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In The Early Twentieth Century, Shanghai Promised Opportunities that attracted people from all over China and, indeed, from around the world. To all who arrived—the wealthy banker from Ningbo looking to multiply the family fortune, the young British diplomat fresh from a desk job at the Foreign Office, the unwilling daughter from Suzhou sold into prostitution, the shop apprentice whose family connections brought another kind of indentured service, or the Chinese and foreign sailors “shanghaied” into service on one of the thousands of shipping vessels docked every year in Shanghai's harbor—Shanghai offered both great risks and real opportunities.
Shanghai has often been called the Paris of the Orient. This is only half true. Shanghai has all the vices of Paris and more but boasts of none of its cultural influences. The municipal orchestra is uncertain of its future, and the removal of the city library to its new premises has only shattered our hopes for better reading facilities. The Royal Asiatic Society has been denied all support from the Council for the maintenance of its library, which is the only center for research in this metropolis. It is therefore no wonder that men and women, old or young, poor or rich, turn their minds to mischief and lowly pursuits of pleasure, and the laxity of police regulations has aggravated the situation.
On April 22, 1903, the qing court ordered zai-zhen, a Manchu prince; Yuan Shikai, the most powerful Chinese Governor-General of the realm; and Dr. Wu Tingfang, the former Chinese minister to the United States, to compile a commercial code. The edict charging them with this responsibility noted that “of the many government functions, the most important is to facilitate commerce and help industries” (Li 1974a:210). On January 21, 1904, the newly created Ministry of Commerce (Shangbu) issued China's first Company Law (Gongsilü)
The Company Law was the first modern law drafted by the Imperial Law Codification Commission, whose work was part of the Qing government's reformist “new policies” in the wake of China's recent humiliations at the hands of Japan and the Western powers. In giving highest priority to enacting a law governing the organization of commercial companies, the Qing government had several interlocking objectives.
The complex relationship that developed between Du Yuesheng's Shanghai Green Gang group and the Guomindang regime in the mid-1930s provides useful insights into the nature of the Nanjing government's rule and, in particular, into the manner it exercised power in its Jiangnan bailiwick. Although the Shanghai Green Gang bosses, in particular Du Yuesheng, were coopted by the new Guomindang State, their full integration into the regime's power structure in Shanghai did not occur until after 1932. Despite their participation in Chiang Kai-shek's anti-Communist coup of 1927, they enjoyed a somewhat unstable relationship with the Guomindang regime in the period 1927–31. The context of their incorporation into the Guomindang's system of power in Shanghai was the new accommodation between the Nanjing Government and the leadership of the Shanghai bourgeoisie following the political and economic crisis of 1932. In other words, the cooption of the Green Gang bosses was part of the new structures of state corporatism that were forged by the Guomindang regime in the wake of the Shanghai Incident.
As china's leading “treaty port” city, Shanghai has long been stereotyped as the prime bridgehead for foreign encroachment on China and as the most westernized city of the country (Tang and Shen 1989: introduction). Recent scholarship in the West still refers to Shanghai as “the other China,” “in China but not of it,” “a foreign city even in its own country” (Bergere 1981; Murphey 1992:346; Clifford 1991:9). In the first half of the twentieth century, was the influence of the West in Shanghai so strong that the city was alienated from the rest of China? Was Shanghai firmly in the grip of modernization, which in China was often associated with a tendency to change toward things Western? Or, alternatively, was Shanghai home to a strong and vibrant current of traditionalism, a traditionalism that can be equated with continuity or persistence of things indigenously Chinese? The answers to these questions can be very diverse, depending in large measure on the dimensions one chooses to examine. Most of our assumptions and judgments on this issue have been drawn from broad and sweeping political or economic perspectives with little attention paid to the everyday lives of ordinary people. How the common people continued to live their everyday lives is, I believe, most relevant to the question of the impact of modernity (or of the West) upon urban China.
Chinese Religions—The State of the Field, Part I. Early Religious Traditions: The Neolithic Period through the Han Dynasty (ca. 4000 B.C.E to 220 C.E.)
The study of chinese religions is a lively and growing field. Its major bibliographer in the West, Laurence G. Thompson, comments that in revising his bibliography of Western-language publications through 1980 to include those published in the following ten years, the index of various types of contributors increased by over 1,100 names, and the number of research categories grew from eighty-four to one hundred and three (Thompson 1985, 1993). Anna Seidel of the École Françhise d'Extrême-Orient, Section de Kyoto, published in 1990 a discussion and bibliography of Taoist studies in the West from 1950 to 1990 that for this topic alone is 124 pages long (Seidel 1989–90). New documents, from Shang oracle bones to twentieth-century spirit-writing texts, are being discovered, the Taoist canon has been systematically surveyed for the first time, and fresh interpretations
The common occurrence of cults of the dead in Neolithic and early Bronze Age societies around the world raises at least one major question about early Chinese religion: what factors account for the elaboration of ancestor worship in China and for the degree to which—compared to its role in other cultures—it endured? The study of Chinese religion in the Neolithic and Shang periods (ca. 4000–1050 B.C.E.) can contribute to our understanding of such matters, but the bulk of recent scholarship is inevitably and properly focused on technical analyses of sites, artifacts, rituals, and spiritual Powers. Many studies address problems of definition, such as the nature of Ti, the high god of the Shang, and his cult (Akatsuka 1977:471–537; Ikeda 1981:25–39; Eno 1990); images of T'ien (Heaven, Sky) (Hayashi 1989a); the nature of the Earth Power and its associated altar of the soil (Tai Chia-hsiang 1986); the role of sun, bird, and other totems in Neolithic and Shang belief (Hu Hou-hsüan 1977; Allan 1981; Tu Chin-p'eng 1992; Wu Hung 1985; Paper 1986; Ch'ien Chihch'iang 1988; Juyü 1991; Wang Chi-huai 1992; Xiong Chuanxin 1992; Chang Teshui 1993; Chang Wen 1994; Wang Lu-ch'ang 1994); methods and objects of sacrifice (Ikeda 1980; Ch'iu Hsi-kuei 1985; Childs-Johnson 1987; Lien Shao-ming 1989; Itō 1990; Hao Pen-hsing 1992); the religious dimensions of illness (Takashima 1980) and of settlement building (Akatsuka 1977:494–99).
Although chinese intellectuals have generally regarded the Western Chou dynasty (1045–771 B.C.E.) as the formative period of Chinese culture, because there was no organized church at the time, studies of religion in China often begin with later developments. While this is a legitimate interpretive principle, it is nevertheless certainly the case that there were facets of religious experience characteristic of Western Chou society.
In the history of chinese religions the Ch'un-ch'iu or Spring and Autumn period (eighth to fifth centuries B.C.E.) was a time of transition between the court rituals of the Western Chou gift-giving society and the private or local cult practices evident in the later Eastern Chou market economy (Cook 1993a). This was the time when the local lords usurped the Chou king's ritual “power” (te) to “charge” (ming) and the Chou lineage lost its authority. The transition is most evident in the speeches (yueh) of the kings and local rulers inscribed on the eating or striking surfaces of the late Western Chou and early Ch'un-ch'iu-period ritual bronze vessels and bells. These speeches or “spoken” liturgies of legitimation initially focused on the spiritually sanctioned right of the ruler to “charge” a gift recipient, but later simply focused on the right of the vessel-maker to charge himself. This shift is most evident after 771 B.C.E. when a western tribal group forced the Chou to flee their ancestral lands and altars. Local lords, originally on the periphery of Chou authority, called themselves kings and manipulated the Chou ideology to legitimate their own independent identities (see Cook on Chu in Cook and Major forthcoming). They relied on the guidance of ritualists (possibly descendants of the Western Chou shih and yin)whose knowledge of Chou liturgy and rites was a valued commodity at local courts (Cook 1993b).
Fundamental changes occurred in chinese civilization between the fifth century B.C.E. and the second century C.E., roughly corresponding to the Warring States (which officially commences in 453 B.C.E.) and the Ch'in and Han empires (Han rule ends in 220 C.E.). The emergence and maturation of philosophical speculation and of new sociopolitical models have traditionally constituted the ground on which other elements of the contemporary civilization have been drawn. As a consequence, the nature of religious traditions during this period has been poorly understood and insufficiently studied; first, because the documentation preserved in received literature overwhelmingly reflects the politico-philosophical leanings of an elite social stratum and thus offers only a partial, biased view of the range of religious belief and practice; and second, because modern research on Warring States, Ch'in, and Han religion by and large relies on the viewpoints expressed in the received record. Whereas the study of Buddhism and, more recently, of religious Taoism and popular religion is thriving among an ever-growing number of scholars of the history of Chinese religion, the ancient period of Warring States, Ch'in, and Han is still dominated by scholars engaged in the study of the philosophical tradition. The idea that religious belief during the period was tempered by philosophical reason is a widely shared assumption.