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The May Fourth Movement History Essay

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2020


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an independent state that is situated in East Asia (Atwill and Atwill 3). It is typified by a population of about 1.35 billion people, making it the most populous nation across the world.

The “history of the PRC can be traced to the earliest civilization, which happened in the fertile area of the North China Plain” (Mitter 4). It is critical to underscore that the political system of the nation was founded on hereditary monarchies that ensured that certain families were in leadership for quite some time (Rowe 23).

For the past 2,000 years, China was characterized by one of the largest and most complex economies, which enabled it to make important social and technological impacts at both national and international levels (Mitter 10). This paper discuses the program that I could have proposed if I was a student in the initial years of the PRC and active in the May Fourth Movement. It also concentrates on highlighting the issues faced, the existing ideas, and amicable solutions. It draws on the history of reforms and Western imperialism.


The May Fourth Movement was organized and executed by students from about 13 universities in the PRC with the aim of giving their views in relation to Western imperialism and cultural attributes. The participants argued that the Chinese government could not have agreed to the Treaty of Versailles, which allowed Japan to take some territories that were located in Shandong.

It is important to note that the territories were surrendered by Germany when Tsingtao was under siege (Atwill and Atwill 89). If I was a student and an active member of the movement in the nation, I could have proposed an excellent framework to help the nation to solve a number of issues.

First, the program could have called for a return of the Shandong territory to the PRC, which was its right owner. Although persons representing the nation in the Versailles meeting had said that the region should be given back to China, the Western Allies were the majority in the gathering.

Thus, they rarely paid attention to the demands of the PRC. Second, the framework could have highlighted all the steps that could be used to let people know the problems affecting their country. For example, university students and local opinion leaders could be motivated to go around the nation to tell people that Western imperialism could not make the country improve both culturally and economically.

Third, if people could know that the Western powers were taking advantage of the weak government, then they could be encouraged to hold continuous peaceful demonstrations so that the government and foreign powers could have realized the seriousness of the matter.

Fourth, I could have proposed for the formation of a task force to evaluate the merits and demerits of Chinese traditional cultural aspects. Afterwards, the task force could advise the government and people with regard to cultural values and practices that could be critical in moving the nation forward. Finally, the program could be typified by some clauses to outline the procedures of doing away with the monarchy system of government, which was retrogressive in terms of political, economical, and social developments.

Western imperialism was one of the major issues that were faced during the period of the Fourth May Movement in China (Mitter 29; Wasserstrom 87). The issue involved the use of foreign powers, such as Japan and Germany, to rule some territories of the PRC. It is evident that the policy of imperialism was exemplified by the utilization of approaches, such as the deployment of military personnel to the targeted regions to suppress those who could resist.

Western powers were interested in enforcing state policies that were founded on ideological platforms to achieve some benefits, such as financial gains (Atwill and Atwill 129). Thus, it is notable that the approaches contained some elements of colonialism. For example, it could not be understood why the Treaty of Versailles failed to give back the Shandong region to the PRC, yet it was originally part of the nation before its capture by Germany.

One of the existing ideas to solve the issue was to give the territory under siege to a state that was nonpartisan. However, the best solution available was to return the region to the People’s Republic of China (Wasserstrom 45). Another issue that was evident at the time of the Fourth May Movement was the weak government that could not protect the territories of the nation (Atwill and Atwill 78). For example, government officials did not protest in relation to the outcomes of the Treaty of Versailles.

The existing ideas and solutions were with regard to adopting a form of leadership that could involve people electing their leaders. Finally, this was achieved when elected persons started to represent people in both national and local governments. The leadership has been important in achieving high levels of development (Tanner 101). In addition, it was noted that traditional Chinese cultural attributes were responsible for the stagnation of the country.

However, the existing ideas were both for retaining or abolishing the cultural values. That notwithstanding, both the opponents and proponents of the traditional cultures argued that Western values could be done away with in the PRC. In fact, each school of thought asserted that Western values could continue negatively impacting people by making them more individualistic and materialistic.

The available solution was based on the platforms of religious and philosophical practices that could promote high levels of social and economic developments. In fact, “the Fourth May Movement was typified by some intellectuals who mobilized peasants and personnel in various organizations to accept the proposals of the Communist Party” (Tanner 120).

On the other hand, the Nationalist Party opposed changes to traditional Chinese values. From the party’s perspective, the movement emphasized on the use of direct actions and radical attitudes toward achieving the goals for the nation (Tanner 127).


In conclusion, it is evident that China has a long history that is characterized by many changes in terms of politics and economical attributes. One of the most notable changes in the PRC was the abolishment of the monarchy system of government to adopt a system that could govern the country better.

The program proposed in this paper could result in social, political, and economic developments. For example, the program could involve mobilization of citizens so that they could protest against the incumbent government to implement changes. Although the Fourth May Movement was resisted by some people, especially those who were in leadership, it was one of the greatest events in the PRC, which shaped it to become a prosperous nation.

Works Cited

Atwill, David , and Yurong Atwill. Sources in Chinese history: diverse perspectives from 1644 to the present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

Mitter, Rana. Modern China: A very Short Introduction. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Rowe, William. China’s last empire: the great Qing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010. Print.

Tanner, Harold. China: From the Great Qing Empire through the People’s Republic of China. Indianapolis, IND: Hackett Publishing, 2010. Print.

Wasserstrom, Jeffrey. China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

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