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Jiang Kanghu (Chinese: ; pinyin: Jiāng Kànghú; Wade–Giles: Chiang K'ang-hu; Hepburn: Kō Kōko), who preferred to be known in English as Kiang Kang-hu, (July 18, 1883 – December 7, 1954), was a politician and activist in the Republic of China. His former name was "Shaoquan" (紹銓) and he also wrote under the name "Hsü An-ch'eng"(許安誠).[1]

Jiang Kanghu
Jiang Kanghu2.jpg
Native name
Born(1883-07-18)July 18, 1883
Yiyang, Jiangxi, China
DiedDecember 7, 1954(1954-12-07) (aged 71)
Shanghai, China

Jiang was initially attracted by the doctrines of Anarchism and organized the Chinese Socialist Party, the first anarchist-socialist party in China, which existed from 1911 to 1913.[2] As his politics became more conservative, he founded Southern University in Shanghai, taught at University of California, Berkeley, and became chair of the Department of Chinese Studies at McGill University in Canada. During the Second Sino-Japanese War he joined the Japanese-sponsored Reorganized National Government of China. [1] He was arrested as a traitor following the war, and died in a Shanghai jail in 1954.


Early lifeEdit

He was born in Yiyang, Jiangxi, China. Jiang, whose reading abilities included Japanese, English, French, and German, learned and began to develop a passion for socialism and anarchism while studying and traveling in Europe and Japan. In 1909 he attended the congress of the Second International in Brussels. On his return to China, he served as educational adviser to Yuan Shikai.[3]

Early political and literary activitiesEdit

Jiang served briefly as a professor at Peking University, but was ousted from that position on the grounds of his ideological radicalism.[4] In August 1911, shortly after losing his post at Peking University, Jiang Kanghu established the Association for Socialism, and in November renamed it the Socialist Party of China. [5] The next year Jiang devoted himself to reformism, leading Sha Gan (沙淦) and many anarchists to withdraw from Jiang's party. In autumn 1913, the Chinese Socialist Party was dissolved by Yuan Shikai's order, and Jiang went to United States. He became an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he presented a collection of 10,000 Chinese books to the University. In 1920 he returned to China.

While teaching at Berkley, Jiang met a fellow faculty member, Witter Bynner, and the two struck up a long lasting friendship based on their love of poetry. Bynner later recalled him as a “gentle scholar” and a “man of principle and brave action.” Jiang’s off-handed quotations from Chinese literature and poetry led to a collaboration on a translation of the canonical anthology, Three Hundred Tang Poems .[6] Jiang supplied word by word literal translations, then Bynner wrote poems in English which achieved a remarkable balance of faithfulness and literary quality. The volume was published as The Jade Mountain (New York: Knopf, 1928), which has remained constantly in print.[7]

Throughout his life, Jiang continued to promote his views through his personal contacts, through his academic work, and through his writing. When he no longer found the doctrines of anarchism persuasive, he conducted an extensive public debate with anarchist intellectuals such as Liu Shifu which clarified their points of difference. [5] His views influenced contemporary Chinese who later became major political figures in China. After he became estranged from them, Chinese anarchists accused Jiang of being "hopelessly confused." This confusion was not apparent to Mao Zedong, who later stated that, as a student, Jiang's writings had been a major influence on the development of his own political, social, and economic theories.[4]

Academic careerEdit

Through his views, Jiang came to be known as a "Socialistic Confucian". Jiang attempted to provide a traditional sanction for nationalizing agriculture by arguing that in antiquity there had existed an agrarian socialist utopia built around the well-field system that vanished after the Qin dynasty abolished the public ownership of land (which Jiang identified with contemporary practices of land tenureship). Jiang promoted the abolition of private property, a model of rapid industrialization led by the state, as much local self-government as possible, the establishment of universal public schooling, and the advancement of women's rights.[4]

In April 1921 Jiang visited the Soviet Union. He participated in the Comintern Third World Congress in Moscow, and met with Vladimir Lenin. In August 1921, Jiang returned to China. In September 1921 Jiang established Southern University in Shanghai and became the president of that university. While he was the president of Southern, Jiang criticized the Comintern and openly opposed both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China.

In 1922, Jiang visited Taiyuan, Shanxi, three times, with the intention of convincing the local warlord, Yan Xishan, of the need to carry out political, social, and economic reforms in Shanxi. Although Jiang ultimately failed to convince Yan to follow Jiang's suggestions for reform at that time, Jiang's ideas left a great and lasting impression on Yan. Over the next two decades, Yan would adopt ideas and methods that were very similar to those proposed by Jiang. Particular ideas that Yan may have borrowed from Jiang include the glorification of the village, a dislike for the money economy, a belief that the state must take over responsibilities previously held by the family, his hatred of "parasites" (mostly landlords and money-lenders), and the belief that practice (i.e. manual labour) is an inseparable component of learning.[4]

In June 1924, Jiang reestablished the Chinese Socialist Party, and in January 1925 renamed it the New Social Democratic Party of China. In the Northern Expedition, Jiang cooperated closely with the Beiyang General Wu Peifu, who fought against Chiang Kai-shek's National Revolutionary Army. After the defeat of Wu Peifu to Chiang Kai-shek, Jiang was publicly criticized by the Kuomintang. In the face of public opposition Jiang dissolved his party and escaped to Canada.

Jiang served as Canada's first sinologist between 1930 and 1933, when McGill University appointed him as the Professor of Chinese Studies. During his professorship at McGill, Jiang gained international notoriety through attacking Pearl Buck's The Good Earth in the pages of the Chinese Christian Student. Jiang wrote that although peasants, coolies, and other humble persons constituted the vast majority of the Chinese population, they "are certainly not representative of the Chinese people." [8] In 1933, Jiang returned to China and devoted himself to promoting socialism and traditional Chinese culture. In 1935, Jiang again visited Taiyuan, after Yan Xishan announced plans to implement a system of land reform in Shanxi. Jiang's impression of Yan at this time was so great that Jiang wrote an article lavishing praise on Yan, calling the warlord a "practical rather than a theoretical socialist."[4]

Collaboration with Wang JingweiEdit

After the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, Jiang escaped to Hong Kong. In 1939 he was invited by Wang Jingwei to take a position in Wang's Reorganized National Government of China based in Nanjing. Jiang accepted Wang's offer and traveled to Shanghai, where he wrote "The Shuangshijie Declaration about this Situation" (雙十節對時局宣言), asserting the establishment of a New East Asian Order. Jiang was appointed Chief of the Examination Yuan in March 1942.

After the surrender of Japan and collapse of the collaborationist Reorganized National Government of China, Jiang Kanghu was arrested by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government as a traitor. However, due to the ongoing Chinese Civil War, his case was never brought to trial. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, he remained imprisoned in Shanghai at the Tilanqiao Prison. Jiang Kanghu died in prison due to malnutrition and tuberculosis on December 7, 1954.


  1. ^ a b Boorman (1967), p. 338-344.
  2. ^ Hsu Kwan-san (December 1979). "The Biographies of Eminent Chinese in the Republic of China (Minkuo Jen-wu Chuan)". The China Quarterly (Review) (80): 867–871. ISSN 0305-7410. JSTOR 653053.
  3. ^ Jonathan Spence, In Search of Modern China (New York: Norton: 1999), p.260.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gillin, Donald G. Warlord: Yen Hsi-shan in Shansi Province 1911-1949. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1967. pp.206-207
  5. ^ a b Krebs (1998), p. 79-81.
  6. ^ Bynner, “Remembering a Gentle Scholar,” The Occident (Winter 1953), reprinted in Witter Bynner. The Chinese Translations. (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, The Works of Witter Bynner, 1978. ISBN 0374122512), pp. 3-4.
  7. ^ Burton Watson, “Introduction to The Jade Mountain,” in Bynner. The Chinese Translations p. 26.
  8. ^ Peter J. Conn. Pearl S. Buck : A Cultural Biography. (Cambridge England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0521560802) pp. 126-172.

References and further readingEdit

  Media related to Jiang Kanghu at Wikimedia Commons