Talking of strange references between China and elsewhere, invariably England but not exclusively, here’s a corker from the Reverend G Smith who produced a volume in 1847 entitled A narrative of an exploratory visit to each of the consular cities of China, and to the islands of Hong Kong and Chusan, on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, in the years 1844, 1845, 1846. Long winded? the Rev Smith – never!! And on his trip he observed that Shanghai was a second Liverpool (well, actually not that odd and with good reasoning so not included) but the poor Fujianese being compared to the Irish – I say “poor” on the grounds that I’m thinking the Rev didn’t have that great an opinion of the Irish. And so he declared of Shanghai:
”Shanghai is a second Liverpool, in the extent of its commerce and in the various races of people attracted thither by gain. Whole streets are tenanted by the men of Fokeen [Fujian] – the Irishmen of china – men of ardent, impetuous, and enterprising minds, but turbulent and irascible withal.”
Smith is actually one of the more interesting of that odd breed, the missionary. He did learn Chinese well enough to sermonise in the language and travelled extensively in China and forged a strong base in Hong Kong. Later in Japan, India and Australia he worked among the migrant Chinese communities in those countries.