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Chapter Seven "Modern Spirit," Institutional Change and the Effects of Warlord Government Associations in the Early Republic
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Native-Place Burdens and Business in the Early Republican Period

Although new images of native-place community and new strategies of organization appeared in the Republican era, both huiguan and tongxianghui struggled with the considerable social and financial burdens imposed by the deterioration of local order which characterized this period. In place of effective local government and as a defense against the disorders of war, native-place associations ministered


Table 2.
Zhejiang Associations in Shanghai


Siming Gongsuo

Zhe-Shao Huiguan

Zhe-Yan Huiguan

Shaoxing Huiguan

Haichang Gongsuo (Haining Huiguan)

Huzhou Huiguan

Dinghai Huiguan

Jun'an She


Ningbo Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Shaoxing Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Quan Zhe Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Hangzhou Lü Lu Tongxianghui

Wenzhou Tongxianghui

Haichang Lü Hu Tongxianghui


Shaoxing International Improvement Society

Huzhou Studen-Commercial Sojourners' Association

Ningbo Student Association

Association of Zhejiang Sojourning Students

Fudan Zhejiang Student Association

Fudan Shaoxing Student Association

Ning-Shao Cotton-Trade Welfare Association

Ning-Shao Lacquerers' Association

(Association of Ningbo Seamen)

to the needs of their tongxiang communities, maintaining social infrastructure in their native places and contributing to similar social needs in Shanghai. To some extent this activity may be seen as an extension of huiguan roles of the late nineteenth century, when sojourning tongxiang sent money and contributed to public works in their native place. Nonetheless, as the following discussion of the activities of the Ningbo and Chaozhou associations illustrates, the changed situation of the countryside intensified the depth and scope of involvement in the native place.

The institutional division of labor in communities which developed tongxianghui in the early Republican period meant that these new na-


tive-place associations displaced huiguan as the primary organ for sojourners' appeals and redress. This was the case for the Ningbo Tongxianghui. In contrast, because the Chaozhou community did not produce a powerful tongxianghui in the early Republican period, the Chaozhou Huiguan continued to dominate the Chaozhou community until the 1930s. In respect to their management of the daily burdens of native-place business, the new Ningbo Tongxianghui in many ways functioned similarly to the early-Republican-era Chaozhou Huiguan. Although the two associations faced differing conditions in their native areas, with contrasting degrees of proximity and resources, both associations mediated among the different worlds of the native place and Shanghai, local residents, military forces and officialdom.

Involvement in the Native Place . Rich meeting records exist for the Chaozhou Huiguan, and they permit a sketch of the substantial native-place involvements of a moderately wealthy Republican-era huiguan . These included the management of commercial remittances and representation of Shantou shops in Shanghai, disaster relief, financing and management of local public works, support of Chaozhou charitable institutions and hospitals, tax reduction and the promotion of education.

The local Chambers of Commerce (established by law in 1904) were often ineffective or insufficiently powerful to be persuasive with provincial authorities. Although recent studies of Chinese cities have argued that a deparochialization of trade associations and commercial affairs began by the end of the nineteenth century,[50]huiguan records suggest that in practice this was not the case. Local business groups outside Shanghai with connections to wealthy sojourning fellow-provincials in Shanghai appealed to wealthy Shanghai huiguan to intervene for them in local and provincial matters, rather than limit their appeals to the local chamber. New institutions established for the more modern and rational management of business matters did not necessarily restructure


common practice. Local Chaozhou merchants in Shantou—and even at times the Shantou Chamber of Commerce—brought problems to the attention of the Shanghai Chaozhou Huiguan, which then mediated with Chaozhou and Guangdong officials.

The Shantou Liuyi Huiguan (representing local merchants in Shantou) maintained regular contact with the Shanghai Chaozhou Huiguan, coordinating shipping arrangements for sugar, rice, and beans and asking for help when problems arose. For example, when the Shantou Liuyi Huiguan complained about steamboat rates in March 1921, the Chaozhou Huiguan successfully negotiated with shipping companies for lower rates. In December of the same year a boat sank off the Shandong coast carrying Shantou cargo insured for ninety thousand taels. When the insurance company delayed payment, the Chaozhou Huiguan, Guang-Zhao Gongsuo and the Guangdong Merchants' Association of Shanghai (Yueqiao shangye lianhehui ) together pressured the company into payment. In a 1922 case the Chaozhou Huiguan, which had represented Shantou shops in reserving a large shipment of bean cakes (used as fertilizer), carefully resolved the complexities of a situation in which the northern bean-cake factory closed, bean-cake prices changed, and the Shantou clients demanded reimbursement.[51]

Native-place associations also managed financial transactions. Shanghai merchants kept accounts at the huiguan which also regularly managed remittances for shops in Shantou. When remittance tickets were lost, as happened in 1914, the huiguan sorted out the situation, registering each shop's remittance tickets, printing notices in the newspapers, annulling lost remittances in the court of the French Concession (where the huiguan was located) and spreading losses among the entire Chaozhou bang . When warfare obstructed the flow of remittances in 1916, the huiguan managed the affair jointly with the Shantou Chamber of Commerce.[52]

A byzantine incident demonstrating the role of a Shanghai native-place association in local finance (and the importance of sojourner financial networks for an area with many overseas Chinese) occurred in 1925. When the local Shantou currency, the longyin, suffered devaluation, the Chaozhou Huiguan rallied to bolster the currency and prevent market panic. The devaluation was rooted in the pattern of remittances to Shantou from overseas sojourners. Chaozhou merchants in South-


east Asia remitted money to their native place through fellow-countrymen in Hong Kong. Fluctuations in the Hong Kong currency caused a decline in the dependent local currency. The Shanghai Chaozhou Huiguan coordinated a broad effort to support the longyin which involved the Shantou banks, the Shantou Chamber, the Shantou Remittance Association, the Hong Kong Chaozhou Merchants' Association, and (through the latter) tongxiang at each Southeast Asian port.[53]

Although these valiant measures did not revive the failing Shantou currency, this episode demonstrates the wide coordinating role of the huiguan . When local and sojourner institutions finally recognized the necessity of canceling the old currency and adopting dollars (yuan), the huiguan notified all old-style banks and shops, printed notices in the newspapers, sent word to the Shanghai Fruit Gongsuo and the Pawnshop Gongsuo (both Chaozhou interests) and canceled old remittance tickets. When the Shantou Finance Board contacted the Shanghai Sugar and Miscellaneous-Goods Association (also a Chaozhou concern), it was the huiguan that drafted the response. The huiguan also imposed a five-thousand-yuan fine against anyone not using dollars.

The huiguan sent representatives to Shantou to help regulate finance according to the yuan. These representatives came into conflict with Shantou old-style banks, which stood to suffer from the changes. When the banks threatened to take them to court, the huiguan paid their expenses. This incident demonstrates not only the wide regulatory power of the Shanghai huiguan in Shantou finance but, in addition, huiguan regulation of financial affairs among different Chaozhou concerns in Shanghai—sugar, pawnshops, and fruit—each of which was organized into a separate business association.[54]

The Ningbo Tongxianghui, which represented a wealthier and more powerful sojourner community than did the Chaozhou Huiguan, was similarly involved—and was highly influential—in local Ningbo affairs. Robbery victims routinely asked influential friends to appeal to the tongxianghui on their behalf. The tongxianghui then urged local officials to


deal with the case. The repetitions of this process leave the firm impression that without influential letters of introduction the tongxianghui would not have intervened and that without the intervention of the tongxianghui the cases would have been ignored. Once the tongxianghui took up a case, local authorities acted promptly to hasten its resolution.[55] At times the Ningbo Tongxianghui initiated local administrative reforms and even selected local administrators. For example, in October 1921, after deciding that Zhenhai county needed a Dike Works Bureau, the tongxianghui asked the Ningbo Daoyin to order the Zhenhai Magistrate to direct local self-government committee members to organize this bureau. The Daoyin endorsed the plan and asked the Shanghai association to select the Bureau head.[56]

The Ningbo Tongxianghui also helped moderate local taxes and bureaucratic obstruction. In October 1921 sugar merchants in Shipu county complained to the Shanghai association of an oppressive sugar tax levied by the Shipu Chamber of Commerce. Pressured by the tongxianghui, the Shipu Chamber rescinded the tax. In the same year, Sijiao Island (Dinghai county) residents appealed to the tongxianghui because the Jiangsu Financial Bureau was interfering with rice transport to the island, delaying a required rice-transport license. The tongxianghui mediated with the Jiangsu office on behalf of the islanders.[57]

The substantial involvement of native-place associations in native-place affairs meant that when the native place suffered, association directors and sojourners reached deeply into their pockets. Guangdong province was beset by both natural and militarily induced disasters throughout the early Republican period.[58] When disasters occurred, Guangdong gentry and also officials appealed for help from their tong-


xiang in Shanghai. In the event of small and localized disasters, each Guangdong huiguan assisted its home area. In the case of large-scale disasters, as in 1915 when the three major Guangdong rivers flooded, the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo and the Chaozhou Huiguan coordinated their efforts, at times in conjunction with the Hong Kong Chaozhou Commercial Association (Xianggang bayi shanghui ). When an earthquake hit Chaozhou prefecture and Mei county in January 1918, the Chaozhou Huiguan provided primary relief, with help from the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo. Two Chaozhou Huiguan directors traveled from Shanghai to investigate the situation with the Shantou Chamber of Commerce, and the huiguan collected funds for dike repair to prevent spring flooding. As was common in the case of major disasters, relief organization on this occasion involved a multicity sojourner network. The Shanghai huiguan coordinated efforts with tongxiang in Guangzhou, Hankou and Beijing.[59] If huiguan meetings called to determine relief measures were occasions for hyperbolic expressions of native-place sentiment ("In philanthropy, there are no limits. Now we think of our native place—how could we not be moved to action . . . all good men dearly love our native place with fervent hearts"),[60] they do nonetheless demonstrate abiding commitments to the native place and a means of apportioning responsibility among the different groups of sojourning Shanghai tongxiang .

In times of extraordinary disaster the Chaozhou Huiguan acted as a local administration in exile, funding and managing relief and also directing local Chaozhou authorities and institutions. Catastrophic flooding in August 1922 destroyed Chaozhou dikes and homes. Huiguan investigators reported at least a hundred thousand deaths in Chenghai, Raoping and Chaoyang counties, When the scope of the disaster exceeded available funds, huiguan directors campaigned and swiftly raised seventy-five thousand yuan. Citing the losses due to flooding, the directors interceded with Guangzhou military authorities to reduce taxation in the area. They also directed a local Shantou benevolent institution (Cunxintang) to investigate the needs of orphans, ar-


range for adoptions, and charge the expenses to the huiguan . Ten thousand sets of clothing for disaster victims were made in Shanghai and shipped to Shantou.[61]

These interventions took place outside official channels. If anything, local government acted as a hindrance to disaster relief. Noting the influx of huiguan -raised capital, Chaozhou officials attempted to deflect some money for their own uses, nominally to rebuild a local yamen . They were rebuked by the Chaozhou Huiguan, which embarked on the repair of local dikes, contributing another fifty-one thousand yuan. The huiguan also sent an inspector to traverse local dike networks for more than a year, to complete a comprehensive investigation of damage and reconstruction.[62] Clearly, at such times the Shanghai association was capable of stepping in and serving in the capacity of caretaker government for local Chaozhou affairs.

Zhejiang was not as disaster stricken in this period as was Guangdong, nor were Ningbo officials as unreliable; nonetheless, when calamity struck, the Ningbo Tongxianghui responded. In August 1921, for example, in response to flooding in Yin and Fenghua counties, the tongxianghui established a Ningbo Flood Disaster Collection Committee (Ningbo shuizai jizhenhui ), headed by Zhu Baosan, to care for refugees and bury corpses. The committee raised almost seventy-four thousand yuan, most of which was remitted to the Ningbo Daoyin, who organized local relief.[63]

In such cases the tongxianghui worked closely with Ningbo officials. Though Ningbo officials appear to have been more scrupulous than those in Chaozhou, when they were negligent the tongxianghui chided them. Residents of western Yin county, exasperated by frequent robberies, complained to the Shanghai tongxianghui , which prodded the


Ningbo Director of Police into action.[64] Residents of eastern Yin county complained of both robberies and harassment by a local "peace-keeping militia" (baoweidui ), producing a successful appeal by the tongxianghui to the Yin county magistrate to disband the militia.[65]

The urgency of warfare in the Republican era reinforced the mediating role of Shanghai huiguan in the networks of power that infused the native place and the nation.[66] When possible, huiguan mobilized to protect local property from military conflict. Threats of fighting between the northern Anfu clique which controlled Duan Qirui's Beijing government and the southern allied forces in December 1917 led local Shantou institutions to seek help from the Chaozhou Huiguan, which—together with the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo, Jiaying Tongxianghui and Dapu Tongxianghui—joined in telegraphing both sides to avoid war.[67] There were limits to the resources of huiguan in such matters, however. Ineffectual in preventing war in this and other incidents, the Chaozhou Huiguan took steps to manage its effects. In 1918 Yunnan soldiers posted in Chaozhou extorted money, took hostages and imposed levies on shops and charitable institutions. Together with the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo, the Shanghai huiguan contacted the Chaozhou authorities, Guangzhou military commanders, the Provincial Military Governor and the Provincial Assembly. The results reveal the limits of governance in warlord times. The Military Governor of


Guangdong responded with alacrity to the huiguan appeal, but the representative he sent to rectify the situation in turn used his position to extort.

In August 1920 conflicts between Guangxi and Guangdong forces led to appeals to the Shanghai huiguan from Chen Jiongming, Commander of the Guangdong Army and newly appointed governor of the province. The huiguan complied, affirming its determination to aid Guangdong and keep out outside troops.[68] But even tongxiang troops proved to be a burden for the native place. In November soldiers from the Military Expense Bureau of the Chaoyang County Magistrate occupied the house of Guo Weiyi, a member of the local Chaozhou gentry, demanding twenty thousand yuan. Because Guo had already contributed to the Guangdong forces, he begged his Shanghai tongxiang for help. The huiguan telegraphed the Chaoyang Magistrate and Governor Chen, asking them to discipline the Shantou Military Expenditure Bureau. Huiguan directors Huang Shaoyan and Jiang Shaofeng went the next day to plead their case with Sun Yat-sen, Wu Tingfang and Tang Shaoyi, leaders of the southern government.[69]

As the strains of local militarization produced increasingly demoralized behavior, not only did huiguan influence with civilian officials reach its limits but the huiguan itself became an object of extortion. Having exhausted local resources by the beginning of 1924, the Chaozhou government targeted sojourning merchants (lüwai shangmin ) for taxation. Although huiguan protests persuaded the Shantou Military Provision Board to cancel the tax, one county magistrate, Xie, refused to give up this source of funding and sent troops to extort funds from the families of sojourners.[70]

Such experiences both depleted huiguan resources and dampened en-


thusiasm for Chen's government. In February 1925, when Chen sent representatives with bond subscriptions to Guangdong sojourners' associations in Shanghai, they were politely but unenthusiastically received.[71] Perhaps in response (or simply desperate from lack of pay and provisions), in May troops entered a Chaoyang village and tied up the village elders. This time huiguan intervention coincided with the arrival of a more humane military commander,[72] who removed the offending soldiers. In recognition of his care for the Chaozhou people, the Shanghai Chaozhou Huiguan sent him an inscribed honorary plaque.

Such incidents and unremitting pressure on its funds caused the Chaozhou Huiguan to organize a Shanghai Chaozhou People's Livelihood Consultative Committee (Shanghai Chaozhou minsheng xiehui ) in 1926 to deal with military collections in the native place and with associated pressures on sojourning merchants. The committee went into immediate action to ward off the military requisitioning of merchant property in Chaozhou.

Minding Tongxiang Business in Shanghai and Beyond. While attempting to ameliorate the effects of war and ineffective government in the native place, sojourner associations continued to function as primary sources for the protection of sojourners' business, family and property interests. Both the Chaozhou Huiguan and the Ningbo Tongxianghui devoted considerable energy to managing the problems of their sojourning communities. The relative strength and centrality of Shanghai native-place institutions made Shanghai associations a resource for sojourners in areas beyond Shanghai, extending the management concerns of huiguan into distant areas where local tong-


xiang resources were much weaker.[73] The associations intervened in four general areas: family matters, disputes affecting property and reputation, charitable activities and problems with taxation or troublesome bureaucracy.

The Ningbo Tongxianghui, less preoccupied than the Chaozhou Huiguan with crises in the native place, spent proportionally more time resolving the personal problems of its Shanghai community. The family matters dealt with by the tongxianghui often concerned runaway or kidnapped wives and daughters, cases which appear in the records as affronts to (male) property and reputation. The tongxianghui investigated each such case and contacted local officials, with striking success in securing the return of the woman or girl in question.[74]

The Chaozhou Huiguan also played a mediating role in family matters, often supplying a distinctly traditional form of justice. In a case from 1922, the daughter of a Chaozhou person named Guo Guangshan married Cai Zaiqian (also from Chaozhou) as his third wife. Within a year she hung herself, unable to bear her mother-in-laws cruelty. At Guo's appeal, the huiguan convened a meeting to publicize the daugh-


ter's ill treatment and to demand punishment of the Cai family. The huiguan also registered the case with the Mixed Court. Threatened by this action, the Cai family requested a huiguan settlement. Two huiguan directors investigated and pronounced that the Cai family should pay a penalty of five hundred yuan to build a tomb for the girl in Chaoyang. The huiguan also contacted the local Chaoyang county court, which ordered the head of the Cai family to bring his son before the Guo family formally to apologize.[75]

The Chaozhou Huiguan regularly intervened to help tongxiang collect debts, as well as to investigate and clarify shop-accounting procedures and disputes. In such instances, the huiguan freely demanded (and received for review) account books of tongxiang businesses. One such case fell into huiguan hands in 1917, when the Mixed Court of the French Concession asked the Chaozhou Hniguan to examine forty-seven account-books dating back to 1893 in order to unravel the profit-sharing records of the Lin family's enterprises. Shareholders in the largely family concern were not all family members and were divided among Shanghai and Shantou residents, which complicated the research. Four huiguan members met daily for two hours a day to review the accounts. After several weeks they determined that Lin Yunqiu owed the other shareholders seven thousand yuan each. This did not settle the problem: "The Lin brothers, uncle and nephew, each maintain their prickly temperaments. They have repeatedly been urged to resolve things, but their relations are not harmonious." When attempts at reconciliation failed, the huiguan threatened the Lins with court action. This worked, and the huiguan supervised the transfer of the funds and signing of documents, notifying the court that the matter was concluded.[76]

Although specialized Chaozhou trade associations existed in Shanghai in the early Republican era, the Chaozhou Huiguan frequently mediated business disputes and commercial negotiations for sojourners in Shanghai and in other cities. The consistent activity of native-place associations in such matters makes it clear that trade associations did not displace the customary conduct of business by native-place associations. For example, the Chaozhou Huiguan played a decisive role in the general conduct of the north-south sugar trade, which was divided among


Chaozhou and Fujian bang. 77 The records of the Ningbo Tongxianghui provide similar evidence of involvement in trade issues. In some commercial disputes the tongxianghui resolved matters; in others, the tongxianghui referred the matter to the tongxiang trade association. The records leave the impression of an overlapping network of organizations, any of which disputants might approach, depending on where their connections were stronger (as opposed to hard-and-fast functional differences between organizations).[78]

Coffins, Hospitals, Schools and New Public-Welfare Projects . Both huiguan and tongxianghui invested in a range of public welfare and charitable services, though in this area a division of labor between their areas of focus is more apparent. Coffin storage remained the preoccupation of huiguan; tongxianghui , in contrast, focused energy on services for the living, at times through innovative institutional arrangements.

As in the nineteenth century, coffin storage and shipment drew huiguan administrative energy and resources. When sojourning populations grew, so did the numbers of the sojourning dead (or "sojourning coffins," lüchen ) and so did the complexity of the arrangements for storing and transporting coffins. Because warfare often obstructed transportation, unburied coffins accumulated in Shanghai, and burial grounds expanded.[79] A western guide to Shanghai of 1920 noted that the principal sights to be seen in the Xinzha (Sinza) district, north of Nanjing


Road, were the monumental coffin repositories and graveyards established by different native-place associations. Indeed, the guidebook remarks, "as Shanghai has more Chinese from other parts of the empire than any other place, its mortuaries are the largest and most numerous."[80] Such facilities (referred to as binshe, bingshe, binfang, chang or shanzhuang ) numbered at a minimum seventeen in 1910, twenty in 1914, thirty-three in 1919 and forty-one in 1931.[81]

These sojourner coffin repositories, which took up increasing amounts of space in the Chinese areas of the city, contained arbors, courts, trellises, kiosks, zigzag pathways, ornamental rocks and shrubs, elaborately carved wood and furniture, and calligraphic scrolls. Coffins were stored in locked rooms—with silk covers and plenty of space for the wealthy, and dormitory-bunk-type arrangements for the less fortunate.[82] By 1931 the sojourning Zhejiang community would have at least eleven cemeteries and coffin repositories, divided by Zhejiang locality. The Guangdong community in Shanghai would have eight.[83]

The Ningbo Siming Gongsuo built and managed an increasing number of coffin repositories over the course of the early Republican period. The 1920 guidebook describes the scale of one of these, located in Zhabei. "Of great vastness," its side walls extended for a quarter-mile. An immense hall on one end contained fourteen hundred coffins. More coffins filled rooms on either side of a long, arched passageway.[84] Huiguan officers coordinated a national system of shipment, storage and


burial of the coffins of Ningbo fellow-provincials.[85] As part of this complex enterprise, between 1918 and 1922 the Siming Gongsuo embarked on four major construction projects, including the building of north, south and Pudong mortuaries and a Siming Hospital, as well as the renovation of older east and west mortuaries. The scale and expense of Ningbo mortuary construction provide eloquent testimony to Ningbo wealth in Shanghai. For each project the huiguan established collection teams (mujuan tuan ), which raised considerable sums from a large number of tongxiang in a short period of time. A 1918 funding drive produced five hundred twenty thousand yuan in all; for the north mortuary alone, two hundred three thousand yuan were collected in a single month.[86]

Smaller huiguan could not match the Ningbo coffin network but were nonetheless concerned with arrangements for the deceased, securing reasonable coffin-shipping rates from steamboat companies and printing obituaries. In 1922 the storm sewers in the overcrowded Chaozhou cemetery clogged, creating concern that the bones of the deceased were suffering from moisture. The three Chaozhou bang purchased a new site and embarked on complex arrangements to ship large numbers of old coffins back to Chaozhou, moving the rest to the new Chaozhou Shanzhuang in Zhabei (this entailed construction of a canal). The new coffin repository and yin huiguan were consecrated after geo-mantic consultation and three days of Daoist ritual, for which tongxiang enterprises contributed funds and sacrificial offerings. A representative from the Shantou Cunxin Benevolent Association assisted in these ceremonies.[87]

Although burial functions remained a primary and exclusive huiguan concern in the early Republican period, charity for the living (on the part of both huiguan and tongxianghui ) expanded and became more modern. Native-place associations established new, functionally differentiated charitable institutions. The Siming Gongsuo operated a sepa-


rate clinic and hospital for needy tongxiang . It also provided housing for the poor. In 1920 the gongsuo established the Siming Number One Charitable School (Siming diyi yiwu xuexiao ) and paid for student fees and supplies. The fact that the school was set up in the great hall of the gongsuo suggests increasing disuse of the former religious and ceremonial center.[88] The Chaozhou sojourning community supported a number of schools beginning in 1913 with a Chao-Hui Elementary School, which provided free education for tongxiang children. In 1917 the Chao-Hui Huiguan established the Chao-Hui Industrial School for poor boys in the International Settlement, on land purchased for more than two hundred thousand taels.[89] In 1925 the community initiated a Chaozhou hospital project.

These new charitable projects followed trends in social reorganization involving increasing functional specialization together with the appearance of "modern," frequently western-influenced institutional forms. At the same time, organization by native place was preserved. This was true even for institutions which did not formally limit their services to people of their native-place group. A glimpse into the functioning of a new, apparently "modern" and public-minded institution reinforces this impression. In the first year of the new republic, the Shaoxing, Ningbo and Huzhou tongxianghui (all Zhejiang institutions) joined forces and established the Chinese Society for Assistance to


Women and Children (Zhongguo furu jiuji zonghui , or CSAWC) to deal with the rise of kidnapping.[90] This was a public-spirited response to the growing social problems of the new republic. The association name also reflects the paradoxical embrace by native-place associations of institutions which announced themselves as Chinese, as opposed to representing local interests. But it is important to look beyond the name, Shaoxing Tongxianghui archives provide ample evidence of the efforts of this association on behalf of Shaoxing kidnapping victims, efforts which involved the CSAWC in activity over a wide geographic area; however, the CSAWC was not only less active on behalf of non-Zhejiang victims, it also harassed rival native-place groups under the guise of seizing potential kidnappers. In a revealing perversion of their "all-China" charitable function, Ningbo zealots associated with the CSAWC at times descended on Guangdong provincials en route home. Guangdong travelers with wives and children were questioned, dragged off boats, and separated from their belongings (which tended to disappear in the process).[91]

Other welfare activities included relief for the poor and return passage to the native place.[92] As in the nineteenth century, such benevolence reinforced structures of patronage and dependence that maintained community hierarchy. Despite the rhetoric of community, ordinary people could not gain admission into association buildings; without a letter of introduction they were stopped by guards at the gate. Huiguan opened to them only two or three times a year, on holidays when there were free opera performances and sometimes free noodles. Nor was charity automatic. For this, too, many associations required letters of introduction. Although some of my interviewees suggested that many people could not have requested assistance because they lacked necessary connections, others stressed that they would not have imagined asking because charity carried with it the brand of social disgrace. Some associations physically "branded" recipients to prevent cheats, marking the hands of those who received money or boat tickets.[93]


Defending Tongxiang. In the early Republican period, as before, native-place associations mediated disputes among tongxiang and between tongxiang and outsiders and influenced the course of justice in both Chinese and foreign courts. Associations intervened in and out of court and routinely responded to court inquiries. Although both the Chaozhou Huiguan and Ningbo Tongxianghui preferred to settle cases outside the courts, they also used the threat of legal action to enforce compliance within their community and rarely hesitated before interfering in formal lawsuits. Courts continued to call on native-place associations to vouch for individuals under suspicion, as well as to check shop accounts.[94]

As might be expected, the recipients of this aid tended to be among the more influential members of the native-place community, or at least those with connections to association directors. In cases involving individuals' reputations the associations investigated charges and worked with authorities to clear the besmirched individual's name. When a Ningbo Tongxianghui leader was himself accused of a crime, the association both protested to the local Chinese authorities and printed letters declaring his innocence in the Shanghai newspapers.[95]

The refutation of criminal accusations could also become a matter of saving native-place face. As in the nineteenth century, Guangdong people in Shanghai continued to struggle to overcome affronts to their reputation, though the gestures of face-saving in the twentieth century were restrained compared with the Yang Yuelou case decades earlien In 1914 a newspaper article contended that Chaozhou people operated huahui (a form of gambling considered to be particularly corrupting), to the detriment of honest Shanghai residents.[96] The matter was raised with some fanfare at a meeting of huiguan directors, who hyperbolically recorded their astonishment at the accusation. Incensed by the insult to the reputation of Chaozhou sojourners and determined to clear itself of all association with vice, the huiguan announced that it would conduct a public investigation and punish any wrongdoers. In this case the rhetoric of the meeting notes appears as part of the community public-


relations work taken on by the huiguan.[97] A decade later huiguan director and Chao-Hui Industrial School sponsor Guo Zibin was arrested and accused of opium trafficking. Huiguan records for this matter insist on Guo's respectability and reputation, though they do not entirely remove him from suspicion ("For a long time he has not been involved in the opium business"). Declaring the police action an affront to their native-place group, the huiguan protested to the Mixed Court.[98]

This description of native-place associations in the early Republican period has necessarily focused on three contexts affecting the direction of change: 1) ideological developments of the period, in particular the ways in which Shanghai residents conceived of "modern" organizations and criticized what was "traditional"; 2) the institutional apparatus of early Republican society and the interactions of "old" and new-style institutions; and 3) the political and economic effects of the disorders of the warlord period and the social imperatives these posed for the native-place associations which coped with such difficult times. The combination of ideological, institutional and material contexts illuminates the concurrent possibilities and processes of change which affected native-place organization and the particular paths of "modernization" (ideal and practical) charted by Shanghai society. In the early republican period, concepts of ideal organizational structure, the imperatives and proliferation of social organization and the burdens managed by native-place associations all reflect the perceived and experienced limitations of government and the efforts of urban residents to bridge evident gaps (between tradition and modernity, between state and society and between the city and the countryside). These struggles all represented issues for Chinese nationalism, as Chinese nationalism focused increasingly on the construction of a strong state. In the process, as the following chapter will show, the nationalist preoccupations of native-place associations were increasingly engaged with the envisionment and rectification of the Chinese state.


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