五四运动 (Wŭsì Yùndòng), the May 4th Movement, shaped the China of today.
May 1919. China was seething. The emperor had been deposed, but the country was still in uproar, warlords fighting for supremacy, and foreign powers taking what they could.
The movement was sparked by protests when, after World War I, China didn’t get back the areas that Germany had taken – instead, the Treaty of Versailles passed them on to Japan.
Students took to the streets – and to the printing presses, and to the pamphlets: Some of China’s greatest modern thinkers participated – including our recent theme week star, Lŭ Xùn!
It sparked an explosion of ideologies: Anti-imperialism, to leave the dynasties behind, nationalism, to rip China out of the claws of the invaders; cosmopolitanism, to let in all the great things of the outside world; republicanism, to share the power; and communism, to share the wealth.
Shanghai marching. Baidu Baike