By Pat Welsh, contributor
In October 1838, China’s Daoguang Emperor (道光帝) assigned Commissioner Lin Zexü (林則徐) the task of stamping out the opium trade at Canton. Two features about this trade had caused great concern.
First, although most Chinese initially had little interest in western merchandise, the trade balance between China and the West had moved by 1821 from China’s to England’s favor. This was caused by the opium trade, which produced a growing depletion of silver from China’s treasury. Silver had also supported China’s many internal military campaigns at that time. During the early 1800s, the amount American merchants paid China in silver dollars had been enough to offset China’s export of silver to the British in payment for opium. From 1818 to 1826, each year British ships carried off about $50 million worth of silver while American ships were bringing in about $60 million. After 1827, the situation reversed itself when Americans also became involved with the opium trade. Ensuing imperial efforts banning the export of silver proved unsuccessful.
By Elaine Dunn
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang embarked on a trip to Africa on May 4, visiting Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. His trip came on the 50th anniversary of former Premier Zhou Enlai’s official visit to the continent. Relations between Africa and China had remained stable throughout the years, and, in recent years, economic and trade cooperation between the two also has increased rapidly. At the end of his visit, Premier Li pledged an additional USD$12 billion in credit and funding to boost economic development on the African continent.
In the past decade, Chinese state-owned and private companies have become major investors in Africa, becoming the largest source of annual foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa’s 54 countries. Even Chinese individuals are investing small amounts in enterprises ranging from restaurants to acupuncture clinics.
By Elaine Dunn
Anti-Chinese fervor erupted in Vietnam mid-May when the Chinese government parked an oil rig in disputed waters. This sparked the burning of Chinese-owned factories by civilian Vietnamese in southern Vietnam’s Binh Duong province.
The 440 rioters who were arrested were indiscriminate in their destruction. At least two Chinese were killed, 15 factories were set on fire and hundreds of enterprises, most owned or managed by Chinese, Taiwanese and South Koreans, were destroyed during the riots in the early morning hours of May 14. Monetary damage is estimated in the billions of dong (on May 15, 1VND = 0.000047 USD), not to mention the thousands of workers who may be losing their jobs.
May 16, unidentified gunmen attacked the camp of a Chinese company in northern Cameroon. Ten people are missing and one injured. As this goes to press, the reason for the attack is unknown.
By Pat Welsh, contributor
On April 30, 1919, America’s President Wilson, Britain’s Prime Minister Lloyd George, France’s Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau resolved in secret to transfer to Japan all of Germany’s former interests in the western Pacific and in Shandong Province. This resolution ignored Japan’s promise made in 1914 to eventually return these interests back to China. This secret resolution was later included in Articles 156 – 158 of Section VIII of the Versailles Treaty.
Earlier in the Versailles Peace Conference, the Chinese delegation had insisted that China’s treaty of May 25, 1915, with Japan had been signed under duress and that China’s entry on the side of the allies vitally changed the situation contemplated in that treaty. China had also presented to the Conference two memoranda:
(1) “The claim of China for the abrogation of the treaties and notes concluded with Japan on May 25, 1915” and
(2) There must be readjustments of issues regarding renunciation of spheres of influence, withdrawal of foreign troops, police, post offices, areas of consular jurisdictions, relinquishment of leased territories, restoration to China of foreign concessions and tariff autonomy.
By Anthony James
Would you rather ride in the back of a BMW with someone you don’t love or ride in the back of a bicycle with someone you love? This was the question asked of female participants of a daily Chinese TV game show. The majority of answers?