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Atwell, Pamela (1983) British Mandarins and Chinese reformers: Political, economic, and social change at Weihaiwei, 1898-1938. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029111

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of local administration in the former British leased territory of Weihaiwei in the northeastern Chinese province of Shantung from 1898 to 1938. The first seven chapters deal mainly with the years 1898 to 1930 during which time Weihaiwei was administered first, briefly, by British military officials and then, beginning in 1902, by Colonial Office staff. One of the central themes in these chapters is the fact that those who served in the highest administrative positions at Weihaiwei consistently chose, wherever possible, to maintain traditional Chinese governmental institutions, even to the point of modeling their own behavior on that of local district magistrates. Considerable attention is given to the important role of village headmen in managing local affairs and their relationship with British officials. In spite of a conservative administrative approach, foreign occupation of this nearly three hundred square mile area of rural China for thirty-two years naturally brought with it a good deal of economic, social, and political change. The thesis attempts to analyze how these changes took place as well as the impact of major events occurring elsewhere. A point emphasized throughout is that while Weihaiwei was administered by Britain during these years, its inhabitants remained Chinese citizens, continued to view themselves as such, and were by no means unaffected by events outside the territorial borders. The final two chapters of the thesis deal with the period beginning with Weihaiwei's retrocession to China in October I930 and ending in March 1938 when the area was occupied by Japan. A comparison is made between the administrative methods of the Western-trained, reform-minded representatives of the Nanking regime and their British predecessors. Although some welcome progress was made at this time, notably in the field of education, there were also numerous complaints that government was "interfering" too much in the daily lives of villagers as it superimposed a large and complicated bureaucratic structure on top of traditional institutions. Thus, it is concluded, that in their haste to "modernize" rural China, Kuomintang officials often ignored the most viable and useful aspects of their nation's governmental heritage and in the process lost the confidence of local people.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029111
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:07
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29111

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