Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

Archive for March, 2009

Nails Has Two Good Points

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, March 5, 2009

It’s March 5th again, so remember to Wash Your Socks!

In memory of the great, diligent, and infinitely wise Lei Feng, here is his most famous saying,
reproduced for the benefit of the People in full Commiechrome© Colour:

Wash Your Socks!

“Nails has two good points. One is it knows how to push in,
the other is it knows how to dig in.
We should learn from the nails’ spirit when we are studying.”

-Lei Feng, Great Chinese Philosopher.

Posted in Festivals et al, Propaganda | 3 Comments »

Christie’s To Auction Falling Cow!

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, March 2, 2009

ChinaDaily, the propaganda mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, had this to say recently:

China fights to stop sale of looted relics.

China Tuesday demanded the auction of two looted historic bronze sculptures in Paris be canceled, saying it broke international conventions.

The auction seriously violates the country’s cultural rights and interests, and hurts national sentiment, it said.

A Paris court on Monday ruled against stopping the sale of the sculptures, rejecting an appeal filed by the Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe.

The heads were taken from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace when it was razed by invading French and British forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War.

“The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) has formally informed the auctioneer of our strong opposition to the auction, and clearly demanded its cancellation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a news conference.

“The Western powers have plundered a great amount of Chinese cultural relics including many precious items robbed from the Old Summer Palace. All these should be returned to China,” Ma said.

Potent stuff and, I’m sure you’ll agree, well worth further consideration. So here at MyLaowai HQ, we went to work finding out what all this hullabaloo is all about…

The Qing Dynasty. The Qing Dynasty (or Manchu) ruled China from 1644 to 1912, but the really interesting thing is that they weren’t Chinese. The Qing were in fact Russians (specifically, descended from Jurchens, a Tungusic people who lived around the region now comprising the Russian province of Primorsky Krai). They didn’t like the Chinese, they didn’t trust the Chinese, and they most certainly didn’t see themselves as being even remotely related to the Chinese, who were after all nothing more than chattel in the eyes of the ruling Manchu. They famously forced all Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue, on pain of death. To the Manchu, this policy was a test of loyalty and an aid in telling friend from foe. For the Han Chinese, however, it was a “humiliating act of degradation” that went against their traditional Confucian values. The order was so deeply unpopular that it triggered strong resistance to Qing rule until at least the late 1640s. Hundreds of thousands were killed before all of China was brought into compliance. As a result of this ‘Queue Order’, to this day the Chinese hold a deep aversion to queues of any kind.

The Opium Wars. In 1793, the Emperor of China stated to the British Ambassador that China had no use for European manufactured products, and that as a consequence, Chinese merchants would only accept bar silver as payment for their goods. The British and French governments eventually sought alternative payment options, one of which was opium. The Chinese Government, which held a monopoly over the growing, production, refining, distribution, and export of this profitable drug, responded by banning foreigners from the Opium Trade altogether, and seizing or destroying stocks of opium held by foreign traders.. This led to a bit of a scrap (later referred to as the First Opium War) between the East India Company and the Chinese Government, which was resolved when the Chinese Government agreed to play fair and by international rules, and signed the Treaty of Nanjing. This is generally regarded as signalling the end of China’s isolation.

The Second Opium War came about as a result of international demands that China open it’s markets to foreign merchants, exempt foreign imports from illegal ‘internal transit duties’, stop acts of piracy, regulate the coolie trade, and give permission for foreign ambassadors to reside in Beijing. The Chinese Government completely rejected all such demands, and furthermore refused to honour the terms of the Treaty of Nanjing that it had signed. That was followed by an attempt to poison the entire European population of Hong Kong. However, local bakers, who had been charged with lacing bread with arsenic, bungled the attempt by putting an excess of the poison into the dough, in sufficient quantities to be detected. Criers were sent out with an alert, averting disaster. Enough was enough, and the international community responded by telling the Chinese to play fair and by the rules, or else face the consequences. All parties then signed the Tianjin Treaty, which essentially granted permission for foreigners to travel in China, and forced the Chinese Government to pay compensation to British merchants for the illegal destruction of their property. The Chinese, predictably, did not honour the terms of the Treaty they had just signed, and insisted the British meet for ‘peace talks’. When the British sent an envoy to these ‘peace talks’, he and his entire entourage were arrested and tortured, with some brutally murdered. The international community discussed the destruction of the Forbidden City in order to discourage the Chinese from using kidnapping as a bargaining tool, and to exact justice for the mistreatment of their hostages. The final decision was further motivated by the torture and murder of almost twenty Western prisoners, including two British envoys and a journalist for The Times. The Russian envoy Count Ignatiev and the French diplomat Baron Gros settled on the burning of the Summer Palaces instead, since it was “least objectionable” and would not jeopardize the treaty.

The ‘Looting’ Of The Old Summer Palace. There are a number of competing theories one must consider here. They are:
The “I was sold these goods by Chinese officials” Theory.
The “This stuff was stolen by Chinese citizens and later sold to foreigners” Theory.
The “All foreigners are to blame for everything, always” Theory.
Personally, I tend to subscribe to a combination of the first two of these Theories, based on the testimony of my Great Great [etc] Grandfather, Captain Angus MacLaowai of the Royal Engineers. He was actually there at the time and his will made note of the fact that the items from the Old Summer Palace he left to his family (and which I today possess), were legally purchased from Wang Xiansheng, a Chinese trader in Beijing. I’ll be damned if I give back something that was legally purchased, just because a Chinese trader stole them in the first place.

Putting It All Together. So, the original makers of the items in question were not Chinese to begin with, but Manchu. The war in question was fully justified and was in fact caused by the Chinese Government not keeping it’s word. And the items themselves were not stolen or looted, but were in fact legally purchased in good faith by innocent foreigners. Christie’s auction of the rat and rabbit bronzes did not break any international agreements and the pieces’ legal ownership has been “clearly confirmed.” It all seems pretty clear to me.

What China Didn’t Mention. There’s something curiously missing from the ‘fire and brimstone’ reporting from ChinaDaily, and that is the fact that the current legal owner of the bronze heads offered to give them to the Chinese Government, free of charge. That’s right folks: Pierre Berge (partner of designer Yves Saint Laurent) offered to return the pieces to China in return for a pledge to improve human rights. That’s it, just a little promise to start behaving responsibly and treat their own people a little bit better. The Chinese foreign ministry dismissed his offer as “just ridiculous.” The Chinese Government went on to say that it demanded the statues’ return, but the French government said it received no official request from Beijing, and the sale went ahead. Berge is offering the proceeds to fight AIDS, while the Beijing-based Global Times is accusing France of “hurting China’s feelings”, as usual.

A Late Twist. A Chinese man said Monday he was the mystery collector behind winning bids for two imperial bronzes auctioned at Christie’s over Beijing’s objections, and that he made bogus offers to protest any sale of the looted relics.

Auction house owner Cai Mingchao said he made the $36 million in bids for the bronze rat and rabbit heads by telephone last week when the pieces were auctioned in Paris as part of a collection owned by the late French designer Yves Saint Laurent.

“What I need to stress is that this money cannot be paid,” Cai told a news conference in Beijing. “At the time, I was thinking that any Chinese would do this if they could…”.

Cai, an art collector and expert on relics, is the owner of Xinheart, an auction company in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen.

And Now, Another Auction. As the current legal owner of a number of items that originated from the Old Summer Palace at the time the Chinese were taught their lesson, I am well within my rights to dispose of the goods in any manner I see fit. I am offering one of these priceless family heirlooms to the New Beijing Museum, free of charge, in exchange for a pledge by the Chinese Government to improve human rights. The piece in question is a bronze that the MyLaowai Family refer to as the Falling Cow.

The ball’s in your court now, chaps.

Falling Cow Auction. Bidding Starts Soon.

Posted in China, Falling Cow Zone, Human Rights, Lies & Damned Lies, Wang Xiansheng | 9 Comments »

It’s [Adjective] Monday!

Posted by MyLaowai on Monday, March 2, 2009

Today’s adjective is:


1. Given to doing nothing; idle.

Pronunciation: fey-nee-uhnt; Fr. fe-ney-ahn

Origin: 1610–20; < F, earlier fait-nient, lit., he does nothing, pseudo-etymological alter. of OF faignant idler, n. use of prp. of se faindre to shirk.

Example: Oh M’sieur Wang, tu es vraiment fainéant! – You are really lazy!

Posted in Adjective Monday | Leave a Comment »

Kill Nice!

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, March 1, 2009

Monday, May. 21, 1951

The Nazis, though they herded millions into death camps, made an effort to cover up their iniquities. The Russians broadcast and filmed their relentless show trials of the ’30’s, but they chose to execute the accused in the privacy of an NKVD cellar. But the Chinese Communists have put on a public spectacle of death which the 20th Century has not witnessed since the Russian Revolution in 1917. Since the Red Terror began in China two months ago, the scene had become so familiar from a dozen broadcasts and newspaper stories that its enormity had almost been lost. Last week, when the terror hit Shanghai, after having engulfed Canton (TIME, May 7) and other cities, the scene was re-enacted, and blatantly broadcast by Communist radio and news services.

“Shall We . . .?” In the courtyard of the National Textile Mills, Chen Siao Mao, a worker, and his wife & son were “on trial” as counterrevolutionaries. The public prosecutor went through the customary question & answer game.

Prosecutor: Shall we shoot them?

Crowd: Shoot them!

Prosecutor: Do the people want to shoot them immediately?

Crowd: Shoot them immediately!

The three accused, pale-faced and trembling, knelt. “Kill them!” shouted the crowd. A second later, the shots rang out.

“All of Them.” The scene was repeated over & over again in the great (pop. 4,000,000) city. Shanghai “owed an enormous debt of blood to the people,” said its Communist Mayor, because it had been “the headquarters of the imperialists, feudalists and bureaucratic capitalists.”

City cops, helped by Communist political police, in a single night arrested an estimated 24,000 Chinese, dragged them off to concentration camps in Shanghai’s outskirts. Among the arrested: former Kuomintang officials, schoolteachers, Christian churchmen, non-Communist union leaders, property owners, newspaper workers, factory managers, students. A committee of 24 Communist-appointed “civic leaders,” called the Committee for the Investigation of Counter-Revolutionaries, selected candidates for trial & execution. The New China (Communist) News Agency proudly reported that Shanghai high-school students marched beside the prisoners on their way to execution beating gongs and drums, and chanting: “Kill nice! Kill them well! Kill all of them!”

“Unanimous Roar.” Public trials were staged in parks, public squares, at the Canidrome, a once fashionable dog-racing track, where 10,000 people gathered and (as the Shanghai News reported it) demanded the death of the accused in “a unanimous roar.” The Communists set aside the four Shanghai airports for public executions. In one day they shot 293 people. This did not break the record set by Nanking the day before with 376 executions, but there was reason to believe that Shanghai with its larger population would win the contest in the long run. Hangchow (pop. 500.000) only executed 50, but it reported proudly that more than 110,000 people had “waded through rain-soaked streets” to witness the occasion. In two days, 719 Chinese had been executed, an average of one every four minutes.

The killing of men was accompanied by the perversion of souls. A 20-year-old student, Chow Ying-fu by name, whose father had been executed last month as a counterrevolutionary, last week in the journal of the South China United University at Canton expressed his feelings about the event. He sounded like a character from George Orwell’s 1984.

“My father should have been killed long ago,” he wrote. “For the security of the people, for the permanent destruction of the old system, for truth, for peace, I must firmly approve his execution . . .”

The only hopeful news out of the bloody melee was a sign that at least some Chinese were standing up to the terror. One newspaper reported that four Communist officers and political workers were “wounded when resistance was offered.”

Posted in China | Leave a Comment »