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The Rural ModernReconstructing the Self and State in Republican China$
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Kate Merkel-Hess

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226383279

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226383309.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Rural Modern

Kate Merkel-Hess

University of Chicago Press

In 1929, a teenager writing under the name Hongxu published an article on rural citizenship and governance reform in a journal for rural “new literates.” Hongxu had only recently moved to Beiping (as Beijing was then called) from rural Ding County (Dingxian), where he had grown up and become involved in rural reform work. Before turning to the practicalities of rural self-government, Hongxu mused on why rural reform was necessary to begin with—settling, ultimately, on the personal failings of the Chinese people. “Why we have been oppressed by the Great Powers [can be said in] one simple sentence. It is be­cause Chinese people could not self-strengthen,” he wrote. The Chinese peo­ple were illiterate and ignorant, he continued, and thus the nation was weak. “We must admit that it is not imperialism bullying us; in reality we have welcomed it ourselves!”...

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