine about the Orient that exists at any one time in the West; it is also an influential academic tradition…, as well as an area of concern defined by travelers, commercial enterprises, governments, military
expeditions, readers of novels and accounts of exotic adventure, natural historians, and pilgrims to whom the Orient is a specific kind of knowledge about specific places, peoples, and civilizations.
Every one of them kept intact the separateness of the Orient, its eccentricity, its backwardness, its silent indifference, its feminine penetrability, supine malleability; this is why every writer on the Orient, …saw the Orient as a locale requiring Western attention, reconstruction, even redemption.
1. Discuss the “Orientalist” cultural experience of Japan, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.
---Male Asian protagonists in Hollywood films tend to be lewd and feminine; whereas female ones tend to be easily sexually aroused.
---Many Asian countries and regions design their tourism industry products according to Western fantasies about Asia. For example, the Chinese junk has long ceased to be a means of marine transportation. However, until quite recently, tourism propaganda in Hong Kong still used the Chinese junk as one of the main features.
2. Discuss the relevance of Said’s Orientalism theory to the understanding of modern history of Japan and Southeast Asia.
---Said’s Orientalism reminds us of our implicit prejudice when understanding foreign culture and history. These prejudices exist in what are supposed to be neutral and objective description.
---However, when trying to understand phenomenons that are new or unfamiliar, we almost
certainly rely on past knowledge and experience. Misconception and prejudice are therefore difficult to avoid. In this sense Orientalism is not unique to the West. China, for instance, has long held its neighboring peoples and cultures in contempt. Orientalism tends to be mechanically used and becomes a way of political accusation and labelling.
Adopted with minor revision from http://koreasparkling.wordpress.com/datsu-a-ron/“an-argument-for-leaving-asia”-or-“datsu-a-ron”-
Dongya sanguo de jindaishi gongtong bianxie weiyuanhui (the common editorial committee of the
book “Modern and contemporary history of the three countries of East Asia”) ed., Dongya sanguo de jindaishi (Modern and contemporary history of the three countries of East Asia) (Beijing:
shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2005), p. 122.
Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), pp. 2, 3, 203, 206.