2016 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Reform, Statecraft Thought, and Literati Journalism: Rethinking the
History of Reformist Magazines through Hangzhou’s Jingshibao,

Jiagui Xu

Department of History, Fudan University

During the reformist period of 1895-98, Chinese literati widely started to get involved in the newspaper and magazine business. This article concentrates on a relatively neglected journal called Jingshibao, highlighting its historical relations with The Chinese Progress (Shiwubao), which is generally considered “representative” of reformist thought of the period. This article further discusses the influence of the new media on the intellectual history of modern China. In terms of their production, literati journals relied on official support and donations instead of purely market-driven competition, though the “oversupply” problem still emerged, especially given the density of the press in the Jiangnan region. Jingshibao, located in Hangzhou, therefore found it difficult to compete in the core area of the distribution network centering on The Chinese Progress based in Shanghai. In terms of Jinshibao’s style and contents, it paid more attention to the inclusivity of the statecraft (jingshi) tradition concerning foreign knowledge and resources. However, readers were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with this more traditional approach. In sum, the history of Jingshibao illustrates a relatively “traditional” way derive reformist impulses from the extension of existing ideas of statecraft. Because of the “quasi-marketization” of this period, however, the status of existing examples continued to be strengthened as the expectation of “reversing the tide” became more difficult to realize than in the previous book-dominated period. The reach and depth of the idea of statecraft were thus unprecedentedly extended by the new media, while at the same time its ability to make sense of the era was gradually replaced by the increasingly clear distinction represented by the xin/jiu (new/old) dichotomy.


Keywords: reformism, statecraft thought, literati, Jingshibao, media change