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Wu Yaozong and the YMCA: From Social Reform to Social Revolution, 1927-1937

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

The Republican-era Chinese National YMCA is often depicted as a business-friendly, evangelically motivated, Kuomintang-supporting organization which advocated Western-style gradual reform. All of this is true - but not of Wu Yaozong, one of the most prominent YMCA national secretaries of the period. If Wu, who studied at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, is known at all in the West, it is for his later role in organizing and leading the government-sponsored Three-Self Protestant Church after 1949. But during the 1930s,Wu encouraged the YMCA’s constituency and Protestant churchmen to consider progressive views of social reform, and toward the end of the Nanjing decade, to take a new look at communism, especially the Communist vision of social revolution.

Affiliations: 1: Pepperdine University, Email:, URL:


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