Shen Bao

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Shen Bao (Chinese: 申報; Pinyin: Shēn Bào) was a newspaper published in Shanghai, China. It was published between April 30, 1872 and May 27, 1949, making it the longest running for any newspaper in China. The name has also been transliterated as Shun Pao or Shen-pao. In English, the newspaper was usually called Shanghai News. The name is short for Shenjiang Xinbao. Shenjiang is a short form of Chunsheng jiang, the old name for the Huangpu River.[1]

The paper was started by Ernest Major (1841-1908),[2] in 1872. Major was a British businessman. Shen Bao was one of the first modern Chinese newspapers. Major returned to England in 1899, and the newspaper was reorganised to be Major Company Limited.[3] According to Zhou,[4] Major was different from other foreign newspapers in two areas: From the start, he made it clear, that the newspaper would be for Chinese readers, and not for foreigners. He therefore picked those news and issues that would be interesting to Chinese. Secondly, he made Chinese compradors responsible for running the business and he had Chinese editors select the news and write the editorials. He was very successful: The Chinese compradors used their ties with the community, raised the circulation, and obtained advertisements. This made the paper cheaper than those of the competition. The Chinese editors knew what their readers wanted to read about.

Shen Bao played an important role and helped form public opinion at the end of the 19th century. The paper ran a campaign against hiring young women as waitresses in opium dens. According to the campaign, this made it difficult to distinguish between what could be tolerated, and what could not, because it implicitly said these women would also provide sex services in the dens. Most of the dens with this practice were in the French Concession. The campaign said that one of the reasons this problem existed was that there were foreigners in Shanghai.[5] There was an uproar, and the practice was banned; in reality little was done to eradicate it, though.

The newspaper was innovative: It used new printing technologies, sent a military correspondent to cover the Sino-French War in Vietnam in 1884 and used vernacular (baihua)"[6] Quickly it got the reputation of being one of the best newspapers in China. It was bought by a Chinese in 1909.[7] In the early 20th century it had a circulation of 30.000 copies a day. 9.000 of them in Shanhai, and the rest was for other parts of China.[8] "By the early 1920s its circulation was 50,000; by the end of the decade 100,000; and by the mid 1930s, 150,000."[9]

The paper's offices were in the International Settlement, "about a block away from the Central Police Station."[10] At first, the paper had eight pages, with news, essays, and advertisements as well as imperial decrees and memorials. "Because the editorial policies followed the principle of 'reporting whatever possible and letting the readers determine the truth,' many interesting but unfounded rumors were often included as news." After 1905, it increased its size to twenty pages.[3]

Shen Bao was founded as a commercial newspaper. Politically, it was conservative for the first three decades and supported the Qing government. In 1905, it started to change its orientation: On New Year's Day it quoted Liang Qichao's constitutionalist slogans. In 1907, the paper was sold to Xi Zipei (1867-1929),[11] Xi Zipei used to be a comprador of the paper. Xi Zipei was influenced by Zhang Jian. The paper changed and became quite liberal and strongly supported the constitutional movement.[12] "It had the following sections: editorials, international news, domestical news, local news, industry and trade, law and society, sports and education, literature and art, and advertisements. In addition to reporting important political news stories, it had many special columns and supplements such as ziyou tan (free discussion), automobile, education and life."[3] In 1912 control was transferred to Shi Liangcai. "In the 1930s, Shi was a strong supporter of the Human Rights Defence Alliance established by Madam Soong Qing Ling.Soong Qing Ling was the second wife of revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat-sen, with Cai Yuanpei and Lu Xun."[13]

In 1934, the newspaper made the government angry, because it had a strong attitude against the Japanese. "On November 13, Shih Liang-ts'ai, its owner and editor-in-chief, was mysteriously assassinated on the Shanghai-Hangchow Highway";[14] responsibility for his murder has been laid at the feet of the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, Chiang Kai-shek's much-feared secret police.[15][16] In 1938, with the city under Japanese control, Norwood Francis Allman (1893-1987), an American lawyer who had been U.S. Consul in Shanghai in the early 1920s, was asked by the paper's Chinese owners to take over as editor; Time wrote in 1940: "A fluent Chinese linguist, Allman reads every story that goes into Shun Pao, writes editorials, corrects editorials written by staff members. He serves without pay."[17] The paper was on bad terms with the Japanese, and in 1940 a Chinese assistant editor was killed and his head left on the street as a warning to journalists.[18] During World War II the paper passed into the hands of collaborators with the Japanese occupation, but after the war Pan Gongzhan, an influential Kuomintang party official who had been an editor on the paper in the late 1920s,[19] became its publisher and Chen Shunyü its chief editor. In May 1949, the People's Liberation Army took Shanghai and shut down the newspaper was.

There is a complete collection of the paper's issues in the Shanghai Library.[20]

References[change | change source]

  1. Endymion Wilkinson, Chinese History: A Manual, Revised and Enlarged (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000: ISBN 0-674-00249-0), p. 967.
  2. Dates from Roberta Wue, "The Profits of Philanthropy: Relief Aid, Shenbao, and the Art World in Later Nineteenth-Century Shanghai," Late Imperial China 25 (June 2004), pp. 187-211.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chinese History Research Site at UCSD, Miscellaneous Sources.
  4. Yongming Zhou, Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006: ISBN 0-8047-5128-5), p. 45.
  5. Paraphrased from Thou:Historizing politics, p. 50
  6. Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 967.
  7. Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 968.
  8. Mary Ninde Gamewell, New Life Currents in China (Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, 1919), pp. 162-163.
  9. Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 995.
  10. Harriet Sergeant, Shanghai: Collision Point of Cultures 1918-1939 (Crown, 1991: ISBN 0-517-57025-4), p. 162.
  11. Dates from Ellen Widmer, "The Saoye shanfang of Suzhou and Shanghai: An Evolution in Five Stages" [Word document]; Xi's name in Chinese is 希子佩.
  12. Mary Clabaugh Wright, China in Revolution: The First Phase, 1900-1913 (Yale University Press, 1971: ISBN 0-300-01460-0), p. 157.
  13. Patsy Yang and Jolin Ng, "Cheers for favorite old bars and some newbies in Tongren Road," Shanghai Daily, July 13, 2009.
  14. Lee-hsia Hsu Ting, Government Control of the Press in Modern China, 1900-1949 (Harvard University Asia Center, 1975: ISBN 0-674-35820-1), p. 97.
  15. John K. Fairbank and Albert Feuerwerker, eds., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 13: Republican China 1912-1949, Part 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1986: ISBN 0-521-24338-6), p. 144.
  16. Frederic E. Wakeman, Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service (University of California Press, 2003: ISBN 0-520-23407-3), pp. 179ff.
  17. Time, "Foreign News: New Order in Shanghai," July 29, 1940.
  18. Paul French, Carl Crow, a Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times, and Adventures of an American in Shanghai (Hong Kong University Press, 2007: ISBN 962-209-802-9), p. 212.
  19. Xiaoqun Xu, Chinese Professionals and the Republican State: The Rise of Professional Associations in Shanghai, 1912-1937 (Cambridge University Press, 2001: ISBN 0-521-78071-3), p. 171.
  20. Min Wu, "Newspapers in the Shanghai Library," International Newspaper Librarianship for the 21st Century, p. 173.

Other websites[change | change source]

  • ICON (International Coalition on Newspapers) listing