Sport, Physical Culture, Nationalism
and the Chinese Republic
A further phase of development of sport and physical culture in China lasted from about 1911 until about 1949, and three important processes may be highlighted. First, the continuing influence of imperialist and patriarchal power exercised through the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the missionary school system. Western agents were requested to respect the sovereign rights of education (which included physical education and sport) in China during a period of anti-imperialism between 1919 and 1927. Second, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) launched a critical debate on both indigenous and Western forms of sport and physical culture between 1915 and 1937. Mao Zedong's article 'A Study of Physical Education' (New Youth, 1 April 1917: 66–8) informed some of the thinking about sport and physical culture during this period. Third, the defeat of the Chinese nationalists in 1949 resulted in the KMT fleeing to Taiwan. The emergence of 'Two Chinas' will be covered later in this text but several questions will be addressed in this chapter in relation to how sport developed before 1949, under early Communist control.
The YMCA continued to exercise a relative degree of control over the development of physical activity and sport. From 1908 to 1911, Exner's influence proved to be the incipient beginning of a constructive programme of physical education and culture in China. Four secretaries arrived in China between 1911 and 1913 to continue this work, namely J. H. Crocker, A. H. Swan, C. A. Siler and C. H. McCloy. Crocker took over the position of national director while Swan continued to develop training programmes under the umbrella of the Shanghai YMCA. In 1912 two steps were taken to broaden the appeal of the programme. First, boxing was introduced as a core sport. It was thought that men might be willing to attend boxing classes and subsequently develop an