Down with Traitors

Justice and Nationalism in Wartime China

Yun Xia

  • Published: December 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; History; Law
  • Bibliographic information: 280 pp., 2 bandw illus, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Throughout the War of Resistance against Japan (1931-1945), the Chinese Nationalist government punished collaborators with harsh measures, labeling the enemies from within hanjian (literally, "traitors to the Han Chinese"). Trials of hanjian gained momentum during the postwar years, escalating the power struggle between Nationalists and Communists. Yun Xia examines the leaders of collaborationist regimes, who were perceived as threats to national security and public order, and other subgroups of hanjian-including economic, cultural, female, and Taiwanese hanjian. Built on previously unexamined code, edicts, and government correspondence, as well as accusation letters, petitions, newspapers, and popular literature, Down with Traitors reveals how the hanjian were punished in both legal and extralegal ways and how the anti-hanjian campaigns captured the national crisis, political struggle, roaring nationalism, and social tension of China's eventful decades from the 1930s through the 1950s.
Yun Xia is assistant professor of history at Valparaiso University.

"Yun Xia's perceptive study traces the legal definition and the political usages of the profoundly emotive word hanjian (traitor). She looks at the years of the Resistance War and shows the ways in which the designation was used as China's political world was increasingly polarized."
-Diana Lary, author of The Chinese People at War and China's Civil War

"Deeply researched and intriguing. Yun Xia details the scope of the traitor trials, which dwarfed the war crime trials of the Japanese."
-Barak Kushner, author of Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice

"Wartime collaboration breeds treason trials-but trials in turn create collaborators by defining and punishing them. This book, the first in English, reconstructs the tangled political and legal processes in China that singled out those charged with aiding the Japan during the war, and that went on to influence mass campaigns after 1949."
-Timothy Brook, author of Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Chinese Elites in Wartime China

"Deftly etching the vast scope and human drama of the Chinese traitors, Yun Xia provides a fine contribution to the literature on anti-Japanese nationalism in China. The book has surprising resonance for scholars of mass campaigns in Maoist China and even has parallels to today's ongoing anti-corruption fervor, where categories of enemies are fluid and legal standards are in flux."
-Adam Cathcart, lecturer in Chinese history, University of Leeds


1. From Epithet to Crime
2. Arbiters of Justice in a Lawless State
3. The Political Economy of the Anti-hanjian Campaigns
4. Engendering Contempt for Female Hanjian and Cultural Hanjian
5. Punishing Hanjian beyond Chinese Borders
Epilogue: From Crime to Epithet

Appendix A: The Revised Regulations on Punishing Hanjian, 1938 187
Appendix B: The Resolutions on Preventing Hanjian Activities
and Espionage, 1939 190
Appendix C: Regulations on Handling
Hanjian Cases, 1945