previous sub-section
Chapter Six The Native Place and the Nation Anti-Imperialist and Republican Revolutionary Mobilization
next chapter

Native-Place Organization and Revolutionary Mobilization

The revolutionary mobilization of society proceeded on two fronts: the early revolutionary organizations of radical students and intellectuals (often in Japan) and the more moderate, initially constitutionalist efforts of gentry and merchant activist reformers who worked through educational associations and local self-government organizations in the Shanghai area. These two wings of activism converged by late 1910 to form the fragile coalition that overthrew imperial authority in Shanghai's part in the Revolution of 1911.

Early Revolutionaries . Shanghai was a magnet for radical intellectuals, both because it was a center for the dissemination of new ideas through foreign-style schools, bookstores and newspapers and because the foreign settlements offered a degree of refuge for radicals likely to run afoul of the Chinese authorities. The most radical groups were in Japan, for similar reasons (their radicalism additionally reinforced by experience of sojourning in a militarily stronger Asian nation). These groups relied on contacts in Shanghai for disseminating their journals and as a gateway to the Chinese interior.[47]

Early radical groups were organized almost entirely through native-place ties, which provided ready networks of association among sojourning students who spoke different dialects and had different cultural


habits. Students in both Shanghai and Tokyo organized clubs along provincial lines. The first revolutionary associations in China were also regional networks, as has been noted by Rankin and others. Guangdong natives organized the Xing Zhong Hui (Society to Devdop China's Prosperity); Hunan and Hubei activists created the Huaxing Hui (Chinese Revival Society); and Zhejiang activists established the Guangfu Hui (Restoration Society). When these groups joined together in 1905 to form the Zhongguo Tongmeng Hui (Revolutionary Alliance) they retained much of their independent existence.[48] Native-place ties also permitted activists in these groups to organize workers. For example, the early Xing Zhong Hui member Ma Chaojun, who founded the Guangdong Mechanics' Association, also traveled to Wuhan and Shanghai to organize his fellow-provincial craftsmen in shipyards and arsenals.[49]

In the first years of the twentieth century, native-place associations began to publish reformist and revolutionary journals which played a role in the developing radical press. Although journals like the Ningbo baihua bao (Ningbo vernacular), published by the Shanghai Ningbo sojourning community in 1903-4, featured articles about native-place industries, customs, education and literature, they also criticized national corruption. The most radical journals were published not in Shanghai (where there was more risk) but by groups of sojourning students in Tokyo, who sent them into China through Shanghai.

These journals express the combination of native-place and nationalist loyalties which provided an important context for the development of Chinese nationalism. Love for the native place and activism in the interest of local self-government were conceived as integral to national strengthening, creating local building blocks for a modern constitutionalist state. In these journals, whose rifles usually bore the names of the students' home provinces, ardent nationalists explicitly considered the role of native-place ties in revolutionary nationalism.[50]

The role of native-place sentiment in the patriotic struggle to radi-


cally reform China was addressed in the inaugural issues of two of the most influential of these journals, Jiangsu and Zhejiang chao (Zhejiang tide). The editors of Jiangsu reasoned as follows: Those who love China cry out, saying 'Our China has nothing; all it has is corruption.' And those who love Jiangsu—how much more so should they weep and say, 'Our Jiangsu has nothing; all it has is corruption.' It can be plainly said that our Jiangsu is the epitome of China, and corruption is the distinguishing characteristic of Jiangsu. Therefore, discussing corruption is the special duty of Jiangsu magazine."[51]

To this idea of the native place as epitome, or embodiment of the whole, is added a second rationale, that political action should properly start locally: "If you want to fight for freedom, first you must discuss self-government. You must build on the familiar local soil of human feeling, history, geography and customs. Afterwards you can take the initiative and travel beyond. First begin with Zhejiang—you can call it starting with one corner. The process doesn't end here, but [one is] limited by what one knows."[52]

This passage suggests both the notion of the native place as key to the nation (as a corner through which it may be possible to know the whole) and the idea that the native place serves as a necessary and familiar place to begin. By addressing reform in the native place, the abstract and enormous task of reforming the nation becomes concrete, manageable and familiar.[53] The passage also reflects the popularization and ac-


ceptance of concepts of local self-government (zizhi ) articulated in the late Qing by reformers like Feng Guifen and Huang Zunxian, who advocated the mobilization of local elites and resources in the interest of strengthening the state. This type of localism was not seen as separatism (opposed to the state) but was viewed, instead, as necessary for the health of the polity.[54] These connections drawn between native place and nation were both sincere and pragmatic, justifying the obvious and convenient native-place networks which underlay effective social organization in this period.

Merchant and Gentry Politicization . In the course of anti-foreign mobilization during the last years of the Qing, politicized merchants and gentry increasingly found Manchu incompetence and subservience to foreign demands an obstacle to their efforts to strengthen the country. As their estrangement from the government increased, merchants gradually moved from asserting Chinese rights in the face of foreign imperialism toward revolutionary nationalism directed against the Qing. The local nature of foreign political and economic encroachments on Chinese sovereignty (through the partitioning of Chinese territory in railway and mining concessions and foreign "spheres of influence") meant that native-place networks and institutions would be deeply involved in initially reformist and ultimately revolutionary nationalist mobilization. Groups of sojourning merchants in Shanghai played major roles in railway and mining-rights recovery movements in their native provinces and mobilized opposition to Qing concessions to foreign interests.[55]

Whereas in the case of the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911, merchants offered support to military insurgents only after the insurrec-


tion, in Shanghai merchant mobilization preceded and facilitated the successful November 3 uprising led by the revolutionaries. While many of the leading merchants in Shanghai, sojourners and locals alike, participated in both the constitutionalist and the rights-recovery movements, merchant mobilization proceeded along two paths, one generally characterizing merchants in the foreign settlement areas; the other, the areas of the city under Chinese jurisdiction.

Merchants in the foreign settlements (who could not institute local self-government) agitated for Chinese representation in the western municipal-settlement governments, as we saw in the aftermath of the Mixed Court Riot. They also began to establish merchant militia. One of Yu Xiaqing's first acts after the resolution of the Mixed Court Riot in 1905 was to form a Chinese Merchants' Exercise Association.[56] Yu invited important businessmen and trade leaders to organize militia (see Figure 7), funded through collections from Chinese shops and trades. In 1906 there were between five hundred and six hundred militia members, organized into five regiments of infantry and one regiment of cavalry.[57]

While Yu used his influence to incorporate this "Chinese Volunteer Corps" into the Volunteer Corps of the Municipal Settlement, local merchant and gentry leaders in the Chinese areas of the city took steps (also in 1905) to create what foreign observers heralded as the "first attempt at purely Chinese municipal representative government."[58] Concerned by the growth of foreign authority in the city and the contrasting municipal weakness of areas of the city under Chinese jurisdiction, a group of local gentry-merchants approached Daotai Yuan Shuxun to propose a local self-government project. This was the creation of a General Works Board, a transformation of the South City Roadworks Bureau (created by officials some years earlier to oversee construction projects in the Chinese city) into what would become effectively a Chinese City Council with public works and policing authority under gentry-merchant control. According to the Shanghai shi zizhi zhi (Shanghai


Figure 7.
Yu Xiaqing and his Shanghai residence. Source: Arnold Wright, Twentieth Century
Impressions of  Hong long, Shanghai, and Other Treaty Ports of China London, 1908), 539.

municipality self-government gazetteer), an immediate stimulus to this development was the increasing tendency of the British and French municipal councils to build (and police) roads in Chinese areas. Yuan endorsed their plan, which in many respects consciously imitated the Municipal Council of the International Settlement.[59]


Whereas sojourners dominated the struggles in the foreign settlements, local Jiangsu merchants and gentry dominated the development of the Chinese City Council.[60] The predominance of Jiangsu leaders in the first Chinese Shanghai municipal government project raises important issues regarding the nature and meaning of this first Shanghai municipal structure for the actors involved. It is therefore important to consider the background and motivations of the local gentry leader Li Pingshu (Li Zhongjue), who initiated the project and was appointed as the general director of the new Chinese Municipal Council.

Li was from Pudong, just across the Huangpu River from the Shanghai bund. He was therefore not a sojourner but considered himself to be of the locality (bendi ). He received a traditional education and achieved the degree of senior licentiate, which led him to several posts in Guangdong as a magistrate. His concern to defend China against foreign encroachment led him into association with Zhang Zhidong and other officials in the self-strengthening movement and to involvement in westernization projects. Li traveled to Singapore to write an account of British colonial administration, and in 1903 he took up a post as Jiangnan Arsenal inspector. Between 1903 and 1911 Li engaged in a series of social-reform projects in Shanghai, establishing a hospital, providing running water and electrification for Chinese residents and organizing medical study societies to integrate Chinese and western medicine. He was also involved in several modern industrial enterprises. Li was therefore a well-traveled, highly cosmopolitan individual and a passionate nationalist with a deep interest in using both western technology and administrative practices to strengthen China.[61]


Although the Shanghai City Council is Li's most celebrated local self-government innovation in this period, it was not his only local self-government venture, nor were his self-government projects all based on western models. Also in 1905, the year he inaugurated the Shanghai City Council, Li established a Pudong native-place association, the Pudong Tongren Hui (Pudong Fellows Association, or PFA). According to Huang Yanpei, another member and an important reformist Jiangsu gentry leader, the PFA was formed out of nationalist and anti-imperialist as well as local motivations, motivations very similar to those behind the formation of the City Council. Moreover, the PFA was not concerned simply with Pudong: "At the time, we focused on resisting imperialist power. To prevent foreign merchants from building roads on [and appropriating] Pudong land; to discuss the planning of traffic and the survey of the Shanghai-Nanjing railroad; to concentrate public opinion we created the Pudong Jouranl ."[62]

It is possible that Li and the others who formed the Pudong native-place association were motivated by the example of sojourner associations in the foreign settlements. Li witnessed the 1905 boycott movement and was deeply impressed by the power of merchant organization.[63] He had also witnessed the efficacity of the Ningbo and Guangdong native-place associations in mobilizing popular struggles for Chinese rights against the foreign-settlement authorities. Unfortunately, Li did not comment on his motivations in founding the PFA, of which he remained a director until at least 1911.[64] Nonetheless, the fact that a native-place association was founded at the same time and by the same activist who directed the formation of the first Chinese municipal government in Shanghai is striking. Because the PFA was created in a context in which no native-place association had previously existed, it must be seen not as a traditional defensive posture but as the innovative response of locals to the modern challenge of imperialism. Both the PFA


and the City Council asserted local interests in a nationalist, antiforeign context. Just as Li's sanitation projects combined both Chinese and western medicine, Li appears to have simultaneously engaged in two alternative modes of organization for social and political reform, one based on a western model and one on a Chinese model, both potentially efficacious institutional forms according to his observations and experience. Both institutions accorded with Li's belief in the importance of local self-government for constructing the nation. Li used the metaphor of the body to describe the relation of the locality to the nation through the principle of local self-government: "[The locality] is the beginning point of local self-government, and when you have the point, you can lengthen it into a strand, and when you have a strand you can square it and round it into a surface, and then you can heighten and deepen the surface, creating a body."[65]

Li's activities and writings make clear that commitment to his native place was very much a part of his developing municipal consciousness. Although the City Council was not exclusively the project of Jiangsu locals, insofar as they predominated on the council it must be understood to have been primarily a locals' project. The rhetoric of local self-government also favored locals over sojourners. Because sojourners did not abandon their native-place identity, the local self-government movement was more accessible to sojourners through the home localities with which they were identified. Although Mark Elvin was certainly right to celebrate the many innovative aspects of the City Council, it is equally important to emphasize its linkages to local habits and ties. For all of its westernness the City Council should be viewed in its Chinese context, as a kind of cousin organization, in harmony with (if not the same as) the Pudong association, another type of local association created by Shanghai's local elite to prevent outsiders from encroaching on their tuff. The developing municipal consciousness it expressed needs to be understood through this local emphasis. The dominance of locals on the city council was unrepresentative, given the dominance of sojourners in the general Shanghai population (one has the impression of a few powerful sojourners being asked in to provide the council with extra "clout," but in limited numbers to ensure Jiangsu dominance). In this context the municipal structure appears more like the adoption of a western form for nationalist defensive purposes than like the culmination of a new cosmopolitan urban consciousness which embraced all


Chinese urban residents (or even all members of the urban elite) as citizens.

The creation of a Shanghai municipal structure nonetheless had important implications for urban consciousness and organization. It provided an institutional basis for organizing Chinese outside the settlement areas and for linking them to merchant organizations in the Settlement. Shortly after the establishment of a Chinese militia in the International Settlement, merchants in the Chinese areas of the city followed suit and formed exercise associations. Five physical-exercise associations were established by commercial training organizations by the end of 1905.[66] The new City Council provided an institutional framework for the coordination of these associations into a citywide force. In 1907, when Daotai Rui Cheng banned opium traffic in Shanghai and ordered opium shops in the Chinese city closed, he feared that the gang-connected opium sellers would resist. Lacking sufficient forces of his own, he asked Li Pingshu and Zeng Shaoqing (also a City Council member) to use the drill associations to keep order. The five groups coalesced into an overarching militia (Shangtuan gonghui ) for this purpose.[67]

The merchant militia's ability to preserve peace during the opium crisis increased its power. In the next year local authorities called on the militia to maintain order through regular patrols. Daotai Cai Naihuang, who took office in 1908, provided the militia with firearms and ammunition.[68] By the eve of the revolution there were approximately twenty such militia in Shanghai, based on trade and native-place groups. As Yang Liqiang and Shen Weibin observe, "in this manner, citizens' associations took on governmental functions and became militarized."[69]


Although initially these militia were not disloyal to the Qing and indeed reinforced government authority in the city, their formation nonetheless challenged it. By physically training urban residents in militia formations without government leadership, the merchant-gentry militia leaders (now increasingly coordinated through municipal governing structures) positioned themselves to supplant the state. In 1910-11, as conflicts over railway loan concessions led merchants previously aligned with a more moderate constitutionalist approach to a rapprochement with revolutionaries, the militia and the new City Council were poised to do precisely that.

After a wave of rice riots and tax resistance shook the Yangzi delta in 1910, in February 1911 a number of Shanghai merchants approached local self-government associations and suggested forming a Citizens' Army. On March 22, Qing officials approved, and in April 1911 a National Federation of Merchant Militia was established by local gentrymerchants, with Li Pingshu as president and Shen Manyun (a wealthy banker from Wuxi, Jiangsu) and Ye Huijun (of Pudong) as vice-presidents. Yu Xiaqing, Siming Gongsuo director and president of the Chinese Company of Settlement Volunteers, was made honorary vice-president. The militia totaled 2,490 men.[70]

On May 7 the National Federation of Merchant Militia organized a meeting of different groups in the city, bringing together sojourners and locals. The Ningbo notable Sheri Dunhe was selected to chair this meeting, at which he pronounced the assembly's goals. These included the promotion of martial spirit, education for national citizenship, military training through people's militia, and the creation of "a central organ uniting each sojourning group in Shanghai."[71]

Concurrent with these developments which brought together different groups into overarching citywide frameworks, a parallel process of organizational activity deepened and reinforced native-place ties and explicitly connected native-place organization to the strengthening of the nation by stressing the importance of organizational units (tuanti ) in building a patriotic and united China. Much of this patriotic organizational activity took place in the context of new and reformulated native-place associations, particularly among Zhejiang sojourners. On


March 19, 1911, a large general meeting to inaugurate a reformulated Ningbo native-place association took place at the Siming Gongsuo, with more than two thousand Ningbo sojourners attending. Shen Dunhe, who in two months would work to unite different sojourning groups into a "central organ," also chaired this meeting, which was dedicated to the special destiny of the Ningbo people, "whose footprints cover the world, and who in the future can establish branch associations everywhere, with the center in Shanghai." In his speech, Sheri recalled the historic achievements of Ningbo sojourners, referring to the Ningbo people's past protection of the Siming Gongsuo and crediting the results to Ningbo organizational strength. His speech combines the recounting of Ningbo glory and destiny with a popularized version of Liang Qichao's diagnosis of China's organizational weakness: "But today, organizations are frequently dispersed like yellow sand .... Our Chinese people are insulted by foreigners because our organizations are not solid .... [Now] our Ningbo people have this great organization and this will facilitate the development of patriotic thinking .... Our association, with our protect-the-Siming Gongsuo-hearts, will go and protect the nation."[72] Later in 1911, in another act which simultaneously reinforced native-place organization and nationalist revolutionary mobilization, Yu Xiaqing (who had been active in both the railway-loan movement and the constitutionalist movement) also specially organized a Ningbo Merchants' General Assembly (Ningshang zonghui ), located in the International Settlement. After Yu made contacts with the Revolutionary Alliance in the months prior to the Shanghai episode of the revolution, this Ningbo Merchants' Assembly provided a location for secret meetings of the Revolutionary Alliance. Given later struggles between Yu and Li Pingshu over control of Zhabei in the postrevolutionary order, it is difficult not to imagine that such activities on the eve of the revolution involved a certain positioning for power in advance.[73]

During this period Guangdong sojourner groups in Shanghai were sympathetic to Sun Yat-sen and revolutionary organization in Guangdong and appear in many respects to have focused more closely on Guangdong events and networks than on municipally focused organiz-


ing in Shanghai, which was Zhejiang and Jiangsu dominated. Indeed, there were fewer institutional links connecting them to new Shanghai municipal structures. Although Guangdong sojourners enjoyed a limited presence in the Chamber of Commerce and in the merchant militia, they did not have leadership roles and they were not a part of the City Council. Meeting records of the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo from 1906 show the Guangdong merchants in Shanghai in very close touch with the Guangzhou Chamber of Commerce, coordinating actions to be taken in regard to the Hong Kong-Guangzhou railway. In late September 1911, more than a thousand Guangdong residents in Shanghai met to hear news from two delegates of the Southern Railway Protection Association who were en route from Guangzhou to the capital. Speeches at the meeting made by Wu Tingfang and others emphasized the unity of feeling between sojourners and the people of Guangdong province. The Guangdong sojourner assembly resolved to assist their fellow-provincials "in any fight necessary to compel the government to comply with [their] wishes."[74]

Revolutionary Government and the Post-Revolutionary Order . Immediately after the Wuchang revolt on October 10, Li Pingshu met secretly with Shen Enfu and other Jiangsu leaders on the City Council, and they decided to collaborate with Chen Qimei, the regional leader of the Revolutionary Alliance.[75] Disillusioned by the Manchu response to the parliamentary movement, the Jiangsu banker and City Council member Shen Manyun (who would fund covert revolutionary organizing in this period) had already cast his lot with the revolutionaries.[76] After this, Li reportedly met daily with Chen at the offices of the


revolutionary newspaper Minlibao (funded by Shen). According to Feng Shaoshan, commander of the Paper Trade Militia, under the authority of the Militia Federation, very shortly thereafter, the united command proclaimed an uprising.[77] Li quickly took steps to render the city neutral to Chen Qimei's forces. Chen then proceeded to the Jiangnan Arsenal, which, after some mishaps and with the assistance of Li's militia, was occupied by the morning of November 3, the day Shanghai was declared republican. Within a few days Chen had organized a temporary military government which included a number of important figures in the City Council: Li Pingshu became Minister of Civil Affairs; Shen Manyun, Minister of Finance; Wang Yiting, Minister of Communications. The wealthy Ningbo capitalists Zhu Baosan and Yu Xiaqing, the Shanghai grain wholesaler Gu Xinyi and the Jiangsu piece-goods merchant You Binghan also received posts, though secondary ones.[78]

Native-place associations in a variety of ways contributed to the process of revolutionary mobilization and early "republican" government. Their frequent meetings provided arenas for the dissemination of political ideas. In addition, they printed circulars and journals and made use of the Shanghai press, publishing notices and texts of telegrams to revolutionary leaders. They collected funds for the revolutionary army and government and recruited soldiers for revolutionary armies in their home provinces.

Immediately after Chen took power in Shanghai, Shanghai youths, women and various sojourning groups formed militia. Most of the student military corps were from the two provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Other sojourners formed "northern expedition" brigades according to their native place, among these the Jiangxi Northern Expeditionary Army, the Henan Northern Expeditionary Army Branch Headquarters and the Hunan Sojourners' Northern Expedition Army. Although these names declared the participants' native-place identity, they also proclaimed their intent to contribute to the new government's project of national construction. Some, like the Sichuan Han Army, asserted their native-place and Han ethnic identity at once. This assertion of broad Han ethnic belonging did not prevent some of these militia from planning for the independence of their provinces, as was the case for the


Sichuan Han Army, which called on Sichuanese to "unite [our collective] strength to establish an independent Sichuan."[79]

In November and December 1911 different native-place communities held meetings at their huiguan to gather recruits for revolutionary armies, both to serve in their home provinces and to serve the Shanghai military government. The Shibao observed that since the victory of the republican army in Shanghai, groups of people from each native place had volunteered to serve the revolution.[80] Notices calling for recruits published in the revolutionary newspaper, Minlibao , appealed to both native-place and nationalist sentiment, stressing the urgency of both national and local situations and invoking both the bravery of the revolutionaries and the special spirit or experience of the locality.[81] Such notices concretized the abstract goals of nationalism With reference to local and familiar situations.

Native-place associations also formed collection networks, raising funds for military expenses both in their native provinces and in Shanghai. A director of the Siming Gongsuo, Fang Jiaobo, later described the situation in his memoirs: "At the time in Shanghai commercial circles the Ningbo and Guangdong sojourners had the biggest groups. Their organizations were the [Siming Gongsuo] and the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo. Their members were extremely numerous and their leaders were the leaders of society.... [Their leaders] used utmost strength to help the revolutionary army, and called on the other sojourning commercial groups in Shanghai to help support the revolution."[82]


Several thousand sojourning Guangdong provincials met at the Guang-Zhao Gongsuo on December 5, 1911. The assembly, led by the director Wen Zongyao, established a systematic collection program to assist (and presumably also to achieve influence in) the new military government. Wen began the meeting by stressing the Guangdong sojourners' Han ethnicity:

At this time the national situation is extremely urgent and we must rely on blood and iron. "Blood" refers to our great Han new republican citizens' blood. "Iron" refers to the firearms our great Han new republican citizens use to protect themselves. When people have blood but no iron, bleeding is useless. Moreover, it is not just our blood we shed, but the blood of our descendants. Now those citizens who are brave should mount horses and fight. Those who are wealthy should contribute to purchase the most modern weapons to prepare for military victory. In this manner it is possible not just to protect your own blood, but the blood of generations of descendants.[83]

Placing native-place networks in the service of the nation, Wen calculated that with one hundred seventy to one hundred eighty thousand people in the Shanghai Guangdong community, if everyone contributed it would be easy to raise substantial sums. All Guangdong businesses were to set aside a sum equal to 10 percent of the total paid in monthly salaries. Employees and shop clerks were to contribute one-tenth of their salaries. Collections were to continue until military affairs were settled.[84]

Other sojourning networks also invested eagerly in the new government. After a general collection, the Quan-Zhang Huiguan contributed rental income from its Shanghai properties and solicited contributions from overseas Fujianese communities in Southeast Asia. The Dianchuntang organized collections from the Fujian foreign and Guangdong goods, northern goods and seafood trades. Shandong merchant leaders personally solicited each Shandong shop for contributions, hyperbolically finding "none [who were] unenthusiastic."[85] The Shanghai Shandong community also initiated collections from fellow-provincials in Osaka, Hong Kong, Vladivostok, Qingdao and other ports.[86]


Revolutionary leaders appealed directly to their own tongxiang , who responded at least initially with enthusiasm, seizing the opportunity to increase their influence while furthering the revolutionary cause. On the eve of his inauguration as president of the new republic, Sun Yat-sen attended a lengthy feast hosted by all of the Guangdong sojourning groups in Shanghai, while Guangdong groups in other provinces showered him with contributions and congratulatory telegrams. The Shanghai Guang-Zhao Gongsuo pledged four hundred thousand taels to the National Assembly, trusting at the same time that its favored candidate, Wu Tingfang, would be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.[87]

With similar spirit Zhejiang sojourners (especially Huzhou merchants) rallied to help Chen Qimei's Shanghai military government, while Chen shamelessly filled government posts with his Huzhou tongxiang . As support for his regime waned, Chen appealed to his fellow-countrymen at the Huzhou Silk Cocoon Gongsuo (Jianye gongsuo ). When his own tongxiang grew reluctant, Chen imprisoned Huzhou merchants in the gongsuo until he had extracted substantial "voluntary" contributions.[88]


Even as they invested in the new Shanghai and national governments, Shanghai native-place associations remained deeply involved with their home provinces, providing political and economic support and attempting to restore peace when undisciplined troops or friction between rival factions threw localities into disorder. In early 1912 the Shanghai Ningbo Sojourners' Association convened specially to try to preserve order in Ningbo. The fact that Ningbo Chamber of Commerce and Ningbo prefectural self-government association representatives came to Shanghai for the meetings (and under the signature of Yu Xiaqing communicated with the Zhejiang military governor) demonstrates the centrality of the Shanghai Ningbo community in managing Ningbo affairs.[89]

Not long after the establishment of the Nanjing Government, the bankers and wealthy merchants who had supported the revolution began to find the new order—which failed to establish a broad financial base and was instead supported (locally) by Chen Qimei's extortion—increasingly burdensome. As Chen's regime wore on, concern for protecting their fellow-provincials led native-place associations to deploy the rhetoric of republicanism to criticize the unscrupulous tactics of the unprincipled heirs of the revolution, just as they had criticized the Qing. Native-place associations attempted to curb the predations of the Shanghai military government by investigating specific incidents (commonly the mistreatment of wealthy fellow-provincials) and publicizing their findings in the press.[90]


When, for example, the head of Chen Qimei's secret police, Ying Guixin (a former associate of the notorious gang chieftain Van Kah-der) kidnapped and arrested Song Hanzhang, manager of the Bank of China, the Shaoxing Sojourners' Association published a formal protest addressed to Chen Qimei, accusing him of betraying the ideals of republican government and of becoming a dictator. The association also volunteered its services as Song's guarantor, citing its duty to him in recognition of his great love of his native place.[91] In March 1912 Guangdong sojourners followed the lead of their two fellow-provincials in the revolutionary government, Wu Tingfang and Wen Zongyao, and protested the actions of Chen and his associates. In telegrams to President Sun in Nanjing and Vice-President Li in Wuchang they detailed policies of extortion and asked for a restoration of law and human feeling.[92]

In his study of the revolution of 1911 in Shanghai, Elvin concludes with surprise that the fragile coalition between the revolutionaries and Chinese power networks in the city that produced the revolution in Shanghai was ever achieved. Native-place ties—which could link unlikely partners because they were not dependent on common occupation, class or outlook—were clearly a key element in the orchestration of the alliance. Linkages between Shanghai elites and the revolutionaries (indeed, the paths of revolutionary consciousness) were lubricated by native-place ties. Zhejiang ties facilitated the initial links between Chen Qimei and wealthy Shanghai capitalists. In 1909, when Chen Qimei went to Shanghai to direct revolutionary activities in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region for the Revolutionary Alliance, he prepared the ground through native-place networks. Chen's Huzhou ties brought him support from the Huzhou capitalist Yang Xinzhi and also fellow-provincials from Ningbo. Yang had founded a school for Huzhou students in Shanghai. Chen worked briefly at the school, and through this connection also met other fellow-provincial entrepreneurs and bankers, including Wang Yi-


ting, Li Houyu (who had repeatedly held high office in the General Chamber of Commerce), Li Weizhuang and Li Zhengwu.[93]

Linkages between the Zhejiang clique which controlled the Chamber of Commerce and the Jiangsu-dominated City Council were reinforced by the new institutional structures they inhabited (which, though they could be controlled by particular bang , could not legitimately—because of their new municipal and nationalist basis—be entirely exclusive) and which brought them together. Jiangsu and Zhejiang elites had also come together in the constitutionalist movement and in the course of their struggles to control the Jiangsu-Zhejiang railway.[94]

In 1906, when the Qing government promulgated "constitutional preparation," leading Zhejiang and Jiangsu capitalists (including Zhou Jinzhen, Wang Yiting, Li Pingshu and Shen Manyun) responded eagerly, and in the same year they set up a constitutional preparation society. Many of the same leading Zhejiang and Jiangsu capitalists in Shanghai had invested in the Suzhou-Hangzhou-Ningbo Railway. Li Pingshu, Gu Xinyi and Wang Yiting were all directors of the Jiangsu Railway, and the wealthy Zhejiang businessmen Zhou Jinzhen, Li Houyu, Yan Xinhou and Yu Xiaqing were heavily invested in the Zhejiang railroad company. As the Qing government began to negotiate for foreign loans, these merchants mobilized to retain control over the railroads. On November 10, 1907, a recently formed Zhejiang native-place association (Zhejiang lü Hu tongxianghui ), led by Zhou Jinzhen (also a director of the Siming Gongsuo and the president of the Chamber of Commerce), met to organize opposition to the loans. On November 19 Jiangsu and Zhejiang merchants and gentry met to discuss the railway issue. Speakers on both occasions made dear their alienation from the Manchu government. They also reaffirmed native-placc identity while they united Jiangsu and Zhejiang people in a common anti-Manchu, nationalist struggle: "If the government insists [on foreign loans], then the Jiangsu and Zhejiang people should adopt the policy of refusing to pay taxes." As Ding Richu has noted, speakers fled the rail-


way-rights-recovery movement to the constitutionalist movement: "If we can unite, it is not just to give hope to the railroad, but [uniting] is also helpful to the future establishment of a constitution. . .. This time the people of two provinces unite resolutely. Although we unite today for the railroad matter, this is [just] a beginning."[95]

Native-place ties could link disparate individuals and provide organizational resources which reached deeper into society than the newer, more superficial municipal institutions. At the same time, precisely because they stressed native-place identity, the alliance produced was weak, and its quick disintegration and failure to produce a working government are not surprising. Despite the broad nationalist rhetoric of the new Chinese republicans, the uprisings of 1911 were notable in their failure to successfully construct a truly national order.

Instead, in a story that is well known, the ideals of revolution quickly degenerated into conflicts among local interests and battles over provincial turf. Native-place ties and organization, which had mobilized Shanghai residents for revolution and had spread nationalist and revolutionary propaganda, also provided the sentiments and associational networks of revolutionary disintegration. After the Wuchang uprising Li Yuanhong sent Li Xiehe (a Hunanese) to Shanghai as General Commander. The presence of Li and his Hunanese associates provoked the jealousy and irritation of Chen Qimei. There was also a split, as Elvin has noted, between those who felt allegiance primarily to the Guangdong-based Sun Yat-sen and those who were enmeshed in networks of loyalty to Chen Qimei. The Guangdong sojourner Wen Zongyao, for instance, appointed by Sun to govern foreign affairs in Shanghai, came into conflict with Chen's foreign affairs commissar, Xu Zhejiang.[96] Native-place differences exacerbated tensions among the different revolutionary branches which had cooperated in the uprising. There was even an intra-Zhejiang split between the northern Zhejiang supporters of Chen Qimei and Tao Chengzhang's Restoration Society, which they accused of favoring Shaoxing people over those of Huzhou, Ningbo and Hangzhou.[97]

This chapter has focused on the complex, developing relationship (and overlapping identity) of native-place and national interests and the ways


in which this relationship facilitated and limited developing Chinese nationalist mobilization. At the same time, the importance of native-place ties in nationalist mobilization and their reformulation in the new municipal institutions of the early twentieth century (the Chamber of Commerce and the City Council) and in the revolution of 1911 suggest the ambivalence of sojourners in regard to constructing Shanghai identities for themselves. Although we see in this period the important emergence of social organizations based on the concept of "Shanghai," examination of their practice reveals the limits of Shanghai identity. Not only did the leading commercial and political figures in the city (if they were sojourners) belong to native-place associations, but even in the context of citywide organizations they identified themselves, as we have seen, as "sojourning merchants in Shanghai" rather than as "Shanghai merchants." Indeed, identification by native place was fundamental to participation in citywide movements and institutions. The membership list of the Chamber of Commerce, for example, though providing little information other than name, age, professional affiliation and address, carefully specifies the native place of each officer and member.[98]


previous sub-section
Chapter Six The Native Place and the Nation Anti-Imperialist and Republican Revolutionary Mobilization
next chapter