The background of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) reveals the rich history of humanitarian efforts in the twentieth century in China, particularly during the Beiyang Government period (1912-1928). Against the backdrop of the First World War, the RCSC established strategic collaborations with external partners, including the United States. However, it also faced considerable challenges, many driven by a Chinese government whose vested interests often opposed the RCSC’s goals. The Beiyang Government thus engaged in both constitutional and in strong-arm tactics to exert its control over key facets of the RCSC, which was then a well-established and globally reputable organisation. These circumstances make the organisation an effective test case of developing a humanitarian organisation in a country with an unstable governmental system. This paper argues that the ideological conflict between the RCSC and the Beiyang Government was a sign that civil society still lacked penetration and depth in China.
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