2009年7月31日 星期五

Chinese Repository

The Chinese Repository was published in Canton from 1832 to 1851, except for 1839 which was published in Macao. In total it has 20 volumes, containing articles about China that were written by foreigners. Through these articles, readers of the 21 century could know how China looked like in the eyes of foreigners almost 200 years ago. Topics of the articles include Chinese history, geography, current affairs and commentaries. Some articles are comments on the negotiation between British and China on trade matters. Some articles are translation of Chinese government announcements to foreigners. There are also some English translation on the official documents written by Chinese officials to the Emperor. The Chinese Repository is an important primary source document to understand how China and foreigners interacted in those days and is important for those who study the Opium War. Volume 1 was published in May 1832. In its introduction, among other things, it says:

"It is not less a matter of astonishment than regret that, during the long intercourse which has existed between the nations of Christendom and eastern Asia, there has been so little commerce in intellectual and moral commodities. . . Every visitor to Canton must be struck, not to say confounded, with the strange jargon spoken alike by natives and foreigners, in their mutual intercourse; it has been a most fruitful source of misunderstanding. . . Thirty years ago, there was not living more then one individual capable of translating from Chinese into English; and there was not one of sons of the 'Son of heaven,' who could read, or write, or speak, correctly, the English language. . ."

The Chinese Repository is a useful source to understand how China had been reacting to westerners during the period between 1830s and 1850s

1. 楊家駱主編. 鴉片戰爭文獻彙編.台灣鼎文書局印行, 1973.
2. Elijah Coleman Bridgman & Samuel Wells Williams. Chinese Repository. Canton[etc.] printed for the proprietors, volume I 1832 to volume XX 1851.

2009年7月30日 星期四


Recently the Yomiuri News reported the following:


In the April-June financial statement released by Nintendo, sales compared with the same period last year saw a huge drop of 40.1% to 2,534 billion yen, or a drop of 60.6% to 423 billion yen in profit after tax. Although in the first three-month period in 2009, the sales of family game Wii had registered good sales, in April-June the Wii sales in the world had dropped 57% when compared with same period last year. The time gap for Nintendo to launch its software "Wii Sports Resort" in late June in the country and started its sales in July overseas had an impact. Mobile game machine "Nintendo-DS" also registered a drop of 14% at 5.97 million numbers in sales. Separately, there was no change in the forecast for the first three-month sales in 2010 of 1.8 trillion yen, and a record high after tax income of 3,000 billion yen.

My feeling is that could Nintendo's drop in sales also due to the global weak economy. Consumers in Japan and overseas may be more prudent in spending their money on entertainment in view of the uncertain world-wide financial outlook.

2009年7月29日 星期三


這是我十多年前剪下的兩段新聞. 上面的是在一九九三年初的剪報, 當時見到別人可以丟下一份工去環遊世界三年真是羨慕不已.下面是一九九六年十月十二日的剪報, 新聞相隔三年半. 當年偶然地在報紙上看到他安全返香港而替他高興. 我作為讀者, 見到別人不怕困難, 終於夢想成真, 亦感到興奮. 有志者,事竟成.

2009年7月28日 星期二


Recently the Asahi News reported the following:

陸上自衛隊練馬駐屯地の陸士長が乾燥大麻を所持していたとして逮捕された事件で、警視庁下谷署が、同僚陸士長の山下政考容疑者(20)=東京都練馬区=を大麻取締法違反(譲り受け)の疑いで28日に逮捕したことが、 同署への取材で分かった。 山下容疑者は容疑を認めているという。 同署によると、山下容疑者は5日夜、 隊舍内で、同僚陸士長の鈴木重德容疑者(28)=同法違反(所持) 容疑で逮捕 =から乾燥大麻を讓り受けた疑いがある。鈴木容疑者は8日、台東区内で同署員の職務質問を受け、 大麻7グラムを隠し持っていたとして現行犯逮捕された。 鈴木容疑者が「同僚に大麻を渡した」と供述したため、調べていた。 自陸は鈴木容疑者の逮捕後、練馬駐屯地の全隊員約2千人緊急の尿検査を実施。その結果、4人から大麻の陽性反応が出たとしている。 両容疑者が所属する陸上自衛隊第1師団の渡辺隆. 師団長は「隊員が逮捕されたことは極めて遺憾。再発防止を再検討し、 今後、薬物事案が起きないよう具体化を図る」という談話を出した。

Regarding the arrest of a member of the Japan Ground Self-defense Forces for possession of marijuana, according to the police, corporal Yamashita (aged 20) was arrested on the 28th for violating the marijuana related laws. He had admitted the charge. According to the police, they suspected that corporal Yamashita at night on the 5th bought marijuana from corporal Susuki (aged 28) in the barrack. Corporal Susuki, already under arrest, was interrogated by the police on the 8th and had admitted possession of 7 grams of marijuana. He said "I gave the marijuana to my colleague". After the arrest of corporal Susuki, about 2,000 team members of the Forces at the same base were tested for marijuana. The results showed that four members had positive response to the urine test. The commander of the base said that "the arrest of team members was deeply regretted, steps would be taken to prevent further happening of such incidents".

Recently in Hong Kong drug problem among high school students and teens is a hot topic. It seems that soldiers in Japan are facing a similar problem.

2009年7月27日 星期一

The Pattern of the Chinese Past(III)

In chapter seven Elvin says that originally the Sung empire had a large land force: it had 300,000 soldiers in Hopei to check the Khitan, and 450,000 in Shensi to deter the Hsi-hsi. Yet eventually the Mongols could defeat the southern Sung. Elvin suggests that Sung's defeat lied pre-eminently in the transfer of technology across the imperial frontier to the less civilized peoples.1 Elvin says that the output of pig iron per person in China multiplied several times between late Tang and early Sung. Later Chinese even produced steel either by means of co-fusion of pig iron and wrought iron, or by direct decarbonization in cold oxidizing blast. According to Elvin, such technical knowledge on iron work spread to the north-eastern frontier to the Khitan, and later to Chin Tartars. The latter put this knowledge into good use, and combine them with cavalry warfare which they always excelled. In the battle field, the Khitan relied mostly on mounted archery which was much effective than the Chinese crossbows. Also in the battle field, the Chinese lacked the supply of horse, perhaps their increasing population had let to a conversion of pasture to arable land. When the Chin Tartar captured northern China in 1127, it deprived the Sung of their important sources of iron and coal. Iron later flow freely through commercial channels into Mongolia, and this resource helped the Mongol to become a formidable war machine. Another technological evolution that changed the face of warfare was the use of gunpowder. According to Elvin it was the Chin who were responsible for improving the powder and turned it into true explosive.2 In 1221 the Chin use 'iron fire bombs' in the battle field against the Chinese in Hupei to help shattering city walls. This technique was taken up by the Mongols eventually. Another technological success achieved by the Mongols in their conquest of the Sung empire was the building of fleets. In 1279, the Mongol seagoing fleet defeated the Southern Sung naval forces at the battle of Yai-shan and thus sealed the fate of Sung dynasty. Elvin concludes this chapter by noting that "it was by acquiring the techniques of civilization that the barbarian had become truly formidable'. 3 (to be continued)

1. Elvin, Mark. The Pattern of Chinese Past. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973, page 84
2. page 88
3. page 90

2009年7月26日 星期日


Recently Yomiuri News reported the following:

25日午前8時40分頃、岐阜県関市旭ヶ丘の同県警関署旭ヶ丘交番に、「母親を殺した」と男が出頭してきた。同署員が男の自宅を確認したところ、ベッドで頭から血を流して死亡している女性を発見。男が殴ったことなど認めたため、殺人容疑で緊急逮捕した。発表によると、逮捕されたのは同市仲町、自転車販売業野沢伸一容疑者(60)。死亡していたのは、野沢容疑者と同居していた母、静さん(83)。調べに対し、野沢容疑者は「午前5時頃、母親を殺そうと首を絞めたが, 死ななかったので、モンキーレンチで殴った。寝たきりの母の介護に疲れていた」と供述しているという。同署は静さんの遺体を解剖し、詳しい死因を調べる。野沢容疑者は、静さんと2人暮らし。約5年前から静さんを介護していた。近所の住民は、「車いすを押しを病院に連れて行ったり、お風呂に入れたり、獻身的に介護をしていたまじめな人だった」と驚きを隠せない様子だった。

In the morning on the 25th at about 8.40 am, a man in the Gifu prefecture reported to the police station claiming that he had killed his mother. The police visited his house and found in bed a dead women with blood bled from the head. The man admitted hitting the woman and was quickly arrested. According to a report, the arrested male (60 years old) was in automobile business. The deceased was his mother (83 years old) who had been living with him. According to the investigation, the suspect said that "in the morning at about 5 am, I tried to strangle my mother, but because she did not die so I hit her with a wrench. I am tired of looking after my bedridden old mother". Police would carry out the autopsy and investigate the cause of death. The suspect and the deceased lived together, and five years ago the suspect began looking after his mother. People living nearby were surprised, they said that the man used wheelchair to take her to the hospital, and helped her to have a bath, he truly devoted to looking after her.
This is a sad story. Recently in the Hong Kong newspaper I read a similar sad story too. In court a 41 years old man was charged with trying to murder his 87 years old father in the hospital. The son had been visiting the hospital every day to look after the father who had chronic illnesses.

2009年7月25日 星期六

The Pattern of the Chinese Past(II)

In chapter two Elvin starts analysing Chinese imperial history from the Chin dynasty (BC 221-207). Chapter 3 is about the crisis of the Empire in the third century AD, a time when China was divided into three rival kingdoms, with Wei (魏) in the north, Wu (吳) south of the Yantze and Shu (蜀) in Szechwan.1 Chapter 4 focuses on development in Northern China, to see show it was overrun by barbarian armies. Unity of the Empire was restored under the Sui dynasty (AD 589 -617) which was then succeeded by Tang (AD 618-906) .2 These dynasties belonged to two consecutive periods of the middle empire which is discussed in details in chapter 5. In many respects, immediately before this period, the Chinese empire was a synthesis of sino-barbarians. In chapter 6, Elvin talks about the Sung dynasty (AD 906 - 1126). During this period, economic and technological revolution occurred, this had the effect of reducing the burden of the administration, and increasing its efficiency as a war machine. It was also at this moment that the Empire began to diverge significantly from that of Europe in terms of development. Chinese society developed in the direction of manorialism, but the state retained control over defence function, and there was no feudal superstructure in China.3 Sung became a powerful state, yet eventually it was conquered by barbarian forces from the north. (to be continued)

1.Elvin, Mark. The Pattern of the Chinese Past. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973, page 35
2. page 53
3. page 69

2009年7月24日 星期五


Recently Yahoo News reported the following:

新型インフルエンザ 対策で、国内ワクチンメーカーの生產が本格化している。 財団法人化學及血清療法研究所 (化血研, 熊本市)は25日までに、製造過程の写真を公開、担当者は「生產に最大限努力したい」としている。厚生労働省によると、国内メーカー4社のうち、化血研が24日、別の1社が20日に生產を開始しており、ほかの2社も8月中に後に続く。来年2月まで 製造を続けた場合、計約23000万~30000万人分が用意される見通し。接種希望者が多ければ、同省は輸入も検討する。

In response to the new type influenza, vaccine production in the country is now in place. A research center on 25th has released its photo on its vaccine making and undertakes to give the best effort in its production. According to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor, among the four producers in the country, this research center has started production on the 24th. Another one has started on the 20th, the other two producers will start from mid-August. By February next year, it is estimated that total production will be good enough for about 23 million to 30 million people. If too many people want to receive vaccination, the ministry will consider importing more vaccine.

As more and more countries are ready to use vaccination to fight the influenza, it seems that Hong Kong Government has done a right thing in ordering the vaccine some months ago.

2009年7月23日 星期四

The Pattern of the Chinese Past(I)

Mark Elvin in 1973 finished writing his book The Pattern of the Chinese Past. This book is about the social and economic changes in China up to the Qing period. In writing this book Elvin had spent great effort to understand the formation of the world's largest enduring state: China. This book has 16 chapters, divided into three parts. Part one is about the formation of Chinese Empire, part two is about the medieval economic revolutions of the Empire, part three is about its economic development without the help of technological changes. In the preface Elvin says that he always had three questions in mind. First, why did the Chinese Empire stay together when the Roman Empire collapsed. Second, what were the causes of the medieval revolutions which had made Chinese economy the most advance in the world in after AD 1100. Third, why did the Empire after AD 1350 continue to advance economically, but not technologically. The book tries to suggest answers to these three questions. In chapter one Elvin suggests that in historical times a political unit could expand was usually due to some form of superiority it had over its neighbours. For example, its people might be more effectively organized due to widespread literacy or a particular kind of ideology. Or its labour force was more effective and thus could maintain a larger nonproductive military and administrative establishment. Or the soldiers might have better weapon and discipline.1 (to be continued)

1.Elvin, Mark. The Pattern of the Chinese Past. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973, page 18

2009年7月22日 星期三


Recently Yomiuri News reported the following:

富士フイルムは22日、3次元(3D)画像を簡単に撮影でき、特殊な眼鏡なしで楽しむことができる世界初のデジタルカメラ「ファインピックス リアル 3D W1」 (想定価格6万円前後 )を8月8日に発売すると発表した。レンズと、ファルムにあたる「CCDセンサー」を2個ずつ備えており、同時に撮影した二つの画像を合成し、裸眼でも立体的に見えるとう。 動画の撮影もできる。撮影した3D画像は、カメラ背面の液晶画面で確認できる。ただ、画像をプリントするには、撮影データを写真店に持ち込む必要があり、1枚当たり500円かかる。通常のパソコンでの再生はできず、8型の液晶画面を備えた專用の表示装置 (想定価格5万円前後)が必要だ。

Fuji Film on the 22nd this month announced that on the eighth of next month it will launch its new 3D digital camera which can produce photos with 3D effect without the need for special viewing glass (this camera will cost around 60,000 yen). It has two lenses and sensors, and can merger two images together to produce the 3D effect that can be seen by naked eyes. It can also take movies. The 3D image can be pre-viewed at the back screen of the camera. As for the printing of 3D photos, the data needed to be taken to photo shops, the estimated photo cost is 500 yen each. Ordinary computers cannot be used for viewing because specially equipped LCD monitors are required (price is around 50,000 yen).

I like photography, therefore I look forward to seeing this new product.

2009年7月21日 星期二


Recently the Fuji News Network reported the following:

全国の百貨店の2009年上半期の売上高は、2008年に比べ10%以上マイナスとなり、過去最大の落ち込みを記錄した。日本百貨店協会によると、 全国の百貨店の2009年1~6月の売上高は、2008年同じ時期と比べて11.0%少ない3兆2.133億円で、過去最大の下落幅となった。2008年9月以降の消費者の買い控えで、主力 の衣料品や高額商品の不振が 響いた形。しかし、6月については、売り上げ減少のテンポが緩やかになってきており、 日本百貨店協会は「業績回復の兆」が見られるとしている。

Nation wide sales in department stores in Japan the in the first half of 2009, when compare with 2008, witnessed a minus of over 10%, being the largest drop on record. According to the All Japan Department Stores Association, the drop amounted to 3.2 trillion yen. Since September 2008, consumers refrained their buying, mainly on choice clothing items and high end products. But starting from June, the tempo of slowing down in sales was reduced. The Association felt that there were signs that sales were recovering.

To me, the about report is a good news. Especially after hearing the news yesterday that the unemployment rate in Hong Kong was predicted to continue to climb.

2009年7月20日 星期一


Recently blueberries are in great supply, the quality is good and the price is reasonable. According to some sayings, blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber, they have vitamin C and iron. Dried blueberries have long been a popular folk remedy for diarrhea and other intestinal problems. Although they are sweet and tasty, they are not high in calories. Some people eat them as snack or dessert because they are low in calories, some people add blueberries to muffins.

2009年7月19日 星期日

Wei Yuan (魏源)(VIII)

In the last two chapters, Leonard reiterated that Wei saw the biggest threat from the West was their presence at the outer zones of the maritime Asia, and the secondary threat was their ability to attack China coast to support opium trafficking. Wei's solution to the threat was to restore Chinese influence in Nan-yang, and to strengthen coastal defense.1 Leonard questioned why Wei saw the western threats in such a light, and suggested that it was probably due to his traditional concept of land barrier in national defence. Wei believed that the inner circle states were still anti-western and could stop Western encroachments.2 He also believed that on land the western powers could be defeated. About Macau and Hong Kong, Leonard was puzzled by Wei's silence on these two locations in his book, despite their geopolitical importance to China.3 Leonard suggested that probably it was due to Wei's traditional views about the importance of land frontiers, and his belief that British could not dominate the China's coast easily, even with help from these two naval basis. In the long run, Wei felt that China should rely on diplomacy, and during the interum, avoid provoking hostilities with the West until China had built up its military strength. Wei's diplomatic plan involved the rebuilding of the tributary system in Nan-yang, with the purpose of blocking western expansion. Wei's reliance on the tributary system reflected his ignorance of Nan-yang. 4 Apart from using diplomacy to buy time, Wei recommended plans to strengthening China's coastal defence, with the ultimate aim of reasserting China's overlordship in Nan-yang. Crucial to Wei's plans for military strengthening was to adopt Western arms and naval equipment, including the purchase of warships from France and America that could sail from Canton to southern India.5 In Wei's view, the problem of the Opium War was about the bandits and the people who sold them, it was also about the rotting of men's hearts, and the rupture of Chinese moral-political orders.6

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press,1984, page 175
2. page 195
3. page 181
4. page 190
5. page 196
6. page 200

2009年7月18日 星期六


卑詩大學亞洲圖書館是我常到的地方之一. 它位於卑詩大學校園西北角一小樹林裏面. 由外面看,它是一間巨形木頂大屋, 圖書館佔用了部份地下和二樓全層, 環境清雅. 圖書館成立於上世紀六十年代, 由收藏<蒲坂藏書樓>開始. 之後它陸續收藏的中文罕有書籍計有<宋學鵬藏書> 和<景頤齋藏書>等等. 現在中文書籍總計超過二十九萬冊, 另外還有各種雜誌接近一千種, 縮影軟片檔案超過八千個, 包括二十世紀初在溫哥華出版的中文報紙<大漢公報>. 除了中文書籍外, 同時也有大量日文書籍和韓文書籍. 近年它亦不斷電腦化和電子化, 圖書館使用者可以透過互聯網連接到中國一些有名的學術資料資源中心. 這圖書館亦和北美洲一些有名大學圖書館互通, 分享收藏資源. 圖書館是免費開放給公眾人士使用, 它每日更新的報紙包括有中文和日文, 有些是來自亞洲, 是不少讀者每日必看的刊物.

2009年7月17日 星期五


最近有關國學大師季羨林逝世的消息令我想起另外一位國學大師陳寅恪(1890 - 1969). 我於是從書架中取出多年前看過有關陳的書重溫一遍, 它帶給我的傷感與當年第一次看時的並無淡褪. 我為國家浪費了一個不可多得的人才而感到遺憾. 亦為一個有高尚氣節的文人學者的不屈精神作出敬意. <陳寅恪的最後20年>是天地圖書在1996年出版. 全書共二十二章. 這書的故事開始於1949年, 這是一個大時代, 不少人必須作出去留的決定, 包括陳寅恪在內. 書序由1948年底的北京講起, 北京大學校長胡適在十二月十五日登上一架冒險在南苑機場降落的飛機, 開始了 "搶運學人" 的序幕. 全書故事主要是講述陳在廣東中山大學的經歷, 詳細地介紹每一個與陳有關連的人物, 有十分感性的敘述, 值得一看.

2009年7月16日 星期四


Recently the NHK News reported the following:

IMFは15日、日本経済の現状や先行きについて分析したことしの年次報告書を 公表しました。それによりますと日本のことしのGDP=国内総生產は、前の年比べて6% のマイナスとなるものの、來年には1.75%プラス成長に戻ると予測しています。その一方、「インフレは2011年までマイナスにとどまると予想される」として、物価が下がり、経済活動の停滯につながりかねないデフレの状態が、2年後まで続くという見通しを示しました。 また、雇用状況の惡化や不安定な 金融市場の影響で「見通しはきわめて 不透明 だ」としています。そのうえで、IMFの年次報告書では、日本は財政赤字の拡大と內需主導型の成長への転換の遅れから「2007年には1.75%だった潜在成長率が1%に近づきうる」と警告し, 農業やサービス分野での規制緩和や,対日投資の促進など構造改革の必要性を指摘しています。

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had released their report that analysed Japan's economy. It predicted that although there would be a return to positive growth in the coming year, in two years time in 2011, the economic activities would stand still and the deflation situation would continue. IMF on 15th of this month released its annual economic report on Japan regarding the current and coming economic situation. It said that this year although Japan would have a minus 6% in GDP when compared with the previous year, in the coming year it would be a plus of 1.75%. Also, it was expected that inflation would cease in 2011 and then stay at a minus. By then, commodity prices would go down, economic activities would stall due to deflation. Also, due to the effect of deteriorating employment situation and unsettle financial market, the future is extremely unclear. This IMF annual report gave warning that due Japan's budget deficit increase and delay in increasing domestic needs, the latent growth rate was near 1%. The report also pointed out the need for structural changes such as relaxing regulating rules in agriculture and service sectors, and to promote investment in Japan.

In view of the above IMF report, I think Japan has good reason to worry about their economic future.

2009年7月15日 星期三

Wei Yuan (魏源)(VII)

In chapter seven Leonard pointed out that Wei regarded the west as one single region similar to that of Nan-yang: they were politically fragmented small states. The only difference was that the West was more unstable because they lacked a system of tribute and overlordship.1 Wei attributed the growth of European maritime power in Asia to their emphasis on trade, and competition among different nation-states. Wei thought that these two features had led to the national self-aggrandizement, and they were not in harmony with Chinese traditional values.2 Wei thought that Europe had once been unified under a vast empire centered in Rome headed by a Pope who functioned as both religious and political leader. In some respects, Wei drew parallels between the role of the Pope with the Chinese emperor: they discharged both political and religious functions. 3. Wei seemed to feel that in history the lack of political morality was the reason for the breaking down of the Roman Empire. And now the West was searching for profit in Asia through opium trading, backed by military forces, Wei saw it as the consequence of lack of virtue and sound political values.4 At that moment Wei was unaware of other motives that prompted Western overseas expansion, for example religious zeal, rivalries among leading European countries, and for adventure and exploration.5 Overall, Wei was unable to grasp the fact that Western advance in naval technology had shrunk the distance between Europe and Asia.6 Wei, while introducing Malacca and Singapore, noted that there was a Anglo-Chinese school that employed Chinese to teach on a variety of subjects such as Classics, history, literature and philosophical works. He deplored the fact that all along China was reluctant to learn about the West.7 It was also clear to Wei that oceans were no longer barriers to communication and Asia was vulnerable to Western intrusion.8 But at this moment Wei still believed that because Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam were still independent from Western control, and they were in the inner circle around China, thus they could form a buffer zone protecting China from threats from the south. Due to Wei's traditional notion of distance and his belief in the buffer effect of land frontier, he perceived the threats as not yet at China's gate, but was at the outer zones of the maritime Asia. (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984, page 154
2. page 155
3. pages 155-6
4. page 156
5. page 157
6. page 164
7. page 165
8. page 166

2009年7月14日 星期二


Recently Yahoo News reported the following :

国内食品最大手のキリンホールディングスと同2位のサントリーホールディグスが経営統合に向け交涉に入ったことが13日、分かった。統合が実現 すれば、ビールと清涼飲料でそりぞれ国内トップとなるほか、平成20年3月期 両社単純合算の連結売上高は3兆8200億円と、世界でも最大級の酒類. 飲料メーカーが 誕生する。 食品業界の勢力図が塗り変わるのは確実で、国際的な業界再編が加速する可能性も出てきた。. . . 統合後の両社の連結 売上高は、国内食品3位のアサヒビール (1兆4627億円) を2.6倍に達し、 世界の食品会社でも、 米飲料事業最大手のペプシコや 米総合食品大手のクラフト.フーズと肩を並べる。

The nation's biggest food company Kirin Holdings and the second biggest Suntory Holdings were considering a merger. If the merger is materialized, total beer and beverage joint sales around the country would reach 3.82 trillion yen, and becomes the world's largest wine and beverage making company. This will redraw the map in the food industry and may accelerate changes in the international food business. After merging, the total sales would be 2.6 times larger than the third largest company Asahi Breweries which has 1.46 trillion yen sales. And in the world's food industry, the new company would be comparable to the world's biggest beverage company the PesiCo, and the US food industry giant the Kraft Foods.

It seems that merger is a way out for big companies in order to stay profitable. Probably merger will continue to be the trend in the business world.

2009年7月13日 星期一

Wei Yuan (魏源)(VI)

The purpose of chapter five was to clarify the nature and purpose of the Treatise, its structure, and its source materials. It also explained the book's significance as a traditional Chinese statement about the foreign maritime world. In this chapter Leonard stressed that Wei's view on the maritime world or the tributary order had not changed although he was using western sources to write his book.1 Wei wrote the book with the Opium War in mind, the purpose was to guide Qing official in the conflicts with the British.2 What Wei saw was that for the first time, Nan-yang was occupied by Western powers. What Qing had to do was to know the barbarian, and he admitted that Qing's ignorance about the situation.3 In chapter six, Leonard pointed out that because Wei understood the War from the perspective of China's relations with the Nan-yang, therefore his solution was to restore what he considered as the "normal" stabilising patterns of overlordship and tribute system. Qing still held the concept of regional overlordship in the Nan-yang and saw itself had a responsibilities for the region.4 There was still no equal nation-state concept in Wei's understandings of Nan-yang, and the world beyond. Wei's perception of the regional tribute system in Nan-yang was an expression of the traditional Chinese concept of hierarchy in Nan-yang political relationships, with Qing as the overlord at the center. In Wei's understanding, the responsibilities for regional overlordship was more than maintaining internal order, it encompassed the maintenance of peaceful relations between neighboring regional powers.5 With this world view in mind, Wei saw the British occupation of Singapore and intrusion into the Malay Peninsula as an encroachment against Thai's overlordship in the region.6 Wei knew that for Qing, direct intervention was not the best solution in suppressing disruptive elements in the Nan-yang because behind-the-scenes maneuvers could be a better solution. He suggested joined military efforts by Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand to fight against the British intrusion into the Nan-yang maritime world.7 (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984, page 93
2. Ibid., page 99
3. Ibid., page 100
4. Ibid., page 121
5. Ibid., page 134
6. Ibid., page 135
7. Ibid., page 142

2009年7月12日 星期日


A few days ago I had the chance of tasting locally caught fish, including two trouts which were steamed as lunch. They were about 1.5 lbs each, caught by my elder daughter together with her boy friend. The meat of the fish looked like pink salmon, it was in light pink color but the texture was slightly softer. Because there were small bones at the back, we had to eat them with care. According to my daughter, local people liked to fry the trout with flour. The fish symbolized a new stage in life to me as the parent of a daughter.

2009年7月11日 星期六


Recently the Yomiuri News reported the following:

8日午後4時45分頃、山梨県笛吹市御坂町下黑駒, 廃棄物回收 リサイクル会社鈴健興業の從業員男性 (29)が ' ゴミ選別中に大量の1万円札を見つけた’ と110番した. 笛吹署の発表によると、從業員らが同社工場の '吹笛リサイクルプラント’のベルトコンベヤーで、 収回したゴミをプラスチックや紙類に選別していたところ、ゴミに交ざった1万円札 が百數十枚 流れてきたという。ゴミは県外のゴミ収集車が持ち込んで来た。 同署で 拾得物として現金の所有者を捜している。

In the afternoon on the eighth of this month, in a recycle plant at the Yamanashi Prefecture a twenty-nine years old worker dialed 110 to report to the police that a large amount of ten thousand yen bills were found. According to the police report, this company, when trying to separate plastic and paper objects, at their conveyor belt they saw over one hundred numbers of ten thousand yen bills slowly moving together with the rubbish. The rubbish was brought there by rubbish collecting cars from outside the province. The police treated this as a lost and found case and was looking for the owner of the money.
Sometimes Japanese may handle their cash in different unthinkable ways. Not long ago I heard from the news in Japan that someone put cash inside envelops and deposited them to strangers' house. Interesting!

2009年7月10日 星期五


<回憶我的父親張恨水> 是一本我較早期購買的書 (一九七九年廣角鏡出版). 當時電視台播放本地電視製作劇集 "啼笑因緣", 收視率很高. 它的主題曲亦紅極一時, 街頭巷尾的唱片舖都播它. 我因為有興趣知道"啼笑因緣"原本小說的作者張恨水(1895 - 1967) 的背景, 故買了這本書. 作者是張的女兒張明明. 這本書文筆亦算流暢. 張恨水壯年時正值中國多災多難的年代. 他到了晚年, 亦要面對一些人禍. 例如作者在214頁有以下的一段自己當時生活的描述:

"從一九五九年開始, 中國進入了物質供應極度缺乏的 '三年困難期' . . . 那時期我們沒有足夠的食物. 用句摩登的話講就是沒有足夠的卡路里來應付每天的正常活動. 我正在上大學, 學校裏的體育課停止了, 改學太極拳 . . . 老年人和孩子則慘些 . . ."

讀者從這本書除了可以看到張恨水的生平和他的一些個人習慣外, 並可由側面見到時人的生活片段. 對張恨水生平有興趣的人士可以一看.

2009年7月9日 星期四

Wei Yuan (魏源)(V)

In chapter four, Leonard pointed out Wei's belief that the maritime affair was associated with Qing's internal problems arose from internal weakness. Therefore Wei's solution was to change pattern in trade and politics of Nan-yang (南洋) in response to the Western penetration in the region. 1 The solution to this problem, according Wei, was to eradicate the Chinese piracy which was part of the opium smuggling activity, and believed to have interrupted the Nan-yang trade since the early 19th century along the coast of Guangdong. Wei was the first Chinese to reappraise coastal security by altering the traditional Qing orientation to the southeastern coastal region.2 According to Wei, the poor communication between the Emperor and Guangdong had kept the Court from seeing the full picture of the crisis. Also, the Emperor was not aware of the backwardness of Qing marine in face of the British. And as such, poor decision were made by the Court during the opium crisis.3 Wei during the War had once accompanied I-li-pu's army to reoccupy Chusan after the British had retreated. He was shocked by the unruliness of the Chinese troops and their inadequacy in military discipline.4 In late June 1841 Wei met Lin Tse-hsu (林則徐) after the latter was ordered into exile. During that discussion, Lin mentioned the enormous power of the British naval force and 'implored Wei to publicize the issue and awaken China to the seriousness of Western penetration of maritime Asia'.5 (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984, pages 79-80
2. page 86
3. page 90
4. page 91
5. page 91

2009年7月8日 星期三


Recently the Yomiuri News reported the following:

日本航空と全日本空輸は7日、 今秋から不採算便の廃止や減便を計画していることを明らかにした。関西国際 空港発着便で、 全日空は高知(1 日2便), 松山 (同), 鹿児島(1日1便) の3 路線を廃止、 福岡線も1日4便から2便に減らす計画だ。 日航は大連, 杭州 の中國2路線廃止、国內線でも一部路線の廃止などを検討している. また、日航は中部国際空港発着のパリ便運休も検討している。 日航は6月にも、成田空港, 関空など発着の国際線 8 路線を夏季限定で減便すると発表している。 世界不況 や新型インフルイザにより航空需要は落ち込んでおり、 両社は秋の見直しでそれぞれ数十億円の收支改善效果を見込んでいる。

Two Japanese airlines have announced plans that starting from this autumn unprofitable flights will be stopped or reduced. All Nippon Airways (ANA) will cancel three domestic routes and reduce flights in one other. Japan Air Lines (JAL) will cancel their flights to two Chinese cities, and will review some of its domestic routes. Also, JAL will consider stopping the flights to Paris. JAL in June has already reduced its flight in eight international routes. Due to the world's uncertain future and the new influenza, the demand for air flight has declined. It is expected that in the autumn assessment, respectively these two companies can achieve income improvement up to many billion yen.

My feeling is that, in view of the above, is it too optimistic to say that Japan's economy is recovering.

2009年7月7日 星期二

Wei Yuan (魏源)(IV)

Leonard in chapter two suggested that Wei Yuan's response to the crisis generated by the Opium War was shaped by the history of Sino-Nan-yang relations. Leonard also highlighted his observation that in Qing, the geographical literature about the maritime world was few when compared to the large amount of geographical writings about China's Inner Asia. This imbalance is a reflection on the difference of importance attached by the Court to these two separate regions. After the War, when the Chinese began to look at the Nan-yang with renewed interest, they began to pay attention to the geographical writing did by the Jesuit decades ago.1 Leonard also mentioned that at one time Malacca was the center of Nan-yang trade. The rulers of Malacca in the early fifteen century enticed Javanese and Sumatran traders to their port. And they also adopted Islam ' in order to enhance and solidify ties with Islamic traders'.2 Leonard also stressed that it was wrong for scholars to confuse the tribute system and the junk trade as one single system. The junk trade was the only important link between Qing and the maritime world before the Opium War. In chapter three, Leonard said that Qing was indifferent to the coastal control and treated the West with indifference and contempt up to the Opium War. Also, the Sino-Nan-yang trade was handled at the local level as part of the the junk trade. At the start of the dynasty, Qing allowed foreigners, both European and Asians to do business in Macao, Chang-chou, Ningpo, Amoy, and Yun-tai Shan.3 But as problems with the missionaries grew, Qing gradually restricted foreign trade to Canton. 4 Eventually it was known as the Canton system. The government arm of the Canton system was the Guangdong Maritime Customs. The hongs were responsible for the behavior of personnel from foreign ships. The hong merchants became the link between foreign traders and Chinese officials. From the Chinese point of view, trading was a privilege to the foreigners, therefore Qing could dictate all trading terms. And as such, the foreigners had no right to discuss, and communication with official was deemed unnecessary.5 But as western trade grew and the Canton system was unable to cope, grievances mounted. (to be continued)

1. Leonard, Jane Kate. Wei Yuan and China's Rediscovery of the Maritime World. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University: distributed by Harvard University Press, 1984, page 54
2. page 56
3. page 72
4. page 73
5. page 75

2009年7月6日 星期一


Yesterday I had BBQ at my backyard with relatives and friends of about twenty people. For over a decade it was an annual ritual for me to organize such a gathering in the summer. The weather was mild. It was a good moment to socialize, to enjoy the sunshine from the above and the green lawn under your feet. While my family prepared chicken wing, sausage, fried rice, sweet corn and vegetable, they brought along sushi, dumpling and many other good stuff. On a yearly basis, I could see kids turned into teens, and young people getting older. Time flies.

2009年7月5日 星期日


下關只是一個小型商業中心和交通運輸轉運站, 有碼頭和街道. 鈕先銘等四人經過重重火海才能到達江邊. 這兒並無船隻, 只有一群散兵. 但在這裡的人, 誰也不願意站著等死. 於是拆房子的拆房子, 搬傢俱的搬傢俱. 凡是木材和可以浮起來的東西, 都集中起來, 把它們綁起成木排, 用來渡江. 不久一個較早前失散了的上尉醫官出現, 並向鈕報到. 他提議大家造一個木排, 眾人造完之後兩, 個士兵和醫官爬了上去這個只有三五見方的木排, 半浮半沉順江而下. 只剩下鈕和他的表弟逗留在江邊. 事實上, 在江邊仍然有成千上萬的散兵遊勇, 都在各自為自己出路打主意. 不久有一小船駛近江邊碼頭, 表弟一跳而登上了. 而鈕則沒有那個敏捷, 並丟進水裏. 眼看小船離開, 表兄想救也無從. 鈕是不懂水性, 可幸的是他的棉軍服在短時間變成救生衣, 暫時浮著. 而他亦本能地手舞足蹈, 幸運地抓住了一根非常粗大的木頭, 一個人在黑夜的十二月寒冬在江水裏順流而下. 過了一些時間, 江水把他沖回上岸. 他並未有成功北渡, 雖然遠離 落水的碼頭, 他仍然在南京的下關下游地區. 他爬上一斷崖的堤岸, 總算命不應絕. 之後他展轉來到上元門. 他在城門口向內外見, 只見一堆一堆兵士, 總數在數千以上. 城門裏的房屋還算齊全, 城外的環境則不同, 房子很少, 都是沒有屋頂的破屋. 原來是被散兵拆去造渡江工具. 但是其中有一所房子例外, 雖然並非什麼高樓大廈, 但屋瓦齊全, 座落於一矮樹林中. 它在江的邊緣, 簡直是一沙漠綠洲. 鈕走近一見, 才知道這是一農村的小寺廟. 門楣上石刻有 '永清寺' 三字. 寺廟裏外也有三,五十個士兵, 有些躺臥在地上睡覺. 日本軍來到這個地方掃蕩國軍只是時間上的問題. 鈕先銘往後的際遇就和這寺廟結下不解緣. 翌年九月他脫險返回武漢, 才知到他的留學法國同學曾在七,八月間為他開了追弔會 (註: 鈕亦曾於日本士官學校畢業, 懂日語). 因為鈕先銘是一個不懂游泳的人,在一嚴冬黑夜跌了落江, 不淹死也會凍死, 故此被朋友假定已死亡. 至於鈕先銘是怎樣避過成為日軍的戰俘, 並能逃離南京, 可以說是一個很好的電影劇本.

2009年7月4日 星期六


在上世紀六十年代初開始, 廣東省進行對清末至1949年各個歷史時期的資料收集, 編寫和研究. 並把部分收集得到稿件輯錄成書出版, 其中一書是<廣東文史資料>. 這本書第一輯是在1961年面世, 當時僅作內部發行. 但多年之後, 後期出版各輯已經是公開的書籍. <廣東文史資料>第一輯在1961年六月面世, 之後它繼續作不定時出版. 據我的瞭解, 在三十多年間, 總共出版了七十一輯. 最後一輯是在1992年一月. 在這七十一輯裏面, 有很多是第一手資料, 例如時人生活片段回憶記錄, 或者是時人耳聞目睹的事件, 故頗有歷史參考價值. (註:相片中的<廣東文史資料>是加拿大卑詩大學亞洲圖書館藏品)

2009年7月3日 星期五


<空門行腳>是春秋雜誌第二卷第二期(1.2.1965)的其中一篇文章. 是有關作者在1937年12月12日以後在南京遇到的個人經歷 (註:南京大屠殺不久便在這裡發生). 我多年前讀這文章時, 已被這故事的傳奇性所吸引, 並感受到抗日戰爭中的各種戰亂景象. 作者鈕先銘把他的故事分開十次在雜誌刊出. 他當時是負責守衛南京的一個營長. 故事開始于南京十一月底, 部份守軍第一次報告發現城南外有日軍活動跡象. 在十二月十二日鈕先銘接到團長接的命令, 要他帶領部份部隊撤退出南京. 當時日軍是在南京南面, 故他們只有向北面撤退, 北方是一條河. 他從明故宮經鼓樓行到北平路口, 再行到鐵道部和交通部大廈附近時. 國軍各類人等幾乎擁擠在馬路當中. 因為前面的停滯, 而後者又向前擁. 情況開始混亂, 在這個時間, 所有人都希望可以迅速離開這個地方. 當時他的部隊只有餘下三,五十人. 其餘的當然是在驚慌中 各自行動, 以期各自逃生, 而致失散. 于是他指定一軍官領導這群人. 自己帶領三人到江邊觀察. 途中見到有不少轎車的引擎仍然開動, 但車子裏面並無一人. 他感覺到在遠方開始有槍彈射到這裡的人群. 當他們四人返回原來聚集點時, 已經無法找到部隊中任何一人. 他們幾個在人群裏面經過一輪掙扎, 終於可以離開城門的範圍. 可是一出城便見到下關一帶一片火海. (待續)

2009年7月2日 星期四


Recently the Japanese Jiji News reported the following:

大手コンビニエンスストアのローソンが1日、 東京都 千代田区に 喫煙ルームを備えた実験店を新規開店したことを分かった、路上喫煙や吸い殻のポイ捨てを防ざ、周辺の環境美化につなげるのが狙い。屋外に灰皿を置いているコンビニは多いが店内に喫煙専用の部屋を設けたのは業界ても初とみられる。 同店は 日比谷公園やJR新橋駅近くのオフィス街にあり, 周辺には 喫煙者も多い。喫煙ルームは飲食ザベースの奥にあり、ガラス戸で仕切って 空気清淨機やいすなど置いた。 利用時間は午前7時から午後10時まで。
A big convenient store in Japan is experimenting with the opening of a smoking room at their store, with the aims of prevent smoking on the street and discarding cigarettes butts around, and to beautify the environment. Although it is nothing new to have ash trays outside convenient stores, to assign a room inside the store for smoking is a new attempt in the industry. One branch store of this company is near the office district where there are lots of smokers. Deep inside its cafetiere corner there is a smoking room. Glass door is used to separate air circulation, air cleaning machine and chairs are installed . The room can be used from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm.

I am wondering if convenient stores in Hong Kong can consider adding such a facility at their branch shops at locations such as Central and Causeway Bay. This may help the smoking white-collar workers in the area.

2009年7月1日 星期三


中國人在上一個世紀, 特別是在開始頭的五十年 (1900-1950) 經歷了大大小小的災難和戰爭. 例如庚子拳亂,八國聯軍入北京, 軍閥內戰, 北閥, 抗日戰爭, 國共內戰. 香港 在六十年代中有些學者出版一本雜誌叫<春秋>. 它收集了不少時人在那五十年的親身經歷, 轉化成文字, 與大家分享. 如果你對當時曾發生的事情有興趣的話, 這本雜誌是頗有參考價值. 春秋雜誌的第一卷是在1964年7月出版. 據我的理解, 第二十四卷是最後一卷, 在1976年6月出版. <春秋> 每卷有六期, 每期在每月一日出版. (註:相片中的雜誌是加拿大卑詩大學亞洲圖書館藏品)