When reading all these textbooks, one of the most important questions that comes to mind is: who is considered a citizen of the new republic? There are a series of groups that we need to consider when asking this question, including members of different races, genders, and even place of residence. In this post, I will go through these various groups in an attempt to discover what is truly meant by citizen.
First, the idea of "race" is quite often broached in civics textbooks （社会课本）and everyday knowledge textbooks （常识课本）. Culp talks a lot in his book about racial minorities and Western China, and the treatment of these places in geography and history textbooks. He claims that, especially in history textbooks, there is tension between one narrative that promotes racial and cultural plurality, and another that promotes Sinicization. However, Peter Zarrow claims in his chapter from The Politics of Historical Production in Late Qing and Republican China that a conception of China in late Qing textbooks has always been multiracial. Obviously, the late Qing textbooks authors had reason to promote racial plurality, as the Qing rulers were not Han but Manchu, but this concept seems to have somewhat remained. One line in the textbook entitled "Elementary Civics Textbooks" （小学社会课本） claimed "the place that they live is in China, therefore they are also Chinese people."
However, their are implications that question their true status as citizens. First of all, pictures of them imply that they are not as developed as the Han people. I found this picture actually quite illuminating, where other races are made to look almost inhuman (such as the pictures of the Uighers on the right). Similarly, they place pictures of these ethnic minorities that mirror similar pictures in the "development" (进步）sections; these development sections show how the places we live, the food we eat, and the clothes we wear all have gone through development, and the height of that development in clothing, for example, is a picture of a woman in a Qipao. This is furthered by the fact that while the Han people are often very well groomed and look "modernized," minorities are always depicted in their traditional garb, thus further emphasizing their "otherness," as seen in the picture on below. This depiction of minorities, actually has survived until today; in a way, the stereotypical "traditional" way that minorities in the 1930s and today are depicted in China mirrors the way that Asian women were depicted in the early 1900s, thus creating an Orientalism within the country as opposed to the Orientalism that occurred in the West before that.
Similarly, many of the chapters are not flattering at all. In the chapter in Elementary Civics about Uigher people, the only other information (other than that they are Chinese because they live in China) is that they are poor, their parents are also poor, and they are very uneducated. However, as Culp suggested, there are also narratives of racial equality, as other textbooks emphasize equality among all the racial minorities.
In a similar vein, while ethnic minorities, since they live in China, are considered Chinese people, 华侨 or overseas Chinese are also considered Chinese people. We see this in a simple sentence in a lower level elementary school everyday knowledge textbook "Us Chinese people who live in other countries are called huaqiao." (我们中国人住在外国的都叫做华侨）. The important line here to note is "us Chinese people," thus further emphasizing the connection that huaqiao have to their home country. Furthermore, the way that the textbook praises these huaqiao who are in America doing business makes them sound not only like citizens, but great citizens.
In a similar vein, the textbooks seem to equally praise people who live in cities and in rural areas. Historically, people who live in rural areas often feel quite removed from the rest of a country, and sometimes have more difficulty attaching themselves to a national imagined community. These textbooks clearly want to establish that everyone in China, from those who work on farms to those who work in factories, are integral parts of the national unit. Many chapters in the Everyday knowledge textbooks are devoted to teaching children about life on rice paddies, how vegetables are produced, what happens when rural people sell their goods at the market, etc. The message from these chapters is quite clear: rural people are an integral part of the Chinese state. Similarly there are separate chapters about China's major cities, thus showing their significance in the Chinese nation as well.
The inclusion of huaqiao in the Chinese nation is also made evident by textbooks specifically created for huaqiao. At this point, most huaqiao were in southeast Asia, and because of that, the Shanghai Zhonghua publishing house created changshi textbooks specifically for their use. The content is almost entirely the same; the only differences is that the huaqiao textbooks include a few chapters in the advanced books about the various Southeast Asian countries; there is a chapter on Malaysia and one on Indonesia. Also, the chapters about bugs and infectious diseases include bugs more commonly found in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, by sending these textbooks for use for overseas Chinese, the Chinese government was making a very clear statement that these huaqiao are an important part of the Chinese nation.
Finally, there is the question of gender. This is a bit more of a tricky subject since it is not directly addressed in textbooks. However, as I've implied in my other posts, women were considered not as a regular citizen who should be politically active, but still an integral part of the national unit. Women are often treated in textbooks as mothers, or children who are often overshadowed by male counterparts. When it comes to works of civil service, such as contributing to public hygiene or helping parents around the house, men and women are shown equally. When it comes to studying or taking a particularly civic role, however, the pictures are predominately of male children. Also, the calls for action are normally for 哥哥 and 弟弟 （older brother and younger brother) rather than for sisters. Take for example, the picture to the right, where the boy is the leader of all of the nighttime activities, and in the bottom right frame, teaches his younger sister something. The only chapter I found with only girls in the pictures was a chapter on hygiene in the kitchen. The predominance of gender equality varies from book to book (for instance, there is one book where the xiaopengyou (child) is always male, and the only female present is the mother) but it still sends a strong message about the role of females in the modern nation. This is furthered by the depiction of the mother who is often fulfilling her gender roles of cooking, cleaning, and parenting, whereas the father is often depicted as a scholar. For example in the picture below, as the children show their filial piety to their parents, the father holds a book and the mother is washing clothes.
What does all this mean? I would like to fathom at a few possible larger implications for these assessments. First of all, while Culp will debate this, it seems to me in elementary school textbooks, the argument for Sinicization is the dominant one even though others are still present. It seems that, while the text will argue that racial minorities are Chinese people as well, this seems more to be politically motivated than anything else (in order to emphasize the fact that the Western regions should be under Chinese control), and these statements belie what I believe to be the true beliefs among the government, which is shown through pictures. This is further emphasized by the treatment of huaqiao (which are in these textbooks all of the Han race) who are still strongly considered Chinese citizens. This strong emphasis on race and the Han people survives today, as huaqiao and huayi (Chinese who are born in America) are still considered a part of the nation. This to me symbolizes the importance of race over geographic location, an emphasis that is opposite in American textbooks today. Gender is a different subject altogether, where women are important parts of the nation but only if they fulfill their specific designated role as "mothers of good citizens." All of these come together to create a very fuzzy picture of citizen, but a very obviously controlled one.