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In July 1920, Taizhou prefecture in eastern Zhejiang was devastated by a series of catastrophic floods that killed thousands of men, women, and children, with tens of thousands more left homeless and facing imminent death from disease and malnutrition. In response, sojourning Taizhou elites in Shanghai formed the Association of Shanghai’s Taizhou Natives [to Provide] Emergency Flood Relief, and worked with central government, provincial, and local officials, as well as other charitable organizations, to raise over 450,000 dollars and send shipments of rice and clothing to flood-stricken areas. When further calamities struck Taizhou in 1929, many of these elites gathered together a second time to form the Association for Emergency Relief of Taizhou’s Disasters, raising over 60,000 dollars in a coordinated drive to save as many victims as possible.
This paper’s primary goal is to examine the extent to which modern Chinese charity shaped the relationship between state and society. In contrast to previous research on elite activism, which, being largely concerned with civil society and the public sphere, has argued that such activism operated autonomously outside the sphere of state influence, this paper clearly shows that Taizhou elites residing in Shanghai were not averse to cooperating with the state in order to provide rapid and effective relief. Another key issue involves the problem of change and continuity. While the technology of disaster relief changed dramatically during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many elites continued to feel a profound sense of native-place identity that prompted them to devote considerable time and resources to organizing disaster relief for their native places. Moreover, despite the prominence of Christian charity in disaster relief efforts, many Chinese elites continued to be motivated by faith in Buddhism.
The notion of “undetermined Taiwan sovereignty” represented the legal view taken by the US government in June of 1950 in regard to the legal status of Taiwan. The crux of the issue lay in the Cairo Declaration, which, although holding that Taiwan would be returned to the Republic of China (ROC) at the end of World War II, did not create a legal procedure for passing Taiwan’s sovereignty from Japan to the ROC. The determination of Taiwan’s sovereignty could not be completed without a legal procedure involving Japan’s formal relinquishment of sovereignty and its acceptance by a successor state. Thus the question of “undetermined Taiwan sovereignty” became linked to the later peace treaty with Japan. The United States became involved in the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty since it was responsible for the peace treaty and deciding what territories Japan would be allowed to retain.
Initially, Taiwan was to be governed by the United Nations, but when the Korean War broke out, the US quickly decided to prevent Taiwan from falling into the hands of the People’s Republic of China. The US accordingly used the negotiations over the peace treaty with Japan to have Japan renounce any rights to Taiwan. Then, the ROC, Britain, the US, and the Soviet Union would together decide the status of Taiwan. If these four nations could not resolve the issue in a year, then the question of Taiwan would be turned over to the UN.
This procedure rested on the alliance of the four nations that had cooperated to form the Allied policy toward Japan in the late stages of World War II. By advocating that the Taiwan issue should be decided by negotiation, the US followed the earlier model of Allied cooperation. In fact, however, the alliance system that supported such negotiations collapsed when the Korean War broke out and the Cold War began in the 1950s. Apparent American support for negotiations that were clearly impossible was in fact a step toward America creating a unilateral foreign policy. Yet the US obviously sought to make Taiwan a UN trustee. At the time, the US government still had no clear policy on how to deal with the government of Chiang Kai-shek.
However, the PRC’s involvement in the Korean War upset US Asian policy, leading the US to support the government of Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. To strengthen Chiang’s government, the US abandoned its original proposals as it pursued a peace treaty with Japan. As a key part of its new strategy, the US thus supported the ROC’s efforts to sign a bilateral peace treaty with Japan. This allowed the ROC to follow formal legal procedures in acquiring the legal status to succeed to the sovereignty of Taiwan.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in September of 1951 without the participation of the ROC government due to strong opposition from other countries. But the ROC soon signed a bilateral peace treaty with Japan in April 1952, and this Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty was essentially the same as the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Both treaties specified that Japan relinquished sovereignty over Taiwan, but neither specified who succeeded to legal jurisdiction over Taiwan.
This review article examines recent research on state-society relations in modern Taiwanese historiography. The paper introduces three major research trends that respectively view Taiwan’s modern experience as Chinese local history, as Japanese colonial history, and as East Asian regional history. Using the examples from U. S. China studies, the Taiwan Modernization debate, and post-colonial histories, I outline methodological issues that play out in area studies, periodization, and the concept of colonial modernity in the historical analysis of Taiwan’s state-society relations. It is noteworthy that scholars have been influenced by different paradigms of social science and cultural studies. In addition to the institutional study of state capacity and autonomy, more attention has been directed toward cultural analysis of modern political power recently. And a new emphasis on cultural nationalism and comparative colonialism has also transformed scholarship on the development of the modern state and capitalism. With new conceptualizations of such questions as governmentatily and territoriality, researchers not only have become more sensitive to the historicity, spatiality, and social-cultural specificity of Taiwan’s state-society relations, but now strive to overcome the dichotomy and Eurocentrism of conventional state-society scholarship with more dynamic frameworks of global, regional, and local networks and interactions.
Studies of the interactions between the state and local society have emphasized that state power could not infiltrate local society smoothly in some situations in the late imperial and Republican China and Taiwan. State power relied on assistance from local gentry and elites. Therefore, some researchers started gradually to explore the roles of social elites, including gentry, elders, and other elites. Significance works discussed the definition of social elites, highlighting how social elites possessed particular status, position, wealth, morality, education, literacy, and influence. And such elites played a critical role mediating between the state and local society. They became agents of official power, grassroots leaders of local society, and intermediaries between the state and local society. Moreover, some research showed, social elites could not only be viewed in terms of the state power trying to infiltrate local society, but also as power forming from the bottom up. In the meantime, some research used or established useful methodologies to explain the formation and functions of elites, such as the concepts of the public sphere, the third realm, the cultural nexus of power, and symbolic capital. For these reasons, social elites have recently become an important topic in research on the relationship between state and local society.
However, what kinds of persons should be considered social elites? How could they become elites? What kinds of roles could they play between the state and local society? How could they interfere in official and local public affairs? Furthermore, how could they construct or exercise their influence in those affairs? Above all, what kinds of research paradigms have scholars used to study these questions? This article critically focuses on some paradigmatic studies that discuss the relationship between state power and local society, especially the roles of social elites, beginning with efforts to define social elites. Second, its attempts to analyze those approaches and concepts cited above, and discuss their figuration, usage, and limitations. Finally, through a case study of Taiwan, this paper addresses some new approaches for future research directions.
This article provides an overview of the relationship among state, society, and religion during China’s twentieth century, followed by a discussion of five major paradigms that have been used in the scholarly literature to analyze such relationships. The final section discusses avenues for future research, in particular the history of policies toward local religion.
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