Commercial Press

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Commercial Press
Industry Publishing
Founded 1897
Headquarters Beijing, China
Products books, newspapers, magazines
Number of employees
260 in 25 departments

Commercial Press (simplified Chinese: 商务印书馆; traditional Chinese: 商務印書館; pinyin: Shāngwù Yìnshūguǎn) is the first modern publishing organisation in China.


Commercial Press building after Japanese bombing in 1932

In 1897, 26-year-old Xia Ruifang and three of his friends founded The Commercial Press in Shanghai. The group soon received financial backing and began publishing books.[1] In 1914, Xia attempted to buy out a Japanese company that had invested in the Commercial Press. Four days later he was assassinated. There was much speculation as to who was behind the assassination; no one was ever arrested for the crime.

Commercial Press was bombed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the January 28 Incident. The bombing destroyed its headquarters in Zhabei, Shanghai, as well as the attached East Library and its collection of tens of thousands of rare books.[2]

At the turn of the century Commercial Press became a major publisher of textbooks. Today it is headquartered in Beijing and continues as an active publishing house of Chinese language learning materials including dictionaries, textbooks, pedagogical texts, and a cultural magazine called The World of Chinese.[3]


In 1902 it was set up with a forward attitude toward both Chinese and Western studies.

In 1903 it became China's first primary education textbook publisher. It later produced 2,550 secondary school textbooks that became popular in the country.

In 1904 it launched the "Eastern Miscellany" (東方雜誌) with editor-in-chief (杜亞泉).

In 1907 the press moved to an 80-acre (320,000 m2) new plant.

In 1909 it launched the "Education Magazine" (教育雜誌).

In 1910 it launched "The Short Story Magazine" (小說月報).

In 1911 it launched the "Youth Magazine" (少年雜誌).

In January 1914, the founder of Commercial Press, Xia Ruifang, was stabbed to death.[4]

Commercial Press in Hong Kong

In 1914 it set up a branch in "Hong Kong Museum" of the same year. It also launched the "Students' Magazine" (學生雜誌).

In 1915 it printed the first dictionary.

In 1916 it set up a branch in Singapore.

In 1921 with Hu Shih's recommendation, Wang Yunwu (王雲五) became the general manager modernising it into a business. The first edition of Zhongguo renming dacidian was published.

In 1924 it opened the "Commercial Press Oriental Library".

On 28 January 1932, the January 28 Incident occurred. The Japanese aircraft bombed the Commercial Press in conjunction with the Oriental Library. Imperial Japanese army would occupy Shanghai the next day.

In 1954 the press moved from Shanghai to Beijing shifting the focus to academic works published in the West.

In 1993, the separate Commercial Press companies in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia established a joint venture to become "The Commercial Press International Limited."



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