TREACHERY AND APPEASEMENT
The stronghold of the Chiang Kai-shek régime's campaign against national traitors was a circle of Chiang's own students—Whampoa cadets who founded the Lixingshe (Vigorous Action Society) in February 1932 after Chiang resumed power. Although they were devoutly anti-Communist cadres, these members of the Lixingshe, which formed the core of the Blue Shirts, or Lanyishe, were aroused by Japan's aggression in China. Many of them had been studying in military or police academies in Japan at the time of the Manchurian Railway Incident (September 1931), and after they organized a demonstration in Tokyo that was broken up by the police, they returned to China and joined the Anti-Japanese National Salvation Association of Returned Students from Japan (Liu-Ri xuesheng kang-Ri jiuguo hui), formed by Gong Debo and others under the leadership of He Zhonghan's friend and classmate Xiao Zanyu. Gong Debo's newspaper, Jiuguo ribao (National salvation daily), printed editorial after editorial calling for the Chinese to "resist the Japanese and root out traitors" (kang Ri chu jian), and although Gong himself took no part in the activities of the Lixingshe, many members of that secret organization's "preparations department" used the newspaper as a cover for their own work, pretending to be editors or reporters.
The Blue Shirts who belonged to the Lixingshe were fanatically dedicated to supporting their "leader" (lingxiu), Chiang Kai-shek, and to extirpating traitors (hanjian). The Lixingshe's "backbone cadres" believed that hanjian were both a manifestation and a cause of the weakness of China, reflecting the absence of a national spirit or people's will such as animated the Japanese race. They believed that
the racial will [minzu yizhi] of the Chinese masses is extremely weak, which can be confirmed by the multitudinous numbers of Chinese traitors [hanjian] and thieves who have sold out their country [maiguozei]…. One can almost say that there is absolutely no parallel to this ugly phenomenon in all the other countries of the world. In the Northeast [i.e., Manchuria] and in the Yangzi Valley they shamelessly seek power and wealth by selling out their country. You could say that the interior of China is carpeted with hanjian. This is because as modern China suffered one defeat
In other words, not only were outright collaborators—whose motives had, in many cases, to be mixed—simply to be labeled hanjian and marked for execution; "indirect" or passive onlookers were designated potential targets as well. Moreover, this indiscriminate persecution by terrorist elements of the Guomindang right wing was to be justified as a means of addressing the humiliation suffered by the nation at the hands of foreign aggressors during the previous century. This marked loss of national self-confidence in the Chinese, seen now as an "inferior race" (liedeng minzu), which the late Lloyd Eastman explored in his pioneering study of the Nanjing decade, was a far cry from the culturalist self-confidence of the Qianlong period—though the term hanjian was used in both cases.