Stalemate within Stalemate: The 1923 Changsha Incident

Shuge Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    On June 1, 1923, Japanese soldiers in Changsha, Hunan, opened fire on and killed two anti-Japanese protesters seeking to prevent the landing of Japanese goods. Through a comprehensive review of the “Changsha Incident,” this article explores the interplay between local and central diplomatic power during the high tide of provincialism. The incident demonstrates how the autonomous Hunan government, faced with the rise of anti-imperialism in local societies and the central government’s inability to fend off foreign coercion, mediated between the local parliament, the central diplomatic office, and Japanese authorities for a solution to the case. By unpacking the multilayered power dimensions of the time, this article demonstrates that the interactions between local and central diplomatic offices were characterized by both cooperation and distrust. Meanwhile, attempts to reach a negotiated settlement over the incident hinged more on competing domestic agendas than on diplomacy. Conflicts between Hunan provincial authorities, a lack of coordination between diplomatic officials in Hunan and Beijing, civilian elites’ distrust of military officials, and rivalry between regional warlords all combined to hinder progress in negotiations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1208-1237
    Number of pages30
    JournalModern China
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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