April 28, 2019

During his recent address to the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping focussed on the upcoming 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement.


  • What was it? The May Fourth Movement was an intellectual and reformist movement that reached its peaked on May 4th 1919, when thousands of students rallied in Beijing to protest against China’s treatment in the Treaty of Versailles. Their protest was supported by students and striking workers across China. 

  • Trigger for movement: 
    • The movement was initiated mainly by university students, who were angry at China’s treatment at the hands of Western powers after World War I during the Treaty of Versailles negotiations. 

    • Specifically, they were outraged by the passing of German imperial interests in Shandong province over to the Japanese (China had allied with the Western powers in the War on the assumption that its coastal province of Shandong, then under German occupation, would be returned to its sovereign control). 

  • Movement objective: The movement was anti-imperialist and demanded the restoration of Chinese independence and sovereignty. Its leaders also wanted socio-political reform, namely the eradication of Confucian values and a society based on democratic government, liberal individualism, science and industry. 

  • Legacy: 
    • These events radicalised political movements in China and contributed to the rise of groups like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which was formed two years later, that led to the emergence of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. 

    • Xi Jinping has lauded the May Fourth Movement as an assault on imperialism and feudalism, which had laid the foundation for a socialist revolution. 

Source : The Hindu