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History > Asian History > China

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East River Column Cover

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East River Column

Hong Kong Guerrillas in the Second World War and After

Sui-jeung Chan

This book thus finally gives due prominence to the role of the Chinese guerrillas in Hong Kong during the war, while at the same time setting that struggle into the broader contexts of Guangdong province, the long war between China and Japan, and the victory of the Communists and the early years of their rule in the South.

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Echoes of Chongqing

Women in Wartime China

Danke Li

This collection of annotated oral histories records the personal stories of twenty Chinese women who lived in the wartime capital of Chongqing during China's War of Resistance against Japan during World War II. The women interviewed came from differing social, economic, and educational backgrounds and experienced the war in a variety of ways, some of them active in the communist resistance and others trying to support families or pursue educations in the face of wartime upheaval. The accounts of how women coped, worked, and lived during the war years in the Chongqing region recast historical understanding of the roles played by ordinary people in wartime and give women a public voice and face that, until now, have been missing from scholarship on the war.

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Elusive Pirates, Pervasive Smugglers

Violence and Clandestine Trade in the Greater China Seas

Edited by Robert J. Antony

Piracy and smuggling are as great a problem today as they were several hundreds of years ago. The studies in Elusive Pirates, Pervasive Smugglers, for the first time, carefully describe and critically analyze piracy and smuggling in the Greater China Seas region from the sixteenth century to the present. Because piracy and smuggling involve complex historical processes that are still evolving, to fully understand contemporary problems it is important to place them in larger historical and comparative perspectives. The essays in this book add significantly to the scholarship on East and Southeast Asian history, and in particular to the maritime history of the region we call the Greater China Seas. This is the first book to analyze the whole region from Japan to Southeast Asia as a single, integrated historical and geographical area. This book takes a radical departure from the standard terra-centered histories to place the seas at the center rather than at the margins of our inquiries. By focusing on the water we are better able to stitch together the diverse histories of Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Although often dismissed as historically unimportant, the contributors to this anthology show that in fact pirates and smugglers have played significant roles in the development of the modern world. Elusive Pirates, Pervasive Smugglers should appeal to undergraduate and graduate students in history and Asian studies, as well as to general readers interested in pirates and maritime history.

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Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty

His Life, Times, and Legacy

Looking at the life and legacy of Emperor Yang (569–618) of the brief Sui dynasty in a new light, this book presents a compelling case for his importance to Chinese history. Author Victor Cunrui Xiong utilizes traditional scholarship and secondary literature from China, Japan, and the West to go beyond the common perception of Emperor Yang as merely a profligate tyrant. Xiong accepts neither the traditional verdict against Emperor Yang nor the apologist effort to revise it, and instead offers a reassessment of Emperor Yang by exploring the larger political, economic, military, religious, and diplomatic contexts of Sui society. This reconstruction of the life of Emperor Yang reveals an astute visionary with literary, administrative, and reformist accomplishments. While a series of strategic blunders resulting from the darker side of his personality led to the collapse of the socioeconomic order and to his own death, the Sui legacy that Emperor Yang left behind lived on to provide the foundation for the rise of the Tang dynasty, the pinnacle of medieval Chinese civilization.

Empire and Identity in Guizhou Cover

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Empire and Identity in Guizhou

Local Resistance to Qing Expansion

by Jodi L. Weinstein

This historical investigation describes the Qing imperial authorities’ attempts to consolidate control over the Zhongjia, a non-Han population, in eighteenth-century Guizhou, a poor, remote, and environmentally harsh province in Southwest China. Far from submitting peaceably to the state’s quest for hegemony, the locals clung steadfastly to livelihood choices—chiefly illegal activities such as robbery, raiding, and banditry—that had played an integral role in their cultural and economic survival. Using archival materials, indigenous folk narratives, and ethnographic research, Jodi L. Weinstein shows how these seemingly subordinate populations challenged state power.

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Empress and Mrs. Conger, The

The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds

Grant Hayter-Menzies

The story of two women from worlds that could not seem farther apart—imperial China and the American Midwest—who found common ground before and after one of the greatest clashes between East and West, the fifty-five-day siege of the Beijing foreign legations known as the Boxer Uprising. Using diaries, letters and untapped sources, The Empress and Mrs. Conger traces the parallel lives of the Empress Dowager Cixi and American diplomat’s wife Sarah Pike Conger, which converged to alter their perspectives of each other and each other’s worlds.

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Enemies of Civilization

Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China

Enemies of Civilization is a work of comparative history and cultural consciousness that discusses how “others” were perceived in three ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Each civilization was the dominant culture in its part of the world, and each developed a mind-set that regarded itself as culturally superior to its neighbors. Mu-chou Poo compares these societies’ attitudes toward other cultures and finds differences and similarities that reveal the self-perceptions of each society. Notably, this work shows that in contrast to modern racism based on biophysical features, such prejudice did not exist in these ancient societies. It was culture rather than biophysical nature that was the most important criterion for distinguishing us from them. By examining how societies conceive their prejudices, this book breaks new ground in the study of ancient history and opens new ways to look at human society, both ancient and modern.

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Enriching Lives

A History of Insurance in Hong Kong, 1841-2010

Bangyan Feng, Mee Kau Nyaw

Insurance is one of Hong Kong's oldest industries. In the nineteenth century the lucrative trade between China and Europe carried many risks — piracy, warfare, fire, loss of goods, and other mishaps. Dozens of different insurance firms — some home-grown, others imported — established themselves in the colony to protect ships and their cargoes. With the diversification of Hong Kong’s economy into manufacturing and services, and the development of life and health insurance policies, Hong Kong became a global centre of insurance. The industry continues to transform itself today through changing practices and new lines of business. This is the first comprehensive history of Hong Kong’s insurance industry, and argues its central importance in the economy. Typhoons, shipwrecks, fires, wars, political turbulence and unexpected events of all kinds provide a dramatic background to a fascinating survey. The book is richly illustrated with photographs and documents.

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Envisioning Eternal Empire

Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era

Yuri Pines

This ambitious book looks into the reasons for the exceptional durability of the Chinese empire, which lasted for more than two millennia (221 BCE–1911 CE). Yuri Pines identifies the roots of the empire’s longevity in the activities of thinkers of the Warring States period (453–221 BCE), who, in their search for solutions to an ongoing political crisis, developed ideals, values, and perceptions that would become essential for the future imperial polity. In marked distinction to similar empires worldwide, the Chinese empire was envisioned and to a certain extent "preplanned" long before it came into being. As a result, it was not only a military and administrative construct, but also an intellectual one. Pines makes the argument that it was precisely its ideological appeal that allowed the survival and regeneration of the empire after repeated periods of turmoil.

Envisioning Eternal Empire presents a panoptic survey of philosophical and social conflicts in Warring States political culture. By examining the extant corpus of preimperial literature, including transmitted texts and manuscripts uncovered at archaeological sites, Pines locates the common ideas of competing thinkers that underlie their ideological controversies. This bold approach allows him to transcend the once fashionable perspective of competing "schools of thought" and show that beneath the immense pluralism of Warring States thought one may identify common ideological choices that eventually shaped traditional Chinese political culture. The result is a refreshingly novel look at the foundational period in Chinese intellectual history.

Pines’ analysis of the political thought of the period focuses on the thinkers’ perceptions of three main components of the preimperial and imperial polity: the ruler, the elite, and the commoners. Regarding each of them, he identifies both the common ground and unresolved intrinsic tensions of Warring States discourse. Thus, while thinkers staunchly supported the idea of the omnipotent universal monarch, they were also aware of the mediocrity and ineptitude of acting sovereigns. They were committed to a career in government yet feared to compromise their integrity in service of corrupt rulers. They declared their dedication to "the people" yet firmly opposed the lower strata’s input in political processes. Pines asserts that the persistence of these unresolved tensions eventually became one of the most important assets of China’s political culture. The ensuing imperial political system was not excessively rigid, but sufficiently flexible to adapt itself to a variety of domestic and foreign pressures. This remarkable adaptability within the constant ideological framework contributed decisively to the empire’s longevity.

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Escape from Blood Pond Hell

The Tales of Mulian and Woman Huang

Beata Grant

Translations of two late-19th-century Chinese scrolls featuring popular religious literature in alternating verse and prose designed to both entertain and instruct. Graphic portrayals of the underworld; dramatization of popular Buddhist beliefs about death, salvation, and rebirth; and frank discussions of the demands of filial piety as well as women's perceived responsibility for sin will intrigue a contemporary audience.

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