Chinese Gordon

Rob Stallard surveys the exploits of one of Britain’s greatest heroes in China (China Eye magazine (2008)). When I heard the phrase ‘Chinese Gordon’ I wondered, surely, our Prime Minister could not have turned into a Sinophile? The explanation became more intriguing at every turn. The ‘Gordon’ in question was the all-British hero I knew as ‘Gordon of Khartoum’. So why the Chinese sobriquet and why did he have amongst his possessions the throne of the Chinese Emperor and a gold medal struck especially in his honour by order of the Emperor? If you go back one hundred years and […]

The UK Chinese Community

Walter Fung gives a survey of the Chinese communities in the UK. The article first appeared in SACU’s China Eye magazine in 2008. Walter Fung was born in Liverpool of Chinese parents and grew up in his father’s laundry. He is now retired after working for 35 years in the textile industry and is a member of SACU council as magazine editor. This subject is more complex than its simple title would suggest. The Chinese community comprises a variety of people from different places who came to the UK at different times, for different reasons, from different backgrounds and with […]

The Chinese in Britain

This is a historical article from an early issue of China Now magazine. Jenny Clegg tells the story of Britain’s Chinese community and their hosts’ ambivalent reaction. The history of the Chinese in Britain has yet to be written. What exists is only a handful of surveys, dissertations, census figures, and newspaper reports. But put these together and the story begins to unfold – a story that is part of both Britain’s and China’s history, and one that only makes sense viewed in the context of the relations between the two countries. It is a story in which there is […]

Charles Henry Brewitt-Taylor: Translator of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Cyril Cannon worked in the printing industry before moving to academia, undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics. His final posts were in Hongkong, initially helping to set up what is now City University, and then as Academic Consultant to Lingnan. He is retired and lives in London. He has been a SACU member for well over 20 years, and was on the editorial board of China in Focus. This article is based on the author’s Public Success, Private Sorrow: the Life and Times of Charles Henry Brewitt-Taylor (1857-1938), China Customs Commissioner and Pioneer Translator. Foreword […]

First Impressions of Chinese about the West

China’s introduction to Europe was a bewildering experience. R.G. Tiedemann, a lecturer at “S.O.A.S. University of London” ➚ describes how it was not just the gunboats which shook Chinese civilisation. First published in China Now magazine 1992. First impressions The intellectual discovery of Europe was a traumatic event for imperial China. It shattered entrenched notions of a centrality and superiority which had intensified after China’s retreat into isolation in the fifteenth century, since the self-contained Chinese world order denied the existence of a civilisation other than their own there had been little inclination to find out about the outside world. […]

Robert Hart: a man of two worlds

Martin Lynn recounts the experiences of Robert Hart employed by the Chinese in the dying phases of the Qing Dynasty. This article first appeared in SACU’s China Now magazine in 1988 Robert Hart was witness to many of the major events of late nineteenth century Chinese history, a period when the country was wrestling with the twin problems of foreign intervention and the need to modernise. He was to live through four foreign invasions of China, the Taiping Rebellion of 1852-64, the Boxer rising of 1900, the attempted partition of the country by the West and the eventual crumbling of […]

Agnes Smedley 1892-1950

Alice Roberts describes the fascinating life of a committed American friend of China : Agnes Smedley, the article first appeared in SACU’s China Now magazine 1972. It is difficult to convey in a few brief words how a working-class woman, born in northern Missouri ➚ of an itinerant miner and a boarding house cook and raised in the Rockefeller ‘mining camps’ where the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company owned ‘everything but the air,’ and who never even finished grade school came to write: ‘I have but one loyalty, one faith, and that was to the liberation of the poor and […]

China and Bertrand Russell

Tony Simpson is the editor of ‘The Spokesman’, the quarterly journal of The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. In September 2015, he visited The Commercial Press, Bertrand Russell’s publisher in China for almost a century. He also visited Beijing and the Western Lake at Hangzhou, which so impressed Russell on arrival in China in 1920. This article was arranged by Jenny Clegg with Tony Simpson. ‘I should love to go to China,’ Bertrand Russell wrote to Lucy Donnelly, an American friend, in July 1915. Five years later, in autumn 1920, Russell arrived in Shanghai with Dora Black, a young companion from […]

Senior British Born Chinese, who we are, where we came from

Walter Fung tells the story of Britain’s Chinese community. A version of this article (BBCs-Who we are, where we came from, where are we going?) first appeared in ‘Brushstrokes Magazine’ Issue No 19 in October 2001. An attempt has been made to update it because the Chinese population has changed quite significantly in the last 13 years or so when it was first written. Even in 2001, when it was first written, some parts were becoming dated – indicative of the speed with which the composition of the British Chinese community, like China itself, is changing. A more appropriate title […]

Victorian and Edwardian views of China

This article from SACU’s China Now magazine in 1988 surveys how the English viewed China one hundred years ago. ‘Solicitously avoiding reality’ Victorian and Edwardian images of China and the Chinese supply a rich storehouse for students of cultural relativism. Not many English knew the country or had encountered its people. There were few experts to guide, and some of those who did guide were not expert. G E (‘Chinese’) Morrison, The Times’ influential Peking correspondent, was an Australian adventurer without reading or spoken knowledge of Chinese. English scholarship in Chinese artefacts was so sketchy as to license frauds to […]