The First Casualty: Truth, Lies and Commercial Opportunism in Chinese Newspapers during the First Sino-Japanese War

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The First Sino-Japanese War during 1894 and 1895 was a dramatic moment in world events. Not only did it catch the attention of the West but, for as long as it lasted, it became a central focus of readers of newspapers in China in both English and Chinese. The Chinese public was extremely eager to read any news that could be gathered about the war, and newspaper proprietors grasped this opportunity to promote their businesses, competing to provide the latest information using wartime reporting practices already established in Britain and the United States. This paper explores the competition between two commercial Chinese language newspapers, Shenbao and Xinwenbao, in order to elucidate the relationships between patriotism, profit and readership during the First Sino-Japanese War. By comparing and contrasting how news of the war was reported in both publications, and how it was received by the public, we learn something of how these newspapers operated in gathering and publishing reports of tremendous national events, and gain insight into how commercial interests and readers' reactions to news events influenced editorial policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Early online date30 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Shenbao
  • Xinwenbao
  • war
  • Sino-Japanese
  • newspapers

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