Shanghai is a fantastically vibrant city. This comes as no surprise as it’s the world’s largest city. When it comes to sightseeing, Shanghai has a good mix of old and new, but tilting very much towards the new. This also comes as not much of a surprise. Shanghai didn’t start to become a major city until the Western powers moved in and took charge after the First Opium War. That was just about 170 years ago. Compare that with Beijing, which has been a [Read more…]
The language issue was a challenge during my trip to China. And I did have some culinary frustrations. But China exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Perhaps my expectations were needlessly low. It didn’t help that my phrasebook had some helpful expressions such as, “What time does the hot water come on?” and “There is a rat in my room.” I read so many warnings about China before my trip. I was sort of expecting the worst. But those [Read more…]
Second Sino-Japanese War
The bloodiest war of 20th-century Asia was the Second Sino-Japanese War, or as it’s known in China, the War of Resistance Against Japan. You know it as World War II. (Okay, technically it eventually became part of WWII, but you get it.) Notice the word “Resistance”, reminiscent of the European resistance against the Nazis. Like Germany, Japan was looking to absorb neighboring lands to access natural resources needed to fulfill the needs of its densely [Read more…]
You say you want a revolution? After the disastrous 19th century, the Chinese people did. The Qing Dynasty realized it had no choice but to reform and modernize. Unfortunately for them, there was nothing less modern than China’s 2,000-year-old imperial system. (And in an era of nationalism, it didn’t help them in the least that they weren’t ethnically Chinese.) Over a period of many years, the people began to rise up and revolt throughout the vast [Read more…]
I will admit right off the bat that Tianjin was not the most exciting place I went on my trip to China. But it’s a major city just a short high-speed train ride from Beijing, so how could I resist spending a day there? Tianjin (formerly known as Tientsin) is not particularly well known, possibly because it’s overshadowed by adjoining Beijing. You may have heard of it in August 2015, 3 months before my trip, when large explosions in the port area killed 173 people. (This was nowhere near the parts of Tianjin I visited.) Nonetheless, it’s an important city to China. It is one of 4 Chinese cities that are not part of any province, similar to how Washington, D.C., or Berlin are not part of any state. Like Washington, these 4 cities are controlled by the national government. The 4 cities are Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and Chongqing (historically part of Sichuan). These 4 cities plus Guangzhou are designated as China’s 5 national central cities, critical to China’s modernization and urbanization.