Meteorology and Politics in Republican China, 1912-1949

  • Xiao Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Meteorology played a role in China’s realisation of its nation-building goals during the Republican era (1912-1949). This thesis examines how and why meteorology was developed under and by the Chinese Republican state, and how it was used as a tool in China’s national salvation initiatives. Arguably, meteorology in the Republican era was systematically developed, not only through the establishment of official meteorological institutions and a national meteorological network, but at the same time the first generation of Chinese meteorologists emerged and formed a community, inspired by nationalistic ambitions to ‘save’ the country through science. The motivation for meteorological advancement attributed to its contribution to state-building. Therefore, practical meteorology was applied for dealing with natural disasters as well as rural economic development, a crucial site of concern for Chinese politicians and intellectuals. Republican China’s efforts to secure independence in its meteorological affairs also involved diplomatic negotiation, and China’s national defence, and these shed some light on the role of science within the context of sovereignty. Internationally, the Republic of China finally trained its own meteorologists according to international standards, and further improved its international status through its engagement in international meteorological activities. This thesis intends to advance discussion of the relationship between science and the state, arguing that emerging nations in what we would now call the ‘global south’ also accorded strategic importance to science in national development, including both economic development and their challenge of imperialism. As a soft power tool, boosting national science became a means to contest foreign power, which may be applied by other countries, but was indeed used in the Chinese Republican State.
Date of Award9 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsChina Scholarship Council
SupervisorAdrian J Howkins (Supervisor) & Robert Bickers (Supervisor)

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