“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Restarting the Foreign Language Press in Shanghai, 1945

Posted: July 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

Once Shanghai was liberated by the allies in 1945 getting the old foreign language press up and running was immediately on the agenda. Some newspapers had carried on – albeit in odd ways – the North-China Daily News carried on for much of the war in enemy hands; the Shanghai Mercury moved to New York and carried on printing as a pro-allied paper for those interested in Shanghai; there were some pro-axis publication sin English, French, Russian including the old pro-Japanese Shanghai Times and new entrants such as the Nazi-funded XXth Century magazine (which Eileen Chang/Zhang Ailing infamously contributed to).

So, claiming to be the first foreign language newspaper to resume publication is a tricky claim with all sorts of caveats – but we’ll go with the Courier de Chine.

Charles Grosbois (1893-1972) was an interesting character – a former school teacher at Shanghai’s French School he then became head of education for the French Concession. He was an active member of the Royal Asiatic Society, artistic director of Shanghai’s French radio station and (I am very happy to report, as it’s wasn’t very common sadly) was a loyal member of the Free French and a supporter of De Gaulle in Shanghai during the war. Due to not being compromised with the pro-Nazi and pro-Japanese Vichy administration that ran Shanghai during the war (though after 1942 Japan effectively ran the Concession itself with only the most collaborating collaborators working with them) he became the Cultural Director for France in Shanghai after the war, and until 1951 – after this it became impossible for Grosbois to work with the new communist government (who seized the premises of the Aurore University and Pasteur Institute) and he left China. He didn’t leave Asia completely though and, with the new UNESCO organisation, worked on education in Korea.

 

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