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

Bloody Saturday 80th Anniversary – Refugees From Chapei Arrive in the Settlement

Posted: August 10th, 2017 | No Comments »

This incredible picture from August 1937 shows Chinese refugees from Japanese-bombed Chapei (Zhabei) in Northern Shanghai packing up their belongings and heading into the International Settlement. It was taken by Swiss Shanghailander Karl Kengelbacher who took many striking and poignant images of refugees around Bloody Saturday.

You’ll notice that the truck used to take these refugees away from the bombs is called “Blitz 6” – this rather phased me for a moment as I thought perhaps it was a comment on the bombing. Bloody Saturday was the worst aerial attack on civilians in history at that point but it was several years before the term ‘Blitz’, from “Blitzkrieg” was used. However, Blitz was a brand name for a series of trucks produced by Opel in the 1930s and used during the war. That these poor folk had been “Blitzed” was not yet a slang term.

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Bloody Saturday 80th Anniversary – Flying the Stars and Stripes

Posted: August 9th, 2017 | No Comments »

A series of posts starting today to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Bloody Saturday in Shanghai. In brief – On August 14, 1937 the Chinese Air Fforce bombed the Japanese Navy flagship Idzumo, moored on the Huangpu opposite the Japanese Consulate and assisting the Japanese attack on Shanghai Chinese quarters of Chapei, Baoshan and Jiangwqan. In a terrible accident bombs from the aircraft fell in the International Settlement hitting the Cathay and Palace Hotels at the junction of Nanjing Road and the Bund. At least 700 civilians were killed outright. A second set of misguided bombs caused a further, 2000 civilian deaths (at least) outside the Great World in Frenchtown. The event soon became known as Bloody Saturday and marks the start of World War Two for Shanghai. My newly published Penguin China Special, Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day, attempts to recreate the day through the testimonies, reportage and memoirs of various Shanghailanders caught up in the terror.

Anyway, due to the threats from Japanese shelling of Chinese northern Shanghai, foreigners living in those districts were told to evacuate by their consulates. However, many owned properties and lived in those areas which were both being shelled and, in the case of heavily industrialized Yangpu, were now effectively stuck behind Japanese lines. Many of these Shanghailanders chose to drape their homes in their national flags in the hope that the fighting would circumvent them. Here is an American home in northern Shanghai draped with the Stars and Stripes in 1937.

American troops (4th Marines) took to the roofs of key buildings in the Settlement to defend them against possible attack if the Japanese decided to move south of Suzhou Creek. This pic, with the Stars and Stripes proudly flying, is captioned as noting the Marines are guarding the roof of ‘their headquarters’ – in 1937 that would have been 1607-09 Sinza Road (Xinza Road) but I think this is actually the Fourth Marines Club at 722 Bubbling Well Road (Nanjing West Road and now the HQ for some Chinese sports institute or something similar).

More, of course, here…

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Bad News from Beijing – Hutong Demolitions Start at Gulou Xidajie & Dashibei Hutong

Posted: August 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

More bad news, reported in the Beijinger, of hutong destruction – this time Gulou Xidajie. Ostensibly this is of illegal frontages and other structures but is inevitably also taking down hutong architecture. You all know this, but I’ll repeat it again anyway (and I await the usual flurry of emails telling me the hutongs aren’t worth saving, repairable and that all anyone wants is a high rise flat in a distant suburb) – in 1949 (by the Beijing city administrations own numbers) there were 3,050 hutongs. By 1990 this was down to 2,250; by 2004 to 1,300 and by 2012 to 900. The number is now probably around 600, but at least half of those are changed beyond recognition as a hutong, truncated in some way and the new spate of apparently rather random bulldozerings (random in terms of what walls and window spaces etc are being pulled down). This is now a very real and imminent case of architectural extinction…

 

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Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darket Day – Asia Pub Day today

Posted: August 7th, 2017 | No Comments »

Available in (hopefully) all good book shops in Asia today….the story of Bloody Saturday, 14/8/37, 80 years on from the day world war two came to Shanghai….

Bloody Saturday contains a stunning cast of characters and great period detail. French’s mastery of the era makes for an engaging read – Bookish Asia

Paul French’s Bloody Saturday focuses on a single day in the history of Shanghai, but it is absolutely spellbinding.- Richard J Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books

Stringing together multiple accounts, Paul French’s gripping narrative retells the dreadful events that lead to the death of more than 2,000 people in Shanghai during the second Sino-Japanese war – South China Morning Post

 

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Sikh Traffic Cop on the Nanking Road

Posted: August 6th, 2017 | No Comments »

Here, from 1936, a Sikh traffic constable of the Shanghai Municipal Police on the junction of Nanking Road (Nanjing East Road) and Szechuen Road (Sichuan Middle Road). Right outside the old Whiteaway and Laidlaw department store ( at no.98, founded 1913 and known to all Shanghailanders as the “Right Away and Paid For”)….Naturally, as it’s 1936, everyone’s driving on the right…

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The Shanghai AA

Posted: August 5th, 2017 | No Comments »

Nice to see this Shanghai registered car in 1933 sporting its AA badge on the grill. The car belonged to Richard Martin, a Shanghai Municipal Police officer, here taking a drive out around the city walls of Soochow (Suzhou)…

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Shanghai Public Works Department Barrier, 1933 – Old Shanghai Signage

Posted: August 4th, 2017 | No Comments »

Another in my occasional series on old Shanghai street signage (admit it, you were waiting for another post with bated breath!). We’ve had telegraph pole numbering and a Shanghai Municipal Police ‘No Waiting’ sign now for the amazing Shanghai Public Works Department (PWD) barrier indicating some building works or other disruption, in this case a procession by Anhui Guildsmen through Yangtszepoo (Yangpu) in 1933…

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News under Fire: China’s Propaganda against Japan in the English-Language Press, 1928–1941

Posted: August 3rd, 2017 | No Comments »

I’ve been waiting a while to read this new book from Shuge Wei….

News under Fire: China’s Propaganda against Japan in the English-Language Press, 1928–1941 is the first comprehensive study of China’s efforts to establish an effective international propaganda system during the Sino-Japanese crisis. It explores how the weak Nationalist government managed to use its limited resources to compete with Japan in the international press. By retrieving the long neglected history of English-language papers published in the treaty ports, Shuge Wei reveals a multilayered and often chaotic English-language media environment in China, and demonstrates its vital importance in defending China’s sovereignty.

Chinese bilingual elites played an important role in linking the party-led propaganda system with the treaty-port press. Yet the development of propaganda institution did not foster the realization of individual ideals. As the Sino-Japanese crisis deepened, the war machine absorbed treaty-port journalists into the militarized propaganda system and dashed their hopes of maintaining a liberal information order.

Shuge Wei is a historian based at the Australian National University. Her research interests include Chinese media history, Chinese political culture, Sino-Japanese War, and grassroots movements in China and Taiwan.

“A superbly researched and well-nuanced account of an overlooked topic: nationalist China’s propaganda system and the multiple ways in which it intersected with the treaty-port foreign-language press of the time. Combining a wealth of archival and newspaper sources, it is destined to be on the ‘must read’ list of all who are interested in state propaganda and news dissemination in the Republican period.”
—Julia C. Strauss, professor of Chinese politics, SOAS, University of London

“An absorbing and well-sourced study of KMT propaganda efforts to convince the United States to side with China rather than Japan in WWII. The study shows how the KMT, facing a massive power asymmetry compared to its Japanese opponent, managed to effectively use the soft power of foreign propaganda.”
—Rudolf G. Wagner, senior professor of Chinese studies, Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe, Heidelberg University, Germany

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