Early Twentieth-Century Explorers in Inland Asia

Left: Kozui Otani, October 1913, Right: Sven Hedin, 31 May 1889

|By Tetsuhiko Mizoguchi, Senior Marketing Executive, Gale Japan|

If you have been to Kyoto in Japan, you might have dropped in at the temple of Nishi Honganji. As the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect, it attracts many tourists and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. Even if you stopped by at the temple, however, you might not know that it plays a fascinating part in the history of archaeological expeditions of Central Asia. Kozui Otani was the twenty-second abbot of Nishi Honganji temple. He also led exploratory expeditions, and came to exchange letters with Sven Hedin, a famous Swedish explorer, who even visited the Nishi Honganji temple during his trip to Japan.

Digging through Gale’s digital archive China and the Modern World: Diplomacy and Political Secrets, I found that the India Office Records covered not only diplomats and soldiers, but also explorers like Otani, Hedin and many others. Why? Central Asia, where these explorers were operating, was also the stage on which Western countries played an intelligence war called the “Great Game”. This blog post attempts to shed light on the involvement – or entanglement – of explorers in the Great Game, through the example of Otani and Hedin.

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The History of Extradition in Hong Kong

Victoria City, Hong Kong, circa 1920.

|By Winnie Fok, Assistant Editor, Gale Asia|

In February 2019, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government proposed a bill regarding extradition, to establish a mechanism for the transfer of fugitives to Mainland China, Taiwan, and Macau, which are currently excluded in the existing laws. The bill sparked fears over a potential loss of freedom and deterioration of the business climate in Hong Kong. As a result, protests erupted over the next few months, and lasted till early 2020. Extradition has a long and complex history in Hong Kong, owing in no small part to its colonial background. China and the Modern World: Hong Kong, Britain and China 1841–1951, a collection of rare historical materials from the British Colonial Office records, sheds light on this fascinating subject.

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Know Your Authors: Dictionary of Literary Biography

Examples from Dictionary of Literary Biography, and online product interface

|By Masaki Morisawa, Senior Product Manager, Library Reference, Tokyo|

If you watched the recent Olympics, you’ll know that August in Tokyo is brutally hot and humid. This was more or less true two and a half decades ago when I was an English Literature student. Cash strapped, with nothing better to do, I would often spend my August days in the air-conditioned university library, just to avoid the intolerable heat! My favourite place was the reference area where they had rows and rows of Gale Literature volumes (I’m not making this up). There were literally hundreds of volumes stacked in those rows, from the rainbow-coloured Contemporary Authors volumes, to the brown buckram Literature Criticism volumes; but my personal favourite were the light-blue Dictionary of Literary Biography volumes. I would often pull out several of those DLB volumes and browse through the entries while I passed time in my favourite corner seat by the windows.

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Simla, McMahon, and the Origins of Sino-Indian Border Disputes

McMahon Line

|By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia|

From May 2020 to February 2021, Chinese and Indian border troops engaged in melee, face-offs, and skirmishes along the Sino-Indian border near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region. This series of disputes has resulted in numerous casualties, attracting worldwide attention in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such border disputes are nothing new. Three years prior to this in June 2017, the troops of the two countries had a border standoff in Doklam, a strategic location near a trijunction border area involving China, India, and Bhutan. Actually, China and India even went to war between October–November 1962 over their disputed Himalayan border.

Many of these border disputes and clashes can be attributed to the controversial McMahon Line. What is this line? And how did it come about? We can find some illuminating historical records on this in China and the Modern World: Diplomacy and Political Secrets, 1868-1950, a collection of rare historical materials selected from the India Office Records now held at the British Library.

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Rediscovering China and the World in the Nineteenth Century

Anson Burlingame and relevant handwritten letters

│By Liping Yang, Publishing Manager, Digital Archive and eReference, Gale Asia│

US–China relations have been somewhat strained in recent years – a situation that may not be easily resolved by Joe Biden’s administration. This difficult period in the history of American and Chinese relations started when the US raised tariffs on Chinese imports, triggering China to impose retaliatory tariffs on US products. This trade conflict later escalated into a confrontation on many fronts, including technology. Many people have been racking their brains about how to ease the tensions. We can draw inspiration from the past by examining interesting historical records which show positive diplomatic relations between the two nations. Many such records are included in Gale’s digital archive collection China and the Modern World: Imperial China and the West Part 1, 1815-1881.

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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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The “North–South” Problem in the Official Discourses of Chinese Leaders

By Kiang Yeow Yong, Development Editor, Gale Asia

I joined Gale Asia, a Cengage Company, in 2015. Having studied Chinese history and philosophy at the graduate research level and taught the Chinese language for many years, I’m now working on mostly China-related print projects as a development editor based in Singapore.

Theory of Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Chronology is a Gale Asia title published in November 2015. Presented in the form of a detailed chronology of key events and people based on archival records –  mainly excerpts from official documents, speeches, and talks – the book provides readers with a comprehensive overview of the arduous process of how the Chinese communists integrated Marxism with the concrete realities of China from 1978 to 2011, and established a theoretical framework around the theme of building socialism with unique Chinese characteristics.

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