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REPORT ON THE FIRST SYMPOSIUM ON REPUBLICAN HISTORY IN THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA by Li Zongyi The first symposium on the history of Republican China was held at the Baixia Hotel in Nanjing, May 5-10, 1984. From various research institutions 228 famous scholars attended the conference. Among them were Li Xin, Li Zongyi,.Chen Xulu, Li Kan, Sun Sibai, Peng Ming, Lai Xinxia and other famous specialists. Professor Lloyd Eastman of the University of Illinois, who was doing research at the University of Nanjing, and four other foreign visitors also attended the conference. The conference was jointly called by the University of Nanjing, the Academy of Social Sciences of Jiangsu Province, the Second Historical Archives, the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Literary and Historical Materials (Wenshi ziliao) Research Commission of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and the Association of Chinese Contemporary History. Eighty-eight papers, focusing on the period of Guomindang rule from 1927 to 1949, were presented. The participants also exchanged views on how to promote research and exchange views on the history of Republican China. The six major topics that were discussed at the conference follow. 1. Evaluation of the tariff-autonomy policy adopted during the initial period of Nationalist rule. After the Treaty of Nanjing was signed between China and England in 1842, many unequal treaties were concluded with the foreign powers, ·first by the Qing government and later by the Northern Warlords' governments. The Nationalist government during ita initial period, through normal diplomatic procedures, concluded friendly trade and new tariff treaties with various nations. All these treaties recognized the tariff autonomy of China. Some participants at the conference suggested that the signing of these treaties conformed, to a certain extent, to the interests of the people by encouraging the development of the productive forces of China and protecting her markets; they can, therefore, be considered as progress in history. These scholars also pointed out the limitations of the new treaties: that the government was merely begging the foreign powers to reduce some of their privileges in China. Being unable to regain administrative control over the customs or to decide the tariff rate, China fundamentally did not have tariff autonomy. But other scholars at the conference argued that China did regain administrative control over the customs 73 and could decide ita own tariff rate because the Customs Bureau at the time was under the Department of Finance and because, up to 1937, one-third of the directors of customs offices at the various ports were Chinese. Another group of participants suggested that the tariff autonomy policy should not be lauded too highly. The signing of new treaties and the abolition of the unequal treaties were two distinct things; Chiang Kai-shek disregarded Sun Yat-sen'a demand that the unequal treaties be abrogated, so this certainly should not be regarded as historical progress. 2. The Second Northern Expedition of 1928 and the Allegiance of the Northeast. One opinion expressed at the conference was that the Second Northern Expedition and Zhang Xueliang's pledge of loyalty to the Nanjing government brought about the temporary unification of the country--a great achievement which should be acknowledged. Another opinion held that the Second Northern Expedition was a war between warlords the results of which cannot be judged to have been positive in nature. It was different in character from the First Northern Expedition, which had been jointly led by the Nationalist and the Communist Parties. One has to look at unification dialectically; it is not always progressive in nature. The unification of the War of the Central Plains, for example, had the objective of suppressing the Communist Party: one ought not approve of that kind of unification. 3. The Fabi (Legal Tender) Policy adopted by the Nationalist government in 1935. Many participants considered the fabi policy a great achievement in the history of the Chinese monetary system. It not only unified the nation's currency and brought about an advance in the commodity economy; it also stabilized the Chinese currency and insulated it from the fluctuations of world silver prices. In addition, it aped up the destruction...


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