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10/4/2010

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Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:34 pm Print

Buy Proscar Without Prescription, I had a student ask me in class, recently, about whether China, among other countries, was planning to take advantage of our coming collapse to move into a position of world domination, that they had operational plans and expected the collapse to come momentarily. Proscar pics, I responded by pointing out that most advanced nations develop contingency plans for a wide variety of possible future scenarios, so that the existence of a plan is no guarantee of it's probability, Proscar trusted pharmacy reviews. Order Proscar from United States pharmacy, Then, today, Proscar treatment, Purchase Proscar, I read about this 2006 Delaware Senate debate:

Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware said in a 2006 debate that China was plotting to take over America and claimed to have classified information about the country that she couldn't divulge.

O'Donnell's comments came as she and two other Republican candidates debated U.S, Proscar cost. After Proscar, policy on China during Delaware's 2006 Senate primary, which O'Donnell ultimately lost, Proscar from mexico.

She said China had a "carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over America" and accused one opponent of appeasement for suggesting that the two countries were economically dependent and should find a way to be allies, Buy Proscar Without Prescription. Proscar over the counter, "There's much I want to say," she said at the time, Proscar used for. Online buying Proscar hcl, "I wish I wasn't privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to."

This is four years old, now: have we seen considerable progress in the takeover of the US by China, buy Proscar from canada. Herbal Proscar, Seems to me that we've been holding steady, mostly, where can i order Proscar without prescription. Proscar pictures, My immediate thought is that a US economic/political collapse would leave China in a strong short-term position, but an extremely weak long-term one, Proscar price, coupon, Order Proscar no prescription, given the interdependence of our economies and technology sectors. But I'm not privy to classified information, Proscar price. My Proscar experience. Online Proscar without a prescription. Proscar dangers. Purchase Proscar online. Is Proscar safe. Australia, uk, us, usa. Proscar schedule. Buy generic Proscar. Proscar brand name. Effects of Proscar. Proscar overnight. Proscar canada, mexico, india. Comprar en línea Proscar, comprar Proscar baratos. Real brand Proscar online. Online buy Proscar without a prescription. Buy Proscar from mexico. Proscar from canadian pharmacy. Discount Proscar. Kjøpe Proscar på nett, köpa Proscar online. Buy cheap Proscar. Order Proscar from mexican pharmacy. Buying Proscar online over the counter.

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7/17/2010

Buy Synthroid Without Prescription

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 12:34 pm Print

Over at the invaluable Danwei Buy Synthroid Without Prescription, ,  Julian Smisek's "Hu Shi, missionaries, and women's rights" (July 15, 2010) does a valuable service in translating Hu's 1930 essay, "Congratulations to the YWCA,"  which pays tribute to Christian missionaries for helping Chinese women. Synthroid steet value, Hu, a Columbia University PhD, cheap Synthroid, Order Synthroid no prescription, won a poll in the early 1920s as the most admired "returned student" in China. But his surprising words of praise for the YWCA need to be balanced against his views on Christianity's future in China, kjøpe Synthroid på nett, köpa Synthroid online. Synthroid price, He elsewhere disdained the run of Christian missionaries as uneducated and narrow. They came to China because they could live well for little money, Synthroid long term, Synthroid online cod, he said, and mission boards were far less careful in selecting China missionaries than Standard Oil was in selecting China salesmen and executives, no prescription Synthroid online.

Hu's "China and Christianity" was the lead piece in the July 1927 issue of the North American journal, The Forum, Buy Synthroid Without Prescription. Synthroid cost, That year saw Chiang Kai-shek purge the Communists and Mao Zedong take to the countryside, setting off a generation of civil war, where can i buy cheapest Synthroid online, Purchase Synthroid online no prescription, but the editor introduces Hu as "the leader of an intellectual movement that is permeating the youth of China and is interested chiefly in the things of the mind." Like the "ancient sages of the East," Hu "stands outside the current political conflict."

Here's the editorial in its entirety:

The future of Christianity in China is a question which should be considered apart from the question of the past services rendered to China by the Christian missionaries, buy Synthroid online cod. Synthroid reviews, The part played by the missionaries in the modernization of China will long be remembered by the Chinese, even though no Christian church may be left there, discount Synthroid. Low dose Synthroid, They were the pioneers of the new China. They helped the Chinese to fight for the suppression of opium which the pirate-traders brought to us, Synthroid street price. Buy Synthroid Without Prescription, They agitated against footbinding, which eight centuries of esoteric philosophizing in native China failed to recognize as an inhuman institution. Synthroid dose, And they brought to us the first rudiments of European science. The early Jesuits gave us the pre-Newtonian astronomy, generic Synthroid, Ordering Synthroid online, and the later Protestant missionaries introduced modern hospitals and schools. They taught us to know that there was a new world and a new civilization behind the pirate-traders and gunboats.

Many of the Protestant missionaries worked hard to awaken China and bring about a modern nation, after Synthroid. Buy Synthroid from canada, China is now awakened and determined to modernize herself. There is not the slightest doubt that a new and modem China is emerging out of chaos, Buy Synthroid Without Prescription. But this new China does not seem to promise much bright future to the propagation of the Christian faith, Synthroid natural. Synthroid dosage, On the contrary, Christianity is facing opposition everywhere, buy no prescription Synthroid online. Synthroid overnight, The dream of a “Christian occupation of China” seems to be fast vanishing, – probably forever, Synthroid alternatives. Synthroid over the counter, And the explanation is not far to seek.

It is true that there is much cheap argument in the narrow nationalistic attack which sees in the Christian missionary an agent of imperialist aggression. Buy Synthroid Without Prescription, But we must realize that it is nationalism, – the self-consciousness of a nation with no mean cultural past,– that once killed Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manicheism in China. It is the same nationalism which four times persecuted Buddhism and finally killed it after over a thousand years of complete Buddhistic conquest of China, Synthroid photos. Australia, uk, us, usa, And it is the same national consciousness which is now resisting the essentially alien religion of Christianity.

And more formidable than nationalism, there is the rise of rationalism, online buy Synthroid without a prescription. Is Synthroid addictive, We must not forget that Chinese philosophy began two thousand five hundred years ago with Lao Tse who taught a naturalistic conception of the universe end a Confucius who was frankly an agnostic. This rationalistic and humanistic tradition has always played the part of a liberator in every age when the nation seemed to be under the influence of a superstitious or fanatic religion, Synthroid from canada. This cultural background of indigenous China is now revived with the new reinforcement of the methods and conclusions of modern science and becomes a truly formidable safeguard of the intellectual class against the imposition of any religious system whose fundamental dogmas, despite all efforts of its apologists, do not always stand the test of reason and science.

And after all, Christianity itself is fighting its last battle, even in the so-called Christendoms, Buy Synthroid Without Prescription. Buy generic Synthroid, To us born heathens, it is a strange sight indeed to see Billy Sunday and Aimée McPherson hailed and patronized in an age whose acknowledge prophets are Darwin and Pasteur, Synthroid interactions. Synthroid treatment, The religion of Elmer Gantry and Sharon Falconer must sooner or later make all thinking people feel ashamed to call themselves “Christians”. And then they will realize that Young China was not far wrong in offering some opposition to a religion which in its glorious days fought religious wars and persecuted science, purchase Synthroid online, Synthroid coupon, and which, in the broad daylight of the twentieth century prayed for the victory of the belligerent nations in the World War and is still persecuting the teaching of science in certain quarters of Christendom.

It's impressive both that The Forum published a critical piece from an intellectual in China and that Hu kept up with the latest stateside scandals and the novels of Sinclair Lewis, canada, mexico, india. Where can i buy Synthroid online, At a time when anti-imperialist tempers ran high, Hu coolly uses cosmopolitan liberal standards which stand above particular nations, Synthroid no rx. His criteria apply to China and the US as well. But perhaps Hu should have known better than to think that rationality could combine with nationalism to save China.

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3/28/2010

Premarin For Sale

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1/30/2009

A sinologist in Iraq

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:32 am Print

Graham Peck's Two Kinds of Time has been re-issued. This is good news for everyone, and especially for those of us who got a copy for Christmas. (Thanks Sis!) For a number of years all that one was likely to find even in used bookstores was the Sentry edition (1967), which re-printed only the first half of the book. The two parts of the book are the same in that they are both the stories and pictures of Peck's wanderings in Western China during the War of Resistance. The first volume ends on December 10th, 1941, when a group of local officials come to visit him. Peck has been fairly contemptuous of Kuomintang officials throughout the book, since he regards most of them as corrupt feudal remnants with at best a thin layer of modern jargon spread over them. They in turn are convinced he must be some sort of crypto-Communist. On this occasion however they are happy to inform him that 500 American planes have bombed Tokyo and that they are now allies.

Peck1

The illustrations are one of the joys of the book. Peck himself said in the introduction to the 1967 half-edition that this was a good place to split the book, and he seems to be right. The first half is about the decrepit nature of the Nationalist system and Peck has a nice eye for the contradictions of China's attempts to modernize and the absurdities of Western attempts to help the process along.

After America enters the war, however, Peck will start working for the OWI and the book is about America's first great attempt to remake a foreign country. This is one of the things that I think makes the second part pretty topical, given that Americans are still in the middle (well, the end of the middle) of an attempt to re-make a large Asian nation. Peck is deeply critical of the American government's decision to bind themselves hand and foot to whatever Chiang Kai-shek's government wanted to do, and to our general and  continuing ignorance about China.  ((After all, soon China will be just like Kansas City, so there is not much point in learning about the soon to be vanished past.)) He is a bit more charitable about American attempts to explain themselves to the Chinese.

Peck2

He also spends a lot of time talking about what might be called the American Green Zone in China, which he is much less impressed with, either in its old missionary form or its new military form.

Peck3

Peck's analysis of the geopolitical situation in China is interesting, even if I don't always agree with it. What is striking me most at present, however, are his accounts of ordinary Americans encountering "China".

Peck4

American troops were in general not interested in the Wisdom of the East, and Americans were often contemptuous of the Chinese they met. They were more than happy to uplift the Chinese, and to put a great deal of effort into doing it, but they seem to have expected the process to be easier than it turned out to be. One flyboy complained to Peck about his inability to get a date.

"At that Mayor's party last month I met four or five girls who could speak English, and they gave me their phone numbers. A couple weeks ago I came into town at noon. I was sick of those dirty squabs in the hotels, and I just wanted to take a nice girl to the best restaurant in town, buy her a dinner and talk to her, the way you would at home....I called up every one of those girls and they all gave me the run-around. I got so mad I decided if I couldn't have a good time myself, I'd give one to somebody who needed it. I picked up the worst-looking beggar I could find, and took him to a restaurant to get him just as fine a meal as I would have ordered for a girl. What d'you think happened?..The manager threw us out! Said his restaurant would lose face if it served beggars, even in a private room. After that I went right back to the airfield without any dinner. I was so fed up with the Chinese I didn't want their food." p.538

The poor American just wants to sit down and eat with a date, something he regards as entirely natural, but in China  it's not, and he can't understand why. Frustrated in his attempt he decides to help out a poor beggar and flip the bird to Chinese Culture, and finds that he can't do those either.

To some extent this ties in with many of the Chinese people Peck had been talking to. Many of them are Chinese liberals who very much wanted to turn their compatriots from peasants to modern Chinese, but are frustrated by their inability to change them or even to make contact. Many of the them just give up.  Probably the best example is a Chinese woman he meets who is in charge of a local adult-education effort and, being a graduate of the LSE, impresses Peck with her detailed plans and multi-colored charts, but has been forced to close down all the schools because "the peasants were much too ignorant. "

Giving up is not always an option for the Chinese, of course, but the Americans always had the option of heading back to the airbase for the duration and then trying to forget China as rapidly as possible once they got home. The pattern of wild enthusiasm for re-making the world, followed by confusion, followed by wanting to forget the whole thing seems to be an American standard. Peck's book is in some ways not an ideal guide to China in the 1940's, but it is an excellent guide to the eternal and unchanging nature of the Americans.

1/13/2009

Liveblogging the Boxers

Military historian David Silbey is going to be blogging through the Boxer Uprising as seen through the New York Times. Though this is a little more of a distant view than Brett Holman's Sudenten Crisis, I'm really looking forward to it. I've used Paul Cohen's History in Three Keys and read a few other things that touch on the Boxers, but the one perspective I've never really mastered is the Western one. And the Boxer Uprising was a critical one for the image of China in the 20th century, one of the few events in Chinese history about which people know something. The first post in the series just went up; if you fall behind, you can survey all of Silbey's posts here.

12/12/2008

Great Expectorations: Puke, Spitting, and Face

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 7:20 pm Print
What's the difference between puking and spitting? Is one involuntary and the other on purpose? Joel, at China Hope Live reports that maybe you see the difference differently if you're Chinese or if you're not. His nicely argued piece,  Thinking Behind the Spitting takes off from an interchange between a Chinese language teacher and a class of North American students. The teacher explained:  " means both 'to spit' and 'to vomit,' but if you change the tone — — you can say 'to spit' with a third meaning: spitting to show your contempt for someone." The big distinction in her mind was voluntary vs. involuntary actions. Spitting is involuntary. She was quite taken aback when her students explained that in their little culture, people controlled their spitting -- what did they do, she asked, swallow it? Spitting goes way back in the cross cultural dialogue. I recall hearing a friend of my parents retailing what I later found was a classic 19th century story:

An American to Chinese: "I hear that in your country you eat dogs."

Chinese to an American: "I hear that in your country you blow your nose on a piece of cloth and put it in your pocket."

Responsible authorities in China have long worried about losing "face" in front of the world community. In the 1930s the Nationalist government's New Life Movement aimed, among other goals, to eliminate public spitting. Evidently they didn't succeed in wiping out the habit as the following governments had a series of campaigns right down to the Olympics. Yet every meeting room that I went into in China had a large spittoon and people used them. Someone should have warned the Chinese 1970s factory that made decks of playing cards intended for Americans to use in playing "poker." They labeled the package with two pinyin syllables that most closely represented the Chinese pronunciation: "Puke." I wish that I had known about China Hope Live when I wrote my piece  "The Truth About Lies," a review of Arthur Smith's Chinese Characteristics and Susan Blum's Lies That Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths which looked at "face" and "lies." Joel has a bunch of insightful pieces, for instance "Chinese People Like it When You Lie to Them." Another sharp piece talks about Chinese national face and the Olympics, which includes a genial definition of "face" from Lin Yutang's My Country and My People:

Face cannot be translated or defined. It is like honor and is not honor.... It is amenable, not to reason but to social convention. It protracts lawsuits, breaks up family fortunes, causes murders and suicides....  It is more powerful than fate or favor, and more respected than the constitution. It often decides a military victory or defeat, and can demolish a whole government ministry. It is that hollow thing which men in China live by. (195-196)

Shakespeare's Falstaff asks "What is honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what is that honour? air." Who's right? I'm not too worried, but maybe I'm too phlegmatic,

8/28/2008

Lies, Damn Lies, and Chinese “Lies That Bind”

Do Chinese lie?

The Western media have jumped on recent revelations about doctoring the Olympic opening ceremonies and allegations about false ages of their gymnasts, and the recent book The Empire of Lies: The Truth about China in the 21st Century argues that the West is being too soft on China.

On the other hand, John Pomfret asks “Should We Give China a Break?” He refers us to Tim Wu of Columbia University, who asks “Are the Media Being Too Mean to China?” Chinese hosts expect guests to honor their hard work, Wu explains, but Western journalists see their jobs as ferreting out the “real” China, which to them is “the dirt, not the rug it was swept under.” Wu adds that it's “the dishonesty, as much as the substance of what's wrong in China, that seems to get under the skin of Western reporters.”

The major factor is that China still feels defensive after two centuries of national humiliation, and, as in any besieged country (the United States in World War II, for example), citizens give the government a pass on regrettable transgressions. It’s all in a good cause.

Jeff Wasserstrom at China Beat sees a “Great Convergence” in which we have made great progress in discussing Chinese behavior in the same terms we talk about our own, and adds that as for “populations that accept lies, while it would be foolish to suggest any kind of complete moral equivalency, this is another case of people in glass houses being careful about throwing stones.”

In much of the mainstream media, I still smell old Western prejudices, which makes me think it’s worth while to look back. After all, Shakespeare used “Cathayan” when he wanted to say “liar” and even today newcomers to China are warned that Chinese concern with “face” leads to evasions and cover-ups, and that guanxi – “relations” or “connections” – opens the back door. [1]

More than a century ago, the American missionary Arthur Smith’s Chinese Characteristics (1894; reprinted, with a Preface by Lydia Liu: EastBridge, 2003) explained the China difference using pungent terms echoed by Americans who live there today: “talent for indirection,” “disregard” for accuracy and time, “absence of sincerity,” and “contempt for foreigners.” Smith would not assert there was “no honesty in China,” only that “so far as our experience and observation go, it is literally impossible to be sure of finding it anywhere.” It’s easy to cherry pick outrageous quotes but the book wrestled with a genuine question: why do Chinese and Americans behave differently?

“Face” is Smith’s first chapter. Face provides “not the execution of even handed justice” but “such an arrangement as will distribute to all concerned ‘face’ in due proportions.” Truth was less important than harmony. Smith asserts that “any Chinese regards himself as an actor in a drama,” so “the question is never of facts but always of form.” Face seems to mean “mask”: only if you strip it off do you uncover the truth. He was perhaps the first to explain Chinese behavior by the circumstance of living in a closely knit society and being dependent on harmonious mutual relations, but his mistake was to take America as the norm and to look for “absence” or “disregard” of what were actually parochial American middle class ideals.

The most cogent successor to Chinese Characteristics was Francis Hsu’s Americans and Chinese: Passages to Difference , first published in 1948 (University of Hawaii, 3rd ed. 1981). Hsu was born in China and came to the U.S. after the war. His book, just as acerbic about America as Smith was about China, contrasted his remembered China with the complacent, materialist America where his daughters grew up. Because the Chinese “situation oriented” approach was group defined, polytheistic, and realistic it was more mature than the American illusion of an autonomous individual based in Romantic ideals, monotheism, and expectations of endless plenty.

Recently Susan D. Blum’s charming and thoughtful Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) took up the challenge left by Smith and Hsu to study the rules, expectations and beliefs regarding lying and honesty not only in China but everywhere. Blum and Hsu both explain anthropological theory through breezy stories of everyday life (and both talk about their daughters), but Blum’s starting point is Michel Foucault’s post-modern assumption that every society has its own “regime of truth.” This is akin to Richard Rorty’s provocative statement that truth is “what your contemporaries let you get away with.” (Rorty quickly adds that serious people care not only about producing agreement but also about justifying their methods for producing agreement.) [2]

Blum catalogues the reasons we lie: profit, comfort, flattery, clever management, spin, polite convention, tactful greasing of squeaky social wheels, and sometimes just for the fun of it. Plagiarism is a lie about authorship, but Blum elsewhere adds that the “value of cross-cultural and historic examples is that they point out the constructed nature of our familiar expectations.” That doesn't mean we should abandon them, but we might hesitate to call plagiarism “sinful” for our values “are certainly not universal.” [3]

We can add a few more lies: Macbeth, like many in Shakespeare’s plays , distrusts what his eyes tell him and calls his visions “lies like truth” (Othello comes to grief by trusting “ocular proof”). A geographer says “a map is a lie.” [4] Bullshit is sheer indifference to truth. [5] And then there is Huck Finn’s wonderful term, “stretchers.”

If truth is what our society lets us get away with and lies come in so many varieties, we need to ask why do Chinese act the way they do. Blum groups the contradictory explanations:

● Chinese culture (Arthur Smith’s “Chinese Characteristics”). That is, Chinese behave the way they do because they’re Chinese.

● Modernity in the form of Communism; authoritarian rule shapes behavior.

● Modernity in the form of post-Communism; free for all Capitalism shapes behavior.

Chinese situations change. Take your pick.

Unlike Smith, Blum does not take American values as the reference point, but she agrees with Hsu that because they live in closer and longer lived groups, Chinese are more focused on the social consequences of a statement than its literal truth.

Are all lies bad?

Chinese and Americans agree that rearranging the truth to make others happy is different from lying to cheat them. I love my birthday necktie and don’t add that I already have one exactly like it. Should you tell social or political lies because your children would pay if you say what you think? In China, the costs are higher and more certain than in mobile societies where authorities control fewer resources and neighbors more likely to move on. Should doctors tell patients that they are dying? Chinese are more likely to say no.

Blum sees differences which go way back. Aristotle and St. Augustine exalted Platonic Truth which transcended time and place, but Confucius sought to explain right action as relative to the situation. If your father steals a sheep, do not turn him in: The result would be wrong. When Chinese today, especially urbanites, brag of their cleverness they echo the Daoist generals who used tricks and strategy to get maximum effect for minimum effort For a Chinese court painter to copy a landscape stroke for stroke was not deception or “forgery.” If the result was beautiful and it pleased the emperor, it was beautiful.

Philosophers will recognize this not so much a debate between East and West as between the deontological commitment to truth at any cost vs consequentialism. In ancient China the poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in the river when the ruler was deaf to his advice and the historian Sima Qian accepted physical castration to avoid castration of his political views. Like establishment intellectuals in Mao’s China, they spoke truth to power but did not rebel or challenge its legitimacy.

Likewise, the scholarly painters in China were centuries ahead of the Romantics in 18th century Europe in condemning academic painting as not authentic since artistic truth was individual, spontaneous, and could not be copied. Rock ‘n Roll says this in simpler words and at higher decibels: “I need to be me,” “I can’t live a lie.” Americans often say that government should help individuals -- “be all you can be” -- Chinese that individual should help the government build a Greater China.

Hsu points out that these differences cut two ways. To be “free” or “independent” can also be “irresponsible,” “lonely,” or “selfish.” What Chinese call “harmony” can be “conformity” or “repression.” American “straight talk” can be childish, reckless, or self-righteous, and Chinese “sweet talk” can cover up realities until they fester.

Chinese regimes evoke both the iron hand of repression and the velvet glove of Confucian harmony; Americans talk the individualism game but have conformity and wartime group think as well.

So:

1. Yes, Chinese do lie.

2. No more than anybody else.

3. For the same reasons.

4. They are in a different situation.

Which explanation do we chose for which action? Are the Chinese authorities behaving like good hosts, lying dictators, or just like most authorities would behave in the same situation?

*******


[1] Harvard Business Review on Doing Business in China (Harvard Business School, 2004) has many references to guo qing, translated as “Chinese characteristics.” (p. 123). Josh Gartner’s blog “China Expat” has a sensible piece, “The Great Chinese Myth: Guanxi.” Academic studies include Thomas B. Gold, Doug Guthrie David L. Wank, eds., Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture, and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Andrew B. Kipnis, Producing Guanxi: Sentiment, Self, and Subculture in a North China Village (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

[2] Jim Holt, “Say Anything,” New Yorker, August 22, 2005

[3] See Blum’s piece on H-ASIA December 7, 2007

[4] Mark S. Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd, 1996).

[5] Laura Penny, Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005); Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).

4/15/2008

Review of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:13 pm Print
I just found the wonderful open access journal Museum Anthropology Review. There are a few reviews available there that will be of interest to Frog readers. See for example this review of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. It looks like the museum raises some interesting questions about the material objects on display, for example:
As you begin a clockwise tour of the room, the introduction on the wall asks, “When Does an Object Become an Artifact?,” beginning a passage that is unfortunately obscured by the very artifacts that it goes on to describe. For those who succeed in reading between the legs of a wooden stool, however, a series of questions challenge their understanding of everyday objects: “Why are certain objects selected and labeled as meaningful? What do the objects say about their owners, their abandoners, their salvagers? Do they merely fulfill a useful function or do they also contain our longings, our identities, our imagination?” These rhetorical questions linger in viewers’ minds as they begin their round.

3/7/2008

Five Things That Didn’t Happen (But Might Have)

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 2:32 am Print

Kate Merkel-Hess at China Beat had an intriguing list last month, Five Chinese Historical Events That Don’t Get Much Attention, (2/ 11/08) which was in turn inspired by Jeremiah Jenne’s piece at Jottings From the Granite Studio about the most important Chinese historical figure most people have never heard of.

That got me to thinking – why discriminate against an event just because it didn’t happen? Very un-Daoist. So to kick things off, here are five things that didn’t happen. We don’t mean alleged “failure” to follow European models, such as the once common “failure to modernize,” but turns not taken. You’ll see that they fall into different ontological categories, since there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to things that don’t exist.

 

I. The Tay Son Re-Unification of Historic Vietnam: We talk about the “unification of China” in 221 BCE as if that decided things once and for all, but there were any number of chances for re-unification not to happen:

The Han Empire might have gone the way of the Roman. Chuck Holcombe nicely discusses this arc of history in The Genesis of East Asia 221 B.C.-A.D. 907 (Hawaii 2001). S.A.M. Adshead’s T’ang China: The Rise of the East in World History (Palgrave 2004) makes a polemical but more abstruse use of the Sui-Tang “re-foundation” and the “restoration” at the height of the Tang to discuss Andre Gunder Frank’s Re-Orient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (California 1998).

The Mongols might not have unified and preserved a territory for the Ming to take over and set a standard for the Manchus to aspire to.

The Manchus might not have unified the territory now known as “China.

Or, what if the Manchu unification had been successfully challenged? In the 1770s and 1780s, the Tay Son brothers led a great rebellion which destroyed the old regimes in the north and south of what is now Vietnam by mobilizing the populace into mass armies. The Qian Long Emperor dispatched troops to support the old regime, which had been loyal to Beijing, but in the “First Tet offensive of 1789” the Vietnamese sent them packing. Tay Son dynamic rule replaced Chinese model government with a more indigenous style. Vietnamese brag that the Quang Trung Emperor thought seriously of incorporating the south of present day China, which had been ruled by Vietnamese towards the end of the Han Dynasty. There were to be two capitals, one Hanoi, the other Guangzhou.

Well, it didn’t happen. But some Vietnamese will insist, at least in mood of patriotic optimism, that only the untimely death of the Quang Trung Emperor in 1792 deprived us of a quite different map and a different history of the following century.

What if a vigorous and competitive government had controlled Guangzhou at the time of what would not have been the Opium War?

II. American Recognition of the PRC in 1949: In 1948 it became clear that Mao’s armies would control most of China. American policy did not start from the refusal to recognize the new government, only to “wait for the dust to settle.” What if the US had recognized the PRC in 1949?

I agree that the “lost chance” theory is wishful thinking if the “chance” was to become friends. Decisive factions in Beijing and Washington each saw conflict with the other as likely if not inevitable. The Korean War put the fat in the fire.

But maintaining diplomatic relations does not mean being friends: “great nations,” Henry Kissinger reminds us, “have only interests, not friends.” Would diplomatic relations have lessened Cold War fear of China that lured the US into first Korea and then Vietnam?

Maybe.

On the other hand, the Soviets recognized Mao, gave crucial though grudging support, and had close ties. It didn’t do much good. And they were supposed to be friends, just like Liu Shaoqui and Lin Biao were supposed to be Mao’s successors. So maybe there were some advantages to the U.S. not being there. Imagine if the American Ambassador had been trapped by the Red Guards in 1966.

But taking one consideration with another, would the two countries have been better off if there had been direct representation? You have to like the odds.

III. The People’s Liberation Army Invasion of Taiwan in the spring of 1950. The PLA was poised. The American Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs of Staff had declared Taiwan outside the perimeter of defense (though it now appears that the PRC leadership did not notice).

What stopped it? Malaria among northern troops unfit for southern duty? Truman responding to the invasion of South Korea by stationing the Fifth Fleet in the Taiwan Straights? Whatever. If the PLA had taken the island it might have been hell for Democratic candidates – it was pretty bad in any case – but diplomatic relations with the PRC would have been quite different in the 1950s (see above #2).

IV. They Never Said It. Yogi Berra has a book, “I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said.” OK, this is a different category from events that didn’t happen, but a blog is show biz, not a blue book.

It’s almost too easy to list the great things people didn’t say about China, or at least that nobody can find a reliable source for. Did they not say it? You can’t prove a negative, but I like the odds.

Here’s a few:

A. Napoleon: “Behold the Chinese empire. Let it sleep, for when this dragon wakes, she will shake the world.” Any number of books use the line, ranging from Jack Belden’s China Shakes the World to Nicholas Kristoff and Cheryl WuDunn’s China Wakes, which uses the Napoleon quote on the cover.

B. “We will lift Shanghai up, ever up, until, God willing, it will be just like Kansas city (American Senator Kenneth Wherry).” (( Neither Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd ed., 1996). , p. 43 nor James C. Thomson, Jr., Peter W. Stanley and John Curtis Perry, Sentimental Imperialists: The American Experience in East Asia (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 308, give a source; T. Christopher Jespersen, American Images of China, 1931-1949 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), p 164, cites Eric Goldman, Crucial Decade and After (Knopf 1966), p. 116, which does not give a specific reference, simply “Princeton University Archives.” )) I searched the online archives of Time Magazine, the NY Times, and Washington Post for combinations of terms “Wherry,” “Shanghai,” “Kansas City,” and “uplift” to no avail. I cannot prove that Wherry did not say this or that no Senator ever said it, but I await a citation.

C. “No Dogs or Chinese (sign at the entrance to park in colonial Shanghai).” Robert Bickers and Jeff Wasserstrom have demonstrated that there was no sign with these words, though the results may have been the same as if there had been. (( Robert Bickers Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, "Shanghai's 'Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted' Sign," China Quarterly 142 (1995): 444-466. ))

D. And the all time favorite, “May you live in interesting times. (Old Chinese Proverb).” The Wikipedia article summarizes and supplement the research conducted by Stephen deLong, “Get a(n interesting) Life!, which traces usage to a 1950 story in Astounding Science Fiction, now supplemented with a possible use as early as 1936 by an Englishman to a friend about to leave for China.

V. Zheng He’s Eighth Voyage. This is tricky. Old Zheng, in spite of possibly singing soprano, was one of the great explorers of all time and his seven voyages from 1405- 1433 one of the great feats. Nonetheless, Gavin Menzies 1421 hypothesis is empty, so to dismiss his claim that Zheng discovered the New World does not produce a legitimate “thing that didn’t happen.”

But Zheng He’s eighth voyage didn’t happen, which is remarkable. Edward Dreyer’s Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433 (2006) (( Sadly, Ed recently passed away, but left us a great deal of solid and useful scholarship. )) is readable and sound. He quite rightly doesn’t talk about what China “failed” to do but he does share some ideas about why they didn’t keep on exploring. If the Chinese had maintained their great armadas, “Vasco da Gama and his successors would have found a powerful navy in control of the Indian Ocean.”

***************

“Wu Wei”? “Do nothing and nothing will be undone”? No way? Somebody said recently “just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean I can’t remember it.”

What if these “things that didn’t happen” had happened? Would things had been different? Well, as they used to say down on the farm, “If!? If my foot was your grandmother, would you kiss the old lady?” (( Only in the original, the part of the anatomy wasn't "foot." ))

NOTES

1/17/2008

Fortune Cookie History

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:48 am Print
A grad student from Kanagawa University may have cracked the great riddle of Asian cuisine: the origin of the Fortune Cookie! As the NY Times reports, the original fortune cookies may have been produced by Kyoto-area confectioners in the late 1800s. (( I'm immediately reminded of the rickshaw, which everyone associates with China but which was actually invented as the jinrikisha in Japan at the opening of the Meiji era. There is evidence in the Times article going back to the early 1800s, though. )) The practice -- and the distinctive iron grills used to make the sembei crackers, which are part of the historical puzzle -- spread to Japanese-owned Chop Suey houses in San Francisco. (( Japanese in North America were much more likely to be from Kansai than Japanese in Hawai'i )) From there, Chinese-owned restaurants began to offer them, and Chinese-owned bakeries supplied them. Then came WWII, which changed everything.
Ms. Nakamachi is still unsure how exactly fortune cookies made the jump to Chinese restaurants. But during the 1920s and 1930s, many Japanese immigrants in California owned chop suey restaurants, which served Americanized Chinese cuisine. The Umeya bakery distributed fortune cookies to well over 100 such restaurants in southern and central California. ... Early on, Chinese-owned restaurants discovered the cookies, too. Ms. Nakamachi speculates that Chinese-owned manufacturers began to take over fortune cookie production during World War II, when Japanese bakeries all over the West Coast closed as Japanese-Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Mr. Wong pointed out: “The Japanese may have invented the fortune cookie. But the Chinese people really explored the potential of the fortune cookie. It’s Chinese-American culture. It only happens here, not in China.”
The war also served to popularize the fortune cookie
they were encountered by military personnel on the way back from the Pacific Theater. When these veterans returned home, they would ask their local Chinese restaurants why they didn’t serve fortune cookies as the San Francisco restaurants did. The cookies rapidly spread across the country. By the late 1950s, an estimated 250 million fortune cookies were being produced each year by dozens of small Chinese bakeries and fortune cookie companies. One of the larger outfits was Lotus Fortune in San Francisco, whose founder, Edward Louie, invented an automatic fortune cookie machine. By 1960, fortune cookies had become such a mainstay of American culture that they were used in two presidential campaigns: Adlai Stevenson’s and Stuart Symington’s.
It's such an American tale. It's all there: entrepreneurship, food, racism, migration, war, marketing, invention, industrialization and orientalism. (( Also the obsession with national origins, Japanese-Chinese competition, the value of open archives, the historiography of food culture and the power of media to shape a historical finding. )) I can't wait to tell my students. (Crossposted, of course)

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