China’s press and publication prospered during the Republican period. Although ancient China had “dibao” (邸報, literally “reports from the official residences”) and “jingbao” (京報, literally “official reports from the capital”), newspapers and magazines emerged only in modern times when more Westerners came to China. The Canton Register (《廣州紀錄報》, established in 1827) and the Eastern Western Monthly Magazine (《東西洋考每月統紀傳》, established in 1833) were two of the first presses in China. By 1911, approximately 500 newspapers and periodicals were established in China.
After the founding of the Republic of China (ROC), the number of newspapers grew. In 1947, there were 1,781 newspapers registered in the Nationalist Government-controlled areas, with approximately two million copies published. Well-known period newspapers included: Shen Bao (《申報》, founded in 1872); Sin Wan Pao (《新聞報》, founded in 1893); the official Republic Daily (《民國日報》, founded in Shanghai﹝上海﹞in 1916), Central Daily News (《中央日報》, founded in Shanghai in 1928), Ta Kung Pao (《大公報》founded in Tianjin﹝天津﹞in 1902 and reestablished in 1926) ; Xinmin Bao (《新民報》, founded in Beiping﹝北平﹞in 1929); Wen Wei Po (《文匯報》, founded in Shanghai in 1938); and Xinhua Daily (《新華日報》, founded in 1938). As for periodicals, The Eastern Miscellany (《東方雜誌》) launched in 1904 established a solid reputation; also famous were Guomin (《國民》) first released in 1913, and Jiayin (《甲寅》) first published in 1914. In September 1915, the revolutionary Chen Duxiu (陳獨秀) founded Youth Magazine (《青年雜誌》, later renamed La Jeunesse, or New Youth﹝《新青年》﹞), officially raising the curtain for the New Culture Movement. Together with The Weekly Review (《每周評論》) and The Renaissance (《新潮》), New Youth actively promoted science and democracy.
A multitude of publishers sprang up nationwide as well. In addition to the Commercial Press (商務印書館, founded in 1897), there were also Chung Hwa Book Company (中華書局, founded in 1912), Dah Tong Book Company (大東書局, founded in 1916), World Book Company (世界書局, founded in 1917), Kaiming Book Company (開明書店, founded in 1926), and Joint Publishing (三聯書店, founded in 1948), which was the merger of three publishers and book stores including Life (生活書店, founded in 1932), New Knowledge (新知書店, founded in 1935), and Reading (讀書出版社, founded in 1936) in Hong Kong.
Street bookstalls and newsstands in Shanghai during the Republican period. Various new publications such as newspapers, magazines, and books created a reading culture and ushered in a golden age for modern Chinese journalism and publishing.
Shen Bao was an influential newspaper in the period during late Qing and ROC. Left: Shen Bao reported the establishment of the ROC on 1 January 1912. Right: Shi Liangcai (史量才) was a well-respected Chinese journalist during the Republican period. In 1912, Shi became the General Manager of Shen Bao.
Left: the editorial office of Ta Kung Pao in Tianjin during the Republican period. Right: in August and September 1945, Ta Kung Pao covered the surrender of Japan and the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. Founded in Tianjin in 1902, Ta Kung Pao strengthened its influence over the Republican period.
Left: on 28 November 1931, Republic Daily covered the Japanese invasion of Northeast China. Right: advertisements published in Central Daily News on 7 August 1948. Respectively founded in 1916 and 1928, the above were both important official newspapers of the ROC.
Left: the cover of Volume 16, Issue 12 (1919) of The Eastern Miscellany. Right: photos of scenery along the Yangtze River (長江) in Issue 7 (1935) of The Eastern Miscellany. Established in 1904, The Eastern Miscellany was a comprehensive cultural magazine that enjoyed increasing influence during the Republican period.
Founded in 1926, The Young Companion was a large-scale, wide-ranging illustrated magazine published during the Republican period. It was particularly known for its covers, which featured famous actresses and other modern stylish women.
Two photos from the 1920s: the Commercial Press and Chung Hwa Book Company in Shanghai (left); the Photoengraving Department of the Commercial Press (right). The Commercial Press and Chung Hwa Book Company were two ROC’s publishing giants.
World Book Company and Kaiming Book Company, respectively established in 1917 and 1926, were influential publishers during the Republican period.
Left: Chongqing (重慶) branch of Life. Middle: Dazhung Zhexyo (《大眾哲學》) published by Reading. Right: Life, New Knowledge, and Reading merged to form Joint Publishing in Hong Kong in 1948. It had a significant influence on Hong Kong’s future publishing industry.
Two books published during the Republican period: the China Geography Textbook published by Chung Hwa Book Company (left) and the Annotated Catalog of the Complete Imperial Library published by Dah Tong Book Company in 1920 (right). During the Republican period, publishers valued both traditional Chinese classics and textbooks for modern education.
Source of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe.