Christian universities in China—St. John's University, often called the "Harvard of the East," the Fu Jen Catholic University of Beijing, and Ginling University, to name a few of the most famous—were the forerunners of many schools in the country.
When the Anti-Japanese War broke out, several leading Christian universities moved inland and merged to form the National Southwestern Associated University in Huaxiba, Chengdu. In Wind Blowing Across Huaxiba: The History of Five Christian Universities in Wartime, the author gives an in-depth account of the prominence and splendor of this very last Christian university.
It was the place Huaxiba where the five leading Christian universities in China—Yenching University, Ginling University, Ginling Girls College, Cheeloo University, and West China Union University—all gathered during the Anti-Japanese War.
The book describes in detail how the five universities that moved to Huaxiba during the War of Resistance struggled to run the newly established university while fighting the invaders by educating the masses, and how they persevered in educating the young and passing on cultural heritage. The book also systematically examines the history of China's Christian universities, presenting the schools' achievements in journalism, medicine, agriculture, women's education, and cultural exchange between China and the West.
The politician and diplomat Song Ziwen, a Ginling University alumnus, once stated: "Too few people are aware of the significant role that Christian universities have played in China's modernization, and Ginling University should be one of these schools." Hu Shi, former president of Peking University, also sighed: "If the national universities did not strive for academic excellence, the Christian universities would most likely have taken their place."
For this reason, this book is highly praised for focusing on the history of the last Christian university in Huaxiba: "Without this period, China might have slackened its integration into modern civilization; without these teachers, China would have lost a pool of high-quality talent.
The author of this book, Dai Jun, is the former deputy editor-in-chief of Sichuan CPPCC Newspaper. Specializing in the academic history, cultural history, and local research history of Republican China, Dai published Discovering Lizhuang in 2004, an academic history essay selected as a required reading for graduate students in sociology by the Institute of History and Culture at Tainan University.
- Translated by Joyce Leung