Drop and give me twenty

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:41 am

While here in Shanghai I have been doing a bit of research. My new project is on 训练 and military training during the War of Resistance Against Japan, and in particular in the activities of Hu Zongnan. Turning ordinary Chinese into soldiers was a big deal during the war, and Hu was in charge of a number of institutions that were supposed to deal with this. Here are a couple of cartoons.1 This first is about joining the army.

Join the army


  1. both from 王曲, the official journal of Hu’s #7 military school outside Xian []


Taiwan gained and lost

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 10:54 pm

Japan (ahem) Focus has a great excerpt from MIT’s Emma J. Teng’s Taiwan’s Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing, 1683–1895 up this week. To be fair, there is a Japan connection towards the end

In 1895, only a short time after Taiwan had become an official province of China, the Qing were forced by their defeat in the Sino-Japanese war to cede the island to Japan. The reaction of Chinese elites to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki demonstrates how far Chinese ideas about Taiwan had come since annexation. Officials and students in China vigorously protested the Treaty, signing declarations condemning what they called the “selling of national territory,” and the “severing of the nation.” Whereas Chinese officials two centuries earlier had protested the annexation of Taiwan as a waste of money, these protesters now declared that Taiwan should not be sold for any price. Pessimists predicted that once this piece of China was lost, the rest would soon fall like dominoes to imperial aggressors.

I’m going to be teaching the Qing portion of the China sequence next semester, so this is currently of great interest to me. I heard a great talk on Korean Buddhist travel literature at ASPAC, too: it’s a theme!


Asian History News Dump, March 2007

This is a “dump”: all the Asia related stuff I’ve saved over the last…. two months? Anyway, nobody else has blogged about it, so I thought I’d toss it out there. I hope to resume more … measured blogging soon.
[Crossposted at all three Frog Blogs; sorry about the irrelevant stuff.]


Who lives in a Pineapple under the Sea of Japan…?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:45 pm

From Inside Asia I learn that China has created regulations to increase the number of domestic cartoons shown in China. This is a fairly standard bit of cultural protectionism, and Canada and France have done similar things. What I find interesting is Inside Asia leads with a picture of the Simpsons. This rule clearly is protectionist, but it is protecting China against Japan, not Sponge Bob. Japan is of course the world-wide cartoon king, and they are taking over the minds of Chinese children just as they are American children and Swedish children. Of course the American cartoon industry is also being damaged by Japanese competition, but there are not a lot of calls for protectionism here. I suspect that part of the reason is that Americans want to protect jobs in steel mills and stuff like that. The Chinese government seems to fairly hip to the role of animation and exporting cool in Japanese soft power. Like some of the Chinese interviewed for the article, I am not sure that protectionism will really lead to improvement in the Chinese product. What is the Chinese counterpart to Naruto? Even more to the point, will Japanese producers start making more Pan-Asian type stuff that can be accepted everywhere? Or are they doing so already?


Sino-Japanese Studies Journal Online

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:44 pm

I am happy to announce the completion of a project that I have been working on in my spare time for about a month now: the digitization of the Sino-Japanese Studies Journal. The full journal is available online and downloadable as PDFs at ChinaJapan.org:

Sino-Japanese Studies Online Journal Archive

This biannual Sino-Japanese Studies Journal was created in 1988 by Joshua A. Fogel, now Canada Research Chair in the History of Modern China at York University and the leading scholar in North America in the field of Sino-Japanese studies. In Professor Fogel’s words:

From the start, SJS was conceived as a journal devoted to studies of China and Japan together, irrespective of discipline or time period. For many that would take the form of comparative Sino-Japanese research, while for others that meant actual Sino-Japanese interactions. Everyone involved has been committed to fostering this sub-field which at once covers both the China and the Japan fields while, at the same time, examines where these two meet.

It includes articles and translations in a range of fields: literature, history, contemporary politics, art history, etc. Its last (temporarily we hope) issue came out in 2003.

In 2004 Professor Fogel agreed to my proposal that we put the whole run of this journal, which had articles by many leading scholars but a limited circulation, online as PDFs with full Open Access. He approved, but there was a long delay when I realized that issues with the various formats of the available journal files meant that most of the journal would need to be scanned. I finally returned to this project in February, and finished the scanning and processing of the documents this week.

The PDFs were OCRed (text recognition) but the accuracy was only moderate. I did not go through and fix all of the OCR errors and the OCR engine was English only. However, using Adobe Acrobat, or through Google, the majority of the roman character contents of the journal issues can be searched.

I hope that the availability of this journal online will get much greater exposure for many of these articles. Even a number of current hot button topics, such as the Nanjing massacre (See articles by David Askew and Yang Daqing via the author index) and Japanese gas warfare and drug trafficking in China (See Andrew Markus and Bob Tadashi Wakabashi’s articles, for example) are addressed in numerous articles.

There are a lot of articles on intellectual history, on Edo period relations between China and Japan, reviews of historical works by Japanese and Chinese scholars, and other interesting pieces such as Fogel’s discussion of Japanese terms for China, Wixted’s discussion of reverse Orientalism or Zhao Jing’s discussion of Japan’s Communist Party reaction to the Tiananmen incident.


Some China News

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:24 am

The 11th Asian History Carnival is up, and the next host will be this blog’s own Alan Baumler!

In spite of new evidence regarding Japanese war crimes, a Japanese director is planning a Nanjing Massacre Denial production (is there anything more tiresome than the prospect of a widely announced documentary project produced by a hard-core partisan on a subject the results of which are known in advance and easily rebuttable?) in response to the widely acclaimed pro-fact documentary. Naturally, China is disturbed. This comes in the midst of remarkably ambitious attempts to reach common understanding, though with caveats. It’s important work, though.

Jonathan Clements, author of a biography of Tang-era Empress Wu, is interviewed by the BBC

Taiwanese textbooks refer to China as “China” instead of as “our country” and the National Museum edits its charter: mainland China objects, Taiwanese politicians stand fast.

Barefoot Teachers lose licenses, or at least the right to educate without them. It’s a byproduct of the professionalization of labor in China, the abandonment of the Maoist idea that expertise is a function of will rather than of training. As the article notes, by this time these “barefoot” teachers are seasoned veterans, and many of them are testing into licensure with no problems; some, though are refusing to test, or failing for reasons that have nothing to do with their knowledge or skill bases, or refusing to bribe the right people….

The average age of a Chinese woman at her first marriage has risen by two years in the last fifteen, and that delayed family life is likely to play a role in China’s demographic transition. Sex before marriage is becoming more popular, though, so they’re not missing out, exactly….

The Times Online review of the Dreyer book on Zheng He by Jonathan Mirsky is worth it just for the description of Menzies’ theory: “The most recent theory, masquerading as fact, is the fantasy, disputed by all authorities….” There’s an intriguing emphasis on the Zheng He expeditions as military ventures, and successful ones.

Ross Terrill’s article on Mao Zedong is one in the ongoing series of attempts to cast Mao in something like a consistent light, this time as a freedom-loving youth whose ideas were turned by circumstance, institutional demands and ideology into something “half modern Führer and half ancient Chinese­sage-king.” He is also trying to link China today with the legacies of Mao, casting the last thirty years as a sort of — though he’d never think of using the phrase — incomplete bourgeoise revolution. Mao’s transition to demi-god status — in cultural, not political terms — is incomprehensible to him, and seems deeply troubling.

China’s relationship with Africa has echoes of the “third way” tradition.


The History of Sino-Japanese Relations as seen in Japan’s Most Popular Travel Guide

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:33 pm

The Globe-trotter Travel Guidebook, which is the official English name for 地球の歩き方 (Lit: The way to wander the world) is the most popular Japanese travel guide series. All around the world you can spot Japanese tourists from dozens of meters away by their bright neon yellow Chikyû no Arukikata travel books.

Among those who travel abroad, I think it is reasonable to suggest that travel guidebooks are one of the most important sources of historical information about the world that we are likely to read after the completion of our formal education along with popular fiction and media such as movies and TV. Given that fact, I think that historians might do well to consider the importance of travel guidebooks (and I mean those of our own time, since the travel guides of past ages have gotten the ample and well deserved attention of scholars).

How does Japan’s most popular guidebook series, 地球の歩き方, describe China’s modern history in the 2006-2007 edition of its China volume (D01)? China is Japan’s largest and most important neighbor, but one with which it shares a deeply troubled 20th century history. This has been a major theme in most of my postings both here at Frog in a Well and on my own blog at Muninn.net. One would expect, then, that there would be certain important 20th century events which would need a minimum degree of coverage and be dealt with some degree of care by the authors.

Below I will briefly consider how the 2006-7 edition covers some of these events in : 1) Descriptions of some of the Beijing locations 2) Nanjing locations 3) Some miscellaneous other locations and most importantly 4) in its survey essay on Chinese history located at the back of the book. Read on…



No need for Clever Speech

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:49 pm
No Need

It is recorded in the Han chronicles that when Emperor Wen visited his pleasure park he went to the area called Tiger Garden. There he questioned the official in charge of the park about the various animals. The official did not respond. The caretaker beside him, however, answered in great detail. Emperor Wen instructed Zhang Shizhi [an attendent] that the caretaker was to be given administration of the gardens because of his ability. But Zhang reminded him of Zhou Bo and Zhang Xiangru, who were virtuous with words to those above them in rank. Zhang advised that if Wen accepted the clever speech of the caretaker as a virtue and raised him in rank, the world must then bow to [the vagaries of] the winds. People will compete in clever speech and truth will become unimportant. The emperor agreed and the clever caretaker was not promoted. Gerhart “Tokugawa Authority ”Monumenta Nipponica 52.1 Story from Shi ji 102




Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:38 am


From other sources:


Yellow Peril

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:38 am

I’ve been re-reading some Jack London stories of late, and being struck by the Chinese in them. There are actually a lot of Chinese, as the areas he tended to write about were all on the Pacific Rim. Usually his Chinese are inscrutable but intelligent and hard-working. There was one story in particular I remembered, and as I looked around on the web I found that it was called “THE UNPARALLELED INVASION.” According to Clarice Staz this is a story of the “invasion of the U.S. by China and combat by bacteriological warfare.”, but this is not quite accurate as a plot summary. Quite the contrary.
London begins by explaining why Western imperialism has failed to transform China.

What they had failed to take into account was this: THAT BETWEEN THEM AND CHINA WAS NO COMMON PSYCHOLOGICAL SPEECH. Their thought- processes were radically dissimilar. There was no intimate vocabulary. The Western mind penetrated the Chinese mind but a short distance when it found itself in a fathomless maze. The Chinese mind penetrated the Western mind an equally short distance when it fetched up against a blank, incomprehensible wall. It was all a matter of language. There was no way to communicate Western ideas to the Chinese mind. China remained asleep.

So how could China awaken? This is a question that would have interested lots of Chinese nationalists, but I think they would not have liked London’s answer. (more…)

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