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More Complicated than Treason or Obedience: Rectifying Historical Narratives of Manchukuo's Top-Level Chinese-Speaking Officials, 1931-1937

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Title: More Complicated than Treason or Obedience: Rectifying Historical Narratives of Manchukuo's Top-Level Chinese-Speaking Officials, 1931-1937
Author: Yuan, Jianda
Department: Department of History
Program: History
Advisor: Smith, Norman
Abstract: This study reconsiders the experiences of top-level Chinese-speaking elite officials in the state of Manchukuo between the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident in September 1931 and July 1937, when war broke out between the Republic of China and Japan. It explores the contexts within which ten Manchu and Han individuals – Aixin-Jueluo Puyi, Aixin-Jueluo Xixia, Zheng Xiaoxu, Luo Zhenyu, Zhang Jinghui, Ma Zhanshan, Yu Chonghan, Zang Shiyi, Zhao Xinbo, and Feng Hanqing – made choices to cooperate with those Japanese in charge of Manchukuo. Challenging the dominant nationalist narrative of the People’s Republic of China that Manchukuo’s Chinese-speaking elites were morally corrupt traitors who sold out China’s interests, and that they do not deserve in-depth analysis given their treasonous and puppet nature, this study argues that that local elite experiences in the state of Manchukuo were far more complicated than mere subservience and betrayal because Manchukuo was not a Japanese colony in the early 1930s. Those Chinese-speaking elites who cooperated with the Japanese authorities in Manchukuo came from a variety of backgrounds, such as former Manchu Qing aristocrats, Han imperial loyalists, local warlords and elites, and modern intellectuals. They often had their own philosophical viewpoints, political agendas or plans when they made calculated decisions to participate in Manchukuo’s creation in the early 1930s, and the majority regarded the Japanese as allies rather than invaders. Instead of imposing direct military domination over Manchukuo’s local population since the regime’s creation in 1932, Japanese relied heavily on local support to solicit their position in the regime, something that many studies on Manchukuo overlook. Although having different goals and ambitions, at least before 1937, Chinese-speaking elites in Manchuria shaped the region’s political terrain with the Japanese. Former Manchukuoan officials’ postwar treatment, Chinese analyses of them, and commemoration of China’s wartime experiences are also major concerns of this study because the Chinese state to date oversimplifies China’s wartime experiences between 1931 and 1945 by conceptualizing the country as a victim of Japanese imperialism and highlighting people’s resistance to Japan’s defeat, leaving no space for mainland Chinese historians to reevaluate the officials in Manchukuo and other Japanese-occupied areas.
Date: 2019-05
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Terms of Use: All items in the Atrium are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
Embargoed Until: 2023-04-22

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International