“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Destination Peking: Revisiting the Foreign Colony, an RASBJ Zoom talk by Paul French, moderated by Jeremiah Jenne – 24/2/21

Posted: January 27th, 2021 | No Comments »

An early heads up for this event with the Royal Asiatic Society Beijing which, given that it’s all old Peking and Jeremiah Jenne is moderating, will book out fairly quick. So some advance notice….Also there’s a coupon code for a discount on the book from Blacksmith, available free of P&P to mainland China if you wish to read it before the event…

WHAT: “Destination Peking: Revisiting the ‘Foreign Colony’”, an RASBJ Zoom talk by Paul French, moderated by Jeremiah Jenne and followed by QA
WHEN: Feb. 24, 2021 Wednesday 7:00-8:00 PM Beijing Standard Time

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: New York Times bestselling author Paul French (Midnight in Peking, City of Devils) returns to the Chinese capital to tell 18 true stories of fascinating people who visited the city in the first half of the 20th century. From the ultra-wealthy Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton and her husband the Prince Mdivani, to the poor “American girl” Mona Monteith, who worked in the city as a prostitute; from socialite Wallis Simpson and novelist JP Marquand, who held court on the rooftop of the Grand Hôtel de Pékin, to Hollywood screenwriter Harry Hervey, who sought inspiration walking atop the Tartar Wall; from Edgar and Helen Foster Snow – Peking’s ‘It’ couple of 1935 – to Martha Sawyers, who did so much to aid China against Japan in World War II; Nazis and Bolsheviks; artists and bank robbers. Destination Peking brings a lost era back to life. And, following on from his previous collection of essays Destination Shanghai, French asks the major question behind so many of these sojourners decisions to remain – why Peking?
TO BUY THE BOOK: There’s a discount for members of RAS in Beijing and RAS China in Shanghai who wish to buy the book from Hong Kong and have it delivered free to mainland China. Use coupon code RB21 at checkout on www.blacksmithbooks.com to get 10% off Destination Peking, with free delivery. Online payment options include credit cards, Paypal, Alipay and Wechat Pay.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul French lived and worked in China for many years. He has written a number of books, including a history of foreign correspondents in China and a biography of the legendary Shanghai adman, journalist and adventurer Carl Crow. His true crime book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times Bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Mystery Writers’ of America Edgar award winner for Best Fact Crime, and a Crime Writers’ Association (UK) Dagger award for non-fiction. His Kirkus-starred book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir focuses on the dancehalls, casinos and cabarets of wartime Shanghai. Both Midnight in Peking and City of Devils are being adapted for film and TV. He occasionally works in audio drama with recent productions including Peking Noir for BBC Radio 3, and the twelve-part Audible Original, Murders of Old China. His 2020 researched-novella about the Jewish refugees who left Shanghai for Macao during World War Two, Strangers on the Praia, is currently being developed as a Sino-Australian co-produced movie from his own script.

HOW MUCH: This event is free and exclusively for members of the RASBJ and other RAS branches.  If you know someone who wants to join the RASBJ in order to attend this talk, please ask them to sign up via our website at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 48 hours before the event.

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Market Maoists: The Communist Origins of China’s Capitalist Ascent

Posted: January 24th, 2021 | No Comments »

Jason M Kelly’s Market Maoists looks fascinating.

China today seems caught in a contradiction: a capitalist state led by a Communist party. But as Market Maoists shows, this seeming paradox is nothing new. Since the 1930s, before the Chinese Communist Party came to power, Communist traders and diplomats have sought deals with capitalists in an effort to fuel political transformation and the restoration of Chinese power. For as long as there have been Communists in China, they have been reconciling revolutionary aspirations at home with market realities abroad.

Jason Kelly unearths this hidden history of global commerce, finding that even Mao Zedong saw no fundamental conflict between trading with capitalists and chasing revolution. China’s ties to capitalism transformed under Mao but were never broken. And it was not just goods and currencies that changed hands. Sustained contact with foreign capitalists shaped the Chinese nation under Communism and left deep impressions on foreign policy. Deals demanded mutual intelligibility and cooperation. As a result, international transactions facilitated the exchange of ideas, habits, and beliefs, leaving subtle but lasting effects on the values and attitudes of individuals and institutions.

Drawing from official and commercial archives around the world, including newly available internal Chinese Communist Party documents, Market Maoists recasts our understanding of China’s relationship with global capitalism, revealing how these early accommodations laid the groundwork for China’s embrace of capitalism in the 1980s and after.

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“Celebrating the 600th Anniversary of the Forbidden City” – 3/2/21

Posted: January 23rd, 2021 | No Comments »

“Celebrating the 600th Anniversary of the Forbidden City”

a talk & dinner with Matthew Hu, founder of The Courtyard Institute


WHAT: “Celebrating the 600th Anniversary of the Forbidden City”, a talk & dinner with Matthew Hu, founder of The Courtyard Institute
WHEN: February 3, 2020, Wednesday 6-9:30PM
WHERE: The Courtyard Institute & Black Sesame Kitchen, #28 Zhonglao Hutong, Dongcheng district, Beijing

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: In an in-person talk and slideshow, architectural and history expert Matthew Hu will reveal how one of the world’s best-preserved wooden palaces was built and how palace intrigues unfolded from the 1420 arrival of the Ming Dynasty until the departure of the last Qing emperor Pu Yi. In its dramatic 600-year history, the Forbidden City was palace and home to 24 emperors. Each was seen to be the Son of Heaven (天子), a perception embedded in the iconic structure’s design.
Afterwards, we’ll sit down to a 10-course dinner and 2 wine pairings at Black Sesame Kitchen, located in the same courtyard. The menu features several sumptuous dishes from the Qing-era Forbidden City, along with their stories.

MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Matthew was the founding Managing Director of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP), and the former China Representative of The Prince’s Charities Foundation (China). In 2014, he co-founded The Courtyard Institute with a few friends, aiming at promoting a better understanding of Chinese heritage through education.
 
HOW MUCH: 300 RMB for RASBJ members (350 RMB for non-members)

RSVP: RASBJ members please wechat payment to Treasurer John Olbrich at johnobeijing with participants’ full names. Seating is limited to 15 RASBJ members; reservations will be confirmed upon receipt of payment. (Non-members please contact Black Sesame Kitchen directly at 136 9147 4408.)

NOTE: This event’s co-hosts are the Royal Asiatic Society Beijing (RASBJ), the Courtyard Institute, and Black Sesame Kitchen
SCHEDULE:
6-6:30 PM Meet-and-greet reception featuring an open bar of house beer and soft drinks. Wine and craft beer will be available at additional charge.
6:30-7:30 PM Matthew Hu’s presentation on the Forbidden City, with ppt.
7:30-9:30 PM Dinner at Black Sesame Kitchen.

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RAS Beijing – The Monsoon- past, present and future” by Prof. Peter Clift – 20/1/21

Posted: January 19th, 2021 | No Comments »

“The Monsoon- past, present and future”
by Prof. Peter Clift

WHAT: “The Monsoon- past, present and future” by Prof. Peter Clift. RASBJ Zoom talk followed by Q&A
WHEN: January 20, 2021, Wednesday  9.00 PM Beijing Standard Time
NOTE: THIS ZOOM EVENT BEGINS AT 9PM BEIJING TIME

Prof Clift will launch his book “Monsoon Rains, Great Rivers and the Development of Farming Civilisations in Asia”, explaining variations in the Asian monsoon since the mid-Holocene, and its impacts on farming systems and human settlement. He will also discuss the impact of future changes to the monsoon due to global climate change.

MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Peter Clift is Professor of Geology at Louisiana State University, following periods of study and teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Bremen, Texas A&M, Woods Hole, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His wide areas of special expertise and publication include the Asian monsoon and the origin of the continental crust.

HOW MUCH: This event is free and exclusively for members of the RASBJ and other RAS branches.  If you know someone who wants to join the RASBJ in order to attend this talk, please ask them to sign up via our website at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 48 hours before the event.

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Myth busting: Shenzhen’s sleazy past as short-lived gangster and gambling hub Shum Chun

Posted: January 18th, 2021 | No Comments »

Time to tackle that old trope of ‘Shenzhen as a former fishing village…’ So time to tell the story of Shumchun, a city of 300,000 that was known as the Monte Carlo of the East in the 1930s and was certainly something more than a ‘fishing village’. Here from the South China Morning Post Weekend Magazine….

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A Little Reminder about the RAS Shanghai Library…

Posted: January 14th, 2021 | No Comments »

I’m not always sure people are aware that the RAS runs a great and accesible library of China books and sources in Shanghai right there on the Bund….

The RAS China library houses a lovely collection of bookson China and Asia in English, some rare archival materials as well as the old journals published by the North China Branch of RAS that existed in Shanghai from 1857-1953. The library is on the 3rd floor of The House of Roosevelt on the Bund, in a room dedicated to the memory of Florence Ayscough, an extraordinary woman who was RAS librarian from 1907 to 1922. The library is a wonderful setting for study and research and to host some of our more smaller scale events.

The library is accessible to our members and guests during open hours as published on our website. Information on how to become a member is available at https://lnkd.in/gGtpxi2

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Making Sense of Joan Robinson on China

Posted: January 11th, 2021 | No Comments »

Pervez Tahir’s Making Sense of Joan Robinson on China is a prety unique addition to the China shelf.

Joan Robinson was a member of the famous Keynes Circus of young economists at Cambridge in the 1930’s. She was a theorist par excellence, making outstanding contributions to the understanding of competition, aggregate demand and capital. At the same time, she developed an interest in underdeveloped economies and alternatives to capitalism that eventually produced a long list of writings on China between the 1950’s to the 1970’s. These writings were neither theoretical nor empirical, but a series of opinion pieces and reports. Yet it is these writings that arguably cost Joan Robinson the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics. 

This short book reviews those writings and comments on what has happened since with regard to China’s development, Joan Robinson’s interpretation and predictions, and how her 1950’s lectures in China match up to China’s policies since Mao.

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Just a last reminder – Peking Noir on BBC Radio 3 Tonight (10/1/21)

Posted: January 11th, 2021 | No Comments »

Fear not, Peking Noir will available on BBC Sounds, Spotify and iTunes next week but if you want to listen to the whole thing in one uncut go then it’s on BBC Radio 3 at 7.30pm on Sunday 10/1/21. Some advance praise…

Radio Times
The Times
The Daily Mail
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