These students studying in the United States have shaped the fate of modern China

The conference of "Students from the United States and Modern China in Finance and Diplomacy" was sponsored by the Modern Chinese Characters and Archives Research Center of Fudan University and the Asian Institute of Saint John University of New York, USA, and co-organized by Shanghai Hezhong Culture and Art Exchange Center.

There are many students who have experience studying abroad in the United States such as: Gu Weiyi, Hu Shi, Song Ziwen, Song Meiling, Kong Xiangxi, Wang Zhengting, Chen Guangyi, Qi Kezheng, Jiang Menglin, Yan HuiqinMost and most of them devote themselves to the development of professional skills and foreign language knowledge abd high levels of finance, education, and diplomacy play a decisive role.

On May 20, 2018, a two-day international academic symposium on “The Foreign Student Studying in America and Modern China’s Finance and Diplomacy” ended at Fudan University. More than 60 scholars from home and abroad discussed the Chinese students studying in China.

One of the topics that attracted the attention of the participating scholars was the development of historical materials: the related archives were further opened up, where they were read by the research team to understand and provide both scholars and the public with a better understanding of modern China. Window.

Students studying in the United States and the modernization of China

At the meeting, several cases were discussed, including the establishment of Gu Weijun and the United Nations Trusteeship System, Hu Shi’s proposal to abandon the three provinces in the East before the August 13 war, Kong Xiangxi’s role in the game between China and the United States on the “silver balance tax”, and Cai Zengji’s role. Shipping during the Republic of China, Yuan Tongli and academic exchanges between China and the United States during the Anti-Japanese War period, Kong Xiangxi and the government’s finances at the beginning of the establishment of the Council’s Administration Committee, etc. Professor Jiang Yihua from the History Department of Fudan University pointed out in his keynote speech that the American elements in the process of China’s modernization are far-reaching and the influence on people are undoubtedly an important part of it.

In his speech, Associate Professor Liu Weizhi of the Department of Education at Taiwan Normal University mentioned in his speech that the “third generation” of the international students studying abroad, that is, a group of students who obtained a doctoral degree before 1910 and the mid-1920s, was the most important among modern intellectuals or international students’ generations. Their main contribution was not as substantial as the previous two generations were with the Enlightenment Movement or personally involved in the revolution, but in the academic community it created a paradigm of knowledge to contribute to China’s modernization. It is considered by scholars to be “a wide field of view and the most creative. Some notable figures in this generation are, Jiang Menglin (graduated from Columbia University in 1917), Liu Tingfang (graduated from Columbia University in 1920) and Zhang Pengchun (graduated from Columbia University in 1924) all made achievements in their respective fields.

At that time, those studying abroad formed a “circle”. The report of Associate Professor Ma Jianbiao of Fudan History Department explored the impact of the “European Union Reunion” composed of returned overseas students on the political situation in China during the May Fourth New Culture Movement. He pointed out that Zhan Tianyou, Cai Yuanpei, Yan Huiqing, Gu Weiyi, Wang Zhengting, Wang Chonghui and other intellectual elites have all participated in the creation or leadership of the European and American student unions. The United States has influenced modern China in an indirect but far-reaching way.

The activeness of international students in the field of education has long been a concern. The case provided by Associate Professor Wang Zhenceng of Henan University is more evidence that there were four consecutive principals of Henan University who graduated from Columbia University (Ling Bing, Cha Liangzhu, and Deng Cuiying). Liangzhuo has served as president for two terms; and Henan University has been established since 1912. In the course of 106 years of running schools, there are 30 principals, of which 20 are overseas students.

Modern Chinese students studying in the United States to take photos. From left to right and from top to bottom are: Gu Weiyi, Hu Shi, Jiang Menglin, Kang Tongfu, Soong Ching Ling, Song Meiling, Kong Xiangxi, Song Ziwen, and Wang Zhengting.

Domestic files are further open

The Second China History Archive located in Nanjing (hereinafter referred to as the “Second Archive”) is the “heavy town” of the Archives of the Republic of China. The files of the mainland’s existing central government and its affiliated institutions in the Republic of China from 1912 to 1949 are kept here. Among them, information on the selection, management, return, and appointment of foreign students is of high value.

Since 2008, the Second Archive has carried out large-scale archive digital work. For a certain period of time, when digitization has not yet been completed and the originals have been archived, therefore many files could not be consulted. When it is possible to restore records, it becomes a matter of general responsibility to the academic community. At the meeting, Ma Zhenyao, Director of the Second Historical Archives of China, introduced the latest developments in digitization and brought the news that “digital engineering has been successfully completed and the archives have entered normal service status since 2018”.

China’s Second Historical Archives is China’s national archives

The archives left over by the Kuomintang during the KMT era were collated and cataloged, totaling more than 1,300 total cases, more than 2,300,000 volumes, about 45 million pieces, and 220 million pages; of these, the file’s damage rate reached over 40%. It is estimated that the digitalization of these collections will take about 40 years, and the restoration work is also very difficult.

As early as the 1980s, the Second Archive Museum began its digital work with thematic units. The post and archive files and financial files were first collated and scanned. After 2008, the Second Archive Museum was under the leadership of the National Archives Bureau as the pilot for the “All Archives of the Central Academy Archives” to conduct high-standard color scans (digital files are now open to the public), while the originals were sealed. After the digital work of 2008-2012, the second-grade library completed a scan of 21.3 million frames, which accounted for 14.3% of the total collection.

Since 2013, the library has been digitizing the archives with the highest utilization rate in the collection. “With the support of the State Archives Bureau and the special allocation of the Ministry of Finance, and the joint efforts of the entire staff and outsourcing companies, we will complete the digitization project in five years, achieve 60 million pages of finishing, 50 million pages of scanning, and 9 million In the archival photography of the frame, 1.2 million pages of repairs were completed, and 36% of the total number of the collections had been digitized by the end of 2017. Moreover, this part of the priority digital content was the statistics showing that the highest utilization rate in the museum since 2000 was more than 300 All the cases.” Ma Zhen said.

In addition, at the end of each year, the Second Archive Museum will open a new batch of digitally completed archives. Currently, it has opened up archives including the Ministry of Education of the Nationalist Government, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Central Propaganda Department of the Kuomintang Central.

“Up to now, 90% of the open files have been digitized and can be easily accessed. Many of the remaining parts are low-utilization financial forms, accounting books, etc. If you have special needs, you can call for the original and use temporary scanning. In addition, some databases for public services have also been generally welcomed, such as the list of 200,000 Chinese soldiers and their related files, who were sacrificed on the anti-Japanese battlefield, and are visited daily by the public. Many people are seeing the ancestors’ war-torn fighters. Photo material tears the archives.”

Ma Zhenlu said that the number of visitors to the second-grade library has now returned to the previous state of the original sealed in 2008, and that after the digitalization of the archives, the search efficiency is higher and the archives’ foreign service capacity is stronger; scholars and research institutions from all countries are welcome to vist and carry out collaborative research work.

Second-grade Collection Digital Files: “Provisional Law of the Republic of China”

Large-scale excavation of overseas archives

In modern times, Chinese students studying abroad drift across the oceans. Although they returned after completing their studies, they leave behind many of their resources. For example, Columbia University has “Gu Weiyi Documents” and “Chen Guangyi Documents”. Stanford University has “Soong Zi Wen Archives” and “Kong Xiangxi Archives”. Harvard University has “Jiang Tingxi Information” and so on.

In recent years, more and more scholars have gone to North America in order to collect research data, and it has become a “phenomenon” to collect files from “collegiate” universities and research institutes in North America.

Stanford University’s Hoover Archives Song Ziwen’s files contain 65 document boxes and 1398 folders that were kept and organized before his life. They are large in quantity and rich in content.

Since 2011, Professor Wu Jingping from the history department of Fudan University has carried out a page-by-page scan of all the “Song files” in the Hoover Archives, and has conducted detailed cataloguing after reading and analyzing. “We have to make ‘registrations’ for these files so that researchers who need to use Song files no longer have limited access, and let these archives be utilized to its full value. We do this for us and the owner of the copyright – Song Ziwen’s post People and the collection institution of the archives, Hoover Archives, repeatedly communicated and finally actioned this idea, said Wu Jingping.

Some scholars said that taking into account the existing management regulations of most libraries and archives in the United States, such an approach is unprecedented, and it is very likely that no one will come.

Currently, the “Songge Database” has created a title search. By scanning keywords, you can quickly retrieve original scanned items, read, download, copy, and print. It is very convenient. Each page of Song files has a unique code and Numbers, and headings that are based on content, including key fields such as names, dates, and topics. According to Professor Wu Jingping, the next step is to achieve a full-text search and establish a correspondence of “title-original-original entry-translation”.

Prof. Wu Jingping displays the search interface of Song database

The “Jiang Tingxi data” collected by the Harvard-Yenching Library has also been used in the “original ecology” without classification and random numbering. It was donated by Chiang Kai-shek in 2002. Jiang Jieshi of Zhejiang University and Chen Hongmin, director of the Center for Modern Chinese Studies, edited the data and added some new data of Jiang Tingxuan’s family members. This prepared the precious materials ready for publication on the mainland (Chen Hongmin, Fu Min, ed. Harvard University, Harvard-Yenching Library Collection of Jiang Tingxu Information, Guangxi Normal University Press, 2015).

According to Professor Chen Hongmin, Harvard’s “Jiang Tingxu data” mainly includes all the diaries of Jiang Tingxu from 1494 to 1965, oral historical texts from 1963 to 1974, correspondence letters between Jiang Tingxuan and others, and reports from Chiang Kai-shek and Taiwan. The incidents involved include the Taiwan authorities’ struggle for the “representation of the United Nations”, etc. Since the archives of the Taiwan side were not fully disclosed at the same time, this information has important implications for understanding the history of contemporary Taiwan; it is for the study of Jiang Tingjun himself.

Harvard University Harvard Yenching Library Collection Jiang Tingyu Information

Xu An, an assistant researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, gave an introduction to the “Chen Guangxuan Document” in the rare manuscript collection of Columbia University. He said that these documents were identified and arranged by Chen Guangzhen himself and numerous assistants. A large number of original letters were condensed and re-recorded, and condensed into a “diary” form that could be easily read and used by himself and future generations. . Chen Guangxi himself is a financier closely related to the political and business circles of the Republic of China. His status and experience have made these documents highly academic.

Columbia University’s rare manuscript collection “Gu Weiyi Document” is also historical material that has been receiving attention for a long time. Gao Zuonan, Ph.D. candidate of the Department of History of Fudan University, combed Gu Weijun’s archives during the period between 1946 and 1956 when he was appointed as “ambassador to the United States” by the Nationalist Government and Taiwan authorities. Through the introduction of several boxes of “confidential documents,” This file is of significance to revealing the relationship between the KMT and the CPC, Sino-U.S. relations, and Sino-Japanese relations.

Gu Wei’s statue in the rare manuscript museum and museum of Columbia University

(Source: News)

Songzi Li/ Editing Manager

Translation by Philip Park

These students studying in the United States have shaped the fate of modern China
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These students studying in the United States have shaped the fate of modern China
There are many students who have experience studying abroad in the United States such as: Gu Weiyi, Hu Shi, Song Ziwen, Song Meiling, Kong Xiangxi, Wang Zhengting, Chen Guangyi, Qi Kezheng, Jiang Menglin, Yan HuiqinMost and most of them devote themselves to the development of professional skills and foreign language knowledge abd high levels of finance, education, and diplomacy play a decisive role.
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