vol 11 | winter 2016

Page 1


+++


orientations the undergraduate journal from the department of east asian studies 2015 2016


the undergraduate journal from the department of east asian studies


editor-in-chief TRACEY CUI

editorial board

CLAIRE CHAUVEL SOPHIA O’DONNEL LAURIANE ROULEAU-DELAGE EDEL YANG LAUREN ZEMEL MUHAN ZHANG

design + production IAN GU

special thanks

THE ARTS UNDEGRADUATE SOCIETY THE EAST ASIAN STUDIES STUDENT ASSOCIATION THE DEAN OF ARTS DEVELOPMENT FUND


contents

MAN AND BEAST The Animalistic nature of Humanity in the Films of Imamura Shohei Gabrielle Samra 9 HEAVEN DOESN’T PLAY DICE An Emperor’s Legitimacy in the Post-Emporor Wu Western Han Jean-Félix Caron 15 IMPERIAL ASCENSIONS Shinto and Japanese Empire Formation Alex Kpeglo-Hennessy 22 ABSTRACTION AND TRADITION Creating a “Chinese Modern Painting” in The Republic of China Muhan Zhang 27 THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA The Legitimacy of “One for all and all for one” Jessica Condemi 38


NOSTALGIA MEETS NOVELTY Remembering and Reconstructing the Face of Chairman Mao Nan Li 41 PHOTO ESSAY : THESE TIMES Ryu M. 45 UNDERSTANDING OUR SINS The Convergence of Genre, Intertextuality and Media Discourses in Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin Kaelan Doyle Myerscough 51 A STUDY OF XIN QIJI’S SONG LYRICS CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS Danni Cai 53 THE ROLE OF STRATEGIC CHOICES IN SHAPING REGIME TRAJECTOR A Comparitive Study of Taiwan and Singapore William Khoa Doan 57


+++


MAN AND BEAST: The Animalistic Nature of Humanity in the Films of Imamura GABRIELLE SAMRA

J

apanese film director Imamura Shohei’s oeuvres explore the age-old connection between man and beast. Animal imagery courses throughout his films, establishing a natural order against which the rigid confines of societal expectations are both contrasted and reflected. Through an exposition of the primitive elements of human behaviour, Imamura attempts to determine the true nature of man in a world utterly disfigured by the sweeping tides of war and change. The abundant presence of animal imagery in his films, particularly in his 970 The History of Post-War Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (Nippon Sengoshi - Madamu Onboro no Seikatsu) and his earlier 1966 The Pornographers, or An Introduction to Anthropology (Erogotoshitachi Yori: Jinruigaku Nyûmon), underscores the primitively animalistic nature of humanity hidden beneath the veneer of civilized society in postwar Japan. A core member of the 1960s filmmaking movement known as the Japanese Nūberu Bāgu, or “New Wave,” Imamura Shohei maintains a keen interest in portraying the ‘real,’ as opposed to the ‘official,’ Japan in his works. During the postwar period, discrepancies began to emerge concerning how Japan wished to present itself: between the ‘official’ view of Japan as a world “of refinement and composure” upholding “the virtues of self-abnegation and fidelity”1 stood “the more organic, animalistic side”2 of Japanese society. Famously interested in both “the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure,”3

Imamura presents “the irrational, the instinctual, the carnal, squalid, violent”4 and relatively unexplored ‘true’ nature of lower-class postwar Japanese society. His films display the seedy underbelly of a seemingly ordered world, critiquing the myth of the harmonious highgrowth period of postwar Japanese reconstruction as well as the image of the perfect nuclear family. Imamura endeavours instead to present the “natural” or “uncivilized” Japan, if one were to consider the meaning of civilization as “a departure from the natural.”5 The animal imagery Imamura uses throughout his films serves partly to “deterritorialize nationalistic narratives of history … and generate counterhistories of [modern Japan] next to the official versions,”6 as demonstrated in The History of Post-War Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess. A documentary-style film interspersed with newsreel footage and reports, Imamura’s work focuses on the micro-history of Japanese bar-hostess Etsuko Akaza, whose life mirrors the larger macro-history of postwar Japan. It is important to note that Etsuko’s lineage consists of butchers and animal slaughterers, occupations which typically mark these citizens as outcaste eta or burakumin.7 The discrimination of the burakumin in postwar Japanese society consisted of one of the “most pervasive forms of discrimination … directed against people who are in no sense ‘racially’ different from the rest of the population.”8 Prior to the credits, footage is shown of a butcher – ostensibly a member of the Akaza family – nonchalantly clubbing a cow to death before

9


draining it of its blood, all while the camera cuts to images of the starving and slaughtered citizens of Vietnam. The parallel between man and beast is made explicit: equally savage and equally replaceable, both animals and humans may be used and then unhesitatingly discarded. The juxtaposition of animal slaughter with the brutal consequences of war “serves not to endorse Japanese discrimination against the Eta for their profession, but to suggest that a violence endemic to Japanese society accounts for Japan’s violent acts against her Asian neighbours.”9 Moreover, the callous nature of the butcher’s actions adds a chillingly desensitizing effect to the whole affair. The death of humans seems to be treated with the same indifference as the slaughter of farm animals. Death becomes almost mundane: an everyday occurrence one should not only expect, but even disregard. The connection between humans and cows in the film also represents the initial economic downturn of postwar Japan. Etsuko unflinchingly describes her descent into prostitution as an unavoidable result of the economic decline following the war: her ‘dirty’ job as a prostitute runs parallel to her ‘dirty’ status as a burakumin. Much like the cow, Etsuko has become a commodity widely available to the Japanese public, a servicewoman whose very body is up for sale. Prostitution is a central theme in many of Imamura’s works: in The Pornographers, the pornographic filmmaker Ogata also works as a pimp who sells the alltoo-rare ‘virgin’ to his customers. While scenes of other members of the lower-class Japanese populace struggling with poverty and homelessness during this postwar period flash across the screen of The History of Post-War Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess, Imamura once again cuts to images of cow carcasses strung up in the slaughterhouse. His meaning is clear: within this emergent capitalist society, man has become a commodity equivalent to that of animals and their by-products. Although Imamura states that he “want[s] to make messy, really human”10 films, he continuously juxtaposes this ‘human’ element with the animal in order to demonstrate the intrinsic link between the two. From the image of a beetle stubbornly

10

climbing a patch of dirt in his 1963 The Insect Woman (Nippon Konchûki), to the stampeding pigs in his 1961 Pigs and Battleships (Buta to Gunkan), Imamura features animals extensively throughout his work. These creatures tend to attribute “an animal side to man which gets in the way of the status of human being,”11 as exemplified by Ogata’s primitively animalistic urges for his stepdaughter in The Pornographers. These crude desires doom him to live as an outcast separated from society; however, instead of rejecting this exclusion, Ogata comes to embrace it. By “living by instinct” and endeavouring only to create the perfect artificial woman, Ogata discards the traditional societal norms “of right and wrong”12 and thus resides outside of the human realm. He is left alone, adrift at sea, yet content with his newfound freedom at the close of the film-within-a-film. Imamura’s enduring fascination with the relationship between man and beast bespeaks his interest in uncovering what truly separates the two: in his own words, the director deems animals and humans “similar in the sense that they are born; they excrete, reproduce, and die.”13 Therefore, the question remains as to what truly “differentiates humans from other animals.”14 It is only by continuing to make films that Imamura expects to uncover an answer – one he admittedly has yet to find.15 The Pornographers - originally entitled An Introduction to Anthropology - expresses Imamura’s ongoing interest in the examination of the human and the animal. The presence of the seemingly sentient carp in Imamura’s The Pornographers puts the spotlight on this relationship. Believed to be the restless spirit of landlady Haru’s late husband, the carp - and the accompanying image of water - is evoked throughout the film. This carp serves as the physical manifestation of Haru’s promise to her deceased husband to remain unmarried following his death, a “universal injunction visited upon the Japanese woman throughout the past and continuing into the present.”16 By constraining herself in this tradition, Haru represses her own sexual desires whilst simultaneously cursing herself with the ever-watchful eye of her late husband. The carp is present whenever Haru and her lover, Ogata, physically consummate their


love: Imamura cuts to clips of “the ever-jealous fish, its mouth opening and closing in disapproval”17 as Haru breaks her vow of fidelity and engages in the animalistic gratification of her sexual desire. Sex itself is presented in its ‘animality’ throughout Imamura’s films; to the director, sexual energy is a “vital primitive force”18 normally repressed by societal dictates. The carp becomes the ever-present voyeur to Haru’s infidelity, an emblem of both her sexual promiscuity as well as societal repression. Although Haru appears to simultaneously adore and abhor the carp, Ogata finds the animal unnerving. He attempts to rid Haru of her ties to the past by throwing the carp back into the river, emphatically stating that it is “just a fish.”19 To his dismay, the carp mysteriously returns to Haru’s room the following day. Imamura juxtaposes Ogata’s shocked expression with the water of the fish tank in this scene by splitting the image of his face so that the lower half is distorted by both water and glass. The struggle between man’s instinctual desires against the restraints of society is perfectly encapsulated within this image: Ogata’s yearning for both Haru and her daughter, Keiko, is curtailed by the pressures imposed by the glass veneer of civilized society. The water, on the other hand, constitutes a fluid liminal space where sexual freedom can be either encouraged or repressed. For example, although Ogata first embraces his animalistic desire by kissing Keiko by the shores of the river, he is soon after brought face to face with the sharp sting of reality through the unwanted return of the carp. The presence of the fish prevents both Haru and Ogata from breaking free of the strict confines of society and living as they please. The carp’s inexplicable return results in a marked decline of Haru’s health. Despite falling so ill that she is confined to the hospital, Haru is determined to bring the carp with her. Fervently believing that her late husband’s disgust at her infidelity is the root cause of her suffering, Haru finally accepts her deceased husband’s right “to censor her behaviour,” which consists of “a repressive force deeply rooted in her being.”20 However, her acceptance of her repressed reality drives her mad: she attempts to escape from the strict confines of society by

hammering on the bars of the hospital balcony while manically laughing at the people staring at her from below. Although Ogata pleads with her not to “follow that carp,”21 Haru is ultimately unable to resist the decrees of her late husband and follows him into death. This scene is noticeably shot from above, through the distorted lens of both the carp as well as the water. The carp is even present at Haru’s funeral, but Ogata later throws it back into the river for the last time as a second carp - arguably representative of Haru - joins it. In death, Haru cedes to the dictates of society while simultaneously experiencing the freedom of animal life. The climax of Imamura’s exploration into the animalistic nature of man, however, is evoked not in relation to the carp, but through a conversation between Ogata and his co-workers about sexual freedom and democratic agency, specifically with reference to the societal taboos of incest and orgies. Ogata postulates that engaging in such promiscuous behaviour is only “what animals do,” whereas “all [of humanity] want[s] to leave the human race” and simply “be free.”22 Perhaps Haru’s late husband has achieved precisely this feat: having escaped the rigid confines of humanity through death, he can now live ‘freely’ as a carp. Ogata continues the discussion by explaining that it is “society’s taboos [which] prevent”23 humanity from experiencing this freedom; in a similar manner, even as a carp Haru’s late husband remains bound by some sort of societal constraint. He cannot participate in the physical world, having been reduced instead to a mere voyeur of his wife’s infidelity. Human nature as a whole is deemed “frightful” and men in particular are concluded to be nothing more than “pathetic creatures.”24 Rather than equating democracy with freedom throughout this discussion, Ogata instead associates it with restraint. Scholar Joan Mellen hypothesizes that this connection is a result of the Japanese experience with the Occupation in which the “conquering” Americans constricted the “more wholesome and freer approach to sexuality” of the Japanese25. Ogata’s negative attitude towards societal taboos and control implies that in lieu of living in accordance with the dictates of ‘civilized’ society, it

11


is only by acting instinctively and acknowledging “a morality of expediency”26 that humanity can embrace true freedom. In the midst of the discussion, a flock of white birds flits across the screen, symbolizing both the pure freedom unattainable to man as well as the transient nature of this freedom: even within the animal world, unfettered freedom is fleeting. Marked by a profusion of animal imagery, Imamura Shohei’s films explore the intimate relationship between man and beast. Whereas the slaughtered cows in The History of Post-War Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess are reflective not only of Etsuko’s life, but of the suffering of the poverty-stricken in postwar Japan, the ubiquitous carp in Imamura’s The Pornographers symbolizes both societal repression as well as sexual agency. In his works, Imamura strips man and society of their respective facades in order to reveal the primitive animal beneath.

12


Notes 1. Quandt, James. “Pigs, Pimps and Pornographers: A Brief Introduction to the Films of Shohei Imamura.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. 1-5. Print. 2. Mes, Tom, and Jasper Sharp. “Shōhei Imamura.” The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film. Berkeley: Stone Bridge P, 2005. 25-41. Print. 3. Quandt, James. “Pigs, Pimps and Pornographers: A Brief Introduction to the Films of Shohei Imamura.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. 1-5. Print. 4. Ibid p.3. 5. Richie, Donald. “Imamura Revisited.” Film Quarterly 63.1 (2009): 44-49. JSTOR. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. 6. Nygren, Scott. “International Modernism.” Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2007. 164-198. Print. 7. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 8. Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. “Race.” Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1998. 79-109. Print. 9. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 10. Ibid p.305 11. Laprévotte, Gilles. “Shohei Imamura: Human, All Too Human.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. 101-106. Print. 12. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 13. Laprévotte, Gilles. “Shohei Imamura: Human, All Too Human.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. 101-106. Print. 14. Ibid. 15. Ibid. 16. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 17. Ibid. 18. Laprévotte, Gilles. “Shohei Imamura: Human, All Too Human.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. 101-106. Print.

19. Nippon Sengoshi - Madamu Onboro no Seikatsu. Dir. Imamura Shohei. Perf. Chieko Akaza, Etsuko Akaza, Tami Akaza, Fukumi Kuroda, and Rikiya Yasuoka. Nihon Eiga Shinsha, 1970. Film. 20. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 21. Nippon Sengoshi - Madamu Onboro no Seikatsu. Dir. Imamura Shohei. Perf. Chieko Akaza, Etsuko Akaza, Tami Akaza, Fukumi Kuroda, and Rikiya Yasuoka. Nihon Eiga Shinsha, 1970. Film. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid. 25. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Print. 26. Ibid. 27. Erogotoshi-tachi Yori: Jinruigaku Nyûmon. Dir. Imamura Shohei. Perf. Shōichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto, Masaomi Kondō, and Keiko Sagowa. Nikkatsu, 1966. Film.

Bibliography Erogotoshi-tachi Yori: Jinruigaku Nyûmon. Dir. Imamura Shohei. Perf. Shōichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto, Masaomi Kondō, and Keiko Sagowa. Nikkatsu, 1966. Film. Laprévotte, Gilles. “Shohei Imamura: Human, All Too Human.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. Mellen, Joan. The Waves at Genji’s Door: Japan Through Its Cinema. New York: Pantheon B, 1976. Mes, Tom, and Jasper Sharp. “Shōhei Imamura.” The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film. Berkeley: Stone Bridge P, 2005. Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. “Race.” Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1998. Nippon Sengoshi - Madamu Onboro no Seikatsu. Dir. Imamura Shohei. Perf. Chieko Akaza, Etsuko Akaza, Tami Akaza, Fukumi Kuroda, and Rikiya Yasuoka. Nihon Eiga Shinsha, 1970. Film. Nygren, Scott. “International Modernism.” Time Frames: Japanese Cinema and the Unfolding of History. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2007. Quandt, James. “Pigs, Pimps and Pornographers: A Brief Introduction to the Films of Shohei Imamura.” Shohei Imamura. Ed. James Quandt. Toronto: Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1997. Richie, Donald. “Imamura Revisited.” Film Quarterly 63.1 (2009): 44-49. JSTOR. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

13


HEAVEN DOESN’T PLAY DICE An Emperor’s Legitimacy in the Post-Emperor Wu Western Han JEAN-FÉLIX CARON

I

n multiple publications on Chinese history, the Han dynasty is often dubbed as being “a champion of Confucianism”, but this label is only applicable to the later period of the dynasty. Victories on battlefields in the late 3rd century BCE backed Emperor Gaozu’s claim to the throne of China and the subsequent founding of the Han dynasty [206 BCE- 220 CE]. The Han dynasty was shortly interrupted by the Xin dynasty. This interruption played a pivotal role in the use of Confucian ideology to legitimize the reestablishment of the Han dynasty, or Eastern Han, and the rise of Confucianism, especially in politics. This change ushered important reforms. One of these important reforms, reminiscent of the Zhou dynasty’s ideology, was the notion that the emperor’s legitimacy was derived from an inherited, cosmological and divine origin. While early manifestations of this reform can be found in the late Western Han texts like Gu Yong’s memorial and the Yantielun, it is only truly entrenched in the bureaucracy by the time of the Eastern Han, as can be seen in Ban Biao’s On the Destiny of Kings. The existence and persistence of this reform, in the late Western Han and Eastern Han period, demonstrates that the emperor’s power could be claimed or denied by whomever possessed a deep enough knowledge of the Confucian classics and cosmological events and could best use this knowledge to support his claims. During this time period, the mandate of Heaven, the five phases (wuxing) as well as historical precedents found in the Confucian Classics be-

14

came important factual and cosmological tools to validate or invalidate an emperor’s claim to power.

Power in the Early Han – Heritage of the Qin In order to acknowledge the extent of these post-Wu reforms, it is imperative to describe the way the emperor legitimized his power in early Western Han. While Confucian ideology would become the basis for later Han emperors to assert their sovereignty, this was not the case in the dynasty’s earlier years, as this period was built upon the legacy of the preceding Qin dynasty.1 In the Records of the Grand Historian, when he becomes King within the Pass, Emperor Gaozu proclaims the abolishment of all the harsh laws of the Qin, save three simple laws to regulate society.2 However when the Han dynasty is well established, Gaozu orders a new civil code, which essentially consists of a revised version of the Qin code, which he had abolished a decade ago.3 Therefore, it is fair to claim that the organization of the early Western Han dynasty and its view of the imperial mandate closely resembled that of the Qin dynasty. Han-Qin similarities reached their climax during Emperor Wu’s reign. Emperor Wu can be compared to China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huang, as both men expanded territories beyond traditional boundaries and shared an obsession with im-


mortality.4 This vision of imperial legitimization, one of military prowess, subjugation and “unity of all under Heaven” or tian xia, can be then seen as a direct continuum from Qin Shi Huang, to Gaozu up until Emperor Wu. It is after Emperor Wu’s the latter’s passing that an emperor’s legitimacy evolved from depending on military might to a very intricate and complex combination of cosmological events as well as historical facts repurposed into political arguments, fostered by Confucian thinking.

Huo Guang and the ru – A fascination for the past According to the traditional narrative, Emperor Wu would have gifted Huo Guang a banner depicting the Duke of Zhou carrying an infant King Cheng on his back, hinting at the fact that the Emperor wished that Huo Guang would act like the Duke of Zhou and mentor his successor. This anecdote is representative of the rhetoric used by the ru officials in court during this era, marking the first time that this particular historical event was used in the political realm to assert a decision made by the emperor.5 Huo Guang, as da sima would then use this association with a virtuous example of the distant past to create a continuum of ideas and practices of the Zhou dynasty with the Han.6 Ru scholars’ fascination with the Zhou dynasty would then be shown in a very explicit way in the Yantielun; the literati often turned to passages from the Classics to assert their political stances. Throughout the argument with Sang Hongyang, Imperial Secretary and spokesperson of the modernist faction, the Confucians would base themselves on virtuous legends and characters of the Zhou7 or even on the mythological figures of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors8 as ideals to attain. Confucian scholars were so adamant that Han emperors emulate Zhou kings that when multiple omens were interpreted as the imminent fall of the Han, scholars like Gu Yong and Yi Feng would submit memorials to the court. These scholars pled to move the capital, from Chang’an to Luoyang, the Eastern Zhou capital. As Chang’an was in the same territory as Xianyang, the capital of the Qin, it was too

closely associated with the Qin’s ideology and practices. After all, Han and Qin both defeated their predecessors with the use of military forces, and Western Han’s administration, penal code and state worship were all based on the Qin system with minute differences. In moving the capital to Luoyang, they hoped to maintain the continuity with the Zhou, appease Heaven, and therefore base the power of the emperor on his ability to return to the Confucian ideals of the earlier dynasty.9 This reaction, following and behaving like the great rulers of bygone eras, would then be extrapolated into the concept of creating virtuous lineages with these historical figures as well as educating rulers in the Confucian Classics. Ban Biao’s On the Destiny of Kings is a gripping example of the trend that started in the Western Han and continued in the Eastern Han. In his memorial, he mentions that usurpers to the throne didn’t last long because not only must they possess “virtue of shining sageliness and apparent excellence, but [they] must be heir to a patrimony of abundant merit and favor long accumulated.”10 This passage claims that a worthy emperor should no longer only be a warlord, citing examples of warlords like Xiang Yu and Qin Shi Huangdi, but that he should be a trained, educated scholar first and foremost. This requirement of being educated in the Confucian classics goes back to the efforts made by scholars to legitimize Emperor Xuan’s ascension to the throne. Bing Ji, Xuan’s protector, would appeal to the fact that the young emperor was well versed in the Classics, therefore he would know the proper rituals of his house, in addition to being Emperor Wu’s descendant. This would mark the first time an emperor’s claim to the throne was equated with his knowledge of the Classics.11 Moreover, Ban Biao mentions that only someone who holds an ancestry of “abundant merit and favor” may rise to the position of Emperor. This is an interesting concept, because in Shiji, Emperor Gaozu is depicted as being a clerk for the Qin administration born into a commoner family,12 but in Biao’s treaty, he states that Gaozu is a descendant of Emperor Yao,13 one of the mythological rulers of ancient China whose life is recorded in the Classics, without any evidences to back up

15


his claim. Therefore, the Confucian reform of legitimacy of rule implied that anyone who could legitimize their claim by noble lineage and examples from the Confucian Classics could claim the position of Emperor. Interestingly, the same rhetoric could be used to depose an emperor, as seen with the case of Liu He, who was deposed after less than a month of rule on the basis that he wasn’t filial, despite being Emperor Wu’s descendant, a crime considered paramount for Confucians.14 Therefore, other cosmological concepts would have to be invoked to safely legitimize a ruler, as exemplified by the example of Liu He.

The Mandate of Heaven – Essential yet precarious Dating back from the Zhou times, the Mandate of Heaven became, in the postEmperor Wu era, another crucial tool used to legitimize an emperor’s rule as it was found in records of the Classics. This “mandate to rule” originating from the Zhou times claims that the Zhou kings had been sent by Heaven to rule on Earth, therefore legitimizing their rule by a divine commandment.15 Moreover, this concept was considered a legitimate mechanism to overthrow a dynasty if need be. The Mandate could be transferred to another lineage if a living king neglected his ritual duties and indulged in bad behaviour.16 However, belief in the Mandate was pushed aside with the military conquests of the Zhou by the Qin, and the Qin by the Han, as only the armed conquest of rivals could justify one’s claim to the throne. It should be noted that the belief of Heaven’s agency in Earth’s affairs was still present in the early Han, for example, Gaozu attributed his victory to Heaven’s support. However, there is no concrete evidence in the belief that Heaven is the source of temporal legitimacy until much later in the dynasty’s history.17 The Mandate would then not be invoked as a legitimizing mechanism until much later, with the rise of the ru and the renewed interest in the texts of old. In the Yantielun, there is mention of a “mandate” in Chapter VI § g., where the Confucians claim that “Wen and Wu received he mandate to punish the un-

16

righteous […]”. While not explicitly stated, it can be inferred that this Mandate had been bestowed upon these rulers by Heaven, thereby reviving this old belief because of it being referred to in the Classics. Even so, it is only after a few decades that the Mandate is invoked in the logic established by the Zhou as a warning for the current Dynasty. In Gu Yong’s memorial, he associates the recent tragedies happening throughout the kingdom as warnings from Heaven that the current dynasty has not been able to respond to the Mandate, and that just like in the Zhou times, it would be transferred to a person virtuous enough to uphold the demands of Heaven.18 These events, interpreted under the form of omens, then become a way of discerning Heaven’s attitude towards the government, although they remain an easily manipulated science that could be exploited for political gains for whomever was interpreting them, as long as they were backed by passages from the Classics.19 In early Eastern Han, the concept of Mandate is elaborated even more with the rise of Emperor Guang, as it now said that the Mandate of Heaven cannot be denied by anyone, therefore firmly placing it in the heart of the imperial institution, and that it is inherited by those who descend from past bearers of the Mandate.20 This new elaboration ties in perfectly with Ban Biao’s treaty, enforcing lineage blessed by Heaven as a requisite for legitimacy to the throne of China, in addition to knowledge of the Confucian classics and its application to governance, as the Mandate is only bestowed upon those who are virtuous rulers. This process of legitimization, however, has a flaw because it implies that it is a temporary blessing from Heaven. The very nature of the Mandate denotes the precarious nature of a dynasty, implying that an emperor would need continuous dedication to proper rituals and behaviour as a way to keep the Mandate and honour his descendants with the same Mandate. Therefore, from the late Western Han on, rulers became dependent on another legitimization mechanism inherited from the Zhou, adjusted to fit the beliefs of the time, although it needed to be synergized with the other principles promoted by the Confucian scholars.


Wuxing – Finding the right place in the cosmos Lastly, correlative cosmology, or wuxing, is an integral aspect of a reign’s legitimization in the post-Wu Han dynasty. The five phases are used to validate as well as discredit different periods of rule in synergy with the Mandate of Heaven and the Classics. The utilisation of the Five Phases as a tool of legitimacy is complex, but the general understanding is the following: each rule can be represented by a Phase (Earth, Wood, Metal, Fire and Water,), and dynasty (i.e.: Earth) will be followed the next one in the cycle (i.e.: Wood), so long and so forth.21 While the way these Phases and dynasties replaced the predecessor and how these Phases should be adopted in a specific era of a rule is something that was often debated and changed, it still served as a powerful tool for an emperor’s consolidation of power. While modern historians dispute the accuracy of the deliberate adoption of the Phase of Water by the Qin following their conquest of the Zhou, who represented Fire,22 it remains a baseline for all other subsequent debates on wuxing. Already, wuxing was used as a justification for the takeover of a dynasty via the conquest cycle of the Phases, it also legitimized the Qin’s legalist approach to government, whose values stood opposed to the Confucianism, as they were not in concordance with the Phase of Water.23 Going forward into the Han dynasty, while there is no clear textual evidence of such a decision, Emperor Gaozu kept the Qin symbol of Water as representative of his rule continuing the narrative that the early Han was merely a modified version of the Qin rule, which later Confucian scholars would feel the need to alter to distance the Han from Qin. This first attempt to differentiate Han from Qin came with Emperor Wu’s decision to adopt the Phase of Earth,24 thereby ending the correlation to Qin and asserting Han’s conquest of their predecessor, but in doing such a thing Emperor Wu legitimized the takeover of the Zhou by the Qin,25 which would become a central issue debated in the later part of the dynasty. The methodology of the cycle of Phases

would be undisputed until after the reign of Emperor Wu, when the Confucian scholars would take a larger role in the ruling of the state. As explained above, these Confucians would revere the Zhou dynasty and want to emulate their rule as much as possible, therefore these scholars proposed a new way of interpretation of the cycle of the Five Phases. This new cycle explains that one Phase generates another, instead of a cycle of conquest. According to this new interpretation, the Han dynasty would have always been represented by the Phase of Fire, generated by the Zhou dynasty, who would now be represented by the Phase of Wood.26 This new association to the Phase of Fire then correlates with a passage from Shiji, which is reprised in Ban Biao’s treaty, in which Gaozu slays a white snake and an old woman weeps, claiming that it is a sign of the arrival of the son of the Red Emperor.27 In doing so, the Confucians would then invalidate the rule of the Qin, claiming that their Phase of Water had not been in concordance with the cosmological succession, and they would hammer down the idea that the Han were in fact the Zhou’s successors, therefore having to act as such. Moreover, the change to the cycle of the Phases entailed that imperial sovereignty was now justified by nurturing morality in agreement with the Confucian way of rule, as opposed to violence and conquest.28 Moreover, when the Eastern Han dynasty was established, Emperor Guang made the conscious decision to disregard the Qin dynasty as a legitimate successor using wuxing. The Eastern Han thus adopted the Phase of Fire to create a credible continuity with Western Han and ignored the Qin dynasty’s adoption the Earth Phase.29 Hence, the way wuxing was used to legitimatize power underwent a drastic transformation from the early Western Han period to the late Western and Eastern Han. This transformation was galvanized by the rise of Confucian thinking in Chang’an and a strong desire to unify different belief systems into one.

Wang Mang – Usurper or Clever Scholar? While described by Ban Piao as an un-

17


worthy ruler because he ascended to power only by luck,30 the contrary is true according to the three ways of justification of power explained above. In Wang Mang’s edict, when he claims the throne for himself, he cites that 1) he descends from the Yellow Emperor and Emperor Shun, 2) he adopts the Phase of Earth and 3) he received the Mandate of Heaven from Gaozu.31 Thereby, by legitimizing his rule by evoking his noble lineage from the mythical past, adopting the next Phase in the cycle of generation established in late Western Han and interpreting omens as signs of him receiving the Mandate of Heaven, his claim is justified. Wang Mang knew the ways to attain power, and he used the frameworks already in place to justify his ascension. This comes to show that with enough knowledge of the institutions in place and the right circumstances, anyone in the post-Emperor Wu era could claim, and potentially keep, his position as the legitimate ruler of China. In conclusion, it is indeed false to claim that the Han dynasty is the “champion of Confucianism” since as explained above, the early Western Han didn’t change much of the foundations of the imperial system the Qin created. However, following Emperor Wu’s reign and the rise of Confucian thinking, scholars changed the way an emperor legitimized his rule in accordance with the Confucian classics. All this was done in an effort to distance themselves from Qin. Claiming that the founder of the Han dynasty descended from mythical figures, using Zhou dynasty rhetoric stemming from the Confucian Classics and unifying the cycle of the Phases were all mechanisms innovated by the scholars to stabilize imperial succession, which succeeded to an extent if Wang Mang’s takeover had been overlooked. However while the Han dynasty did end in 220 CE, their legacy in the realm of authority and state governance is vast. Later thinkers like Han Yu, Sima Guang and Ouyang Xiu,32 would base their treaties on those of the Han, thus demonstrating the undeniable heritage of the Han dynasty reforms.

18

Notes 1. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 19. 2. Sima, Qian.Burton Watson. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I. Trans. Burton Watson. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. 62. 3. Sanft, Charles. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture: Communication and Cooperation in Early Imperial China: Publicizing the Qin Dynasty. Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 3 December 2015. 136. 4. Theobald, Ulrich, and Ganquan Liu. “Emperor Han Wudi” Chinese History - Emperor Han Wudi 漢武帝 Liu Che 劉徹 (www.chinaknowledge.de). N.p., 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. 351. 5. Cai, Liang. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. Albany: State U of New York, 2014. 154. 6. Ibid., 155. 7. Guang, Huo. “Chapter VI. Back to Ancient Truths.” XWomen CONTENT. Trans. Esson M. Gale. The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, 2003. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. Ch. XI, § d., h. 8. Ibid., Ch. XI, § c., k. 9. Loewe, Michael. Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. 124. 10. De Bary, William Theodore. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 1rst ed. New York: Columbia U, 1960. 193. 11. Cai, Liang. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. Albany: State U of New York, 2014. 162. 12. Sima, Qian.Burton Watson. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I. Trans. Burton Watson. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. 61. 13. De Bary, William Theodore. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 1rst ed. New York: Columbia U, 1960. 195. 14. Cai, Liang. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. Albany: State U of New York, 2014. 157. 15. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 174. 16. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 60. 17. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 90.


18. Nylan, Michael, Griet Vankeerberghen, and Michael Loewe. Chang’an 26 BCE: An Augustan Age in China. Seattle: U of Washington, 2015. 298. 19. Ibid., 325. 20. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 92. 21. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 139. 22. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 93. 23. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 139-141. 24. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 92-93. 25. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 148. 26. Ibid., 153. 27. Sima, Qian.Burton Watson. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I. Trans. Burton Watson. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. 54. 28. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 155. 29. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 127. 30. De Bary, William Theodore. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 1rst ed. New York: Columbia U, 1960. 194. 31. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 179; Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. 168-169. 32. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. 111.

Bibliography Cai, Liang. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. Albany: State U of New York, 2014. Print. De Bary, William Theodore. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 1rst ed. New York: Columbia U, 1960. Print. Guang, Huo. “Chapter VI. Back to Ancient Truths.” XWomen CONTENT. Trans. Esson M. Gale. The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, 2003. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. Loewe, Michael. Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Print. Loewe, Michael. The Government of the Qin and Han Empires: 221 BCE-220 CE. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2006. Print. Nylan, Michael, Griet Vankeerberghen, and Michael Loewe. Chang’an 26 BCE: An Augustan Age in China. Seattle: U of Washington, 2015. Print Sima, Qian.Burton Watson. Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I. Trans. Burton Watson. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. Print. Sanft, Charles. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture: Communication and Cooperation in Early Imperial China: Publicizing the Qin Dynasty. Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 3 December 2015. Theobald, Ulrich, and Ganquan Liu. “Emperor Han Wudi” Chinese History - Emperor Han Wudi 漢武帝 Liu Che 劉徹 (www.chinaknowledge.de). N.p., 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. Wang, Aihe. Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

19


+++

20


IMPERIAL ASCENSIONS Shinto and Japanese Empire Formation ALEX KPEGLO-HENNESSY

T

hroughout the history of Japan, a large variety of religious practices have both flourished and faded. Amongst these, Shintō has been branded as the nation’s ‘indigenous religion’ that supposedly preceded other, foreign competitors such as Buddhism. However, this has not necessarily been the case. A more accurate understanding can be seen through an examination of the relationship between the two aforementioned religions; as well as the vast cultural influence wielded by China. Furthermore, the development of Shintō and its traditions was very much intentional and manufactured - especially the faith’s two seminal texts the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Aspects of indigenous spiritual beliefs were co-opted to cement regime change and legitimize political control; most notably during the institutionalizaton of the emperor system during the reconsolidation of the Meiji Restoration. This all supports the conceptualization of Shintō as it exists today as an ‘invented tradition’. Shintō is supposedly the unique religion of Japan. It is described as, “the native cult of deities (kami), which stood in clear contrast with Buddhism when the latter was introduced to Japan from Korea” by Michiko Yusa.1 In fact, the term Shintō itself likely did not even refer to the same thing throughout Japanese history. The term itself used in the ancient texts can even be split up into a number of distinct and conflictual definitions, such as specific superstitions nor norms.2 In addition, many of the traditions associated with this ‘indigenous religion’ did not even originate in Japan themselves. Seminal texts like the Kojiki and Nihon

Shoki contained mythology transmitted from numerous other cultures across Asia, including China.3 It is evident that Shintō’s development was affected by phenomena foreign to Japan like Buddhist theology. Another such influence that contributed to conflictual definitions of Shintoism was the introduction of Buddhism and the complex fusion that occurred between the two belief systems. Rather than maintaining a lesser position than the ‘native’ Shintō, Buddhist ideology prevailed and encapsulated the former within its larger schema4. This amalgamation was explained by “honji suijaku,” a religious concept that “refers to the theory that the ‘original’, ‘eternal’ Buddha and bodhisattvas temporarily appear among us as kami in order to bring us salvation.”5 The introduction of Buddhism to Japan would conflict with Shintō ever becoming the paramount religious authority. Buddhist influence would halt the growth of the religion at a critical juncture of its development.6 If Shintō was neither original to, nor preeminent in Japan it is necessary to examine where its conception as indigenous arises. This can be traced to the entrenchment of the imperial system that still exists in modern day Japan. It was during this era that the Emperor Tenmu legitimized his rule through the claim of divine descent in the Kojiki.7 This was not simply the written codification of religious traditions from a benevolent ruler. Contrarily, “the legends in the Kojiki and Nihongi, often cited as containing the original deposit of Shinto folklore, are late compilations in which political considerations and specifically Chi-

21


nese conceptions intrude themselves almost everywhere.”8 In order to further substantiate the imperial family’s connection to the gods, the coronation ritual itself was modeled on a myth about Amaterasu, the sun-goddess.9 Tenmu invented his claim to be a living god in order to avoid the problem of being overthrown similarly to China’s emperors who did not share that same distinction.10 Tenmu’s assertion that he was connected to the gods was simply one facet by which the Kojiki and other texts could be employed for political and social control. One central notion to Shintō belief is the concept of pollution, which helps to legitimize the authoritative commands imposed by Shintoism and the emperor on the Japanese people. Not only is this a prevalent theme in both major texts, but also the majority of Shintō rituals deal with purification of the evil caused by this pollution.11 This was remarkably entrenched, and “in the Japanese cognitive system physiological phenomena, especially death, adversity and misfortune, and disorder or irregularity in the social or natural environment are all connected, with the notion of pollution as their axis.”12 It is difficult to assert this as a consciously formulated example of political control. However, a clear connection can be made that links a subtle form of social control to pollution. The impurity associated with crime is equivalent to that of the impurity associated with death.13 With this central tenet requiring adherence to specific rituals and values to avoid misfortune, it essentially forced the people of Japan to obey the commands of Shintō and thus the commands of the Emperor. This should not, however, leave the impression that Shintō was a supreme or unified belief system. Shintō quite simply lacks many features associated with many religions, such as a set of commandments.14 Yet, the apparent spiritual authority of the emperor and the cult of his divinity would appear to evoke a sense of coherence. This masked the true reality of a heterogeneous system of local deities.15 The true realisation of a unified Shintō was actually a much more recent event. This event was the reinvention of Tenmu’s original invention and it shared many similarities, specifically the use of religion to consolidate political transitions.16

22

Shintō’s rebirth as a true state religion for Japan took centuries to occur. The year 1868 would mark another critical juncture in Japanese religiosity and the transformation experienced here would have profound changes throughout the entire nation. A period of modernization occurred alongside regime change as the emperor’s supremacy was once again emphasized.17 In a manner similar to that of Emperor Tenmu, Shintō was used to justify this change, demand the allegiance of the populace and attempt to enforce a system of “shrine registration.”18 A number of other methods were employed to emphasize the dominion of the so-called state religion over its competitors. Not only was the religious activity of the emperor now shared with the public, but also ceremonies were now coordinated.19 This was vastly different and much more cohesive than the previous state of affairs. However, this was not a benevolent campaign, but the propagandizing of religion on a large scale. The goal that was aspired to (and that would ultimately fail) was “to use religion to unify the people in a single cult, headed by the emperor as head priest.”20 The changing international role of Japan in times of war and peace would be deeply affected by these changes. During the twentieth century, Imperial Japan began to take on a colonial role. As a result of the nation’s expansionism, Shintō was no longer limited simply to the physical boundaries of the archipelago. There was, in fact, an active campaign to utilize religion to inspire patriotic sentiment in the empire’s new subjects that included the export of both priest and shrine.21 With the Meiji Restoration came a transformation of the nature of Shintō ideology. One of the most prevalent features of this has been a strong emphasis on nationalism.22 It also relied heavily on ethnocentric sentiments.23 It was only the loss of World War II that officially marked an end to the system of State Shintō.24 This marked another transformation of Japan’s so-called ‘indigenous religion’, this time by the Western victors. Furthermore, Shintō at this time was technically dubbed a religion equal to, rather than greater, the equivalent faiths that existed.25 Nevertheless, very few aspects of Shintō appear to have


not been invented. There is a clear pattern where political manoeuvres are legitimized by evoking religion to promote patriotism, nationalism, and unity. In Japan, “Shintō as we know it today is the result of a series of constructions and reconstructions.”26 Time and time again there have been attempts to simplify complex interactions between the discordant cults that make up Shintō as a whole and interaction between Buddhism and Shintō as well. Clearly Shintō did not naturally emerge, but was the result of thousands of years of invention and reinvention. Yet, this has also been the case with Buddhism. The notion of honji suijaku, and the results it had in the synthesis between the two faiths were neither natural nor native, but derived from Chinese thought.27 Furthermore, invention of traditions can be found in many major religions. Catholicism for instance has developed a large body of doctrines and the wide split and variety of Christian churches that exist today is a testament to the invention and reinvention of the faith by various individuals and groups. At the most basic level Shintō is not even compatible with the definition of indigenous, which is defined as, “produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment.”28 Shintō is the result of Japan’s indigenous religious traditions, but as it exists today is not, itself, an indigenous religion. It has experienced too many transformations over time that served the agendas of specific people or institutions. Yet, the invention and transformation of belief systems are inevitable as they are introduced to different people, places, cultures, and timeframes. In this instance, it is clear that the invention of Shintō as a religious tradition served clear political purposes at several crucial historical epochs in Japan.

Notes 1. Yusa, Michiko. “Women in Shinto: Images Remembered.” In Women and Religion, edited by Arvind Sharma, 93-119. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994. 93-94. 2. Kuroda, Toshio. “Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion.” Journal of Japanese Studies 7, no. 1 (1981): 4. 3. Matsumura, Kazuo. “Ancient Japan and Religion.” In Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006. 139. 4. Kuroda, Toshio. “Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion.” Journal of Japanese Studies 7, no. 1 (1981): 9. 5. Ito, Satoshi. “The Medieval Period: The Kami Merge with Buddhism.” In Shintō-A Short History, edited by Nobutaka Inoue et al. translated by Mark Teeuwen, and John Breen. London & New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. 69. 6. Tsunoda, Ryūsaku. “The Earliest Records of Japan.” In Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. I, edited by Wm. Theodore De Bary, and Donald Keene. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. 24. 7. Naumann, Nelly. “The State Cult of the Nara and Early Heian Period.” In Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, edited by John Breen, and Mark Teeuwen. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2000. 48. 8. Tsunoda, Ryūsaku. “The Earliest Records of Japan.” In Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. I, edited by Wm. Theodore De Bary, and Donald Keene. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. 24. 9. Ibid., 50. 10. Naumann, Nelly. “The State Cult of the Nara and Early Heian Period.” In Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, edited by John Breen, and Mark Teeuwen. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2000. 48. 11. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 50, no. 3 (2003): 47. 12. Namihira, Emiko. “Pollution in the Folk Belief System.” Current Anthropology, Supplement: An Anthropological Profile of Japan 28, no. 4 (1987): S65. 13. Ibid., S69. 14. Yamakage, Motohisa. “What is Shintō.” In The Essence of Shinto. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2006. 37.

23


15. Naumann, Nelly. “The State Cult of the Nara and Early Heian Period.” In Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, edited by John Breen, and Mark Teeuwen. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2000. 64. 16. Kuroda, Toshio. “Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion.” Journal of Japanese Studies 7, no. 1 (1981): 20. 17. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 50, no. 3 (2003): 48. 18. Hardacre, Helen. “The Modern History of Relations between Shintō and the State.” In Shintō and the State. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. 29. 19. Ibid., 32. 20. Ibid., 33. 21. Ibid., 38. 22. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 50, no. 3 (2003): 57. 23. Yamakage, Motohisa. “What is Shintō.” In The Essence of Shinto. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2006. 53. 24. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 50, no. 3 (2003): 54. 25. Hardacre, Helen. “The Modern History of Relations between Shintō and the State.” In Shintō and the State. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. 40. 26. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 46, no. 3 (2003): 57. 27. Ito, Satoshi. “The Medieval Period: The Kami Merge with Buddhism.” In Shintō-A Short History, edited by Nobutaka Inoue et al. translated by Mark Teeuwen, and John Breen. London & New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. 69. 28. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indigenous

24

Bibliography Hardacre, Helen. “The Modern History of Relations between Shintō and the State.” In Shintō and the State. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. Ito, Satoshi. “The Medieval Period: The Kami Merge with Buddhism.” In Shintō-A Short History, edited by Nobutaka Inoue et al. translated by Mark Teeuwen, and John Breen. London & New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Kuroda, Toshio. “Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion.” Journal of Japanese Studies 7, no. 1 (1981). Matsumura, Kazuo. “Ancient Japan and Religion.” In Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006. Namihira, Emiko. “Pollution in the Folk Belief System.” Current Anthropology, Supplement: An Anthropological Profile of Japan 28, no. 4 (1987). Naumann, Nelly. “The State Cult of the Nara and Early Heian Period.” In Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, edited by John Breen, and Mark Teeuwen. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2000. Pye, Michael. “Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine.” Diogenes 50, no. 3 (2003). Tsunoda, Ryūsaku. “The Earliest Records of Japan.” In Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. I, edited by Wm. Theodore De Bary, and Donald Keene. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. Yamakage, Motohisa. “What is Shintō.” In The Essence of Shinto. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2006. Yusa, Michiko. “Women in Shinto: Images Remembered.” In Women and Religion, edited by Arvind Sharma, 93-119. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994.


25


ABSTRACTION AND TRADITION Creating a “Chinese Modern Painting” in The Republic of China. MUHAN ZHANG

T

he development of the modern Taiwanese national identity and cultural consciousness is irrevocably tied to Taiwan’s unique political history. By the early 1950s, Taiwanese culture and society had emerged from several decades of Japanese colonial rule and very recently come under the direct influence of the Kuomintang nationalist party from mainland China. It was under these social, cultural, and political contexts that the first modern and modernist artistic stirrings began to take place in Taiwan. Art, as a highly flexible medium for the reflection and expression of society, politics, and individual experiences, acts as a locus for the development of Taiwanese national identity and also of Chinese national identity in Taiwan. An analysis of the aesthetic influences, theoretical underpinnings, and institutional contexts of art produced in Taiwan thus reveals a rich, multifaceted story of a nation and her peoples at a critical juncture in history. In this paper, I will focus on the attempt by Chinese artists, most active in Taiwan from the late 1950s to early 1970s, to unite traditional Chinese literati painting and calligraphy with contemporary Western art movements. Specifically, I will be examining the artistic and literary works of one of Taiwan’s first modern art collectives, the Fifth Moon Painting Society (1957-72), with particular attention to the activities of its co-founders, Liu Kuo-sung (b. 1932) and Chuang Che (b. 1934). After first introducing the contexts of traditional versus modern art in postwar Taiwan,

26

I will go on to examine the works, theories, and travels of Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che from their arrival in Taiwan in the late 1940s to their tour of the United States in the 1960s and their impact on Taiwanese and Chinese modern painting since. By examining the writings, works, and biographies of these pioneering modernist artists in Taiwan, I seek to shed light on the broader societal negotiation of cultural influences from Japan, mainland China, and abroad at this time, as well as to explore the struggle to integrate Western modernist artistic philosophies into Chinese traditional painting under authoritarian nationalist rule. For the sake of consistency, English transliteration of Chinese terms in this paper will follow the Hanyu Pinyin system with the exception of Chinese names, which will follow the Romanization system most widely used to transliterate the name in question. During and immediately following the era of Japanese colonization, Taiwanese artists painted almost exclusively in Japaneseinfluenced styles of either traditional “oriental painting” (dongyanghua or Toyoga in Japanese,) or Western oil painting.1 Both the KMT nationalist party and sympathetic mainland artists who arrived in Taiwan in the late 1940s, however, confronted these Japanese-derived styles with disdain. The KMT nationalist government had not only brought thousands of crates of the most highly valued artifacts and artworks to the island from the mainland, but also sought to promote traditional Chinese art (guohua), as a means of reinforcing their


nationalist ideology.2 Guohua (“national painting” or “Chinese painting”) was considered by the government and this initial generation of mainland artists to be superior and more authentically Chinese than dongyanghua (“oriental painting” or “eastern painting”), which drew from Northern Song art as well as Western Realism.3 The endorsement of an orthodox guohua style therefore had dual purposes for the nationalist government: firstly, as an effort to eradicate the cultural legacy of a generation of Japanese colonial rule, and secondly, as a way to position the nationalist party as a protector of authentic Chinese culture against the mainland communist government that was contemporaneously using Marxist western culture to vilify tradition. Although guohua benefited from government support, the cultural and artistic atmosphere in Taiwan remained heterogeneous, with dongyanghua, Japanese-style oil painting schools, and private publications bringing Western modernist trends to Taiwan throughout the 1920s and 30s. 4 These Western influences continued to circulate after the colonial era, even as the official Taiwan provincial art exhibition remained firmly the domain of guohua artists from its inception in 1946 until the mid-1950s. The arrival of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in 1950, for instance, brought abstract expressionist influences from New York, then the centre of Western modern art.5 The younger generation of mainland-originating artists was therefore given increased access to Western, and specifically American, art as a byproduct of the American military intervention in Taiwan. Other modern Western artistic movements like fauvism and post-impressionism also began to seep into the works of Taiwanese artists as they gained exposure to older schools of Western avant-garde through publications like the New Art (xin yishu) journal.6 The authoritarian government in Taiwan, unlike that of the mainland, did not stipulate specific criteria for artists to follow,7 therefore allowing artists, intentionally or not, to explore varied creative influences from abroad. In this manner, Taiwan-based artists in the late 1950s, along with similarly situated artists in Hong Kong, were poised to modernize the highly conservative Chinese literati

painting tradition. In Taiwan, this began with the establishment of the first Taiwanese modern painting organizations including the Fifth Moon Painting Society (wuyue huahui) and the Orient Painting Society (dongfang huahui). The Fifth Moon Painting Society, founded in 1957 by Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che, began as a group of recent teaching and fine arts graduates of the National Taiwan Normal University, and was marked by the members’ common interest in Western modern art and criticism of the lack of innovation in traditional painting.8 As it would happen, the traditional Chinese painting that informed Taiwanese guohua actually began in the late seventeenth century as an avant-garde style of academic or literati painting based on the rigorous study and emulation of past masters.9 Although literati painting enjoyed enduring elite popularity and patronage all the way into the modern era, the conservative theoretical basis of literati painting prevented adaptation or innovation, an aspect which Liu Kuo-sung and the other members of the Fifth Moon Painting Society rallied against. Moreover, in the context of Taiwanese state-sponsored guohua, this style of painting took on a new, highly politicized and ideologically fraught tenor, making it an even more unyielding field for artists. In fact, Fifth Moon members, in speaking out against guohua, often endangered themselves to state persecution and imprisonment, as to criticize tradition, at the time, was, as Liu Kuo-sung described it, “[to] ‘hollow out’ tradition [… and] allow opportunities for communism to sneak in and destroy our heritage.”10 The tasks of bringing in Western influences and changing an inflexible tradition were therefore not straightforward. Indeed, the Fifth Moon Painting Society itself was not unified in its members’ artistic styles or theories; not only did Fifth Moon not have a manifesto, but it rejected the very premise, instead focusing on individual experimentation with Western modernisms and mediums.11 As such, the very basis of Fifth Moon was a question rather than a statement, meant to encourage creative exploration in producing works that skated the fine line between KMTnationalist acceptability and subjective artistic integrity. In fact, as the society gained popu-

27


larity going into the early 1960s, its organization became more and more deconstructed, allowing more artists to affiliate themselves – with consideration to their artistic ideas and achievements – with the Fifth Moon group.12 Naturally, different members adopted different formal styles in their painting, although they were generally united in their collective efforts to innovate and explore modernism in an East Asian context. Liu Kuo-sung, to begin with, was most interested in creating a “Chinese modern painting” (zhongguo xiandaihua). His understanding of modern was a blend of Western abstract expressionist and older Chinese artistic theories. Fundamental to Liu’s philosophy was the liberating power of abstraction; he believed realist or representational painting were restrictions on the creative freedom of the artist, and moreover that “abstraction is a way to distill the character, spirit, and power inside nature.”13 Although undeniably influenced by Western abstraction, Liu nevertheless firmly grounded his writings and theories in traditional Chinese ink painting by seeking out historical Chinese painters, such as Qing painter, Shih-t’ao, who worked along similar subjective, expressionistic, and abstract lines as contemporary Western artists.14 In an essay published in January of 1961, Liu Kuo-sung even goes so far as to argue that abstraction was the most appropriate approach to a “Chinese modern painting,” seeing as abstraction, while no longer prominent in contemporary guohua art, can be readily found in ancient Chinese art history.15 His colleague and co-founder of Fifth Moon, Chuang Che, drew similar connections between Chinese calligraphy and Western gestural abstraction. Chuang Che, too, believed strongly in the ability of abstraction to depict nature, arguing, for instance, that nature from the viewpoint of a painter (as opposed to that of a physicist or biologist) must include many different perceptions, and therefore not take any fixed form.16 More specifically, Chuang Che saw that the contemporary Western preoccupation with intuitive and unconscious expression in art gesture was similar to the fundamentals of traditional calligraphy, which also stressed the ability of calligraphic marks to show the artist’s personality and intellect.17

28

In the effort to create art that was as Chinese as it was modern, both Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che returned, after using Western oilon-canvas through the late 1950s, to Chinese media, such as ink painting and paper.18 As he progressed in his meditations on Chinese modern painting, Liu departed from traditional tools and techniques, using instead unconventional tools like his fingers to apply ink, as well as different textured papers, to create various pictorial effects.19 However, even in these superficially modernist departures, Liu was guided and grounded by a fundamental concern for traditional Chinese techniques such as brushwork and the absorption of ink in paper, using these non-traditionalist techniques in order to explore the traditional. In 1963, Liu settled into the technique that would define his “Chinese modern painting;” Dance of Spiritual Rhythm, 1963 was among the first of these works. In Dance, Liu applied ink to coarse, roughly textured paper and, while the ink was still wet, pulled out surface fibers from the paper to create a textured look.20 He additionally applied ink to the reverse of the paper, so that the thinned out sections would reveal more diverse colours and textures. This technique, along with his highly expressive brushwork and largely monochrome palette, became his signature “Chinese modern” style. In Dance, one can clearly see Liu’s simultaneous efforts to embody the “rhythmic vitality” (qiyun shengdong) he believed intrinsic to Chinese painting, and to show the process, medium, and subjectivity of the work, a major tenet of American abstract expressionism. Chuang Che, meanwhile, integrated calligraphy and calligraphic forms into his abstract paintings, by not only painting with rhythmic calligraphic lines but also occasionally interfacing these abstracted marks with written poetry.21 In the early 1960s, Chuang Che created works such as Together with the Mountain in which he manipulated Chinese ideograms to disrupt the semiotic aspect of their forms, emphasizing the ability of their purely abstract, formal qualities to convey emotion. Curator Jeffrey Wechsler characterizes these early explorations as “an attempt to bridge the gap between traditional Eastern


calligraphic gestures and purely non-objective Western mark-making.”22 This description of Chuang Che’s calligraphic works demonstrates how closely associated his and his colleague, Liu Kuo-sung’s objectives were, in spite of their differing explorations of traditional Chinese painting. Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che’s insistence on finding artistic precedence for abstract and expressionistic impulses in Chinese art demonstrates how they were not only interested in elevating Chinese art to the modern era, but also, deeply invested in creating a truly Chinese foundation for this art. Having previously denounced Japanese-influenced dongyanghua as not authentically Chinese,23 Liu thus situates himself, even as a non-traditional, non-conformist, self-ascribed modern artist, with the politics of conservative guohua artists. This revelation demonstrates how, although innovative art was being produced in Taiwan at this time, the hegemonic politics and rhetoric of the time still very much centered around mainland Chinese heritage and tradition, rather than the creation of unique Taiwanese cultural or artistic traditions. However, as much as modern Chinese painters in Taiwan identified strongly with Chinese national and artistic tradition, they were in fact beginning to operate on an increasingly international scale. By the early 1960s, Chuang Che and other members of the Fifth Moon Painting Society were attending and exhibiting at the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil, bringing the “Chinese modern painting,” which they had developed in Taiwan, to a global stage of modern art.24 These artists also began to incorporate aspects of international contemporary affairs into their works; Liu Kuo-sung, for instance, began a series around this time inspired by the American Apollo 8 space mission in which he spray-painted circles representing celestial objects into his paintings.25 At the 8th Fifth Moon exhibition in 1964, art critic Yu Guangzhou, wrote that the Fifth Moon painters had transcended into a stateless, international art that was not predominantly Chinese or Western: “the ‘cowboy’ artists of the Fifth Moon have […] accepted Western art with abundance, while simultaneously realizing the true spirit of Chinese art

even more. […] They have become modern painters of China. Far from being smugglers, it is their works that make national boundaries vanish.”26 Of course, the national boundaries dividing Taiwan and mainland China were still incredibly opaque; much of the legitimacy and access given to Taiwan-based artists were owed to the KMT nationalist government’s political recognition by democratic Western nations as the single, legitimate government of China. In the 1960s, many Taiwan-based modern artists were given opportunities to travel, study, and teach in the United States and Europe, made possible through Taiwan’s international relations. Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che both traveled to the United States in 1966, after each receiving grants from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund to study contemporary art.27 Liu Kuo-sung spent some time at the School of Art in University of Iowa, before traveling to Chicago, Maine, and finally New York City, where he stayed for eight months.28 At the same time as these artists were touring the U.S., their artworks also circulated American galleries across the country as part of the New Chinese Landscape exhibition, funded by the American Federation of Arts.29 ChuTsing Li, in his article introducing this exhibition, made particular note of the historical and political situations that led to the rise of zhongguo xiandaihua in Taiwan rather than on the mainland. Although literati painting was accepted in the initial years of the Communist regime, the passing of a generation of literati painters as well as the hardening of Communist ideology resulted in the restriction and persecution of all forms of modern art.30 Traditionally trained Chinese artists who migrated abroad, on the other hand, had more freedom in dictating the development of their individual painting styles, some continuing the literati tradition, such as Taiwanese guohua artists, while others experimented with new references.31 Chu-Tsing Li remarked among the works of the New Chinese Landscape exhibition “an attempt to be different, to be a-traditional and yet still traditional, to be modern and yet still strongly Chinese.”32 The movement of the Fifth Moon artists and their works abroad therefore brings to light their

29


continued powerful self-affiliation with a Chinese national identity and cultural heritage. In all likelihood, Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che would have characterized themselves as ambassadors of Chinese rather than Taiwanese art during their time in the States, much like they characterized their style as a Chinese rather than a Taiwanese modern painting. In fact, the American tour did not result in an Americanization or even Westernization of these artists’ work; as Chu-Tsing Li noted a decade later in 1979, these travels only reinforced Liu Kuo-sung’s belief in the presence of modernist precepts in traditional Chinese art.33 This is also evident in the continued progression of Liu Kuo-sung’s modern Chinese painting style. Prompted by his first contact with authentic Western art in American museums, Liu Kuo-sung produced over two-hundred paintings during his year in the U.S. In these works, he refined his method of ink painting on coarse paper, continuing to experiment with texture by pulling out fibers, as well as by collage-ing painter paper onto his paintings,34 a technique also used by Chuang Che.35 Although working in the United States, Liu demonstrates in paintings from these years abroad a renewed focus on the traditional Chinese subject of landscape. In the 1967 painting, Dusk amid Green Mountains, for instance, he titled his semi-abstract work to suggest mountains through the jagged edges of collaged paper, snow in the white veins of the torn out fibers, and the warm colours of sunset in the sepia washes of select areas. This blend of abstraction and representation is another way in which artists like Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che broke through delineations of genre and style to create a new Chinese modern painting. American, especially New York, art criticism in the 1960s and 70s opposed any and all forms of representation in their championing of purely non-objective abstract expressionism.36 Yet, Chuang Che and Liu Kuo-sung nevertheless rejected such purity, even while working in New York, in favor of building upon the pre-existing Chinese landscape painting tradition through their own modern style. Chuang Che especially admired American artists, such as Willem de Kooning, famous for his semiabstracted “Woman” series, who combined purely abstract, non-objective mark-making

30

with recognizable, representational markmaking.37 Perhaps to a certain extent, as these artists gained more exposure abroad, they felt all the more need to represent their Chinese national and cultural identity in their work. As such, although they may not have set out with the express intention of depicting landscapes, Chuang Che and Liu Kuo-sung nevertheless frequently acknowledged their formal inspirations in traditional Chinese landscapes through the titles of their otherwise abstract works. Liu Kuo-sung’s travels in the United States truly launched his international career, following which he held many exhibitions around the globe, with many of the most prestigious international museums and galleries collecting his work.38 However, even before Liu left for the U. S. the Fifth Moon Group was beginning to lose its avant-garde edge, with Liu himself taking a judging position at the national art exhibition and exhibiting as a solo artist in the National Art Museum.39 In any case, Liu Kuo-sung continued to enjoy international repute after his return from the United States, producing another series inspired by the Apollo space missions in 1969 titled “Which is Earth?” This series saw Liu begin to incorporate tenets of the then-blossoming Hard Edge and Minimalist movements, involving solid colours and sharply delineated geometric forms, into his painting.40 These latter works incorporated methods of his previous Space series as well as his ink paintings, placing them into the same picture plane. This is evident in The Earth III, in which the upper portion of the work features a circle indicating a celestial object, while the lower third has been executed using the expressive brushwork of his ink paintings. Even as Liu continued to reference Chinese traditional painting, it is clear that he had begun to interact directly with the modern and postmodern artistic movements abroad, something that was occurring among many other modern Taiwanese artists. Sadly, the impressive outpouring of modern artistic exploration and international travel at this time –emblematized in the careers of Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che – came to an abrupt end with the loss of the Republic of China’s seat at the United Nations in 1971. This event signaled the end of Taiwan’s legiti-


macy as the representative of China on the global stage and her replacement by the mainland People’s Republic of China. The conceptual underpinnings of “Chinese modern painting” as set out by Liu Kuo-sung thus also changed dramatically; no longer the legitimate “China” of the world, Taiwan and Taiwanese artists could no longer function in their artistic and theoretical explorations as the sole representatives of modern Chinese art. International exhibitions ceased to send invitations to Taiwan and Taiwan-based artists following 1971, even though so many, like Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che, had previously and continued to embrace Euro-American modern art.41 Opportunities for international showing and study were likewise curtailed. This dealt a serious blow to the modern painting movement in Taiwan, and effectively resulted in the disintegration of the Fifth Moon Painting Society. Many artists had already begun looking abroad to Europe and America before 1971 in order to pursue art without fear of persecution from the KMT’s authoritarian regime. Thus, as a result of this severe political blow, even established artists began to move abroad. Chuang Che moved to the United States in 1973, where he lived and worked for the majority of his remaining life and career.42 Liu Kuo-sung, meanwhile, remained in East Asia, continuing to produce art while also teaching at both Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan and the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1971 until his retirement in 1999.43 Due to these geographic migrations, as well as the diversity and complexity of these artists’ influences, it is difficult, and in fact, unsound, to categorize their work as either “Taiwanese” or “Chinese”. The stirrings of a truly unique and self-consciously Taiwanese cultural identity began with a later generation who, unlike Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che, had not immigrated to the island from the mainland but were rather born and raised in Taiwan. However, these self-identifying “Chinese” modern artists lived and worked in Taiwan for a critical period of their careers, and the impact of Taiwan’s historical and political context on their artistic development is undeniable. Similarly, although Taiwan-based and mainland-based artists diverged in their paths from the late

1940s until the early 1970s following the Cultural Revolution, mainland artists embraced and accepted the modernizing efforts of their Chinese-Taiwanese predecessors.44 Liu Kuo-sung and Chuang Che’s artistic and theoretical work in Taiwan set a stylistic precedent not only for their own careers, but also for later explorations of Chinese modern painting in both Taiwan and mainland China. As artists of the precarious, bi-polar and biChina era, in which political anxiety and authoritarianism curtailed artistic innovation on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, they pushed for innovation and integration of new and old, East and West. Their modernization of traditional Chinese painting carried Asian artistic traditions into the light of Western modern art theory, and they introduced Chinese painting to international modern artistic discourse, contributing to the globalization of modern and postmodern art. Their work testifies to the critical place that Taiwan occupies in Chinese, East Asian, and global art history, as well as to the legitimacy and importance of cultural production to the forging of modern national and international identities.

31


Notes 1. Kuo, Jason C. “Painting, Decolonization, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Taiwan.” Ars Orientalis 25 (1995): 73. JSTOR. Accessed November 11, 2015. 2. Chiang, Fu-tsung. “The Transfer of the National Palace Museum Collection to Taiwan and Its Subsequent Installation.” The National Palace Museum Quarterly 14, no. 1 (1979):1–16, 37–43. JSTOR. Accessed November 11, 2015. 3. Lu, Peng. A History of Art in 20th Century Art. (Milan: Edizioni Charta Srl, 2010), 691, 695. 4. Ibid, 694. 5. Ibid, 695. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid, 694. 8. Hwang, Jim. “Traditional Chinese Ink-Wash Updated.” Taiwan Review 60, no. 9 (2010). taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/ fp.asp?xItem=114137&ctNode=1346 9. Li, “The New Chinese Landscape”, 142. 10. Hwang. 11. Lu, 696. 12. Ibid, 698. 13. Kuo, 95. 14. Ibid. 15. Kuo, Jason C. “From National Chinese Painting to Modern Painting”. Art and Cultural Politics in Postwar Taiwan. (Washington: University of Washington Press, 2000),96. 16. Ibid, 92. 17. Wechsler, Jeffrey. “Chuang Che: The Nature of Abstraction.” Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University. www. asiaartcenter.org/_artist_e/5/1.pdf 18. Hwang. 19. Ibid. 20. Kuo, 96. 21. Ibid, 91. 22. Weschler. 23. Lu, 700-701. 24. Ibid, 698. 25. Hwang. 26. Lu, 698-99. 27. Liu, Yung-Jen. “Effusive Vitality: Chuang Che Retrospective Exhibition.” Taipei

32

Fine Arts Museum, September, 2015. 28. Li, Chu-Tsing. “Trends in Modern Chinese Painting.” Artibus Asiae Supplementum, 36 (1979): 187. 29. Li, Chu-Tsing and Thomas Lawton. “The New Chinese Landscape.” Art Journal 27, no. 2 (1967-1968): 188. 30. Ibid, 143-46. 31. Ibid, 147. 32. Ibid. 33. Li, “Trends in Modern Chinese Painting”, 188. 34. Ibid. 35. Liu. 36. Wechsler. 37. Ibid. 38. Hwang. 39. Lu, 716. 40. Lu, 716. 41. Ibid, 724. 42. Wechsler. 43. Hwang. 44. Kuo, 99.


Bibliography Chiang, Fu-tsung. “The Transfer of the National Palace Museum Collection to Taiwan and Its Subsequent Installation.” The National Palace Museum Quarterly 14, no. 1 (1979):1–16, 37–43. JSTOR. Accessed November 11, 2015. Hwang, Jim. “Traditional Chinese InkWash Updated.” Taiwan Review 60, no. 9 (2010). taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/fp.asp?xItem =114137&ctNode=1346. Kuo, Jason C. “Painting, Decolonization, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Taiwan.” Ars Orientalis 25 (1995): 73. JSTOR. Accessed November 11, 2015. Kuo, Jason C. “From National Chinese Painting to Modern Painting”. Art and Cultural Politics in Postwar Taiwan. Washington: University of Washington Press, 2000. Li, Chu-Tsing. “Trends in Modern Chinese Painting.” Artibus Asiae Supplementum, 36 (1979). Li, Chu-Tsing and Thomas Lawton. Art Journal 27, no. 2 (1967-1968). Liu, Yung-Jen. “Effusive Vitality: Chuang Che Retrospective Exhibition.” Taipei Fine Arts Museum, September, 2015. Lu, Peng. A History of Art in 20th Century Art. Milan: Edizioni Charta Srl, 2010. Wechsler, Jeffrey. “Chuang Che: The Nature of Abstraction.” Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University. www. asiaartcenter.org/_artist_e/5/1.pdf

33


THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA The Legitimacy of “One for all and all for one” JESSICA CONDEMI

Introduction Referred to as “America’s longest-running intelligence failure in the history of American espionage”, North Korean foreign policy has consistently been a puzzle for scholars1. Often, the nation is represented as a rogue, aggressive and unpredictable state2. Still, one element remains surprising about Pyongyang and the Kim regime: its survival. Ever since the early 1990s, observers and scholars alike have predicted the collapse of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s regime – a collapse that never came3. While several scholars believe that the regime’s survival is based on decision-making determined by systemic (international) factors, such as the balance of power, the explanation offered by the domestic level of analysis is far more compelling. In fact, similarly to most governments, the purpose of the Kim regime is to survive – and to do, it employs the same methods as most as well. Tone of these mechanisms is nuclear armament. This paper argues that the Kim regime’s nuclear armament is actually highly driven by domesticlevel factors; specifically ideology and regimetype (in this case, a totalitarian regime), rather than systemic-level influences. It will do so in the following manner; first, it will review the literature’s perspective on the DPRK’s strategy, and critique its claims. Second, it will elaborate on its argument through a constructivist lens which can explain the importance of ideology to the regime’s survival. Finally, with the help of the nuclear missile test in 2009, it will

34

demonstrate that Kim Jong-Il’s administration is pursuing nuclear armament because of domestic implications.

Systemic Influence on Pyongyang: A Literature Review The literature concerning the Kim regime does not agree on one single motive for its actions. Victor Cha and David Kang, in Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies present North Korea in two different lights. While Victor Cha argues that North Korea is incredibly weak, and has no choice but to pursue nuclear deterrence, as it is its only option for coercive diplomacy, Kang advances that the DPRK is desperate to pursue accommodation policies with the White House, if only they would listen4. Nonetheless, both scholars present North Korea as a state near the brink of crisis, with little to no possible alternatives. Jacques Hymans claims that there are a few problems with Cha and Kang’s analysis. First, as Cha and Kang argue that the “DPRK’s nuclear intentions are a measured response to the external environment”5, the issue with this assumption is that they use comparative foreign policy, an approach that particularly stresses the impact of domestic institutions and ideology structures6, to advance their points. This technique is a little unproductive because a domestically-inclined theoretical perspective cannot accurately describe and analyze a situation presented from a sys-


temic point of view. That would be similar to comparing apples and oranges by focusing on the apple’s colour and the orange’s taste. Another point of contention with Cha and Kang’s evaluation of North Korea is that it forwards this image of North Korea as both a very weak state, but one with enough industrialized capabilities to have amassed technical capacities to build these nuclear weapons – which North Korea does not, per say, have7. Moreover, both authors argue their point extensively, but suggest that questioning their conclusions may lead to falling in a trap “of assuming that the DPRK leadership is simply ‘crazy’”8. Questioning assumptions, as long as it is careful, naturally does not lead to falling into a trap. The issue concerning North Korea, as is popularly understood, is the lack of information. Therefore, it may be more difficult to prove the validity of an argument concerning ideology, because of the restricted scope of information concerning it. Yet, ideology is nevertheless a crucial factor in explaining the North Korean regime, since it would not have survived for half a century without societal beliefs underlying and motivating it9. That being said, scholars Byman and Lind have expressed their views on the DPRK, and have given support to the argument concentrating on the domestic level of analysis. They argue the importance of both elements: the international (or systemic) and the domestic (or internal) factors. They claim that the Kim regime cannot be denied its manipulative and calculation skills10. They argue that the Kim regime has used three tools extensively from internal structures to prevent the collapse of the regime, these tools being restrictive social policies, manipulation of ideas and information, as the heavy use of force, to deter, convince and potentially suppress popular revolt11. Although these mechanisms are used by several, if not all authoritarian regimes, the DPRK (according to them) is the modern example of their potential effectiveness. Another interesting point that Byman and Lind raise is the speculation on the transition of the Kim regime. They mention that Kim IlSung (hereby referred to as the Great Leader) had named his successor, his son Kim Jong-Il, fourteen years prior to his ascension to power

– the purpose of this being to establish a time frame for Kim Jong-Il (hereby known as the Dear Leader), to manufacture a cult of personality and build a coalition of support for the Dear Leader’s ascension to power12. Given the article’s time frame (being written in 2010), they assumed that the regime had not laid a solid ground for the Dear Leader’s successor, and this would most likely not create the opportunity for a smooth transition13. However, they acknowledge that from the view of the North Korean population, the grandson of the Great Leader and the son of the Dear Leader would be a legitimate heir to the North Korean throne14. The current leader power hold on the North Korean regime (which consists of Kim Jong-Un, son of Kim Jong-Il and grandson of Kim Il-Sung) demonstrates that Byman and Lind were wrong in their speculations: this also proves that the people believe in the legitimacy of the regime, thus reinforcing that ideological beliefs is a strong force to support the domestic regime. Kyung-Ae Park, a notable scholar of the North Korean puzzle, defines ideology as the key to the regime15. He states that “for many decades there has been only one monolithic ideology in North Korea that was supposed to be shared with by everybody […] ‘One for all and all for one’”16. In short, it symbolizes the unity of the North Korean population and the importance of trusting the leader of the nation, as he will do what has to be done for the greater good. This ideology, toppled with the Juche and suryong system is North Korea’s biggest strength, since it is what has kept the country together, despite famines, the Great Leader’s death and other hardships17, Park also explains the logistics behind the Juche and the suryong system. Juche, (or chuch’e, as Park writes it), is the name given to Kim Il-Sung’s Korean version of socialism18. More than just an emphasis on economic self-reliance, the Great Leader’s Juche was “the preeminent expression of North Korea’s emphasis on the ideological over the material, thought over matter, superstructure over base”19. Despite internal shocks, the system of loyalty established by the Great Leader would last in the North Korean regime20. Lastly, the DPRK adopts a system of suryong, or ‘leader dominant system’; suryong, in Korean,

35


translates directly to ‘leader’21. Therefore, the regime lives to serve the will and desires of the leader. In 1972, the Great Leader implemented a new constitution – with it, the Central People’s Committee (CPC), the highest entity regarding policy making and agency of state sovereignty22. Along with the DPRK’s political party in power, the KWP, the CPC was overseen by the leader himself – this meant that Kim Il-Sung essentially created a solid cradle for his coming successors23. As head of government and head of state, the authority to name a successor was given exclusively to the Great Leader. Consequently, there was little surprise when the Dear Leader appointed his son, Kim Jong-Un, as his successor. The suryong system has become now the nexus of the Kim regime’s authority and control of the DPRK, since the regime’s succession is sustainable – as long as the Kim family has sons for succession.

Constructivism’s Take on North Korea Realism defines the importance of acquiring power and increasing capabilities as the basis of its perspective. Whether it is classical, structural or even neo-realism, all three perspectives emphasize the importance of maximizing power capabilities24. It is not unknown that nuclear armament is a source of power maximization – after all, all members of the United Nations Security Council possess them. With the same realist logic, one could assume that North Korea’s persistence in nuclear efforts is a mechanism to increase its power capabilities. However, this assumption falls short in explaining the regime’s relative stability and its perseverance, despite international pressures and constraints. An alternative theory of international relations useful here is constructivism. There are three core assumptions related to constructivism, all which can offer explanation to the strength of the North Korean regime and its nuclear interests. First, constructivism claims that interests and preferences are socially constructed and are flexible25. Rather than assuming a state has one or a set of preferences and will keep pursuing these goals, constructivism explains that preferences are not set in stone, but vary depend-

36

ing on the social context. Alexander Wendt explains that the self-help and power politics elaborated on by realists are socially constructed – and such constructions can be changed26. This can be seen primarily in democratic regimes, where the election of a new leader often brings changes in foreign, financial, economic or other areas of domestic policy. In the case of the North Korean regime, there has not been much of a change in the nation’s interests and preferences. Still, constructivist logic will argue that this is due to the absence of change in the social context. In the case of North Korea, the leader of the regime decides of the regime’s preferences – no one other than himself can officially make that decision. The preferences of the DPRK’s administration (notably, nuclear armament, self-reliance and isolation from the rest of the international community) have not changed simply because the preferences of the leaders have not changed. Another core assumption of constructivism claims that ideas or ideological beliefs are deemed to be as important as forces shaping preferences of the state27. In the case of the DPRK, the Suryong (leader) creates the ideas (and by extent, the state’s preferences). As mentioned earlier, North Korea’s ideology is the prime driver of all policies (which are determined by the supreme leader, naturally). Kyung-Ae Park offers an explanation as to why the ideological beliefs of the North Korean regime have lasted for over half a century. He mentions that in authoritarian or totalitarian administrations, the regime is just as strong as the beliefs and ideas its people hold28. Therefore, the stronger the people identify with and believe in the North Korean regime’s legitimacy, the stronger the North Korean regime becomes. Consequently, the ideas and ideology proliferated by the regime become more legitimate. The question remains: what is North Korea’s outlook on the rest of the world? Though North Korea still wishes to sustain ties with the international system and views foreign policy as an important agent, it still cannot forget its history of being threatened, attacked and potentially exploited by its large neighbours with greater influence and power spheres29. North Korea is not a large country, and its population is quite small. Ergo, its attitude of distrust


and mild paranoia towards the international system is well-founded in its domestic opinion30. This idea of paranoia and distrust acts as a dominant force in shaping the nations’ preferences for hard-on nuclear policy. tThe last assumption of constructivism concerns rationality. Constructivists argue that rationality is always31; what seems rational to one is not agreed upon by the other entity. As explained earlier, the DPRK does not look at the international system as enemies – but rather, as threats that will eventually attack it, as it has been done in the past. Therefore, when the DPRK decides to test nuclear missiles to show the world it still has the capacity to handle nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterring states and international actors, the Dear Leader and his population still regard it as completely rational. According to them, these actions are rooted in the fear established by their historical past. Though the rest of the world would be quick to disagree, this is the logic presented by the constructivist argument. The case study below will explain this further. In sum, the DPRK’s ideas are socially constructed; this pursuit of nuclear armament, isolation and self-reliance have been constructed by the leader of the regime. However, the state’s social context has not changed much, thus the social context shaping the nation’s ideas have not changed much either. Furthermore, historical events have shaped beliefs of distrust in the international system and paranoia – these characteristics are founded in the nation’s ideas and preferences. Consequently, those ideas shapes their preference to a strongheaded nuclear policy. The reason they have continued with pursuing these policies despite international pressures are motivated by their belief that what they are doing is rational.

Case Study: The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Test of 2006 and 2009 Rooted in its Juche ideology, the DPRK had decided to retreat from an economic reform in the mid-2000s32. Its confidence in economic reform had disappeared: consequently, the Kim regime decided to invest in a field it

possessed confidence in: military defense33. It attempted to explode a nuclear device, first in 2006, and then 2009, and succeeded – thus guaranteeing regime survival with nuclear deterrence34. The Kim regime did not perform these tests to exercise hard-on threats to the rest of the world. In fact, from a realist perspective, doing so would basically consist of suicide. As mentioned earlier, North Korea is quite aware that it is not merely as powerful as China, and not even as South Korea, its southern neighbour35. As a matter of fact, this assessment of its neighbour’s capabilities (and the painful recollection of its historical experiences) is the reason for its distrust and paranoia in the international system36. Furthermore, the DPRK needs to live with the idea that another Korea exists, a Korea that most international actors view as ‘better’37. Although this perception of ‘another Korea’ is beyond the domestic level, the consequences can be felt only at the domestic level, not at the systemic level. North Korea’s perspective on this ‘other Korea’ solely affects the North Korean regime; not any other nation state. Therefore, North Korea needs to arm itself with some form of weapon to protect its nation, should South Korea and its powerful allies decide to threaten or attack it. Nuclear armament, thus, is part of a realist calculation, in the sense that it takes into account the regime’s survival, yet its actions are not from a realist point of view. The DPRK, as it appears, wishes to maintain protection of its interests. Thus, launching a powerful missile, and by extent scaring its enemies (who are more powerful than she is), is not an advisable course of action – it would not be rational. This recalls the principle of rationality of the constructivist perspective. For the DPRK, the tests were rational, because they felt threatened, and wanted to prove they could rely on their own military defense to protect themselves, and not seek an umbrella. A domestic motive for nuclear testing is the Dear Leader’s tumultuous leadership – during his time in power, North Korea experienced famine, natural disasters and a failed economic reform policy38. Therefore, the Dear Leader needed to prove his worth to his people, and his successful development of high performance nuclear weapons, agents that could protect the beloved regime, was the

37


‘ultimate weapon’ to prove his legitimacy; not only to the North Korean civil society, but also to the surrounding elite39. Although one can admit the paranoia is a little excessive, historical experiences have created a North Korea that has been socialized in isolation, and will thus keep evolving in isolation until its ideology experiences significant change.

Conclusion To conclude, the North Korean regime is motivated by domestic factors: specifically, ideological system and the totalitarian regimetype. Both justify the existence of the Kim administration and their pursuit of nuclear armament. It is not merely composed of Kim Jong-Un and his associates sitting in a dark room, making realist assumptions about the world order, and how to further their influence with their dangerous nuclear weapons. Nor is it a republic of doom, where the population is consisted of brain-washed individuals who breathe, eat and dream of their leaders, past and present. It is a nation just like any other, albeit one with a few unique characteristics, since it is the only true example of a totalitarian regime that is completely isolated from the international system. Though several scholars emphasize external factors and realist calculations when it comes to the Kim regime, the important element that ties the state together is in its domestic composition, particularly the ideological system which is at the core of its being. From the domestic perspective of the North Korean regime, nuclear weapon armament is necessary for protection against threats from the international board. Whether the North Korean regime will live a several centuries, or will collapse before it the end of the century, not many scholars and observers can tell with absolute certainty. However, the one certainty the Kim regime does advance is its unpredictability in the eye of the international system.

38

Notes 1. Kyung Ae-Park and Scott Snyder, eds., North Korea in Transition (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013), vii. 2. Kyung-Ae- Park, ed., New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), ix. 3. Daniel Byman and Jennifer Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” International Security 35, no. 1 (2010): 44. 4. Victor Cha and David Kang, Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 32, 162-164, accessed November 18, 2015, ProQuest ebrary. 5. Jacques E.C. Hymans, “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A New Approach,” Journal of East Asian Studies 8, no. 2 (2008): 262, accessed November 16, 2015, http:// search.proquest.com/docview/198700031?account id=12339. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Hymans, “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions,” 262. 9. Byman and Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” 47. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Byman and Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” 71. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid., 72. 15. Park, “New Challenges,” 4. 16. Ibid., 5. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid., 6. 19. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 7. 20. Michael Robinson, Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey: A Short History (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007), Chapter 7, URL: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy3.library.mcgill.ca/lib/ mcgill/reader.action?docID=10386666#. 21. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 21. 22. Ibid., 22. 23. Ibid., 23. 24. Mark R. Brawley, Power, Money & Trade (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2005), 30; 34-35. 25. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 26. Ibid., 49. 27. Park, “New Challenges,” 5. 28. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 29. Park, “New Challenges,” 20. 30. Ibid.


31. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 32. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 12. 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid. 35. Park, “New Challenges,” 20. 36. Robinson, Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey, 120. 37. Ibid., 32. 38. Park, New Challenges,” 32. 39. Ibid.

Bibliography Brawley, Mark R. Power, Money and Trade. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2005. Byman, Daniel and Jennifer Lind. “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy.” International Strategy 35, no. 1 (2010): 44-74. Cha, Victor, and David Kang. Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Accessed November 18, 2015, ProQuest ebrary. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ mcgill/reader.action?docID=10183420# Hymans, Jacques E. C. “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A New Approach.” Journal of East Asian Studies 8, no. 2 (2008): 259-292. Accessed November 16, 2015, http://search.proquest.com/docview /198700031?accountid=12339. Park, Kyung-Ae and Scott Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013. Park, Kyung-Ae, ed. New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Robinson, Michael E. Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey: A Short History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007. URL: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy3.library.mcgill. ca/lib/mcgill/reader.action?docID=10386666#

39


NOSTALGIA MEETS NOVELTY Remembering and Reconstructing the Face of Chairman Mao NAN LI

W

ith the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the figure of the Communist Chairman Mao Zedong prevailed from the tumultuous revolutionary era as the revered Communist leader of the most populous nation in the world. Despite China’s isolationist foreign policy that remained antagonist to Western democratic conceptions of governance until the postMao period, Mao’s personality induced both fear and fascination in the Western capitalist subject. As the prototypical American artist of the 1960’s, Andy Warhol unleashed his exploration of the effects of mass media on fame and notoriety though his silkscreen images of the faces of familiar public figures in American popular culture including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. A milestone in Sino-American relations, President Nixon became the first American president to visit China and meet Mao in 1972 at the height of the tumultuous decade of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, sparking unprecedented interest and appetites for curiosity towards the East. Warhol turned his attention to the infamous Mao, as did other American and Chinese contemporary artists. Rather than evoking unquestioningly nostalgic reverence for deified political figures of the past, the proliferation of variations on the theme of images of totalitarian leaders presented as demasculinized, distorted and stripped from familiar contexts serve to subvert the historical status of their notoriety. The face of Mao Zedong is arguably the

40

most widely disseminated in the Asian visual lexicon. During his reign in the Chinese Communist Party from 1943-76, images of Mao inundated daily life in Chinese schoolbooks, currency and stamps across both public and private realms.1 At the height of their proliferation during the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960’s these images functioned to amass popular support for Mao’s radical reforms. The mass production of “Little Red Books” and big character posters of Mao’s word and his framed portraits hung in millions of homes, offices and factories alike. Badges bearing the face of Mao and stamped with Chinese characters conveying well wishes and longevity for the Chairman were likewise mass produced and worn by individual citizens to express their commitment to the continuous revolutionary struggle and patriotism to the nation.2 The figure of Mao in the form of his image and words became a floating signifier of this period, invested with a range of meanings: nostalgia for a simpler past, critique of the present political regime, a satire of political culture, an expression of fantasy and desire for Western consumer culture.3 Alongside the proclamation that established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chairman Mao’s portrait was printed in the infamous “Little Red Book” and held by each citizen, acting as a personal surveillance device to foster allegiance to the state. Similar to his treatment of other celebrities, Warhol marketed the Chairman in a way resembling that of a consumer product— endlessly varied yet clearly carved from the same mold. Com-


mencing in the early 1970s, Warhol produced hundreds of Mao images, working from his template of the leader’s official portrait inside the “Little Red Book”, which contained a propagandistic collection of Mao’s speeches and quotations from the Cultural Revolution. Warhol often worked on a grand scale, with some 1973 canvases looming at over 14 feet tall. Despite employing a heroic scale that evokes the totalitarian leader’s preponderance and personality cult, the most striking twist in Warhol’s “Untitled” portrait from his 1972 Mao series features a demasculinized subject, made to resemble a female Hollywood actress donning heavily pigmented eyes and rouged lips (Fig. 1). The painstaking efforts to create a highly effeminate rendition of Mao serves to elicit glamour and spectacle that liken capitalist advertising to communist propaganda rather than nostalgia for the Chairman’s political legacy in establishing the communist nation. Mao’s face is rendered in monochrome, starkly contrasting with his makeup and kitschy bright yellow attire in the style of his sober gray suit, which eventually became the standard attire of the proletariat (Fig.1). Re-contextualized in an irreverent, ironic guise lacking devotional undertones, Warhol’s repetition of Mao’s image reiterates his ubiquitous presence as one of the most renowned twentieth century figures whose notoriety bled across national confines. As Mao’s image increasingly inundated commercial culture, it also permeated Chinese avant-garde and experimental art. Post-Cultural Revolution artists associated with Cynical Realism or Political Pop movements in China flocked to reiterate and deconstruct Mao’s iconic image.4 These artistic appropriations of Mao were most often satirical in nature, intended as critiques of Maoist ideology and unfaltering ideological commitment required of each worthy citizen in the Communist regime. Cynical Realists utilized their formal training to create realistic images to mock the Party’s authority. Political Pop artists employed “double kitsch”— which deconstructed political culture and fused its imagery with various sources, often commercial, to elicit similar parallels between advertising and political propaganda as explored by Warhol. According to

Jerome Sibergeld, Political Pop refers to works of art that appropriate visual elements alluding to Cultural Revolution propaganda and refashioned in Western Pop Art style, marking “a long romance between Chinese and Western icons” exemplified in the works of artists Zhang Hongtu and Yu Youhan.5 Provocative shows like the 1989 China Avant-Garde Exhibition in Beijing featured works deconstructing the late Mao Zedong’s image, caused a stirring that precipitated the dawning of the Political Pop era. The movement writhed within the larger political environment of discontent amidst the 1989 student protests and its subsequent abrupt ending by violent police crackdowns.6 This Chinese art movement began as a critique of the creeping forces of consumerism as the Chinese nation increasingly commercialized. Artistic transformations of Mao from a political symbol to commercial icon in paintings sold for millions on the international art market. Rather than asserting his omnipresence in the intimate realms of daily life, Mao as depicted in this new kind of popular image echoed Andy Warhol’s 1970’s Mao portraits which stripped the iconic leader of his political prowess and reconstructed him, instead, in the parlance of capitalist advertising. Not unlike Warhol’s sanitized works featuring depictions of Brillo soapboxes and Campbell’s soup cans outside of the context of consumer products, Chinese artists disillusioned with the Cultural Revolution détourned the conception of art as a propaganda tool. The underlying understanding of the function of the artist in the People’s Republic was to serve solely the interests of the state bureaucracy and Party rather than exercising creative agency as individuals in their own right. The success of Chinese artists abroad sheds light on the fact that the Communist Party had never fully ceased to monitor artists by continuing to shut down exhibitions like the China Avant-Garde Exhibition of 1989 and censoring dissident voices in the art world.7 In an attempt to subvert the stifling condition of art production, the father of Chinese Political Pop, Zhang Hongtu, produced Chairmen Mao (1989), 12-unit photo collage series featuring a chain of deconstructions of Mao’s image in which his face is rendered upside

41


down, blurred, distorted, erased and conflated with various other imagery, many of which allude to the contemporaneous student movement. Beneath the surface humour, resembling strips of political cartoon and satirical portrayals of the Maoist political era, lies a primary and persistent interest in the present and how it is informed and molded by the past. Zhang Hongtu is invested in revealing through this work his highly intimate and affective symbolic relationship to Mao in a manner that does not undermine his criticality of the art bureaucracy. As previously discussed, this personal attachment was forged during the tumultuous years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution when political ideology necessitated the conflation of party loyalty and personal devotion to be contained in the image of the quasi-deity of Chairman Mao. The caption of the fourth portrait of the series reads: “The masses are the real heroes, while we ourselves are often childish and ignorant” in both English and Chinese characters, seeking to reveal the intimate network of ties among national culture, collective memory, personal histories along with the difficulty of effacing those histories from a subject’s identity despite the disintegration of the political regime (Fig. 2). His works conflate personal history with political icon in a manner at odds with Warhol’s attempts at deliberate detachment to achieve complete separation of the artist and his output.8 Unlike Warhol’s conception of Mao as a notorious twentieth century international icon, Zhang staunchly refuses to accept the detachment that estranges the Chinese who continue to be personally affected by his political legacy. Mao’s ubiquitous portraits fostered an illusionary intimacy between the Chairman and his subject when, as Zhang reveals in his work, it was in reality only Mao’s static image to which each subject was enforced closeness. The different historical and social contexts from which these two bodies of work arise and the varying degrees of either artist’s political participation thus define the relationship of the political subject to the artist. Whereas Warhol attempted to achieve a sanitized canvas deprived of emotion, Zhang Hongtu and fellow Chinese contemporary artists of his milieu have attested to enduring affective

42

relationships and emotional dimensions informing their images of Mao Zedong. Rather than seeing Mao as a mass icon or recast as a celebrity like Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley, their canvases reflect the rapidly changing modern Chinese nation and illuminates a figure whose influence to reverberate for Chinese émigré artists and immigrants in the United States and other Western democracies. The Cultural Revolution was a radical reform program that demanded continuous outward expressions of individual loyalty to the state manifested in prominent displays of Mao’s portrait, wearing his badge and uttering of his words by heart. There existed an assumed relationship between public signs and one’s inner feelings. While Political Pop and Cynical Realism mainly satirized a largely faded Communist state of the past, the insistence of Mao’s presence in direct confrontation with the viewer is imminent. Therefore, Chinese artists reconcile the political history of their nation and their relationship with its paramount leader through the practice of isolating and demystifying a sacred political symbol to undermine its power and release the informed beholder from its psychological authority. When called upon to recall the initial impetus that propelled his subsequent oeuvre, Zhang Hongtu reminisced: “when I first cut up a photo of Mao’s face to make a collage, I felt as if I were sinning…for me, working on Mao became a form of exorcism”9 The inextricable emotional force that bound the artist to the subject that he was disfiguring nevertheless resonates as a beacon that adamantly refuses to be distinguished. Zhang claims that “for my generation during the Cultural Revolution, [Mao] was like a god” and when compared to Andy Warhol’s prints of Mao, he responded, “Warhol just took the image of Mao as another mass icon, like Marilyn Monroe. But for Chinese artists, Mao is a political figure…still controversial today. Any use of Mao’s image that makes him less god-like is a form of criticism. And it’s necessary.”10 Whereas Warhol lacked personal affiliation to Mao as a national leader who endowed a significant portion of his personal identity as a Chinese Communist subject, Zhang uses Mao’s image for expression or deflection rather than indoctrination. This


signals the push for greater, albeit still limited, freedom of contemporary artists to engage in artistic practices free from the grip of the state and increase their accessibility to the subjects whose lives have been shaped by them. Warhol’s lack of an affective, nostalgic relationship with Mao enables the replication of his image with detachment and treatment like any other commodity being advertised incessantly to an American subject. Critic Norman Bryson claims that contemporary Chinese artists work at a time when artistic practices previously dissident or counter-revolutionary are harnessed by the state as means to achieve nationalist ends, therefore rendering it difficult to distinguish between avant-garde and state driven practices. Bryson purports that “the basis of cultural reproduction lies in the subject’s own capacity for compulsive repetition and systembuilding, the significance of aesthetic practices is that it permits those capacities to be deflected or redirected towards the subject’s own ends.”11 Contrary to fusing emotionally laden Chinese nationalistic sentiments with Western ideas, Warhol appropriates Mao’s image and re-contextualizes it as a capitalist spectacle that negates the honour and glory of his posthumous cult. The repetition of Mao’s image reinforces his omnipresence both in a historical sense and in the lingering influence he continues to wield. Farcical reiterations of Mao bombard the viewer in a manner that refuses the authority inherent in official representations, yet calls for the precise awareness of Mao’s continuing role in constructing possibilities for the domestic political future of China and its increasing international influence as a rising challenger to American hegemony. Repetition serves a crucial function as a device that was effectively used as a mode of indoctrination during the Cultural Revolution, and was adopted by both Warhol and Zhang in their series of Mao portraits. Zhang’s 1989 Chairmen Mao collection in its seemingly endless repetition of images mirrors a compulsive replication process not unlike Warhol’s series. Both artists employ replication as a distinctive characteristic to the approach in their portrayals of Mao, inducing a sense of theatricality in the spectacle of a commodified Mao that diminishes

his authority to merely a shallow guise than a menacing force that demands obedience. Warhol was drawn to replicating the faces of many other renowned American cultural figures with personal histories of tragedy in series like a traumatized subject, in Freudian terms, to diminish the disturbing elements of their tragedy with each iteration. With detachment, Warhol sanitizes his boldly colourful, advertising poster-resembling canvases to replace visceral reactions to the cult of Mao with apathetic, cool indifference. Meanwhile, the incessant flatness and cartoon qualities in each recurrence of the Chairman by Zhang, rather than undercutting his critical message of promulgating the détournement of Maoist propaganda, serves instead to acknowledge the poignant underlying emotional impact of his influence. This emotional impact continues to manifest in the lives of subsequent generations of Chinese diaspora and colours the lens through which overseas Chinese view and come to terms with Western ideas as compatible or antagonistic to their personal identities and histories. In official portrayals, Mao’s political potency was shown through his physical potency. Later propagandist portraits of a gracefully aging Mao show glowing and ruddy complexion of health and vigour. However, these details are exaggerated and distorted by various artists in a demasculinizing context in American artist Jim Dine’s Drag— Johnson and Mao, Andy Warhol’s Mao sporting luscious bright fuchsia lips and Zhang Hongtu’s Chairmen Mao with flushed cheeks wearing his hair in kitschy pigtails or with lipstick smeared haphazardously across his face. President of the United States Lyndon Johnson and Chairman Mao of China were the two most powerful political leaders during the late 1960s. In “Drag,” Jim Dine appropriated newspaper photographs of the two men, enlarged their scale in reproduction and separately photo-etched their heads in an ironic composition of the portrait of the heads of state (Fig. 3). Dine recreates effeminate, flamboyant portrayals of Johnson and Mao in drag with faces heavily masked in cosmetics yet failing to ‘airbrush’ their imperfections— deep lines creasing their foreheads, thinning hair, drooping bags under their eyes, and their lethargic and vacant gazes. This appearance

43


runs at odds with meticulously crafted appearances of the national leaders at press conferences or televised public addresses that evoke vigilance and confidence in articulating and safeguarding national interests in face of the menace of opposing ideologies. Floating unattached to body in a decapitated manner, the two heads appear in a liminal stage between a portrait and bust, both modes that traditionally performing commemorative functions to elevate the deceased to a beacon of veneration and quasi-deity. Rather, the familiar faces have been decapitated from political icon status and drift listlessly in a decontextualized stark white background. Enemies at the height of the Vietnam War, the two men appear equally sheepish and impart the impression of helpless victims rather than national idols worthy of rallying praise. Rather than evoking a site of reverence, the heads loom as a shrine of theatricality. Their drastically larger than life-size scale engulfing the body of the viewer is what critic Michael Fried would term as having a “presence” that induces unsettling discomfort by intruding into the space of the beholder.12 The recurring motif of feminizing prominent and controversial political figures is problematic in nature as the portrayal of a highly feminized sitter, given the political context that inform them, intends the viewer to perceive the stereotypically female attributes as negative qualities. Conveying femininity through heavy makeup, an artificial “beauty” at odds with proletarian ideals reinforces male dominated politics and demarcates a gendered realm in which women have no place other than to serve as a foil to critique undesirable qualities of political leaders. Derogatory female portrayals are, thus, used in a way to provoke political discussion and popular activism while ironically producing the unintended consequence of perpetuating gender bias in meaningful participation that disenfranchises women from both art and political realms. By resurrecting historical figures in a manner severed from the past, both American and Chinese contemporary artists reconstruct iconic figures from the intersecting domains of politics, history and memory extracted from their contextual setting. Of great importance to Chinese diaspora in the United States and

44

elsewhere around the globe, the figure of Chairman Mao resonates a trans-historical character— appearing as the present, informing future trajectory while quoting the past. The manner in which this past is reconstructed extends the debate into sartorial and gendered structures to demonstrate the continuing importance of Mao’s legacy for Chinese diaspora in the United States and around the globe. Americans artists working in the Pop Art tradition including Andy Warhol and Jim Dine propagate Mao through a detached means to reinforce the dichotomy of the communist Eastern nation and capitalist West, while visually showing the similarities of communist propaganda imagery to capitalist advertisement. Fusing Sino-centric iconography with Western images, politically active Chinese artists ideologically inculcated during the decade of Cultural Revolution recreate the Chairman in flamboyant guises and visually stimulating colours to subvert Maoist doctrine dictating art of the purpose of political instrument and for pleasure of the masses. While the posthumous Mao no longer plays a role in the world of consumerism and materialism that he publicly denounced with fervor, works by Chinese Political Pop artists neither reminisce nor salute the Cultural Revolution but rather insist on an awareness of the present moment as illuminating the coalescence of art and political trajectories of the future, while espousing informed critique through acknowledgement of the irrefutably influential past.


Notes 1. Kyung Ae-Park and Scott Snyder, eds., North Korea in Transition (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013), vii. 2. Kyung-Ae- Park, ed., New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), ix. 3. Daniel Byman and Jennifer Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” International Security 35, no. 1 (2010): 44. 4. Victor Cha and David Kang, Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 32, 162-164, accessed November 18, 2015, ProQuest ebrary. 5. Jacques E.C. Hymans, “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A New Approach,” Journal of East Asian Studies 8, no. 2 (2008): 262, accessed November 16, 2015, http:// search.proquest.com/docview/198700031?account id=12339. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Hymans, “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions,” 262. 9. Byman and Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” 47. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Byman and Lind, “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy,” 71. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid., 72. 15. Park, “New Challenges,” 4. 16. Ibid., 5. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid., 6. 19. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 7. 20. Michael Robinson, Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey: A Short History (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007), Chapter 7, URL: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy3.library.mcgill.ca/lib/ mcgill/reader.action?docID=10386666#. 21. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 21. 22. Ibid., 22. 23. Ibid., 23. 24. Mark R. Brawley, Power, Money & Trade (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2005), 30; 34-35. 25. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 26. Ibid., 49. 27. Park, “New Challenges,” 5. 28. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 29. Park, “New Challenges,” 20. 30. Ibid.

31. Brawley, Power, Money and Trade, 50. 32. Park and Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition, 12. 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid. 35. Park, “New Challenges,” 20. 36. Robinson, Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey, 120. 37. Ibid., 32. 38. Park, New Challenges,” 32. 39. Ibid.

Bibliography Brawley, Mark R. Power, Money and Trade. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2005. Byman, Daniel and Jennifer Lind. “Pyongyang’s Survival Strategy.” International Strategy 35, no. 1 (2010): 44-74. Cha, Victor, and David Kang. Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Accessed November 18, 2015, ProQuest ebrary. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ mcgill/reader.action?docID=10183420# Hymans, Jacques E. C. “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A New Approach.” Journal of East Asian Studies 8, no. 2 (2008): 259-292. Accessed November 16, 2015, http://search.proquest.com/docview /198700031?accountid=12339. Park, Kyung-Ae and Scott Snyder, eds. North Korea in Transition. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013. Park, Kyung-Ae, ed. New Challenges of North Korean Foreign Policy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Robinson, Michael E. Korea’s Twentieth Century Odyssey: A Short History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007. URL: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy3.library.mcgill. ca/lib/mcgill/reader.action?docID=10386666#

45


Appendix

Figure 1. Andy Warhol, “Untitled� from Mao series of 10 screen prints on paper. 36 x 36 inches each, 1972.

Figure 2. Zhang Hongtu, fourth unit from Chairmen Mao Series, 12 units, photo collage and acrylic on paper, 81/2 x 11 cm each, 1989.

46


Figure 3. Jim Dine, Drag— Johnson and Mao, photo-etching with stencil colour, 866 mm (height), 1967.

47


Obihiro Station

PHOTO ESSAY: THESE TIMES RYU. M This selection of photographs was produced between 2014-2015 in Sapporo and Obihiro, two cities in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, Japan. I set out to create a quiet portrait of Japan as a nation caught in a state of in-between, longing nostalgically for the past and wary of the future. The photographs reflect the mishmash of Eastern and Western influences that inform the regional culture in Hokkaido. I wanted to express a shared sense of loneliness, uncertainty, and yearning for connection in both Sapporo, a massive capital and former Olympics host city, and Obihiro, its agricultural neighbour with a fraction of Sapporo’s population. The grid-like city block layout of Sapporo closely resembles typical American urban geography, a result of collaboration with the American government in developing the land

48

in the late 19th century. Within this blended cultural milieu are the people, living in cities overflowing with unique subcultures, and locked into a nation gripped by anxiety about its economy and international political status. From the densely populated Sapporo to the quiet New Year’s Eve in Obihiro, this theme of stirring uncertainty is something I wished to explore. I aimed to emulate the colour palette of pastel paintings or pictures we used to draw as kids with pencil crayons; a soft, naive, and tender tone on the surface that covers the grimmer themes lying underneath. Although this is not a political essay, I’ve left evidence in these photos of what I feel reflect the tensions and changes - whether good or bad - that are happening in Japan.


Susukino, Sapporo

49


Odori Park, Sapporo

50


Mount Moiwa, Sapporo

51


Susukino, New Year’s Eve

52


Susukino Station, New Year’s Morning

53


Electronics Store, Obihiro

54


Obihiro

55


Obihiro, New Year’s Eve

56


+++

57


UNDERSTANDING OUR SINS The Convergence of Genre, Intertextuality and Media Discourses in Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin KAELAN DOYLE MYERSCOUGH

F

rom his debut film Xiao Wu to his most recent work A Touch of Sin, Jia Zhangke continues to make an indelible impact on Chinese and world cinema. A member of the sixth or “urban” generation of filmmakers, Jia’s work is known for its quiet, minimalistic style (Platform), its unique and sometimes surreal imagery (The World), and its depiction of working-class, small-city life in China, including the lives of migrant workers (24 City). His most recent film, A Touch of Sin, follows four stories of working-class and migrant labourers in four very different Chinese provinces Each protagonist is affected by societal and systemic violence and each responds by committing a desperate, violent act. The film is notable in the context of Jia’s filmography for its brutal depictions of violence: several characters are shot, stabbed and beaten onscreen, and the camera does not shy away from showing their wounds. The stories are based on true and highly publicized events, all of which took place between the years of 2000 and 2011. In an interview for the Melbourne International Film Festival, Jia talked about the process of adapting these events into a film, saying, “I collected the stories people told on [the social networking site Weibo] as raw material that I wanted to use to make a film.”1 It is notable that he chose not to adapt events, but their interpretation on social networks and media. He went on to say that he had trouble finding how to frame the stories, and finally decided on the wuxia genre. A Touch of Sin is thus a unique example of genre as a tool for intermedial dialogue and adaptation; this is compounded by its formal

58

elements and heavily referential style, in which Jia employs several intertextual references. What is the significance of using genre and intertextuality to frame narratives created in social media? Given the film’s reference to contemporary Chinese media, wuxia films, and even classical art forms such as Chinese opera, how does Jia understand temporality in A Touch of Sin? Given that the film came out in 2013 and depicted events that took place between 2000 and 2010, how can we situate this temporality in the context of the depiction and adaptation of contemporary events and the surrounding media discourses? In this essay, I employ a close reading of A Touch of Sin towards an understanding of the film’s use of genre conventions and intertextuality in the context of its adaptation of the highly publicized events it depicts. I begin by situating A Touch of Sin within the context of the wuxia genre, noting where it upholds wuxia conventions and where it subverts them. Then I investigate the many intertextual references used in the film, considering these references as temporal anchors to connect the film both to a concrete moment in time and to a cyclical and repetitive understanding of time. Finally, I mobilize my arguments about the use of genre and intertextuality in the film towards a symptomatic reading of A Touch of Sin, investigating the consequences of adapting current events and media discourses. The wuxia genre has been central to the development of Chinese cinema almost since its inception; however, it did not come to the serious attention of film critics and academics


until recently.2 In his book Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition, Stephen Teo assesses the conventions and history of the genre. He defines xia, or knights-errant, as usually lower-class people who wander the world doing acts of good, following a code of ethics centered around righteousness and chivalry.3 He also identifies historicism as central to wuxia conceptions of society, which often results in nationalistic or essentialist cultural representations of China.4 Finally, he identifies revenge as another core element of wuxia narratives.5 There are several similarities between these elements of wuxia and A Touch of Sin. Firstly, the theme of wandering is important in the film which reimagines this notion in contemporary times as migrant labour. Over the course of the film, all four protagonists engage in some kind of migration for the purposes of finding work. Most prominently, Xiao Hui travels across the country searching for work and avoiding situations he finds uncomfortable or difficult. Jia sees the migrant labourer as a contemporary version of the wandering xia; this allows him to deploy the theme of migration and movement as a backdrop through which he explores the wuxia genre’s other conventions in the contemporary Chinese landscape. Another clear similarity to traditional wuxia narratives is the theme of retribution. In the film’s first segment, the local laborer Dahai becomes frustrated with his childhood acquaintance who owns the mine where everyone in his hometown works for dismantling workers’ rights and lowering their quality of life. He attempts to send a letter of complaint to the authorities in Beijing, but he is publicly ridiculed and beaten by the henchmen of his acquaintance. He then goes on a killing spree, vanquishing several people who made fun of him when he was beaten, the local chief who was complicit with the workplace abuses occurring at the mine, and finally the mine owner. This segment is the most obvious of the four in its use of vengeance as a theme. It also engages with the notion of righteousness; Dahai believes he is committing an act of justice for the good of the whole town. The third segment also invokes vengeance: Xiao Yu stabs and kills the man who slapped her repeatedly

with a wad of money and attempted to sexually assault her. Here, it is pertinent to consider the way the violent scenes in A Touch of Sin both engage with and subvert wuxia conventions. As Teo discusses, wuxia films tend towards acrobatic and stylized violence. Teo cites another author, Aaron Anderson, who considers “a ‘kinesthetic understanding’ of martial arts, formulating a thesis on “violence as dance.”6 Wuxia characters frequently fly through the air in leaps and bounds, defying gravity in their movements and fights. The notion of vertical movement is pertinent here, not only to wuxia genre conventions but also to the visualization of power relations. Kristen Whissel states in her article Tales of Upward Mobility that “verticality’s link to gravity and the laws of space and time makes it an ideal aesthetic for dramatizing the individual’s relationship to powerful historical forces.”7 In A Touch of Sin, no such fantastical battles occur. Instead, the violence tends towards a far more brutal and realistic style. For example, at the end of the fourth segment, the migrant laborer Xiao Hui kills himself. The sequence of shots begins with Xiao Hui in his dormitory with a crowbar in hand. He drops the crowbar, runs out the open door of the dormitory, and jumps off the balcony. The camera follows his fall in a long tracking shot, moving downwards with him until his body hits the ground, at which point the camera abruptly stops. This is accentuated by a loud thumping noise. This is the only true vertical movement in the film: rather than depicting the defiance of gravity - and thus, according to Whissel, the defiance of social and political forces of oppression - it displays absolute submission to it. Here, the film reaffirms the brutality of forces of oppression in the contemporary Chinese context by defying wuxia genre conventions. This moment also exemplifies the way the film emphasizes the weight and movement of dead or dying bodies. During the first segment, when Dahai begins his killing spree with the accountant and his wife, he shoots the wife in the chest. The camera lingers on her as she falls onto her back and rolls backwards. In the second segment, when the robber and murderer Zhou San shoots a stranger in the middle of

59


a busy street, the camera focuses on the stranger’s body as she falls onto the ground. The victims’ deaths are instantaneous; there are very few shots of characters reacting to the presence of a weapon and, unlike many wuxia films, the characters go instantly limp instead of reacting to their wounds as they die. When the corpses fall and tumble to the ground in these awkward ways, they defy conventional motions in ways the living bodies in A Touch of Sin never do. In classic wuxia films, living bodies defy conventional or realistic motion, while dying bodies are slow and motionless; conversely, in A Touch of Sin, only corpses are allowed to defy motion. Considering Whissel’s notion of motion in wuxia as intricately related to “the individual’s relationship to powerful historical forces,” death in A Touch of Sin becomes a space of resistance. Camera movement is also relevant to consider. In every segment, the camera is very fluid and moves to capture the movements of the protagonists and the violent acts they commit. For example, towards the beginning of the film, Zhou San is riding on a motorcycle when he is stopped by three roadside bandits with axes. The camera is positioned behind his shoulder as he encounters the leader of the bandits, then pans and turns to face him as he takes a gun out from inside his jacket. As he shoots the gun, the camera cuts to the bandit being shot in the head with the gun in the foreground; it then follows the gun as he points at the second bandit, and when he takes a second shot, the camera cuts again to the bandit being killed. The camera then pans upwards to the third bandit who starts to run. This initiates back and forth camera movement between Zhou San and the bandit, as one runs and the other follows him on his motorcycle, then shoots. This cuts to a shot of the third bandit being shot and tumbling to the ground. Here, the tracking shots and pans are notable: in nearly every shot, the camera is in motion, and it is especially fluid during these violent scenes. In each segment, the camera tracks backwards in front of protagonists as they walk down hallways, giving a sense that the camera is floating. This fluidity echoes contemporary wuxia films such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers, in which the camera follows the pro-

60

tagonists as they fly through the air. The moment in which wuxia genre conventions are most clearly employed occurs in the third segment, when Xiao Yu defends herself from a man who tries to sexually assault her. He slaps her several times with a wad of money and, as his physical violence escalates, Xiao Yu seems to snap. We see a close-up of the knife and hear a loud metallic sound that resembles the classic wuxia sound of a sword being unsheathed. As Xiao Yu slices the man’s chest and stabs him, her movements become rigid and posed, evoking the acrobatic, stylized fights of classical wuxia. She maintains this physicality for the rest of the segment. This scene is unique in the film for its stylized depiction, but remains similar to the other scenes: it ends with a minimalist soundtrack with buzzing and humming sounds in place of an orchestra. The rest of the film is mostly devoid of non-diegetic music and, given the eerie composition of the songs, the music here disorients the viewer. These elements combine to create an atmosphere that is simultaneously brutally realistically violent and surreal. The sense of acrobatic, airborne violence from wuxia is transposed into Jia’s contemporary, minimalist, realist style through the movements of cameras and corpses, creating an uncanny filmic space in which the viewer experiences the same sense of disorientation as the characters. The backdrop of migration and wandering augments this sense of disorientation, as the camera generates a sense of floating through space. Thus, wuxia genre conventions of violence and movement through space are employed in the depiction of violence as disorienting and uncanny; this mirrors the sense of disorientation felt by the protagonists as they commit violence. Here, the audience is made to feel empathy for the violent acts committed by the protagonists; wuxia genre conventions are mobilized towards this end. It is pertinent to understand the way A Touch of Sin utilizes intertextual references to ground itself temporally and socially within contemporary and historical conditions in China. Jia references a plethora of historical and contemporary media from classical opera to Hong Kong action films to contempo-


rary news. The English title itself references A Touch of Zen, a 1971 wuxia classic that follows a female xia through a transcendent journey. Here, Jia nods to the historicity of the wuxia genre that underpins the film, while drawing a parallel between Xiao Yu and the female knight-errant depicted in A Touch of Zen. In many scenes during A Touch of Sin, characters watch films, television shows or stage productions and react to them. In the first segment, as Dahai returns to his home to collect his shotgun and begin his killing spree, he walks by a performance of the classical Chinese opera Wild Boar Forest, in which a man exacts violent revenge after being framed and persecuted by a corrupt official and his lascivious son; the opera closely reflects Dahai’s situation. In the second segment, Zhou San rides on an overnight bus with other migrant workers, who passively watch what appears to be a Hong Kong action film from the 1980s. As the third segment begins, Xiao Yu meets her lover, a married man, at a train station, and watches as he boards a bullet train; later, she sees the news coverage with her mother of the Wenzhou bullet train incident, a widely-covered accident that occurred in 2011 when two trains collided with each other at high speed. When the film ends, Xiao Yu travels to work at Dahai’s hometown and sees a production of the Chinese opera Yu Tang Chun, a story about a woman who has been framed and treated unfairly by the court; Xiao Yu is so moved by the woman’s plight and its similarity to her own that she bursts into tears. These intertextual references ground A Touch of Sin in historical and temporal contexts, some of which, such as the Wenzhou train incident, place the film in a presentoriented temporality similar to news media by depicting characters reacting to contemporary events as they unfold. Other references situate the film in a canon of Chinese literature and history - for example, the Chinese operas clearly reflect the stories of the present-day characters. Here, the film suggests a cyclical temporality in which narratives and events repeat themselves, traversing socio-cultural conditions. This trans-temporality should not be mistaken for historicism. Teo situates time

in the wuxia genre, but also posits about the significance of wuxia historicism: “The historiography of wuxia perpetuates the notion of history in the making, or history denominating action. The xia or knight-errant acts as an agent of history, conscious of his or her role in shaping events and the destiny of the nation, for example, by assassinating a tyrant.”8 The protagonists of A Touch of Sin are not conscious of their roles in the course of history - they never talk about their actions in a historical context, and indeed, their violent acts are portrayed as immediate and desperate. Furthermore, the consequences of their actions in their communities are never addressed, aside from a short scene at the end when Xiao Yu is interviewed for a job by the widow of the mine owner killed by Dahai. Historicism is further complicated by how events in the film are placed in contemporary times. The historical consequences of events depicted are not yet fully known - the characters’ roles as agents of history are largely ambiguous. Teo notes a connection between historicism and orientalism, especially in contemporary wuxia films that cater to both western and Chinese audiences. He writes: Orientalism and historicism are interlinked, following Said who declares that ‘one of the legacies of orientalism, and indeed one of its epistemological foundations is historicism’. […] Arif Dirlik has clarified the linkage between historicism and orientalism as a process of selforientalism and the epistemology that emerges from this is ‘a representation of essentialized culturalist characteristics’: through the methodology of self-orientalism, the ‘essentialized culturalist characteristics’ substitute time and history as lived experience with a mythic, dehistoricised conception of history.”9 A Touch of Sin engages with the refutation of a “mythic, dehistoricised conception of

61


history” and “essentialized culturalist characteristics”. It deconstructs these notions by portraying different areas of China and focusing on diverse lived experiences, not as distillations of some essential conception of Chinese-ness, but as individual reactions to violent systems of oppression. The film portrays a moment of self-reflexive self-orientalism when Xiao Hui works at a high-class brothel for rich foreign businessmen. Young women in scantily clad communist party uniforms and bikinis and hairpieces that mimic ancient Chinese clothing march out to greet businessmen in suits, while waiters in tuxedos welcome them in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. This selforientalism is portrayed as an act of systemic violence inflicted upon Xiao Hui and contributes to his suicide. The film here acknowledges the historicism and self-orientalism inherent in the wuxia genre, but moves beyond simple depiction. Rather, it suggests it as a source of oppression and violence against which Xiao Hui reacts. A Touch of Sin thus seeks not to make a historicist, moralistic judgment on the events it portrays; instead, by depicting events as both temporally current and recurrent, the film attempts to understand the feelings and motivations of the people depicted, situating motivations in the context of historical and contemporary oppression in China. Here it is pertinent to consider why Jia insisted on adapting not current events themselves, but social media representations and retellings of those events. The four key events in A Touch of Sin triggered prominent viral threads in social media. Hu Wenhai, on whom Dahai is based, killed the family and friends of the mine owner of his village who embezzled money;10 he was widely viewed on social media as a vigilante. Deng Yujiao, the inspiration for Xiao Yu, was regarded on websites such as Weibo as a national icon or hero.11 In both cases, the state-run news coverage of the incidents was insufficient and heavily censored. The censorship of dissenting voices in the state media here can be regarded as an attempt to manufacture a single Chinese voice. This is comparable to the “essentialized culturalist characteristics” manufactured in contemporary wuxia films. Indeed, Teo quotes Arif Dirlik, who asserts that nationalism is similar

62

to “the culturalist procedures of orientalism, now at the scale of the nation.”12 This process of censorship for nationalistic purposes blocks an understanding of “time and history as lived experience.”13 A Touch of Sin’s recreation of current events in film resists this nationalist agenda, and by extension essentialist cultural characteristics, by recontextualizing violent events portrayed negatively in state media as lived experiences. The film locates in genre and art a continuity of emotion through historical periods and social milieus, suggesting that lived experiences are not fully contingent on time and historical conditions. Rather, similar stories, injustices and conflicts are repeated throughout history, suggesting that far from the wuxia convention of the xia as agent of history, the protagonists are formed by historical conditions. We see this continuity most clearly when characters react to media -for example, when Xiao Yu watches Yu Tang Chun and it brings her to tears. According to Jia, this understanding across time and space through media and genre carries with it the potential for social change. By adapting and recreating the stories on Weibo about Chinese current events, Jia legitimizes these voices and suggests that the people he depicts have already acted on history, by virtue of the fact that a film has been made about their experiences. When Deng Yujiao was arrested and charged with murder, social media participants in China rallied around her and held her up as a national hero.14 One slogan used in protests and printed on T-shirts was written as “巴东玉娇龙,华夏女英雄”, or “Badong Yu Jiao-long, Huaxia heroine,”15 comparing Deng Yujiao to Yu Jiao-long, the heroine from the 2000 wuxia film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Jia is not alone in his adaptation of Deng Yujiao’s story as a wuxia narrative. Protesters and social media activists also understand the power of genre and transmedial dialogue to reframe and reimagine current events. By reframing Deng Yujiao’s act of violence in terms of the wuxia genre, both A Touch of Sin and the protesters’ social media narratives reframe the nationalist and essentialist cultural aspects of wuxia as tools of resistance against systems


of state oppression and censorship. Here, the wuxia genre serves as a tool to bring highly publicized media events into a powerful discursive space of emotion, lived experience and artistic expression. In this trans-historical space, systemic violence and oppression can be experienced and understood, and new forms of resistance can emerge.

Notes 1. Jia, Zhangke, and Zhao Tao. Interview by Chris Luscri. 4 Aug. 2013. Video footage of the interview can be found at https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=N3rMTZ6LHkY. 2. Teo, Stephen. Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. N.p.: Edinburgh U P, 2009. 3. Ibid p.18 4. Ibid p.185 5. Ibid p.7 6. Ibid p.97 7. Whissel, Kristen. “Tales of Upward Mobility.” Film Quarterly 59.4 (2006): 23-34. 8. Teo, Stephen. Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. N.p.: Edinburgh U P, 2009. 9. Ibid p.185 10. Zhao, Litao, and Yanjie Huang. “School Killings and the Rise of Violent Crimes in China.” EAI Background Briefs 535 (2010): n. pag. This article is one in a series 11. Wines, Michael. “Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online.” New York Times [New York City] 16 June 2009: n. pag. 12. Teo, Stephen. Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. N.p.: Edinburgh U P, 2009. 13. Ibid. 14. Wines, Michael. “Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online.” New York Times [New York City] 16 June 2009: n. pag. 15. “网友以各种方式声援邓玉娇.” Renminbao 2009, 180th ed.: n. pag. This newspaper article in Chinese is one of many that notes the Tshirts depicting Deng Yujiao sold across China during protests in her support. The article can be found at http://www.renminbao.info/180/9180g.htm.

Bibliography Jia, Zhangke, and Zhao Tao. Interview by Chris Luscri. 4 Aug. 2013. Video footage. https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3rMTZ6LHkY. Teo, Stephen. Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. N.p.: Edinburgh U P, 2009. Wines, Michael. “Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online.” New York Times [New York City] 16 June 2009. Whissel, Kristen. “Tales of Upward Mobility.” Film Quarterly 59.4 (2006). Zhao, Litao, and Yanjie Huang. “School Killings and the Rise of Violent Crimes in China.” EAI Background Briefs 535 (2010). “网友以各种方式声援邓玉娇.” Renminbao 2009, 180th ed. http://www.renminbao.

63


+++

64


A STUDY OF XIN QIJI’S SONG LYRICS CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS DANNI CAI

Nothing is more difficult than composing a song lyric celebrating a birthday. If it talks no more than riches and honors, it appears to be vulgar; if it talks no more than merits and fame, it appears to be flattering; if it talks no more than the immortals, it appears to be broad and unrealistic. It should contain all these three themes, avoiding those vulgar and unfavorable dictions as well as offering birthday congratulations. Using the allusions of pine tree, chun tree, turtle, or crane in song lyrics, if unavoidable, must transcend their literal meanings and create novel ones. 難莫難於壽詞,倘盡言富貴則塵俗,盡言功名則諛佞,盡言 神仙則迂闊虛誕.當總此三者而為之,無俗忌之辭,不失其 壽可也.松椿龜鶴,有所不免,卻要融化字面,語意新奇. Ci yuan 詞源 by Zhang Yan 張炎1

T

he song lyrics celebrating birthdays (shouci 壽詞) is a subgenre of ci poems that flourished dur ing the Song dynasty (960-1279).2 Shouci was so remarkable that it attracted the attention of Zhang Yan (12481320), a poet and literary critic. He mentions shouci in his landmark work Ci yuan. There are approximately 2554 titles in the Complete Collection of Ci Poetry in the Song (Quan Song ci 全宋詞) that are considered song lyrics celebrating birthdays, the majority of which were composed during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). Around 47 titles among these are attributed to Xin Qiji 辛弃 疾3 (1140-1027), whose song lyrics celebrating birthdays constitute a large fraction of his ci poetry written for various social occasions.4 Based on Xin’s relationships to the addressees, these shouci can be classified into four categories: those written for (1) Xin himself on his own birthday, (2) his family members, (3) his friends and neighbors, (4) his colleagues. The poetic features of Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays have aroused lots of dis-

cussion.5 Current studies speak highly of the innovative features of Xin’s shouci by arguing that many of them were atypical at that time. For example, literary scholar Lin Meiyi comments that Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays overcome traditional stereotypes in themes and allusions.6 However, this view pays more attention to the lyrics’ literary value than to the songs’ historical context. In light of available primary sources, this paper focuses on the historical context of Xin’s shouci rather than on their prominent literary feature and illustrates how his shouci strengthened his social network. This paper will explore the following questions: in what contexts did Xin compose these shouci? What was his relationship with each of the addressees? How did their interactions influence his composition of shouci? And how did he use the shouci to affirm kinship ties and to establish himself in local communities? To answer these questions, first, it is necessary to place the shouci in a broader analytical framework. In particular, they should be regarded as a social and cultural practice.

65


Second, it requires a comprehensive understanding of how the elites of Xin’s time gained strength by attending social activities in their local communities. Bearing these perspectives in mind, this paper will focus on the three groups of Xin’s shouci: five titles for his wife’s family, five for a retired official Han Yuanji 韓 元吉 (1118-1187), and five for the father and the son of the Hong family in Shangrao 上饒, Jiangxi province.7

Shouci for Xin’s Wife’s Family Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays for family members help him better fulfill his family obligations and maintain familial cohesion. The majority of his shouci for relatives are addressed to his wife’s family rather than his own family: one title for his wife, two for his mother-in-law, and two for his brother-inlaw Fan Nanbo 范南伯 (1130-1196).8 This phenomenon reveals his extraordinary social practice in the context of a patriarchal society. Descriptions of the countenance and offspring of the addressees constantly appear in Xin’s shouci for his wife’s family, but the tones of his song lyrics vary depending on the age and status of different addressees. In the shouci for his wife, Xin mentioned that her countenance was sanguine: “You have a red face, while I have my white beard. Our combined age is just up to one-hundred-year old 朱顏卻對白髭鬚. 兩人百歲恰乘除.”9 It is conceivable that this may have been written for Xin’s younger wife Linshi, rather than Fanshi as previously suggested. Xin’s shouci for his wife is short in length and simple in word choice, probably as a result of their intimate relationship and her younger age. This couple seemed to enjoy the company of their children since he mentions “After marriage, we have received the obeisance from sons and daughters many times 婚嫁剩 添兒女拜.” By contrast, Xin employed various and complicated rhetorical means in his two shouci for his mother-in-law, as manifested in lavish praises and manipulative allusions, like “Everyone knows that you are a living Buddha, and you have the immortal character and spirit 住世都知菩薩行, 仙家風骨精神” and “You are wearing the colorful clothes, and your fame and wealth is greater than Taigong 綵衣更著,

66

功名富貴, 直過太公以上.”10 To please his mother-in-law, he uses the allusion of bamboo horses (zhuma 竹馬 literarily means children’s plaything; here, it refers to the children) to suggest that she was surrounded by a cluster of children. This rhetoric might satisfy the elders’ anticipation of being accompanying by many children. The close relationship between Xin and his second wife’s family is manifested in his friendship with his brother-in-law Fan Nanbo: “Xin and Fan were heroes of the central plains, and they were very good friends.”11 Xin came from Shandong and Fan came from Hebei. Both of them were descendants of the magistrates who served the governments under the reign of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Similarly, both of them gave up their assets in the North and moved to the South later. The relationship between Xin and Fan grew even closer when Xin’s relative Xin Youzhi 辛祐之 married Fan’s daughter. In Xin’s shouci for Fan,12 he began with the line of “refined feature is like the green pine tree and never grows old (xiugu qingsong bulao 秀骨青松不老)” to praise Fan’s appearance. After briefly mentioning Fan’s new-born son, he depicted a relaxed atmosphere: “Enjoy the wind and moon in the Dian zhen lou, and listen to flutes and songs in the Zhu chun ting. How about staying here and getting drunk? 奠枕樓頭風月, 駐春亭 上笙歌. 留君一醉意如何?” Compared to his shouci for his mother-in-law, this one depicts a more serene, but equally enjoyable scene. This shouci was composed when Xin was a governor of Chuzhou 滁州 prefecture. He recounts hosting a party for his visitor Fan, who was outside of officialdom then, and how they drank together with pleasant scenery and music. At the end of this song lyric, by alluding to the “golden seal (jinyin 金印),” Xin wishes Fan a splendid political career in the near future. In this case, he did not confine his wishes to merely a harmonious family but rather included Fan’s political career as well, because of the common aspiration of males to achieve success in the officialdom In general, the descriptions of the countenance and offsprings are noticeable in Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays for family members. The tones and subjects of his shouci


also vary according to his different social positions as husband, son-in-law and brother-inlaw for another. In these cases, shouci served as an invisible ritual space, where he was able to perform the conventional social roles that contribute to a harmonious picture of a prosperous family.

Shouci for Han Yuanji Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays for Han Yuanji 韓元吉 (style name Nanjian 南澗, 1118-1187) show how shouci establish interpersonal bonds and facilitate relationships between like-minded individuals. Xin wrote at least five shouci for Han,13 more than he wrote for anyone else. These five titles were composed from approximately 1182 to 1187. During this period, both of them retreated from their official posts in the Southern Song government and lived in seclusion in Shangrao. There were many correspondences between them. The large quantity could be partially attributed to the closeness of their birthdays: Xin’s birthday is one day ahead of Han’s, which Xin mentions more than once in his shouci. These five shouci can be classified into three groups by their tune titles: Tai Chang Yin 太常引 (one title), Shui Diao Ge Tou 水調 歌頭 (two titles), and Shui Long Yin 水龍吟 (two titles). According to the historian Deng Guangming, the Tai Chang Yin was composed as early as 1182, the year in which Xin moved to Shangrao. This title is shorter than the other four titles. Xin praised Han’s achievement as a minister as well as a poet, comparing him to Han Yu 韓愈 (786-824) and Xie An 謝 安 (320-385). Intentionally or not, it accords with Xin’s political status and his relationship with Han at that time. Han was more powerful than Xin in his seniority, his higher official rank, and his earlier arrival in Shangrao. For a newcomer like Xin, it was important for him to get acquainted with renowned persons like Han on occasions like birthday party. Tai Chang Yin, the first known song lyric exchanged between them represents the initiation of their friendship. Xin’s social circle widened greatly afterwards, with more and more local gentlemen and poets joining them and engaging in a type of poetry composition that

involves matching each other’s rhymes. Xin’s later shouci for Han shows more imagination and flexibility, and pays more attention to its aesthetic value than the routine formulae. In addition, different tune titles suggestively evoke different attitudes to one’s social and political role. In the two titles (does it really necessary to discuss two titles when one is enough to illustrate your point?) of Shui Diao Ge Tou, he conveys a sense of freedom in Han’s seclusion; while in the two titles of Shui Long Yin, he expresses an intense revanchist desire. This difference is manifested in the first stanzas of these different tune titles. In the first stanza of Shui Diao Ge Tou (1183),14 Xin uses the case of Laozi, the founder of the philosophical Daoism, to describe Han’s retired life of being “the immortal on earth (di xing xian 地行仙),” alluding that, even though Han no longer served the court, he could write books as Laozi did: “You may be Laozi living in the previous period, who has written the five-thousand-word Dao de jing 恐是當年柱 下, 道德五千言.” Meanwhile, he was able to enjoy the solace from nature while being accompanied by the apes and cranes: “You just do the same thing as him (Laozi), living in harmony with the apes and cranes 南澗舊活 計,猿鶴且相安.” The theme of pursuing a leisurely life is also seen in the first stanza of the Xin’s Shui Diao Ge Tou (1187). He uses the case of Zhuang Zhou 莊周, an early Daoist philosopher, to celebrate Han’s seventieth birthday: “Please see the roc with the cloudlike wing. The wind is ninety-thousand-li below, and you are traveling with the nature. If you want to calculate the years and months, what about asking Zhuang Zhou? 看取垂天 雲翼.九萬里風在下,與造物同遊.君欲計歲 月,嘗試問莊周?” Compared to the cloistered tone of the Shui Diao Ge Tou, the two titles of Shui Long Yin highlight heroism and patriotism. In the first stanza of the Shui Long Yin (1184),15 Xin first mentions the humiliating loss of northern territory under the alien attack and hopes for someone to lead the revanchist movement: “Defeating the aliens throughout ten-thousand-li and establishing one’s merits and fame is a real Confucian’s responsibility. Do you know? 算平戎萬里, 功名本是, 真儒事, 公

67


知否?” Many critics comment that this title is particularly atypical as a shouci since it barely mentions any birthday celebration except in the last line of its second stanza: “celebrating your master’s birthday 爲先生壽.” However, what distinguishes this song lyric is Xin’s flattering compliments for Han’s transformation from the Daoist (Laozi and Zhuangzi) lifestyle to the “real Confucian’s responsibility 真儒 事”. In this title, Xin mentions that the court lacked capable officials like Han. Although Xin endorsed contrasting views in regards to one’s social and political responsibilities in poems under two different tune titles, all his shuoci serve the social function of complimenting Han so as to reinforce their interpersonal bonds.

Shouci for the Father and Son of the Hong Family Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays for the father and son of the Hong family demonstrate his efforts to get along with esteemed local elites so as to extend his social network. As mentioned above, Xin became acquainted with many local gentlemen during his retreat in Shangrao. According to Hymes’s study on the elites of Fuzhou, Jiangxi province (江西 撫州, not far from Shangrao) in the Song dynasty, during the twelfth and thirteenthcenturies, The meritocratic ruling system was transformed into the centralization of power in the hands of locally rooted elites, whose principal goal was their individual monopoly of politics and wealth on local basis, as opposed to a national and dynastic one.16 This remained true during Xin’s stay in Shangrao and greatly influenced his interaction with the local male literati. There are three gentlemen in the Hong family who appear in his ci collection: Hong Shi 洪適, his younger brother Hong Mai 洪 邁, and Hong Mai’s eldest son Hong Shenzhi 洪莘之. Among their poetry correspondence, there are two song lyrics celebrating the birthdays: one was for Hong Mai and the other was for Hong Shenzhi. The absence of shouci for Hong Shi might be because he died soon after Xin retreated to Shangrao. Xin’s correspondence with Hong Shi could be traced back to

68

1181, when Xin still held government office, but Hong Shi was demoted from the post of minister and returned to his hometown Shangrao. Xin’s shouci for Hong Shenzhi (1191) was composed one year earlier than that for his father Hong Mai (1192). In Xin’s preface of this title, it appears that Hong was going to attend a prefecture level examination (caoshi 漕試), a provincial examination for selecting officials among the offsprings or close relatives of the current officials. Therefore, the primary aim of this song lyric is to wish Hong an outstanding performance in this examination: “Eager to congratulate this moment next year. Heng’e will be courteous (to you) and you will win a branch of xiangui17 within your hand 爭 說道明年時候. 被姮娥做了殷勤, 仙桂一 枝入手.”18 The description of the enjoyable drinking scene and the singing and dancing girls indicates that Xin was likely present at the birthday party. Xin’s presence might be owing to his friendship with Hong’s father Hong Mai. Presumably, Hong Shenzhi was about the same age as Xin, implied in Xin’s usage of “zu 倅” for calling Hong. However, Xin’s closer relationship with Hong’s father than Hong is apparent, as he mentions his father twice in his shouci for Hong’s son: “Every year, you celebrate your father’s birthday歲歲上, 迺翁 壽” and “But please keep in mind that Zhougong passed heritage down to Lugong 但直須 周公拜前, 魯公拜後.” If the former lines can still be interpreted as praise for the son’s filial piety, then the later lines, writing in an exhorting tone, are not common in shouci. It leaves the impression that Xin wrote this shouci for both father and son, or even paid more attention to the father because of his established reputation. Xin’s shouci for Hong Mai (1192)19 contains many allusions or phrases that can be seen in his other works, and seems to be employed in a particular context. For example, “is the song melodious and the dance graceful 歌 窈窕, 舞嬋娟” is also used in his shouci for Han Yuanji’s seventieth birthday, with a slight difference “the melodious songs, the tender dance歌窈窕, 舞溫柔.” Apart from that, the “immortal on earth 地行仙” appears in both shouci for Han Yuanji and Hong Mai. Besides,


the “golden seal 金印” and “mink and cicada (diaochan 貂蟬)” are common in his song lyrics celebrating birthdays for others. Although Xin composed shouci according to the different status of the addressees, to serve certain social functions, it seems that Xin followed some generally accepted writing conventions. This sort of literary exchange might partly serve to consolidate Xin’s ties with local powers and accumulate his cultural and social resources in Shangrao. Moreover, Hong Mai’s corresponding writings to Xin suggests that this cultural practice was reciprocal. Xin began interacting with Hong prior to his residence in Shangrao (in the autumn of 1182). When Xin was still in office between 1181-1182, he invited Hong to write a prose for his newly acquired real estates. In the prose records, Jiaxuan ji 稼轩 记,20 Hong praised Xin for his impressive loyalty as well as his remarkable military talent. In the closing lines, he imagined an interesting scene of their reunion outside Xin’s residence in Shangrao, vividly portraying their special friendship.

local families and therefore provides a unique vantage point to observe his social and cultural practices during his exile, illustrated in his correspondence with Hong Mai. Third, even though some of his shouci are extraordinary for expressing his revanchist desires, they were also important tools for extending social networks. This critical social function of shouci also explains why there are many conventional phrases constantly reappearing in Xin’s poems. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, a proper shouci is expected to contain three fundamental themes: fortune, achievement, and immortality; and it should avoid vulgar dictions as well as offering blatant birthday congratulations. In this sense, the aforementioned Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays meet Zhang Yan’s criteria for a proper shouci. By complying with the norm of a well-written shouci, Xin was able to use his poems to impress his addressees and to effectively construct and fortify his social networks.

Conclusion The convoluted Chinese social network has triggered heated discussions among Chinese scholars in the past decades. However, few studies explore social networking in the context of poetry written for social occasions. Although Hawes elaborates on the social function of poetry composition in the midNorthern Song, by focusing his studies on Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) and Mei Yaochen (1002-1060),21 he falls short of discussing how practical social function influences poetry composition. In fact, the way social engagement influences poetic writings is essential to the trace the evolution of poetry. From this case study of Xin’s song lyrics celebrating birthdays, this paper attempts to further explore the social function of shouci and to suggest that: first, shouci were a means for Xin to build his relationships with various groups of people, and he utilized diverse writing strategies to fulfill those social functions such as establishment of friendship with prestigious people. Second, Xin’s shouci demonstrates his interactions with some influential

69


Notes 1. Tang Guizhang 唐圭璋, Ci hua cong bian 詞話叢編 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986), 266. 2. Song lyric (ci poetry 詞) is a classical Chinese poetic form. Every song lyric is attributed to a tune title (cipai 詞牌) from the outset, which defines the rhythm, tone, and line-length format of a song lyric. The tune title may have nothing to do with its contents, and it is common that many song lyrics share the same tune title. 3. Xin Qiji (辛棄疾, 1140-1207) is a prominent poet and military leader of the Southern Song Dynasty (960-1279). He is highly esteemed as a representative of the heroic (haofang 豪放) style of song lyrics. 4. Liu Zunming 劉尊明, “Songdai shouci de wenhua neiyun yu shengming zhuti: Jianlun zhongguo gudai shouci wenxue de fazhan,” 宋代壽詞的文化內蘊與生命主 題:兼論中國古代壽辭文學的發展, Zhongguo wenzhe yanjiu tongxun 中國文哲研究 通訊 2 (1993): 56-75. 5. Lin Meiyi 林玫儀, “Jiaxuan shouci xi lun” 稼軒壽詞析論, Zhongguo wenzhe yanjiu jikan 中國文哲研究集刊 2 (1991): 275-89; Duo Qing 多慶, “Shi lun Xin Qiji de zhushou ci” 試論辛棄疾的祝壽詞, Academic Exchange 學術交流11 (2003): 152-55; Wang Qian 王倩, “Lun Xin Qiji de zhushou ci” 論辛棄疾的祝壽詞, Wenshi bolan (lilun) 文史博覽 (理論) 4 (2008): 25-26. 6. Lin Meiyi, “Jiaxuan shouci xi lun,” 2. 7. All the song lyrics cited in this paper are from鄧廣銘, Jiaxuan ci biannian jianzhu (zeng ding ben) 稼軒詞編年箋注 (增訂 本), Shanghai: Shanghai guji chuban she, 1998. 8. Most studies speculate that these five shouci were exclusively written for the Fan family. However, according to the newly found documentation Linghu Xin Family Genealogy (Linghu Xinshi zupu菱湖辛氏 族譜), Xin had three wives successively: the first Zhaoshi 趙氏, the second Fanshi 范氏, and the third Linshi 林氏. Therefore, except the two titles for Fan Nanbo, it is unclear

70

whether the other three titles were written for the Fan family. See Xin Gengru 辛更 儒, “Xin Qiji jiashi zai kao” 辛棄疾家室再 考, in Xin Qiji yanjiu conggao 辛棄疾研 究叢稿 (Beijing: Yanjiu chuban she, 2009), 280-94. Another contentious issue is about where or not Fan Zu范倅, to whom Xin had two Shouci, is Xin’s father-in-law. According to Zheng Qian ’s 鄭騫 opinion, two shouci for Fan Zu 范倅 are considered to write for Xin’s father-in-law Fan Bangyan 范邦彥. See Zheng Qian, Xin Jiaxuan xiansheng nianpu 辛稼軒先生年譜, (Xiehe yinshu ju, 1938), 35-36. However, Deng Guangming suggests that Fan Zu may refer to Fan Ang 范昂, a vice-prefect of Chuzhou滁州 prefecture, see Deng Guangming 鄧廣銘, Jiaxuan ci biannian jianzhu (zeng ding ben) 稼軒詞編年箋 注(增訂本), 20. Considering the controversy on the true identity of Fan Zu, this paper will not include the two titles into Xin’s shouci for family members. 9. To the tune “Huan Xi Sha 浣溪 沙,” celebrating my wife’s birthday壽內子, 247. 10. To the tune “Lin Jiang Xian 臨江 仙,” celebrating mother-in-law’s birthday 為 岳母壽, 65; to the tune “Que Qiao Xian 鵲 橋仙,” celebrating mother-in-law’s eightieth birthday為岳母慶八十, 228. It is unclear if they were written for the same person. 11. Deng Guangming, Jiaxuan ci biannian jianzhu (zeng ding ben), 26. 12. To the tune “Xi Jiang Yue 西江月,” celebrating Fan Nanbo’s birthday 為范南伯 壽, 26. 13. Han was a former minister of personnel (libu shangshu 吏部尚書). He had poetry exchanges with many prominent poets, and he had his own collections, including Hou wei ji 後尾集 and Nanjian jia yi gao 南 澗甲乙稿. 14. To the tune “Shui Diao Ge Tou水調 歌頭”, I matched the rhyme of the magistrate Wang Dehe in the party, celebrating Nanjian’s birthday 席上用王德和推官韻,壽南澗, 140. 15. To the tune “Shui Long Yin水龍 吟”, celebrating the minister Han Nanjian’s birthday in the year of jiachen甲辰歲壽韓南 澗尚書, 145.


16. Robert P. Hymes, Statesmen and gentlemen: the elite of Fu-chou, Chiang-hsi, in northern and southern Sung. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1986. 17. Both Heng’e and xiangui suggest the success in examination. 18. To the tune “Rui He Xian 瑞鶴仙,” celebrating Shangrao friend Hong Shenzhi’s birthday. He is the vice-prefect of Xinzhou prefecture at this moment, and he is about to attend the Caoju examination 壽上饒倅洪莘 之. 時攝郡事, 且將赴漕舉, 275. 19. To the tune “Zui Gao Lou,” celebrating Neihan Hong Jinglu’s Seventieth Birthday, 303. 20. Hong Mai 洪邁, “Jiaxuan ji 稼 軒記,” in Deng Guangming , Xin Jiaxuan shiwen chao cun 辛稼軒詩文鈔存 (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chuban she, 1957), 88-89. 21. Colin S. C. Hawes, The social circulation of poetry in the mid-Northern Song: emotional energy and literati self-cultivation, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005.

Bibliography

71


THE ROLE OF STRATEGIC CHOICES IN SHAPING REGIME TRAJECTORY A Comparative Study of Taiwan and Singapore WILLIAM KHOA DOAN

Introduction This study will compare the concept of democracy as it manifested in Chiang Kaishek and Chiang Ching-kuo’s tyrannical government in Taiwan with Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong’s competitive authoritarian parliament in Singapore from 1959 onwards. Strategic choices made by each regime led to divergent regime trajectories; for instance, Lee Teng-hui restored democracy in Taiwan in 1987, while Singapore failed to gain full democracy, although its government remains quite effective and strong in its surveillance of the Singaporean people. Ultimately, this essay will argue that the difference in key strategic choices of political elites is what made democratization more likely in Taiwan and authoritarian consolidation more likely in Singapore. I will first explain why these two countries are appropriate for comparative analysis. Next, I will examine alternative explanations for these countries’ differing outcomes by using a theoretical framework. Finally, I will analyze how the leaders’ strategic decisions influenced the trajectory of their regimes.

Taiwan and Singapore in 1959 Taiwan and Singapore differed in many ways in 1959; each state had a unique history and was home to a population with a distinct culture. However, these countries nevertheless possessed a number of similarities, which make them appropriate for comparative analysis.

72

Firstly, both Taiwan and Singapore were controlled by colonial powers for approximately equivalent period of time. Following the Treaty of Shimonosheki in 1895, Japan took control of Taiwan, treating Taiwan as its own territory rather than as a colony.1 The Taiwanese economy and politics subsequently underwent several rapid and dramatic changes until it was returned to Republic of China in 1945.2 Singapore fell similarly under British rule in 1819 as a trading post of the East Indian Company.3 Then, after defeating Britain in the Battle of Singapore in 1942, the Japanese occupied Singapore. Singapore remained a colony of the Japanese Empire until 1945 when it was re-possessed by Britain until 1953. During such periods of stasis, both Taiwan and Singapore exhibited few directional changes in their democratic institutions. It is important, also, to recognize the differences in the colonial administrations of these two states. Principally, the Japanese government allowed for the establishment of civilian administration in Taiwan, based on Law No. 63,4 while both the Japanese and the British saw Singapore as an important trading port, thus, not allowing the Singaporean people to establish any form of self-government whatsoever until Singapore gained independence in 1958.5 Despite this difference in colonial policy, at the end of the Second World War, both Taiwan and Singapore exhibited a comparable level of stagnation in the development of their democratic institutions. Democracy had been introduced into Taiwan in the Taisho period (1912-1926),6 and the Taiwanese people also


had seats in the House of Peers (the Upper House of the Imperial Diet).7 However, between 1931-1945, Taiwan had no opportunity to further develop its own legal system, as the island was merged into the Japanese wartime legal system.8 Contrastingly, although Singaporeans were banned from forming selfgovernment under British and Japanese rules, they were allowed to develop some democratic institutions.9 Although assessing the relative value of different democratic institutions in determining the likelihood of future democratic success is difficult and imperfect, it is clear that at the conclusion of their respective experiences with colonialism, both Taiwan and Singapore suffered from stagnation in the development of democratic institutions. This commonality meant that the two states were in a similar situation when authoritarianism emerged in each state in 1959. Furthermore, while both states saw increased economic productivity, their respective colonial rulers focused on resource exploitation rather than the development of democratic institutions. In Taiwan, the Japanese focused on developing agriculture to supply Japan’s growing demand for rice.10 Meanwhile, the Singaporean economy became increasingly more dependent upon the Britain economy during the periods of 1819-1942 and 1945-1959. Economic development in Singapore during Japanese rule brought similarly little benefit to the native population.11 Through this dependence on the market of the colonizers, both two countries’ economies grew significantly during this period. Although Taiwan and Singapore underwent extremely similar economic development during their colonial period, there was one significant difference that merits consideration. In the 1930s, Japan began to industrialize Taiwan, as part of its preparation for WWII.12 In Singapore, however, industrial growth remained underdeveloped, mostly because of significant agrarian unrest. A command economy model was implemented to place restrictions on the supply and demand of resources. This dependence on foreign economy made Taiwan and Singapore’s independence very difficult. Consequently, Chiang Kai-shek and Lee Kuan Yew were in a similar position when they

officially assumed controlled in either country, making strategic choices to eliminate the colonial legacy and develop their states’ respective economies. Finally, there is a temporal justification for comparative analysis, regarding procedures to control the populace and consolidate power. Chiang and Lee both seized control of their respective countries in 1959. That year, President Chiang enacted the “Order of Martial Law,” extending his rule and the Kuomintang’s power as well as prohibiting the formation of new political parties.13 The main goal of martial law was to retain the loyalty of the Taiwanese army and rely on this military support to repress dissidents and maintain his authoritarian regime.14 Across the East China Sea, Lee and the People’s Action Party (PAP) occupied every single seat in Parliament, allowing Lee to implement any policies regarding economy, politics, and society.15 Lee supported strict rules on cleanliness prohibiting such acts as spitting, littering, and even failing to flush toilets, all of which would be punishable under Singapore law.16 To survey Singaporeans and opposition parties, the PAP restricted freedom of speech and heavily censored media. Furthermore, he used his authority to sue his opponents into bankruptcy or oblivion, such that he could kick his opponents out of parliament legally.17 Until the 1960s, Lee’s legitimacy stemmed from popular election while Chiang’s stemmed from the National Assembly. However, since both despots seized power and began consolidating their rule in the 1960s, it makes sense to compare the implications of their strategic choices. Although Chiang and Lee had different strategies to suppress their opponents, they still focused on developing economies and eradicating corruption to empower Taiwan and Singapore respectively. The similarities between these two regime structures further support the case for comparative analysis.

Comparative Explanations for Regime Trajectory I will use two comparative paradigms to explain the divergent regime trajectories in Taiwan and Singapore. First, I will use a structural explanation. Adopting this para-

73


digm allows me to identify structural conditions in Taiwan that are absent in Singapore and argue that these conditions played a role in Taiwanese democratization.18 Second, I will use an explanation of norm diffusion; Taiwan and Singapore adopted a number of the norms and practices that were held by their colonial administrations and which consequently influenced the trajectory of their regimes. While neither explanation would be entirely accurate alone, combining both paradigms can allow for a more intensive analysis of elite strategy and comprehensive explanation of the divergent regime outcomes. In Capitalist Development and Democracy, Rueschemeyer et al. explain that democratization results from a “struggle between the dominant and subordinate classes over the right to rule.”19 However, this was certainly not the case in Taiwan and Singapore. Rather the struggles between social classes in either country were direct outcomes of the strategic decisions of elder and younger Chiang in Taiwan, and Lee and Goh in Singapore. The first argument in this essay will therefore explore the economic policies progressed by each leader, regarding the economic reforms and their impacts to the balance of power between social classes, which in turn affected regime trajectory. The second argument will address how the leaders’ strategic choices altered the relative influence of different social groups, especially that of the elites and the middle class. In both Taiwan and Singapore, colonial powers targeted their ideological indoctrination towards societal elites. When elder Chiang and Lee seized power, they made strategic calculations based on their own interpretation and experiences with colonial legacy. The best way to understand how the diffusion of norms affected the regime trajectories of Taiwan and Singapore is to view it through the lens of the leaders’ strategic choices. This essay’s final argument will explain how the leaders in Taiwan and Singapore ratified differing levels of repression, in correspondence with their respective colonial involvements. Again, these differences in the strategic decisions contributed to democratization in Taiwan and authoritarianism in Singapore.

74

The Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Elites’ Strategic Decisions In the first and second argument of this essay, I will employ Ronald Wintrobe’s rational choice approach. In “Dictatorship: Analytical Approaches,” Wintrobe suggests that dictators behave rationally; more specifically, under the rational choice approach, “whatever [a dictator’s] goals, which we take as given, they choose the best means possible to implement them consistent with available information.”20 Using the aforementioned approach, this essay will examine two key strategic decisions made respectively by the KMT and PAP leaders. First, I will assess each leader’s economic policy. Second, I will discuss the leaders’ attempts to prevent divisions from developing among the elites in their countries. In analyzing the third argument, this essay will further borrow from Wintrobe, who argues that, “dictatorships use two instruments-repression and loyalty-to stay in power.”21 He provides four types of dictatorships can be categorized: tinpots, tyrants, totalitarians, and timocrats. Depending on a dictatorship’s classification, differing levels of repression, loyalty, and personal consumption can be observed. The evidence presented in this essay will suggest that elder and younger Chiang’s were authoritarians although the younger was more flexible in his policies than his father. For instance, younger Chiang realized that the tide of democratization was inevitable and hence adopted democratic political reform as a tool against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).22 He chose Lee Teng-hui as his successor although Lee had previously been a member of Communist organization, as Chiang understood Lee was a suitable person to lead Taiwan toward democracy.23 Additionally, by sacrificing the maximization of their personal consumption, these leaders were able to combine high repression with continued loyalty from the populace. Comparatively, Lee Kuan Yew is recognized to be a tinocrat. Although he governed as an autocrat, Lee spent a great deal of money and resources on winning the loyalty of the people he ruled. It is important to emphasize that during his time in power, Lee set out to


develop Singapore’s economy and harmony as well as improve standards of living to command a greater degrees of loyalty from the Singaporean populace.24 Quite unlike the strict categorization and high level of repression in Taiwan, a tinocratic regime can be usefully conceived of as falling on the opposite end of a scale to a totalitarian government. While a dictator opts to use more resources to boost the economy and people’s livelihood, Lee sacrificed his ability to repress opponents and “garner loyalty from his citizenry, making himself less of a totalitarian and more of a tinocrat.”25 In reality, the Chiang and Lee regimes both fell on the totalitarian end of the scale. Yet, the difference in each dictator’s level of repression helps explain their divergent policy calculations. Finally, for every strategic choice, this essay will discuss how that decision can be incorporated into a comparative explanation for regime trajectory. I will attempt to reconcile the differences between the approaches and explain why the emphasis on strategic decisionmaking used in this essay is important in explaining regime trajectory.

Regime Trajectory through the Lens of Strategic Policy Choices Shortly after implementing martial law, Chiang Kai-shek decided to reform the Taiwanese economy. Historical Professor of National Chung Cheng University, Peter Chen-main Wang postulates that, “Interesting enough, economic reform in Taiwan turned out to be the most dazzling and successful part of Nationalist rule.”26 Indeed, the President successfully attracted funds from local and international levels and to invest in industrial construction. He implemented land reform by selling to landless farmers with a lower price to ensure impoverished farmers make a living.27 The success of land reform contributed to the development of several of rural projects in Taiwan. Chiang’s agricultural reforms significantly increased economic disparity between the rich and the very poor, the latter comprising of a majority of the state’s population. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, several economic reforms were initiated, including liberalization of foreign exchange controls, an increase

in the electricity rate, the adoption of a single foreign exchange rate, a reduction in the effective protection rate, establishment of investment banking machinery, and founding of a stock market.28 Statistics showed that Taiwan had transformed from an agricultural economy to an industrial one successfully. Agriculture’s share of the labor force fell from 51.2 percent in 1952 to 35 percent in 1971, while industry grew from 20.2 percent to 30 percent.29 Bolstered by American aid, Chiang established several export processing zones. The first zone was built in Kao-hsiung harbor in 1966 and received lots of investment locally and internationally. Taiwan became the fastest growing economy in the world in the 1960s and the 1970s.30 Contrastingly, due to lack of natural resources and small land area, Singapore’s agriculture did not developed strongly in the colonial and independent periods. This section will focus mostly on industry in Singapore. Lee first established the Economic Development Board (EDB) which “devise[d] industrial policies” before implementing the export-oriented manufacturing strategy.31 William Case in Politics of Southeast Asia: Democracy or Less articulates that Lee enacted several government-linked companies, which the state could undertake business activities and increase their efficiency with favorable policies.32 Furthermore, the PAP promoted local elites and international partners to invest in some aspects such as finance, property development, simple processing, and trading.33 The Singaporean government determined to develop human capital via education, regarding to the shortage of natural resources and population. Since the 1970s, the Vocational and Industrial Training Board (VITB) has provided technical education for workers who dropped out of secondary school.34 Singapore’s training programs are different from other neoliberal cities because these programs try to adapt the needs of the labour market. Unlike focusing on development high-technology industries like Taiwan, Lee aimed to boost the development of transportation-technology and tourism.35 For instance, the Singaporean International Airlines (SIA) carries the branded image of the city-state’s transport services sector, supplying

75


key air transport services while complementing the needs of closely related international tourism sector. With the economic miracle in Taiwan and the significant economic development in Singapore, the middle class began to play an important role in these two countries. Lipset hypothesis emphasizes that a middle class, which may contribute to political stability, could be seen as a perquisite for the emergence of democracy.36 In Taiwan’s case, when the middle class increasingly turned to protest, elder and younger Chiang could have dedicated more resources to repress dissidents. Lee, meanwhile, adopted Asian values derived from Confucian philosophical thought to constrain the rebellions from the middle class.37 These Confucian-derived values emphasized the importance of the community rather than the individual. Inoguchi and Newman (1997) explain how under this paradigm, “[e] ach individual must have self-effacement, selfdiscipline, and personal sacrifice.”38 The most important things in society are the cohesion and stability of a country as well as the harmony and well-being of the larger group. The parliament of Singapore therefore successfully reinforces the youth population to obey their rulers, respect their elders, and consider the cohesion and stability of their own country. Comparing these theories of regime trajectory suggests that prospects for democratization are shaped by the relative power balance between different classes. Elder and younger Chiang as well as Lee and Goh both attempted to prevent divisions from emerging within the elite in their states and remove all “evil practices” among party members. The Chiang regime realized that corruption could be seen as the most important factors led to the failure of the KMT in mainland China.39 Hence, the two Chiang aimed to eradicate the corruption and reform the KMT completely. A Central Reform Committee was established, comprising of young cadres.40 The KMT party members were put into “specified party branches, regarding to their location and profession.”41 Also, it examined all members and purged all individuals who were corrupted or incompetent. Further, three principles of the People written by Sun Yat-sen became a guideline

76

to re-educate the KMT cadres. His principles included minzu (nationalism), minquan (democracy), and minsheng (the People’s welfare or livelihood).42 These three principles could be considered as one of the most necessary factors that led to democratization in Taiwan under Lee Deng-hui’s era. Finally, many senior cadres were driven out of the party and taken all authority.43 The reforms occurred in all levels of the government and the army.44 Wang concludes that, “The Nationalist Party became a party with strong leadership, concrete structure, tight discipline, high morale, common faith in share doctrines, greater efficiency, and less corruption.”45 Thus, elder and younger Chiang were successfully to maintain the unity within the KMT. Similarly, after gaining independent in 1959, Singapore determined to contribute to a democratic regime, but the disunity in elites and policy worsened the democratization process.46 The PAP then decided to strengthen its power and unity within the party and parliament by implementing three acts.47 First, the PAP jailed all opposition leaders and dissidents, included alleged communists.48 In 1963, there were more than 100 opposition politicians and union leaders, including the Barisan Sosialis Party (BS) being jailed.49 Thus, the opposition never recovered and the PAP has never lost an election since. Second, Lee, later Goh established and maintained the Central Executive Committee (CEC) to make “key bureaucratic appointments and select party candidates.”50 Hence, all chosen elites, who was regarded as talented in terms of high educational and professional achievements, and ensured their loyalty to the party. Finally, the PAP implemented the anti-corruption strategy to strengthen the party by adopting tough laws with strong punishment, and allowing the elites to receive high salaries. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which worked directly with the Prime Minister’s office, searches and arrests any elites from the parliament and the army who were accused of corruption without a warrant.51 Wintrobe explains that in any dictatorship, “the easiest way to obtain support, is to overpay supporters.”52 In providing preferential treatment and receive more loyalty from


the people, the two Chiang maximized the amount of economic elites who were overpaid in Taiwan. In doing so, the leader forfeited a certain level of support and loyalty, in exchange for an increase in his level of private consumption. Unlike Taiwan, Lee, later Goh proceeded a form of calibrated coercion in all social classes of Singapore. Cherian George, director of the Asia Journalism Fellowship, described Lee maintained the hegemony of state by keeping people satisfied with their living standards and equitable income.53 His principle states that “keep the people well fed and they won’t revolt.”54 Regime trajectory can also be explained through an analysis focusing on norm diffusion. Theories using this framework would suggest that the dictators used different levels of repression because of their respective colonial experiences. A theory of norm diffusion would suggest that Chiang Kai-shek and Lee Kuan Yew internalized norms based on the behaviour of their colonial masters. In turn, it would be argued that Britain was less repressive than Japan, which resulted in Lee being less repressive than Chiang. This approach provides a strong basis for understanding an important factor that contributed to the dictators’ convictions. However, Chiang and Lee did not operate in a static environment; integrating this paradigm with the elite-centric decision-making model, allows for a better understanding of how the authoritarian leaders’ convictions and approaches changed as the situations in their respective countries developed.

Repression Policy The level of repression may also influence the trajectory of the regime. Elder and younger Chiang increasingly used military and police to stop all demonstrations, to put protestors and opponents into jail to torture or assassinate them during the White Terror’s era.55 There were around 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned during this period and 3,000-4,000 were executed for their anti-KMT attitudes.56 The KMT imprisoned mostly Taiwan’s intellectual and social elite who opposed the rule of the regime or sympathized with Communism. Furthermore, many refugees fled to Taiwan from

the mainland were considered more disposable than local Taiwanese and executed without clear reasoning. Contrastingly, Lee spent more resources and benefits to satisfy his own hard-liners and soft-liners. However, he repressed his opponents by the most serious and intolerant punishments.57 He put them into bankruptcy or being jailed. These people were denied to receive jobs and benefits from society. Additionally, when Lee’s regime suspected any individual, who betray his party, the CPIB would take an action immediately and accuse them of corruption.58 For example, Chee Soon Juan is currently a leader of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).59 Lee realized that Chee was such a threat to the PAP, hence the parliament terminated his employment as professor. He was also sued several times for defamation of character suffering court damages of more than several millions of dollars. Then, Chee had to sell his house to pay Lee, and was bankrupted and jailed several times. He is disqualified from contesting elections and banned from politics. His wife and children had to suffer with him.60 Wintrobe discusses, “The regime becomes more extreme and the level of repression increases, genuine loyalty to the regime begins to dry up, as people become increasingly worried that they will not be repaid for their royalty but become a victim of the regime’s repression instead.”61 Therefore, elder and younger Chiang, Lee, and Goh chose to sacrifice their personal consumption for maintaining the high level of repression and keeping the totalitarian regime.

Conclusion In the early 1990s, Asian values debate occurred between the two Lee regarding to Confucianism and democracy that influenced their strategic decisions to the regimes.62 Lee Kuan Yew, an architect of Asian values, believed that democracy, which was seen as a neo-colonialist strategy originated by the Western power. He supported that by saying, “more than economics or politics, a nation’s culture would determine its fate.”63 Asian culture and Confucianism should be maintained in the society as well as developing economy might be more neces-

77


sary than respecting human rights. Hence, to develop the Singaporean economy, maintain Asian identity, and satisfy the Western partners, Lee established the semi-democracy or competitive authoritarianism. Contrastingly, Lee Teng-hui, a father of Taiwanese democratization, argued that Asian people should have liberal rights.64 In addition, he realized that liberal democratic ideas were consonant with historical East Asian practice. Confucianism and liberalism recognized and respected the self, individual rights, and human dignity, unlike Asian values, Lee Kuan Yew proposed. Further, the former President of Taiwan emphasized that, “Taiwan’s cultural heritage precepts could also serve as succinct statements of the essence of modern democracy.”65 Thus, he built the Taiwan model of democratization as a strategy to satisfy the will of the people and to comply with the popular will to contribute to the realization of the concept of popular sovereignty. Nevertheless, it is whether the rice bowl is full because Asia has remained authoritarian or because it democratizes? Taiwan and Singapore can be seen as two opposing agents in Asia-Pacific, in terms of Confucian ideology. Singapore is a competitive authoritarian regime, recognized as a leading global city-state, while Taiwan is a democratic government with a strong economy in Asia. There are several approaches explaining the strategic choices of the leaders in Taiwan and Singapore. First, it assesses each leader’s economic policy reform. Second, it argues how the leaders prevented the division among elites, including soft-liners and hard-liners and the relationship between elites and social classes. Third, it discusses how the KMT and PAP leaders used resources and the level of personal consumption to impact the level of repression and loyalty. Finally, the international factors shaped the leaders’ strategic decisions to their regimes. Last but not least, the Confucianism played the most important role that affected the regime trajectories. By comparing the leaders’ strategic decisions, it is possible to better understand dictatorships. Although this study does not provide any predictions, it increases our understanding of the tyrants and their authoritarian regimes and policies.

78

Notes 1. Marius B. Jansen, Japan and China from War to Peace 1894-1972. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company, 1975. 25-27. 2. Steven Phillips, “Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwanese Political Aspirations under Nationalist Chinese Rule, 1945-1948,” Taiwan: A New History, ed. Murray A. Rubinstein. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 2007. 275. 3. Eunice Thio, “The Syonan Years, 19421945,” A History of Singapore, ed. Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991. 95. 4. Laws and Ordinances to Be Enforced in Taiwan, aka Law No. 63 of 1896. This law “authorized the Taiwan governor-general to issue executive ordinances (ritsurei) having the same effect as Japanese law” (Lamley, 204). 5. Yeo Kim Wah and Albert Lau, “From Colonialism to Independence, 1945-1965,” A History of Singapore, ed. Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991. 132. 6. Thio, 103. 7. Lindy Yeh, “The Koo Family: A Century in Taiwan,” Taipei Times. 15 April 2002. Web. 13 November 2015. 8. Tay Sheng Wang, Legal Reform in Taiwan under Japanese Rule. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000. 36. 9. Ibid, 105. 10. Thio, 103-104. 11. Ibid, 104. 12. Lamley, 209-210. 13. James C. Mulvenon, a Poverty of riches: New Challenges and Opportunities in PLA Research. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2003. 172. 14. Peter Zarrow, “the Nanjing Decade, 19281937,” China in War and Revolution 1895-1949, ed. Peter Zarrow. New York: Routledge, 2005. 251-252. 15. Carlton Tan, “Lee Kuan Yew Leaves a Legacy of Authoritarian Pragmatism,” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. 23 March 2015. Web. 15 November 2015. 16. Paolo Taruc, “Different legacies: Ferdinand Marcos and Lee Kuan Yew,” CNN Philippines. Nine Media Corp. 24 March 2015. Web. 15 November 2015. 17. Ibid. 18. Lewis Fainer, “The Role of Strategic Choices in Shaping Regime Trajectory: Comparing the Cases of the Philippines and North Korea,” McGill Journal of Political Science 5.8 (2014): 94-95. 19. Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens, Capitalist Devel-


opment and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. 47. 20. Ronald Wintrobe, “Dictatorship: Analytical Approaches,” the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics, ed. Carles Boix and Susan Strokes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 363. 21. Ibid, 367. 22. Peter Chen-main Wang, “A Bastion Created, a Regime Reformed, an Economy Reengineered, 1949-1970,” Taiwan: A New History, ed. Murray A. Rubinstein. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 2007. 322. 23. Yang Hengjun, “Chiang Ching-kuo, China’s Democratic Pioneer,” the Diplomat. 10 December 2014. Web. 20 November 2015. 24. Donald K. Emmerson, “Singapore and the “Asian Values” Debate,” Journal of Democracy 6. 4 (1995): 95-100. 25. Ibid, 103. 26. Wang, 324. 27. Ibid, 324-325. 28. Wang, 331-332. 29. Ibid, 332-333. 30. Wang, 333. 31. Case, “Singapore: A Stable Semi-Democracy,” 81-82. 32. Ibid, 81-82. 33. Ibid, 85-86. 34. Johnny Sung, Explaining the Economic Success of Singapore: The Developmental Worker as the Missing Link. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc., 2006. 35. Ibid. 36. Tobias Erbert, a More Democratic South Africa Now! Emerging Black Middle Class and Democracy in South Africa. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing, 2014. 11-12. 37. Takashi Inoguchi and Edward Newman, “Introduction: “Asian Values and Democracy in Asia,” in Asian Values and Democracy in Asia, ed. Takashi Inoguchi. Shizuoka: Shizuoka Prefectural Government, 1997. 38. Ibid. 39. Wang, 324-325. 40. Ibid, 324. 41. Ibid, 324. 42. “Three Principles of the People,” Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 25 November 2015. 43. Ibid, 325. 44. Ibid, 323. 45. Ibid, 322. 46. Case, 85. 47. Ibid, 86-88. 48. Garry Rodan, “Singapore: Emerging Tensions in the “Dictatorship of the Middle Class,” The Pacific Review 5.4 (1992): 370-375. 49. Case, 86. 50. Ibid, 86. 51. Robert Legvold, “Corruption, the Crimi-

nalized State, and Post-Soviet Transitions,” Corruption, Global Security, and World Order, ed. Robert I. Rotberg. Washinton, D.C: Brooking Institution Press, 2009. 221-222. 52. Wintrobe, 367. 53. Tan. 54. Ibid. 55. The concept “White Terror” refers to the entire period from 1949 to 1987 (Chen, 187). 56. Ketty Chen, “Disciplining Taiwan: The Kuomintang’s Methods of Control during the White Terror Era (1947-1987),” Taiwan International Studies Quarterly 4.4 (2008): 185-187. 57. Fareed Zakaria, “Culture is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew,” Foreign Affairs 73.2 (1994): 112-1 . 58. Legvold, 221-222. 59. “Opposition Politician on Lee Kuan Yew’s Leadership,” BBC. 29 March 2015. Web. 21 November 2015. 60. Georgia McCafferty and Laura SmithSpark, “Singapore Election: People’s Action Party Returned in Sweeping Victory,” CNN. Cable News Network. 12 September 2015. Web. 25 November 2015. 61. Wintrobe, 370. 62. Beckly Shelley, “Global and Local Cultural Interactions: Fusing Democratic Institutions with Domestic Ideas,” Democratic Development in East Asia, ed. Becky Shelly. New York: Routledge, 2005. 73-74. 63. Fareed Zakaria, “A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 1994. Web. 10 December 2015. 64. William A. Callahan, “Recognizing Democracy: Nationalism, Taiwan, and Friendship,” Contingent States: Greater China and Transnational Relations, ed. William A. Callahan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. 206-207. 65. Beckly Shelley, “Global and Local Cultural Interactions: Fusing Democratic Institutions with Domestic Ideas,” Democratic Development in East Asia, ed. Becky Shelly. New York: Routledge, 2005. 73.

79


Bibliography Callahan, William A. Contingent States: Greater China Transnational Relations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. Print. Case, William. “Singapore: A Stable Semi-Democracy.” Politics in Southeast Asia: Democracy or Less. Ed. William Case. Surrey: Curzon, 2002. 81-98. Print. Chen, Ketty. “Disciplining Taiwan: The Kuomintang’s Methods of Control during the White Terror Era (1947-1987).” Taiwan International Studies Quarterly 4.4 (2008): 185-210. Print. Chew, Ernest C.T. “The Foundation of a British Settlement.” A History of Singapore. Ed. Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991. 36-40. Print. Emmerson, Donald K. “Singapore and the “Asian Values” Debate.” Journal of Democracy 6.4 (1995): 95-105. Print. Erbert, Tobias. A More Democratic South Africa Now! Emerging Black Middle Class and Democracy in South Africa. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing, 2014. Print. Fainer, Lewis. “The Role of Strategic Choices in Shaping Regime Trajectory: Comparing the Cases of the Philippines and North Korea.” McGill Journal of Political Science 5.8 (2014): 92-105. Print. Hengjun, Yang. “Chiang Ching-kuo, China’s Democratic Pioneer.” The Diplomat. Web. 20 November 2015. Inoguchi, Takashi and Edward Newman. “Introduction: “Asian Values and Democracy in Asia.” Asian Values and Democracy in Asia. Ed. Takashi Inoguchi. Shizuoka: Shizuoka Prefectural Government, 1997. Print. Jansen, Marius B. Japan and China from War to Peace 1894-1972. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company, 1975. Print. Lamley, Harry J. “Taiwan under Japanese Rule, 1895-1945: The Vicissitudes of Colonialism.” Taiwan: A New History. Ed. Murray A. Rubinstein. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 2007. 201-260. Print. Legvold, Robert. “Corruption, the

80

Criminalized State, and Post-Soviet Transitions.” Corruption, Global Security, and World Order. Ed. Robert I. Rotberg. Washinton, D.C: Brooking Institution Press, 2009. 194-238. Print. Lim, Irene. “The Chinese Protectorate.” National Library Board Singapore. Web. 13 November 2015. McCafferty, Georgia and Laura SmithSpark. “Singapore Election: People’s Action Party Returned in Sweeping Victory.” CNN. Web. 25 November 2015. Mulvenon, James C. A Poverty of riches: New Challenges and Opportunities in PLA Research. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2003. Print. O’Donnell, Guillermo and Philippe C. Schmitter. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986. Print. “Opposition Politician on Lee Kuan Yew’s Leadership.” BBC. Web. 21 November 2015. Phillips, Steven. “Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwanese Political Aspirations under Nationalist Chinese Rule, 19451948.” Taiwan: A New History. Ed. Murray A. Rubinstein. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 2007. 275-319. Print. Rodan, Garry. “Singapore: Emerging Tensions in the “Dictatorship of the Middle Class.” The Pacific Review 5.4 (1992): 370381. Print. Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Print. Shelley, Beckly. Democratic Development in East Asia. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print. Sung, Johnny. Explaining the Economic Success of Singapore: The Developmental Worker as the Missing Link. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc., 2006. Print. Tan, Carlton. “Lee Kuan Yew Leaves a Legacy of Authoritarian Pragmatism.” The Guardian. Web. 15 November 2015. Taruc, Paolo. “Different legacies: Ferdinand Marcos and Lee Kuan Yew.” CNN


Philippines. Web. 15 November 2015. “Three Principles of the People.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 25 November 2015. Thio, Eunice. “The Syonan Years, 1942-1945.” A History of Singapore. Ed. Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991. 95-114. Wah, Yeo Kim and Albert Lau. “From Colonialism to Independence, 1945-1965.” A History of Singapore. Ed. Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991. 117-154. Print. Wang, Peter Chen-main. “A Bastion Created, a Regime Reformed, an Economy Reengineered, 1949-1970.” Taiwan: A New History. Ed. Murray A. Rubinstein. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 2007. 320-338. Print. Wang, Tay Sheng. Legal Reform in Taiwan under Japanese Rule. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000. Print. Wintrobe, Ronald. “Dictatorship: Analytical Approaches.” The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Ed. Carles Boix and Susan Strokes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 363-394. Print. Yeh, Lindy. “The Koo Family: A Century in Taiwan.” Taipei Times. Web. 13 November 2015. Zakaria, Fareed. “A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew.” Foreign Affairs. Web. 10 December 2015. Zakaria, Fareed. “Culture is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew.” Foreign Affairs 73.2 (1994): 109-126. Print. Zarrow, Peter. China in War and Revolution 1895-1949. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.

Notes



+++