Ngiam Tong-Fatt’s Essays Provide Great Insight into Mid-Twentieth Century Southeast Asia

Map of the Malay Peninsula

│By Rebecca Chiew, Associate Editor with the Gale Asia Publishing Team

Ngiam Tong-fatt (嚴崇發 1917–?) was an overseas Chinese living in Singapore in the early and mid-twentieth century. He worked as a correspondent based in Singapore in the 1940s for The China Critic (中國評論週報, 1928–1946), a weekly periodical founded on May 31, 1928 by a group of Chinese intellectuals who had studied in the United States. Despite the editors’ avowed preference for “nonpolitical” discourse, The China Critic’s editorials and articles frequently discussed the presence of imperialism in Shanghai, debated the abolition of extraterritoriality, and advocated equal access to public facilities in the concessions. The editors also participated in wider-ranging discussions about urban affairs.

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One Treaty, a Diplomat, & Three Countries

By Emery Pan, Gale Editor in Beijing
Emery Pan is a Gale Editor based in Beijing. Emery joined Gale last October, after serving as Rights manager for a Chinese publisher and translator for a German bank consultancy firm. Emery likes working for Gale because this position gives her a wonderful opportunity to learn and read. When not assisting in editing Gale titles, Emery likes playing music, cooking, and spending time with her beloved family and friends.

On April 17, 1895, the first Sino-Japanese War (hereinafter, the “War”) came to a truce, and a treaty was signed at the Japanese city of Shimonoseki. Newspapers around the world competed with each other to report on this event. Japan: an ancient, mysterious country and a new power rising from the Far East dominated all the headlines that day. It is universally acknowledged among those with any knowledge of history that a treaty never ends the chaos, instead it gives rise to new conflicts. The Treaty of Shimonoseki is no exception.

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Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service

Richard Horowitz is a Professor of History at California State University. Trained as a historian of modern China, he subsequently developed a second specialization in the emerging field of World History. His research explores the intersection of China and processes of global integration from the 1820s to the 1920s. He teaches courses on China, Japan, World History, and historical methods.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Professor Richard S. Horowitz entitled “The Chinese Maritime Customs Service, 1854–1949: An Introduction”.

For almost a century, the Chinese Maritime Customs Service played a central role in the relationship between China and the global economy. The Customs Service was part of the Chinese Government, but it was led by foreigners. Technically, its role was limited to ensuring the accurate assessment of Customs duties (taxes on imports and exports). However, over time, it became involved in many activities including the maintenance of harbors and lighthouses, the payment of foreign loans, the preparation of a very wide range of published reports, and the provision of technical assistance to the Chinese Government. Customs officials were often involved in diplomatic discussions and served as informal intermediaries between Chinese officials and foreign representatives.

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