All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

An Advert for Chiang Yee’s The Silent Traveller in Edinburgh, 1948

Posted: October 27th, 2021 | No Comments »

As appeared in The Times, 1948 – A reasonably pricey 21s in 1948 which perhaps indicates that people were willing to pay for their new Chiang Yee book.

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The Adventures of Ma Suzhen: ‘An Heroic Woman Takes Revenge in Shanghai’

Posted: October 26th, 2021 | No Comments »

Translated by Paul Bevan this comic novel, The Adventures of Ma Suzhen, was written during a highpoint in the popularity of xia “knight-errant” fiction. It is an action-packed tale of a young woman who takes revenge for her brother, Ma Yongzhen, a gangster and performing strongman, who has been murdered by a rival gang in China’s most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. After publication of the book in 1923, the character of Ma Suzhen appeared on stage, and subsequently in a film made by the Mingxing Film Company. The book version translated here, displays a delightful combination of the xia and popular“Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies” genres, with additional elements of Gong’an “court case” fiction. The translation is followed by an essay that explores the background to the legend of Ma Suzhen – a fictional figure, whose exhilarating escapades reflect some of the new possibilities and freedoms available to women following the founding of the Chinese Republic.

Click here for more and to buy

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RAS Beijing – Port Arthur: Anvil of empire, augur of Asia’s ascent – 30/10/21

Posted: October 25th, 2021 | No Comments »

Port Arthur: Anvil of empire,
augur of Asia’s ascent

WHAT: “Port Arthur: Anvil of empire, augur of Asia’s ascent” a conversation between Dr. Geoff Raby and RASBJ President Alan Babington-Smith, followed by Q&A. (in-person)
WHEN: Oct. 30, 2021 Saturday from 4:00-5:15 PM Beijing Time.
WHERE: Hotel Jen Beijing, 3rd floor, Prototype space. 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang

Port Arthur – today known as the Lvshun district of Dalian, Liaoning province – witnessed key battles of the Russo-Japanese war of 1903-4. They were precursors of WWI, featuring outdated tactics of trench warfare with the most modern military technology of the time – howitzers — pounding each other with massive loss of life. The war had major geopolitical significance, with an Asian power defeating a European power. In some ways it defined the 20th century and Asia’s rise. The conflict also unfolded on Chinese sovereign territory with scant regard for China’s sovereignty – a scenario unthinkable today. It was another humiliation in China’s “century of humiliation”, which underscores the roots of China’s current surge of nationalism. Geoff Raby recently visited the former Port Arthur battleground and the museum at Lushun, an elegant Japanese building housing treasures dating back to Japanese explorations along the Silk Road in Xinjiang. All was left behind when Japan fled its occupation of China. 

Dr. Geoff Raby AO was Australian Ambassador to China from 2007-2011. He is a non-executive independent company director for a number of companies, as well as Chairman of Geoff Raby & Associates.  In November 2020 he published the book “China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order”.  Earlier this year he featured in an RASBJ event on Australia-China relations.

HOW MUCH: 100 RMB for members of RASBJ, Britcham or Austcham; 200 RMB for non-members. The fee includes one free drink; additional drinks are available at members’ own expense. If you know someone who wants to join the RASBJ in order to attend this event at the members’ rate, please ask them to sign up at least 48 hours before the deadline via our website at: https://rasbj.org/membership/ 

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT (IN PERSON):
Please RSVP via wechat by scanning the QR code below, or by adding alanbsbj (Alan Babington-Smith). You’ll receive payment instructions by Wechat; please pay no later than Thursday, Oct. 28, clearly noting full names of attendees and whether they’re members of RASBJ, Britcham or Austcham.

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A Pre-Hayes Code Dorothy Granger with a Chinese Parasol

Posted: October 24th, 2021 | No Comments »

Another in my occasional Chinese parasol photographs (the search box will yield more should you be interested)…Here, light-comedy actress Dorothy Granger in 1930 getting a bit pre-Code saucy with a Chinese parasol…

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RAS Shanghai History Club 28 Oct: The Butcher and the Monk: A failed Nazi plot in occupied Shanghai

Posted: October 22nd, 2021 | No Comments »

In May 1941, Shanghai’s German Consul-General wired Berlin to arrange a Buddhist monk’s urgent transfer to Hitler’s headquarters. The priest, the message claimed, would use dark magic to summon Oriental magi, rouse rebellions and win Asia for the Third Reich. Prompting the dispatch was an absurd partnership between Josef Meisinger, Asia’s most notorious Nazi officer, and Hungarian adventurer Ignatius Trebitsch Lincoln, former British MP, alleged secret agent for Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia, China, Japan and Buddhist abbot under the alias Chao Kung. Unknown to them, Meisinger and Lincoln’s plot coincided with a fatal showdown between German, Japanese and Chinese political forces in occupied Shanghai. Beyond examining their character, circumstances and contemporaries, Shanghai-based consultant Gábor Holch’s presentation highlights persistent characteristics of expatriate existence in China: an amnesiac relationship with the past, the promise of a clean slate and grandiose plans for the country and for humankind. The speech is based on Gabor Holch’s essay in the 2020 Journal for The Royal Asiatic Society China, “Alone and Surrounded: Ignatius Trebitsch Lincoln’s final years in occupied Shanghai”.

Gabor Holch is a Shanghai-based intercultural leadership consultant, coach, author and speaker with a focus on East-West leadership and expat assignments, as well as History Club Convener of The Royal Asiatic Society (RAS) China. He holds a Masters Degree in International Relations and European Studies, an MPhil in Diplomacy and a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) degree in Mandarin. A former OSCE field mission official, China-based since 2002 and working globally, Gabor has served 100+ clients in 30+ countries. He is a visiting lecturer at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a number of business programmes in the Asia-Pacific and Europe. He has authored three books and a variety of articles in academic and business publications.

RSVP

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Hong Kong the Pearl of the Orient 1838 – 1965 – Wattis Fine Art Gallery

Posted: October 21st, 2021 | No Comments »

A new exhibition at Wattis Fine Art in Hong Kong…from Tuesday 26th October to Friday 3rd December 2021 at 20 Hollywood Road, 2/F, Central, Hong Kong…

 Ball in the City Hall on St. Andrew’s Day; Panorama of the Town of Victoria, Hong Kong 1887


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Linda Jaivin’s The Shortest History of China

Posted: October 20th, 2021 | No Comments »

LInda Jaivin’s always a lively writer and well worth reading while this is a great idea…The Shortest History of China

Modern China is at once an economic powerhouse and authoritarian state, an increasingly assertive superpower and an icon of modernity. Chinese history is no less contradictory. Heroes to some are villains to others; times of peace and prosperity give way to violence and famine; creativity flourishes in the midst of censorship and repression.
Jaivin distils this vast, complex story into a vivid narrative, from ancient times to Xi Jinping, the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of the ‘wolf warriors’. She dismantles ideas of a monolithic China, revealing a nation of startling diversity. And she gives China’s women, from ancient warriors, inventors and rebels to their 21st-century counterparts, long overdue attention.


Finally, as age-old spectres of corruption and disunity continue to haunt the People’s Republic, she considers what lies ahead, both for China and the world.

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The Inaugural Destination Peking Walk – What you Missed…

Posted: October 19th, 2021 | No Comments »

October sae the first two Destination Peking themed walks – aesthetes, authors, scholars and scoundrels – organised by Bespoke Beijing, led by Jeremiah Jenne, inspired by my essay collection Destination Peking (Blacksmith Books). Here’s a few pics to show what you missed but could be enjoying if you are in, around or visiting Peking…. And, as it’s inspired by me, it all ends with a cocktail (Harold Acton’s Gloom Chaser as featured in Peonies and Ponies – recipe here)…

The Gloom Chaser
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