Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article: A1289-W905


Release Date: May 9, 2020


Topic: The Experience and Lessons of the May 4th Movement in China (Part 1) -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:五四运动的经验与教训(之一) -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)


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The Experience and Lessons of the May 4th Movement in China (Part 1)

-- Wei Jingsheng



It has been more than a year since the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement in China. I thought there would be some significant reviews and comments that can be thought-provoking. Unfortunately, under the high-pressure policy of Xi Jinping's regime, there was no one who dared to speak out, which is really unusual. This day that has had a decisive influence on modern China that was marked as a festival, seems to have been forgotten. Maybe even the Chinese Communist regime feels embarrassed by themselves, so it imitated the popular chicken soup for the soul model on the Internet, and made a video to fool the people. If it was done so 50 or 60 years ago, many people could have been fooled, but it could only make people feel sick today.


In fact, in the past more than one decade, many thoughtful people have made some truthful and sincere reviews and comments about the May 4th Movement in China. The so-called May 4th Movement did not begin exactly in 1919, but was from the 19th century when the new ideas from the West were introduced. At that time, although China had wealth it was not strong, so it was repeatedly defeated by Western powers. From the introduction of the advanced science of the West, to the introduction of advanced culture of the West, and even the introduction of advanced ideology and political systems of the West, China reached two climaxes which were the 1911 Revolution and the May 4th Movement.


The reason that the 1911 Revolution successfully won the support of the whole country shows that it was not accidental. Instead, the Chinese people had accepted the ideas of science and democracy, abandoned the traditional monarchical thought of more than two thousand years, and became the first democratic country after the West. Unfortunately, the establishment of democracy in such a large country could not succeed overnight. The new system was still in a fragile shedding period and was collectively insulted by the Western countries.


Even though a victorious country in World War I, China actually ceded its land like a defeated country. Instead, Qingdao, the German colony in China, was awarded to Japan -- a country which did not work to win the war except to give its name. This huge insult and the unfairness from the great powers aroused great anger from the Chinese. If it was the time of the emperor's autocracy, with the common people being utterly muddled, it would be normal to cede the land. Ceding the land had happened many times in the past thousand years of the Chinese history.


However, the modern Chinese who had accepted new ideas and new culture could no longer accept such injustice and insult. Therefore, the Beiyang government, which was weak and did not dare to offend the powers, became the object of hate. This is the social ideological basis for the May 4th Movement. Of course, for the then Chinese intellectual community, which worshiped the West and didnt dare to offend the West, they could only offend the Chinese government instead of the powers it admired. The Communist leader Mao Zedongs complaint that teachers always bully on their students, was about this dare to think yet dare not to express mentality which was common among Chinese intellectuals at that time.

Yet several decades later, these good students of the West always claimed that the failure of the May 4th Movement was because the goal to save China overwhelmed the goal of democracy. This sophistry is really perfect. Shouldn't one voice outrage if one got insulted? Didn't the Beiyang government fight with its reasons? Would it have been possible to change the unfair attitude of the powers if the Chinese national salvation movement was aimed at the unfairness of these powers? And if it was strongly demanded that the unequal treaties of the powers be abolished and to take back the illegal interests in China from these powers, instead of burning the Mansion of the Zhao Family (where a puppet of Japan lived)? Similar retributions were accomplished by countries like France and Poland after World War II. In fact, the contributions to win WWII from these two countries were not as much as the contributions that the Beiyang government made towards the winning of WWI. After all, France during WWII was not even stronger than China during WWI.


The Beiyang government had already lost popular support. The encouragement of the New Culture movement prompted the second revolution by Sun Yat-sen, who established the Republic of China. Regrettably, the Western powers did not like the national government that defended Chinese rights, and they preferred the Beiyang government that defended unequal treaties. They did not support Sun Yat-sen's democratic revolution. Instead, the Soviet Union took the opportunity and gave the Chinese national government great support with its own secret plan to strengthen the power of the Communist alliance, which instilled hidden dangers for China for the future.

In fact, the Soviet Union already had an assessment of China at that time, and Stalin believed that China, with a deep-rooted private economy, was not suitable for the communist revolution. It was only after 20 years when China was scorched by the wars that changed Stalin s decision and won a big Communist country of China.


(This English version is translated by Ciping HUANG, without any compensation. Wei Jingsheng and the Wei Jingsheng Foundation appreciate her decades of contribution, especially for allowing the use and distribution of her translations of these commentaries.)


Original link of the commentary broadcasted by Radio Free Asia:



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's related commentary, please visit:


(Written and recorded on May 7, 2020. Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia on May 8, 2020.)


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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article: A1289-W905


Release Date: May 9, 2020


Topic: The Experience and Lessons of the May 4th Movement in China (Part 1) -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:五四运动的经验与教训(之一) -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)








-- 魏京生


































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