Sheng Xuanhuai's Contribution To Modernizing China

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Weeks prior to the procession, Sheng Xuanhuai’s family had engaged in a grueling lobbying campaign to seek a permit for the funeral cortege to go through Nanjing 南京 Road and other major streets in the International Settlement. On October 25, 1917, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (Shanghai zong shanghui 上海總商會) filed a written request to the SMC at the behest of the Sheng family for the use of Nanjing Road for the procession. In the letter, Sheng was portrayed as a highly accomplished businessman that made an unmatched contribution to modernizing China’s industry, commerce, and education. His role in helping Shanghai avoiding the catastrophe of the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) found particular mention in the letter. To highlight Sheng’s …show more content…
Non-specialist participants were volunteers from enterprises that Sheng Xuanhuai had founded and managed such as Hanyeping 漢冶萍 and China Merchants’ Steam Navigation Company (Zhaoshang ju 招商局), beggars, students, and children from orphanages. It could be very costly to hire an entire band from an orphanage. One memoirist recalled that the fee for one band from an orphanage amounted to one thousand yuan. Most students came from the Nanyang College (Nanyang gongxue 南洋公學), a college founded and funded by Sheng Xuanhuai. The majority of the paraders were beggars. The use of beggars would constitute a vivid, if somewhat exaggerated episode in a novel about contemporary Shanghai, Renhai chao 人海潮 (Waves in a Sea of People, 1926). In the novel, on the eve of Sheng’s procession, thousands of beggars were ranked and paid based on their statures and appearances. Clothed differently, beggars were variously assigned to carry flags, banners, umbrellas, and other props. The Sheng family also supplied every beggar with a silver badge engraved with the picture of the deceased. The novelist’s description corresponded with the news released a few days prior to the parade. Shi bao reported on November 15 that the Sheng family was about to distribute 2,500 silver badgers to all the participants. While the beggars were designated to fill varieties of positions, the Sheng family preferred professional coffin carriers to show their respect to the late household head. Shi bao informed its readers that one hundred and twenty-eight carriers, whom the bereaved family was willing to pay of 2,000 yuan, would come from Tianjin. The Sheng family was meticulous in finding coffin carriers for the deceased, but they were equally careful in selecting appropriate means of

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