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6/28/2008

Taiwan Bookstores EALA Page Updated

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:18 am Print
I have updated the Taiwan Bookstores page on the EALA wiki, adding two books and updating the link for SMC Publishing. If you are in Taipei and are looking for a larger selection of academic related works, especially in Chinese, you might want to look at some of the stores listed here: Taiwan Bookstores If you know of other stores that are worth adding, considering editing wiki page and adding your own recommendations.

6/24/2008

Changeless China (post 3,743 in a series)

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 6:26 am Print
Strange Maps (quite possibly the coolest blog in the universe) has this map of more-or-less Han China.

China as an island

The map comes from here, and is part of a summary of a "rise of China" article from Stratfor which is apparently some shop selling (very expensive) geopolitical analysis. Unless the Stratfor article is way better than the summary the people paying money for it are getting ripped off. The main point of the article is that to understand China you need to know that only part of China is inhabited by "Han" the ethnic group "the world regards as the Chinese". So far so good, but what insights can we get from this? Well we can get a lot of factual errors, like the suggestion that the dominant language in South China is Cantonese (which is true if the only province in South China is Guangdong), that China's ports were not sites of international trade before the Opium Wars (which would be news to the entire Chinese diaspora) and that the only successful invaders of China were the Mongols (which is quite an insult to the Manchus, among others). Mostly though, we get timeless China, isolation division. Apparently China has always been an isolated country both because of geography and proclivity, and that is why it has always been so poor. (?) Chinese governments have always been worried about the dangerous prosperity that trade can bring (those backwards mandarins!) but in the  20th century they have been forced to allow it, and this creates all sorts of problems, most notably that some parts of China get rich quicker than others,  leading to civil war. That's what happened in the early 20th century, when Chinese coastal elites allied with foreigners against Beijing and the interior. One of the common features of this sort of analysis is that its so bad its not even wrong. Nobody who knew anything about Chinese nationalism or history could try to use this model to explain the first half of the 20th century. ((It does work a bit better today. I suspect they are reading backwards)) Even people who knew almost nothing about China's history would not keep using the term "Beijing" to refer to the central government since for much of the period they are talking about the capitol was in Nanjing.   We then learn that "China" has always had three geopolitical imperatives, which apparently apply to every China from the Qin dynasty to today, and which which would fit almost any country in the world about as well as they do as timeless truths about China.
  1. Maintain internal unity in the Han Chinese regions. (True of every country and unless defined much more clearly not much help )
  2. Maintain control of the buffer regions. (Also not very China-specific.)
  3. Protect the coast from foreign encroachment. (True of most countries other than Switzerland and Chad.)
This sort of glib analysis seems to be easier to get published about China, which as we all know is changeless, and thus once you have found the secret key you can unlock the whole puzzle of the China market. Yes, history matters, and possibly more in China than elsewhere, but China actually does change, and trying to draw conclusions based on the timeless nature of "China" is a fools game. I assume Stratfor does not publish articles that claim that American politics today is best understood in terms of the Slave Power and its opponents, or warning that the last 300 years of peace between Catholic and Protestant Europe can't last, since religious hostility is one of the touchstones of European history. The map itself is also pretty weird. Is this supposed to be a map of areas where today there are few Han? In that case all of Manchuria should be dried out. Is it a map of places that historically have not been Han? Then why are Liaodong and Gansu underwater?  Xian is not part of the Han core?

You lost to a girl?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:56 am Print
yeoh Reading through 中华民国文化史 (Cultural History of the Chinese Republic) ((编 史全生,吉林文史 )) I found something interesting in the section on 国术. 国术 is a term for what today would be called 武术, i.e. martial arts. Although there was a lot of interest in physical education in China in the 20s and 30s traditional martial arts were not part of this, as they were often seen as backwards peasant stuff. The Guomindang did make some efforts to encourage the modernization of the martial arts, however, setting up the 中央国术馆 (Central Martial Arts Academy) in Nanjing in 1927. Eventually there would be provincial-level organizations as well. At first the Academy seems to have been organized like a traditional martial arts school with masters and disciples but in 1929 it was reorganized as a more modern type of school. The top rated teachers were 王子平,吴图南,姜容燕,胡容华 (), 陈志和 () the younger teachers included 张文广, 李锡恩,傅淑云 () As the () indicates two of the top five teachers and three of eight were women. This actually surprised me a lot. In movies and fiction there may be a lot of female martial arts experts, and there were certainly some in reality as well. Still, this ratio strikes me as a little high. In 1933 there was a national martial arts exam and of the 427 competitors only 9 were women. Was this part of an attempt to modernize the martial arts? Was it a regional thing, since the academy drew heavily from the Northwest and followers of 张之江? Has anybody written anything on this?

6/20/2008

Summer is here

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:13 am Print
Today is the first day of summer here in Pennsylvania, which must mean it is time for a reading from 呂氏春秋 Lüshi Chunqiu LSCQ is best described as a philosophical encyclopedia of the Qin period, probably composed around 239 B.C.E. In part the book is a guide to rulers, and of course Chinese rulers were very interested in the seasons and the changes in the universe since activities in the human world correlated with the patterns of nature and a big part of being ruler was understanding this and taking advantage of this. ((see Sellmann, James D. 2002. Timing and Rulership in Master Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals (Lüshi chunqiu). Albany: State University of New York Press.)) Apparently our Summer is a bit later than theirs, as the sow-thistle has already blossomed here and the Chinese did not get to the longest day of the year until the second month of summer. Still a good reading if you want to understand Chinese cosmology and rulership.
CHAPTER 1 ALMANAC FOR THE FIRST MONTH OF SUMMER ((from Knoblock, John and Jeffrey Riegel. 2000. The Annals of Lü Buwei: A Complete Translation and Study. Stanford: Stanford University Press.)) 4/1.1 A. During the first month of summer the sun is located in Net, At dusk the constellation Wings culminates, and at dawn the constellation Serving Maid culminates. B. The correlates of this month are the days bing and ding, the Sovereign Yan, his assisting spirit Zhurong, creatures that are feathered, the musical notczhi, the pitch-standard Regulator of the Mean, the number seven (the element of human nature ritual propriety, the faculty vision), acrid tastes, burning smells, and the offering at the furnace. At sacrifice, the lungs are given the preeminent position.
C. The small green frogs croak, the earthworms come out, the royal vine develops, and the sow-thistle flowers.
D. The Son of Heaven resides in the left apartment of the Hall of Light. He rides in a chariot of cinnabar-red, pulled by vermilion horses with black tails and bearing vermilion streamers. He is clothed in vermilion robes and wears vermilion jade ornaments. He eats beans accompanied by fowl. His vessels are tall and large.
4/1.2 In this month occurs Establishing Summer. Three days before the cer­emony marking Establishing Summer, the grand historiographer informs the Son of Heaven, saying: "On such-and-such a day begins Establishing Summer. The Power that is flourishing is Fire." The Son of Heaven then begins his fast. On the day beginning Establishing Summer, the Son of Heaven personally leads the Three Dukes, the Nine Ministers, the feudal lords, and the grand officers in welcoming summer at the southern subur­ban altar. On returning, rewards are distributed, fiefs are given out, con­gratulations and gifts are offered, and everyone is joyful and pleased. He then mandates that the music master should supervise the rehearsal for and the combined performance of ritual ceremonies and music works, that the grand pacifier make known outstanding and remarkable persons, and rec­ommend the unusually worthy and good and those of exceptional stature and size. The conferral of rank and the dispensation of emolument must coincide with the position held. 4/1.3 In this month, things should be encouraged to continue to grow taller and to mature. Do nothing that will cause spoilage or injury. Do not initiate projects involving constructions of earth. Do not send forth large bodies of troops. Do not fell large trees. 4/1.4 In this month, the Son of Heaven begins to dress in thin hemp clothes. He mandates that the foresters go out into the fields and plains to encour­age the farmers and exhort the people; they should not allow anything to miss the season. He mandates that the director of education make a tour of inspection through the counties and border district towns, charging the farmers to exert all efforts and not to evade them by hiding in the cities. 4/1.5 In this month, to prevent injury to the five grains, wild animals are chased away; but there should not be any great hunting expeditions. The farmers then present the new wheat, which the Son of Heaven samples with pork, hav­ing first offered a portion in the apartment at the back of the ancestral temple. 4/1.6 In this month, they collect and store the hundred medicinal herbs. Deli­cate grasses die, and the wheat matures. They decide cases involving light punishments and determine sentences for minor infractions, and they release those incarcerated for slight offenses. When work with the silkworms has been completed, the queen and principal concubines present their cocoons. Then the tithe on cocoons is collected in proportion to the number of mul­berry trees. The tithe is one and the same for noble and mean, young and old, in order that materials might be provided for the robes used in sacri­fices at the suburban altars and in the ancestral temple. 4/1.7 In this month, the Son of Heaven drinks new spirits that have been made to ferment by older spirits, and he observes the ritual ceremonies and musical performances.
4/1.8
With the implementation of these ordinances, the sweet rains arrive in each of the three decades of days. If the ordinances of autumn are imple­mented in the first month of summer, pitiless rains will repeatedly occur, the Five Foods will not mature, and the inhabitants of the four border regions will have to enter fortified areas to seek protection from bandits. If the ordinances of winter are implemented, then the grasses and shrubs will wither early and afterwards there will be great floods that will undermine the inner and outer city walls. If the ordinances of spring are implemented, then locusts will become a plague, violent winds will come in attack, and flowering plants will not bear seeds.

6/19/2008

China under construction

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 5:17 am Print

Apparently China produces a lot of cement

Cement

From the Oil Drum, via Andrew Sullivan, Another in our series of cool teaching graphics.

6/18/2008

Celebrity endorsements

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:10 am Print
For those of you who missed it, Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama. I'm not sure how much this matters. Very few Gore supporters were going to vote for McCain. Still, Americans tend to take these celebrity endorsements pretty seriously, or at least campaigns like to talk about them. Chinese emperors were also fond of celebrity endorsements, specifically from recluses. These were not quite celebrities in the modern sense as they would have avoided being on TV like the plague, but they were highly regarded. The most famous category of recluses were those who moved into the mountains or swamps to avoid polluting themselves with corrupt politics. Needless to say these were exactly the types emperors wanted to win the endorsement of. Fan Ye (398-446) wrote about this. ((from Mair, Victor H., Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, and Paul Rakita Goldin. Hawaii Reader In Traditional Chinese Culture. University of Hawaii Press, 2004.)) The [Book of] Changes proclaims "Great indeed is the significance of the timeliness of (the hexagram) Dun (Withdrawal)." It also says (in the hexagram Gu [Bane]), "He does not serve a king or lord; he elevates in priority his [own] affairs." For this reason, although Yao was praised as "modeling Heaven," he could not humble the lofty integrity of [Xu You from] north of the Ying (who lived unencumbered in the mountains). And while King Wu was "utterly praiseworthy," still the purity of the [Lords of] Guzhu forever remains intact (referring to Bo Yi and Shu Qi, who starved to death in the mountains rather than compromise their principles).
Staying outside of politics is of course a good choice for the recluse. If you attach yourself to a ruler you loose some of that above the fray thing that comes with being a hermit. Plus, like Al Gore in 2003 you might end up endorsing the wrong person (i.e. a looser)
From these examples on down, the influential current became increasingly prevalent. The path of prolonged departure has never varied, yet the tactics of those inspired to action are not single in kind. Some lived in seclusion, seeking to maintain their resolve. Some turned and fled to keep their inner principles intact. Some sought personal tranquility, thereby repressing their impatience. Some removed themselves from danger in pursuit of security. Some denied themselves in the profane world and thereby stirred their mettle. Some condemned worldly things, thereby arousing their purity.
People become 'recluses' for any number of reasons. Gore is not really a hermit, even if he did have a beard for a while, and it was pretty much inevitable he would end up endorsing somebody. Getting an endorsement from someone sort of out of category can be even better. During the Republican primaries everybody wanted Ronald Reagan's endorsement. He was dead, however, and rather than having Nancy put them in touch with him they all went across the pond to kiss Margret Thatcher's ring. That, I guess, is a good endorsement
Nevertheless, in observing the way they gladly dwelt among the crosshatched cultivated field-lands, or went worn and haggard out by the rivers and seas, must it necessarily be that they sought intimacy with fish and birds, and found pleasure in forests and plants? It might also be said that it simply was where their innate nature led them. Thus, a court appointee who had suffered disgrace, though repeatedly degraded would not depart from his state (referring to Liuxia Hui, a staunchly ethical man praised by Confucius), whereas one whose moral integrity would bring him to tread out on the sea could not be swayed by a ruler of a thousand-chariot state (referring to, Lu Zhonglian, another paragon of morality lauded by Confucius). Even were one to try to convert or change their chosen course, one simply would be unable to affect them.
I bet some of these people are happy to be out of politics, or to stay out of it if they were never in. And of course in America it is hard to think of too many cultural or whatever figures who matter much politically. I suspect a lot of famous scholars get tired of being asked for blurbs and Bob Dylan is tired of getting tapes from the "next Bob Dylan" Of course if you manage it right you can both be a hermit and have influence. You could reach the point where you were like Al Gore, and major political figure who does not have to do any of that annoying politics
Although so obstinate they might be classed along with the one who would sell his name (only for the right price, referring to Confucius, in Analects 9.12), nevertheless, cicada-like they could cast off their slough amid the clamor and dust, and go off alone beyond the confines of the world. How different are they from those who would bedizen themselves with knowledge and craft in order to chase after fleeting gain! Xun Qing (i.e., Xun Zi) had a saying: "With will and purpose refined, one can be haughty before wealth and nobility; with the [proper] Way and justice exalted, one can slight kings and dukes." When the Han ruling house weakened in the middle of its rule and Wang Mang usurped the throne, the pent-up righteous indignation of the scholar-officials was brought to the extreme. At that time, those who rent their official caps and destroyed their ceremonial headgear, who went hand in hand bolstering each other, and who abandoned him, seem incalculable in number. Yang Xiong (53 B.C.E.—8 C.E.) said, "When the wild goose flies in the distant heights, how could the archer catch it there?" This bespeaks their distant removal from harm. Emperor Guangwu treated with respect "Remote Ones," seeking them out as if in fear of losing them. Plumed banners, bundled silk, and carriages with reed-padded wheels—the accouterments of official summons—passed one another among the cliffs. Those such as Xue Fang and Pang Meng were invited to court yet declined to go, while Yan Guang, Zhou Dang, and Wang Ba went but were not to be humbled. Everyone in all directions acquiesced [to Guangwu's rule], and men of conviction cherished his humaneness. He most certainly was one who befit the dictum "he called to office those who had retired into obscurity, so that throughout the kingdom the hearts of the people turned toward him" (referring to King Wu of Zhou, from Analects 20.1). Emperor Suzong likewise was deferential to Zhengjun and summoned to audience Gao Feng, whereby they fulfilled their resolve. But after that time the virtue of the emperors gradually declined, and the perverse and wicked [eunuchs] dominated the court. The gentlemen who remained at home [and did not serve) stolidly upheld their integrity, ashamed to be ranked and associated with the ministers and highest officials. When it reached the point where their indignation was so roused that they paid no regard to consequence, many became extremists (literally "lost their moderate course of action"). Herein by and large I have recorded (accounts of) those who severed ties with the dusty world never to return, equals, of the "Ones Who Took Action"(zuo zhe), arranging them in this section. [The "Encomium" goes:] By rivers and seas they went obscured, forgotten; In mountains and forests they went off forever. They ranged their spirit afar on distant winds; They freed their feelings beyond the clouds. Their Way drew near to Vacuity and Wholeness; Their deeds turned away from taint and perversion. —AB The text without my comments The [Book of] Changes proclaims "Great indeed is the significance of the timeliness of (the hexagram) Dun (Withdrawal)." It also says (in the hexagram Gu [Bane]), "He does not serve a king or lord; he elevates in priority his [own] affairs." For this reason, although Yao was praised as "modeling Heaven," he could not humble the lofty integrity of [Xu You from] north of the Ying (who lived unencumbered in the mountains). And while King Wu was "utterly praiseworthy," still the purity of the [Lords of] Guzhu forever remains intact (referring to Bo Yi and Shu Qi, who starved to death in the mountains rather than compromise their principles). From these examples on down, the influential current became increasingly prevalent. The path of prolonged departure has never varied, yet the tactics of those inspired to action are not single in kind. Some lived in seclusion, seeking to maintain their resolve. Some turned and fled to keep their inner principles intact. Some sought personal tranquility, thereby repressing their impatience. Some removed themselves from danger in pursuit of security. Some denied themselves in the profane world and thereby stirred their mettle. Some condemned worldly things, thereby arousing their purity. Nevertheless, in observing the way they gladly dwelt among the crosshatched cultivated field-lands, or went worn and haggard out by the rivers and seas, must it necessarily be that they sought intimacy with fish and birds, and found pleasure in forests and plants? It might also be said that it simply was where their innate nature led them. Thus, a court appointee who had suffered disgrace, though repeatedly degraded would not depart from his state (referring to Liuxia Hui, a staunchly ethical man praised by Confucius), whereas one whose moral integrity would bring him to tread out on the sea could not be swayed by a ruler of a thousand-chariot state (referring to, Lu Zhonglian, another paragon of morality lauded by Confucius). Even were one to try to convert or change their chosen course, one simply would be unable to affect them. Although so obstinate they might be classed along with the one who would sell his name (only for the right price, referring to Confucius, in Analects 9.12), nevertheless, cicada-like they could cast off their slough amid the clamor and dust, and go off alone beyond the confines of the world. How different are they from those who would bedizen themselves with knowledge and craft in order to chase after fleeting gain! Xun Qing (i.e., Xun Zi) had a saying: "With will and purpose refined, one can be haughty before wealth and nobility; with the [proper] Way and justice exalted, one can slight kings and dukes." When the Han ruling house weakened in the middle of its rule and Wang Mang usurped the throne, the pent-up righteous indignation of the scholar-officials was brought to the extreme. At that time, those who rent their official caps and destroyed their ceremonial headgear, who went hand in hand bolstering each other, and who abandoned him, seem incalculable in number. Yang Xiong (53 B.C.E.—8 C.E.) said, "When the wild goose flies in the distant heights, how could the archer catch it there?" This bespeaks their distant removal from harm. Emperor Guangwu treated with respect "Remote Ones," seeking them out as if in fear of losing them. Plumed banners, bundled silk, and carriages with reed-padded wheels—the accouterments of official summons—passed one another among the cliffs. Those such as Xue Fang and Pang Meng were invited to court yet declined to go, while Yan Guang, Zhou Dang, and Wang Ba went but were not to be humbled. Everyone in all directions acquiesced [to Guangwu's rule], and men of conviction cherished his humaneness. He most certainly was one who befit the dictum "he called to office those who had retired into obscurity, so that throughout the kingdom the hearts of the people turned toward him" (referring to King Wu of Zhou, from Analects 20.1). Emperor Suzong likewise was deferential to Zhengjun and summoned to audience Gao Feng, whereby they fulfilled their resolve. But after that time the virtue of the emperors gradually declined, and the perverse and wicked [eunuchs] dominated the court. The gentlemen who remained at home [and did not serve) stolidly upheld their integrity, ashamed to be ranked and associated with the ministers and highest officials. When it reached the point where their indignation was so roused that they paid no regard to consequence, many became extremists (literally "lost their moderate course of action"). Herein by and large I have recorded (accounts of) those who severed ties with the dusty world never to return, equals, of the "Ones Who Took Action"(zuo zhe), arranging them in this section. [The "Encomium" goes:] By rivers and seas they went obscured, forgotten; In mountains and forests they went off forever. They ranged their spirit afar on distant winds; They freed their feelings beyond the clouds. Their Way drew near to Vacuity and Wholeness; Their deeds turned away from taint and perversion. —AB

6/17/2008

Chinese history sucks

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:07 am Print
As a profession anyway. Historians are notorious for thinking that the past matters a lot, and most of us even think the past matters even if it has nothing to do with the present. (We're weird that way) If you are a China historian, however there are always peoplewho are only interested in the contemporary rise of China. Whenever I ask my Modern China students why they are taking my class I usually get a lot of them who are interested in "how China got where it is now" by which they usually mean (even if they don't yet know it) events since 1983. ((Blogposts also tend to get more attention if they are focused on the present.)) To some extent I don't mind this. At most small schools China historians will be the only China person there, and talking about contemporary China is part of the job. Part I like too. I find China today fascinating, and giving half-baked opinions on it is a lot of fun. Plus I'm told by colleagues in less trendy fields that this public interest is why people are always shoveling money at me. (Using very small shovels, I might point out) All that said, I'm glad I'm not Jonathan Spence. He is currently giving the Reith Lectures in England, and apparently the format is 20 minutes of Spence talking about Chinese history followed by 40 minutes of questions about contemporary China. Given that "the value of history is in its relevance to the present" this is not that surprising, and Spence's choice of topics probably did not help. It would be refreshing to me, however, if Chinese history in the West could draw at least some audience of people who thought that Confucius, like Socrates, was worth knowing about even if it had nothing to do with your stock portfolio, and who thought that the White Lotus was just as interesting/important/cool as the Wars of the Roses even if neither of them has much to do with Darfur.

6/16/2008

It’s the shoes

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:14 pm Print
For people who have read Sherman Cochran it is not news that Chinese merchants developed brand names and consumers developed brand loyalty. Cochran mostly focuses on an earlier period (and the medicine business) but Lang Jing looks at the athletic shoe industry. ((郎淨 “近代體育在上海(1840-1937)” 上海社會 2006 p.361)) Lang is looking at the development of modern athletics in Shanghai. One issue he looks at is how widespread interest in modern athletics was outside of schools and national competitions and such. This is always a hard thing to find out about, but he does show that there must have been some market for Western-style sports in China, as Shanghai had a number of manufacturers of ping-pong equipment, basketballs (basketball assimilated quickly in China) and of course athletic shoes. It was in the shoe industry of course that you see advertising wars. 金刚 (jin gang) ((Golden Exactly? its hard to translate. It's also the word used for King Kong)) brand shoes ran ads in the 1940s urging consumers ”勿相信牌子,相信你自己的眼睛“ (don't trust brand names trust your own eyes) Presumably meaning they should not be taken in by advertising hype. The target of these adds was of course 回力 (Hui Li, Returning Strength), the kingpin of the Chinese shoe industry. The campaign seems to have worked, as 金刚 became a major player in athletic shoes. Perhaps it did not work well enough, however, since 回力 is still around and they are not. 回力has an interesting logo, as you can see below. I don't think Nike can sue them however, since 回力 has been fighting sneaker wars far longer than Nike has even existed.

Hui Li

6/11/2008

Foreign influence on China’s revolution

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:25 am Print
I found this picture on Southeast Asia Visions ((following a link from BibliOdyssey))

Troops in Peking

It is from Siam and China by Besso, Salvatore (1914) I was a bit confused about what it was showing. Surely March 5 is too late for a response to the declaration of the Republic? This turned out to be an interesting bit of political theater. By February of 1912 Yuan Shikai had accepted the idea of becoming the President of the new Republic, but he was still bickering with the revolutionaries in Nanjing over where the new capital would be. The revolutionaries of course wanted Yuan to come to Nanjing where their Provisional Senate was meeting. Yuan naturally wanted to stay in Beijing and the issue was a symbolic one over which of these two groups was going to be dominant in the new government. A group of southern representatives came to Beijing to negotiate with Yuan, but on Feb 29 a mutiny broke out among Cao Kun's troops in Beijing and the Southerners were forced to flee their hotel. Mutinies broke out in Tianjin, Baoding and Shijiazhuang the next day, all among troops loyal to Yuan. According to Jerome Chen Cao Kun's troops were yelling slogans against Yuan moving to the South as they rioted ((Ch'en, Jerome. Yuan Shih-K'ai. Stanford University Press, 1972. p.107)) Besso met with Yuan the very next day in a very short audience where Yuan merely assured the Italians that the cause of the mutiny had been rumors that the troops would be dismissed and have to cut off their queues. He expressed shock that anyone could think he was behind the disturbances, although both Besso and Jerome Chen seem to have thought it likely that he was behind this. One of the standard things people say about the 1911 Revolution is that while it was rather violent it did not last long largely because the various Chinese factions were deeply concerned that if fighting went on the foreigners might intervene. Foreigners really were panicked that China was going to collapse into chaos. The New York Times ran heads like "Chinese Army of 10,000, Out to Restore Manchus, Wiping out Whole districts", "Anarchy in North and South", "Foreigners expect no peace for Two years." as Sheng Yun's troops approached the city. Part of this was the fact that it was a pretty chaotic time and people had good reason to think the chaos might continue. The foreigners also had (and would continue to have) a long hangover from the Boxer Uprising. Analyzing Chinese politics was not their strong suit, and no matter what was happening they just saw "chaos" being driven by the irrational behavior of those irrational Chinese. 1911-1 Of course a Revolution was also a great opportunity to see things. Whatever had brought you, Johnny Foreigner to China one of the things you wanted to take back was a bunch of stories about the things you saw, and Besso and his friends seem to have spent a lot of time observing events, generally trusting to their foreign passports to keep them out of trouble. Like the Gentleman below, Besso seems to have spent a lot of time worrying about what one should wear to a Revolution. (is a frock-coat appropriate during a revolution?) 1911-2 The Europeans "were in the best of humor and joked about what was happening" and much appreciated the view of the burning city from the walls. Although Chinese troops were looting, extraterritoriality still held and no foreigner was molested. ((One German doctor died "because of his own impudence", but Besso gives no details)) I can thing of few things that would reinforce the foreign sense of privilage more than touring a battlezone like it was a play put on for one's amusement. Yuan seems to have played the whole affair like a violin. While he claimed not be be behind the mutiny, and the looting probably went further than he would have liked it worked to cement his political position. He could portray himself to the foreigners as the one man who could keep order 1911-6 and to the Chinese factions as the one leader who could hold off foreign intervention. A nice set of pictures for teaching 1911. Note that the picture above is a postcard.

6/8/2008

If you prick Taiwanese savages, do they not bleed?

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 8:27 am Print
I want to share just one more short passage from Small Sea Travel Diaries, the English translation of Yu Yonghe's journal and essays from his trip to Taiwan in the 17th century by Macabe Keliher. I find the following reflections by Yu on natives he met in Taiwan to be an interesting display of humanity and an overly confident universalism on the part of the author, though it's tone is entirely inconsistent with the far more insulting, unsympathetic, and otherwise derogatory tone used elsewhere in Yu's journals.
The worst off people in the world are not as bad off as the Taiwan savages. Because they are different they are discriminated against. When people see them without clothes, they say, "they don't get cold." When they see them walk in the rain and sleep in the two, they say, "they don't get sick." When they see them carry burdens over great distances, they say, "they can work without rest." Aye! They are also people! They have limbs and bodies and flesh and bone; in what way are they not human? How can one say such things of them? If horses run without rest, or oxen loaded with more than they can carry, will they not get sick? If oxen and horses are like this, then what of humans? If they had cloth, and they would wear layers of clothes when the weather turned cold - what would be the point of getting cold. If they had no responsibilities, they would settle peacefully and not run around naked - what is the point of being naked? If they did not have to work, they would rest and relax and not labor for these interpreters. Who does not enjoy eating well and staying warm, avoiding pain and hunger and cold? Who does not hate hard labor and enjoy leisure and comfort? This is human nature. There are different people, but the nature is all the same. The benevolent know this and do not need to repeat it. (( Yu, Yonghe, trans. Macabe Keliher Small Sea Travel Diaries (2004) SMC publishing, Taipei, 2004, 119. ))
As the mention they get in this quote suggests, Yu really did not like interpreters, and they appear as the most evil figures in his narrative. Perhaps his own dependence on them when he went hunting for sulphur in remote areas of Taiwan added to his dislike for their deceptive practices.

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