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

Instant Pictures of the war in Shanghai – 1932 style

Posted: September 19th, 2017 | No Comments »

During the Sino-Japanese conflict in Shanghai in the summer and autumn of 1932 pictures were rushed to the newsreels to be shown as fast as possible at cinemas – such as this one in Honolulu, Hawaii

They advertised the newsreels as featuring ‘real battlefield scenes’. Several different newsreels covering Shanghai were running at different cinema chains in competition.

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Launch of the newly published RAS China Journal – Beijing – 26/9/17

Posted: September 18th, 2017 | No Comments »

Sadly can’t be there, but do have an article in the Journal (the Lady Chatterley banned in Shanghai one noted below)…..

Launch of the newly published RAS China Journal

WHAT: Launch of the newly published RAS China Journal
WHEN: 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Tuesday, September 26
WHERE: The Courtyard Institute, 28 Zhonglao Hutong (see map)
RSVP: email communications.ras.bj@gmail.com and write “journal” in the header. Please state name and number of people.
COST: free

Please join us on Tuesday, 26 September to celebrate the launch of the newly published Journal of The Royal Asiatic Society China, beginning 7.30 PM at The Courtyard Institute near Jingshan Park.
This latest edition of The Journal has 300 pages and 19 articles ranging from the censorship of Lady Chatterley in Shanghai to a history of rugby football in the Far East, from British diplomatic diaries during the 1900 Boxer siege to aspects of Chinese architecture, past and present. You’ll have a chance to meet RAS Journal Editor, Richard de Grijs, and some authors, and to mingle over wine and nibbles from Red Kitchen Cabinet .

Members in good standing — including those who join on the night — will receive a Journal free; others can purchase one for RMB 70.

You’ll also learn more about our program for the coming year. If you’ve enjoyed our activities, and always meant to join the Royal Asiatic Society Beijing, this is the time! Individual membership for the year costs RMB 300. Upcoming events will focus on a diverse range of topics, from the party congress to comparing Chinese and Western music to researching American aviators in WWII China.

We  hope to see you September 26. So that we have accurate numbers for catering, kindly RSVP to communications.ras.bj@gmail.com by Sept. 23.

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Crackdown in Lhasa – Tibet in Agony, 1959

Posted: September 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

A new study of the takeover of Tibet in 1959….

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989 is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened in those fate-filled days and why. Her story begins with throngs of Tibetan demonstrators who fearful that Chinese authorities were planning to abduct the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader formed a protective ring around his palace. On the night of March 17, he fled in disguise, only to reemerge in India weeks later to set up a government in exile. But no peaceful resolution awaited Tibet. The Chinese army soon began shelling Lhasa, inflicting thousands of casualties and ravaging heritage sites in the bombardment and the infantry onslaught that followed. Unable to resist this show of force, the Tibetans capitulated, putting Mao Zedong in a position to fulfill his long-cherished dream of bringing Tibet under the Communist yoke.

Li’s extensive investigation, including eyewitness interviews and examination of classified government records, tells a gripping story of a crisis whose aftershocks continue to rattle the region today.

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Last Chance to Sign Up for the Bloody Saturday Walk – 17/9

Posted: September 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

Final chance to sign up for the last few places on the Bloody Saturday walk this coming weekend…

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The Day Mao Died – The Story Hits a Very Special New York Apartment

Posted: September 10th, 2017 | No Comments »

The tyrant Mao Tse-tung finally died on 9/9/76 – the US papers covered it extensively. This is the best picture i know of relating to Mao’s death…

 

 

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Architect of Prosperity: Sir John Cowperthwaite and the Making of Hong Kong

Posted: September 10th, 2017 | No Comments »

Neil Monnery’s new study of a key figure in Hong Kong’s post-war recovery and rise to greatness in the 1970s….

This is a book about Sir John Cowperthwaite – the man Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman identified as being behind Hong Kong’s remarkable post-war economic transformation. Despite there being some articles about him and effusive obituaries there have, until now, been no published biographies of Cowperthwaite. At the end of the Second World War, Hong Kong lived up to its description as “the barren island.” It had few natural resources, its trade and infrastructure lay in tatters, its small manufacturing base had been destroyed and its income per capita was less than a quarter of its mother country, Britain. As a British colony it fell to a small number of civil servants to confront these difficult challenges, largely alone. But by the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it was one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. By 2015 its GDP per capita was over 40% higher than Britain’s. How did that happen? Around the world, post-war governments were turning to industrial planning, Keynesian deficits and high inflation to stimulate their economies. How much did the civil servants in Hong Kong adopt from this emerging global consensus? Virtually nothing. They rejected the idea that governments should play an active role in industrial planning – instead believing in the ability of entrepreneurs to find the best opportunities. They rejected the idea of spending more than the government raised in taxes – instead aiming to keep a year’s spending as a reserve. They rejected the idea of high taxes – instead keeping taxes low, believing that private investment would earn high returns, and expand the long-term tax base. This strategy was created and implemented by no more than a handful of men over a fifty-year period. Perhaps the most important of them all was John Cowperthwaite, who ran the trade and industry department after the war and then spent twenty years as deputy and then actual Financial Secretary before his retirement in 1971. He, more than anyone, shaped the economic policies of Hong Kong for the quarter century after the war and set the stage for a remarkable economic expansion. His resolve was tested constantly over his period in office, and it was only due to his determination, independence, and intellectual rigor that he was not diverted from the path in which he believed so strongly. This book examines the man behind the story, and the successful economic policies that he and others crafted with the people of Hong Kong.

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Virginia Woolf’s Kew Gardens Reprinted

Posted: September 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

I believe this reprint of Virginia Woolf’s short story set on a hot July day in Kew Gardens was republished last year, but I only chanced upon in a bookshop the other day. Woolf privately published the story in 1919 and then issued it more widely in 1921. Of course the cover immediately attracts a China Rhyming eye and the book, republished by Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is beautifully illustrated too. According to the blurbs, ‘Woolf’s story creates an impressionistic world with snippets of conversation, wondering thoughts and sparks of colour. The gentle narrative drifts between different characters as they stroll through the world famous botanic gardens…’

Worth an hour or so of your time to read and enjoy before summer finally, irrecoverably departs….

 

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Chinese Wallpaper in Britain and Ireland

Posted: September 7th, 2017 | No Comments »

Emile de Brujin’s comprehensive survey is a joy to read and browse…

Chinese wallpaper has been an important element of western interior decoration for three hundred years. As trade between Europe and China flourished in the seventeenth century, Europeans developed a strong taste for Chinese art and design. The stunningly beautiful wall coverings now known as ‘Chinese wallpaper’ were developed by Chinese painting workshops in response to western demand. In spite of their spectacular beauty, Chinese wallpapers have not been studied in any depth until relatively recently. This book provides an overview of some of the most significant Chinese wallpapers surviving in the British Isles. Sumptuously illustrated, it shows how these wallpapers became a staple ingredient of high-end interiors while always retaining a touch of the exotic.

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