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Chapter Eight The Native Place and the State Nationalism, State Building and Public Maneuvering
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New Culture, Old Habits: Native-Place Organization and the May Fourth Movement

Studies of the May Fourth Movement in Shanghai have not stressed native-place organization. It would be surprising if they did, because the period is celebrated for its themes of iconoclasm, enlightenment, nationalism and modernity, themes that are understood to constitute a rupture with old, "particularistic" social ties. The nationalism of the May Fourth Movement and the self-proclaimed cultural radicalism of the associated New Culture Movement have led sympathetic historians to seek out expressions of new cultural and political forms and to relegate cultural continuities to the status of remnants. In the process we have lost track of some of the social networks and organizations which underlay and facilitated the movement.[4]


Although May Fourth historiography has not stressed the role played by native-place associations in providing organizational forms for the patriotic activities of students, businessmen and workers, some notice of several of the most influential of such organizations—the Ningbo, Shandong, and Guang-Zhao huiguan , associations of Zhejiang and Shandong students and seamen's associations of Ningbo and Guangdong, for instance—has been unavoidable.[5] Moreover, the persistence and adaptability of native-place ties throughout this period and extending into the 1920s have been a focus in other contexts—in studies of the Shanghai bourgeoisie by Marie-Claire Bergère and Susan Mann and, more recently, in Elizabeth Perry's study of Shanghai workers.[6] Nonetheless, neither the full role of native-place organizations nor the way in which these "traditionalistic" organizations changed over this period has been recognized.

Native-place organization underlay many of the social coalitions that staged the Shanghai student, commercial and worker strikes following the news of the May Fourth arrests of students in Beijing. Moreover, they formed the component elements of the more celebrated, more "modern" organizations of the period—those overarching organizations formed along occupational lines, such as the Shanghai Student Union (Shanghai xuesheng lianhehui ), the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce and the more politically activist Shanghai Federation of Commercial Groups (Shanghai shangye gongtuan lianhehui ).

Merchant mobilization preceded the surge of student activism in Shanghai and sustained the political mobilization that followed the news of the arrests of students in Beijing. Merchant-led native-place associations organized for patriotic political activity early in 1919.[7] On February 6, 1919, seven associations jointly signed a telegram asking the Beijing government to resist Japanese demands and preserve China's sovereignty in the Paris conference. Four of the seven were the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo and the Zhejiang, Ningbo and Shaoxing tongxianghui.[8] Concern over the disruption of the North-South peace negotiations in


Shanghai prompted the formation of the Shanghai Federation of Commercial Groups (Shanghai shangye gongtuan lianhehui ) on March 3, 1919, in the Ningbo Tongxianghui building.[9] The federation of fifty-three organizations which Mao would soon point to as an example of a "large union" was composed primarily of native-place associations and trade associations. The native-place associations involved were:

Ningbo Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Guang-Zhao Gongsuo

Chao-Hui Huiguan

Zhaoqing Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Danyang Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jianghuai Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Wenzhou Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jiaying Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Guangdong Sojourners' Commercial Association

Dapu Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Sichuan Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jiangning Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jiangsu Pottery Trade Association

Shaoxing Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Zhejiang Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Pinghu Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jie-Pu-Feng Huiguan

Hubei Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Jiangxi Lü Hu Tongxianghui


This group was active throughout April, agitating both for peace within China and for a favorable resolution of the Qingdao question internationally.[10]

On May 6, the first day of activity after news of the May 4 events reached Shanghai, the Shandong tongxianghui sent a telegram to the Beijing government protesting the failure to protect Qingdao. The Federation of Commercial Groups urged businesses to participate in an urgent upcoming "Citizens' Meeting" (Guomin dahui ) called to discuss the situation. On May 7 and 8 the Federation sent telegrams to the president, the cabinet, and the Ministry of Education in Beijing pressing for release of the students to calm the angered public. The Federation also urged the Chinese delegates at the Versailles conference to refuse to sign the treaty. Finally, the Federation served as a watchdog organization for the more reluctant Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, admonishing it for its less radical stance.[11]

After meetings held by educators at Fudan University on May 6, and a preparatory meeting at the Jiangsu Provincial Education Association, a "Citizens' Meeting" was held on May 7 to protest the loss of Qingdao, the arrests of the students in Beijing, and the actions of the "traitorous" officials. This gathering brought together fifty-seven associations, including representatives of twenty-four schools (several of which, like the Shaoxing Sojourners' School, were sponsored by native-place associations) and eleven native-place associations. These included a number of associations not included in the Shanghai Federation of Commercial Groups, among them:

Henan Tongxianghui

Jiangbei Sojourners' Preservation Society

Anhui Consultative Committee

Sichuan Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Shandong Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Fujian Reconstruction Committee

Hunan Affairs Preservation Society


Quan Zhe (All-Zhejiang) Lü Hu Tongxianghui

Hubei Reconstruction Committee

Shaoxing International Improvement Society

On May 9 merchants began to boycott Japanese goods. Newspapers announced the closings of numerous schools and businesses, to observe the fourth anniversary of China's acquiescence to Japan's Twenty-One Demands. Prominent among the private schools which closed were those of Guangdong, Ningbo and Huzhou sojourners in Shanghai. All of this activity occurred prior to the formal establishment of the Shanghai Student Union on May 11.[12]

In the next week, workers and artisans, organized by trade and native place, joined in the protest. One such group, the association of local Shanghai and sojourning Shaoxing construction workers (Hu-Shao shuimuye gongsuo ) printed several notices in the Shenbao . In language both traditionally deferential and also borrowing terms from a more modern political vocabulary, the workers expressed their concern, outrage and determination to act: "All those with blood and breath are profoundly affected. We who belong to worker circles [jie ] are also a sector of the citizenry. Witnessing the tragedies of national subjugation, past and present, is like being flayed. Accordingly, in conscience we advocate following the manner of the gentlemen of each jie who prepare meetings, and ourselves suggest a means of resistance. All of those in our trade belong to worker circles, but we should not, because of that, speak only of labor."[13] The workers announced that they would no longer use Japanese wood, metal, glass and cement. Declaring that, "for the purpose of saving the nation from extinction," all of the workers must obey the boycott and "exhibit the determination of citizens," the workers also enjoined their foremen and the owners of the enterprises which employed them to obey. In a notice printed in the Shenbao on May 17, the workers addressed the directors of their trade as follows:

In the importing of Japanese goods you could say our trade is at the top of the list . . . all of our people are united . . . and from this day on will not use Japanese goods. If you meet with foreign-organized engineering projects which have already arranged the purchase of Japanese goods, you must find a way not to use them. . .. If it is a Chinese project which has arranged to use Japanese materials, the materials should be immediately replaced


with Chinese materials . . . and the proprietor of the enterprise should compensate [the relevant parties]. If the proprietor does not consent, there is only one suitable approach—we will stop work. Although there are many fools and dimwits among our workers, our blood is warm and honest. We will do our utmost hoping to protect our nation's territory.[14]

During these weeks of agitation, tongxianghui throughout the city called meetings to discuss the political situation and to send telegrams to the authorities in Beijing and in their native provinces. Networks of fellow-provincials served as conduits for the transmission of information. The telegrams of these groups to their fellow-provincials in Beijing and to the authorities of their native provinces fill the pages of the Shenbao , both as paid advertisements and as news items. Jiangsu fellow-provincials sojourning in other provinces similarly sent telegrams to the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce to exert pressure and exhort the Chamber to defend China's national sovereignty. Native-place associations repeatedly printed declarations of their unity and resolve to boycott Japanese goods, urging all Chinese (in their own respective groups) to do the same.[15]

Shanghai students declared a strike on May 26 and began to encourage merchants and industrialists to maintain their boycott. When news arrived of the June 2 arrests of students in Beijing, the students began to exert pressure for a general strike. The strike was already under way when merchants announced their solidarity with the movement in a meeting on June 5 which included students, educational leaders, leaders of native-place and trade associations and journalists. In this meeting the merchant leaders of native-place associations spoke out in support of and to coordinate actions already taken by their constituencies. Among the impassioned speakers identified as belonging to "merchant circles" was Cao Muguan, school principal and also a delegate of the Shaoxing Tongxianghui. Cao announced that Shaoxing merchants had met and resolved to strike in unity, demanding the punishment of the traitorous officials, the recovery of citizens' rights, and the release of the students. Cao was followed by Guang-Zhao Gongsuo delegate Zhou Xisan, who expressed similar resolutions. These were echoed by the Jiangning Huiguan representative as well as by Chen Liangyu, who represented both the Ningbo Tongxianghui and the Tobacco and Wine


Federation.[16] At a second meeting, of "student, commercial, industrial, and newspaper circles" held at the General Chamber on June 7, participants resolved to maintain the strike until the "national traitors" Cao Rulin, Lu Zongyu and Zhang Zongxiang had been punished and dismissed. Among the merchants, the three bang of Shandong, Ningbo and Guangdong were reportedly the most determined.[17]

Native-place networks were vital links in the extraordinary merging of student, business and worker concerns and in the formation of the "united front" that characterized this period of the movement. In the organization of strike activity, native-place associations performed a number of critical tasks, disseminating information, organizing political activity and maintaining order. On the day of the strike announcement, the Ningbo Tongxianghui met and published a manifesto attesting to the fervent patriotism of Ningbo fellow-provincials and urging unified Ningbo action.[18] The manifesto also stressed the need to maintain order, resolve disputes, and to refrain from incidents involving foreigners. The Siming Gongsuo sent the following telegram to the Beijing government, expressing concern for public order: "Shanghai's commercial, student and worker circles indignantly rise in fervor and strike. People's hearts beat wildly; danger extreme. If situation not immediately resolved, fear social structure will collapse. Humbly ask release students in prison. Dismiss three officials to ease people's indignation and stabilize situation. Presented on behalf of Shanghai Siming Gongsuo's full body of 400,000 people."[19]

The huiguan also disseminated public notices calling for order in its sojourner community: "Urgent Announcement of the Shanghai Siming Gongsuo: Compatriots, you have patriotically stopped work. In your actions be civilized. Shanghai's population is great and order is critical. If we can be organized and unified we can show our spirit more strongly. On no account assemble in the streets. On no account take part in demonstrations. If you encounter foreigners be calm. Maintain mutual respect and they will respect us. We pray everyone will pay attention and be careful."[20] The Guang-Zhao Gongsuo similarly sent telegrams to the Beijing government exhorting the officials to listen to public opinion. On June 7 the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo published an appeal


to fellow-provincials to maintain public order and avoid fights with foreigners.[21]

As in the boycott of 1905, native-place organizations—more than the new Chambers of Commerce—spread the merchant strike to other areas and enforced the boycott in Shanghai. The Ningbo Chamber of Commerce joined the strike after it received a telegram from the Shanghai Ningbo Tongxianghui. Once the Ningbo strike went into effect, the Ningbo Chamber and the Ningbo labor union, in addition to a variety of other Ningbo associations, kept in close contact with the Shanghai Ningbo Tongxianghui, requesting news and direction. Huiguan and tongxianghui investigated individuals suspected of business with Japanese and held public meetings to proclaim individuals guilty of traitorous behavior and barred from the native-place community. One such offender, Lu Zongyu, was denounced by the Lü Hu Haichang (Haining) Gongsuo, which published announcements that Lu would no longer be recognized as a Haining tongxiang .[22]

Communication between the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce and Shanghai businesses went through the intermediary of native-place associations.[23] Although the Chamber did appeal to these organizations, it was unable to exert its will upon them. When, after a secret meeting with the Chinese authorities, the Chamber urged tongxiangbui on June 10 to counsel their communities to stop the strike, it was rebuffed. Guangdong, Ningbo and Shandong shopkeepers met with their native-place groups and repudiated the Chambers action. Ningbo Tongxianghui directors printed a notice in the Shenbao stating that they had rejected the Chambers appeal, stressing that Ningbo merchants would not resume business. Shandong merchants published a similar notice.[24]

When the Beijing government finally responded to the strike demands and dismissed the "national traitors," powerful native-place asso-


ciations announced the decision to end the strike. The Ningbo Tongxianghui exhorted Ningbo people to return to work but to use only Chinese products. It also sent a telegram to Ningbo residents in Hankou advising them to return to work, saying, "the Ningbo market in Shanghai has reopened" (Hu Yongshi kai ).[25] These instances suggest that native-place bang , rather than the Chamber or the Commercial Federation or any other overarching organization were crucial in determining the opening and closing of businesses. This was particularly evident in cities in which the general strike was partial. In Hankou, for instance, the businesses of sojourning Guangdong and Ningbo merchants closed, initiating the strike, but many other shops remained open.[26]

Native-place associations exerted themselves on behalf of arrested tongxiang . The Shanghai Sojourning Anhui Consultative Committee expressed concern over the arrest of Chen Duxiu and contacted the Beijing Anhui huiguan to help secure his release. The Shanghai Fujian Reconstruction Committee worked for the release of arrested Fujianese students.[27]

In the activities of native-place associations in the May Fourth period, we see the articulation of "modern" values and practices that have been attributed, in their origins, to May Fourth student activism. These included the organization of workers for educational and patriotic purposes. For example, at the end of April or during the first days of May, the Jiangbei Sojourners' Preservation Society (Jiangbei lü Flu weichihui ) established a lecture hall in Zhabei, "to organize Jiangbei manual and commercial workers to attend educational classes in their leisure time." Lectures were designed to enlighten and improve the morality of the many "unlearned country bumpkins" in the Jiangbei (Subei) community, as well as to encourage patriotism, lawfulness and sanitation.[28] If such activities expressed an old-fashioned paternalism, both the mechanism (organized classes for workers) and the content (patriotism and sanitation) were new.

It is also critical to note the strategic uses of traditional practices in the organization of modern political activity. Though less important in this period than in the late nineteenth century, huiguan still staged pop-


ular ritual events for the larger native-place community. Such events provided propaganda opportunities. Although most native-place associations held meetings to discuss the political situation and write telegrams, some, like the Jiangyin Huiguan, met political crises with religious ceremonies. Gathered together for a feast Jiangyin tongxiang prayed before the altar of Guandi to ask for his assistance and protection and for strength and unity to "wipe away China's shame" in a time of national danger. Other traditional practices could be put to similar uses. On the occasion of a yulanpen gathering in the summer of 1919 the Siming Gongsuo printed and distributed special notices urging the use of national products.[29]

The events of 1919, which reveal not only the appearance of new groups but also their combination into larger federations, verify that—at least on a temporary basis—native-place associations could be integrated as constituent elements in overarching nationalist bodies. The rhetoric of native-place sentiment vigorously asserted the contribution of native-place associations to nationalism and bears examination.

The rhetoric of native-place associations throughout the Republican period spoke to the urgent need for existing social organizations (and native-place associations specifically) to form a foundation for nationalist mobilization. The Ningbo Tongxianghui (which organized lectures on the benefits of native-place organization and the promotion of national products) and other associations, like the Suzhou Tongxianghui, used slogans such as "In unity against the outside, love the native place, love the country" (yizhi duiwai aixiang aiguo ) and "Business and enterprises must unite in groups. The nation is but one big group [da tuanti ] encompassing and uniting many small groups [xiao tuanti ]. For the wealth and strength of the country, it is imperative to unite in groups."[30]Tongxianghui throughout the Republican era presented themselves as instruments of nationalist mobilization:

There is not a day we do not suffer the incursions of economic imperialism. If we do not intensively organize and strengthen our spirit of unity, we will not avoid defeat and elimination. [We must] assemble many people with similar language and customs who can conform to and communicate with


each other and together organize in a group to plan for public welfare. This provides a basis for struggles against the outside and also gives the struggle for internal reform something to rely on. It also helps to prevent oppression and insults. This is the essential idea behind tongxianghui .[31]


[In order to establish] nationalism it is necessary to have organizations. But seeking strong groups, we must first mutually and effectively unite. Our people's ability to organize is weak. But "love one's home, love one's native place" sentiment is very strong. For instance [this is expressed in] huiguan and tongxianghui . Using this as a base, it is possible for our people to go from the small to the great and from weakness to strength. Nationalism becomes gradually possible. Our Henan Tongxianghui serves people of all jie , represents a large population and moreover has a long history.[32]

Such statements illuminate a paradox: universal identity (nationalism) depended on the further articulation of specific identity. Public spirit was to be developed by grouping people by native place, and the mobilization of the native-place group was to serve the nation. In this fashion native-place strength contributed to national strength.[33] By means of synecdoche, in a fashion similar to that apparent in Jiangsu magazine much earlier, the native-place group stood for the national community. In the process, abstract ties were personalized and concretized through local relationships and community.

In any event, throughout the May Fourth period in Shanghai, division of the Shanghai populace into native-place groups proved no obstacle to jointly organized expressions of nationalism. Despite the increasing geographic subdivision of provincial native-place communities, different associations routinely combined and worked cooperatively. Many small groups (xiao tuanti ) were perceived as the organic constituents of the large group (da tuanti ), the nation.[34] In the May Fourth


Movement in Shanghai, native-place groups clearly acted as units for the organization, expression and dissemination of nationalist ideology. Without these groups, it is difficult to imagine how such effective social mobilization could have occurred.[35]

At the same time, the social mobilization of the May Fourth movement reveals a changing institutional context. In regard to native-place associations, tongxianghui —constructed as "modern" Republican institutions—had emerged as important political actors, with agendas different from those of the older huiguan . The external institutional context was changing as well, in a manner which would affect the political role of these new native-place associations in Chinese society. Although in May 1919 native-place associations were vital political actors, their actions took place in the context of (and in interaction with) a plethora of new occupationally and functionally differentiated organizations—student, worker, commercial and political associations.

One such new organization was the Shanghai Federation of Street Unions (Shanghai ge malu shangjie lianhehui , or SFSU), formed in the immediate post-May Fourth period by a broader spectrum of shopkeepers and merchants than the elite Chamber of Commerce. The radical SFSU developed to protest an increased tax levy in the International Settlement. Using the slogan "no taxation without representation," activists used a tax strike to press (this time with ultimate success) for a Chinese Advisory Board to the Municipal Council. The formidable organizational apparatus of the Federation of Street Unions represented merchants from forty streets in the International Settlement (from as many as ten thousand shops), bringing together a newly politically mobilized middle bourgeoisie more forcefully and with better coordination


than was possible through either the more elite Chamber of Commerce or the disparate native-place associations.

One May Fourth activist who was involved in the tax strike and struggle for Chinese representation and who would become SFSU president in 1921 was an outspoken member of the sojourning Guangdong community. This was Tang Jiezhi, a U.S.-educated physician with interests in two Shanghai trading companies, who also edited the Shanghai Journal of Commerce (Shanghai shangbao ). In 1918, together with Wen Zongyao, Tang had engaged in a power struggle with more conservative elements of the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo and had succeeded in reorienting the huiguan in a more politically radical direction. After this, Tang effectively combined use of his power base in the Guangdong community with his leadership of the SFSU in struggles with both the Municipal Council and the more politically conservative Chamber of Commerce. Tangs tactics suggest the continuing utility of native-place organization in this period, together with a characteristic tendency of activists to work through multiple organizational forms to achieve multiple points of leverage.[36]

Nonetheless, in a very short period, the new associational forms—broadly based merchant associations like the Federation of Street Unions, labor organizations and political parties, would develop a dynamism and centrality in political life and social mobilization that would displace, though not eliminate, native-place associations. This had clearly begun by the May Thirtieth Movement of 1925. Although historical materials from the May Thirtieth Movement do feature huiguan and tongxianghui performing functions similar to those they performed in 1919, they appear less prominent and the traces of their activity are overshadowed by the activities of workers' unions and the Communist


party. The impression is that history has edged native-place associations at last onto the margins of the political stage.[37]

This ultimately did not happen, at least not for long, because the conditions which fueled labor and party organization were cut short in 1927. Nonetheless, crucial in the nascent organizational trend toward occupationally and functionally differentiated civic associations—a trend which might have resulted in the fading of native-place associations if it had not been stunted by the formation of the Nanjing government in 1927—was the increasing political radicalization and mobilization of Shanghai workers. It is therefore important to conclude this discussion of May Fourth mobilization in Shanghai by considering class articulation within the native-place community.

Chapter 7 considered divisions within the native-place community according to jie , or circles of interest, occupation, age or class. The birth of tongxianghui , at least initially, involved the formation of new, more broadly based groups with more open structures of governance. Divisions by jie within the native-place community reflect a certain consciousness of the need to organize according to one's interests rather than to submit to being organized by native-place elites. It is therefore critical to consider the extent to which overarching native-place community existed in this period and whether class tensions precluded identity with and cooperation within the larger group.

It is possible to speak of the larger native-place community as an idea which could be evoked effectively for specific purposes throughout the early Republican period. Underlying this idea, as shown in Chapter 7, in their charitable and educational functions huiguan and tongxianghui


served larger communities beyond their predominantly merchant memberships. Huiguan also continued ritually to serve a large religious community, though the numbers of sojourners now rendered the sorts of community gatherings that took place in the nineteenth century impossible. The presence of huiguan resources to some extent ensured that their tongxiang would have an interest in maintaining some degree of community and identity, in order to partake of huiguan services and support.

The egalitarian language of native-place sentiment, by which both wealthy and poor could share equally in the tongxiang bond as fellow-provincials, could be exploited by both high and low. When dissenting groups came to demand a piece of huiguan property, they could argue that it was, in effect, already their own, because it was tongxiang property. Huiguan leaders were then forced to maintain the rhetoric of brotherhood and community or breach it by pointing out—as did Chaozhou Huiguan directors in 1926 when confronted by demanding students—that it was in fact their property, not the property of the tongxiang .[38] In general, huiguan leaders chose to preserve the rhetoric of community in order to gain the allegiance of the community. For this reason huiguan came to modify their practices as the new organizational form of the tongxianghui gained legitimacy. Huiguan , as well as tongxianghui , adopted public constitutions, formal voting procedures, more representative assembly, and at least the appearance of openness and more democratic rule.

Evidence that the larger community could in fact be mobilized by the old institutions may be found in huiguan ability to tap the larger community for funds. In the course of mortuary and hospital construction in 1918, for example, the Siming Gongsuo engraved the names of contributors on stone and wood (more durable carvings for more generous contributors). It counted 320 contributors of more than 50 yuan; 17,320 contributors of 1-50 yuan; and 2,770 contributors of "a few coins." A total of 20,470 people "fervently contributed out of love for their native place." Although far shy of the community of four hundred thousand claimed by the huiguan in the May Fourth agitation of the next year, it is nonetheless an impressive number.[39]


At the end of May 1919, when the French Consul asked the huiguan to move a Ningbo children's burial ground, the huiguan called a public meeting and vowed to use the full strength of the Ningbo community to oppose the French. Through this manifestation of mass unity (or at least the persuasiveness of the threat), the Siming Gongsuo secured from the French a promise to preserve the integrity of their graveyard in perpetuity.[40] Despite such demonstrations of the existence of effective community in certain contexts, it is evident that by the May Fourth period there was also considerable tension within native-place communities, particularly between workers and their tongxiang employers.[41] Although native-place associations still occasionally resolved strikes and labor disputes, by this time this was more the exception than the rule. French authorities lamented in 1921 that whereas worker-employer negotiations through the intermediary of "guilds" had been possible in the past, those days had given way to a preference for intimidation and direct action.[42]

One example of this new preference for intimidation and even violence may be found in the strike of Ningbo and Guangdong seamen and stokers which followed the May Fourth commercial strike announced on June 5, 1919. In a reminiscence of the strike, a worker who was the leader of the Association of Ningbo Seamen (Jun'an She) describes how workers heard the slogans of the May Fourth period and "could not stifle [their] patriotic sentiment." Feeling the seamen should support the movement, this man and other organizers propagandized their coworkers, with the result that more than five thousand workers struck and stopped seagoing traffic.[43]

Concerned by the crippling economic effects of the work stoppage, Ningbo huiguan directors negotiated with the strikers. The striking Ningbo seamen, in a group of more than one thousand, agreed to meet at the Siming Gongsuo to discuss their actions. This much was possible. But when huiguan director Fang Jiaobo (also a leader of the Chamber of Commerce) began to lecture the seamen on their duty to return to work, his tongxiang refused to listen. A large worker jumped behind Fang, grabbed his collar from behind and ripped his shirt. The other


seamen applauded (according to several accounts) and yelled, "Beat him, beat him." Fang fled and the workers declared a victory. Here we have an obvious case of the failure of greater tongxiang community and evidence of independent class organization and solidarity among the tongxiang worker jie .

Nationalism played an important role in the workers' radicalism in this instance. Armed with the righteousness of nationalism, workers felt justified in their rebellion against those at the pinnacle of the tongxiang occupational hierarchy. Nationalism also lubricated the coordination of the separate native-place organizations of Ningbo and Guangdong seamen.[44] This incident parallels actions taken by the Shanghai and Shaoxing construction workers' association as they expressed their determination to enforce the anti-Japanese boycott. Worker subdivision into Shanghai and Shaoxing bang did not prevent joint organization. Like the Ningbo seamen, the construction workers were radicalized by their organized assertion of nationalism, threatening to strike if their foremen and the chiefs of the enterprises which employed them did not adhere to the boycott.

Other evidence suggests a weakening of the vertical native-place ties which might bind together a greater tongxiang community. In this period, for the first time, huiguan and tongxianghui contemplated and in some cases instituted badges of membership.[45] This practice would have been unnecessary in the nineteenth century, when the relevant communities were not only smaller but also better ordered by structures of deference. At that earlier time, unlike the May Fourth period, artificial means were not necessary to decide which tongxiang could enter the building and which would do best to remain outside.

While suggesting these important tensions in the larger native-place community, research on native-place associations in the May Fourth period makes two points clear. We cannot understand social organization and social movements in the early Republican period without recognizing the crucial role of native-place associations, old and new. Nonetheless, we cannot understand native-place communities without recognizing the emergence of class ties and consciousness. Although native-place organizations persisted and indeed grew in numbers in this period, their "particularism" did not preclude integration into larger wholes. Just as native-place organization did not subvert nationalism, native-place ties


complicated but did not preclude class consciousness. A study of the growth of native-place associations in the May Fourth period suggests the possible ironies of an unexpected fit: how apparent anachronisms—huiguan and tongxianghui —accommodated themselves to (and even promoted) the community-transcending imperatives of national mobilization and class formation.

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