The Nanjing Decade

The ten-year period between the end of the Northern Expedition in 1927 and the start of the War of Resistance in 1937 is often referred to as the "Nanjing Decade." Under Chiang Kai-shek's leadership, the Nanjing government unified China to an extent not seen since the fall of the Qing. Superficially, China seemed to modernize quickly. Chinese cities across the nation (Shanghai and Nanjing, in particular) emerged as the vanguard of China's new cosmopolitanism. Shanghai became the "Paris of the Orient" with an urban renaissance that seemed to prosper under KMT rule. Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Song Meiling, sought to provide a moral underpinning to this emergent Chinese identity with their "New Life Movement" (8.6). However, pervasive corruption, runaway inflation, and only minimal economic aid for the largest, and poorest, segments of the population made the regime increasingly unpopular

(8.7). Politically and militarily, Chiang Kai-shek fostered an intense loathing of Chinese Communists. He stepped up military actions against both the Communists and remaining warlords in a series of campaigns that lasted well into the 1930s. In this regard, the Nanjing Decade preserved a distinctly military flavor similar to the same period in Italy and Germany. Looming in the background of all this was the constant threat of further Japanese encroachment. Undermining this relatively popular and prosperous era was Chiang Kai-shek's reluctance to confront the Japanese militarily.

Emergency Law for the Suppression of Crimes Against the Safety of the Republic (1931)

Between 1929 and 1934, Chiang Kai-shek's military forces were almost constantly engaged in campaigns against warlords, the Communists, and any individuals within the KMT who dared dissent. The general public did not completely embrace Chiang's new brand of governance. Protests against his passive stance toward japan's aggression in northeast China, denunciations of the government in the press, and political agitation amongst the student and working classes were all prevalent during the first decade of KMT rule. Chiang Kai-shek reacted to this by enacting a set of laws severely restricting personal rights. Promulgated by the National government on January 31, 1931, these Emergency Laws were implemented a month later, on March 1st. As the military tone of the laws suggests, the KMT government was still attempting to reintegrate many areas of China under their authority. By 1937, Chiang had only managed to bring two-thirds of China's territory back under Nanjing's centralized administration.

Questions

  • 1. Taking the Emergency Laws as a whole, what are Chiang Kai- shek's primary goals in instituting the new regulations?
  • 2. One historian of the Nanjing Decade suggested Chiang's rule was neither democratic nor totalitarian but somewhere in between. If you were to judge his administration by this set of laws, how would you describe his government?

Article 1. Whoever, with a view to subvert the Republic, commits one of the following acts, shall be punished by death:

  • 1. Disturbing peace and order,
  • 2. Entering into a secret relationship with a foreign country in order to disturb peace and order,
  • 3. Associating with rebels in order to disturb peace and order,
  • 4. Instigating a military person to commit a non-disciplinary act or cause him to fail in the performance of this duty, or to associate with rebels.

Article 2. Whoever, with a view to subvert the Republic, commits one of the following acts shall be punished with death or life imprisonment:

  • 1. Instigating another person to disturb peace and order or to associate with rebels,
  • 2. Conducting a campaign of propaganda against the State by writing, sketching, or speech-making.

Article 3. Whoever, with a view to subvert the Republic, commits one of the following acts, shall be punished by life imprisonment or imprisonment of not less than ten years:

  • 1. Committing a non-disciplinary act, failing in the performance of his duty, or associating with rebels on the instigation of the criminal indicated Par. 4 of Article 1,
  • 2. Disturbing peace and order or associating with rebels on the instigation of the criminal indicated in Par. 1 of Article 2,
  • 3. Conducting propaganda on the instigation of the criminal indicated in Par. 2 of Article 2.

Whoever, having committed one of the crimes specified in the preceding paragraphs, on immediately and voluntarily reporting, shall receive an attenuation or exoneration of the penalty.

Article 4. Whoever, having knowledge that a certain individual is a rebel, shelters him without giving notification to the competent authorities, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than five years.

Whoever, having committed the crime specified in the preceding paragraph, immediately and voluntarily reports, shall receive an attenuation or exoneration of the penalty.

Article 5. Whoever, with a view to subvert the Republic, commits one of the following acts, shall be punished with death, or life imprisonment or imprisonment of not less than ten years:

  • 1. Obtaining or transporting military supplies for rebels,
  • 2. Revealing or transmitting to rebels military and political secrets,
  • 3. Destroying means of communication.

Article 6. Whoever, with a view to subvert the Republic, organizes associations or unions or spreads doctrines incompatible with the "Three Principles of the People," shall be punished by imprisonment of from five to fifteen years.

Article 7. Whoever commits one of the crimes specified by the present law in a region under a state of siege shall be tried by the highest military organ in that region. If he commits the crime within the limits of the suppression of banditry, he shall be tried by a provisional court composed of the magistrate of the district and two judicial officials.

The provisional court shall be established in the district and the magistrate shall be designated as the president of the court.

Article 8. In case a suspect is tried by a military organ in conformity with the present law, that organ shall submit a statement of the trial to the competent superior military organ and the sentence shall be executed only after approval by the latter. If the suspect is tried by a provisional court, the court shall submit a statement of the trial to the superior court and the sentence shall be executed only after approval by the latter; the case shall also be reported to the provincial government for reference.

The competent superior military organ or the superior court, if it doubts the judgment passed by the organ which is its subordinate, can give to that organ an order for re-examination, or designate a special delegate to be present at the reconsideration of the judgment.

Article 9. The military organ or police which arrests a person suspected of having committed one of the infractions specified by the present law, shall report the matter immediately to the interested competent authorities.

Article 10. To all offences that do not fall within the limits of the present law, the provisions of the Penal Code are applicable.

Article 11. The duration of the application of the present law and the date of its enforcement shall be fixed by ordinance.

The provisional law suppressing anti-revolutionary plots shall be repealed from the date of the enforcement of the present law.

 
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