Telegraphs, sovereignty, and Chinese nation-building

ANU China Seminar Series

Telegraphs, sovereignty, and Chinese nation-building from the late Qing to the end of World War II
Wei Shuge

4:00pm – 5:30pm, Thursday 15 Jun 2017
Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU, Canberra

China’s efforts to reclaim sovereignty over the development and use of cable telegraphs has escaped the attention of historians of modern China. Yet this was not merely a technical issue; it involved a multi-layered process of international negotiation, replete with political and cultural tensions. This seminar examines China’s interactions and rivalries with three foreign cable companies from the late Qing period to the end of World War II. It analyses the development of China’s cable telegraph system in four phases—the competition of central and local governments during the late Qing period; the intra-clique struggle of the early Republic and the warlord era; the rivalry of the party, military, and the state during the Nanjing decade; and the direct conflict between China and Japan during wartime. The seminar argues that existing political tensions played a crucial role in shaping how China’s cable policies were devised. In this context, ideologies of imperialism and nationalism provided the rhetorical basis for diverse interest groups to advance their respective agendas.

Wei Shuge is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language, ANU. Her research interests include China’s media history, Sino-Japanese War and memory, political culture of the Kuomintang government, and grassroots movements in Taiwan and China. She published in distinguished journals including Modern Asian Studies and Twentieth-Century China. She is the author of News under Fire: China’s Propaganda against Japan in the English-Language Press, 1928–1941, published by Hong Kong University Press in March 2017. She is a research associate of Heidelberg University and Shih Hsin University in Taiwan.