Archive for May 8th, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Li Hongzhang on the Streets of Philadelphia

On the streets of Philadelphia, 1896

May 6 seems to be no particular day in Li Hongzhang‘s (or Li Hung-chang’s, 李鴻章) career to remember, but maybe Huanqiu Shibao missed the right time to publish some pictures of his global study tour (环球考察, huánqiú kǎochá) of 1896 which led him to Europe and to the United States, and decided to catch up on that on Friday (two days ago).

[Main Link: Foreign Media report Li Hongzhang’s Global Study Tour, Huanqiu Shibao, May 6, 2011]

Li’s signing of the Shimonoseki Treaty on April 17, 1895 (known as 馬關條約 / mǎguān tiáoyuē in Chinese) had been met with the nation’s strong protest and opposition (全国人民的强烈抗议和反对), and to his retirement, but, Huanqiu Shibao notes diplomatically, Qing dynasty ruler Ci Xi resorted to his old experience again less than a year after. In order to avoid China’s dismemberment by the Western powers (为防止中国被西方列强所瓜分), she decided to send him on the US-European tour.

Within one paragraph, the Huanqiu article manages to point out that maybe Li Hongzhang wasn’t that bad after all, and to suggest that the – frequently vilified not only by foreign, but Chinese sources, too – Dowager Empress did care about Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity after all.

There isn’t much more information, but there are eleven historical pictures included. Li met with former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, too, at Bismarck’s Friedrichsruh possession. They both knew the ups and downs of a political career – Li had just been re-activated for politics after several months in the wilderness of a Beijing mansion, and Bismarck had resigned in 1990, after falling out with emperor Wilhelm II over a number of issues. Li’s and Bismarck’s conversation was reportedly amusingly serious and peppered with compliments.

A few years later, as the Boxer uprising was nearing its end, Wilhelm II – also reportedly – suggested to take Li (who was awaiting negotiators in Shanghai)  hostage, rather than negotiating with this arch scoundrel and liar*).



*) Der Spiegel, January 7, 1980, pp 93 – 102


» 丧权辱国, sàngquán rǔguó – forfeiting rights (or power) and humiliating the nation (referring to the Shimonoseki Treaty here)
» Sühneprinz, “expiation prince”, referring to Prince Chun or Zaifeng, who met Wilhelm II in September 1901, and whom the Kaiser had allegedly expected to kneel on the occasion. Sühneprinz has become a German figure of speech, for someone who is supposed to mend damaged ties. The figure of speech applies in cases not related to China, too.


After the bombardment of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade however, federal chancellor Gerhard Schröder travelled to Beijing as a NATO exiation prince (Nach der Bombardierung der chinesischen Botschaft in Belgrad im Mai 1999 allerdings reiste Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder als Nato-Sühneprinz nach Peking). – Der Spiegel, November 13, 2002


» Marine surveillance force expansion, Want China Times, May 3, 2011
» Senkaku Islands: “Zero Chance”, September 19, 2010
» 19th Century Military Modernization, Wikipedia
» Ein vergessenes Jubiläum, Stumpfeldt/HCN, Nov 10, 2001

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