Seventy-five years after his death, Wang Zhaoming, who adopted the pen name Jingwei, remains one of the most fascinating, complex and misunderstood political and intellectual figures in modern Chinese history. As a revolutionary, he played a role in the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1910. As Sun Yat-sen’s protégé during the early years of the Republic of China, he was a leading advocate for Sun’s Three Principles of the People — Minzu (nationalism), Minquan (democracy) and Minsheng (people’s livelihood).
Despite fierce opposition, Wang Jingwei called for democratic and social reform during the 1920s and 1930s, believing that the nation is best represented by the people rather than a party-state. In the final chapter of his life, Wang became a leading proponent of the “Peace Movement” during the 1937-45 Japanese invasion and occupation of China, believing that only with the survival of the people could China survive as a nation.
Wang Jingwei was not only a politician but also an eloquent public speaker, his remarks appeared in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. His essays and speeches dating from 1904 to 1944 fill thousands of published pages. An accomplished poet, scholar and friend to many artists and writers during the 1920s and 1930s, his literary works were admired during his lifetime and are still respected and studied today.
- Official histories written since World War II condemned Wang for his leadership in the Peace Movement. But more recent scholars have started to reappraise Wang’s life-long oeuvre in a new light. Wang Jingwei once said in an autobiographical sketch:
I believe my speeches and essays represent my biography most truthfully… My determination for revolution has never changed. Yet, my attitudes toward people and events have changed throughout the years, and I am always outspoken about the reasons behind the changes. As for whether these reasons are right or wrong, I invite people of the present and the future to make their own comments.The Wang Jingwei & Modern China book series is not intended to establish another version of “Wang Jingwei studies.” We wish to understand Wang Jingwei and the complexity of his time in “his own words” as they are revealed in his essays, speeches and poems.