X-Rotary (2): Shanghai Rotarians’ year of election
Year of election (general)
Prior to 1930, the electing process was highly selective. There were less than five new members elected each year, except in 1925 (6 new members). Whether it was a repercussion of the May 30 Incident remains open to question and requires further examination. The Shanghai Rotary Club became more open in 1930-1931, with 9 and 8 new members, respectively. After a brief and small decline in 1932-1933 (probably an effect of the Shanghai Battle in January-March 1932), we observe a significant increase in the yearly recruitment of members from 1934 onwards, particularly between 1935 and 1940 : 10 new members were elected in 1935, 23 in 1936 (i.e. twice the number of new members elected the year before), and still 12 in 1937, just before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in August 1937, and still more than 10 until 1940. The recruitment of Shanghai Rotarians, however, dramatically collapsed in 1941 (with only 3 new members elected that year). This is undoubtedly the direct result of the Pacific War. Once the United States had entered WWII in December 1941, hundreds of British and American residents in particular were interned in Japanese prisons, while many others definitively left Shanghai. Therefore, the Shanghai Rotary Club lost a significant number of potential candidates and strategic connections to potentially new members from the foreign community in Shanghai.
Year of election (by nationality)
Now if we observe more closely the distribution of new members according to their nationality, we notice that prior to 1934, new recruits were almost exclusively American, Chinese and British. In 1925, paradoxically, no Chinese were elected (among the 6 new members, we count 3 British and 3 Americans). This observation actually downplays the possible impact of the May 30th Incident on elite sociability in Shanghai. Indeed, one may assume that in order to counteract possible anti-imperialist feelings among local Chinese elites, the Shanghai Rotary Club might have recruited more Chinese members that very year. Yet the available figures suggest that this was not the case, quite the contrary. Among the 6 new members, the 3 Americans were elected BEFORE the Incident (January), and the 3 British members were elected AFTER the Incident (June and October).
Significant changes occurred after the Nationalist Government was established in 1927. The Shanghai Rotary experienced a striking sinicization of its membership from 1930 onward. This parallels the sinicization of other foreign institutions in Shanghai, notably the Shanghai Municipal Council, which started to incorporate more Chinese members as early as 1928 (see Jackson, 2017). In 1930, 4 Chinese Rotarians were elected (for 1 British and 1 American), i.e. twice the figures during the previous years. This was actually the first year when there were more Chinese than American members elected. Chinese Rotarians maintained an average of 3 new members elected each year in 1934-1935, then representing the first nationality among new members. But this is in 1936 that they reached a record with 8 members elected that year (compared to the 5 Americans and 4 British elected the same year). There were still 5 to 6 Chinese elected at the beginning of the war (they still represented the first elected national group in 1937 and above all in 1939, with 6 new Chinese members for only 1 American and 1 British).
The trend reversed in 1939, however, with 5 new American members for only 1 Chinese and 3 British. One may speak of a re-Americanization of the Shanghai Rotary Club during the first phase of the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1940). After the war, however, we observe a re-sinicization of the Club: 15 new Chinese members were elected in 1946 and still 9 in 1948 (compared to a yearly average of 5 Americans and 1 to 2 British).
Jackson, Isabella. Shaping Modern Shanghai: Colonialism in China’s Global City. Cambridge ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp.73-80.