TRAITORS AND TRANSGRESSION
The Opium War brought traitors—neiying (fifth columnists), maiguozhe (sellouts or collaborators), jianshang (treacherous merchants), and hanjian—back as primary scapegoats for the Manchu dynasty's defeat by the British Empire. Whether as unscrupulous lictors working for the Pomeranian missionary Gutzlaff when he assumed a local magistracy under English guns, or as a local prefect ransoming Canton from the H.M.S. Nemesis, "traitors" were blamed for selling out the country. My purpose is not to dwell upon this rich historical theme in the nineteenth century, however, but rather to note again the connection between ethnocultural treachery and the crossing of boundaries by collusion with foreigners, linked in turn with bestiality, sexual violation, and demonic behavior.
One way of diminishing the cognitive friction between universal and particular identities was to equate humankindness with Hanness. To be read out of the corporate group was to become "other," to lose one's ability to be genuinely human, to leave behind or "transgress" (jian) being Chinese (Han) or even being just a man (han). In this sense, the ethnic condition of Hanness was a human state, which governed the trajectory one traced in the course of "crossing over" (jian) into nonhumanness. And leaving that state meant associating with demons or animals, such as the "pigs" (zhu), or Catholic missionaries depicted in the anti-Christian posters of that period.
In the popular mentality of the twentieth century, treachery (or being a hanjian) was also an alienation, an act of madness, that could cut one off from other Chinese people. In a 1938 article entitled "School Principal Becomes a Traitor" ("Xiaozhang zuo hanjian"), it was reported, "Former elementary school principal, Chen Qibai, lost all capacity for self-respect after the War of Resistance began. When the capital was occupied, he took his family from the Yong [River, near Ningbo], and ended by losing his conscience and being stricken with madness [sangxin bingkuang]. He changed his name to Chen Daoliang and publicly accepted a post as a secretary in the puppet Executive Yuan in Nanjing." Thus, to be a hanjian was to lose the capacity for moral judgment, along with one's primal identity and bestowed name.
After the collapse of the First United Front in 1927 and the commencement of the White Terror, the Communist Party formed a special assassination team under Zhou Enlai's Special Services Committee (Tewu weiyuanhui). The group was formally