CHINA
Where does one begin?  China !

  • It is a land rooted inextricably in the world's history of
    movers and shakers.

  • NATION BUILDING: Emperor Ch'in; production of silk,
    fabric, gunpowder, paper; international trade (Silk Road);
    continuity in the face of violent changes of dynasties
    (HAN, SUNG, JUAN, MING, MANCHU AND MANY MORE)


  • BUBONIC PLAGUE out of China; Marco Polo into China;  
    rivers large and long, people plentiful and concentrated;
    crops and land intensely cultivated; medicine of
    naturalism and acupuncture.

  • LAW AND ORDER: laying down the law of Legalists (see
    Emperor Ch'in); adopting the peacefully rooted concepts
    of Buddhism (China);blending both with the moralisms of
    Confucius and the introspection of the Tao.

  • CULTURE: built on antiquities and the highest
    development of the creative arts of poetry, calligraphy,
    sculpture, puppetry, opera, acrobatics, fireworks, paper.

  • EXPLORATION:  led by Cheng Ho, the Chinese for three
    decades sent ships over 100 meters long to explore the
    lands to the west; he landed in Bombay and continued to
    find new horizons over three decades finally "discovering"
    the east coast of Africa decades before DeGama and Diaz,
    and 70 years before Columbus found the New World.  The
    Chinese also visited Australia long before the English set
    up shop there.


  • INTERNAL ORDER: self-sufficiency enough to convince
    them for 500 years that they did not need to interact with
    "the West". They chose not to explore the sea passages
    to Africa and around the Cape.

  • COLLAPSE of the Imperial System occurred in the late
    19th century and the country was convulsed for 50 years
    by visions of a Republic, then a pretender, Chiang Kai-
    Shek. Amidst national despair, Mao Zedong led the
    Communist Revolution and demonstrated what a "strong
    man" could really do.

  • 21ST CENTURY: Finally modernized to fit the 21st century
    (a work in progress).

China has been both promise, success and disappointment to
Westerners for a  century, and so it has been for China for five
millenia.

The Mandate of Heaven, that spiritual gift of governance that
comes to visit one dynasty after another has brought great
moments:  Ch'in, Han, Ming, and the one that most Americans
fix in their minds, the time of Genghis Kahn.

Then, following the time of Marco Polo, the Ming produced an
extraordinary refinement of the arts, learning and governance,
until finally overwhelmed by the Manchu.

The Manchu Dynasty's symbol of lasting indolence and
corruption was the  Empress Dowager Cixi, popularly known in
China as the Dowager Empress.

Cixi was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de
facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, ruling over China for
48 years from her husband's death in 1861 to her own last
breath in 1908.

Coming from an ordinary Manchu family and having been
selected by the Emperor as a concubine, she exercised almost
total control over the court under the nominal rule of her son
and then her nephew. Both unsuccessfully attempted to rule in
their own right, but were no match for Cixi.

She was largely conservative during her rule and refused
reform of the political system.  Many historians attribute the
fall of the Qing Dynasty to her rule. Many Chinese consider
her a villain responsible for the fall of China to foreign powers.

At her death, Cixi bestowed power upon a grandson, Pu Yi, a
very young boy, who knew little of his potential or of events
outside his world, the Forbidden City.  As he grew, both his
place and the forms of power in the world changed also. The
film,
The Last Emperor, interprets this beautifully.


Today, we see China as an increasingly intimate part of the
world of nations, and a more powerful tool of prosperity and
peace or friction.  For more than 100 years, missionaries,
adventurers, political figures and American commerce lusted
after China.  More souls to save; more pants to sell; more
rivers to explore; more goods to buy.

But each anticipated linkage has been besotted by world
events: the Spanish American War raised hope; the Chinese
Revolution dimmed it; the economic boom of the 20's fed
greed; the Japanese thwarted it; World War II seemed to open
the gates; Mao Zedong closed them.

But now, after Mao, China is as fresh and new to the world's
view as it is new to the 21st Century.  Not only has the 2008
Olympics projected a beguiling look at its culture, artistry,
modernity and power, the events themselves drew the
admiration of the world.  Bob Costas: "from now on, it will be a
contest for second place in presenting the best opening
ceremonies at the Olympic Games".

We were all astounded, but we take note too that China has
become a deeply interactive world trading force, and a military  
presence that carves out its own sphere of influence in the
China Sea and other waters of its eastern coastline.

Just as the United States developed a special "Good
Neighbor" relationship with Latin America, so too is China
becoming an economic, social and political force in Africa.

It has developed close relationships with most African
countries including a multi-billion dollar investment in Angola,
in return for guaranteed oil shipments.

It has a similar close working relationship with Brazil,
purchasing its soybean production; it holds a new strategic
relationship with Cambodia.

As we read in daily news reports, its close financial
relationship with the United States is a fundamental part of a
new world of financial dynamics.

In this new century, there is a new world force, and it is China.

In this sense, then, the hopes and dreams of American
imperialists, manufacturers, explorers, missionaries and
visionaries of the 1890s has come true...not on their terms
certainly, but on the only terms which are viable.  

An ancient nation, China, joins with a very new nation,
America, and the pair shall find inestimable strength in their
linkage.  Dissolution is not an option.

To sample some tidbits and see some pictures of general
interest...

Go To Dicks Travel Blog.
CHINA IN TIME OF PU YI...1912
A BRIEF ESSAY BEFORE WE VISIT
Beijing, Xian, Chungqing, Shanghai,
Yangtze River, Three Gorges Dam
MODERN CHINA
Clearly, whatever the complaints of the Tibetans, the boundaries of China are not likely
to change anytime soon.  Taiwan is an issue of territoriality which seems headed for
peaceful resolution, just as the issue of Hong Kong was finessed.  Over time, both are
likely to become part of China proper.  There are also some islands that may yet be
reclaimed.  

One is reminded a lot of the experience of the United States.  We fought a Civil War to
keep "the south", developed our industrial base and ballooned into the Caribbean and
across the Pacific and took the Philippines.  

Historically, we bump up to China in all kinds of ways, and now economic growth, a
smaller world of travel and the assertions of Chinese power in the far Pacific will keep
us talking and working together, not without tensions, but without war.
GUNPOWDER.FIREWORKS
THANK YOU, CHINA
ACUPUNCTURE...EASE THE
PAIN
IF IT WORKS, MAI WEN TI
EMPEROR CH'IN
HE WAS NOT A HUMORIST
CHENG HO
The greatest maritime
explorer in  the history of
the world.
GENGHIS KAHN
The great conqueror of  
lands.  Even Westerners
know him.
CIXI
Empress Dowager of
China
MAO ZEDONG
iN THE TRADITION OF CH'IN AND  
GENGHIS KAHN, HE REMADE
CHINA
CENTER OF WORLD
ATTENTION
We will be traveling to Beijing and spending three days there, then
flying to Xian for two days, then on to Chongqing to board a cruise ship
for three days on the Yangtze River.  This will take us through Three
Gorges Dam  after which we will fly to Shanghai for a couple of days and
then home to Bakersfield.
 
THESE MAPS LOCATE THE AREAS
WE WILL VISIT
.
CONFUCIUS
Moralisms for the
centuries
Counter
PU YI
LAST EMPEROR OF
CHINA
(AND MANCHUKO)
CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON AND SEE A THOUGHT.
CHENG HO VOYAGES CONCLUDED 60 YEARS
BEFORE COLUMBUS SET OUT TO FIND A NEW
ROUTE TO CHINA.
While we will visit five different locations in
China, Cheng Ho explored five different
sub-continents. His map is to the right.  :-)
He had no problem with pirates off of
Somalia.