2009年6月30日 星期二

Wei Yuan (魏源)(III)

In chapter one Leonard gave a portrait of Wei Yuan. Wei was of an activist with diverse interest. He had written several books on different subjects. In 1825, he was appointed to edit the encyclopedia on statecraft ( ching-shih 經世), Statecraft Writings of the Qing Period. This appointment gave Wei a invaluable chance to understand the internal problems of the Qing empire. The topics that received the most attention were government finance, public works and the military. 1 As far as military problems were concerned, the focus was on maritime defense and internal security at the coastal region. 2 At this stage, the emphasis on coastal defense did not reflect any awareness of Western threat or encroachment, but it was mainly about internal security that arose from piracy and rebellion. According to Leonard, the term statecraft in China first appeared in the Sung period (A.D. 960-1279), literally meant "to manage the world". In early Qing, statesmanship contained two major elements : first is the moral element, the statesmanship was responsible for the society's moral order at both the societal level and cosmic level. At the societal level it was the Court's responsibility to transform lesser men into morally perfect being and thus created a moral society.3 The second element was on a more practical side: the smooth functioning of the dynasty, i.e. to achieve a stable, prosperous state society. In early 1800s, the moral and practical elements of statesmanship were merged into one single goal, i.e. to prop up the declining dynasty. One solution was to reform the bureaucracy. Changes were considered necessary in both governmental and non-governmental institutions, although high moral standard among elites still the fundamental issue for a stable society. 4 Before the outbreak of the Opium War, maritime defense and coastal control were already issues that had attracted Wei's attention.5 The popular view at that moment among elites was that coastal security could be achieved by suppressing anti-Manchu elements. It was after the Opium War that Wei began to shift his attention from anti-dynasty elements to foreign maritime countries, as indicated in the Treatise of the Sea Kingdoms. (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.): Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984, page 19
2. page 20
3. page 21
4. page 22
5. page 29

2009年6月29日 星期一


這文章是我七年前在一報紙看到的. 文章標題很特別, 很有心思, 內容充滿懷舊感. 作者透過第三者看舊報紙來說出中國近代歷史的一個轉捩點. 這一個六十年前發生的國家巨變除了影響當代人之外, 它還影響第二代和第三代. 更甚的是它的影響今天仍然歷歷在目. 報紙上的一些不起眼報道, 有時可能是另一個歷史的轉捩點.

2009年6月28日 星期日

Wei Yuan (魏源)(II)

Leonard in the introduction of her book said that Wei Yuan finished writing his book "Hui-kuo tu-chi" (海國圖誌 Illustrated treatise on the sea kingdom) four months after the the Nanking Treaty was signed on 29th August 1842. Wei's book was the first major writing by a Chinese scholar in response to the coming of the Western powers, after witnessing the defeat of Qing in the Opium War.1 Wei made a realistic geopolitical survey of the world outside China. China was an old empire that all along had seen itself as the center of the world. According to Leonard, Wei's book drew official-literati attention to the maritime world which the Manchus had neglected prior to the Opium War. Wei also suggested some basic approach to handle foreign threats from sea, and such suggestions were continued to be used in the 1870s when Japan challenged Chinese control in Okinawa and Taiwan, and in the 1880s when the French invaded Vietnam. 2 Wei Yuan's account of the Nan-yang (南洋) reflected how Qing operated the tribute and overlordship system based on its Confucian world view, and Qing's perception of overlordship system in Asia. The Qing court's wish to maintain the traditional overlordship in Asia might explain why it was unable to understand the strategic significance of Western expansion.3 Many contemporary Chinese scholars, when suggesting reform to meet the new challenge from the barbarian, always advocated reliance on early experience for a solution. They believed that 'internal disorder invites external calamity' and that 'inner strength is more fundamental than maritime defense alone to the protection of China's frontier'. 4 In this book Leonard mainly focused at Wei Yuan's "Treatise on the Sea Kingdoms" from three perspectives. The first was that of scholar-official of the Opium War generation. The second perspective was the history of Chinese relations with maritime Asia. The third perspective was on the maritime policy of Qing which, up to the eve of the Opium War, had paid little attention to the relations with foreign maritime states. 5 (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Kate Jane. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.), London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, page 1
2. Ibid., page 2
3. Ibid., page 5
4. Ibid., page 6
5. Ibid., page 9

2009年6月27日 星期六


Recently the NHK News reported the following:

厚生労働省は、19 日, 新型インフルエザ対策の新たな運用指針を公表し, 徹底した感染防止対策から, 患者の重症化や大流行を防ぐ対策に重点を移す方針を決めました。これを受けて, 厚生労働省は, 26日に 都道府県の 新型インフルエザ対 策の担当者を集めた会議を開き, 具体的な対応方法を說明しました。まず、 診療は、 原則としてすべての医療機関で行うこととし, 症狀のある人は、掛かりつけの 医師に電話をしてから受診するとしています。 症狀が 重くない患者は. 基本的に入院せずに自宅療養となりますが、その際は、熱が下がってから2日間は外出を控え、自宅で待機するよう求めています。

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor in Japan has announced a new approach to deal with the new influenza. It has decided to shift its focus in handling the flu. It held a meeting with all organizations that are responsible for public health. The new approach is for patients who have the flu symptom to contact the family doctor. For those who are not in serious condition, they are not required to be hospitalized, instead, they are required to stay at home. Two day after their fever has receded, they may leave home again.

I think this new way of using resource of the family doctors is a good solution. It can lighten the workload of government hospitals and clinics. I hear that Hong Kong Government will announce some new approach in handling swine flu next week and I think the above information may be useful for their reference.

2009年6月26日 星期五

Wei Yuan (魏源)(I)

Jane Kate Leonard finished writing a book about Wei Yuan (魏源 ) in 1984. Its title was "Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World".1 Wai Yuan (1794-1856) was often remembered for his contribution as a historian and geographer, although he also had written some books on Chinese classics. In the field of history he had written the Yuan-shih hsin-pien (元史新編 ) and the Shengwu chi (聖武記). The latter was an account of the military operations of Qing up to the Tao-kuang period, and later supplemented by another historian to include the reign-period of Tao-kuang, Hsien-feng, and Tung-chih (up to 1875), reprinted with a new title: Shih-i-chao Sheng-wu chi(十一朝聖武記). The Opium War that ended in 1842 by the Treaty of Nanking (南京條約) had prompted Wai Yuan to finish writing the book entitled Hai-kuo tu-chi (海國圖志) in 1844 which had 50 chuan. It was later supplemented by new chapters up to 100 chuan in 1852. Some material used in Hai kuo tu-chi came from his good friend Lin Tse-hsu (林則徐). Wai yuan's intention to write Hai-kuo tu-chi was to help Qing in dealing with foreign nations. Both the Hai-kuo tu-chi and the Sheng-wu chi became popular in Japan. An abridged edition of the first five chapters of Hai-kuo tu-chi was reprinted by the Japanese scholars in 1854-56. The Sheng-wu chi was also abridged and reprinted in 1850.2 (to be continued)

1.Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge, Mass.:Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984.
2. Hummel, Arthur ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ching Period. Taipei: SMC Publishing Inc. 2002, pages 850-1.

2009年6月25日 星期四

Koerner Library

Walter C. Koerner Library is a place that I like to visit. It is situated inside the University of British Columbia (卑詩大學) and is one of the biggest libraries on campus .The building is quite new, probably less then ten years old. Because its outside walls are mostly glass, students can enjoy a garden view while reading books inside. All the university libraries here in Vancouver are open to members of the public, a practice that is totally different from that in Hong Kong. There are no security guards sitting at the doors to check your identity. Local people could also borrow books here if they buy some kind of a 'pass' on a monthly basis. In summer the campus is quiet because most students are on summer vacation. You can only see some tourists laughing, talking and taking photographs at the entrance of the Library. For those who would like to visit this library during the summer, here is the opening hour: Mon-Thur 9 am- 9 pm, Friday 9 am-5 pm, Saturday 10 am - 5 pm.

2009年6月24日 星期三

大肉蟹 (Dungeness crab)

幾天前我和朋友到一間十分大眾化的酒家吃了大肉蟹. 它是盛產於北美洲西岸由阿拉斯加到加州的Dungeness crab. 本地中國人多數叫它做大肉蟹. Dungeness 是一個地方名字. 它位於美國華盛頓州西岸. 捕捉大肉蟹已經是當地一個重要商業活動. 當外地有朋友來探訪我時, 我通常都會請他們吃. 因為它都算是一地道美食. 我喜歡上湯薑蔥煮蟹加雲吞麵底. 兩隻蟹總共五磅多, 加了麵底, 看來好似一座小山, 十分壯觀. 加上有黃綠橙三色, 因此色香味齊全, 食慾大增.

2009年6月23日 星期二


以上的文章是我十多年前在報紙剪下來的. 現在重看, 仍然感受到這個簡朴感人故事所帶出的情懷. 那寥寥幾百字就已寫出一段姻緣的開始和終結.作者刻畫人類生離死別的其中一幕. 沒有愁雲慘霧, 只有一些哀傷. 我不是中大的校友. 亦不是教會中人. 仍然能深深感受到那段緣起緣滅的過程.

2009年6月22日 星期一


Recently, the Japanese Yomiuri News carried the following:

内閣府と財務省が22日発表した4-6月期の法人企業景気予測調査で、資本金10億円以上の大企業の景 況判断指数はマイナス22.4となり、過去最低だった1-3月期(マイナス51.3)から大幅に改善。. . . 政府が6月の月例経済報告で示した事実上の "景気底打ち宣言"に続き、企業の景気感が最悪期を脫した とを反映したと言えそうだ。日本銀行が7月1 日に発表する 6月全国企業短期経済観測調査(6月短観)でも企業の景況の感が大幅に改善するとみられる。

The Japanese Finance Ministry has released the corporation business forecast for the months of April to June which indicated that company confidence for the future is improving. For the big companies, the index figure has been up for almost 30 points (although still in minus). The government is also confident that the worst situation is over. The Japanese banks are also likely to report that there is an improvement in confidence in economic outlook among Japanese enterprise. It seems that Japan is recovering.

2009年6月21日 星期日

The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (III)

Esherick in chapter nine begins to talk about the clashes between the boxers and the Qing authority in different regions in Shandong. There was a showdown at Gangzi Lizhuang, a place about 10 km south of the Pingyuan county seat. There was also a battle at Senluo Temple. According to Esherick, the appearance of boxers' slogan "Revive the Qing, destroy the foreign" (扶清滅洋) during the confrontation at Gangzi Lizhuang was a pivotal moment in the Boxer uprising: the loosely organized boxers had acquired a direction as indicated in this newly adopted slogan. Also, in the battle at Senluo temple, the term "Yi-hu tuan" (義和團) made its first appearance. This new title enabled the boxers to stand out from ordinary martial arts sects.1 These boxers had gained strong support from the mass for their anti-Christian cause. Some local people even stood on their side when troops were sent to suppress these boxers. In the final chapter, Esherick mainly talks about how the violence spread to Beijing, how the foreign powers reacted, and how the Qing court responded. Esherick also talks about the lessons learned from this event. Here are some of his remarks:

"The 'Siege of Peking' and the Eight-Nation International Expedition (八國聯軍) captured the attention of the world . . . By and large, the resentment was passed off as the ignorant reaction of a proud but fundamentally uncivilized people. There were some, however, who saw the unmistakable signs of an emerging Chinese nationalism. . . The Boxer episode thoroughly discredited the conservative policies which had reversed the 1898 reform. The last decade of the Qing would be one of dramatic reform activities. . . The man who gained more than anyone as a result of the Boxer Uprising was Yuan Shi-kai (袁世凱). His bloody suppression of the Boxers in Shandong . . . gained him important foreign admirers. [He] would dominated the final years of the Qing, and the early Republic. Yuan Shi-kai was not alone in fearing the threat from the unwashed masses . . . even many revolutionaries . . . shared his distrust of China's vast peasant majority . . . [and] few were willing to risk . . . to turn their fury to the cause of remaking China. Not until Mao Ze-dong (毛澤東) went down to investigate the peasant movement in Human in 1927, and saw there the potential for a great storm sweeping over China".2

1. Esherick, Joseph. The Origins of the Boxer Uprising. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1987, pages 252-3
2. Ibid., page 313

2009年6月20日 星期六


Recently the Japanese NHK News reported the following:

過労や仕事のストレスで、死亡したり自殺したりする人があとを絶たないことから、専門の弁護士が遺族らからの相談に電話で応じる "過労死、過労自殺110番" が、20日に全国で行われます。電話相談は、過労死や過労自殺の問題に取り組んでいる弁護士グループが、全国29の都道府県で一斉に行います。

In Japan, death due to office overwork or stress have been a social problem for quite a long time. Now, Japanese laywers are surveying families that had such a problem on a national scale. In Hong Kong, although many people say that they are being hard pressed by work, seldom are there reported cases of death. May be Hong Kong people are good at relaxing themselves, or may be they know that health is having a higher priority than office work.

2009年6月19日 星期五

Franklin D. Roosevelt

US President Obama's recent decision to tighten government financial control over the country has reminded me about the 32nd US President Franklin D. Roosevelt(1882 - 1945). He was elected president amidst the Great Depression. At the early part of his administration, he criticized the business leaders who had failed the country. Below are some of the quotes from speeches by President Roosevelt:

"[Business and finance are] unanimous in their hate for me - and I welcome their hatred . . . I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match; I would like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master". (Campaign speech, 1936)

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism". (Message proposing the Monopoly Investigation, 1938)

To me it was at a very late stage that I knew a secret about Roosevelt: when he was first inaugurated on March 4, 1933 at the age of 51, he was already paralyzed from the waist down by polio. He had to be assisted to the stand where he stood during the ceremony, supported by iron leg braces. He was a man with such a strong will, and by destiny, he was picked by the American people to lead them through the turbulent years that included the Great Depression and the WWII.

Seldes, George ed. The Great Thoughts. NY: Ballantine Books, 1985

2009年6月18日 星期四

Open House

Starting from the past few days, three houses in a street near my home are open for sale. On of them is shown in the photo. The tradition here is for a property agent to prepare a data sheet of the house, and to set a day to open the house for potential buyers to visit, that means anyone who are interested my come. Usually it is a Saturday afternoon. The owner of the house will leave the house during that period so that visitors could see the house inside and out freely. At the same time, the property agent will stand by to answer any questions that a visitor may have. Some information about the house in the picture are:

List Price: $1.28 million (Canadian dollar)
Size of the lot: 50 feet by 110 feet
Age of the house: built in 1941
Usable area of the house: 2,600 sq. feet

Here, by tradition, summer is a good time for properties to change hands.

2009年6月16日 星期二

The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (II)

In chapter seven, Esherick explains how the tension in Shandong gradually mounted throughout China in 1899. He quotes a letter by Robert Hart (1835 -1911), inspector general of maritime customs(中國海關總稅務司) who had created the Chinese Imperial Customs in 1863. He was at that time in Beijing and noted storm clouds were gathering on the horizon.1 On May 28, 1899 in a letter to his acquaintance at London he wrote:

"I have been worried - I can't tell your how much! - by the troubles of China. British doings at Kowloon have been very aggravating: Russian demand for Peking-railway has been a thunder bolt: German action and military movement in Shantung have outraged the people: and everywhere there is a feeling of uneasiness spreading . . . Some Chinese say that revolt and disorder are fast coming on - that the rioters will wipe out every foreigner they come across. . . ".2

From the above, we can see that Hart had an accurate sense of the impending crisis in China. In chapter eight Esherick makes an analysis on who were the "true" Boxers. He also disputes the theory that Boxers were an offshoot of martial art groups associated with the White Lotus (白蓮教). 3 One argument he uses is that "identity of name is by no means proof of identity of origin". (to be continued)

1.Esherick, Joseph. The Origins of the Boxer Uprising. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1987, page 183.
2. Ibid., 183.
3. Ibid., page 220.

2009年6月15日 星期一


Strawberry is now in season. I like those from the US because they are relatively sweet, big and good looking. They are low in calories and high in vitamin. As far as vitamin source is concerned, they are better than oranges. They also provide us with potassium and iron. Their seeds, although can be irritating to some people with problems such as intestinal disorders, are good source of insoluble fibre.

2009年6月14日 星期日


Rose is beautiful. These rose photos are taken by me at my front yard garden to-day. In the language of flowers, different roses have a different signification. Some of them are:
The Burgundy Rose : simplicity and beauty
The China Rose: grace or beauty ever fresh
The Daily Rose: a smile
The Dog Rose : pleasure mixed with pain
A Faded Rose: beauty is fleeting
The Japan Rose: beauty your sole attraction
The Moss Rose: voluptuous love
The Musk rose: capricious beauty
The Provence Rose: my heart is in flames
The White Rose Bud: too young to love
The White Rose full of buds: secrecy
A Wreath of Roses: beauty and virtue rewarded
The Yellow Rose: infidelity

Ivor H. Evans. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Harper & Row, Century Edition Revised, page 965.

2009年6月13日 星期六

The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (I)

Joseph W. Esherick in 1987 finished writing the book entitled "The Origins of the Boxer Uprising". In my view, it is among the best books written by western historians on the subject. In total there are 10 chapters. Esherick starts the book with an introduction on Shandong where the uprising began. He is meticulous in analysing the socio-economic position of Shandong. Then he looks at the history of popular culture in the region. It is Esherick's belief that 'Boxer uprising was not only provided by the physical and social environment of west Shandong, but also by the popular culture'.1 He points out that, as far as popular culture is concerned, the heroes in the Water Margin (shui-hu zhuan)(水滸傳) had their base near Liangshan in southwestern Shandong. Esherick then looks at the effect of imperialism in the region. One of his focus is to understand what sort of people opted to convert to foreign religions. He concludes that 'conversion to Christianity and especially to Catholicism was most attractive to those in need of protection - be it from the police power of the state, the economic exaction of the landlord, or the threat of poverty and potential starvation in a hostile environment'.2 In chapter four Esherick asserts that the Big Sword Society (大刀會) was related to the rise of the Boxer movement.3 And that the economy in some western parts of Shandong was based on illegal activities, including salt smuggling and opium production.4These activities helped create a lawless enviroment at the border region of Shandong-Jiansu. In the spring of 1895, banditry along the Shandong-Jiansu border caused the concern of the Court. Big Sword was used by the government as an ally in the campaign to suppress the illegal activities. In chapter six, Esherick theorizes that Boxers where transformed from the Big Swords, and the Guan county incidents had played a crucial role in this respect.5 (to be continued)

1.Joseph W. Esherick.The Origins of the Boxer Uprising. Berkeley,Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1987, page 38.
2.Ibid., page 91.
3.Ibid., page 96.
4.Ibid., page 99.
5.Ibid., page 136.

2009年6月10日 星期三


蔡廷鍇將軍故居展覽館是位於廣東羅定縣.幾年前我曾經到此參觀.這裏放置了一些有關一.二八事件的相片和複制軍事文件. 一.二八事件是指在1932年一月二十八日在上海發生的一場中日軍事衝突.中國第十九路軍在上海抵抗日本軍的侵略,爆發了一場長達三十多日的戰爭.當時第十九軍是由蔣光鼐和蔡廷鍇率領.由於蔡廷鍇是負責每日的軍事部署和回答新聞採訪記者的提問,故他的知名度很高.並立刻成為抵抗日本侵略的英雄.在中國三,四十年代,蔡廷鍇是一個家傳戶曉的名字.除了蔡廷鍇故居外,羅定博物館亦收集了大量有關蔡廷鍇的物件. 相片中的男士是當時博物館的館長.中間照片是蔡廷鍇和蔣光鼐的紀念浮雕.它位於廣州市沙河頂水蔭路.

2009年6月9日 星期二


近年我的閱讀興趣是去瞭解日本在十九世紀中葉的現代化經過. 這本書在第四章開始講述近代日本人怎樣由藩屬意識轉化成為國家意識, 並指出這個過程是與 "黑船事件"有關係. 作者認為當一個國家與另一個國家平等交往的地位被打破時, 它的民族意識和國家意識便會高漲起來. "黑船事件"是指一八五三年美國東印度艦隊司令培理(Commodore Matthew C. Perry)率領黑船叩開日本大門的事件. 日本之後于一八五八年與五個國家簽署通商條約. 從思想史角度看, "黑船事件"震動了日本的思想界. 作者認為 "黑船事件"對日本有很多影響, 包括: (1) 它打亂了幕府的統治秩序 (2)它提高了日本人的民族危機意識 (3) 朝廷感覺到自身存在的重要性等等. 全書總共有六章, 由第一章 '幕末日本概說' 至第六章 '近代天皇制國家意識的確立'. 這本書于2008年由商務印書館出版.

2009年6月8日 星期一

The Nanjing Massacre (南京大屠殺)(伍)

In my view, the Nanjing Massacre is an important historical event not due to its high death toll. Rather, it is the shocking nature of the atrocity that carries a special meaning in the conscious of political leaders in both China and Japan. In Japan in early 1980s, Japan's economic power was in the ascendancy and therefore its image became a national concern. Right-wing Japanese politicians were eager to erase the negative past record of their nation by down playing the Massacre in textbooks. In mainland China historical events are often used to serve political needs. The Nanjing Massacre is a good tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to arouse patriotism and rally the mass under its leadership (note the lyric of its national anthem). Often in China the same historical event can, in different period or different political climate, be re-interpreted by the government depending on needs. Individuals might also do the same. One example is the Boxer Uprising (庚子拳亂) of 1900. In the first decade of the 1900s, the general consensus in China was to see Boxers' acts of occupying Beijing; burning foreign buildings and churches; and killing Chinese Christians as the result of Chinese ignorance. Scholars such as Chan Duxiu (陳獨秀) in 1918 regarded the Boxers as the product of superstition.1 But he changed his attitude in 1924. He began to perceive Boxers as nationalistic and patriotic peasants, probably because he had just jointed the CCP.2 In the late 1960s during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese leaders reconstructed the meaning of the Boxers in order to meet contemporary political needs: Boxers were a symbol of nationalism and patriotism.3 In those days, mainland China saw foreigners with suspicion and regarded the US as the number one enemy.

1. Cohen, Paul. History in Three Keys: the Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. NY: Columbia University Press, 1997, pg 228.
2. Ibid., pg. 244
3. Ibid., pg. 264-5

2009年6月6日 星期六


在東莞市虎門鎮南柵新基村有一個叫荔蔭園的地方, 現已成為蔣光鼐 (1888-1967) 故居博物館. 這小小的花園是由蔣光鼐祖父所創. 園裏面有一西式建築物, 是蔣光鼐于一九三零年建成的. 現改為一個介紹蔣光鼐生平事跡的地方, 陳列了不少有關他的物件. 蔣光鼐的歷史地位來自一九三二年一月二十八日的抗日戰爭. 在他和蔡廷鍇將軍領導下, 中國第十九路軍在上海對抗日軍入侵. 在兵力和火力強弱懸殊之下, 支撐達一個月之久, 他們兩人因此成為中國家傳戶曉的抗日英雄. 蔡廷鍇更因為駐上海外國戰地記者的多次報導和訪問, 成為國際知名人物. (註:照片中的<大漢公報>是加拿大卑詩大學亞洲圖書館收藏品)

2009年6月5日 星期五


我最近在回港期間買了一些書籍, 包括這本<西風東漸>. 這書的目的是對十六世紀至二十世紀中國與日本兩國吸收西方資本主義工業文明的歷史發展進程作宏觀比較和研究. 並借此對中國和日本兩國早期現代化的成敗得失加以探討和解釋. 作者將兩國吸收西方文化的歷史進程分為六個時期加以比較. (1) 拉丁文明時代 (2) 鎖國閉關時代 (3) 開國時代 (4) 維新自強運動時代 (5) 兩次世界大戰之間 (6)戰後時代. 作者于桂芬引用不少有關書籍來支持其論據, 內容翔實. 如果對中日文化有興趣的話, 可以一看.

2009年6月4日 星期四

古今和歌集 (Kokin waka-shu)

古今和歌集 (Kokin waka-shu) (Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems), according to the Japan Encyclopedia, is the first of 21 imperial anthologies, with its compilation started in AD 905 on the order of Emperor Daigo by Ki no tsurayuki, Ki no Tomonori, Mibu no Tadamine, and Oshikochi no Mitsume. It collects 1,100 poems and divides them into 20 sections. It is the first to classify the collection by themes that included seasons, nature, love, travel, feeling etc. In its preface there is a paragraph as quoted below:

やまと歌は、人の心を種として、万言の葉とぞ成れりける。世中に在る人、事、業、繁きものなれば、心に思ふ事を、看るもの、聞くものに付けて、言ひ出せるなり。. . .
When I read the above paragraph, I was amazed at the similarity of language usage between the Chinese and Japanese scholars centuries ago. In the above, the Japanese said that their poems could move the sky and earth, and could touch the invisible ghosts and gods. Below, from a Chinese dictionary, the 漢語成語大詞典, I find the following entry on the definition of "to move the sky and earth, to touch the ghosts and gods" :
[動天地, 感鬼神] : 使天地鬼神為之感動. 形容有種事跡或文藝作品極為感人. 金.元好問<陶然集詩序>: "詩之極致, 可以動天地, 感鬼神."
1. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth. Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.
2.漢語成語大詞典. 湖北大學古籍研究所編. 中華書局出版發行, 2002.

2009年6月3日 星期三

The HK Museum of Coastal Defence (香港海防博物館)

The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is located at the Shau Kei Wan. In 1880s, it was the location where the British constructed batteries to defend itself against possible attacks from France and Russia. Now as a museum, it has many exhibition rooms and eleven galleries. To me the most interesting display is in Gallery number 3 which tells the story of the First Opium War (1839-42). There is a rich display of related artifacts, among them a letter written by Chi-ying (Qiying) in 1845 to the then Governor of Hong Kong Sir John Francis Davis. Chi-ying was one of the officials to represent Qing in the conclusion of the Treaty of Nanking that ended the First Opium War. This treaty contains 13 articles, including granting to England cession of the island of Hong Kong, and the opening of five ports - Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai to foreign trade. Some historians have blamed Chi-ying for concluding treaties with foreigners which had since been such a burden to China. Chi-ying had served in the Court for 52 years under three Emperors. He was sentenced to death in 1858 in connection with treaty negotiation matters. The charges included: disobedience; trying to shift responsibilities to others; and leaving his post without reason and permission.

2009年6月2日 星期二

The Lees of Hongkong (利希慎家族)

On May 19th I went to the 1/F Main Library of the Hong Kong University because at its Special Collection corner there was a "Book Launch and Book Talk". The host was Senator Vivienne Poy (利德蕙), the first Canadian of Asian descent appointed to the Senate of Canada and Chancellor Emerita of the University of Toronto. In 2006, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from The University of Hong Kong. The title of her book is "Profit, Victory and Sharpness: The Lees of Hong Kong". Its official Chinese title is <利希慎家族歷史>. It is a book about Hong Kong's Lee Hysan Family. As a member of the Lee family, she has a lot of insider information to write the book. In this book Vivienne talks about, among other things, the assassination of her grand father in the 1920s in Hong Kong. Purely by chance, I note that in the Ming Pao Saturday Magazine of 2009.05.23 there was an article about Vivienne Poy. One thing surprises me is that she, at the age of 66, donated a kidney to her son Justin in 2007. She is such a great mother.

2009年6月1日 星期一

Humen Fortress (虎門炮台)(II)

At the mountain top there is one abandoned cannon which is quite huge (note the size of the cannon and the man walks by). This cannon is different from those located at foot of the mountain which were made by the Chinese during the early and mid-19th century. From its excellent finishing and design, I guess this item was probably imported into China by the second half of the 19th century and towed up to the mountain to became part of the defense system. In those days, it must have been a very challenging endeavour to carry such a huge piece of artillery up the mountain to its present location.