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  • Down with Traitors: Justice and Nationalism in Wartime China by Yun Xia
  • Patrick Fuliang Shan (bio)
Yun Xia. Down with Traitors: Justice and Nationalism in Wartime China. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2018. 267 pp. Paperback $30.00, isbn 978-0-295-74286-1.

The Chinese resistance against the Japanese invasion lasted for more than a decade, if Japan's occupation of Northeast China [Manchuria] is counted as the beginning. If 1937 is viewed as the starting point of the Anti-Japanese War [kangrizhanzheng] or the Second Sino-Japanese War, this war remains a long-term military conflict as it endured for eight years. It is true that much has already been written on this war. Narrowly speaking, even the Chinese collaboration with Japan during the war has been a fascinating scholarly topic. Yet, very few scholars have explored the Chinese punishment of collaborators. Needless to say, this is still virgin territory. However, nobody has questioned its importance, because the Chinese judiciary between 1944 and 1947 processed 45,679 collaboration cases, prosecuted 30,185 individuals, and convicted 14,932. Among those convicted, 369 were executed and 979 were imprisoned for life (pp. 6–7). The large numbers underscore the magnitude of this historical episode. Yun Xia makes use of abundant primary sources, utilizes the existing literature, and renders a sound analysis of this neglected area. Her monograph should be seen as a contribution to the study of the Chinese war against Japan and its impacts upon modern Chinese society.

Xia's monograph is partitioned into five chapters along with an introduction and an epilogue. In Chapter 1, Xia explores the etymological changes of hanjin (meaning "traitors of the Han people") by tracing its origin and evolution. Of course, hanjin is a much stronger term than "collaborator," as hanjin were portrayed as more vicious than the Japanese because they helped Japan ravage the land and hurt their own people. Although the term was used long ago, it was resurrected as a keyword in the discourse of national liberation, as a reaction to Japan's invasion in the 1930s. By labeling collaborators as hanjin, the Chinese endeavored to enhance their ethnic awareness and alert any who intended to collaborate with the enemy. With this as a public mood, the Nationalist Government led by Chiang Kai-shek issued "The Regulations on Punishing Hanjin" on August 23, 1937, meting out a variety of punishments to the crimes collaborators had committed (pp. 22, 25). During the war, the regulations were not only revised but also implemented along with additional laws. As soon as the war ended, the Nationalist Government proclaimed a new set of "Regulations on Handling Hanjin Cases" on September 29, 1945. The major problem was that Chiang's administration "was mainly after those who had founded, supported, or followed the regime that had opposed his government" (p. 31). Henceforth, the postwar trials tended to be more complex. Although many hanjin were punished, a strong [End Page 248] nationalist sentiment was superimposed onto the laws, while legal experts only played a minimal role as the anti-hanjin campaign virtually became a social and political movement.

Chapter 2 shows Xia's deliberate selections of relevant cases to demonstrate the implementation of measures to punish hanjin during and after the war. During the war, the elimination of those collaborators became an integral component of China's war efforts. Hanjin crimes resulted in sudden assassination and quick execution, while the state and the local community formed an alliance in the name of justice. Chiang's intelligence agencies, such as Juntong and Zhongtong, along with other governmental organs, carried out the anti-hanjin campaigns (p. 51). It is hard to obtain the exact numbers of those who were punished, but it is clear that this campaign continued even when the war was over. After the war, a mass movement was launched and a judiciary was organized to handle the hanjin cases. People were encouraged to accuse any potential suspects. As a result, malicious accusations occurred. Some individuals were motivated to act because of personal feuds. The difficult cases were those who had competing loyalties, meaning that they worked for the puppet regime in Nanjing...


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pp. 248-251
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