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Chinese Literature
Shenbao 申報 "Shun Pao"

Shenbao 申報 (original transcription Shun Pao) was the oldest modern Chinese newspaper, and also one of the most influential. The first issue appeared on April 30, 1872 in Shanghai with the title Shenjiang xinbao 申江新報 "Huangpu News" (Huangpu is the name of the river on which Shanghai is located, and Shenjiang is an alternative name). It was financed by four overseas Chinese and managed by the British businessman Ernest Major (1841–1908, Chinese name Meicha 美查). The first four numbers appeared each second day, but from the fifth number on it was a daily newspaper. In 1909 Xi Yufu 席裕福 became an additional joint partner, and ownership rights wholly came into Chinese hands. From 1912 on the shareholders of the newspaper were Zhang Jian 張謇, Zhao Zhujun 趙竹君, Ying Dehong 應德閎, Shi Liangcai 史量才 and Chen Ling 陳冷. All of them, except Shi Liangcai later withdrew, so that the latter managed the newspaper as the sole owner until 1934. When Japan occupied Shanghai Shun Pao came into the hands of the Japan-controled regime of Wang Guowei 王國維, and from 1945 on was controlled by the Kuo-min-tang 國民黨. It was abandoned after May 1949, when the Communists "liberated" Shanghai.
Nearly all authors of the newspaper's articles were Chinese. Their products satisfied the needs of many different groups of readers. Quite remarkably is the large amount of Western news and printed sources included in Shun Pao articles. In this way the contributors did not only learn about Western methods of the publishing and newspaper business but also informed Chinese readers about Western science and technologies. The editorial office made use of the most advanced information systems of the time, and also invited journalists to write articles. Soon after its creation the editorial office founded a correspondence bureau (waifu tongxun dian 外埠通訊點) in Hangzhou, then bureaus in Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Hankou, Fujian, Guangzhou, Changsha and Chengdu, and a communications centre (tongxun wangluo 通訊網絡) in Hong Kong. This network was very decisive for the success of the newspaper, because it allowed the editorial office to obtain the hottest information. In 1874, for instance, a journalist was sent to the island of Taiwan that was attacked by Japan. This was China's first instance of war correspondence. A telegraph line was established between Shanghai and Tianjin in 1881 that first operated in January 1881. Shi Liangcai modernized the printing equipment and enlarged the editorial office (known as the Shenbaoguan 申報館). At the same time the newpaper obtained a new design. In 1930 a general office (zong guanli chu 總管理處) was created. It was led by Tao Xingzhi 陶行知, who was assisted by Huang Yanpei 黃炎培 and Ge Gongzhen 戈公振. After the Mukden Incident in 1931, when Japan occupied Manchuria, Shun Pao advocated a national resistence against Japanese aggression, and stood up for democracy, progress and a constitution. The newspaper therefore published articles by Song Qingling 宋慶齡, wife of late president Sun Yat-sen, or Cai Yuanpei 蔡元培, president of Peking University. In a special edition called Ziyou tan 自由談 (About liberty) that was guest-edited by Li Liewen 黎烈文 a lot of famous writers and thinkers like Lu Xun 魯迅, Mao Dun 茅盾 or Ba Jin 巴金 published their writings.
The Shenbaoguan also published a monthly magazin, Shenbao yuekan 申報月刊, and a yearbook, Shenbao nianjian 申報年鑒, and published a lot of excellent editions of texts, like the reprint series like the Shenbaoguan congshu 申報館叢書 or the richly illustrated magazin Dianshizhai huabao 點石齋畫報.
The owners of the newspaper also founded a tutorial school (buxi xuexiao 補習學校) and a public library, the Liutong Library 流通圖書館 that was directed by Li Gongpu 李公樸. The consortium so also contributed to satisfy social needs and took over a public function.
Shun Pao was one of the earliest newspapers of China, and also that with the longest lifetime. During its 77 years of publication 600 numbers appeared, with the highest number of copies of 150,000 sold in 1932. It can be said that Shun Pao was the most successful and the most famous modern Chinese newspaper. It attracted a wide readership and today still serves as an important source on late imperial and Republican China.

Source: Zhang Wan 張宛 (1990). "Shenbao 申報", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Xinwen chuban 新聞•出版, Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe, p. 259.
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December 12, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail