Toward a History of Interwar Sino-Hungarian Cultural Relations: Three Advocates of Kuomintang Soft Power, Hungarian Irredentism and Pan-Danubianism


  • Mátyás Mervay



China-CEE relations, Concepts of Interwar Central and Eastern Europe, Chinese cultural diplomacy, Hungarian Irredentism, Interwar Propaganda


This paper aims to achieve two goals: the first is to bring a fresh perspective to the Atlanto-centric history of Chinese propaganda while tracing the roots of Sino-Hungarian bilateral approaches and Hungarian Sinology to a time dating some fifteen years earlier than the mutual recognition of the two People’s Republics. This analysis also introduces three actors of different political agendas who applied a similar PR tool of cultural diplomacy to elicit international sympathy for their homeland. After briefly surveying the primary stimuli of cultural diplomacy in interwar Hungary and Republican-Era China, I turn to pre-1949 Sino-Hungarian cultural approaches in the era of no formal diplomatic relations. Such initiatives offer valuable insights into the history of cultural diplomacy while also highlighting significant parallels with the present. Specifically, I introduce the political and cultural agenda of three individuals acting as cultural ambassadors to their homelands. The Shanghai Jewish refugee aid organizer, Paul Komor, and the women’s association president, Theresia Moll, were members of the Hungarian diaspora in China. They introduced the post-Habsburg Central European region to a cosmopolitan community while exhibiting two different foci: Hungarian irredentism and pan-Danubianism. Meanwhile, Zhenya He, a Kuomintang propagandist and the University of Budapest’s first Chinese language instructor during the 1930s, synthesized Hungarian pan-Asian Turanism with Sun Yat-sen’s Tridemism to further Sino-Hungarian exchanges.






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