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Showing posts from May, 2015

China Opposes Japan's Bid to Add Meiji Industrial Sites to UNESCO World Heritage

Hashima is an islet of 6.3 hectares lying off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture. From afar, its buildings and high walls, designed to protect it from typhoons, make it look like a fortress, or rather like a battleship, hence its Japanese nickname 'Gunkanjima' (軍艦島), or 'Battleship Island'.
During the Meiji Era (1868-1912) Hashima played an important role in Japan's rapid industrialisation. Coal, the fuel of the first industrial revolution, was abundant in the region. In 1890 Hashima was bought by Mitsubishi, which set up coal-mining facilities. The company transformed the islet into a major industrial site and a pioneering residential area, a model for Japan's industrial and urban development.
Mitsubishi sank vertical shafts of about 200 metres, erected massive walls and carried out land reclamation projects in order to obtain new land for the construction of factories. Due to the demand for labour, workers began to flock to Hashima. The population grew steadily, …

The Guomindang and the Victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Eyes of K.M. Panikkar

In his book "In Two Chinas: Memoirs of a Diplomat", Kavalam Madhava Panikkar (1895 – 1963), an Indian intellectual, journalist, historian and ambassador, born in the Kingdom of Travancore, then part of the British Indian Empire, recounted his impressions of the transition between the Guomindang-led Republic of China (ROC) and the newly founded People's Republic of China (PRC). 
Shortly after India had obtained its independence from Britain, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed Panikkar as India's first ambassador to China (then ROC). During the following two years, Panikkar would experience the chaos and turmoil of the Chinese Civil War, which ended with the complete collapse of the Guomindang regime and its retreat to Taiwan. Panikkar remained in China until 1953. 
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What was my general impression of New China? I had spent over two years in Peking in close contact with the leaders of the Central People's Government. I had also lived in Nanking when the Kuom…

Life as a Westerner in Taiwan and Hong Kong

When I came to Hong Kong for the first time back in 2012 I had already lived in Taipei for about half a year. One of the first things that struck me was that people in Hong Kong seemed to have a different attitude towards foreigners than Taiwanese (generally speaking, of course). Even in Taipei, the largest and most international city of the island-state, I always felt as if I were an exotic creature. People talked to me because they were 'curious', or because they wanted to practice their English, or because they regarded me as a guest that they should treat with a politeness reserved for people from faraway lands.  
In Hong Kong, on the contrary, most people seemed to be indifferent to me. They didn't look at me when I took the metro, when I went to public toilets, libraries or restaurants, as it was the case in Taiwan. Obviously, I wasn't a local either in Taiwan or Hong Kong. But in the latter I felt more comfortable. I did not stand out. I was not perceived as an &…