Democracy or Dictatorship? Debates for a China in Crisis, 1930-1945

Egas Moniz Bandeira

Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Lacking a consensus about a basic definition of fascism, scholarship has carried out heated debates about the applicability of the concept to East Asian polities, such as Japan and China. This paper instead takes a discursive approach to examine how contemporary state theorists thought about China’s relationship to fascism. To this effect, the paper traces legal debates about the merits and demerits of dictatorship and democracy as forms of government which were led in China from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. Given the unstable political conditions of the Republic of China, many Chinese intellectuals argued that a dictatorship would be more efficient than a democracy in the reconstruction of the Chinese state. At the same time, however, the views of Japanese scholars critical of fascism, such as Imanaka Tsugimaro 今中次麿 (1893-1980), and Tosaka Jun 戸坂潤 (1900-1945), were also published and debated in China. The paper will hence argue that such debates were local refractions of international debates on fascism, modulated by the local conditions of China.


Egas Moniz Bandeira is a post-doctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he is a member of the European project ‘East Asian Uses of the European Past.’ He has obtained his doctorate from Tohoku University and Heidelberg University with a thesis on the origins of Chinese constitutional thought.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd