SCALAPINO, R and G.T. YU. The Chinese Anarchist Movement -7-


ChineseEducationAnarchist schools and cultural circles. See also Education; UniversitiesUniversitiesWU CHIH-HUI (1865-1953)CHU MINYISCALAPINO, RobertYU G. T.CHANG CHING-CHIANGLI SHTH-TSENGWANG CHING-WEI CHANG CHIBeijing / Peking (China)TSTAI YUAN-P’EIYUAN SHIH-K’AI
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A New Project

In this same period. the Paris Anarchist Group were engaged in another work-study project to send Chinese students to France. While this project in some senses was related only peripherally to the Chinese Anarchist Movement, still no study of that movement would be complete without giving attention to the new French program.

As we noted earlier, some of the young Paris Anarchist Group, notably Chang Ching-chiang and Li Shth-tseng, had used family funds to launch a few enterprises in the period after 1905. Thus they enabled the employment of comrades from home who could simultaneously acquire an education. As has also been indicated, men like Chang and Li came home from Europe as Francophiles in addition to being Anarchists. They continued to harbor the hope that as many Chinese students as possible would have the opportunities for a French education. It is interesting to note some of their arguments as to why France was an ideal area for Chinese overseas education. [1] First, French education, they asserted, had long been separated from the superstitions of monarchy and religion. In France, the monarchy had vanished and the French Revolution stood as a monument to human liberty. Moreover, the required study of religion had been abolished in 1886, with a further separation of church and state being initiated in 1907. [2] Also, French education was relatively cheap and the French people were generous to foreigners. In terms of "deep knowledge," moreover, while each Western country had its speciality, the French were most famous for the wide range of their scholarship and its originality. The pre-eminence of French science was illustrated by the nearly universal use of French measurements and the large roster of famous French scientists. But French achievements were equally noted in the humanities; where else could one find men like Montesquieu and Rousseau? [3]]

"Frugal Study" in France

To forward their causes Wu Chih-hui, Wang Ching-wei, Li Shih-tseng, Chang Ching-chiang, Chtu Min-i, Chang Chi, and Chi Chu-shan founded the Liu-Fachien-hsueh Hui. "The Society for Frugal Study in France." in 1912. The second phase of the overseas work-study movement had begun. The purpose of the Frugal Study Society was to promote simple living and low costs for the students, thus enabling them to find the means to go to France and remain there for the time necessary to complete their studies. There was no compulsion upon the student to work, incidentally, if he had the necessary funds. The Society also undertook to provide some advance language training and indoctrination for life and study abroad. [4]

A preparatory school was established in Peking [Beijing], with Chi Chushan in charge and one Frenchman was hired as an instructor. Fortunately, Tstai Yuan-p’ei was currently serving as Minister of Education with the Peking [Beijing] government, and he provided the school with quarters. To join the Society or participate in the school, one had to be over fourteen years of age unless he was in the company of parents. In good Anarchist fashion, the Society had no officers. Instead, a few "workers" were selected by the members to carry our specific functions. Nor were there any dues other than the necessary educational costs and needed expenses which were supposedly met through the "mutual aid" of all comrades In some respects, this was another scheme for anarchism in action.

Students were to travel to France via the Siberian railway. The trip took about eighteen days, and cost approximately two hundred dollars. Food and lodging were to be arranged either through the school or in some other organized quarters. The full costs were set at five or six hundred dollars yearly, although this sum included travel and clothing. Students were expected to commit themselves to at least three years of foreign schooling and the type of education they were to undertake was determined by the number of years they agreed to spend abroad. The emphasis, however, was to be upon science and technical subjects, not upon politics, law, or military studies. Students were not to visit prostitutes, smoke, drink, or gamble. The regulations concluded with the hope that through this program, scholars would be created who were frugal in their living habits, pure in their character, and possessed of skills to match their intelligence. [5]

It is not difficult to see the Anarchist themes shining through. The Peking [Beijing] Preparatory School opened in the spring of 1912. It had some interesting rules. The curriculum consisted of French (taught by the Frenchmen), Chinese, and mathematics. Various comrades (notably the Paris veterans) were invited to speak before the school. The term was fixed at six months, with an examination at the conclusion. Those who passed were to be sent to France under the auspices of the Society. Expenses would be assumed by the comrades. The tuition for the Peking [Beijing] school was determined by the number of students each term; if there were twenty students, each would pay eight dollars per month, but if there were forty, the tuition would be reduced to six dollars per month. As might have been expected, French proved a difficult language for the students to master, and a number became discouraged. However, almost one hundred individuals were sent to France before political changes in 1913 forced Ts’ai out as Minister of Education and caused the school to be closed. [6] A Frugal Study Society had also been established for England, and some twenty students sent there. This project was initiated by Chang Ching-chiang, and managed by Wu Chih-hui in London during part of this period.

The failure of the nationalist revolution and the rise of Yuan Shih-k’ai seriously interfered with the Frugal Study Movement. Moreover, with the outbreak of the European war, Chinese students could not be sent to France. Hence, organized activities in China were largely abandoned although Li and some others continued to propagate the cause. As the war dragged on, however, France began to face an acute manpower shortage. Consequently, the French government negotiated with the Chinese government for Chinese workers. Tens of thousands of laborers were sent. Under these circumstances, Li and his friends saw another opportunity whereby they could recruit students willing to work in order to study abroad. The hope was that for each year’s work, a Chinese student would be able to afford two years’ study.

The "Diligent Work-Frugal Study" Movement

Thus in June 1915, the old Paris Anarchist Group and their supporters organized a new society, Ch’in-kung chien-hseh Hui, "The Association for Diligent Work and Frugal Study." [7] In the earlier Society, as was noted, there had been no special premium upon the students working if funds could be acquired by other means. This new program was specifically geared to a work-study movement. However, other categories of students continued to go to France: those with private means and a few with government scholarships. [8] In 1916, Li was able to conclude an agreement with French authorities for his own recruitment program. Once again, preparatory schools were opened in Peking [Beijing] and elsewhere. The Diligent Work-Frugal Study Association also established branches in various Chinese cities. In addition, certain Frenchmen cooperated with the old Paris group to found the Sino-French Educational Association. Ts’ai was made head, and Li served as secretary. In France, this Association was to make arrangements for the students, and help them with their problems. In China, it was to help in recruitment and general cultural relations. Headquarters were established in Peking [Beijing], with branches in Canton, Shanghai, and other areas.

By 1917, the work-study movement had spread to a number of Chinese provinces, and had widespread intellectual support, Moreover, prospective students, thrilled by the possibility of overseas study, were willing to do almost anything to get this opportunity. Ho Ch’ang-kung has written an account of particular interest concerning his own experience in the work-study movement of this period. [9] In the winter of 1917, he was attending a technical school in Changsha, Hunan province, one term away from graduation and worried about the future. Suddenly, his elementary school teacher and friend, Lo Hsi-wen, returned from Canton, having made contact there with the work-study branch office and Huang Ch’iang, who was operating it. Immediately, Lo wrote Tstai and Li in Peking. They responded by urging Lo to found a preparatory school in Hunan, but the provincial government at Changsha refused to help.

Discouraged, Lo and a friend, Tai Hsun, decided to go directly to Peking [Bejing]in February 1918. During the spring, they had conversations with Li on how funds could be obtained to aid the students from Hunan who wanted to go overseas. Ultimately the overseas Workers Department of the government agreed to loan some money. Thus, in the summer of 1918, a message went out to the students back home to come to Peking [Beijing]. Several groups arrived as quickly as they could make arrangements; and the group of twelve that arrived on July 19 included a young man named Mao Tse-tung [Ze-dong].

Shortly thereafter, Ts’ai, Li, and other representatives of the Sino-French Educational Association met with representatives of the Hunan students to discuss schooling and funds. Li told the students that the overseas Workers Department had been willing to extend funds to the Association because of the large number of Chinese laborers in France and their need for educational guidance; otherwise, foreigners would get a bad impression of Chinese. Since the government could not afford to send teachers abroad, the most simple method was to loan some transportation funds to students, who would be expected to continue their studies and teach the Chinese laborers in France. When the first class of thirty students (northerners) had repaid the loan (Li hoped it would be within five months after their arrival in France), then the next class could follow. In this manner, two classes a year would be able to go to France.

The number of Hunanese students who sought entry into preparatory school was actually so large according to Ho that three classes had to be established, one at Peking, the others at Pao-ting and Ch’ang-hsin-tien. Mao was in the Peking class; Liu Shao-chti was one of the sixty Hunanese at Pao-ting along with Li Wei-han. Of course not all of the students went abroad; neither Mao nor Liu made the trip. Ho reports that he spent one year at Ch’ang-hsin-tien, and that their schedule was to work in the mornings, attend school in the afternoons, and study in the evenings.

When Ho finally arrived in France in early 1920, he found some three hundred "diligent work-frugal study" students already in France. He recalls that there were several types of work-study arrangements. Some students worked part-time and studied part-time; others would work for a short period, three or six months, and then study until their savings were exhausted; some brought a small amount of money with them, studied until it was gone, and then sought a job. Ho’s arrival coincided with the flood-tide of students. At one point, they were arriving at the rate of one hundred per month.

The Decline of the Work-Study Movement

By the latter half of 1920, however, economic conditions in France had become troubled. There were problems of postwar dislocation and serious inflation. Unemployment was mounting. At first, the Sino-French Educational Association tried to take care of the unemployed Chinese students. But by the beginning of 1921, there were over 1000 students in France, the majority of whom had insufficient funds and little or no work. The Association did not have the money to provide for this number. [10] Many of the students suffered real hardships, going without proper food or clothing, and living under miserable conditions. Some even lived in tents in the garden of the Association’s Paris headquarters. Bitter conflicts ensued. Li Shth-tseng had returned to China in December 1919; Chang Chi also went back in June 1920. Ts’ai Yuan-p’ei came to France just in time to inherit the most difficult problems. As head of the Association, he finally announced on January 16, 1921, that they would no longer assume financial responsibility for the "diligent work and frugal study" students. Then the students sought help from the Chinese Legation in Paris. The Chinese government offered only to pay transportation costs home for those unable to raise these funds. The provincial governments at home also refused to help.

On February 28, 1921, several hundred Chinese students came to their Legation demanding that the government give them four hundred francs a month for a period up to four years. The French government at this point undertook to give some support to the student cause. In May, a special French-Chinese joint committee was founded to aid the worker-students. Funds were secured from various sources with both the Chinese and the French governments making contributions, as well as private donors. For a time, some eight hundred students received aid, in the amount of five francs daily. New complexities and disputes arose. Shortly, French and Chinese authorities combined to put pressures upon many students to return home, and to safeguard themselves in the future, the authorities also insisted upon a 5,000 Yuan guarantee from each prospective student. The "diligent work-frugal study" idea was ending rather badly. In September 1921, the joint committee was abolished and financial aid was stopped on October 15.

Meanwhile, another incident had occurred in connection with "Lyons University, " the so-called Chinese overseas university in France. This project, initiated by Wu Chih-hui, had the support of Ch’en Chiung-ming and others. The idea was to establish a special institution for Chinese students in France, and Wu was to serve as president. A dispute arose over who should be allowed to attend. Wu insisted that this project was separate from the "diligent work-frugal study" movement, partly because the money for Lyons University was being put up by certain provinces, and so only students from those areas, selected by him, were eligible. Wu arrived with his students at the end of September, 1921. At about the same time, over one hundred of the work-study students left Paris for Lyons, determined to obtain quarters on the campus. They included Ts’ai Ho-shen, Li Li-san, Li Wei-han, and Ch’en I. When they arrived in Lyons, they forced their way into the "University " houses. Lyons police removed them, and put them temporarily in some military barracks. Negotiations with Wu began, but while these were going on, the French police suddenly rounded up the detained students, shipped them to Marseilles, and put them forcibly aboard a ship sailing for China. One hundred and four students, including Ts’ai Ho-shen, Li Li-san, and Ch’en I were returned in this fashion.

These experiences, quite as much as contact with Western ideas, may have induced radicalism among the Chinese overseas students of this period. It is interesting to read the memoirs of yet another student, Sheng Ch’eng. [11] Sheng departed from Shanghai for Europe on October 22, 1919. When he reached Paris, he quickly observed that Li Shih-tseng was in complete charge of the work-study movement. But he received little aid from the Sino-French Educational Association. In this period, a student got a tent in their garden and a small "maintenance fee. " Everyone naturally wanted to get out of a tent, reported Sheng, and thus any announcement that a few workers were needed somewhere was always greeted with joy. But a worker-student had to pass a very rigorous test before being accepted for employment. Sheng recalled that all the students had great respect for Li, but most were dissatisfied with the Association, largely because it seemed to have few contacts and could not find them employment.

Although Sheng received some funds from home, these were insufficient and so he went to work in a lumber factory. But he spent his evenings reading Marx, Kropotkin, and other revolutionaries who gave him "theoretical guidance" to match his practical experience. "I was slowly turning into a Socialist with a bent toward Anarchism, " he wrote. [12] Soon Sheng lost his job, and joined the ranks of the unemployed. In June 1920, Wu Chih-hui came to Paris, and Sheng reported that the students looked to him for salvation. But no salvation was forthcoming. Wu insisted that a distinction had to be made between the work-study movement and the Sino-French Educational Association on the one hand, and the Lyons University project on the other. The former, Wu asserted, was the responsibility of Li and his associates; the latter was his program. It was at this point that the students set up their own organization and among other things, requested the Sino-French Education Association in China to stop sending more students to France. But little came of these actions. Wu returned to China and more students continued to come.

Sheng gave a graphic account of the mounting tension in 1921 among the Chinese students in France. When the Association washed its hands of the students, he reported, the French government provided some assistance. But the February demonstration before the Chinese Legation resulted in violence, and Chinese students battled with French police. There was also fighting in June. The students were becoming more militant and more radical. Both French and Chinese authorities were becoming more hostile. And according to Sheng, "Lyons University" was nothing but a few houses which cost seventy thousand yuan. A nine year lease had been signed, but the houses were never used for more than living quarters:

"In the fall of 1922, the Peking government finally sent one hundred-thousand Yuan to the Paris Sino-French Educational Association to aid the students. Now the Association, which had previously been little more than an address to which one had one’s mail sent, suddenly became active. Under its secretary, Li Kuang-han, a committee was established to distribute the money. Unfortunately, Li pocketed some of the money and disappeared. But on the whole, the conditions of the students improved." [13]

In the February, 1923 issue of Hsin Chiao-y, (The New Education), there appeared an interesting letter from the headquarters of the Chinese Students Association in Paris. [14] According to its authors, the basic problem remained French industrial decline, and the difficulty under these circumstances of competing with French workers, especially when attempting to go to school. Over one hundred Chinese students had died during the past three years as a result of conditions, asserted the writers. Since the government sent one hundred thousand yuan last year (out of two hundred thousand yuan appropriated), there had been some relief. About nine hundred students had been helped, each receiving approximately one thousand francs; but this represented only one-half of the amount needed.

The letter asserted that a census taken in the fall of 1922 indicated that there were some 920 worker-students currently in France. All had graduated previously from Chinese high schools. Since arriving in France, they had been able to obtain two to three years schooling after engaging in work. This amount of time, the writers maintained, was insufficient. Five years of education should be a minimum. Chinese government students were receiving eight hundred francs a month, it was stated. If the worker-students could receive one-third of that amount, and hope for some additional provincial government support, they would be satisfied. The letter ended with a proposal that the Boxer Indemnity Fund which France had lately agreed could be used for Sino-French educational purposes, be allocated to this cause.

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[1For one valuable account of the French work-study movement, see a Chinese book published in Paris: Shih-chich-she, comp., L-Ou chiao-y yn-tung (The Educational Movement in Europe), Tours, France, 1916, 123 pp. See especially the section entitled "Reasons for Leaning Towards French Education," pp. 63-65.

[2Ibid., p. 63.

[3Ibid., p. 65.

[4Ibid., pp. 50-55.

[5Ibid., p. 55.

[6Ibid., p. 55.

[7Shu Hsin-ch’eng, Chin-tai Chung-kuo liu-hseh shih (A History of Students Abroad in Modern China), Shanghai, 1933, p. 88.

[8See Li Shih-tseng, "A Speech on Going to France to Study" (pp. 59-66) in Liu-Fa chien-hseh pao-kao shu, (Report of Frugal Study in France) put out by the Kwangtung Branch of the Sino-French Educational Association, Canton, 1918. This little volume contains some twenty items relating to the work-study movement in France up to 1918, including essays by its leaders, descriptions by participants, and a few documents and news reports.

[9Ho Ch’ang -kung, Ch’in kung chien-hseh sheng-huo hui-i, (Recollections of Diligent Work and Frugal Study Life), Peking 1958. A very interesting work by a veteran Communist.

[10Pien Hsiao-hsuan, Editor, "Sources on Diligent Work and Frugal Study in France", Chin-tai-shih tzu-liao(Contemporary Historical Materials), No. 2, April, 1955, Peking, pp.174-208. Shu Hsin-ch’eng, op. cit., says there were 1700 unemployed Chinese by the beginning of 1921. p.94.

[11Sheng Ch’eng, Hai-wai kung-tu shih-nien chi-shih (A True Record of Ten Years of Work and Study Overseas), Shanghai, 1932.

[12Ibid., pp. 52-54.

[13Ibid., pp. 56 ff .

[14"Letter Regarding Plans for the Fundamental Solution of the Diligent Work-Frugal Student Movement," Hsin Chiao-y, Vol. 6, No. 2, February, 1923, pp. 239-242.