China Diary:
Southern Capital

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]

May 17: VCD – After having Debbie do the shopping for four months, I once again make it to the local stores. Not having English-language TV any longer, I decide to pick up the VCD for "Saving Private Ryan" which plays on my laptop. It has Chinese sub-titles but one of the sound tracks is also dubbed in Chinese; the other is in English, so I must turn off one of the speakers. Hey, that’s entertainment!

May 19: CD-ROM – I meet Glenn, the Fulbrighter from Hong Kong, at the Peace Hotel on the Bund. Our conversation is wide-ranging, from business in China to distance learning technologies. We exchange our views and finally coalesce around some education projects we can work on involving CD-ROMs as the medium.

May 20: Meeting Educators – I attend the First "Crow’s Nest" Breakfast of the American Educator’s Committee at the Shanghai American Club. (Carl Crow was a marketing pioneer in China during the Republic years). Since I will give the Second "Crow’s Nest" Breakfast talk next month, I am at the front-row reserved table with some interesting guests and the keynote speaker, an American marketing professor discussing his research on "Market-focused Organizational Transformation in China." Afterward, I meet Don who is the Managing Director in China for the American Management Association International; and Bill, Dean of a joint-venture MBA program. Later, I meet Harry for lunch. He is at the local Chamber of Commerce which is hosting the Fortune 500 conference in Shanghai this Fall. We discuss my possible attendance as well as some potential research projects. (It helps that I brought a duck-billed cap with my local Chamber’s logo on it.) After, I walk to the Shanghai Grand Theater and get the schedule for next month. Home, I pedal my bike to the corner where handymen congregate to perform outdoor repairs. After nearly nine months, it is time to tighten some screws. For dinner I meet the person who taught strategic management at Fudan a couple of years ago but resigned to take a position in private industry. Turns out we have a couple of things in common: He was also a Fulbright scholar (to UCLA), and we were both MBA directors. So we discuss business, academics, and administration.

May 21: Nanjing – A three-hour train ride up the Yangzi River sits Nan (southern) Jing (capital), considered one of China’s most attractive cities. I visit fellow Fulbrighter Raj (who is at Nanjing University) for the weekend. There is some anxiety taking the train in the aftermath of the recent demonstrations, but all is calm. Across from me is a family of three, and I show the little boy how to use his yo-yo. Everyone smiles. Almost. In Nanjing, the cabby is friendly at first but then makes some hostile gestures indicating the embassy incident. She tells me how much the fare will be, but I point to the meter. Undeterred, she drives around a bit until the meter is closer to her initial estimate. When I finally arrive at the university gate, Raj is there and we head off for some dinner and brew. This city has risen and fallen over the years. It served as China’s capital after a peasant monk-turned-bandit led a successful uprising here against the Mongols in 1356, setting himself up as the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. (The second Ming emperor moved the capital back to Beijing in 1420.) It was the "Heavenly Kingdom" capital during the Taiping Uprising (1851-64) when a Christian evangelist rebelled against the Qing dynasty (as well as against opium, alcohol, and sexual discrimination). But foreign armies (led by the British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon) backed the Emperor,  resulting in the largest civil war in history that caused the death of some twenty million Chinese. It was again the capital during Dr. Sun Yatsen’s brief Republic in the early years of this century, and once more under Chiang Kaishek’s Nationalists from 1945-1949. As a result, many overseas Chinese consider this to be China’s rightful capital. Among its tragedies, the British signed the first of its "unequal treaties" here (known as Nanking in the West) after the Opium War, in the process opening several ports to foreign trade, exacting a huge indemnity, and acquiring Hong Kong. It is also the site of Japan’s 1937 infamous "Rape of Nanking" during which Chiang Kaishek fled to Chongqing.

May 22: Saturday – This city is known as one of China’s "three furnaces" on the Yangzi. I already visited Chongqing and Wuhan a couple of months ago, but this is late spring and it rains most of the weekend so it is cool and damp. I take the taxi to Zijin (Purple Gold) Shan (Mountain) surrounding the city. It has stopped raining but the morning mist makes it difficult to see the vista. I first go to Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum, naturally one of the most popular Chinese tourist sites since he is revered by both Communists and Nationalists alike. It is made of white granite and deep blue tiles, the Nationalist colors; the Guomindang ideals (Nationalism, Democracy, and People’s Livelihood) are carved about the entrance to the burial chamber; and it is rumored that fleeing Guomindang leaders removed Sun’s bones in 1949. I then go back to the beginning of city history by taking a taxi down the road to the Ming tomb, and walk along the Sacred Way known as Shi (Stone) Xiang (Statue) Lu (Road) with its carved camels, lions, and elephants. Taking a taxi back into town, I wander around until I stumble into the Black Cat Cafe for a late Western lunch. I then get an upset stomach by going to "The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders." The locals must be curious about my being here, but as a child of Holocaust survivors I especially wanted to see it. After the Japanese captured Shanghai in 1937, they headed straight up river capturing Suzhou and Wuxi before attacking China’s capital. There is a room displaying skeletons of some of the more than 300,000 victims and a mass grave outside under a tarpaulin. Needless to say, the incident remains a sore point in current Sino-Nippon relations. But no one has a monopoly on butchery, genocide, and atrocity. I head to the Martyr’s Memorial on the grounds where the Guomindang executed fellow Chinese in 1927, then go even further back in history to the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum (of the Taiping Uprising). The attempt to overthrow the emperor and throw out the colonists resulted in the 1842 Nanking Treaty with the British, which the Chinese consider "the first unfair treaty of national betrayal and humiliation in Chinese modern history." From 1851 until 1864, Hong Xiuquan, considering himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ, led his troops in slaying the demon devils who were leading the people on earth astray. Although the Taipings were crushed by Qing and Western forces, this incident is considered a precursor to the subsequent Republic, Nationalist, and Communist movements. All this bloody history is in a garden once occupied by one of the Taiping generals, and I come across a couple of weddings. I then wander to Fuzi Miao and past the Temple of Confucius, taking a boat down the canal to Zhonghua Gate. The Ming Emperor built the longest city wall in the world to surround his capital, and this gate is the largest of the Ming Dynasty gates (really four gates within each other to hold thousands of soldiers). It is also the symbol of Nanjing and perhaps the best of all city gates in China. I walk down a side street before taking a cab back to meet Raj. This must be wedding weekend because every restaurant seems booked. We finally find an empty table and pay dearly for dinner.

May 23: Sunday – Raj joins me today, and it is now pouring outside. We begin at Tian (Heaven) Chao (Worshipping) Gong (Palace). It was originally built during the Ming rule when it served as the palace for his dynasty. The army of the Heavenly Kingdom seized it in 1853 so the Taipings subsequent used it as their palace. After the 1911 revolution, Sun Yatsen became the provisional President and the palace became his office. It served as Chiang Kaishek’s Presidential palace when Nanjing became the Guomindang capital in 1927, and again as various Communist offices in 1949. Adjacent is the Xu Yuan (Gardens), one of the major scenic spots in Nanjing. It was the Royal Ming Garden, the "Paradise Palace" during Taiping Rebellion, and contained Sun Yatsen’s Presidential palace and residence. We take a Taxi to Chao (Worshipping) Tian (Heaven) Gong (Palace), the former Ming palace which became the model for Beijing’s Forbidden City but is now a municipal museum and home of a daily show of Ming dynasty court rites. We grab lunch at a Sichuan restaurant, then wander down some streets as I  shop. We go back to Raj’s place and chat for a while before I leave. I walk up the main street toward the train station, passing the Drum Tower and Great Bell Pavilion. But it now begins to pour so I grab a taxi. I arrive home at night, and head off to Mr. Pizza for a late dinner.

[Returning to Shanghai] [Spring Festival] [Chinese New Year] [Fulbright Mid-Year Conference] [Back to School] [Back Online] [Into the Heartland] [Ancient Capitals] [Judeo-Christian Holidays] [From Albany to Zurich] [Yellow Mountain] [Loose Ends] [Hello, Debbie ... Goodbye, Debbie] [Southern Capital] [Tropical Tour] [Unwinding] [Farewell Banquets] [Winding Down] [Good Bye, Shanghai]


Copyright 1999 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.