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Editors Frontiers of History in China

Hongyan Xiang

In recent years, religion in China has attracted increased attention, both domestically and internationally. A core aspect of this attention has been the role of church real estate, a contemporary issue with historical origins. After the Second Opium War, France—the self-proclaimed protector of Catholicism—took on the cause of obtaining additional rights and freedoms for Western missionaries in China, albeit with only mixed results. Constant disagreements between China’s central and local governments made it difficult to implement nation-wide regulations.

Michael Szonyi

The more than thirty legal disputes and cases mentioned in The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jinpingmei) make this late Ming novel an invaluable source for the study of law and legal culture in premodern China. This lecture illustrates that the cases in the novel describe in considerable detail each of the formal steps in the Ming process of legal adjudication. But the work also conveys the message that despite the formal process, the legal system does not deliver justice. However, an alternative system of justice that is mostly implicit in the text, the justice of a disinterested and moral Heaven, ultimately prevails. Finally, the contemporary implications of this traditional understanding of law and justice are explored.

Lavinia Benedetti

This research attempts to introduce a preliminary reflection on Di Renjie’s past and contemporary representations, in order to decode the language of contemporary imagery found in Chinese media culture and to decide which of his historical and literary identities is now the most acknowledged in Chinese imagery. Moreover, we will briefly advance some reflections on whether Robert Hans van Gulik’s representation has or not totally influenced Chinese imagery.

Editors Frontiers of History in China

Zach Fredman

Between 1941 and 1945, the Nationalist government supervised a program that trained more than 3,300 male college students and recent graduates to serve as interpreters for the US military in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. These interpreters made the Sino-US alliance a reality by enabling American servicemen to communicate with other Chinese. But despite the program’s operational success, interpreters suffered from intractable morale problems. Interpreters began their service with lofty expectations. Senior officials and intellectuals encouraged them to see themselves as central figures in China’s struggle for national rejuvenation. They would uplift the country by convincing American servicemen to see Chinese as equals and by introducing American technology, traits, and habits to the Chinese Army. It all sounded glorious to cadets undergoing training, but actual interpreter service proved bitterly disappointing to most young men. They found their monotonous duties unworthy of their position. The Nationalist government, for its part, lacked the capacity to keep them clothed, paid, and fed. Their own compatriots—soldiers and civilians alike—regarded them with suspicion. Most frustrating of all, American soldiers refused to treat them as equals. By examining interpreter morale problems in China from 1941 to 1945, this article enriches our understanding of wartime interpreting, China in a global World War II, and sources of friction in the Sino-US alliance.