May Fourth Movement Essay -1081 Words - Essay Prowess

May Fourth Movement Essay -1081 Words


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Paper instructions:

TOPIC: What was the May Fourth Movement?  What were some of the issues involved and various opinions that people expressed on these issues?  Why was the movement significant? (Be sure to mention Lu Xun and early Communist writers).

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE: Remember that you are trying to convince a hostile critic your explanation of an event’s cause or significance is logical and well supported by the available evidence so be aggressive with a persuasive argument and concrete supporting examples. Don’t just TELL readers what is May fourth, also SHOW them with a well chosen quotation from a document that illustrates your point.


May fourth movement


The historical origin of the May Fourth Movement dates back during the end of First World War in 1918. Following the end of WW 1, china was convinced that it would reclaim the territories that were occupied by the Germans in the present-day Shandong province since it had fought along with the allies. Nevertheless, the then government of China had an agreement with the Japanese such that China would offer the German territories in return for financial support. In addition, the allies had approved the Japan’s territorial claims in china. However, this came to the revelation of China in 1919 that the negotiations over the treaty of Versailles would not honour China’s claims on the present-day Shandong province. Consequently, the movement was formed with a large number of students from Peking University demonstrating in the street against the Versailles treaty (Chen p.1-2). Besides, the demonstrations generated national protests that resulted to the Chinese nationalism; marking a revolution against imperialism and feudalism. This paper describes the issues that surrounded the May fourth movement and its significance.

The success of the May fourth movement was attributed by various early reformists who called the Chinese people for a radical awakening. In early 1915, Huang Yuang-yung, a leading shanghai journalist, had already began efforts in promoting a new literature that could bring the thoughts of Chinese people to the direct contact with the contemporary thought of the world. As a result, the literature was endorsed by the then young intellectuals including Hu Shih Chen Tu-hsiu and Li Ta-Chao. Consequently, these intellectuals also made substantial efforts in an attempt to bring the adoption of vernacular writing, as well as introducing the western thoughts to china. As a result, they advanced the awakening of the Chinese intellectuals all the country that led to a rapid increase in Chinese publications of new books, periodicals, translations in the entire country. Therefore, prior the May fourth Movement, a growing enthusiasm for new thoughts and ideas had spread among the majority Chinese youths (Chen p.6-7).

The May fourth movement marked the revolution of change in social and political contexts in China. A number of people had multiple defining features of the movement where some characterized it as a pro-democracy movement. Besides, others saw it an anti-Marxist movement while others thought it was ant feudalism movement. All these aspects were drawn towards nationalism in order to end the capitalist values that were enhanced by the western powers. Furthermore, the movement clearly demonstrated that imperialism and feudal forces were the mortal enemies of China country. Therefore, this facilitated the formation of China’s communist party (Zhao p.87-88). The main grievances of the movement included warlordism and Japanese imperialism. The Chinese people feared the Japanese completion within the Chinese industrial and commercial market hence the desire to get rid of Japanese economic establishments in China. The government’s high demand policy in suppressing the mass protests in Peking also compelled people to join other groups in direct action against the government and Japanese (Chen p.46).

Another significance that came following the movement was socio-cultural revolution. The students had become dissatisfied with the Chinese tradition due to inspirations and thoughts from the western powers. The movement asserted that the major obstacle towards modernity and Chinese social progress was contributed by the Confucian culture which was bias on patriarchy, opposition to learning foreign ways of living and unfair land tenure system. It was believed that the negative influence from the traditional morality Confucianism and the clan system had contributed to the China’s lagging behind the west. Therefore, the Chinese people wanted changes to be enhanced in the society and adapt to modern ways of living (Kraus P.5). Furthermore, the intellectuals united in a new culture movement with an attempt to make Chinese culture more accessible to the then existing social groups past the traditional scholar-officials. Therefore, they advocated a literary revolution whereby the fixed system of written language could be replaced by a vernacular based system. Lu Xun and Hu Shi championed the in this type of writing that came to pass in the 1920s (Schwarcz p. 203).

In addition, the movement sought to achieve the goals of family reforms and equal rights for women. It is believed that young women workers had begun to develop progressive attitudes on political oppressive atmospheres in the early 1930s, as well as increased women demands at the workplace focusing on women’s special needs such as maternity benefits. Besides, the movement enhanced later cultural changes that helped in the shaping of the national policy that would extend towards the local villages, in order to enhance a cooperative village community hence contributing to rural rejuvenation and survival (Johnson p.86-87).

In conclusion

The May Fourth Movement plays a vital role in the china’s political and social history, even to the present days. It is through the movement that led to the Chinese nationalism with the quest to eradicate imperialism and feudalism values of the western cultures. In addition, the movement led to the emergence of many political and social leaders such as Chen Duxiu and LI Dazhao, who were among the leading founders of the Communist Party of China. It is through this movement that the Cultural Revolution ensued hence allowing women to have their rights in the society. To the present day, the May Fourth Movement is still celebrated in China.

Work cited

Chen, Joseph T. The May Fourth Movement in Shanghai. Brill Archive, 1971. Internet source, ISSN 0563-9832.

Johnson, Kay A. Women, the Family, and Peasant Revolution in China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. Internet resource.

Kraus, Richard C. The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA, 2011. Internet resource.

Schwarcz, Vera. The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. Print.

Zhao, Suisheng. A Nation-State by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism. Stanford (Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004. Print.

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