May 4, 2011

Chinese May Fourth Movement

Going through my Twitter stream this morning I saw a handful of tweets about May 4th being Star Wars day.  My favorite tweet so far has been, “If your religion is Jedi, do you get to stay home from work on Star Wars day?” by @ComicBookGrrl.  Good stuff!

Looking at the date got me thinking though about another time and place and I realized today is the anniversary of the Chinese May Fourth Movement.  My wife grew up in mainland China and through her I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to a lot of the culture and history.  China as a country went through a great deal of turmoil during the 20th century including social upheavals, revolutions, a world war and famines to name a few, but the May Fourth Movement stands on its own as an interesting piece of history.

To give a very brief summary, the movement began on May 4, 1919, partially the result of frustration from students who had grown tired of China’s weak response the pressure from foreign powers and its own internal political divisions.  Although the movement was eventually suppressed, it did play a pivotal role in affecting China’s politics over the next few decades, influencing Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists and their competitors, Mao Zedong’s Communists and the movement is still taught and remembered well among the Chinese population.

One thing I’ve heard over and over again is that history is often more interesting than fiction and the Chinese May Fourth Movement definitely fits the bill.