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所在位置 首頁 > 現代中國的形塑研究計畫> 形塑現代中國的日常生活> 學術活動> 101年10月5日 形塑現代中國的日常生活會議 Regular meeting of “The Shaping of Modern China”
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形塑現代中國的日常生活


101年10月5日 形塑現代中國的日常生活會議 Regular meeting of “The Shaping of Modern China”
2012-12-04

楊瑞松老師講說中
本次例會由楊瑞松老師報告〈近代中國的「四萬萬」國族論述想像〉,探討「四萬 萬 人」如何在近代中國從一個人口數字,漸次演化成為近代中國的國族符號的歷史過 程 及其意義。 Prof. 楊瑞松 lectured about “The Imagined National Identity of the Modern Chinese through the Phrase ‘four hundred million’” in this regular meeting, discussing the historical process of how the phrase evolved from a population number to a symbol of national identity of modern China and its significance.

從二十世紀初期以降,「四萬萬」的全中國人口數字早已經深入人心,以「四萬萬
人」、「四萬萬之眾」、「四萬萬同胞」或「四萬萬中國人」等表述方式,出現在
各類型有關於近代中國意象的文本;尤其是在二十世紀的前半葉,更是成為近代中
國人在界定想像「我族共同體」的人口疆界的代表性數字和符號。可是在十九世紀
末時,這樣的說法都還是極其新鮮,甚至被部分人士視為荒誕不經的表述方式。從
「四萬萬人」的單純字面上意義而言,它原先不過就是一個人口數量的表述符號;
但是從晚清時期以降,它卻漸次演變成為一個鮮明的國族符號,成為一個強調彼此
命運相結、休戚與共的國族共同體的代號。譚嗣同詩作中的「四萬萬人齊下淚」意
象,即很明顯地展示出此種共同體想像的符號性質的情感訴求─清帝國甲午敗戰的
後果,不再只是一家一姓的清王室或是清政府所面對的政治困境,而是所有四萬萬
的國族成員理應感同身受的集體恥辱。
就人口統計數字而言,「四萬萬人」並非一項在晚清時期所無中生有而發明之術
語,而是依據道光年間的人口總數所推算出的數字,在晚清時期的論述中已有相當
程度的流通性。在十九世紀末期的西方人有關中國的描述中,亦不乏以“400
millions” 為基礎來界定中國的人口數。它之所以成為保守派人士眼中的「幽渺
怪僻之言」,恐正在於從十九世紀末期,尤其是1890 年之後,諸多倡導革新變法
甚或革命反滿的政治論述中,即經常引用「四萬萬人」及其洐生的「四萬萬之眾/
四萬萬同胞」等符號於其中。康有為(1858-1927)和梁啟超師徒二人,對於
「四萬萬人」一詞的運用在晚清以降蔚為流行的現象即具有重要推手的角色。康有
為一再強調皇帝應善加運用作為一種強大的豐富人力資源之「四萬萬人」,同時也
提醒皇帝應留意如何促使四萬萬人萬眾一心團結合作,並達成君民同體休戚與共的
局面。所謂「中國一家,休戚與共」、「合四萬萬人之心以為心」的君民同體、萬
眾一心的「合群」主張,事實上可謂是晚清維新思想的一個普遍關懷。唯晚清帝國
面臨的內外困境,不時令有識之士有「恨鐵不成鋼」之嘆。在梁啟超筆下,中國甚
至成為「無國」的狀態。我們可以看出,「四萬萬人」在晚清時期,特別是在
1890 年後的維新派思想論述中,已是經常被援引的符號用來形容界定清中國和其
他各國相較下所具有的眾多人口數量上的優勢和特色。但是另一方面,這些論述也
通常表露出一種不知如何才能真正團結此「四萬萬之眾」,進而達到富國強兵的焦
慮。特別是在歷經甲午敗戰之後,許多悲痛失望之情溢於言表,難掩對於空有「地
方二萬里之大,人民四萬萬之眾」清中國,卻淪為列強所恣意欺凌之局面的不解和
痛心。
除了上述一再被強調的為政者應善用「四萬萬人」的力量,以及主張君民上下應真
誠以對的合群論述外,一種主張四萬萬之人應該具有「共享國權」的可謂現代國民
意識之論述也開始浮現。在晚清維新變法的思想界中,不再僅以強調四萬萬人是君
主所應善用的廣大人力資源,而是轉而關注四萬萬人必需成為具有自覺意識的國
民,進而共同承擔國家興亡責任。梁啟超即在讀者大眾已經相當熟悉的中國人口數
字(四萬萬)的集體想像之認知基礎上,以「我四萬萬同胞」符號強調四萬萬成員
彼此之間的血脈關係,形塑強化集體認同感,從而建構他心目中具有現代國民意識
的中國國族。
從歷史發展變化的角度而言,以「四萬萬人」為基本形態的「四萬萬」人口論述想
像符號家族,可以說從1898 年後,正式增添了「四萬萬同胞」的新成員;自此而
後,不論是康有為或梁啟超,以及其他晚清思想家,例如上文提及的鄒容(1885-
1905)等,均不時在其論述中援引「四萬萬同胞」以及「四萬萬人」等符號來召
喚其心目中的中國國族。梁啟超關於中國人的集體論述,尤其是「人數眾多,耐勞
苦而工價廉」的評斷,可謂和當時西方盛行之「黃禍論」中抵制華工輸入的論斷一
致,而且更樂觀自信地認為全球經濟進步的關鍵,正在於中國的四百兆(四萬萬)
人任勞吃苦的勞動力人口。梁啟超在1902 年關於他所揭櫫的「新史學」特色之討
論,也是以促使「我四萬萬同胞強立於此優勝劣敗之世界」為目的。晚清的反滿革
命論述也迅即援用「四萬萬人/同胞」的集體符號,打造其以漢族為中心的國族想
像論述。鄒容在其著名的《革命軍》中,即運用了「四萬萬同胞」、「神州四萬萬
眾」、「我皇漢民族四萬萬男女同胞」等符號描述其心中的中華國族共同體。另一
方面,這種「四萬萬同胞」的共同體想像,不僅出現於革命宣傳或政治議論上,甚
至消費市場的廣告上,都以其為號召對象。此種集體訴求方式在日後更是屢見於近
代中國召喚全體國民團結一致對外抗敵的文宣論述中,例如抗日時期著名的愛國歌
曲〈黃河大合唱〉和〈長城謠〉的歌詞中,均很「自然」地以「四萬萬同胞」來訴
求集體抗敵的團結情感。
當「四萬萬人」不再僅僅是中國人口數字的表述,而是代表中國人民群體的代表符
號時,它很容易形塑出一種高度同質性群體的假象。晚清強調萬眾一心團結合作的
「合群」論述,本來就帶有強烈訴求「整體皆應如此」的全稱式思維傾向,因而經
常呈現出全稱式的正反面極端對比的「四萬萬人」意象。伴隨上述這種可謂「全體
非黑即白」的思維模式乃是另一種越來越傾向對於「四萬萬」符號所代表的群體,
採取論述方式定位其所謂集體本質的論述模式。「四萬萬人」或「四萬萬同胞」作
為一種國族符號,無論其所形塑的面貌是正面或是負面,往往都是在召喚和形塑具
有高度同質性的國族共同體。在晚清以降中國本身思想文化界內,以「四萬萬」符
號召喚國族集體意識的論述也不乏特意強化的極端集體負面形象,藉而激發集體的
自省甚或羞愧意識。
William A. Callahan 在討論近代中國的民族主義表現特色時,以所
謂“pessoptimist” 一詞形容其經常呈現出的一種不穩定的兩極化的悲觀/樂
觀、正面/負面態度和思維的共存或轉換之現象。從本文上述的研究也可看出,近
代中國有關「四萬萬人」的各類論述,即反映出這兩種正反兩極相對立的面貌;關
於它的高度同質性的想像有時指向正向,有時又是全然負面指向。從另一角度而
言,兩極化的國族共同體想像現象,可謂反映了近代中國國族共同體論說草創之際
的兩種論述策略:一方面要將以各種新舊符號和歷史記憶,形塑成員之間的連結性
及集體的光榮感;另一方面,則又往往藉由負面的集體形象或論述,以反向操作的
方式,激發集體的受辱/受害意識,進而達成同仇敵愾的凝聚人心效果。而各種和
所謂「四萬萬同胞」相關的國族人口論述,也正是在此種論述框架下呈現出其變動
的意涵。

Regular meeting of “The Shaping of Modern China”
Since the 20th century the number of China’s population,
“four hundred million” has been deeply embedded in the
consciousness of its people, it has appeared in many
different terms of description in all kinds of works
regarding the imageries of modern China. In the first half
of the 20th century in particular, it has become a
representational number and symbol by which the Chinese
define “the Chinese race” in their imagination. But in the
late 19th century, these terms were still relatively new,
even considered ridiculous by some people. Analyzing “four
hundred million people” in purely verbal terms, it was at
first merely a descriptive term for the population; but
since the late years of the Qing Dynasty, it has gradually
become a distinct national symbol, becoming an emblem that
emphasizes our linked destinies and the common fate of the
nation. The imagery of “four million people simultaneously
shedding tears” in Tan Sitong’s poetry clearly displays the
emotional necessity for a symbolic form of imagined national
identity- the people affected by the Qing Dynasty’s loss in
the Opium War were no longer just the royal family or the
government, losses of the war became a national disgrace to
be felt by all.
In terms of population numbers, the term ”four hundred
million people” was not a mere invention of the late Qing
Dynasty, but a number calculated based on the population
size during Daoguang Emperor’s rule, in the late Qing
Dynasty, this term already saw a certain amount of usage. In
the Western descriptions of China in the late 19th century,
“four hundred million” was a common basis for describing the
population of China. The reason the phrase became “far-
fetched nonsense” in the eyes of conservatives probably
originated in the late 19th century, specifically during the
1890s, when many political activists advocating for judicial
reform, or even overthrowing the government invoked the term
and its variations in their political treatises. The
teacher-student team of Kang Youwei(1858-1927) and Liang
Qichao were particularly instrumental in popularizing the
term in the late Qing Dynasty. Kang Youwei repeatedly
reminded the Emperor to utilize the powerful human resources
“four hundred million people” could offer, simultaneously
emphasizing the need for the Chinese to work together to
create the shared fate of the emperor and the people. The
concepts of shared fate and a common national identity
served to emphasize the ideal of gregariousness, a common
solicitude of late Qing Dynasty thought. Regrettably, the
external and internal problems the Qing Dynasty faced often
led the people to lament of the empire’s incompetencies. In
Liang Qichao’s narrative, China has even entered into a
“stateless” condition. In the late Qing dynasty, especially
in the theoretical narrations of the people calling for
judicial reform after 1890, the term “four hundred million
people” is often invoked to define the sense of superiority
and the distinctiveness of China’s population during the
Qing dynasty when compared to other countries. But on the
other hand, the phrase also expresses the anxiety of the
inability to unite “four hundred million people” to reach
the ultimate goal of strengthening the military and country.
Particularly after the First Sino-Japanese War, the people
were openly aggrieved and disappointed, unable to conceal
their incomprehension and distress at the inability of “the
country of twenty thousand lis, and four hundred million
strong” that is the Qing dynasty China to defend itself
against the bullying and humiliations of various powerful
countries.
Aside from the much emphasized points of advising the
emperor to use the power of “four hundred million” wisely
and the importance of open communication between the emperor
and the people, another theory advocating “four hundred
million people” sharing the national sovereignty is a sign
that the consciousness of the modern citizen is beginning to
surface. In the intellectual circles of the judicial reform
advocates in the late Qing dynasty, the focus is not only on
the “four hundred million people” as a force that should be
utilized by the emperor, but also pays attention to the need
for the cultivation of self-awareness in the citizens, to
ultimately let the fate of the nation become a common
responsibility. Liang Qichao uses the collective perception
that the reading public has developed for the familiar term
“four hundred million people” as a basis, emphasizing the
ties of blood that binds the members in the term” my four
hundred million comrades” to shape and strengthen the sense
of national identity, building the modern citizen
consciousness of his ideal nation.
In terms of historical change and development, the basic
descriptive phrase “four hundred million people” in the
glossary of iconic terms including “four hundred million” as
a population description, officially gained the new member”
four hundred million comrades” after the year 1898; since
then, Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao and other intellects of the
late Qing dynasty, including for instance the aforementioned
Zou Rong (1885-1905), all employ the phrase “four hundred
million comrades’ and “four hundred million people” when
they wish to invoke their ideal of the nation of China. In
Liang Qichao’s descriptions of the common Chinese people,
especially the conjecture “has large number of population,
can endure hardship while receiving low wages”, was
inherently similar to the concepts used in the argument for
rejecting Asian labor immigrants in the Yellow Peril theory,
except that it took a more optimistic view that the key for
global economic growth was none other than China’s hard-
working labor force of four hundred million people. In Liang
Qichao’s discussion of the characteristics of the “Neoteric
Historiography” in 1902, it was also his objective to
encourage “four hundred million comrades to stand strong in
the global competition of survival of the fittest”. The
anti-revolution narratives were also quick in quoting the
phrase to construct their imageries of the Han race as a
central of the common perception of national identity. Zou
Rong uses “four hundred million comrades”, “the population
of the Divine State” and “our Huang Han race of four hundred
million men and women” in his acclaimed
poemto describe the image of the Chinese
nationality dear to his heart. Moreover, the concept of this
shared identity not only appears in revolutionist propaganda
and political debates, but is also addressed by commercial
advertisements as the ultimate consumer. This kind of public
demand for allegiance was later often used in propaganda
promoting the unification of citizens in defending the
nation against enemy invasion, for example in the patriotic
songsand,
written during the Sino-Japanese wars, they both naturally
call on the “four hundred million comrades” to defend the
nation out of a sense of national identity. When our hundred
million people” is no longer just a number for the
population but has become a symbol of the majority of the
people, however, this could give the false impression of a
completely homogeneous race. The late Qing dynasty
emphasized gregariousness, which in itself calls for the
theoretical uniformity tendency of “all to be alike”, thus
resulting in extreme contrasts in the image of “four hundred
million people”. Along with this inclination to think of the
whole of the population exclusively in black and white comes
another narrative process that struggles to define the
essence of the collectiveness expressed in the phrase “four
hundred million” through narration. Whether they are used
positively or negatively, “four hundred million people” and
“four hundred million comrades” as national symbols are
exercised to summon and shape a homogeneous national
identity. After the late Qing dynasty, there were many
narratives in Chinese intellectual circles that addressed
the “four hundred million” of the national identity that
highlighted the negative to stimulate collective
introspection and shame.
William A. Callahan uses the term “pessoptimist” in his
discussions of the characteristics of modern Chinese
national expression to describe the instability in the
polarization of pessimistic/optimistic, positive/negative
attitudes and their coexisting and evolving relationship
with the thought process. From the aforementioned studies,
it is possible to see that in the many narratives about
“four hundred million people”, there exists these two
conflicts of extremes; the imaginations of homogeneousness
can be both positive and negative. On the other hand, a
polarized national identity could reflect the start of the
two narrative strategies of the national identity: one which
uses symbols and historical memory to shape this connection
and sense of honor between the members; another which uses
negative descriptions of the collective population to incite
feelings of humiliation/victimization and create the effect
of uniting the people against a common enemy. And the
populations narratives about “four hundred million people”
have developed the meaning for its transformations under
these two strategies.

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