Zhang Kaiyuan, 1926 – 2021

Zhang Kaiyuan (章开沅) was born in Wuhu, Anhui Province, on July 8, 1926, with ancestry mainly in Zhejiang province. According to Xinhua, he studied at Nanjing Jinling University before leaving for the “Zhongyuan Liberated Area”.  Zhongyuan stands for the “Central Plains”, both a geographical and historical term, and particularly contested for its historical aspects. Zhang apparently didn’t complete his studies before leaving Nanjing. He is said to have been a pioneer of Xinhai Revolution research in the 1950s, and of the Nanjing Massacre (1937/38) in the late 1980s, after finding that an American teacher from his alma mater’s history department had saved Chinese citizens during the massacre. He started teaching at Central China Normal University in 1959, and became the university’s president in 1985.

One of his more famous quotes appears to be that

“scholarly research isn’t about charming the talk of our times, but to search real knowledge for later generations. It has become the past with a full stop to it, and a never-ending journey.”

『治学不为媚时语,独寻真知启后人。历史是已经画上句号的过去,史学是永无止境的远航。』

Zhang was a member of the Communist Party of China. He died on May 28, aged 94 (or, by the Chinese way of counting, 95).

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