The Wang Jingwei Government has cast a long dark shadow over modern Chinese history. It has been excoriated as the classic model of a puppet government that Japan used to divide and exploit China. Such a reading dismisses out of hand the intentions and motivations of those involved with Wang’s ‘peace movement’ in 1939. The present paper seeks to reappraise the Wang Jingwei ‘peace movement’ by setting it in the context of its time. By 1939 many considered that China had been defeated and that continued resistance by the Chongqing Government was pointless. Thus one could argue that Wang Jingwei’s ‘peace movement’ was a pragmatic attempt to restore China’s sovereignty in the occupied regions.
The focus of the paper is Zhou Fohai. It analyses Zhou’s advocacy of a ‘peace government’ and his understanding that such a government needed to be seen as the legitimate extension of the Guomindang Party–State. Because of his forthright stand on the need to maintain the continuity of the Guomindang Party–State, Wang Jingwei designated Zhou as his main negotiator with the Japanese. Zhou also worked to set up a security service to protect members of the ‘peace movement’ from Chongqing’s security organisations. By 1940, Zhou had achieved victory for his view of the need for a strong ‘peace government’, which then took on the characteristics of an alternative Chinese Central Government.
About the Speaker
Brian Martin is a retired public servant, currently a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. He has been engaged in the field of Chinese studies for forty years, both in academia and in public service. His scholarly research interests lie in the field of modern Chinese history, specifically Republican China (1911–1949). His major research has been the study of the social and political role of banghui in a modernising urban environment in early 20th century China, focussing on the Green Gang (qingbang) in Shanghai. He published a monograph on the Shanghai Green Gang in 1996, with a Chinese-language edition in 2002. In addition he has published numerous articles on different aspects of the Shanghai Green Gang over the years, a number of which have been translated and published in Chinese journals. He is presently researching the politics of collaboration in the Second Sino-Japanese War, with a view to publishing a monograph on the role.
After the Seminar