Sunday, May 04, 2008

Today in History -- May Fourth Movement

Chinese history

intellectual revolution and sociopolitical reform movement that occurred in China in 1917–21. The movement was directed toward national independence, emancipation of the individual, and rebuilding society and culture.

In 1915, in the face of Japanese encroachment on China, young intellectuals, inspired by “New Youth” (Xin qingnian), a monthly magazine edited by the iconoclastic intellectual revolutionary Chen Duxiu, began agitating for the reform and strengthening of Chinese society. As part of this New Culture Movement, they attacked traditional Confucian ideas and exalted Western ideas, particularly science and democracy. Their inquiry into liberalism, pragmatism, nationalism, anarchism, and Socialism provided a basis from which to criticize traditional Chinese ethics, philosophy, religion, and social and political institutions. Moreover, led by Chen and the American-educated scholar Hu Shih, they proposed a new naturalistic vernacular writing style (baihua), replacing the difficult 2,000-year-old classical style (wenyan).

These patriotic feelings and the zeal for reform culminated in an incident on May 4, 1919, from which the movement took its name. On that day, more than 3,000 students from 13 colleges in Beijing held a mass demonstration against the decision of the Versailles Peace Conference, which drew up the treaty officially ending World War I, to transfer the former German concessions in northeastern Shantung Province to Japan.

Get access to the full Britannica article with the link below:

May Fourth Movement. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 04, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/370739/May-Fourth-Movement

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