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

Strangers on the Praia – Jewish Refugees, Macao & WW2 – Cha Literary Journal September 2016, Issue 33

Posted: September 14th, 2016 | No Comments »

While working on my next book (out next year) I got sidetracked somewhat in researching and following the lives and journeys of a number of Shanghai-based Jewish refugees in the late 1930s and during World War Two who moved on to “neutral” Macao hoping that from there they could get to some form of sanctuary – preferably a boat to neutral Portugal and from there to America or Britain. There were ways to Macao from the “Solitary Island” of Shanghai in WW2 while the British retained a Consulate in Macao (the only one between India and Australia) throughout the war. There were some desperate stories and some daring escapes, including back into “Free” China via remote and now mostly forgotten the French treaty port of Kwangchowan (now Guangzhouwan) and its tiny capital Fort Bayard. I think the whole Jewish refugee experience in Macao has been forgotten largely, certainly against the larger tales of defeat and internment in Hong Kong and the recollections of the Shanghai Ghetto in the war, so I hope this resurrects some interest in this footnote to the refugee experience in the conflict.

Anyway, never wishing to waste anything, I’ve put a lot of this research and anecote together in a piece of creative non-fiction – Strangers on the Praia – for the current September 2016 issues (no.33) of the Hong Kong-based Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. You can read it online – Strangers on the Praia is here and the entire issue here.

cha-sept-2016-issue-33The issues great cover – “Do Mong Kok Dream of Neon Sheep? AKA Blade Running in Mong Kok” by Holden Liang

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Marjorie Hessell Tiltman’s Taste for Adventure

Posted: September 13th, 2016 | No Comments »

I’ve written about Marjorie Hessell Tiltman, the wife of Hugh Hessell Tiltman, a well known journalist (and probably British spy) in 1930s China. Marjorie shared a good deal of Hugh’s China adventures with him. After laving China in the early 1930s the Hessell Tiltman’s settled in Sussex and Marjorie wrote a book about their rural English life Cottage Pie (more here from my previous post on Marjorie). The other day I came across this book by Marjorie I had not been aware of before, published in 1935 it showed she never lost her taste for adventure….it’s also a very stylish cover I think and rare to find a copy with the jacket intact these days…

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Tai’s for Linens – Old Frenchtown Shopping

Posted: September 12th, 2016 | No Comments »

Tai’s for Linens – Mr C.T. Tai’s store opened around 1910-1912 on Route Prosper Paris in Shanghai’s Frenchtown (Tianping Road now) on the far western side of the French Concession close to Siccawei (Xujiahui now). “One price” I take it refers not to everything being one price (the contemporary meaning) but that tourists and Shanghailanders were guaranteed the same prices as locals (though probably unlikely in the actualite, as the French say). Tai’s main competition was the linen shops (and underwwear sellers) over on Yates Road (Shimen No.1 Road these days), known locally as “Pantie Alley”. The shop was a retail outlet for C.T. Tai & Sons (Manufacturers and Exporters), Embroidered Linens, who produced monogrammed handkerchiefs etc.

 

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Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations, Past and Present

Posted: September 11th, 2016 | No Comments »

A timely offering from June Teufel Dreyer on the troubled history of Sino-Japanese relations……

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June Teufel Dreyer’s Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun provides a highly accessible overview of one of the world’s great civilizational rivalries. Dreyer, a senior scholar of East Asia, begins in the seventh century in order to provide a historical background for the main story: by the mid-nineteenth century, the shrinking distances afforded by advances in technology and the intrusion of Western powers brought the two into closer proximity in ways that alternately united and divided them. In the aftermath of multiple wars between them, including a long and brutal conflict in World War II, Japan developed into an economic power but rejected any concomitant military capabilities. China’s journey toward modernization was hindered by ideological and leadership struggles that lasted until the death of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong in 1976.

Bringing the narrative up to the present day, Dreyer focuses on the issues that dominate China and Japan’s fraught current relationship: economic rivalry, memories of World War II, resurgent nationalism, military tensions, Taiwan, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and globalization. Dreyer argues that recent disputes should be seen as manifestations of embedded rivalries rather than as issues whose resolution would provide a lasting solution to deep-standing disputes. For anyone interested in the political dynamics of East Asia, this integrative history of the relationship between the region’s two giants is essential reading.

 

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Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai – A Critical View of the History of Chinese Photography – 11/9/16

Posted: September 10th, 2016 | No Comments »
Sunday, 11th September 2016
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Li Room at the Radisson Blu Xingguo Hotel
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A Critical View of the History of Chinese Photography

Speaker: Jean Loh

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September 8th through 11th marks the 3rd edition of Photo Shanghai, a global art fair dedicated to photographic works of art. To expand our knowledge of photography as an art form that took hold in China, RAS is pleased to invite Jean Loh as our special Art Focus speaker in September.

Contemporaneous with the invention of photography came the outbreak of the First Opium War, along with foreign concessions and settlements in Canton and Shanghai. The 19th Century saw the arrival of photography in China. In the early 20th Century Chinese photography was essentially viewed through the eyes of Westerners: missionaries, archeologists, botanists, and diplomats. Chinese photography proper started in the 1920s – 1930s, during the Republic (Min Guo) period but few documents remain. From the 1950s onward photography’s purpose was to serve the people. Documentary photography only resumed with the launch of Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening. This talk is a subjective retracing of the evolution of documentary photography in China over three decades, from the 1980s and the 1990s, to the early 2000s and today, with selected examples and a questioning of the meaning of documentary in a context of generalised commercial pursuit.

Jean Loh is a graduate of Paris Sciences-Po, with a master degree in the History of Ideas from Sorbonne Pairs-IV. He is the curator and art director of Beaugeste Photo Gallery in Shanghai.

RSVP: artgroup@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

ENTRANCE: Members: 50 RMB Non members: 100 RMB

includes a glass of wine or soft drink

VENUE: Li Room at the Radisson Blu Xingguo Hotel; 78 Xingguo Lu, near Hunan Lu Shanghai 200052

 

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The Golden Dragon, Hotel des Wagon-Lits, Peking

Posted: September 9th, 2016 | No Comments »

I’m generally pretty good on the old curio and antique shops of Shanghai, but distinctly less so regarding Peking (outside of The Camel Bell and Henri Vetch’s places). As with Shanghai curio shops appeared in the lobbies and adjacent to leading hotels where foreigners stayed – The Camel Bell and Vetch’s French Bookshop were in the lobby of the Peking Hotel. Here’s an advert for The Golden Dragon, which was in the Hotel des Wagon-Lits (which I’ve posted about before – just stick “Wagon-Lits” in the search engine and you’ll get some pictures and luggage labels etc).

So I’m rather bereft on facts – The Golden Dragon was one of a number of retail outlets in the hotel, including American Express. This ad is from the mid-1930s – and I’ve not got anything else I’m afraid…though if anyone does of course I’d love to hear?

golden-dragon-curios-hotel-wagon-lits-peking-1930

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The Short-Lived Banque Industrielle de Chine

Posted: September 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

Wikipedia has it that the Shanghai and Paris-based Banque Industrielle de Chine was chartered in 1913 and was closed in 1922. However, this advert is from 1925 and they appear to be still in business. This ad also indicates that the bank had an Antwerp branch. Apparently the collapse of the bank, after Chinese borrowers refused to repay in the early 1920s, was a scandal as the establishment of the bank had been a joint project of the French and Chinese governments (according to Xu Guoqi in Strangers on the Western Front the bank was established to handle the finances of the Chinese laborers’ recruited by France to work during the First World War). Others mutter of dark forces on the French right destroying the bank, and allied to the competitor Banque de L’Indochine, bent on undermining the Banque Industrielle. It seems a political face saving fix was eventually found and the bank did not go bankrupt but was closed and funds were injected into other banks.

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An ad for the bank from 1925

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A beautifully ornate Banque Industrielle de Chine bond issuance certificate from 1913

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Margaret Livingston in The Streets of Shanghai, 1927

Posted: September 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

In 1927 the beautiful Margaret Livingston was a major film star and The Streets of Shanghai was a much anticipated movie event. Silent stars of the time (now really quite forgotten) were the main stars though a youngish Jason Robards Sr. appeared in the film as did a young Anna May Wong and Toshia Mori, a Japanese actress who had a Hollywood career. Sadly you can’t see the film as it is now officially considered “lost” and it is thought no copy exists anywhere (which is very sad). However, a few stills from lobby cards exist (see below).

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one of the few remaining stills featuring the movie’s stars Kenneth Harlan and Pauline Starke

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Margaret Livingston

MV5BMTk5ODY0ODQxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM4NDk3MTE@._V1._CR0.883331298828125,2.5333404541015625,231,297_UY317_CR16,0,214,317_AL_Some more Margaret Livingston

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