Chinese May Fourth Movement

May Fourth Movement

May Fourth Movement (1919), first mass movement in modern Chinese history. On May 4, about 5,000 university students in Beijing protested the Versailles Conference (Apr. 28, 1919) awarding Japan the former German leasehold of Kiaochow (Jiaozhou), Shandong prov. Demonstrations and strikes spread to Shanghai, and a nationwide boycott of Japanese goods followed. The May Fourth Movement began a patriotic outburst of new urban intellectuals against foreign imperialists and warlords. Intellectuals identified the political establishment with China's failure in the modern era, and hundreds of new periodicals published attacks on Chinese traditions, turning to foreign ideas and ideologies. The movement split into leftist and liberal wings. The latter advocated gradual cultural reform as exemplified by Hu Shih who interpreted the pragmatism of John Dewey, while leftists like Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao introduced Marxism and advocated political action. The movement also popularized vernacular literature, promoted political participation by women, and educational reforms.

See Hu Shih, The Chinese Renaissance (2d ed. 1964); V. Schwarcz, Chinese Enlightenment Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May 4th Movement of 1919 (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries
Kenneth Lieberthal; Joyce Kallgren; Roderick Macfarquhar; Frederic Wakeman Jr.; Thomas P. Bernstein; Lloyd E. Eastman; Michael H. Hunt; Joyce Kallgren; Leo Ou-Fan Lee; Barry Naughton; Michel Oksenberg; Dwight H. Perkins; Evelyn S. Rawski; Vivienne Shue; James R. Townsend; James L. Watson; Tu Wei-Ming; Martin King Whyte; Alexander Woodside; Madeleine Zelin.
An East Gate Book, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "May Fourth Anniversary"
The Origins of Chinese Communism
Arif Dirlik.
Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Part II "From Enlightenment to Socialism"
Shanghai Sojourners
Frederic Wakeman Jr.; Wen-Hsin Yeh.
Institute of East Asian Studies, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "New Culture, Old Habits: Native-Place Organization and the May-Fourth Movement"
The Search for Modern China
Jonathan D. Spence.
W. W. Norton, 1999 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "The Facets of May Fourth" begins on p. 299
The Chinese People's Movement: Perspectives on Spring 1989
Tony Saich.
Sharpe, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "The Legacy of 1919" begins on p. 8
Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor
Elizabeth J. Perry.
Stanford University, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Heyday of Radicalism, 1919-27"
The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History
R. Keith Schoppa.
Columbia University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "The May Fourth Movement" begins on p. 67
Probing China's Soul: Religion, Politics, and Protest in the People's Republic
Julia Ching.
Harper & Row, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "The 'Original' Student Protest: The May Fourth Movement (1919)" begins on p. 108
China Yesterday and To-Day
Julia E. Johnsen; Ping Wen Kuo.
The H. W. Wilson Company, 1928
Librarian’s tip: "Renaissance in China" begins on p. 133
New Culture in a New World: The May Fourth Movement and the Chinese Diaspora in Singapore, 1919-1932
David L. Kenley.
Routledge, 2003
The Power of Position: Beijing University, Intellectuals, and Chinese Political Culture, 1898-1929
Timothy B. Weston.
University of California Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Tensions Within the May Fourth Movement"
Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to the 1980s
Jack Gray.
Oxford University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "The May Fourth Movement" begins on p. 198
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