Zhang Shizhao

Zhang Shizhao(1881-1973), courtesy name Xingyan, penname Lanheshanren, Qingtong, Qiutong, Gutong, or Wumao. Zhang Shizhao was tutored in the Chinese traditional private school from an early age. He entered Jiangnan Military Academy in 1902. In May 1903, he was appointed the chief editor of the Su Bao Journal, advocating anti-Manchu Revolution, disseminating ideas of democracy and revolution. While he was in Lianghu Academy of Chinese Literature in 1901, he came to know Huang Xing, his classmate, with whom he co-founded the Huaxing Party (out of which in 1904 the Huaxinghui was created). His botched attempt to assassinate Wang Zhichun, the governor of Guangxi, left him exposed and jailed. After having been bailed after forty days of incarceration, he went to Tokyo, Japan, where he studied English in Seisoku High School and taught classical Chinese literature in Suginami-ku University. In 1908, he enrolled at University of Edinburgh, majored in political science and law and minored in logic. After the Xinhai Revolution, he returned to China in 1912 and became the editor in chief of Minli Daily, before he founded Independent Weekly. In 1913 he joined the second revolution against Beiyang Military Government led by Yuan Shikai. In 1914 he founded and became the editor in chief of Jiayin. He fled to Japan after the failure. In 1916 he returned to China and became the Secretary of the opposed forces in Guangdong and Guangxi against Yuan Shikai. In the same year, Yuan Shikai died, and Li Yuanhong became the president. Zhang moved to live in Beijing and became a congressman. With the invitation from Cai Yuanpei, Zhang worked as a professor and the chief librarian at Peking University. In 1918, Zhang became the secretary in the office of the law enforcement government, and, afterwards, became a representative of the south in the Peace Conference between the North and the South. In 1921,Zhang toured around Europe to observe and study politics. He returned to China in 1922 and became the principal of Beijing National Agricultural Specialized School. In 1924, he became Minister of Justice for the provisional government led by Duan Qirui. The next year he became the Minister of Education, but soon afterwards he resigned due to the student movement, and later he became the Secretary General of the government. In 1926, with the collapse of Duan Qirui’s government, he went to Tianjin where he advocated against vernacular Chinese and kept issuing Jiayin Weekly. In 1928, being hunted by the national government, he went again to Europe and studied the theory of Freud’s psychoanalysis at Gottingen in Germany. In 1930, Zhang Xueliang invited him to teach at Northeast University in Shenyang, where he became the dean of the liberal arts department. After the Mukden Incident he returned to Shanghai and became a lawyer. He made a great sensation serving defending Chen Duxiu in 1933. In 1934 he became a dean in Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. In 1936, he became chairman for Commission for Legal Affairs. With the massive outbreak of anti-Japanese war, he stayed in Shanghai, before he moved to Chongqing where he became a member of the National People’s Congress. In 1948, he was elected a member of legislators. He became representative of the Negotiating Delegation in 1949, and he moved to Beiping after the breakdown of the negotiation. In September 1949, he was invited to the first CPPCC and was elected a member for the national committee. In May 1973, he visited relatives in Hongkong, and he died at the age of 92 in July.

    In terms of his contribution to linguistics, Zhang Shizhao studied Classical Chinese with the Western methodology and his work entitled On Junior Chinese Grammar Dictionary was widely acclaimed as "so delightfully approachable that it is even characterized by some artistic flavors."

    In terms of his contribution to political thoughts, Zhang Shizhao was deeply influenced by the nineteenth century liberalism and political amelioration in Britain, so he advocated party government, promoting the freedom of press, property and person. After the failure the Second Revolution, he systematically put forward “the Theory of Reconciliation in a Harmonious State” advocating the steady and orderly development of China’s democratic politics, which included the idea of dual political forces, the harmonious state theory and politically oriented thinking.  According to him, every state is simultaneously subject to forces both centripetal and centrifugal. We should acknowledge the presence of centrifugal forces within the legal system, and people should have the lawful and legitimate channels to express and realize their opinions, hopes as well as interests, so as to resolve the contradiction and dissatisfaction within the existing system instead of pushing them to take actions outside the legal system. Based on the idea of the dual political forces, the theory of the harmonious state advocates sufficient reconciliation of various ideas, hopes, interests and emotions, so as to mobilize people’s intellect and harmonize their emotions and clashes of interests. Only in this way can we avoid the extreme revolution in order to embrace peaceful evolutions. The politically oriented thinking advocated against the habitual mindset of "warming towards those who are similar and turning cold against those who are dissimilar," so that a harmonious state of reconciliation between the centripetal and centrifugal forces can be established. The politically oriented thinking is characterized by tolerance, asserting that what truly guarantees freedom, peace and order is not the decision of the majorities but the minorities’ right to dissent. After the second trip to Europe, Zhang Shizhao abandoned his party government theory and the theory of reconciliation, and, instead, he started to embrace the theory of agriculturally based state whose cultural core values are "courtesy", in contrast to the Western industrial culture whose core values are "interests." Chinese culture is wiser than the West, and we should adhere to this tradition. Industrialization is not suitable for China’s development and we should return to a "agriculturally based state." His proposals are as follows: economically, we should give up industrialization and return to the self-sufficient “traditional socialism,” and implement the practice of “rural autonomy”; politically, we should abolish representative system and implement occupational autonomous system; culturally, we should work against new culture movement, restore Confucianism and advocate the reconciliation between the new and the old.

His major works include: The Collected Works of Zhang Shizhao, On Junior Chinese Grammar Dictionary, On Basic Chinese Grammar Dictionary, The Collection of Jiayin Journals, A Guide to Hanyu’s Work, A Guide to the Study of Logic, and the Complete Work of Zhang Shizhao.

For graphic and textual resources about Zhang Shizhao, please visit "Renowned Teachers of Peking University".