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The traditional historiographical interpretation of such a political context by Chinese and Western scholars has been univocally negative: disunity has invariably been regarded as a blessing for imperialist forces, as a source of weakness for China as well as a serious hindrance to its modernization and to State-building. Against such a backdrop and given the very strength of centrifugal forces during the Republic, it is exceedingly restrictive a vision to consider that the process of modernization and State-building was engineered only through central governments.
Our main argument is that competing political realms should be considered less as a hindrance to the overall dynamics of Chinese State-building, than as an integral part of them. Reconsidering the political division of China in such a new light bring forwards a new range of issues.
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Drawing on past researches, it now becomes necessary to explore the various achievements of the local power holders in realms such as infrastructures, taxation, police, education and welfare, while also paying attention to the array of tools statistics, law, economic planning, etc. But it is equally important to compare rival State-building endeavors and the dynamics of emulation and competition between them. A woman and two girls gaze at a slogan in the window of a Popular Education Center in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, The taller girl standing on the left is called Huang Yongmei.
My father died when I was 4, after contracting an acute illness while he was teaching out of town. My mother watched over me and my younger sisters at our family home in Zhenjiang, where we depended on each other for everything. That year, when he came back to visit family, he brought my aunt and cousin to see us one Sunday. We stopped and took a closer look, while my aunt gave us an explanation.
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I listened, enraptured, while my cousin locked her eyes on the small children in the painting. Seeing our expressions, my uncle spontaneously — and unbeknownst to us — took a shot with his camera. Rural schools, too, were encouraged to embrace new educational strategies.
Nationalist government - Wikipedia
The woman sitting upright in the center of the shot is probably the school principal. Similarly, all the female students in the photograph are smartly dressed and proper-looking.
A traditional Chinese saying exhorts us to leave the best buildings for educators and students, and the carved beams and painted rafters behind this group indicate that local villagers took that to heart. The presence of the female headteacher is made more arresting by the four men at her side. Due to the patriarchal nature of Chinese society, senior men tend to pose front-and-center in most old photographs, while women are usually relegated to the background. This image goes against that custom and hints at early visual representations of female emancipation.
Left: A hand-painted film poster is seen in Changchun, Jilin province, ; Right: A drummer performs at a bar in Changchun, Jilin province, Yet social upheaval was by no means a constant fact of life; although they were living in turbulent times, most people still passed their days as they had before. These two photographs above were both taken in in the northeastern city of Changchun. One is of a hand-painted movie poster, while the other is of a drummer performing onstage in a bar. By the late s, the civil war between the Communists and the Kuomintang was coming to a ferocious conclusion.
China's Republican Era, 1911 to 1949
Changchun was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Communist soldiers; in the city, tens of thousands of garrisoned KMT soldiers were losing contact with the outside world, residents were subject to constant curfews and spot checks, and famine was looming. Before the drummer took to the stage, he still wore a favorite Western-style suit, still slicked back his black hair, still immersed himself totally in keeping time with his fellow musicians. His kit is a little too simple, consisting only of a bass drum, snare, and hi-hat. Yet compared with the distant thunder of army gunfire, his rat-a-tat rhythms belonged to civilians in the streets, reminding them that a different life — a peaceful life — was still possible.
Birth of the Republican movement
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