Ethnicity, religion, and geopolitics affect historians’ interpretations of the history of Xinjiang, a very chaotic frontier region of China that did not come fully under the control of the People’s Republic of China until recent decades. The case of Sheng Shicai, an early Republican Era Chinese military officer, shows how professional training and, most importantly, the ability to capitalize on emerging opportunities contributed to his military success in Xinjiang from 1931 to 1934. This paper analyzes the Republic of China’s government documents, Sheng and his acquaintances’ memoirs, newspaper articles, and other sources to examine how Sheng applied his military training and employed regional and foreign military forces to win battles in northern Xinjiang. Professional military training helped officers to utilize their resources efficiently and take advantage of their geopolitical situations. Amid numerous talented Chinese military officers, Sheng rose in rank and successfully secured Xinjiang as a part of the Republic of China even when Xinjiang’s geopolitics seemed extremely challenging. This study highlights the value of Sheng’s military prowess, something that the literature has not previously appreciated.
The three positions of decodings proposed by communication theorist Stuart Hall have become a starting point for contemporary cultural studies. He insists that receivers of cultural products are not necessarily passive but can be ‘oppositional’. Media scholar John Fiske has further advanced the theory, suggesting that receivers can turn to be ‘producerly’ in their reception of cultural products. The present paper sheds light on the possibility of a more active, even creative position on the part of receivers, particularly in relation to popular songs and other interactive texts. Receivers of cultural products are powerful others to the ‘producing elite’. Jürgen Habermas’s idea of ‘com-subjectivity’ provides a theoretical foundation for the validity and desirability of such ‘creative decoding’.