Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Citadins et citoyens dans la Chine du xxe siècle

 | 
Yves Chevrier
, 
Alain Roux
, 
Xiaohong Xiao-Planes

Première partie. Nouveau monde de la ville et désinstitutionnalisation du politique : la conjoncture citoyenne de l’« âge d’or »

3. ‘The Crime of Economics’

Suicide and the Early Shanghai Stock Market

Bryna Goodman

Texte intégral

  • 1 Richard von Glahn, ‘The Enchantment of Wealth: The God Wutong in Social History,’ Harvard Journal (...)

1In his seminal study of the divine and the demonic in Chinese religious culture, Richard Von Glahn considers the symbolic import of money in the expanding economy of the late Ming, when money surged into daily life in the heavily commercialized Jiangnan region. The popular cult of the demonic god of wealth, Wutong 五通, provides Von Glahn with a window onto the popular imagination of money. Wutong, who governed the dispensation of wealth, embodied the vices of lust and greed, linking the acquisition of riches to the sexual possession of women. In thrall to his appetites, Wutong tempted and defiled women, demanded bloody sacrifices, and led weak and vulnerable (but materially desirous) individuals into ultimate tragedy. In the Ming, the cult of the profligate Wutong became the predominant popular cult of Jiangnan. In prurient stories that circulated among storytellers and in vernacular literature, Wutong's wealth whetted the appetites of impressionable young girls. Bestowing evanescent gifts of wealth, he ravished their bodies. But the magical gold Wutong bestowed turned to paper, and the despoiled women came to sad ends, madness and death, at a time when the growing cult of female chastity demanded that women cleanse stains on their virtue through suicide.1

2The understanding of money expressed in the popular late imperial Wutong cult, Von Glahn argues, was fundamentally uncongenial to capitalism and to an ethic of continually expanding wealth. In popular religion, the desire for riches was represented as a disruptive demonic entity that threatened the normative order and the prevailing distribution of material goods. Seventeenth-century Jiangnan merchants presented lavish sacrifices to Wutong, attributing their own business success to loans from the deity. In popular thinking, wealth and fortune did not derive from frugal management, but rather from individual destiny. Material fortune created a karmic debt which needed to be requited in offerings to Wutong. Monetary transactions to gain and repay favor with Wutong were a metaphor, Von Glahn suggests, of the powerlessness and vulnerability of those caught in the throes of the money economy.

  • 2 Von Glahn (2004), op. cit., p. 242-246. In the numerous shrines to the god of wealth in the Jiangn (...)

3Over the course of the eighteenth century, however, Wutong metamorphosed as a result of the appropriation of the god of wealth by urban shopkeepers and merchants, groups that might be linked to a developing bourgeois entrepreneurial ethics. The unsavory Wutong never disappeared, but was largely sanitized through a merger with a nicer god of wealth, Wulu Caishen 五路財神, who was characterized by the business virtues of industry, thrift, and integrity. Analyzing the birth of this more modern god of wealth, Von Glahn argues that Wutong reflected the general unease produced by the pervasive anxieties and insecurities elicited by the sixteenth-century expansion of the money economy. The more positive modern gods of wealth were engendered by the contrasting stability of the market economy in the eighteenth century. Belief in the demonic Wutong, however, never went away, remaining widespread in the Jiangnan region and persisting throughout the nineteenth and even early twentieth centuries.2

4The ideas of money expressed through the popular cult of the god Wutong, I would suggest, become relevant again in a different way in early Republican Shanghai, in the context of the new economic instabilities generated by Shanghai’s early stock market. This is not to say that the demonic Wutong rose again in Shanghai, even if the Wutong cult persisted in the Jiangnan countryside. But the violent shocks of the early stock market rent the fine web of modern economic reasoning promoted by the Shanghai entrepreneurs who brought stock exchanges to the city. As the dream of bourgeois capitalist prosperity shattered, the spectacle of social destruction that took its place invited understanding through the culturally resonant symbolism of demonic machinations, sinful appetites, and vulnerable female victims.

A Brief Sketch of the Shanghai Stock Market Fever of 1920-1922

5The early Shanghai stock market developed in the context of the semi-colonial political and economic structure of the city. This meant that in the early Republican era (prior to rise of the Guomindang to national power) when the Chinese government legalized the creation of Chinese stock markets in Shanghai, the diminished sovereignty of the state led to an uncontrollable proliferation of Chinese stock markets that mirrored the fragmentation and multiplicity of political powers governing the city.

  • 3 See Zhu Yingui, ‘Jindai Shanghai zhengquan shichang shang gupiao maimai de sanci gaochao’, Zhonggu (...)
  • 4 Ibid., ‘Shanghai pingjun gupiao gongsi xu ji zhangcheng,’ Shenbao, September 27-28, 1882, reprinte (...)
  • 5 Zhu Yingui, art. cit., p. 62-65; Thomas, op. cit., p. 153, 162; Shanghai renmin yinhang Shanghai s (...)

6Prior to 1920, the stock exchanges that operated in Shanghai were foreign, and it was largely in foreign shares that early Chinese investors gained their understanding of the market. The one exception was a short-lived flurry of stock purchasing in Chinese joint-stock companies in 1883 and the brief associated development of a Chinese company that specialized in stock trading.3 The foreign shares market in Shanghai formalized with the establishment of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1905. From its inception, discipline was lax, records were loose, and speculative forward transactions were common, as were short sales. Insider trading was rife. Whereas in most countries stock markets formed as a means of financing mounting national debts, in Shanghai speculation alone was a primary motivating factor. This speculative market attracted numerous Chinese investors, compradores as well as clerks in foreign establishments.4 Within this early Shanghai stock market history one finds the bubbles and depressions that make the stock market interesting for cultural historians and frustrating for those economists who promote the phantom of economic rationality. In 1910, Shanghai investors leapt into the global rubber boom. As rubber plantations multiplied in Southeast Asia, the foreign and Chinese business communities of Shanghai were swift to invest. When the rubber bubble burst, Chinese qianzhuang 錢莊, with their limited capital resources, were vulnerable. Many went bankrupt as foreign banks withdrew their money.5

  • 6 Liang Qichao, ‘Jingao guo zhong shi tan shiye zhe’ (Notice to compatriots who speak of industry an (...)

7Despite the painful lessons of the rubber crisis, Chinese businessmen and modernizers agitated for the formation of a Chinese stock exchange. Writing in 1910, Liang Qichao praised the joint-stock company over the still-dominant family or partnership style of Chinese business organization, and advocated the establishment of a Chinese stock market as a necessary mechanism of modernization and national strengthening. Sun Yat-sen, writing in 1916, made similar arguments.6

  • 7 ‘Quyinsuo yu jiaoyisuo zhi zhengzhu’ (Competition between the quyinsuo and the jiaoyisuo), Shenbao(...)
  • 8 ‘Japanese Exchange Loses its Quarters to Chinese Combine,’ China Press, January 1, 1920; ‘Chinese (...)

8In 1914, persuaded that stock exchanges would be a necessary part of China’s future, the Beijing government promulgated a law providing for the legal registration and regulation of Chinese stock exchanges. The immediate stimulus for the creation of a full-fledged stock exchange in Shanghai was the 1918 establishment of a Japanese concern, the Oriental Trust Guarantee and Exchange Company (Shangye quyinsuo 商業取引所), in Shanghai’s International Settlement. This provided the competitive urgency Chinese entrepreneurs needed to persuade the Beijing government to approve the first Chinese stock exchange in Shanghai.7 At the end of 1919, symbolically striking at an iconic site of Japanese economic penetration, the Ningbo shipping magnate Yu Xiaqing 虞洽卿 purchased the land under the Japanese exchange (on the corner of Avenue Edward VII and Sichuan Road), and gave the Japanese notice to vacate within a month.8

  • 9 Yu established the Shanghai Securities and Commodities Exchange (Zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo). The s (...)
  • 10 M.-C. Bergère, 1.5, p. 86.
  • 11 Public Record Office FO 228/3175. George Sokolsky (pen name: G. Gramada) provided the figure of $1 (...)

9Yu’s new Chinese exchange, established on this site in July 1920, was immensely profitable, as was a second exchange, which opened in early 1921.9 But initial profitability swiftly led to rampant speculation. In the summer of 1921 a stock-exchange frenzy struck the city. The next months saw the rapid appearance of as many as one hundred and fifty stock exchanges in the city, as well as some twelve trust companies (which also traded in stock). Though technically limited in number by Chinese law, the operation of extraterritoriality in the city enabled exchanges to register with foreign consulates in the city. Once established, the new exchanges – most of which traded stock only in themselves – competed in an atmosphere of gross speculation and popular ignorance.10 In terms of capital, the figures were fabulous. A November 1921 report prepared for the Conference of British Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai calculated that, whereas the average amount held by all of the Shanghai native and foreign banks during 1921 totaled $ 75 million, the total capital tied up in Shanghai’s stock exchanges far exceeded that sum, amounting to as much as $ 163 million of, as the author termed it, ‘unproductive money’.11

  • 12 Zhu Sihuang (ed.), Minguo jingji shi, Yinghang zhoubao sanshi jinian kan, (1947) p. 141-144; ‘Yesh (...)

10Though extant sources do not make clear the economic distribution of investors, or even the approximate total number of investors, it is clear that this ‘market frenzy’ reached considerably deeper into society than the rubber bubble. In certain respects, these new economic institutions were remarkably accessible and open to investment from members of society who had even a small amount of capital. Competition led small exchanges to entice small investors of the petty urbanite class, including women. At least twenty of the new exchanges operated at night. One of these, the Shanghai Night Market Commodities and Securities Exchange (Shanghai yeshi wuquan jiaoyisuo 上海夜市物券交易所) was located within the Great World amusement palace (Da shijie 大世界), as a means of attracting investments from clerks and other office workers.12

  • 13 U.S. Dept of State 893.52/37.

11If the new institutions were accessible in terms of investment, they were far from transparent in their functioning. In a fashion resembling the workings of Chinese politics at the time, there was little regulation or accountability. Small groups behind closed doors manipulated outcomes and absconded with funds at the expense of the larger population. The cascading collapse of all but six of these exchanges followed shortly after their inception. A report now in the U.S. Department of State Archives, written by the Chinese Engineer and Contractor for the International Settlement, summarized some of the ‘appalling harm’ that followed the ‘mushroom finance’ of 1921 and the demise of the first third of the exchanges by January of 1922: rents in the downtown district, already too high, had increased disastrously. A fever of speculation possessed the city. In many cases stock exchange promoters absconded with cash investments. Large numbers of businessmen lost their fortunes and their enter-prises. Numerous Chinese had committed suicide. Young men had been led astray.13 A similar scene of destruction concludes the social novel, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji (Revelations of the Stock Market 交易所現形記) written by Jiang Hongjiao 江紅焦, and serialized in the periodical Xingqi in late 1922 and early 1923:

  • 14 Jiang Hongjiao, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, reprinted in Tang Zhesheng (ed.), Jiaoyisuo zhenxiang de ta (...)

Only three or four exchanges remained, tottering in the midst of the raging storm [...] Of the people who worked in the exchanges, many had abandoned their profession as elementary school teachers. Others were former shop clerks, all of whom had thrown themselves into exchanges, and in less than six months, where were they? They could not return to their jobs [...] Only a group of land-lords, woodshops, carpenters, printshops, lawyers and their translators made money, but most of this went into brothels. But if you asked [the prostitutes] they would deny that they got so much as one new piece of jewelry out of the episode. Shanghai’s business had been destroyed by stock exchanges and many became destitute. Truly one could say, in a field of great calamity, the words ‘stock exchange’ were on everyone’s lips.14

12If both archival and fictional accounts are hyperbolic, they nonetheless make clear the association, in the public eye, between the stock market and a socially destructive economic volatility. The wasteful excesses of stock market investment are emphasized in Jiang’s account through the moralistic reference to brothels, where money disappeared (without benefiting even the prostitutes).

  • 15 Jingji was a return graphic loan, the kanji term keizai, derived from classical Chinese. Other tra (...)
  • 16 This case is detailed in Bryna Goodman, ‘The New Woman Commits Suicide: Press, Cultural Memory and (...)

13These stock market traumas affected understandings of the unstable, translingual notion of jingji 經濟, economics, which incorporated classical Chinese, Japanese and Western elements.15 As such, the meanings of the term were already fragile, multiple, and uncertain, though they involved expectations of scientific nation-building, fiscal planning and prosperity. Sudden economic trauma opened the new term to the play of popular symbolism. It occurred to me that the modern term ‘economics’ had become a vessel for unforeseen cultural meanings as I read a 1922 compilation of Shanghai intellectuals’ commemorative essays about Xi Shangzhen 席上珍, a woman who committed suicide after losing money on the Shanghai stock market.16 In this volume, as the pioneering Shanghai film director Zheng Zhengqiu 鄭正秋 surveyed the spectacle of Xi’s suicide, he reflexively asked who was to blame:

  • 17 Cui Weiru (ed.), Xi Shangzhen, Part 1, p. 8-9.

Under an unhealthy economic system, the heat of her desire to buy stocks was naturally not easy to repress. At the peak of the ‘stock and trust purchasing fever’ even famous scholars could not resist. To blame Miss Xi and say she should not have speculated unto death (touji zhi si 投機之死) is unfair. I say that to use Miss Xi’s death to advise people not to engage in speculation is fine, but it is not right to be unsympathetic and say she brought evil upon herself!17

  • 18 Ibid., Part 1, p. 10.

14Zheng concluded, as did many people in Shanghai at the time, that a crime had taken place, and Xi had only been an unwitting victim. That Xi had lost money and committed suicide was evidence of a crime, Zheng concluded, but he did not hold Xi responsible. In this case, Zheng concluded that the guilty party was an abstraction: ‘Whose crime is this? If it isn’t the crime of economics, what is it?’.18

  • 19 Shanghai shi dang’an guan (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo; Zhu Zhenlu, art. cit.; Andre (...)

15This essay examines the cultural meanings of the early stock exchange fever that swept Shanghai in 1920-1922. China’s experimentation with stock markets in the last ten years has stimulated renewed historical study of China’s early stock market experiences, particularly in Shanghai. This work has illuminated economic history, but has generally avoided inquiry into the cultural meanings of this new capitalist institution as it emerged, fitfully, in the first decade of the Republican era.19 This period of early discussion of the stock market is interesting, in contrast to the better-known late 1920s and 1930s, because of the relative freshness of the topic in public discussion. Public understandings of the market were not, at this point, dictated by the terms of an ideological debate between Communists and members of the Guomindang, and they do not generally reflect either a fully articulated concept of capitalism or a Marxist critique of capitalist institutions.

  • 20 I have examined elsewhere two dimensions of this public discussion. For an examination of the gend (...)

16Before journalists and other social observers instinctively thought in categories of class or economics, the project of creating a Chinese stock exchange was open to a variety of cultural meanings.20 In this essay, through an examination of stock market guides, economic reportage, graphic representations of stock exchanges, and an excavation of early stock market fiction, I hope to illustrate contending contemporary views of economics – specifically the new and disturbing capitalist institution of the stock market – and the contrasting notions of economic and moral value.

The Romance of Bourgeois Economic Modernity and the Problem of ‘Empty Industry’

17In semi-colonial Shanghai, a Chinese stock market necessarily became a nationalist project, and nationalism helped to legitimate the culturally dubious elements of the enterprise. The dream of national capitalism in a competitive global order freed Chinese reformers and businessmen to embrace the traditionally repugnant vulgarity of profit-making. Only by strengthening China’s industry and commerce, such modernizers asserted, could China challenge the colonizing appetites and global capitalist designs of the world powers she faced. A Shanghai guide explained the necessity for a Chinese stock exchange in 1921:

  • 21 Wang Enliang, Jiaoyisuo daquan, p. 3.

With global communication, competition becomes fierce. Military confrontations are joined by commercial warfare [...] Commercial wars rely on the development of enterprises [...] To succeed, those who wish to develop industry and commerce must have power, substantial capital, good organization and systematic economic institutions for guidance and protection. This is the reason for the establishment of exchanges [...] The stock exchange is a specialized institution to guarantee credit, stabilize commodity prices, regulate supply and demand, guide capital investment, and reduce the dangers of business. The creation of this kind of institution depends on the development of the economic strength of a nation’s people. Modern trends arrive with urgency. Commercial enterprises are increasingly complex and dangers lurk on all sides. This is not something that small enterprises and small capitalists can spy out and apply. They must depend on a great economic institution to guide their investment and protect their financial stability […] The stock exchange is an institution that those in economic, industrial, commercial and financial circles cannot afford to do without.21

  • 22 In the context of Chinese cultural norms, the absence of subscribers to Adam Smith’s faith that th (...)

18If stock exchange boosters promoted the market, this quote expresses the typically strategic image they created of a harmonious and protective market, a vision which elided the troublesome issues of individual profit-making and speculation.22 Stock markets appear in such guides and commentaries as institutions for the public and national good. (Selfish motivations were not a part of the picture of the good stock market, though greedy businessmen would emerge as targets of public criticism as Shanghai stock markets went awry.)

  • 23 Examples translated from the Shishi xinbao, Zhonghua xinbao and Shenbao appear in Shanghai Gazette(...)

19Such a vision could only be sustained through the erasure of earlier conceptualizations of money-making. The romance of Chinese bourgeois modernity as presented on the pages of the commercial newspapers of the May Fourth/New Culture era, was built upon the vision of a discredited Chinese past, one that was weakened by an array of ‘traditional’ character flaws and cultural weaknesses. These needed to be rooted out before Chinese culture could be remade in consonance with the needs of a strong nation. Among these flaws were decadent pastimes, particularly those – like visiting prostitutes and gambling – that dissipated, rather than built up, Chinese wealth. Lu Xun’s classic depiction of Chinese cultural flaws in ‘The True Story of Ah Q’ satirizes his protagonist’s proclivity for gambling and his vulnerability and victimization because of it. While cultural critics like Lu Xun castigated popular habits of gambling, Chinese reformers acted to pass laws to root out gambling from Chinese cities. The May Fourth press is awash in editorials attacking the evils of the lottery and advocating the suppression of all forms of gambling.23

20Economic modernizers opposed gambling because it wasted economic resources which might be put to better use in building the national economy. This was a particular problem for the establishment of a stock market, however, because of the unmistakable resemblance of market speculation to gambling. Stock market promoters supported the development of Chinese stock exchanges in order to facilitate investment in Chinese enterprises as part of the task of national economic modernization. The unsurprising development of flagrant speculative activity and the growing popular association of stock exchanges with gambling created moral problems for market promoters who had been vocal opponents of gambling but who advocated the new stock exchanges. The conceptual awkwardness – and moral concern – created by the resemblance of stock market activity to gambling is evident in a long editorial on the topic, published in the Shanghai Shangbao 商報 (Journal of Commerce), which labored in its efforts to articulate a new ontology of economic reasoning:

  • 24 ‘Jiaoyisuo yu touji shiye’ (Exchanges and speculative enterprise), Shangbao, February 22, 1921.

Those who have lost money have attacked exchanges as speculative enterprises which are harmful to society, and they want to eliminate them. But this word ‘speculation’ has more than one meaning. The average person in society thinks of the speculation of poisonous snakes and wild beasts. This is not the same as academic understandings of speculation. If we say that stock exchanges promote speculative enterprise, this is something exchanges themselves recognize. But it would be an arbitrary assertion to say that this is harmful to society like gambling [...] Such a judgment exhibits ignorance and lack of knowledge [...] In terms of speculation and gambling, many people can’t tell the difference. On the surface both depend on risking wealth and property for future profit [...] But those who gamble do not just harm morality, but also society [...] Real speculation is a kind of commercial behavior. If it can’t prevent the possible reduction of property, it is not as dangerous as gambling. It is not a behavior that is socially harmful, nor does it injure morality [...] You can see that speculation and gambling are two different things which cannot be combined. In speculative enterprise, although it involves individual profit, in practice it increases the economic strength of citizens. For this reason it is a factor which is essential to modern economic organization.24

  • 25 ‘Lun jiaoyisuo zhi li bi’ (Pros and Cons of the Stock Market), Shanghai zongshanghui yuebao (Journ (...)
  • 26 See, for example, Jingbao 晶報 June 17, June 18, August 9, August 27, 1921, July 30, 1922.

21Critics of the capitalist mechanism of the stock market naturally compared it to gambling and characterized it through the term xuye 虛業, empty or abstract industry, or ‘sham business’. Chinese terms for market speculation, such as maikong maikong 買空賣空, highlighted the emptiness of the endeavor. The inaugural issue of the Journal of the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, published in July 1921, featured a long article entitled ‘The Pros and Cons of the Stock Market,’ which explained that the post-war depression, which had followed hard on the brief flourishing of Chinese business during the war years, had led Chinese businessmen ‘to rush into the stock market, staking everything on a single venture’. Soon the results of these ventures became clear: ‘Those that died, died, and those who fled, fled. Then, scholars grandly informed people that the exchanges were nothing but large-stakes gambling houses’.25 By the fall of 1921, the rampant market speculation was so evident that comparisons to gambling and references to flight and suicide were repeated everywhere.26

22Those who would defend the stock market needed, therefore, to contrast the irrational and wanton dissipations of gambling to the rational, productive and modern stock exchange. Both the economics and the moral strategies of newspaper debates on the topic bear examination.

23A debate took place between critics and proponents of the stock market on the pages of the Shishi xinbao 時事新報, which opposed the new exchanges, and the Shangbao, which had promoted them vigorously at the time of their early establishment in Shanghai and still expressed faith in the stock market after their collapse, at least in principle, despite the various distortions of stock markets in Shanghai practice. The Shangbao discussion began by raising the question of the appropriateness of the term xuye. The discussion is quoted at some length here because of the conceptual crudeness (and circularity) of the economic arguments:

  • 27 ‘Wo zhi ‘xuye’ guan,’ Shangbao, August 11, 1921.

Some savants of our time consider [exchanges] non-productive and have coined the term xuye, which indicates disapproval.[…] We consider it necessary to discuss here whether or not the term is appropriate.
Productivity, as defined in economics, refers not to the creation of goods but the creation of wealth. Thus whatever adds to the usage of wealth, no matter the methods employed, may be regarded as production. It is certainly production to draw on natural resources to extract raw materials. But the transformation of the form of the raw material, its status and its duration, this must also be termed production, in other words, ‘industry’. In fact, the essence of all enterprises is to increase the usage of wealth so as to satisfy the desires of people in the world. Thus all enterprises perform the function of production. Since all enterprises perform the function of production, to consider the economy as a whole, it is difficult to differentiate between industry and ‘abstract industry’. [...] Or you might say that all enterprises beyond agriculture and industry are non-productive and thus become ‘abstract industry’. But beneficial or harmful, their effects differ in time and place and shouldn’t be indiscriminately stopped. Take banking for instance [...] to adopt our wise men’s argument regarding industry and ‘abstract industry,’ not only speculative exchanges should be banned, but the banking industry as well.[...]
We may go further: people now consider ‘abstract industry’ improper, but industry itself might not always be beneficial. For instance, overproduction will damage credit and cause an economic crisis. [...] To summarize, development requires increasing the usage of wealth. Considering the economy as a whole, there is no difference between industry and ‘abstract industry’, nor is there a reason to promote one and check the other.27

24Rather than reject the Shangbao argument as illogical and unworthy of rebuttal, a response in the Shishi xinbao questioned the necessity for exchanges and the motives behind their foundation:

  • 28 ‘Wo de ‘xuye’ guan’ Shishi xinbao, August 15, 1921.

Isn’t it dubious that so many exchanges should be organized so suddenly? [...] Let us speak of China’s needs. At a time when foreign goods are everywhere and even daily necessities have to be imported [...] rather than setting up exchanges to regulate prices and trust companies to absorb surplus capital, it would be better to use this enormous capital to open factories and improve industries, which would have a greater effect. Among the existing exchanges and trust companies, how many aim at real business? [...] For the majority their purpose is to raise stock prices for profits.28

  • 29 ‘Wo zhi ‘xuye’ guan, er,’ Shangbao, August 16, 1921.

25Fending off such moral suspicions, in the next round of the debate, the Shangbao rebuked the Shishi xinbao for its ignorance of the scientific theory of economics, placing science firmly on the side of exchanges and trust companies.29 In the face of science, the Shishi xinbao editor counterposed morality and the spectacle of suicide:

  • 30 ‘Wei jiaoyisuo ji xintuo gongsi wenti da Yang Chu jun’ (Response to Mr. Yang Chu in regard to exch (...)

Regarding exchanges and trust companies, no matter what scientific theory says about their function, I believe they are inappropriate for China today. [...] So many exchanges and trust companies have been established. What I’ve seen is only the crimes they have produced, not any benefit they have brought to society or the economy. For example, what of those who have fled or committed suicide when their speculation has failed? [...] Those who have suffered secret losses are countless. It is said that some exchange and trust founders manipulated the price of stocks and sold their shares when circumstances were favorable […] they have earned a lot while those who lost cannot be counted.30

  • 31 ‘Lun jiaoyi suo li bi,’ p. 2.

26Morality, indeed, was the predominant currency of public discussion, and swiftly became the dominant framework for understanding the stock market. The Shangbao/ Shishi xinbao debate is quoted here as a kind of window on economic understandings and the valuation of economics in public debates at the time. The debate features two very different understandings of economy, one which views ‘the economy’ as a complex system at the national level (however illogical the claims made about it); and another that understands economic matters in terms of individual actions and morality. Beyond specialized publications which dealt in economic matters, and even within such publications, like the Journal of the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, moral reflections reigned. If the more specialized commercial publications were more likely to explicitly value and express concern for the national economic system, they rarely lost sight of questions of individual morality. As the author of the previously-cited ‘Pros and Cons of the Stock Market’ bemoaned, ‘In recent years, our country’s commerce has gradually prospered and the speed of communications has increased. Exchanges also have become numerous. However, commercial morality has declined’.31

  • 32 In terms of numbers, more men than women fell victim to the market in the novel, as in real life. (...)

27In this context, it is worth turning to literary representations of the stock market. Jiang Hongjiao’s social novel may be read as an exposé of the greed, immorality and corruptions of the market. The exchange, like the god Wutong, tempts good women to go astray.32 Like Wutong, who dazzled maidens with gifts of golden trinkets which evaporated in their hands, the stock market not only took back what it seemed so freely to bestow, but it ruined its seduced victims. Consider the following passage, which highlights one suicide in a panorama of death and destruction:

  • 33 Jiang Hongjiao, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, p. 155-156.

Business flourished at the Midnight Exchange after it opened. [...] Other exchanges did not permit women to buy and sell. Only the Midnight Exchange had female employees. But how could women understand the subtleties of the business of speculation? They only thought to buy when prices rose. When they saw prices fall they quickly sold. Naturally their losses were high and their earnings low. Most pitiful was the suicide of the wife of the Western medical doctor, Pan Huzhen. […] She did not begin with much money, just some private savings, no more than 3,600 yuan. When she saw stock prices rising, she relied on someone to purchase 100 shares, and in four days she earned 700 yuan. […] So she thought it was easy to make a profit on the market. [...] Who would know that a month later prices would suddenly dive? Not only did she lose her earnings but her blood capital as well. She resolved to wait until prices rose. Her private savings were depleted, and her jewelry sold as well, and still the prices didn’t rise. Finally she decided to cut her losses and sell. Who would guess that when she sold the price suddenly rose? Agitated, she borrowed money and invested. [...]Who could have known that four brokers had cornered the market? […] Pan Huzhen’s wife not only had no earnings, but lost everything and also sold her clothing. In less than two months she lost a total of 17,000 yuan. At first she didn’t tell her husband, but when he found out she couldn’t think what to do. She went to the Midnight Exchange and hid herself in a dark corner. After midnight, when the exchange closed and the people went home, she tiptoed onto the trading floor. There she took out a cloth, fastened it on a post in the brokers’ section and hung herself. At daybreak the next day she was discovered by a custodian who finally brought her down. Exchange director Wang Zongfa quickly acted to cover up the matter, finding a way to settle quietly with Pan Huzhen. Nonetheless several people on the outside heard of the suicide. Because of this, it became known that the directors had organized a phoney company to cheat people of their money.33

  • 34 Lu Shouxian, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji (Revelations of the Stock Exchange), p. 41-42. Lu’s collection (...)
  • 35 Ibid., p. 54, 74

28Writing in a similar vein, Lu Shouxian 陸守險, in his fictional vignette, ‘The Suicide Hanging of a Woman Who Failed,’ suggested that women were natural targets for manipulative brokers, who understood that ‘women’s money could be easily loosened from their grasp, with promises of profit’. This story tells the tale of a broker’s financial seduction of an insufficiently guarded wife, whose husband was periodically away on business in Hankou, unaware of her secret and ultimately disastrous financial relations with the broker. The narrative presents the impersonal economic consequences of the woman’s speculative market activity entirely in terms of the interpersonal relations between the woman and the broker: ‘Not only did she have to sell her clothing and jewelry, but she had to borrow money to repay the debt. Early and late the broker demanded payment, not permitting even a slight postponement. Madame Hu begged the broker for mercy’. In her growing desperation Madame Hu went to the office of the stock market director and knelt down humiliatingly before him. Even though the fictional Madame Hu was not sexually promiscuous, her financial transactions appear as marital improprieties.34 In such moral tales, the stock market appears as an agent of virulent moral contamination. Those who were tempted progressed rapidly from moral deterioration to self-destruction. This happened as quickly as the new exchanges ‘turned what was formerly gold and silver into paper with characters on it,’ and then ultimately ‘waste paper’.35

  • 36 Shenbao, August 23, 1921.
  • 37 Shenbao, August 19, 1921.

29If the stock market had been initially hailed for its promise of modernity and national economic strengthening, the traumas of 1921-1922 quickly replaced economic promise with images of death and suicide. Whereas newspaper cartoons initially expressed cultural ambivalence, they quickly turned to the uniform image of danger and death, particularly self-destruction. Figures 1 and 2, both appearing in Shenbao 申報 in August 1921, reveal a sense of wonderment at the modern new stock exchanges, if a certain cultural ambivalence. In Figure 1, ‘Shanghai Yesterday and Today,’36 the exchanges that sprang up suddenly in the city are depicted as tall western-style buildings, built where nothing of value stood before. The depiction of ‘yesterday’ (inside the circle) depicts a cesuo 廁所, a crude toilet, humorously and ambiguously suggesting that the exchanges sprang up where formerly there was nothing but excrement (or by an alternative interpretation, on a foundation of excrement). Figure 2 indicates greater (if less humorous) social ambivalence. Here we see a pair of buildings, one whose entrance is empty; the other thronged by a crowd. A sign at the empty gate of the first building, a college, notes that of the many who took the entrance exam, only approximately one eighth were accepted. Here the caption reads: ‘How many tried but didn’t make it?’ The second building is a stock exchange, which is evidently taking the vast numbers of students flowing into its doors. Here the caption reads, ‘How many have entered here?’ The cartoon indicates both the popularity of the stock exchange, as well as the clear implication that it is populated by those who couldn’t make it into college.37

  • 38 Jingbao, July 30, 1922.
  • 39 Shenbao, September 17, 1921.
  • 40 Ibid., September 15, 1921.
  • 41 Jingbao, September 18, 1922.
  • 42 Lu Shouxian, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, op. cit.

30More common were the depictions of danger for young and old that followed. Figure 3 depicts a blind man in a scholars’ robe navigating a boulder-strewn path, marked, ‘stock exchange, trusts’.38 Figure 4, ‘Swept into the whirlpool’ shows a crowd of young men (labeled elementary school teachers) submerged to their heads in a swirl of water (labeled stock exchange), with their hands lifted as if they are making bids.39 The dominant motif becomes suicide and ruin. Figure 5 presents an image of bankrupted stock exchanges and trust companies, with figures jumping off a cliff.40 Figure 6, ‘The Evils of the Stock Market,’ provides an illustration from the coverage of the Xi Shangzhen case. Xi’s skull is depicted as the latest addition to the ‘Stock Market Product Exhibition Hall’.41 The cover of Lu Shouxian’s satirical anecdotes of the Shanghai stock market, Revelations of the Stock Exchange, is festooned with skulls.42

Finding the Culprit and Exculpating the Victim

  • 43 Suicide statistics are not available for Shanghai prior to 1928. Shanghai shi difang xiehui (éd), (...)
  • 44 USDS 893.52/37, Fraser, report dated January 31, 1922.

31It might appear tempting to explain the interpretive association of the stock market with suicide as a simple reflection of the extent of the economic disaster and the suicides it incited. No statistics are available to measure the actual incidence of suicide in Shanghai at this time, so the question cannot be answered empirically.43 Nonetheless, after combing the newspapers looking for specific reports of stock market suicides other than that of Xi Shangzhen (and finding some, but not so very many), I am persuaded that a focus on literal suicides does not do justice to the problem of understanding the merged images of suicide and the stock market that were widely shared by the Shanghai public at this time. Certainly some foreign observers felt they were witnessing some social exaggeration. A British consular report on the Shanghai stock market collapse wrote that while there was much damage, ‘it is easy to exaggerate. Though the Chinese press constantly reports cases of absconding and suicide as the result of losses on exchange gaming, such reports are not to be relied upon except as an index to the course of public opinion’.44

  • 45 Margery Wolf, ‘Women and Suicide in China,’ in Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke, Women in Chinese Soc (...)

32For most opponents of the stock exchange, the spectacle of suicides (whether imagined or real) committed by ruined investors formed the most poignant evidence of the evils of the institution. In considering the role that suicide played in public rhetoric about stock markets, it is useful to remember Margery Wolf’s point about the cultural meaning of suicide in China: ‘In the West we ask of a suicide, ‘Why?’ In China, the question is more commonly, ‘Who? [...] Who is responsible?”45

33Suicide was an arena for the production of moral truth. Looking at the sea of commentary that followed the market collapse, one cannot help but be struck by a general absence of interest in economic analyses of what went wrong. Rather, the stock market was apprehended in moral terms, terms uncongenial to capitalism, and innocent as well of a systematic language of economic or class analysis. In this regard, the early Republican-era discussion of the stock market resonated more clearly with earlier cultural critiques of commercial society than with stock market analyses of a decade later, or with the more famous literary depiction of the stock market found in Mao Dun’s 1933 novel Midnight.

34If it is not surprising to find earlier notions of money swimming about in the soup of May Fourth/New Culture economic understandings, the modern Shanghai public did not resort to Wutong, in the effort to identify a culprit. For those who did not hold the suicides themselves responsible, in addition to the abstract notion of economics and the demoniacal mechanism of the stock market itself, two other culprits came readily into public discussion, informed by broad public sentiments of anti-Japanese nationalism, and popular resentments against immoral profiteers.

  • 46 Bryna Goodman, ‘Semi-Colonialism, Empty Enterprise, and the Cultural Meanings of Shanghai’s Early (...)

35The first culprit was the specter of foreign economic penetration and manipulation of the Chinese economy. The new Chinese stock exchanges were founded on the basis of competition with the Japanese, and fell on waves of popular fears of behind-the-scenes Japanese contamination and manipulation of Shanghai finance.46

  • 47 Indeed, a spate of lawsuits filled the courts after the market collapse, each one identifying, bef (...)
  • 48 Shishi xinbao, September 18, 1922.
  • 49 Cui Weiru, Xi Shangzhen, Part 1, p. 16.
  • 50 Shibao, October 14, 16, 18 and 19, 1922.

36The other commonly identified culprit was the business community. The market traumas of 1921-1922 raised questions about the business community more broadly, which had so avidly created, promoted, invested, and profited – if not without some suffering – from the destructive institution.47 Essays and poems published in the daily papers ‘reviled the poisonous snakes who created the stock exchange,’48 blaming ‘traitorous merchants’ for the stock market crash.49 The language of these accusations is striking, for example, references to businessmen as ‘fat bellies,’ and even ‘demons in human clothing,’50 language which would be available for redeployment in the service of new ideological purposes over the course of the next half-century.

37Though newspaper readers and pundits selected their culprits as they pleased, perhaps the most appealing feature of the focus on the suicide had to do with the way in which cultural understandings of suicide could help to displace suspicions of stained virtue. If most people in Shanghai were still too poor to have risked their money on the market, it was still shocking how many families of modest means had succumbed to the temptation of the market. The inevitable collapse that followed the 1921 orgy of market speculation elicited soul-searching public reflection upon the disturbing loss of Chinese morality. Insofar as a sense of Chinese morality had been one secure source of cultural superiority in comparisons with the West, the figure of the naive suicide was perhaps a way of displacing what was experienced as cultural guilt over what had happened. Suicide, after all, was a tactic of protesting innocence, as well as a mechanism for wiping away the moral blemish associated with problematic desires. In a city so tarnished with cai 財 as Shanghai, this imagination of chaste victimization provided, perhaps, a degree of comfort.

“Shanghai Yesterday and Today”
Shenbao, 23 August 1921

(Right):“The National University: How many have tried but failed to gain admission?”
(Left):“The Stock Exchange: How many have entered these gates?”
Shenbao, 19 August 1921

“The Dangers of Stocks and Trusts”
Jingbao, 30 July 1922

“Swept into the Whirlpool”
Shenbao, 17 September 1921

“The Benefits of Exchanges and Trust Companies”
Shenbao, 15 September 1921

“Miss Xi, the Latest Arrival”
(Top): “Evils of the Stock Market”
(Bottom):“Stock Market Product Exhibition Hall”
Jingbao, September 18, 1922

Bibliographie

Références bibliographiques

Sources en langue chinoise

Cui Weiru 崔蔚茹 (ed.). 1922. Xi Shangzhen 席上珍, Shanghai: Funü zhiye yanjiu she.

Liang Qichao 梁啟超. 1910, November 2. ‘Jingao guo zhong zhi tan shiye zhe’ 敬告國中之談實業者 (Notice to Compatriots who Speak of Industry), Guofengbao; reprinted in Shanghai shi dang’an guan上海市档案馆 (ed.). 1992. Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo 旧上海的证券交易所 (Securities Exchanges in Old Shanghai), Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, p. 265-274.

Lu Shouxian 陸守險. 1922. Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji 交易所現形記 (Revelations of the Stock Exchange), Shanghai: Zhonghua tushu jicheng gongsi.

Qi Liang 奇良. 1994. ‘Shanghai huashang zhengquan jiaoyisuo gaikuang’ 上海華商證券交易所概況 (Overview of the Shanghai China Merchants’ Securities Exchange) in Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xieshang huiyi shanghai shi weiyuanhui wenshi ziliao weiyuanhui 中国人民政治协商会?上海市委员会文史资料委员会 (ed.). Jiu Shanghai de jiaoyisuo 旧上海的交易所 (Exchanges in Old Shanghai), Shanghai: Shanghai shi zhengxie wenshi ziliao bianji bu, p. 36-56.

Shanghai jiaoyisuo yi lan 上海交易所一覽 (A look at Shanghai Exchanges). 1922. Shanghai: Jinbu shuju.

‘Shanghai pingjun gupiao gongsi xu ji zhangcheng’ 上海平准股票公司敘及章程, 1882 September 27-28, Shenbao; reprinted in Shanghai shi dang’an guan (ed.). 1992. Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo, p. 263-264.

Shanghai renmin yinhang Shanghai shi fenhang 上海人民银行上海市分行 (Shanghai Municipal Branch of the Shanghai People’s Bank) (ed.). 1978. Shanghai qianzhuang shiliao, 上海钱庄史料, Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe.

Tang Zhesheng 汤哲声 (ed.). 1994. Jiaoyisuo zhenxiang de tanmizhe – Jiang Hongjiao 交易所真相的探秘者—江红焦 (Jiang Hongjiao, Sleuth of Secret Stock Market Truths), Zhongguo jinxiandai tongsu zuojia pingzhuan congshu, 7, Nanjing: Nanjing chubanshe.

Wang Enliang 王恩良. 1921. Jiaoyisuo daquan 交易所大全 (The Complete Stock Exchange), Shanghai: Jiaoyisuo yuan shuqi yangchengsuo (Stock market employee Summer Training Institute).

Yang Tianshi 楊天石. 2000. ‘Jiang Zhongzheng xiansheng he Shanghai zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo’ 蔣中正和上海證券物品交易所 (Chiang Kai-shek and the Shanghai Stock and Commodities Exchange), Jindai Zhongguo, 139 (October), p. 158-179.

Zhu Sihuang 朱斯煌 (ed.). 1947. Minguo jingji shi 民國經濟史 (Economic history of the Republican era), Yinghang zhoubao sanshi jinian kan (Thirty-year commemoration of Banking Weekly), Shanghai: Yinghang xuehui.

Zhu Yingui 朱荫?. 1998. ‘Jindai Shanghai zhengquan shichang shang gupiao maimai de sanci gaochao’ 近代上海证券市场上股票买?的三次高潮 (Three peaks of stock-purchasing in modern Shanghai’s securities markets), Zhongguo jingjishi yanjiu, 3, p. 58-70.

Zhu Zhenlu 朱振陆. 1994. ‘Zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo jianshu’ 证券物品交易所简述, in Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xieshang huiyi shanghai shi weiyuanhui wenshi ziliao weiyuanhui (ed.). Jiu Shanghai de jiaoyisuo, Shanghai: Shanghai shi zhengxie wenshi ziliao bianji bu, p. 13-16.

Sources en langues occidentales

Glahn, Richard von. 1991. ‘The Enchantment of Wealth: The God Wutong in Social History,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 51/2 (December), p. 651-714.

– 2004. The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Goodman, Bryna. 2004. ‘Unvirtuous Exchanges: Women and the Corruptions of the Stock Market in Early Republican China,’ in Mechtild Leutner and Nicola Spakowski (eds.), Women and Gender in Republican China, LIT. Verlag: Free University of Berlin, p. 351-375.

– 2005. ‘The New Woman Commits Suicide: Press, Cultural Memory and the New Republic,’ Journal of Asian Studies, 64/1 (February), p. 67-102.

Liu, Lydia. 1995. Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity – China, 1900-1937, Stanford (Cal.): Stanford University Press.

McElderry, Andrea. 2001. ‘Shanghai Securities Exchanges: Past and Present’ in Occasional Paper Series in Business History, 4, Asian Business History Center, Brisbane University of Queensland, p. 1-19.

Thomas, W. A. 2001. Western Capitalism in China, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Wolf, Margery. 1975. ‘Women and Suicide in China,’ in Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke, Women in Chinese Society, Stanford (Cal.): Stanford University Press, p. 111-141.

Notes

1 Richard von Glahn, ‘The Enchantment of Wealth: The God Wutong in Social History,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 51:2 (1991), p. 651-714; The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture, (2004), p. 206-209, 234.

2 Von Glahn (2004), op. cit., p. 242-246. In the numerous shrines to the god of wealth in the Jiangnan countryside, however, Wulu Caishen continued to be identified with Wutong.

3 See Zhu Yingui, ‘Jindai Shanghai zhengquan shichang shang gupiao maimai de sanci gaochao’, Zhongguo jingjishi yanjiu, 1998.3.

4 Ibid., ‘Shanghai pingjun gupiao gongsi xu ji zhangcheng,’ Shenbao, September 27-28, 1882, reprinted in Shanghai shi dang’an guan (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo, p. 263-265; Chinese capital made up 40 % or more of the total in major joint stock enterprises launched from the 1860s by Jardine’s, Russell’s and other leading firms. W.A.Thomas, Western Capitalism in China, (2001), p. 71, 78, 86-90, 112.

5 Zhu Yingui, art. cit., p. 62-65; Thomas, op. cit., p. 153, 162; Shanghai renmin yinhang Shanghai shi fenhang (ed.), Shanghai qianzhuang shiliao (1978), p. 74-78. M.C. Bergère I.1.

6 Liang Qichao, ‘Jingao guo zhong shi tan shiye zhe’ (Notice to compatriots who speak of industry and commerce), Guofengbao, November 2, 1910, reprinted in Shanghai shi dang’an guan (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo, p. 265-273; Yang Tianshi, ‘Jiang Zhongzheng xiansheng he Shanghai zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo’, Jindai Zhongguo, 139 (October 2000), p. 158.

7 ‘Quyinsuo yu jiaoyisuo zhi zhengzhu’ (Competition between the quyinsuo and the jiaoyisuo), Shenbao, September 17, 1918; Zhu Zhenlu, ‘Zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo jianshu,’ in Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xieshang huiyi Shanghai shi weyuanhui senshi ziliao weiyuanhui (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de jiaoyisuo, p. 13.

8 ‘Japanese Exchange Loses its Quarters to Chinese Combine,’ China Press, January 1, 1920; ‘Chinese Form Stock Exchange: Institution Formally Inaugurated After 20 Years of Agitation,’ China Press, February 3, 1920.

9 Yu established the Shanghai Securities and Commodities Exchange (Zhengquan wupin jiaoyisuo). The second exchange was the Shanghai China Merchants’ Securities Exchange (Shanghai huashang zhengquan jiaoyisuo). Each exchange had powerful backers in Beijing who forced through ministry approval for both, contrary to the new law, which stipulated that there should be only one exchange in each area. Qi Liang, ‘Shanghai huashang zhengquan jiaoyisuo gaikuang’, in Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xieshang huiyi (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de jiaoyisuo, p. 39-42.

10 M.-C. Bergère, 1.5, p. 86.

11 Public Record Office FO 228/3175. George Sokolsky (pen name: G. Gramada) provided the figure of $169 million invested in the 98 exchanges in Shanghai for which figures were available, estimating a total sum of $200 million for 140 exchanges in existence at the end of 1921, see G. Gramada, ‘The Gambling in Produce Exchanges’, North China Daily News, December 6, 1921.

12 Zhu Sihuang (ed.), Minguo jingji shi, Yinghang zhoubao sanshi jinian kan, (1947) p. 141-144; ‘Yeshi wuquan jiaoyisho yanhui ji’ (Record of the banquet of the Night Market Securities Exchange), Shenbao, July 26, 1921; Jinbu shuju (ed.), Shanghai jiaoyisuo yi lan, p. 1-4, 63.

13 U.S. Dept of State 893.52/37.

14 Jiang Hongjiao, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, reprinted in Tang Zhesheng (ed.), Jiaoyisuo zhenxiang de tanmizhe – Jiang Hongjiao, Zhongguo jinxiandai tongsu zuojia pingzhuan congshu, vol. 7, p. 158.

15 Jingji was a return graphic loan, the kanji term keizai, derived from classical Chinese. Other translations were also used, including fuguoce (means ‘to enrich the country’), fuguoxue (national enrichmentology) and the transliterations aikangnuomi and yikanglaomi. See Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity–China, 1900-1937, p. 268, 315, 360.

16 This case is detailed in Bryna Goodman, ‘The New Woman Commits Suicide: Press, Cultural Memory and the New Republic,’ Journal of Asian Studies 64:1 (February 2005), p. 67-102.

17 Cui Weiru (ed.), Xi Shangzhen, Part 1, p. 8-9.

18 Ibid., Part 1, p. 10.

19 Shanghai shi dang’an guan (ed.), Jiu Shanghai de zhengquan jiaoyisuo; Zhu Zhenlu, art. cit.; Andrea McElderry, ‘Shanghai Securities Exchanges: Past and Present,’ Occasional Paper Series in Business History 4 (2001), p. 1-19.

20 I have examined elsewhere two dimensions of this public discussion. For an examination of the gender dimensions of the stock market, see Bryna Goodman, ‘Unvirtuous Exchanges: Women and the Corruptions of the Stock Market in Early Republican China’; ‘Semi-Colonialism, ‘Empty Enterprise,’ and the Cultural Meanings of Shanghai’s Early Stock-Exchange Fever’, an unpublished paper, presented at ‘Repositioning Hong Kong and Shanghai in Modern Chinese History,’ Hong Kong, June 11-12, 2002, described public preoccupation with foreign (especially Japanese) manipulation of the market.

21 Wang Enliang, Jiaoyisuo daquan, p. 3.

22 In the context of Chinese cultural norms, the absence of subscribers to Adam Smith’s faith that the pursuit of individual economic self-interest contributed to and was indeed necessary for the public good is unsurprising. Even among the Shanghai business class, capitalism had a foreign taint, and the individual profit motive was considered injurious to the well-being of the group. The delicacy of Chinese stock market promoters’ descriptions of the market may be contrasted with a contemporaneous speech presented to British residents of Shanghai at the Royal Asiatic Society Hall on the value of the stock exchange. The speaker, A. J. Hughes, argued that the stock exchange was not simply ‘a cog in the wheel of social progress,’ but indispensable to general social welfare. Hughes’s brash assertion of the social value of individual incentive and the stock exchange would not have easily persuaded a Chinese audience. ‘Mr. Hughes Discusses “The Stock Exchange as a Factor in Social Evolution”, Shanghai Gazette, November 30, 1920.

23 Examples translated from the Shishi xinbao, Zhonghua xinbao and Shenbao appear in Shanghai Gazette, November 15, 1919, and February 15, 1921; see also ‘Caohehing shangmin qing yanjin dubo’ (Caohejing businessmen call for the strict banning of gambling), Shangbao, April 3, 1922.

24 ‘Jiaoyisuo yu touji shiye’ (Exchanges and speculative enterprise), Shangbao, February 22, 1921.

25 ‘Lun jiaoyisuo zhi li bi’ (Pros and Cons of the Stock Market), Shanghai zongshanghui yuebao (Journal of the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce), 1:1 (July 1921), p. 1-2.

26 See, for example, Jingbao 晶報 June 17, June 18, August 9, August 27, 1921, July 30, 1922.

27 ‘Wo zhi ‘xuye’ guan,’ Shangbao, August 11, 1921.

28 ‘Wo de ‘xuye’ guan’ Shishi xinbao, August 15, 1921.

29 ‘Wo zhi ‘xuye’ guan, er,’ Shangbao, August 16, 1921.

30 ‘Wei jiaoyisuo ji xintuo gongsi wenti da Yang Chu jun’ (Response to Mr. Yang Chu in regard to exchanges and trust companies), Shishi xinbao, August 17, 1921.

31 ‘Lun jiaoyi suo li bi,’ p. 2.

32 In terms of numbers, more men than women fell victim to the market in the novel, as in real life. But in the novel female suicide victims are particularly highlighted. See Bryna Goodman (2004).

33 Jiang Hongjiao, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, p. 155-156.

34 Lu Shouxian, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji (Revelations of the Stock Exchange), p. 41-42. Lu’s collection bears the same title as Jiang Hongjiao’s novel.

35 Ibid., p. 54, 74

36 Shenbao, August 23, 1921.

37 Shenbao, August 19, 1921.

38 Jingbao, July 30, 1922.

39 Shenbao, September 17, 1921.

40 Ibid., September 15, 1921.

41 Jingbao, September 18, 1922.

42 Lu Shouxian, Jiaoyisuo xianxing ji, op. cit.

43 Suicide statistics are not available for Shanghai prior to 1928. Shanghai shi difang xiehui (éd), Shanghai shi tongji (Statistics for Shanghai Municipality), Shanghai, 1933.

44 USDS 893.52/37, Fraser, report dated January 31, 1922.

45 Margery Wolf, ‘Women and Suicide in China,’ in Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke, Women in Chinese Society, (1975), p. 112.

46 Bryna Goodman, ‘Semi-Colonialism, Empty Enterprise, and the Cultural Meanings of Shanghai’s Early Stock-Exchange Fever’ voir note 20 op. cit..

47 Indeed, a spate of lawsuits filled the courts after the market collapse, each one identifying, before the public, particularly egregious business practices. In such instances, when called to comment or provide evidence, the organized institutions of business, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the business media, chose their words with care. Rather than focus the public eye on the broader guilt of the business community as a whole and come to the assistance of individuals who had simply followed common practices at the time of the book, the Chamber of Commerce appears to have made a calculated decision to let individuals fall as immoral individuals. Appeals to the Chamber of Commerce to provide exculpating evidence – or even to clarify commercial practice – went unanswered, even when the directors of the Chambers themselves admitted privately that a particular individual had done nothing more than what had become standard business practice. Shanghai Chamber of Commerce archives, GongShang-Lian Archives, 200-1-008 (1922).

48 Shishi xinbao, September 18, 1922.

49 Cui Weiru, Xi Shangzhen, Part 1, p. 16.

50 Shibao, October 14, 16, 18 and 19, 1922.

Table des illustrations

Légende “Shanghai Yesterday and Today”Shenbao, 23 August 1921
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,5M
Légende (Right):“The National University: How many have tried but failed to gain admission?”(Left):“The Stock Exchange: How many have entered these gates?”Shenbao, 19 August 1921
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 635k
Légende “The Dangers of Stocks and Trusts”Jingbao, 30 July 1922
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,6M
Légende “Swept into the Whirlpool”Shenbao, 17 September 1921
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3M
Légende “The Benefits of Exchanges and Trust Companies”Shenbao, 15 September 1921
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3M
Légende “Miss Xi, the Latest Arrival”(Top): “Evils of the Stock Market”(Bottom):“Stock Market Product Exhibition Hall”Jingbao, September 18, 1922
URL http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/docannexe/image/4998/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M

Auteur

Professor, Department of History, University of Oregon, États-Unis.

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter

Volume papier

Chargement

Unavailable