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

Reading the 228 Massacre #2 – Formosa Betrayed

Posted: May 27th, 2017 | No Comments »

Well done Camphor Press for issuing George Kerr’s Formosa Betrayed

Formosa Betrayed is a detailed, impassioned account of Chinese Nationalist (KMT) misrule that remains the most important English-language book ever written about Taiwan.

Author George H. Kerr lived in Taiwan in the late 1930s, when the island was a colony of Japan. During the war, he worked for the U.S. Navy as a Taiwan expert. From 1945 to 1947, Kerr served as vice consul of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Taipei, where he was an eyewitness to the February 28 Massacre and the subsequent mass arrests and executions.

As well as chronicling KMT repression during the early years of the White Terror, Kerr documents widespread corruption, showing how the island was systematically looted. The “betrayed” in the title refers not only to the crushing disappointment Taiwanese felt when they realized KMT rule was worse than that of the Japanese but also to the culpability of the American government. The United States was in large part responsible for handing Taiwan over to the Nationalists and helping them maintain their grip on power.

Pre-order the paperback (shipping 14 June) or get the e-book now.

Formosa Betrayed has served as a foundational text for generations of Taiwanese democracy and independence activists. It had an explosive effect among overseas Taiwanese students; for many, the book was their first encounter in print with their country’s dark, forbidden history. A 1974 Chinese-language translation increased its impact still more. It is a powerful classic that has withstood the test of time, a must-read book that will change the way you look at Taiwan.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Reading the 228 Massacre #1 – A Taste of Freedom: Memoirs of a Taiwanese Independence Leader by Peng Ming-min

Posted: May 25th, 2017 | No Comments »

Peng Ming-min’s A Taste of Freedom has been reisssued as a soft copy and e-book by Camphor Press…

 

A Taste of Freedom is the moving story of a reluctant hero and his journey from bookish youth to renowned scholar to political dissident.

Peng Ming-min was born into a doctor’s family in central Taiwan in 1923. He moved to Japan to study, at first French, then law and political science. He was badly injured in a U.S. air raid, losing an arm, and during his recuperation he witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Peng’s post-war return to Taiwan was bittersweet; the island’s new masters, the Chinese Nationalists (KMT) were “unbelievably corrupt and greedy. For eighteen months they looted our island…. They were carpetbaggers, occupying enemy territory, and we were being treated as a conquered people.” When nationwide protests erupted in 1947 in what is known as the 228 Massacre, Peng – despite his academic interest in politics – kept a safe distance and escaped punishment in the bloody crackdown and purges that followed. Peng pursued his studies in Canada and France, and quickly established himself as an authority in the new field of international air law. Returning to Taiwan, he became a full professor at the age of 34. The young academic star attracted the attention of President Chiang Kai-shek and other KMT leaders, who wanted to cultivate him as a model example of a local Taiwanese in the party elite.

Not only did Peng refuse to become window-dressing as a token Taiwanese, he decided to fight back against the regime. In 1964 Peng printed a manifesto calling for genuine democracy. After Peng was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for sedition, his international profile helped secure an early release. In 1970, while under house arrest and the heavy surveillance of the secret police, he made a daring escape to Sweden, where he was granted political asylum. Not long after this he wrote A Taste of Freedom, which was originally published in 1972 and later translated into Mandarin.

After twenty-two years in exile Peng Ming-min was finally able to return to Taiwan, where he was a candidate in Taiwan’s first direct presidential election, in 1996.

Arguably the most readable account of Taiwan’s turbulent mid-twentieth century, A Taste of Freedom is the perfect introduction for anyone who wants to understand modern Taiwan.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Durham Oriental Museum Exhibition – A Good Reputation Endures Forever: The Chinese Labour Corps on the Western Front

Posted: May 24th, 2017 | No Comments »

A Good Reputation Endures Forever: The Chinese Labour Corps on the Western Front

7 April 2017 – 24 September 2017
Durham Oriental Museum (Durham University)

An exhibition exploring the role of the thousands of Chinese who risked their lives alongside the British armed forces during the First World War.

96,000 Chinese men volunteered to work for Britain in the First World War as part of the Chinese Labour Corps. They undertook essential and often dangerous work behind the lines on the western front and thousands lost their lives. Yet their contribution was barely acknowledged at the end of the war and in the years that have followed they have been largely written out of histories of the war. They have been described as the ‘forgotten of the forgotten’.

This exhibition examines the vital role of the Chinese Labour Corps using historic photographs and objects created by the men at the front.

Image: WJ Hawkings Collection, courtesy of John de Lucy

Contact: oriental.museum@durham.ac.uk
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

A Chinese Proverb in Christmas Cracker, 1930s

Posted: May 23rd, 2017 | No Comments »

This is a Chinese proverb, printed on a small piece of rolled paper and inserted in a 1930s Tom Smith English Christmas cracker….not sure how authentic it is though?

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Asia House Literary Festival – 24/5/17 – Suki Kim Undercover in Pyongyang

Posted: May 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

“Time there seemed to pass differently. When you are shut off from the world, every day is exactly the same as the one before. This sameness has a way of wearing down your soul until you become nothing but a breathing, toiling, consuming thing that awakes to the sun and sleeps at the dawning of the dark. The emptiness runs deep, deeper with each slowing day, and you become increasingly invisible and inconsequential. That’s how I felt at times, a tiny insect circling itself, only to continue, and continue. There, in that relentless vacuum, nothing moved. No news came in or out. No phone calls to or from anyone. No emails, no letters, no ideas not prescribed by the regime. Thirty missionaries disguised as teachers and 270 male North Korean students and me, the sole writer disguised as a missionary disguised as a teacher. Locked in that prison disguised as a campus in an empty Pyongyang suburb, heavily guarded around the clock, all we had was one another.”

An excerpt from the Preface of Without You There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim, published by Crown Publishing Group, 2014.

On Wednesday 24th May, sponsored by Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor-advised fund of the London Community Foundation, we will be welcoming investigative journalist Suki Kim to our talk, Undercover in Pyongyang. Kim will be in conversation with Paul French, author of North Korea: State of Paranoia to discuss vice and virtue in Pyongyang.   

Suki Kim covered North Korea for a decade and lived undercover for six months in Pyongyang in 2011, the final year of Kim Jong-il’s regime. Her observations and investigations as a missionary and a teacher at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) resulted in her New York Times Bestselling non-fiction title, Without You There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite which offers a rare glimpse of life into the world’s most unknowable country.

To book tickets for this event, please click here.

General: £10, Concessions: £8, Asia House Arts Members: £5

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Curio Stores of Old Shanghai – The Little Shop

Posted: May 20th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

The Little Shop traded from the notoriously louche Kiangse Road (Jiangxi Road), on the corner of  Ezra Road (now Shashi Road No.2), not far from the upscale bordellos down closer to the Soochow Creek – do click on the ad (from 1930) below to enlarge. Technically the store’s address was No.5 Ezra Road though that building actually connected through the corner to No.30 Kiangse Road. As you can see The Little Shop specialised in all the usual categories of curios and antiques – it was not as well known as its competitors on Nanking Road clustered by the Cathay Hotel (Grays Yellow Lantern store and Hoggard-Sigler for instance) but was in business for quite some time. The proprietor was Mrs E. Boyd and the store’s hong name was Shang hai koo wan shih. The earliest back I can trace the store trading is the mid-1920s.

As to Mrs. Boyd I’m afraid I’m sadly lacking on information. There was a Boyd family that was well established in Shanghai in the shipbuilding and dry dock business but I don’t know if there was any familial connection. There was also an Edyth Boyd who was very involved in the American Presbyterian Mission around the same time period. Bit more digging around to do here….

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Hitler’s Gray Wolves: U-Boats in the Indian Ocean

Posted: May 19th, 2017 | No Comments »

Lawrence Paterson’s new history of German submarine warfare in WW2 in the Far East

Next to nothing has been written about the U-boat war in the Indian Ocean. This is the story of a forgotten campaign. The battle began in August 1943, when a German submarine arrived in the Malaysian harbor of Georgetown. In total, nearly forty U-boats were assigned to penetrate the Indian Ocean, serving alongside troops of the occupying Imperial Japanese forces.
The Japanese allowed U-boats to use Malaysia as an operational station. From that base, they mixed with Japanese forces on a hitherto unseen scale: a move which spread the U-boat war throughout the vast Indian Ocean and into the Pacific. Success in this theater of war held a real chance to swing the tide of battle in North Africa in favor of Rommel, but the Germans essentially did too little too late.
The joint action also gave U-boats the opportunity to penetrate the Pacific Ocean for the first time, attacking shipping off the Australian coast and hunting off New Zealand. Plans were even afoot for an assault on American supply lines. The cooperation’ also brought into stark relief the fundamental differences of German and Japanese war aims. After the crews of Italian supply submarines joined the Germans and Japanese, relations between the fighting men of the three main Axis powers were often brutal and almost constantly turbulent.
Stories of U-boats laden with gold and treasure stem almost exclusively from boats destined to and returning from Japanese-controlled Malaysia, laden with material exchanged between the two major partners of the Triple Axis Alliance.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Young China Watchers London – YCW London: Turning point in China-North Korea Relations? – 22/5/17

Posted: May 18th, 2017 | No Comments »

I don’t always note North Korea-related events I’m involved with on this blog – but this should be an interesting one given the times!

YCW London: Turning point in China-North Korea Relations? (22nd May, Monday, 7.00 pm, at RUSI)

with Andrea Berger, Senior Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and Paul French, author of “North Korea: State of Paranoia”

RSVP here

Monday, May 22, 2017, 7:00 pm

RUSI, 61 Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET

[6:30 pm] Doors Open [7:00 pm] Event Begins

In China, ties with North Korea have traditionally been referred to as “close as lips and teeth.” But with North Korea recently dropping the word “friendly” in describing China as “neighbour”, tension between the two allies is building.

 

Beijing has grown increasingly frustrated at North Korea’s actions, which in recent months includes pushing ahead with a nuclear programme, stating it is “ready” to sink a US aircraft Carrier, staging a grandiose military parade in commemoration of founding father Kim Il-sung, and assassinating Kim Jong Un’s brother Kim Jong Nam. Reflecting its growing discomfort, in 2016, China agreed to sanction North Korea in the UN Security Council and also rejected its coal exports. More recently, though, China has invited North Korea to its Silk Road Summit.

 

For its part, South Korea could advocate a softer stance toward Pyongyang and Beijing under new President, Moon Jae In, who may also reevaluate the US THAAD missile shield program.

 

US President Donald Trump’s military response in Syria adds to the complexity, though as he learned fom a 10-minute crash course by Chinese President Xi Jinping, “It’s not so easy.”

 

What are the driving factors in the China-North Korea relationship and what is its future?

About Andrea Berger

Image

Andrea Berger is a London-based Senior Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, where she focuses on East Asian nuclear issues, export control and sanctions, and proliferation finance. Andrea is also a contributor to the Arms Control Wonk blog and a co-host of the Arms Control Wonk podcast.

 

Between 2012-2015, she led Track 1.5 security talks with the North Korean People’s Army and Worker’s Party in Pyongyang and London. Prior to joining CNS, Andrea was the Deputy Director of the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy team at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and directed the UK’s network of next-generation nuclear professionals. She also worked for the Government of Canada in a number of analytical capacities, lastly in Global Affairs Canada.

 

Andrea holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science from Carleton University and an MA in International Peace and Security from King’s College London.

About Paul French

Image

Paul French is an author and journalist specialising in China and North Korea. His history of the DPRK – North Korea State of Paranoia – was first published in 2004 and has been constantly updated and reissued ever since. He is also the author of the e-book Our Supreme Leader: The Making of Kim Jong-un.

 

French lived in China for many years and first visited the DPRK in 2002. French appears regularly to commentate on the DPRK on BBC TV and radio, Channel 4 News and via op-eds in the Washington Post and Reuters among others.

Venue Details for RUSI

Address: 61 Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET.

Library at RUSI

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter