Shen Bao

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For the Chinese automobile, see Senova.
申报(formerly 申江新報)
Shanghai News (Shen Pao)
Type Commercial Newspaper
Owner(s) Ernest Major
Founded April 30, 1872
Language Chinese
Ceased publication May 27, 1949
Headquarters Shanghai

Shen Bao, formerly transliterated as Shun Pao or Shen-pao (Chinese: 申報; pinyin: Shēn Bào), known in English as Shanghai News, was a newspaper published from April 30, 1872 to May 27, 1949 in Shanghai, China. The name is short for Shenjiang Xinbao, Shenjiang being a short form of Chunshen Jiang, the old name for the Huangpu River.[1]

The influence of the newspaper in early 20th century Shanghai was such that Shen Bao zhi, literally "Shen-pao paper", became a generic term for newspaper or newsprint.[2]


Founded by Ernest Major (1841–1908),[3] a British businessman, in 1872, Shen Bao was one of the first modern Chinese newspapers. (When Major returned to England in 1889, the newspaper was reorganized as Major Company Limited.[4])

Major differentiated himself from other foreign newspaper publishers in two areas. First, from the outset, he made it clear that the new newspaper would be for Chinese readers, and thus that it would emphasize news and issues of interest to Chinese, not foreigners. Secondly, he put Chinese compradors in charge of running the business and let Chinese editors pick news items and write editorials. These two methods proved very effective. While the Chinese compradors used their knowledge of and connections with the local community to raise circulation and attract advertisements, they kept the price of the paper lower than that of its competitor. Simultaneously, Chinese editors did a better job of making Shen Bao appeal to Chinese readers' taste. Within one year, Shen Bao had put Shanghai Xinbao out of business and become the only Chinese newspaper in Shanghai until the appearance of Xin Bao in 1876 and Hu Bao in 1882.[5]

Shen Bao played a pivotal role in the formation of public opinion in the late 19th century. An example is its campaign in its first years against the new practice of employing young women as waitress in opium dens, which "blurred the demarcation line between acceptable and unacceptable practices by putting waitresses in the ambiguous position of implicitly providing sex services in the opium dens. Worse still, the opium dens embracing this practice were mostly located in the French Concession, connecting the issue to the presence of foreigners in Shanghai."[6] As a result of the uproar, the practice was banned (although in practice not eradicated). The newspaper "innovated in printing technology, the use of the telegraph, the employment of a military correspondent (sent to cover the Sino-French War in Vietnam in 1884), and the use of the vernacular (baihua)";[7] it quickly established a reputation as one of the best in China, coming under Chinese ownership in 1909,[8] and by the early 20th century was printing 30,000 copies a day, 9,000 circulated in Shanghai and the rest elsewhere in China.[9] "By the early 1920s its circulation was 50,000; by the end of the decade 100,000; and by the mid 1930s, 150,000."[10] The paper's offices were in the International Settlement, "about a block away from the Central Police Station."[11] In its early period, it had eight pages, with news, essays, and advertisements as well as imperial decrees and memorials. "Because the editorial policies followed the principle of 'reporting whatever possible and letting the readers determine the truth,' many interesting but unfounded rumors were often included as news." After 1905, it increased its size to 20 pages.[12]

It was founded as a commercial newspaper, and politically it remained conservative for its first three decades, supporting the Qing government. In 1905 it began to change its orientation, quoting Liang Qichao's constitutionalist slogans on New Year's Day; in 1907 it was sold to Xi Zipei (1867–1929),[13] its former comprador, who "owned Shanghai's best-capitalized publishing operation, Zhongguo tushu gongsi (Chinese Library Company)"[14] and was under the influence of Zhang Jian, and it became a moderately liberal newspaper that strongly supported the constitutional movement.[15] "It had the following sections: editorials, international news, domestical news, local news, industry and trade, law and society, sports and education, literature and art, and advertisements. In addition to reporting important political news stories, it had many special columns and supplements such as ziyou tan (free discussion), automobile, education and life."[16] In 1912 control was transferred to Shi Liangcai. "In the 1930s, Shi was a strong supporter of the Human Rights Defence Alliance established by Madam Soong Qing Ling, the second wife of revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat-sen, with Cai Yuanpei and Lu Xun."[17]

In 1934, the newspaper "incurred the government's anger because of its strong anti-Japanese attitude. On November 13, Shih Liang-ts'ai, its owner and editor-in-chief, was mysteriously assassinated on the Shanghai-Hangchow Highway";[18] responsibility for his murder has been laid at the feet of the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, Chiang Kai-shek's much-feared secret police.[19][20] In 1938, with the city under Japanese control, Norwood Allman (1893–1987), an American lawyer who had been U.S. Consul in Shanghai in the early 1920s, was asked by the paper's Chinese owners to take over as editor; Time wrote in 1940: "A fluent Chinese linguist, Allman reads every story that goes into Shun Pao, writes editorials, corrects editorials written by staff members. He serves without pay."[21] The paper was on bad terms with the Japanese, and in 1940 a Chinese assistant editor was killed and his head left on the street as a warning to journalists.[22] During World War II the paper passed into the hands of collaborators with the Japanese occupation, but after the war Pan Gongzhan, an influential Kuomintang party official who had been an editor on the paper in the late 1920s,[23] became its publisher and Chen Shunyü its chief editor. In May 1949, when the People's Liberation Army took Shanghai, the newspaper was shut down.

There is a complete collection of the paper's issues in the Shanghai Library.[24]

Literary magazine[edit]

Ernest Major's brother Frederick founded a literary magazine Yinghuan suoji (瀛寰琐記; "Random Sketches of the World"), published by the Shen Bao since November 1872.[25] The magazine printed fiction, essays and poetry.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Endymion Wilkinson, Chinese History: A Manual, Revised and Enlarged (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000: ISBN 0-674-00249-0), p. 967.
  2. ^ 蔣遵和 (Jiang Zunhe), “拿張申報紙來”是什麼意思 (What does "bring a sheet of Shen Pao paper mean"?), Shanghai Municipal Archives (re-published by EastDay).
  3. ^ Dates from Roberta Wue, "The Profits of Philanthropy: Relief Aid, Shenbao, and the Art World in Later 19th-century Shanghai," Late Imperial China 25 (June 2004), pp. 187-211.
  4. ^ Chinese History Research Site at UCSD, Miscellaneous Sources.
  5. ^ Yongming Zhou, Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006: ISBN 0-8047-5128-5), p. 45.
  6. ^ Zhou, Historicizing Online Politics, p. 50.
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 967.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 968.
  9. ^ Mary Ninde Gamewell, New Life Currents in China (Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, 1919), pp. 162-163.
  10. ^ Wilkinson, Chinese History, p. 995.
  11. ^ Harriet Sergeant, Shanghai: Collision Point of Cultures 1918-1939 (Crown, 1991: ISBN 0-517-57025-4), p. 162.
  12. ^ Chinese History Research Site at UCSD, Miscellaneous Sources.
  13. ^ Dates from Ellen Widmer, "The Saoye shanfang of Suzhou and Shanghai: An Evolution in Five Stages" [Word document]; Xi's name in Chinese is 希子佩.
  14. ^ Christopher A. Reed, Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937 (University of Hawaii Press, 2004: ISBN 0-8248-2833-X), p. 174.
  15. ^ Mary Clabaugh Wright, China in Revolution: The First Phase, 1900-1913 (Yale University Press, 1971: ISBN 0-300-01460-0), p. 157.
  16. ^ Chinese History Research Site at UCSD, Miscellaneous Sources.
  17. ^ Patsy Yang and Jolin Ng, "Cheers for favorite old bars and some newbies in Tongren Road," Shanghai Daily, July 13, 2009.
  18. ^ Lee-hsia Hsu Ting, Government Control of the Press in Modern China, 1900-1949 (Harvard University Asia Center, 1975: ISBN 0-674-35820-1), p. 97.
  19. ^ John K. Fairbank and Albert Feuerwerker, eds., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 13: Republican China 1912-1949, Part 2 (Cambridge University Press, 1986: ISBN 0-521-24338-6), p. 144.
  20. ^ Frederic E. Wakeman, Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service (University of California Press, 2003: ISBN 0-520-23407-3), pp. 179ff.
  21. ^ Time, "Foreign News: New Order in Shanghai," July 29, 1940.
  22. ^ Paul French, Carl Crow, a Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times, and Adventures of an American in Shanghai (Hong Kong University Press, 2007: ISBN 962-209-802-9), p. 212.
  23. ^ Xiaoqun Xu, Chinese Professionals and the Republican State: The Rise of Professional Associations in Shanghai, 1912-1937 (Cambridge University Press, 2001: ISBN 0-521-78071-3), p. 171.
  24. ^ Min Wu, "Newspapers in the Shanghai Library," International Newspaper Librarianship for the 21st Century, p. 173.
  25. ^ Wagner, Rudolf G. (2007). Joining the Global Public: Word, Image, and City in Early Chinese Newspapers, 1870–1910. State University of New York Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7914-7117-3. 
  26. ^ Wang, David Der-wei (1997). Fin-de-siècle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction, 1849–1911. Stanford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-8047-2845-3. 

External links[edit]

  • ICON (International Coalition on Newspapers) listing