China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Constructing Manchurian Identity: The De-Sinicization Tendency in Shengjing Shibao’s Reports During the Escalating Sino-Japanese Conflicts, 1919-1931

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

The construction and expansion of empire is a multi-dimensional process involving both military conquest and identity formation. Manchuria, part of the Japanese sphere of influence since 1905, witnessed Japan’s efforts to construct a new identity during the escalating Sino-Japanese conflicts between 1919 and 1931. This paper intends to explore the changing discourses that Japanese settlers in Manchuria employed to influence the national identity of local Chinese during this period. The study centers on a discourse analysis of Shengjing Shibao, the most circulated Chinese-language newspaper in Manchuria. Japanese settlers ran this periodical, which played an important role in reflecting and shaping Japanese imperial behavior due to its large readership among the local Chinese community and special ties with Japanese officials.


This paper argues that starting from 1927, Shengjing Shibao’s reports began to show a clear De-Sinicization tendency in three ways. First, its news on China proper denounced policies of competing Chinese governments, challenging the legitimacy of the civic identity among local Chinese residents. Second, its news on Manchuria criticized Zhang Zuolin and Zhang Xueliang’s devotion to power struggles in China proper, which it portrayed as an external threat to local people’s happiness. Finally, it repeatedly emphasized the concept of “people in Northeast provinces” (dongsheng renmin), promoting a sense of belonging to Manchuria among local Chinese.


This research contributes to the understanding of the identity formation process of the Japanese empire through scrutinizing the hitherto less studied social, cultural, and intellectual aspects of the pre-1931 Manchurian society under Japanese informal control.

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1 - Constructing Manchurian Identity: The De-Sinicization Tendency in Shengjing Shibao’s Reports During the Escalating Sino-Japanese Conflicts, 1919-1931



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