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

What a Chicago Ad Man Thought of 1935 Shanghai

Posted: November 19th, 2017 | No Comments »

Mason Warner was, I believe a Chicago ad man of the 1920s and 1930s known for having successfully marketed Kool-Aid, who took a trip to China in 1935. This was his conclusion…

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An Open Letter to Shanghai Lou, 1934

Posted: November 18th, 2017 | No Comments »

The following appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser in November 1934…I am not quite sure if I understand what it is – an advert, a comic piece, a letter?? I’m guessing it’s some of ad for Hawaii’s Primo Beer brand though the rest isn’t really clear to me at all!!

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Sadly no China, but a Lovely Book all the same – British Embassies: Their Diplomatic and Architectural History

Posted: November 17th, 2017 | No Comments »

James Stourton’s British Embassies: Their Diplomatic and Architectural History (Frances Lincoln) sadly doesn’t cover any of Britain’s China embassy or consulate buildings.  Of course the former embassy building in the Legation Quarter was wonderful but is now strictly off limits being home to the thugs of the Public Security Bureau. Nobody would bother to include the current British Embassy on Guang Hua Road in any coffee table book except perhaps one that showcased awful architecture, soul destroying interiors and cheap M&S suits galore.

The former British Consulate in Shanghai on the Bund is now an adjunct of the incorrect (for Shanghai) American art-deco styled Peninsula Hotel – older readers will remember stocking up on essentials at the Friendship Store which occupied part of the premises in the 1980s. The British Consulate did move to the Metropole Hotel briefly in 1937. Again those of an older vintage will recall the charming surroundings of the British Consulate when it moved into the former French Concession and a villa on Yong Foo Road, and even had its own London taxi cab back in the days when the FCO still had a bit of individualism and style (yea, i know, hard to imagine under the reign of the Whitehall penny-pinchers and the calamities of the idiot Johnson!). Those of us with memories of that building were happy to turn up to the opening of a new club in the summer of 2004 – a restaurant and bar restored the site (quite well initially) as the Yong Foo Elite (which was unkindly, but amusingly quickly, dubbed the “Fuck You Elite”). It was initially a private members club, but i think any old riff-raff can pitch up nowadays.

Anyway, this book does include some Asian locations – Kabul, Bangkok, Rangoon (very lovely), Singapore and New Delhi.

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Free Lecture 20/11 – London – China: New Nation, New Art, 1911-1932 with Craig Clunas

Posted: November 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

Monday 20/11/17 – 1pm-2pm

Museum of London

Professor Craig Clunas

China: New Art, New Nation, 1911-1932

As the imperial system collapsed in China, the ‘New Culture Movement’ focused debate on new categories of ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’. For artists, it posed the questions of what it meant to be both modern and Chinese – challenging them to show how ancient techniques could remain relevant. Artists began to travel abroad (to France, Japan, Germany, Britain and the USA) and become part of an increasingly international ‘art world’. The 1920s in China saw both the political chaos of warlordism, but also a flowering of creativity which drew on the keen awareness by many of China’s potential as part of a global modernism.

Professor Clunas is Visiting Gresham Professor of Chinese Art. He is Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford. He is a historian of the art and history of China and focuses particularly on the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

This lecture is part of the Being Human Festival 2017 which runs from 17th – 25th November.

More information on the festival can be found here: Being Human Festival 2017

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Tsingtao Drug Dealers in 1920s Berlin

Posted: November 15th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Talking on Norman Ohler’s Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany yesterday I note another claim he makes – in Berlin’s Friedrichstraße in the 1920s (below) Chinese drug dealers from Tsingtao (Qingdao) ran opium dens. This of course is possible – Friedrichstraße did have some opium dens at that time apparently though who ran them I don’t know. Of course Tsingtao was a former German leased territory in Shandong before WW1 and its seizure by Japan. However, Ohler doesn’t provide a reference for that juicy morsel of information and I can find no other reference to Tsingtao dealers in Berlin in English anywhere – any Berlin experts, German researchers know different?

 

 

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Fake Merck Cocaine from China, 1922

Posted: November 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

Carl Crow in his great Four Hundred Million Customers tells of the travails of European and American pharmaceutical companies in China – piracy, IP violations, fakes, mis-labelling and their own unrealistic dreams of China sales. China in the 1930s had just 25,000 hospital beds – Crow did not successfully launch a single pharmaceutical. I think he gives the specific example of Bayer. Reading Norman Ohler’s Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany a while back he makes reference to Merck, whose cocaine (then legal with a doctor’s prescription) was considered the best in the world. Chinese pirates apparently packaged their own, slightly substandard product, in bottles printed with expertly faked Merck labels…by the million! Ohler cites a 1922 German report on the opium and morphine market.

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China Rhyming on Instagram – Come and Join the Photographic Fun

Posted: November 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

We’re on Instagram too….

 

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New From Asian Arguments – Ben Zawacki on Thailand

Posted: November 10th, 2017 | No Comments »

The latest book in my Asian Arguments seris for Zed Books is Benjamin Zawacki’s Thailand: Shifting Ground Between the US and a Rising China….

Thailand was a key ally of the United States after WWII, serving as a bulwark against communism in Southeast Asia and as a base for US troops during the Vietnam War. In return, the US provided it with millions of dollars in military and economic aid, and staunchly supported the country’s various despotic regimes. And yet, the twenty-first century has witnessed a striking reversal in Thailand’s foreign relations: China, once a sworn enemy, is becoming a valued ally to the military government.

In this authoritative modern history, Benjamin Zawacki tells the story of Thailand’s changing role in the world order. Featuring major interviews with high ranking sources in Thailand and the US, including deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand is a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the Thai elite and their dealings with the US and China.

 

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