So today we’re going to try to get all the way from the days of sail to the Costco guangzhou, the kind of container ship that fills your Wal-Mart store with the fruits of the labor of Chinese teenage girls in innumerable sweatshops surrounding the city of Guangzhou and many other special economic zones, all of which used to be treaty ports. So the old China Trade, dominated by the west, reaching crescendos of violence called the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion, and if you like, World War II. And the new China Trade dominated by our new global masters, China, because they certainly have the feeling the 21st century is theirs. And they’re certainly manifesting it with their merchant fleet as well as their very powerful and growing naval force. Okay. So we go to the Naval War College next week (it’ll be kind of a segue near the end of my talk) and it’s very much foremost in the minds of naval planners in Newport, much more so than jihadists in small boats, in the big picture, really.
So first let me trot you back a little bit to our cultural relativistic talk about other than European kinds of navigation and here’s an interesting example of cultural relativism in the maritime world. Anybody heard of this guy, Kochinga? Nobody? I read about him first in Philip Gosse’s classic 1920s history of piracy (Gosse, G O S S E) Ripping Yarns. All kind of based on reality, Barbarosa and Blackbeard and the Dread Chinese Pirate Kochinga; cutthroat armadas of howling Chinamen descending on the Western merchant fleets in the seventeenth century. But then I went to China and encountered this statue (there’s a person, give you some scale): you can actually go up in stairs and there’s an observation deck up here on top of his head. Nobody out there right now unfortunately, in any of these slides actually. And there, a little bit more scale. Some people up there. No, he’s the great admiral Kochinga. He’s the one that kicked the Dutch out of Taiwan back in 1662, 1652, 1652. He led an enormous armada and expelled the Dutch (Morning Jamie!) from their foothold in what was called Formosa at that time. And so there’s a big museum to him and this monumental statue there on Gulangyu Drumbeat Island, which I’ll tell you more about later in the talk. There you go – 1662, I was right the first time. And now he’s quite the nationalist hero. This must have been taken during the off season because during the summertime this is just thronged with Chinese bathers. So, uh, trot us back a little bit to some of the stuff Glen took us through in kind of the peripheral view of his mainly Atlantic-centered talk about the Golden Age.
2. The Beginning of the China Trade and Geography of Canton
The first gambit into the China Trade was the Empress of China, very famously, on its way very famously hardly before the ink was dry on the Peace of Paris and proved to be a very wise investment for the entrepreneurs that backed her on the voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to Canton to be the first of the “flowery flagged devils” as the Americans were called, to join the foreigners, Gwai Lo, the foreign devils, if you will, in the Port of Canton. The only port open to Western trade I’m sure familiar to everyone in the room and now called Guangzhou, way up this nasty and labyrinthine estuary collectively known as the Pearl River. But it’s really difficult to find the main stream of the Pearl, especially as you get closer and closer to Guangzhou, you get past Huangpu Island, the big island where the foreign factories were held at arm’s length at first and then later on became the Peasant Revolutionary Training Institute where both Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek received their military training.
In those days you had to check in at Macau first to get permission to go up to Canton or Guangzhou. The map shows the labyrinth a little more clearly maybe even in the satellite image; here’s Macau. Hong Kong was on no one’s radar at that point; it was a sleepy fishing village. And the main point here was the Tiger’s Mouth where the estuary really narrows down and you get into the labyrinth nearing the city. And there’s other major cities here in the Delta of the Pearl and it’s other… See, this is “Pearl,” this is “Pearl,” a lot of these are named “Pearl River,” because it’s all part of the delta, the massive delta there in this region. Here’s a German pilot coastal chart from 1834, the Atlas von Asia from Heinrich Berghaus, who was a really prominent cartographer of that time. This is a cool document isn’t it? Here we’ve got Macau, the island of Macau, the anchorage, and some nice visual shots of what you’d expect to see when you’re close to Macau. Here are some nice coastal silhouettes and here’s the big picture; there’s Macau, Hong Kong Island, Canton/Guangzhou.
3. The Canton System and the Chop
And here, the whole system, it was really, I’m sure this is familiar to some of you who’ve been to the Peabody or look at this stuff, but it might be new to some others, the so-called Canton System. It was institutionalized around 1756. The settlement at Macau, of course goes back much earlier to 1555 I think when the Jesuits reached Macau and established their missionary foothold from which they sent on missionaries to Beijing, the famous Rixi(?) the astronomer who built the observatory in the Forbidden City, St. Francis Xavier, even Jesuits to Japan where they were very successful for a while before the Shogunate expelled them in 1636 and martyred a bunch of them. The first Japanese-born saint is interred in the crypt beneath what is now just a shell of St. Paul’s after the earthquake and fire of 1835. It’s just a façade that stands today. Chinnery’s work evokes it beautifully; George Chinnery spent some time in Macau and his images are ravishing. St. Miki is his name; St. Miki and his followers (Miki, M I K I) thirty-eight mainly Japanese but also some Indian and some European converts that were martyred by the Shogunate. So when we get to Japan later on you can think of St. Miki.
So when they got to Macau, when traders got to Macau, the Portuguese toehold in the East, then they got imperial permission from the authorities there called the Chop, and it’s still what they call those stone things that leave a personal autograph on a page. It’s a very touristy thing to do as well as a very business thing to do and an art thing to do. Artists all have their chop, many chops sometimes that they leave on their work. Businessmen have their official chop; even in this day and age they’ll leave one on an official document that they’ve signed. Tourists will get their initials in these chops. Sometimes the chops are huge; so if you’re getting a chop to go to Guangzhou, an imperial chop, it’s going to be a big piece of stone in red ink. Now, to get the chop though you have to do the kowtow; get down on your hands and knees, put your forehead on the ground a few times and show exactly how low you are in comparison with the great Emperor. In the Forbidden City, you might, if you’re really smart, especially in the late 18th century, bring along sing-song, mechanical toys. The emperor of that time was particularly fond of clocks that had little soldiers and horses and things that would trot out and little mechanical trains and other amusements that were collectively called sing-song. So if you go to the Imperial Museum in the Forbidden City today, which is a complex with hundreds of buildings and scores of museums within the museum; one of the most interesting museums is the clock museum because it has all these amazing sing-song gifts of the Western traders from the late 1700s in room after room.
4. The West Takes an Interest in China: What do the Chinese Want?
The merchants who controlled the trade were collectively called the Hong, just a small group of these merchants who were the interface between the potentially corrupting Westerners, and remember China is not new to the sea. They’re not a hermit kingdom, they’ve got tributaries all around in the waters surrounding the empire. Zheng He had done his seven voyages; it was simply a political shift that had made them look away from the sea fifty years before Columbus. And so this group of merchants then was this kind of prophylactic group that could deal with these potentially corrupting merchants; Westerners with big noses and all their bad habits and smells and still get the stuff they had that the empire wanted, which wasn’t much. Really all they wanted was the gold and that was the problem: “what do the Chinese want?” Today that’s still a real commonality, even today we’re trying to find out what the Chinese want that they will buy, that they won’t just figure out how to make themselves quickly and more cheaply. That’s pretty much the story of the China Trade, and you can look at it in lots of different ways. The cotton trade – here, I’m wearing some Nankin. This is the cotton that they used to call Nanking or Nankin or Nanjing, the old capitol of China, it’s really rich. This particular shirt now dates to 1989. I had it tailored by Wong (?), high-class tailor, out of some material I bought in the south of China. This is hand-done stuff dyed with indigo. And it’s amazing how well this thing holds up. No wonder they all wanted Nankin cotton.
So in the early days of the China Trade the holds were full of Nankin cotton along with silk, but after the Industrial Revolution pretty soon we were shipping Nankin cotton over there, our loom cotton. Well now today of course cheap textiles from China flood the stores. Just to get ahead of myself to make sure that you get the connection here, to me one of the most, uh - two examples. From the late 19th century Josiah Strong, the famous missionary, saying “what we have to do is teach the Chinese to wear pants. Pants with pockets. Pockets that want to be filled with coins.” And then we, then we got ‘em, you know, if we can just figure out how to do that.
On a flight to China I was looking at the flight magazine and it was talking about the potential of golf courses in China. If we can just hook the Chinese on golf, think of it. If just one percent of that 1.2 billion people take up the game and buy a set of clubs, and immediately the calculations go off in the golf makers’ heads just as it has back to the days of ginseng. “Ah! They like ginseng!” Click click click click click click click, you know. “Oh! Turns out they like sea otter pelts!” Click click click click click click click. They’re still trying to do that, you know. But now it’s tougher, because – “They like this DVD,” and now they’re selling it back to us for a penny apiece ‘cause they’ve reproduced it in somebody’s garage. So they kept these foreign traders at a distance of nine miles away on Huangpu Island, which was an insalubrious place to trade from, a miasmic climate given to fevers, and so the Westerners didn’t like it there. They wanted to get closer and they did, as we’ll find out.
Of course the imports from China are all reflections of the conspicuous consumption of the 18th century and the early 19th century. I always use the example of a tea party; how do you impress the neighbors at a tea party? Just about every element of a successful late 18th or early 19th century tea party comes from China. The tea itself, what you serve the tea in, what you serve it on, what you wear when you serve it, what you walk on when you serve it, what’s on the walls when people drink it, just about everything but the firecracker is here. And if the party is really successful maybe those later on too.
5. Intro to Products of the China Trade
Here’s one of my favorite examples of the conundrum of the China Trade. Paintings, right. Merchant traders would come back with paintings of their ships usually, not themselves, ship portraits. One enterprising person (man before the…figure if it was an officer, somebody on the ship, it wasn’t like consigned by an owner) somebody on their own gambit acquired a version, not an original, but a version, its own copy, its own knock-off, of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington. He did about thirty-seven; he made a career out of painting that guy. We’ll hear more about him on Wednesday because his daughter lived in Newport. He took the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington to Canton and he had one of the ship portrait artists make scores of copies of it and shipped them back and started peddling them in the U.S. until Gilbert Stuart had to sue him for trampling on his intellectual copyright. Just like today, the hottest movie will immediately be pirated and be available in the streets of Shanghai for a dollar, same kind of thing.
On the other hand, the exports, we’re all trying to figure out what China wanted, these are the few examples of things the Chinese ended up wanting to purchase. About the only one of them that was homegrown was ginseng. (I’ll get…each one of these individually, just first an overview.) Furs were even more lucrative in that wonderful chain of events that Glen outlined, about how Captain Cook’s encounter with the fuzziest animal in the world led to crazy Mr. Ledyard bringing the news home and leading the Columbia and Captain Gray back to the scene to acquire these pelts and make a mint in Canton from them. Sandalwood, synonymous with the early history of Hawaii. And making money on Chinese culinary quirks. The Chinese enjoy a kind of – the Chinese, and the Japanese also (if you’ve watched Iron Chef you know), the Japanese take mouth feel of food seriously. In the West we don’t talk about how the food feels in our mouth, that’s just creepy but it’s a really important category of gustatory enjoyment in Asia and in China in fact they have kind of a chart, sort of a mouth feel chart. Like we have sometimes taste charts, you know you go to a winery so you can talk, right – “So this is very, sort of dirt with caramel. It’s naïve, yet provocative.” They’ve got the mouth feel chart, I think there’s eight categories and one of them is phlegmy, translates as phlegmy. We don’t like phlegmy things, but bring on the sea slugs. I try to consider myself culturally omnivorous, literally omnivorous, but boy I hit the wall at the banquet when they brought out the sea slugs. Whew, I learned where the bathroom was by that time, thank goodness.
Bird’s nests, we don’t eat bird’s nests here but that has a whole kind of mouth feel so you get people climbing up the cliffs in Micronesia to get bird’s nests for the China market. And shark fins too, the Cape Colony, lots of these China Traders would go down to Kaapstad, Cape Town and take on a load of shark fins and still today you can pay a thousand dollars for a really good shark fin if your daughter’s getting married and you want to impress everybody. Opium of course becomes the most important geo-politically, as we’ll find out we’re going to outline the wars, and then there’s cotton, a very interesting import turned export during the course of the 19th century when lots of the holds in the early part of this period included the fine Nankin and then later on lots of manufactured U.S. fabric going to the China market.
Female audience member: “What about whiskey?”
Roorda: “Whiskey is a funny…you know, I’m glad you mentioned that. Let me just fast-forward to being in China with students and trying to drive home this point. I do this also in the U.S. I’ll send ‘em out on a scavenger hunt, to find something that’s made in the USA. In the U.S. I’ll ask them to just go in their dorm room and find stuff made in China and the lists are just voluminous, right. In China, the search for things made in the USA – the first time, back in 19, I guess it would have been ’98, that’s when I first tried this, when I was living there with some people – and they came back after combing the stores. The answer was two things: apples and Jack Daniels. Then when we did it again the last time I was there in 2003, already homegrown apples. Ah, still Jack Daniels. The only made in the USA thing is whiskey today. Back then, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The real big one there is Johnny Walker Red, ‘cause the red color, that’s very auspicious, so at any kind of big event, especially a wedding, tables will be lined with Johnny Walker Red.”
Male audience member: “They’re not rip-offs?”
Roorda: “Yeah, I think a lot of the Johnny Walker Red is rip-offs, actually. Yeah, yeah, rice whiskey.”
6. How to Get to Canton, Ginseng, Sandalwood, Sea Otter Pelts
So you get to choose your cape if you want to go to Canton, you can either go around the Cape of Good Hope, as you know, and then you have to deal with the Sunda Straits and the boogeymen from Bangai Island, still notorious for piracy. If you’re a yachter and want to yacht around the world when you get to the Sunda Straits, you know, you hang out in Singapore until there’s like fifty or sixty of you and then you rush the Sunda Straits together, because the boogeymen are still out there, still a very difficult place. So, you take your poison: here you can just *crash* beat yourself to pieces going the wrong way around Cape Horn like Cpt. Bligh tried to do until he figured out, “Screw this – we’ll go this way.” And then you’ve got to mind your monsoons, you don’t want to be out there during the rainy season. Vietnam soldiers figured this one out, that around about April, May it gets a little bit rainy. And then it comes down in deluges, Vietnam averages six feet of rainfall a year, and they get almost all of it in four months of the year. But then there’s the nice, dry, wintertime; that’s because the winds blow across the Indian Ocean during the late spring and the summer and the early fall and they bring all this heavily moisture-laden air and it just dumps buckets in south China. Whereas the wind comes down across the Gobi Desert in the wintertime and it dries things out considerable. So that’s the time to go.
Ah, ginseng, “man roots,” the more it looks like a man the more price it will bring, the more intricate. Here, it’s truly a man root, right? Anthropomorphic like the mandrake only yummy to eat instead of poisonous. Especially if one particular limb is accented and that’s the limb you’ve got problems with – gout in the right leg, you know, look for a root with a great big right leg. And then pay $800 for it in the pharmacy, in a big case with a red background. Here is a ginseng auction. This is a really auspicious ginseng, it could go for thousands of dollars. So you can imagine the ginseng wars in the Kentucky ginseng mountain, ginseng gathering fields where the people who have lived there a long time (which we don’t call hillbillies anymore because that’s really ethnophaulism), the hill people, ah, been gathering ginseng since it became hot in the China market, way back when.
And now Vietnamese immigrants are up there digging for the ginseng too. The problem is that you can’t farm this stuff. If you farm it in nice predictable soil then you get very predictable ginseng that looks like a carrot. Who wants that to heal your gout or make you prolific, ‘cause it’s also an aphrodisiac, right? So you want one that looks like this, or like that, and that only forms because it grows in rocky, rooty soil and does what ginseng does. And there’s 800 species of it and only a couple of them are real yummy and the ones that the Chinese will still pay a lot of money for. This and shark roots are still the things – their entire pharmacy is dominated by this, but there are entire shark fin stores in Hong Kong where the only thing that they deal in is shark fins.
Female audience member: “So, so, do they now…is this still an import to China? I mean, have they found ways to grow it –”
Roorda: “Still an import to China which makes the ginseng wars in Kentucky and places where wild ginseng grows still intense. Now the ginseng you can buy in distillations and things like that, that’s all farmed ginseng.”
Female audience member: “Okay.”
Roorda: “Like those little vials, the ginseng juice, they work.”
Female audience member: “But then – I worked in a health food store, and anything with ginseng, it was sort of like associated with China as though it came from there…”
Roorda: “No, they just love it there, yeah, they just love it there.”
Female audience member: “But they got it, but it comes from here?”
Roorda: “The best stuff still comes from here, yeah.”
Male audience member: “What’s it look like on top?”
Roorda: “A tree. It looks like a shrubby tree. Uh, and lots of different species with different kind of leaves, but I should have had a picture of the tree too. That’s, I’ll add another slide. That will make 145, I better go. Okay, so. We can skip this ‘cause Glenn told us all about it.”
I don’t think he mentioned though that – did he mention that every, that they didn’t, that we’re not able to measure or count the number of hair follicles in sea otter pelts until they had electron microscopy because there are more than a million follicles per square inch? (Laughter from audience.) No wonder I’m endangered! No wonder you can’t pass a pelt of me around because that would be against the law! Alright, there is, like, a beaver hat in the CRC but you can’t possess that because of the Endangered Species Act. But it’s amazingly luxuriant stuff. I did have a chance to rub one once at a museum and ah I didn’t want to leave. And so when that hit the Chinese market every man on board was a sudden wealthy man if he had the foresight to take on some pelts himself on his own dime. Of course the investors made out hugely. Of course we’re also looking for blubbery animals on southern rocks. And Glen told us about the unlikely story of young Nathaniel Palmer who went on to become very influential with his kettle bottom ship design and his aggressive marketing of cotton. But back in the day he discovered Antarctica, in a small boat when he was out there looking for, ah, looking for walruses and sea lions and such like that to feed the Stonington fleet’s economy that Glen told us all about when we were there.
Now sandalwood is used in a lot of different ways to this day in China. There are three philosophy religions in China, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism and they all sort of overlap in their respective religious spaces. All three of them have in common burning incense (sandalwood being the best), and the more you want something the more incense you want to burn and so the temple gift stores, supply stores, whatever you want to call them, the Chinese version of a botanica, anything you need, got a picture of Guanyin, got a picture of the Great Yellow Emperor, anything you need, whatever you are, Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, “we got it here,” kinda thing, and they all want sandalwood incense, sometimes big coils that burn for a week – that thick – hanging from the ceilings. Sometimes, always in multiples of three, hundreds of incense sticks at once, 100, 200 (300 rather), 600 of them at a time in the big urns, like Paul showed us behind the scenes, the giant thing that they didn’t know what it was for a long time, they figured out was one of those huge incense burners from one of those temples. Again, each one has a resonance for each of these traditions. Also, fine furniture made from sandalwood among other things. So a big demand for sandalwood. So when the forests of sandalwood were encountered in Hawaii and exchanged for guns it led to a complete realignment of the political power there among the respective tribes and the respective islands, allowing Kamehameha I to consolidate control of the archipelago and set that place down a very grim road.
Again, that is familiar and doesn’t, and we can’t get into deeply now except to say, again, the point is that the American interest in the places where all of these things came from, whether they be the rocky shores of South America or the Pacific Northwest or the Hawaiian archipelago, all those places that were eventually sort of brought into the American empire either extremely securely as an occupied state of the Union in the case of Hawaii or a whole region of the country as in the Pacific Northwest: all of them came into the imperial imagination and then the basket because of the China Trade. And so even though the China Trade was not nearly as important as the trade with Cuba or many other places – I’ll show you some statistics in a minute here – it was very important in catalyzing American empire in the Pacific and launching the United States to world power status and eventually as we speak now into a kind of superpower confrontation with China over the fate of these waters.
You know the other day we were talking about how the end of the Cold War has brought about kind of a calming of tensions on the oceans but the fact is the Chinese have a very novel new approach to national waters and they claim the Spratley Islands. Observe how far away from China the Spratleys are. So more about that later. So, you know, if their doctrine of national interest, which, forget the 200 mile zone, if their doctrine of national interest prevails, then truly this will become a Chinese lake.
7. Opium, the Opium Wars, First of the Unequal Treaties and Clipper Ships
Opium of course the most pernicious of the imports. From India under the old regime of John Company, the East India Company. Of course the U.S. wasn’t allowed in on the Indian action when we became independent so our opium came from Turkey, from Smyrna. It wasn’t as good a quality as the Indian stuff but it was cheaper and so it had a market as well. Of course opium, to the smoker of it, induces sleep and dreams and not very good for a nation’s work ethic. This is something the emperor discerned and acted against. In the meantime all these places, you know, these far-flung rocks where you get the slugs and the nests and the fins, suddenly had not just economic but strategic importance. So in that context I find the “Ex. Ex.,” the Exploring Expedition, the Wilkes Expedition to be so interesting, and, despite Nathaniel Philbrick’s great book about it, still sort of underappreciated as a pre-Civil War expression of global imperial aspiration. Yes, the Wilkes Expedition went around measuring and sounding and burning villages in Fiji and other things like that as well as, of course, inspiring Roddenberry to write the Star Trek series because after all, their instructions, their 5-year mission, was to seek out new civilizations and to go where no white man has gone before. Roddenberry lifted those words almost verbatim from Wilkes’ instructions.
And so we have the amazing Vincennes. I love ship histories. You can tell so much from ship histories. The Vincennesis a good example of a vessel that was among the flotilla of the Wilkes Expedition and went onto other exploits, that’ll I think come up here in a minute. So while all that was unfolding, the Wilkes Expedition sort of acting out these global aspirations of American empire, the first Opium War took place. Around Canton, when now a heroic figure in China, Lin Zexu – Zexu, this is kind of a “shu,” this sound is like a “shwa,” Zexu, hard to say for the Western tongue – the imperial commissioner at Canton, acting on the orders from headquarters, forbade further opium to be introduced and the opium that was already there (1600 tons had been introduced to the Chinese markets the year before alone, that’s a lot of opiate), and so he confiscated what was already in Canton and mixed it up with some lime and water. Whoosh! You know what happens when you put lime and water together, which is why those guys carrying lime on schooners, who are a brave bunch, you’ve got explosive cargo in a wooden ship. Wake of the Coasters, John Leavitt’s book about those guys who carried lime, is the most amazing.
So here they are, here’s a man with a cask of opium shoveling the lime on top of it down in a big pit by the Boca de Tigre, Boca Tigres, the Tiger’s Mouth, the entrance to the Pearl River estuary, and then let the water in on it and destroyed it. So that was the provocation that allowed the British to come in and really get a hold on China. Now there’s a big museum on the spot. This is very recent, since my last visit which was now 9 years ago, with a big triumphant statue of the brave Chinese soldiers that resisted the British invasion and an enormous modern building on the site of the lime pit right there on the river side at Dongguan, Boca del Tigre. This is inside, there’s Lin outside of the brave Qing Dynasty commissioners. But of course the naval might of the Qing Dynasty was nonexistent and it didn’t take long for Anson’s – rather, for the British fleet to reach Anson’s Bay and destroy about a dozen Chinese ships. Here’s the steam warship Nemesis taking care of these trading junks, these are not war junks, these are merchant vessels. Destroying them at great cost of life and extorting them: the treaty known as, the Treaty of Nanking, or Nanjing, in 1842. That gave to the British Hong Kong Island, which in the British eye they recognized immediately as one of the finest harbors in the world, not just a place to fish. So by the middle of the 19th – by a few decades, this is I guess in the 1880s, we have Hong Kong becoming a very active place and then growing. Originally just Hong Kong Island and then after the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula and then after the Sino-Japanese War and the so-called “scramble for concessions” in 1895 and then the Boxer Rebellion, the new territories which are really a large bunch of territory. There’s Lantau Island, I was talking about the new airport. The new airport is actually Chek Lap Kok; the old one, which is here, was Kai Tak. Was talking about perilous – many people in the room know how perilous it was to fly into the old Kai Tak airport, right in the middle of Hong Kong harbor. So this is where the action is, this is where the star ferry goes back and forth –
Male audience member: “Where is that famous picture that you always see of the ? building and eerything else?”
Roorda: “Right down here, yeah. Well, actually, the ? building is here. Here’s the skyline that lights up at night and the skyline, the buildings compete for the most extravagant neon show that goes off at midnight simultaneously. It’s really spectacular. If you ever go, try to get reservations at the YMCA, the Kowloon YMCA which is this beautiful high-rise hotel for a fraction of the price of similar accommodations in the private market. It has this stunning view of the skyline and of Victoria Peak rising above it.”
So, an amazing place. But it wasn’t all that the British got out of the Treaty of Nanjing: they also got control of an island in the city of Canton, Guangzhou, tell you about it in a minute, Shamian Island, or Whampoa for them. Much more importantly they got the right of extraterritoriality, every British citizen carried with him the laws of his own realm and so would be tried by a jury of his own British peers if he happened to kill a coolie in a bar fight. And so we got our piece of that action pretty quickly with the Treaty of Wang Hiyatwo years later. Not very good images of it. This is actually still the Treaty of Nanjing so I’m fakin’ it.
I could show you a picture of the Taoist, ostensibly Taoist, temple (it’s really Buddhist, you know how it goes) in Macau called Wong Sha (?) where they met. And by they I mean Caleb Cushing, who is a very interesting figure, a maritime figure, he’s a Newburyport shipbuilder (Newburyport being the port that Ben Labaree wrote his great book about). He was a Congressmen for 8 terms in the 1830s and 40s and was then appointed ambassador to China. He was the one who followed up on the Treaty of Nanjing and got a U.S. version of it. Later on he was Attorney General for Franklin Pierce. He was best known in the Massachusetts State House for an incredibly racist speech he made. His preamble says, “I admit to my equal, Sir, the white man,” and then he went on to list all the other races of the world and why they weren’t equal to him and then he went and negotiated a treaty with some Asian people. And so you can imagine that he wanted some military muscle to do that. But he didn’t get it.
The USS Missouri, which was the first steam warship in the U.S. Navy, was supposed to provide the kind of military muscle that diplomats love to have in the harbor, on the horizon, somewhere within sight. It makes the negotiations go much easier if you have a warship nearby, but unlike Perry who showed up with his black ships in Tokyo Bay a decade later to great, spectacular effect, very efficacious effect on the Japanese, the USS Missouri never made it to Macau. It caught fire at Gibraltar. There’s the Rock of Gibraltar and there it is burning and turning into a black ship, the wrong kind of black ship. So, here’s the Vincennes again, fresh from the Wilkes Expedition, and they had to send this out to scoop up Caleb Cushing and to add some military might, but Caleb had already done his job and left by the time it showed up so that wasn’t too practical. Jason will be interested to know that it went on to continue serving as it had in the Wilkes Expedition for several years after that and then fought in the Civil War. These ship histories, you know, each individual ship sometimes goes through so many different lives.
Male audience member: “I think Vincennes was the first ship, naval ship, to circumnavigate, U.S. naval ship to circumnavigate the world.”
Roorda: “Looks that way.”
Male audience member: “Before the Wilkes Expedition that was actually Charles Stewart’s, Charles Stewart’s, ah, voyage.”
Roorda: “Is that right? I didn’t know that. I’ll add that to the slide. Thanks for the info. It’s a really interesting ship career it had. It caught a blockade runner, ah, um, fought against the Manassas…”
So, after, this is what’s called then in Chinese history the First of the Unequal Treaties. Every Chinese schoolkid learns about the Unequal Treaties. The Unequal Treaties are for the treaties that followed the first and second Opium Wars and the treaty that followed the Sino-Japanese War and the Boxer Rebellion. And so the first of the Unequal Treaties, after the first Opium War, which was a British affair, just led to the opening of Canton. The second Opium War led to the opening of 5 more ports. Each one of these is now a special economic zone. For instance, Tianjin, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, and Zhuhai, Pearl of the Ocean, which is a city that’s so made up that they got to make up a name for it. “Here’s a city, we’ll make a city right here, we’ll call it Pearl of the Ocean,” and now it’s a city of 5 million people. So, there’s the first one. This is an early version of what things looked like down on Shamian Island (much nicer than back at Whampo), all the flags of the foreign devils. Here’s a view of Shamian Island from satellite, you can see how it’s really, these days, an island by name only. It’s got this little moat around it. It was always very close, which became uncomfortable during the Boxer Rebellion when the Boxers stormed it as they did with the other foreign concessions. And like the other foreign concessions, Shamian Island is oasis-like, the Europeans liked it that way. Their neighborhoods were replete with parks and beautiful architecture and if it was the French concession you could get a good croissant, and if it was the German concession you could get a fine lager beer. It’s un sabiter (?) And so here in a modern city of 13 million, which Guangzhou is, we have Shamian, a green oasis in the evening with its parks and its old mansions from the China Trade days. And I love this statue that’s gone up recently, the modernization of the Chinese woman – from bound feet, complete submissiveness to the kind of dawning awakening of the ‘70s to modern women with cell phones.
British female audience member: “I was there a few years ago and it looked like there were lots of Western families with small Chinese children.”
Roorda: “Is that right? Is that right? It’s a very – it’s interesting. The old concessions are very attractive to expatriots, to this day. Shamian’s got a lot of expats living there just like the French concession, the German concession and Shanghai are still places where the expats cluster because of cool places like these and parks like that. You know, you spend a couple days in the real China and pretty soon you want to run to a place like that, or even better to the Hilton.”
Make audience member: “Is it expensive to live in those?”
Roorda: “Yes. With some exceptions, which I’ll – like Gulangyu, for instance, was thoroughly kind of Communized, with the exception of one of the villas that’s now an expensive hotel. Not that expensive, actually, but the other ones were…”
So this is the day and age then for our famous Clipper Ships, built right here on these grounds, these hallowed grounds, the ships themselves, caulking away. It’s nice to hear the sound of the caulking mallet again on these grounds, like back in the day when they were putting together the fastest ships in the world for the purpose of getting as fast as possible to China via California, because they are of a piece, especially after Britain opened up their tea market as Glen noted. And so you had the glory days of the Great Age of Sail, read all about it in American and the Sea. And here, to refer back to the statistics that I gave out in the form of a handout on Wednesday, if you look at China Trade, specifically with Canton at that point, we’ve got 26 ships out of New York, 7 from Boston, and one from Philadelphia. And then in 1860 measuring by tonnage, again New York City is dominant with nearly half of the 84,000 tons of exports and then imports from China dominated by silk goods; in fact the number two commodity in value of all behind woolen goods, mainly from the UK and from France, especially the UK. Silk goods were number two in value of all commodities imported in 1860, with the vast majority of it going through New York City, 31 million out of 33 million dollars in value in silk goods. And also tea is still worth almost 9 million dollars and China we’re about 4.5 million dollars worth of exports. And so during this golden age of the clipper ships and such China ranked 9th or 10th in exports and imports for each of those decades. Either 9th or 10th in both and again Cuba either 3rd or 4th, depending on your decade. Not much ooching around. So with so much China Trade activity the focus shifted to Japan for a couple different reasons. It is a nice place. Hawaii of course as you know developed into a place where you could get wood and water and recreation of various sorts. You could go bowling and have Herman Melville set up the pins. Or get to know a Hawaiian girl and get to have an, um, personal conversation with her. Lots of things were available there in Hawaii, but it was pretty far from the coast of China whereas Japan is nice and close, a good place to get wood and water and a bad place to get shipwrecked. Lots of whalers now showing up off the coast of Japan in the Japan grounds, whalers getting wrecked there too, and the Japanese were inhospitable to these people as they had been inhospitable to Miki and his followers. Not that inhospitable; they weren’t beheading them, but they were keeping them in some pretty humiliating and uncomfortable circumstances including going so far as to cage some of these guys and that rhetoric with slavery doesn’t go over well with sailors or with diplomats.
8. The Opening of Japan, Commodore Perry, Harris Treaty, Meiji Restoration and the Summer Palace
So we have Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan; a fascinating event. One that is reflected in a pretty interesting part of the Voyages exhibit. And I forgot to exhort you on Wednesday; go look at my boat if you haven’t, go look at the Analuisa, those are my pictures on the wall, and try to imagine 19 people and a dog in that 20-foot launch trying to cross the Strait of Florida. And then continue on and check out Commodore Perry’s little exhibit there in Voyages, ‘cause it does a nice job talking about the effect of the bakufu, I love this Japanese image of the kind of effect that the American ships had with the figurehead. Too bad we don’t have that one in the collection, the sort of narwhal, you know the bowsprit coming out of his forehead. And of course they were very impressed with the acrobatic talents. Look at the African-American sailors. I don’t know if Jeff Bolster found this one, but there they are.
Female audience member: “Where’s that image there? Do you know what that image is?”
Roorda: “This here?”
Female audience member: “Yeah.”
Roorda: “This is from a series, that, ah, many of which are reflected in Newport. I hope that they’re still on the wall. There’s these long scrolls, of the bakufu and of course we’ll learn all about it next Wednesday. That’s the big festival in Newport, it’s called the Black Ships festival and they’ve got cherry blossoms all over town because of this fact that Perry was from Newport. Here’s another version, there’s a lot – very prolific artwork stimulated by the arrival of the black ships and by Commodore Perry. He brought his flagship from the West Indies Squadron, later on wrecked at the Battle of Port Hudson during the Civil War. So next week on Wednesday we’ll be standing in the shadow of (depending on the time of day I guess) Matthew C. Perry in Newport Park where he’s kind of a big deal. And here around the base, here’s the one of the signing of the Opening of Japan Treaty or – he didn’t sign the treaty, as we’ll find out, Townsend Harris did – but he got the opening. And the other parts of this show his activity in the African slave trade, suppression efforts in the African Squadron and some other illustrious moment in his career that now escapes me. And right across the street is a perfect example of the kind of elaborate architecture that the China Trade wealth generated: the John Griswold House, where the art association now has its gallery, a piece of modern art, beautiful mansion. Was one of the first (1860s) of the amazing mansions built in Newport Rhode Island built from China Trade money.
So the opening of Japan… He went in 1853 with the bakufu and presented an ultimatum, saying that if that if you would like an Opium War scenario to occur here then you will refuse what I’m asking. Then went away for a year, then came back; in the meantime the debate had been settled that they’d better make some kind of amends with the foreigners so as to avoid the scenario of the Opium War which had occurred just 10 years before. So here’s Perry, in another rendition. He brought sing-song as well, he brought a little mechanical train, all that’s in the exhibit, very interesting stuff. So Townshend Harris came along and concluded the Harris Treaty, better known as the Wood and Water Treaty, which opened up a couple different ports. Let’s see – what were they? Kanogate and ah – Hakodate and Shiwoda were opened up to the U.S. And there was also part of the – there’s two treaties, the Wood and Water and then the Harris treaty – the first one had better treatment for shipwrecked sailors and opening two ports and he followed along with extraterritoriality, which is another important thing. Extraterritoriality: the laws of your country go with you wherever you are.
Here’s a great book on this for teaching purposes. I use this in my U.S. Foreign Relations class or U.S. /East Asia relations on the Japanese discovery of America. It mainly has to do with the first Japanese delegation to the U.S. in 1860 but contains some other really important documents for sure on Japanese perspective on this event, which you rarely get. The author is Peter Duis. (Audience member asks for author’s last name.) Duis. D U I S. Peter Duis (“Douse”) – if he pronounces it Dutch-like. He may say “Deuce.” It’s “Douse” in Hollands, Nederlandse-stijl. So here is one of the documents; this is very germane to our discussion of sailor’s sexuality on shore and my take on it which is that it often brings about international incidents and sometimes provokes revolutions like the Cuban Revolution of 1956-1959 which I argue was partly to liberate the prostitutes. One of the first things that Fidel Castro did was absolution of all the sex workers, you know, saying that this was the Yankees, they did this to you, it’s not your fault. Now let’s make you school teachers. Right along with the education and the land tenure initiatives of the Castro regime came the abolition, the abolishment of prostitution and the rehabilitation of sex workers within the community.
And so similarly drunken sailors start a debate very quickly after Wood and Water and then Harris as these guys had more places they were able to go and do what they’re able to do, which is go on shore, and their noses get even redder, their big noses get red when they get drunk. This is a great dialogue where the women are talking about him in Japanese, ‘cause he can’t understand a word, talk about how drunk he is and about how bad he smells but “yes, but he has such cool things and if we want to get the stuff that he has we should make him feel like he’s sexy,” essentially. And so this kind of thing… And then there were reports of rapes; drunken sailors raping Japanese women or chasing them through the streets or misunderstanding a geisha and the elaborate tea ceremony as foreplay. Cultural clashes right and left provoking a national dialogue about the future of the country which had been under the control of the shogunate since the early 17th century and which had kept the Meiji Dynasty in a gilded cage in Ito, better known as Tokyo, until that point. And in this document, then we have a dialogue between Japan (it’s really a triologue), it’s Japan represented by the catfish, auspicious animal credited with saving Tokyo after earthquakes, and here’s a representation of the Americans, the big-nosed foreign devil types with their guns. Here are the Japanese people and the argument is back and forth about whether to resist the West or whether to accommodate the West. All this debate led to the undermining of the authority of the shogunate, of the samurai. Here is the brave samurai being ridiculed in the streets until Tom Cruise had to come, and you know that story.
So what we have is the Meiji Restoration, the dynasty brought back and a bizarre amalgam of medieval theocratic conception of the rights of governance; that is, the emperor is still the son of the sun and the Yamato race is still the chosen people and he’s sort of the son of God. It’s a very medieval mindset. Together with this campaign to modernize the navy and the bureaucracy along the lines that Alfred Thayer Mahan was preaching. One of the first languages that Influence of Sea Powertranslated into was Japanese and they studied that book the way that they studied at Newport. Remember Mahan wasn’t talking about just state of the art naval throw weight in the form of battleships, but he was also talking about doing away with the dysfunctions of line versus staff, right. The old quarterdeck navy of weatherbeaten sailors that come up through the hawsehole and have done their time under canvas who thought that the staff guys, who were all pointy-headed engineers who said “Why use canvas when we can use huge machines to drive through the water?” That antagonism between the future in the form of the staff officers, the engineering corps, and the line officers who wanted to go back, seemingly, to the old days. John Holland, the father of the submarine, said that the old line officers didn’t like it because there was no quarterdeck on a submarine to strut on. So the Japanese modernized their navy and their staff and started competing with the West over China, and that to a large extent is the history of the early 20th century and from a non-Eurocentric point of view, the story of World War II. It’s the United States and Japan competing over the future of China.
And so in 1885 the Japanese start the Japan Mail Steamship Company, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, and today you look sharp around the container wharf and you’ll see a lot of NYK containers and occasionally big container ships that say NYK and if you’ve got the wherewithal to take a Crystal Cruise then you’ll be on NYK as well. Every one of their ships was sunk during World War II, but in the 1930s if you were a movie star or a very rich person and wanted to go to Japan or China there was no finer way to travel than the NYK line, the Japan line. So then back in China right around the time of the Wood and Water and the Harris Treaties, the Second Opium War broke out. This time it’s a coalition effort of the British and the French who sacked the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is a perfect example of the refusal of the dynasty to modernize their navy the way that the Japanese did. The Empress Dowager spent the entire naval budget on a stone boat in the middle of an ornamental lake that she could go hang out on. And tourists today can go hang out on the stone boat. You can get in the, take the ferryboat out to the stone boat, but it wasn’t much good in in warfare. The summer palace where the stone boat was later built was sacked and the United States had its part as well in the form of Andrew Hull Foote, “the Gunboat Commodore,” as he would become known for his exploits in the Civil War at Forts Henry and Donaldson in February of 1862 when U.S. Grant broke the Confederate hold on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. And then later on the Mississippi at Island Number Ten, one of the more prosaic-named battles of the Civil War.
9. The Second Opium War aka the Arrow War, Coolie Trade, Burlingame Treaty and Treaty Ports
In the so-called Arrow War, if you go to the U.S. Marine Corps Museum or Naval Museum, they call it the Arrow War there, the Second Opium War, after the name of a vessel that was engaged in smuggling opium and was using, was flying the British flag without going through the formality of actually being registered as a British bottom. And so Chinese Coastal Patrol fired on this “pirate” flying a British flag and the British took umbrage (even though their flag was being illegally displayed) and used it as a provocation for war. The United States joined in down in the Pearl River estuary, the future Gunboat Commodore went up the labyrinth to one of the main streams of the delta and destroyed four forts by bombarding them along the way. Of course, at this same time the Taiping Rebellion was unfolding which is a whole different story, and a fascinating one that Americans had a lot to do with; preventing the Taiping rebels who believed that their leader was the brother of Jesus Christ come back to life. There were millions of them. They almost seized control of the government if not for the cannons of American mercenaries.
But I find fascinating is that the same year, 1856, when Commodore Hall, future Commodore Hall was destroying four forts on the Pearl River in the Arrow War or the Second Opium War, the U.S. Congress passed the Guano Act. It’s one of my favorite pieces of legislation – the Bird Shit Act of 1856 – which said that any American who finds an island where the birds have crapped and no one’s living there, they can claim it. That’s why there’s little bitty islands all over the Caribbean and the Pacific, these little outcroppings that could never sustain human life, kind of like the Spratleys, what China is after; they’ve got these little army fortifications on these little rocks, just to put a little imperial marker out there. “Spratleys! Those are ours!” That’s us in 1856 (“Little rock out there!” Anywhere), as long as it has some of the big birds doing their action. Of course the big guano boom began in the 1840s, which, let’s see, was mostly in Peru, Bolivia, and the offshore islands. Here’s a statistic. 12.7 million tons of bird poop extracted in Peru alone between 1840 and 1879, which is when the Pacific War broke out between Peru and Bolivia and
Chile who kicked the stuffing out of the previous two and took three states of Peru and denied Bolivia their coastal access all over bird poop, because it was highly profitable, this stuff. Especially the Chincha Islands off the coast of what is now Chile, was Peru back then, is where the deepest and the most ammonia-ridden nitrates were, and of course most of this nitrate traffic, the guano boom was facilitated by Chinese labor. Chinese laborers who were transported mainly by American bottoms, mainly out of Boston, is where most of the Coolie Trade originated.
These Boston merchants would go there and dupe Chinese men into thinking they were going to Gam Saan, the Golden Mountain, to San Franciscey, and then they take them to the Chincha Islands where they would have to mine nitrates and were often overcome by the ammonia fumes and died there in droves out there on the Chincha Islands. Here they are in California, the lucky ones who got to Gam Saan and were able to avoid this. “Coolie” means bitter strength in Cantonese, that’s where coolie comes from. This is the Chincha Islands, eventually led to a war over the Chincha Islands. The Guano War when Spain came and bombarded the Port of Callao in Peru in 1864. And then Peru and Bolivia had already gone to war with the Chincha Islands previous to that. So guano is important and the Guano Act is really weird but also very telling I think about American imperial ambitions. The U.S. got its spoils from the Second Opium War, the Arrow War, in the form of the Burlingame Treaty, concluded by Anson Burlingame, a fascinating figure in his own right, an old Know-Nothing, pre-Republican Party, you know, a racist platform, hate-the-Catholics type of platform. He stood up for Charles Sumner, remember Charles Sumner, beaten to within an inch of his life by Preston Brooks in the well of the Senate. He challenged Brooks to a duel, and Burlingame was known as a crack shot and actually – no, he told off, this is how it went. After the beating, he delivered a speech that just ripped Brooks and Brooks challenged him to a duel. Burlingame immediately accepted. Then Brooks heard that Burlingame was a really good shot and he didn’t show up for the duel. I love that. And so this is the kind of guy that Abraham Lincoln sent to China and he turned out to be a great friend of the Chinese in the very first moment when foreign diplomats were allowed into the Forbidden City. That was one of the fruits of the treaties that followed the Opium War. He travelled around the United States with his delegation of Chinese men. The delegation had two ministers and 6 students and a large retinue, and they travelled all around the United States in 1866 along with the Burlingame Treaty. And people followed it in the form of cartoons in this kind of allegory; the youngest introduces the oldest. Here is Columbia, the young America, the newest republic of nations and ancient China, showing us the Mandarin. Here’s Anson Burlingame behind and here are the nations of Europe. ‘Cause he went on and made this grand tour of Europe with his Chinese delegation after the Burlingame Treaty was concluded. But the big part of this Second Opium War conclusion was the expansion of the treaty port system from Guangzhou to a wider area; 5 more cities along with embassies being allowed to establish themselves right in the Forbidden City, right on the other side of the wall where the embassy compound still is. The U.S. embassy is still in that neighborhood right on the other side of the wall.
And so then our treaty ports then are: the port of Beijing, which 90 miles inland; today called Tientsin, then called Tianjin; the port of Amoy, now known as Xiamen which is on the Strait of Formosa; and a very interesting foreign concession, Gulangyu, the place where the statue is, there he is, see Kochinga on his rock? This is Drumbeat Island; here is modern Xiamen, a teeming metropolis with millions of people and a special economic zone. And so Drumbeat Island is a very attractive space for tourists, mainly Chinese tourists. You won’t find too many Westerners in this city, as we found out when we went there, but interestingly enough, the mansions, instead of being taken over by expats and becoming sort of a new version of extraterritoriality now are just jam packed full of Chinese families. Here are some of these amazing villa-like accommodations, that are now lots of Chinese families. Beautiful gardens, seafood restaurants, the kinds of things they eat out of the sea, again, are an amazing, amazing menagerie of things that Western palates just would not want to entertain. There’s Fuzhou, or Foochow, as it was known then and Ningbo, no name change (I’ll send these up in just a second if you’re trying to jot ‘em down), and then the most important of all, Shanghai. Again, a place that was not a big town. Ancient village but not big until the British recognized that the mouth of the Yangtze River was going to be very important in the future. And so it’s in Shanghai that The Bund developed, the most famous and the most active economic zone in China; very Western, very capitalist. And so you can say that that was the capitol of neo-colonialism in China. We could go stay at the Astor House Hotel; I love this image of the exoticism depicting these Chinese men with their musical instruments enticing the client to patronize the Hong Kong and Shanghai hotel chain. Here they are again to re-cap. The original one, Canton or Guangzhou, and also Tientsin or Tianjin up there, and on the Strait of Formosa both Fuzhou and Xiamen, here’s Ningbo just south of Shanghai.
This map is of the biggest special economic zones. So you can see the old and the new coming together.
Male audience member: “Where’s Kochinga?”
Roorda: “Kochinga’s in Xiamen – used to be called Amoy.”
Male audience member 2: “Did the Chinese ever develop a canal system?”
Roorda: “Yes, they had an elaborate canal system. The Grand Canal is one thing that makes Suzhou, which is between Hangzhou and Shanghai – and Hangzhou also is on the Grand Canal, the same emperors that constructed the Great Wall built from the northern capitol down to the southern part of the country. And then, with its tributary systems. And it’s kinda interesting, I was reading a Vanity Fair article in the new bullet train that they have that makes travelling around China so much easier than it used to be, and the reporter, Simon Winchester whose work some of you may know, his new book on the Atlantic has received a splash, and he goes out on the Grand Canal and finds some spots on the Grand Canal closest to where the new railroad was going over – and then he took a trip on the new railroad. He’s kind of reflecting on the old China that he knew back in the day when people wore Zhongshan suits and rode bicycles, everyone ringing their bells, everybody ringing their bells at the same time. To the modern day with its automobiles and its pollution and its bullet trains, all in just a few decades. I mean in 1989, the scene I’ve described to you of people in their Mao suits, they call them Zhongshan suits, ‘cause that’s Sun Yat-Sen, he’s the one who popularized those, and cars were rare. If you saw a care it was a Red Flag sedan, a 1946 Packard sedan, they bought the dies to the 1946 Packard sedan and they were making them new, calling them Red Flag sedans. The hood ornament was a red Communist flag and they were only for Communist cadres and they had these chauffeurs with white gloves, everybody else on their bicycle: ching ching ching ching. Now everybody’s got a car or a motorcycle ‘cause China has stood up, as Mao said, and their economy is just incredible dynamo, and all those Chinese citizens look back on this history of the Unequal Treaties with a kind of collective resentment that, um, is interesting to observe.”
So from one to many treaty ports, that’s not a very good map. This is much better showing you the growth of the treaty port system. The big ones, the big letters here, there’s Ningbo, there’s Shanghai, Fuzhou, Amoy, Canton are the original ones but look, we’re adding treaty ports way the heck up the Yangtze River. You can go a couple thousand miles up the Yangtze River to Chongqing and it’s still a treaty port as more and more of these treaty ports are added to the system of Western domination of neo-colonialism in that place, helping to trigger the Sino-Japanese War of 1895. Everyone expected the large and populous China to win that war but they didn’t. Pipsqueak Japan kicked the stuffings out of China and made many more demands upon them. And so did the rest of the imperial powers active on the scene leading to the so-called scramble for concessions and this famous cartoon that I’m sure you’ve all seen in a textbook at one time or another, with Queen Victoria and Germany and Russia and Japan and France all looking covetously at China and the impotent Mandarin saying “stop.” The fact was that they didn’t stop. They went about carving up concessions all around. The Japanese, especially later on, the French in the south, much more of the Hong Kong colony in the form of the new territories which were enormous and still rural to this day. The French were very strong down here. The linkage between Indo-China and Koon-Ming was very strong. The city of Kunming was the beginning of a railroad that connected the Red River Valley with Hanoi in 1904. Kunming is a very French city.
Male audience member: “Is Guam the closest territory left in that…”
Male audience member: “Yeah. What’s (inaudible)?”
Roorda: “Oh, yeah, gee, I guess you’d be right, unless there’s a guano rock out there that’s closer, yeah. (Laughter) Speaking of the Philippines…”
10. The Scramble for China: The Spanish-American War, Yellow Terror, Forbidden City Marines, The Russo-Japanese War, Steamships
It’s this scramble of who’s going to control China that leads McKinley and then even more so Theodore Roosevelt to occupy the Philippines. Why McKinley picked a fight with Spain over a sunken battleship in Havana and then sent a fleet to Manila Bay. And so that took a bit of a leap of logic to figure out how the Maine justified the Battle of Manila Bay. You may know the story about Theodore Roosevelt being at the Naval Department one day as Assistant Secretary when the boss was out and taking it upon himself to send orders to Admiral Dewey to stockpile coal in Hong Kong and to attack Manila if war broke out. His boss got back to the office and dressed him down, but his boss’ boss President McKinley said “no, good idea. Let those orders stand.” That’s why when the declaration of war that McKinley asked because of the abuses in Cuba, there’s nothing in his war message about the Philippines. It’s all the ignominious humiliating abuses that the deadly Spaniards have heaped on us and the poor Cubans and then they attack Manila Bay with 7 disabled ships that wouldn’t even turn over, *rrr rrr,* you know, nothing, sitting there at anchor. And Dewey has the time to just get his ships in a nice circle just like they did in the Civil War, you sail around the circle, steam around the circle, taking turns bombing these disabled ships. He even broke for lunch, “Okay boys, knock off for lunch,” and picked up again in the afternoon. Heck we even get the afternoon off; they didn’t, they went back and so – “Gridley, you may fire when ready.”
And so you put that together with the Battle of Santiago which I described on Wednesday: 6 under-gun ships aground, burning. We have more than 1,000 dead Spanish sailors and one dead American in these two battles which is why I don’t think that America and the Sea describing it as a heroic action, um –
Male audience member: “What’s the Schley-Sampson tiff?”
Roorda: “The Schley-Sampson tiff, they ah, the two main admirals got in an argument over who was responsible for the victory at Santiago. The commanding admiral was meeting with the general, Shafter, at his headquarters when the Spanish admiral came out of Santiago. And so the main admiral was Sampson, was um, off, no, Schley, I guess it was – ”
Male audience member 2: “Sampson was meeting with the admiral.”
Roorda: “Sampson was meeting and then Schley wrote the report but then wasn’t allowed to submit the report in a feat of pick – in a fit of pique. And then afterwards they got into this big public thing back and forth about who should be, you know, given the glory for burning all those ships and men.”
Male audience member 2: “Schley is a resident of Frederick, Maryland and I rented an apartment right next to his boyhood home.”
Roorda: “That’s great!”
Male audience member 2: “It’s just a wall of Schley.”
Roorda: “That’s great! Thanks for knowing that so quickly and so intimately.”
Male audience member 2: “Schley also totally, was totally inept at stealing his force around Cuba until he arrived at Santiago Bay and just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Roorda: “I’ve got a little bit on that in the Cuba book about their little back and forth.”
So here’s our coalition in the Boxer Rebellion, identified by their naval ensigns. This is a Japanese image obviously; all the Japanese naval officers and enlisted men and their naval ensign here front and center. Here we have Italy and France and the USA and Austria/Hungary. Here’s Germany, here’s Russia and the UK. These images are German. Back here we see this Chinese ship has succumbed to French naval might and, ah, I love this image – where, I guess that’s Uncle Sam, here’s Japan. I’m not sure which one of these is German, the guy with the boot or the guy with the cat o’ nine, ah, and they’re together, they’re flogging him good and hard, all together, “Hip hip hooray!”
Male audience member: “I don’t know German humor, is this parody, is this sarcastic, or is this…”
Roorda: “No, this is the real thing, yeah, I think this is…”
Audience murmurs over one another
Roorda: “Yeah, I think it’s a…‘Give it to the Chink,’ yeah. Okay. So here’s ethnophaulistic, you know – oh V.J. was just recommending this historical novels of ?????? on the Indian Ocean and also the Japanese in Malaysia and Burma during World War II and Singapore, the fall of Singapore, Sentosa, Ft. Sentosa.”
So here’s an image of the yellow, the Yellow Terror, in all his color, in all his glory, the Boxer image. There is his queue, which shows respect to the Qing Dynasty; it’s why Sun Yat-Sen, when he went around to expatriate Chinese all around the world tried to tell them that they weren’t Fouzhenese or Guangdonese, they were Chinese and they ought to cut off that queue and modernize and recognize a nationalist sentiment instead of a regionalist sentiment. These people separated by history and language trying to come together was Sun Yat-Sen’s message – right around the same time he’s in Hawaii talking to the Chinese there, in Egypt, in England, all over. Same kind of thing that Jose Marti was doing at the same time for Cuban nationalist consciousness and identify imperial oppression. And so the military societies on Chinese campuses, that started out as martial arts societies, you know, became these political societies, and hence the word “Boxers.” And that’s why today the Falun Gong is still so threatening in China because there’s a very fine difference between somebody out in the park doing some nice tai chi, nice, harmlessly and then those people over there are doing something a little bit different: they’re Falun Gong. They go in the back of the paddy wagon because you can never tell when martial arts is going to become revolution. And that’s what happened in the Boxer Rebellion with the attack on foreign concessions, the attack on these neighborhoods of parks and extraterritoriality and mansions and missions, in some cases pretty brutally (most brutally in the port of Beijing and then later in Beijing itself) attacked on the foreign concession in what they call now Tianjin, Tientsin on the 16th of June 1900. And then the next day the Qing Dynasty, which, the army had stood by and watched the attack on the foreign concession the day before by thousands of Boxer students, joined the Boxer students and started to shell, pour artillery shells down on the foreign concession and so the Boxer Rebellion was off to its bloody conclusion.
Middle of July, the international coalition (mainly Japanese and British troops but 900 Americans) arrived on the scene. Here’s a Muslim army, Muslims, lots of Muslims in the south of China, entire Muslim army, attacking. Japanese and British, combined, group here, and here we have – oh, actually, these are the Muslims, this was Boxers themselves, these are Boxer students. These are Chinese army soldiers, Muslim army soldiers charging a western position during the siege in battle of Tientsin. Herbert Hoover and his wife were holed up in Tianjin during this period. Lou Henry Hoover had the tire blown out of her bicycle by a piece of shrapnel, that’s how close she was to the action. But then this force lifted the siege on the 15th of July. Nine hundred U.S. Marine Corps soldiers – don’t call ‘em soldiers, Marines – involved in the action, including Smedley “Gimlet Eye” Butler, the future commandant of the Marine Corps who later on realized what he was all about. Went into the lecture circuit with the title of his talk being “I Was a Mercenary for Standard Oil Company,” because he realized that that’s what the Marines were in China. They were mercenaries for Standard Oil, keeping the Standard Oil market alive, keeping the market for American cigarettes open. In fact when the, when, ah, 4 years later after the Boxer rebellion the students were organized in an embargo of American cigarettes, Theodore Roosevelt threatened to send the troops in from the Philippines all over again to make sure those Chinese kept smoking their cigarettes, kind of like how they had the opium before.
On to Beijing with the international force. Heaping insult on injury they turn the Forbidden City into a bivouac. And in the wonderful biography of Smedley “Gimlet Eye” Butler called Maverick Marine it details how the drunken Marines would entertain themselves by taking target practice with Ming vases. Still a lot left, if you go there there’s a great museum of Ming vases, but they took out a bunch of them during the time they were bivouacked in the Forbidden City in the year 1900 into the year 1901 and we left some guys there in Shanghai ever after. And of course what we wanted in American policy was to stop the scramble for concessions and to enforce the so-called “level playing field” of economic opportunity: an Open Door for American products to come into the China market. And again it’s that China market. What will they buy? Michael Jackson CDs, golf clubs, kerosene, opium, cigarettes – somethin’. Anyway, if all these empires carve up China then we can’t sell our flour and our cigarettes and all that stuff. So that’s basically the upshot of the Open Door notes enunciated by Hoosier Secretary of State John Hay, who was Secretary of State for both McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.
Of course as we continue to head toward the inevitable collision between the American imperial ambitions in China and the Japanese, we have the punctuating moment of the Russo-Japanese War, another big upset victory for the Japanese imperial army. Everyone thought they’d be defeated by China. They certainly thought that these yellow soldiers would be defeated by these white soldiers from Russia, but instead the Japanese navy dealt the Russian navy an incredible blow, two blows actually. First we have the attack on Port Arthur, a surprise attack, much like Pearl Harbor later on, and then a siege of the Russian installation on the northern peninsula on the Yellow Sea. And then the Battle of Tsushima Strait, when, after that fleet was destroyed, there at Port Arthur, the Baltic fleet was sent around the world and ambushed in the foggy Tsushima Strait and destroyed. On the 27th of May, 4 Japanese battleships sank all 8 Russian battleships. Five thousand Russian sailors went to the bottom; the Battle of Tsushima Strait. And so what a surprise, the Lilliputian Japanese catching the giant sleeping there on his peninsula. This is the peninsula, the Liaodong Peninsula, Port Arthur, and here’s the Tsushima Strait between the Korean Peninsula and southern Japan. This shows it better, Liaodong Peninsula. And then later on that would be very important in the early 1930s for sending the U.S. to a collision course with Japan over the fate of China. Shandong Peninsula is where the Germans were. That’s where Tsingtao beer was brewed then and now. And that was next on the list, as we’ll find out. First Theodore Roosevelt got himself a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a treaty between Japan and Russia up at the naval shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on September 5th, 1905, the conclusion to the war. And then he was very happy that the “Slavic Peril” and the “Yellow Peril,” as Mahan called them, as Theodore Roosevelt referred to the Russian and Japanese empires, had been played off each other. He really felt the Japanese had kinda been duped. And the Russians got a much better deal in the Treaty of Portsmouth than one might expect thanks to T.R., but the Japanese certainly got control of that peninsula and they would soon get control of even more.
So the American maritime stake in all this has to do with the famous Pacific Mail Steamship Company. The line that was established so fortuitously in 1848; the dream of William Aspinwall and his investors to provide a third alternative to reaching California. Right. You could either go across the great crayton (?) or the continent, 3,000 miles by land, or you could go 3 months, at least, longer, around Cape Horn, or, thanks to Mr. Aspinwall, you could take a nice comfortable steamship from New York to Panama, jump on a stagecoach (later on a railroad, after 1855), take it to the Pacific side, get on another nice comfortable steamship, and head to San Franciscey that way. Of course on the maiden voyage of the first steamer that had to go and be the west side steamer, it rounded Cape Horn and in Peru received news of the – actually in Peru they took on a bunch of, that’s right, they received news of the Gold Rush in Peru, a bunch of Peruvian ‘49ers came on board – and they got up to Panama and by that time they were tons of Americans that had come down to join the Gold Rush. So they put up with all the Peruvians and took on all the Americans and continued on and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company was off to the races as an alternative to the Cape Horn clippers or the old whaleships or joining a wagon train or a company of young men on horseback to try to get to the gold fields of California. And then they went on to become a really important line.
But there were other lines too. There’s the China Line, for instance. Actually all told there are four American lines in the China market: there was the Atlantic, um, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company that I’ve just outlined, there was the China Line, which went from San Francisco to Yokohama and Hong Kong, and then the Shanghai Line was Yokohama to Nagasaki and Shanghai. And you can see the sister ships, the Mongolia, the Manchuria, the China, the Korea, the Siberia, all very comfortable large steamship liners from the American West Coast to China and Japan in the late 19th and early 20th century. Pacific Mail, as you can read about especially in Jeff Bolster’s co-edited book, The Way of a Ship, the Dollar Line, Mr. Dollar, a big innovator, has a whole chapter to himself, took over Pacific Mail in 1925. And then the President Line took over and had the 17 famous President Liners, with famous liners like – this is the President Hoover, this is not a very good day for the President Hoover, this is the day that she ran aground off of Taiwan. Amazingly nobody died in that wreck. This President Liner had had the misfortune of being on the lower Yangtze River when the war between Japan and China broke out in 1937. And nationalist Chinese forces, mistaking it for a Japanese troop ship of the NYK Line, attacked it in China back then. We’ll talk more about the Yangtze incident in just a minute. So the U.S. government took over the Dollar Line just before the war. Here, I love these kind of images, postcard of the President Cleveland, really travel in style.
11. Protecting American Interests: Cigarettes Come to China, Revolution, Yangtze Patrol, Buildup to World War II and Mao Zedong's In
So some of the markets then involved, as I’ve mentioned several times, tobacco. This is also in, uh, going back to 1905, the year of the Portsmouth Treaty, we have the arrival of the British American Tobacco Company. Mr. James Duke, and maybe it’s apocryphal, but it’s a great tale. They say in 1881 when James Duke heard that someone had invented a machine to roll cigarettes he said, “Bring me an atlas,” to look for the most populated country. Apocryphal or not, he introduced cigarettes to China. Let’s see, I’ve got some statistics here. Ah, at that time China had a population of 430 million people; now it’s about 1.2 billion. And so he established his company on the Bund, in Shanghai, in 1905, and within two years he had sold 1.3 million cigarettes. By 1919, British American Tobacco made a quarter million cigarettes a week in Shanghai alone, using U.S. tobacco which went from $.04 to $.25 a pound for tobacco ‘cause of the China market for cigarettes. By 1920, the Chinese were smoking 25 billion cigarettes at a time when the U.S. was smoking 45 billion cigarettes a year. I wonder what it is now? When I first lived there, 65% of Chinese men were smokers, and they smoked a lot. Even in the middle of meals, you know, one hand for chopsticks, one hand for the cigarette, thanks to Mr. Duke. I love that image too – “Smart! You’re so smart if you smoke.”
And so the U.S. navy had to get in on the action to protect American interests, Standard Oil interests, here, one slide out of order I guess, because of case oil, right, kerosene and petroleum products in cans to illuminate the dark hovels of the Chinese peasantry. And so that meant shipping thousands of miles up the Yangtze. The United States originally established its Yangtze Patrol way back in 1854 but then it really started to take on muscle early in the 20th century. And then look at how far they go, all the way up past Chongqing on the Yangtze. And so these gunboats – they built them at Mare Island in California and they would ship them in pieces and assemble them there – could go up 1,300 miles up the Yangtze. So. This particular one was scuttled, ah, when the Japanese declared war, when the Japanese attacked us. So we have U.S. naval presence on the rivers, we’ve got a scramble for concession versus Open Door notes, Japanese acting like they’re going along with it but increasing their extraterritorial hold on China leading up to the Treaty of Versailles, when the secret treaty between Japan and the UK was revealed to the outrage of the Chinese students because part of the treaty said that the German peninsula, the Shandong Peninsula, famous for Tsingtao beer, and pretzels, now would go to Japan and not back to the Chinese. So on the 1st of May 1919 students poured into Tiananmen Square to express their displeasure with this further imperialist grab of their national patrimony, among them being a librarian from the University of Beijing, Mao Zedong, who was politicized that day. Of course the troops clamped down on these guys, much like they would on the 5th of June 1989 in a foreshadowing of what happens when students stick their necks up in Tiananmen Square.
So the 1st of May 1919 can be sort of dated as the beginning of the Chinese Revolution to a certain extent because from that Mao Zedong and his counterpart Jiang Jieshi/Chiang Kai-shek both went their separate ways into this long drawn-out conflict that turned into a civil war in 1927 and then turned into a weird tri-part conflict when the Japanese invaded in 1937. The patrol boats, these patrol boats on the Yangtze River increasingly then were in a tight place as the period of the warring states, the warlords, following the Chinese Revolution in 1912 became the Chinese Civil War and that period is evoked by this movie that some of you may know, The Sand Pebbles. Steve McQueen and Candace Bergen’s first movie – she was discovered for this film – which documents, attempts to document in a kind of romanticized but in some ways extremely realistic and accurate way the so-called “Yang Pat,” the Yangtze Patrol of the 1920s and ‘30s. The most famous vessel in the stories Yangtze Patrol, by all ways of looking at it, would be the Panay, which became famous when the Japanese air force attacked it on the Yangtze River on December 12th 1937 during the midst of the Rape of Nanking. While the six weeks of the paroxysm of violence unfolded in Nanjing, also on the Yangtze River, Chinese estimates are 189,000 civilians were killed in Nanjing during those six weeks, and it’s estimated that just about every girl and woman was raped by Japanese imperial troops. So while that was unfolding in the nationalist capitol of China, it’s Chiang Kai-shek’s capitol at that time, the Chinese, the Japanese attacked this vessel and the Standard Oil tankers that it was escorting.
And so, if you want to look at the start of World War II from something other than a Eurocentric lens, then you don’t emphasize the fields of Poland in September 1939 as the starting point for the American World War II. The American World War II began when the sailors aboard the Panay were killed by Japanese fliers. And so just to kind of jump over a bunch of stuff and to get to much more recent times here, as I try to fulfill my promise of finishing up on schedule… Ah, after the invasion of 1937 of Japan and China and Standard Oil of course had to leave and the vessels like the Lousanne (?) that I showed you were scuttled, vessels like the Hoover, President Hoover were attacked by mistake. All this chaos breaking out. The Chinese Civil War had to go into a kind of period of hiatus. Chiang Kai-shek made the decision to move the entire government to the west, the move to the west out to Chongqing into Kunming, Kunming connected to Vietnam with the French railroad down the Red River, and also connected with Yangon (Rangoon) on the Burma Road, and connected with India and the so-called “Himalayan Hump.” Same thing could be said for Chongqing. Mao Zedong’s forces engaged the Japanese behind their lines in eastern China, leading to intensification of that war that culminated in what the Japanese called the “Kill All, Rape All, Burn All” campaign. And so one of the most vicious parts of the war occurred in China so at that time the Communists and the Nationalists stopped fighting each other. The Communists fought the Japanese, and the Nationalists really didn’t. And so the Communist forces were in a position to really benefit by the end of the war, especially the belated entrance into the war of the Soviet Union, who came flooding into Manchuria the day after Hiroshima, and forced the Japanese to surrender and then turned those weapons for the Manchurian forces over to Mao. And that’s why Mao was able to pick up the momentum when the Civil War started up again in 1945 and win that civil war in October of 1949 with Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist fringe retreating to Taiwan. And so in the famous speech that is celebrated as the independence day of the People’s Republic of China that he made on October 18 1949, he said that China has stood up: stood up from that legacy of Unequal Treaties, of abuse at the hands of Western and Japanese imperial powers, and he looked forward to a future when China would take its rightful (in their view) ancient place as dominant force in the world, the Middle Kingdom of old.
Of course, he screwed up innumerable times with things like the Great Leap Forward which led to a massive starvation in the countryside and the Cultural Revolutionwhich led to the destruction of the Chinese intelligentsia and the shaming of certain political allies like Den Xiaoping who later turned out to have the last laugh. Den Xiaoping was one of the victims of the Cultural Revolution, “sent down to the countryside” as the parlance of the day went, sent to a tea plantation to work like a proletarian because was a counterrevolutionary according to the Red Guard. But he was rehabilitated around the time that Mao died and then rose to his position in 1979 and it was that year that he announced that the path of the Chinese economy would therefore be that of market socialism, that was his coinage. And it was Den Xiaoping again who created these special economic zones, SEZs, appended to each of the treaty ports of old and began the Chinese economic miracle that the last three decades has witnessed with its average annual growth of the economy being more than 9% over that period of time. Some signs of faltering more recently but the fact is that the Chinese economy around the old treaty ports just became a sight to behold.
12. China in Transition: Megacities, Super Ports, Container Shipping
For visitors like myself, from one year to the next, it’s amazing to see a place like Shenzhen, the railroad border, between the new territories of Hong Kong and mainland China, “Red China,” you know, read James Clavell’s novels about Hong Kong, there are some great scenes that take place in Shenzhen where they’re exchanging spies. And at that time there was not much going on up there. It was mainly just a railroad junction and some fishermen. But then with the market socialism, Den Xiaoping recognized the northern border of the territories as being a place where the Chinese economy could glom on to Hong Kong and grow like a mushroom and that’s just what it did. In 1975, there were probably 20,000 people in Shenzhen. Today it’s a city of 12 million people and the skyline is astonishing. And this is an old picture, this is probably 15 years old, I should get a new one of Shenzhen because, ah, the skyline is amazing. These new cities, these new Chinese cities, the buildings are so innovative and imaginative and many of them take feng shui very seriously; these huge holes in the buildings, big round holes up 60 stories. Now there’s more than 100 buildings in Shanghai more than 70 stories tall. When I went to Shanghai in 1989 for the first time the tallest building in town was 38 stories, the Hilton Hotel. So it’s an amazing – China in transition is one of the great phenomena of modern history.
Shanghai is now a city of nearly 23 million people. Bigger on the weekend, ‘cause so many people come in just to be in the city; country bumpkin types come in to see what a city park looks like. An enormous container terminal. By some ways of measuring, by most ways of measuring, the biggest port in the world. Speaking of which, ah, this is four years old, updated it this morning here to the most recent figures, thank you Wikipedia, this is how you measure with TEUs, Glenn’s gonna talk on Monday about containers, TEUs are those things that go whipping past you on the interstate highway at 70 miles per hour on a semi truck, the same box you can put on a train, the same box you can put on a ship. You can tell ‘em ‘cause they’ve got holes in the corners for the big cranes to pick up and put them down where they need to go. So in 2010, then, ah, these are in thousands of TEUs. That’s going through Shanghai, and look at all the SEZs here in the top 12. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Ningbo, Guangzhou, Qingdao (the German port where the brewery is), Tianjin and, ah, the list goes on.
Male audience member: “What’s Dubai doing? That’s not oil in these containers?”
Roorda: “Yeah, this is containers, I don’t know what Dubai’s doing. I guess that’s the trans-shipment point for their whole region.”
Male audience member 2: “What’s coming in and out of Rotterdam? I mean it’s the only Western port – ”
Roorda: “Yeah, Rotterdam’s the major container port for all of Europe. It’s the most modern container port, it’s fully mechanized, they don’t even need people to drive the trucks that move the containers around, it’s completely automated with electric eye sensors and these tracks. They had to work the bugs out at first; just a seagull sitting down on the track, everything would seize up. (Laughter) But they bugs – or the birds – and now Rotterdam is this enormous, incredibly efficient, incredibly fast, and it’s an enormous port too. A lot of the supercarriers, I’ll talk about here in a minute, the super container ships, can only fit into Rotterdam and certain other ports in the world. And they’re by definition Cape Horners ‘cause they can’t fit through – they’re Panamax plus ‘cause they can’t get through the Panama Canal. And some of them are on dedicated routes, the biggest in the world are on these dedicated routes: Rotterdam, East Asian port, just back and forth constantly. Oh and I forgot to bring my New York Times article from this week about the car carriers (assent from audience), there’s an article this week about the car carriers, 8,500 cars in one of these floating shoeboxes.
So this is, by measuring it by TEUs, by the number of twenty-foot equivalency units, the big boxes. Speaking of boomerang boxes the Voyages exhibit has got a nice exhibit on containers where you can kind of sit in a container and contemplate where you are. That’s what museums are, right? Well here’s by tonnage, you can see how Rotterdam goes way up when you do it by tonnage, but look at the domination of Chinese ports if you do it by just straight tonnage. Shanghai, Tianjin, Ningbo, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Shehuango that’s Shehuango ????, I think that’s in the south, um, there’s Hong Kong, Dalian, Shenzhen. And here finally a couple of ports in the U.S. If you’re looking for TEUs it’s gonna be the port of Long Beach, it’s gonna be down around 18th or so, that’s the U.S.
Male audience member: “And Brazil? Where’s South America show up?”
Roorda: “The port of Santos is their biggest port, which is the port of Sao Paolo. It contends with Shanghai and Mexico City as the most populous city in the world. And Santos doesn’t show up here although I know it is a really capacious harbor that is one of the destinations for some of those dedicated routes. But as we’ll see in a minute South America’s getting more ports because the Chinese – it’s their century and they need more ports so they gotta build ‘em. And they’re building them. And we’ve noticed, and we’re worried. Um, at least some people are. I’m not so worried. I could see it coming way back, you know (laughs). Since 1990 I was thinking these people, you know, are definitely on the rise and I definitely live in a fading empire.”
So, um, and here this is just different ways you can measure it. This is all Wikipedia. Different ways you can see that Shanghai, Rotterdam, and Singapore are the busiest and the biggest in the world, you know, depending on how you want to measure.
British female audience member: “It’s incredible that Dover’s still the biggest passenger port.”
British female audience member: “Brits still like to (inaudible).”
Roorda: “Yes, because of the, so many ferry boats, entrepot for cruise ships, Mediterranean cruises. Even Cunard is likely to run out of Dover instead of Southampton these days."
So, the Chinese have got these two huge shipping companies. (I’m trying to segue to Glenn’s talk on Monday, not step on his line.) And these two operations you may be familiar with because they’re boxes that go by you on the road a lot. This is COSCO, not Costco, not to be confused with the jumbo marketer. This is the old one and this is – no, this is the old one and this is the new one. The first one, this is about the time the Great Leap Forward was ending, and the Cultural Revolution was starting. Mao at least had the foresight to start an ocean shipping company and now they got more than 600 ships. But they specialize in the smaller ships whereas the newer, Shanghai-based CSCL, which has exclusive use of Terminal Island in Long Beach in a perfect example of how power wins the day. In San Pedro, a delightful little neighborhood in the port of Los Angeles, the people were concerned there that the hazardous materials terminal was right in the middle of their neighborhoods. And so the government authorities arranged to develop a hazmat facility on Terminal Island to at least get those things out in the middle of the Los Angeles harbor instead of in the middle of bohemian, adorable San Pedro. But then when they got done with developing Terminal Island they pulled a fast one and instead leased the whole thing to CSCL. And the hazmats stayed where they are because, after all, San Pedro’s just a bunch of hippies and Mexican people and they have no power, and here we’re talking about Wal-mart, right, all the stuff for those crazy low prices and some Japanese 16-year-old, uh, Chinese 16-year-old, sewed them for $1 a day in some sweatshop in Guangzhou.
And that is what they pay, you know, I was amazed when I took students to Guangzhou as I did for several years and they ceded to my request to visit a factory and took us to one of these places where it’s these teenage girls sittin’ at sewing machines. They were making Tigger dolls, little Tiggers and Poohs. And living in dormitories, 6 girls to a room, living at the factory and getting what worked out to about $1 a day. Um, and so that’s why everything’s so cheap at your Wal-mart store. And it’s brought in on these enormous vessels that can carry more and more TEUs. Four thousand TEUs – that’s nothin’ anymore, that’s nothin’! ‘Cause they’re getting bigger and bigger. So here’s the Xin Los Angeles, from CSCL, out there, Terminal Island, you see these things all the time, the Xin Los Angeles was the biggest in the world, and that was just in 2006. Nine thousand, six hundred TEUs, one of eight that were built for the line, ah, most of these were built at Samsung in Korea, South Korea. The Samsung yard is the biggest, unless you’re talking Maersk, and then they’re built in, in, ah, Finland, a lot of them. So here’s the COSCO Guangzhou, one year later, it has, it has a few more TEUs, they can run the whole thing with 19 sailors. There’s the Samsung Heavy Industries in the Republic of Korea; they build 30 ships a year and now they’re up to building 14,000 TEU there.
Male audience member: “So is this essentially a suburb of China in terms of influence? Or does China not have its own shipyards or – what’s the advantage here?”
Roorda: “Yeah, I think it’s the Koreans, you know, the Korean shipping, the Korean shipbuilders have establishes a really good reputation. They build very cheap and quality ships, whereas there’s still a lot of concern about the industrial infrastructure in China. They still produce a lot of crappy, shoddy products. They’re finding that out with their bullet train. Already that bullet train is just bedeviled with problems, and so I suspect that might be a reason. But look at all these hulls under construction in this shot, from space, they’re everywhere, it’s amazing. And look, in 1999 they could only do 6,200 TEU boats and now they’re doing classes of – now, more than 15,000, I think is…”
Male audience member 2: “So if they’re that large, are they starting to run them on nuclear power, or are they still diesel?”
Roorda: “Not yet, they’re still diesel. Not yet. I imagine that’s in the future at some point.”
Currently the biggest container ships are run by the Maersk Line. Depends on how you measure them; the biggest class, the Emma Maersk and her sisters can carry up to 15,500 TEUs if they’re light TEUs. But if you’ve got TEUs full of heavy stuff than 14,000 is the most that you can get on board. Oh actually here, here’s a picture of the Emma Maersk and specifically what I’m talking about. This one’s built in Denmark, 1300 feet long, and, okay, 11,000 heavy TEUs but the figures I saw this morning, some sites were saying they can get up to 15,500 crammed on these things. Anyway, here’s your dedicated route: Ningbo, Xiamen, Hong Kong to Rotterdam. Back and forth. Only 13 guys run this whole vessel.
British female audience member: “Must have palatial rooms on there…”
Roorda: “Say what?”
British female audience member: “They must have, like, suites to live in.”
Roorda: “Yes, their accommodations on these things are pretty nice. There’s not many of them. Unfortunately they don’t have accommodations for people who wanna bum around the world on freighters like way back when. Looking for a Ship is a terrific read if you want to know more about the container ship industry, John McPhee’s one of the great expository writers of our time.
Ah, this morning I checked the figures and they’re still the same, the Emma Maersk has not been exceeded since I, uh, I did this talk last year. They don’t seem to be able to – the only difference is, for some reason it’s listed as 15,500, same ship, I don’t know why they recalculated it, but you get the idea. Here’s the whole class of the Emma Maersk and her sisters, and other vessels. And I did this, I looked around this morning and just in the last three years there’ve been another 40 or so vessels of 10,000 TEUs or more launched and put into service. So this list goes on…and on…and on…there’s a lot of huge ships, the giantism theme of The Way of the Ship (Bolster et al) comes through very clearly in this industry as it does in the cruise industry which I’ll engage next Tuesday. I’ll talk a little about that right now ‘cause I want to talk about huge ships in just a second. Now this is a cool chart, I wish they’d update it, it’s now five years old, I don’t know how much it’s changed, can’t have changed a whole lot, so I hope that this gives you the idea. This is the world fleet, TEU capacity in thousands of TEUs, 1.3 million TEUs more or less, and you can see how important Maersk is. Maersk is the biggest operator, but here’s COSCO and here’s CSCL; combined, kind of a big deal too. Here’s the French operation. Taiwanese. German. American President Line, now owned in Singapore.
British female audience member: “And the Greeks have completely dropped out of the shipping industry?”
Roorda: “That’s right, they are in ‘other,’ yeah, pretty much, you know, and they’re probably all, they’re probably 1st mates on Liberian-registered tankers that are owned by American stockholders and, yeah, right. ‘Cause a lot of these boats that are registered in the Bahamas or Liberia or Panama are owned in America so that grieving for lost American merchant capacity is really very superficial because all those vessels in emergencies can be brought back into American control. But you can see flags convenient, dominated by Panama: 465 flags out of that fleet show it, their entirety five years ago. Prolly fewer now, right, prolly fewer now. Liberia. China, they do their own. Here’s the size of our bubble comparatively. Our bubble’s not as big as the Marshall Islands’ bubble. Yeah, see, there’s a Marshall Island yacht here, right now, it’s registered in Bikini. It’s a nice yacht. They probably came all the way here in that yacht. (Audience member asks: “From New Jersey?” Roorda laughs.) Yeah, you think it’s just registered in the Marshall Islands? ‘Cause this is a seaworthy-looking boat.
13. Concluding Thoughts: Enormous Ships, Floating Cargo Containers Overboard, Manila Galleons, Chinese Naval Developments
So, just a little bit before I conclude, I’ve got 10 minutes here just to talk about enormous ships, kinda fun. Here’s the longest ship ever built, the Japanese supertanker Knock Nevis. They found out that these things were just a little too big. So there is a limit to gigantism and scales of economy. I’m not sure that’s suggested loud and clear in Jeff’s book but it certainly is manifest in the career of a boat like the Knock Nevis. It was just too damn big. They couldn’t even get it through the English Channel. And so currently it’s sitting down in the Persian Gulf serving as an FSO, not to be confused with a BFS, right, “Big Friggin’ Ship,” this is a Floating Storage and Offloading Unit.
Male audience member: “What was the English Channel issue? Simply depth?”
Roorda: “Depth and I think it was also a matter of navigation; these things take miles and miles to turn. That’s a big reason for a lot of the capabilities of these huge ships is it takes many miles to change course. Which is bad news if you’re in front of them.”
Male audience member 2: “Eric, I recently read something where, um, the author was claiming that something like 4 of these large supertankers or bulk carriers disappear in the middle of the ocean every month, something like 4 in the world.”
Roorda: “Of the, of the, the whole ships?”
Male audience member 2: “Yeah.” (Inaudible audience talk)
Roorda: “No, I don’t think that, I think we would read about that. I know that they lose a lot of containers off of those boats but I didn’t know about losing a – ”
Male audience member 2: “I’ll have to look, the book is Susan Casey’s The Wave, yeah, she’s a journalist and I’ll have to go back and look at this because – ”
Roorda: “I mean, I could believe that there would be smaller container vessels succumbing, there’s a lot of smaller ancillary vessels that carry containers to smaller markets, but I think we would hear about it if one of these big guys went down.”
Male audience member 2: “Some of these are crewed by people that Westerners don’t care about, that, um, doesn’t make the news.”
Roorda: “That’s interesting. I’d like to (audience member continues to talk)...you know, it’s not beyond plausibility, when you think about some of these crews that are just abandoned, you know the companies fall apart and these guys are left out on their own.”
And it is true that a lot of containers come off of boats en route. They can get into big storms and lose a bunch of them, and the problem there is that containers will float if they’re packed with toys, like rubber ducks, for instance. That’s the most famous example, was the rubber duckies that got loose in the Pacific. And it’s not just rubber duckies. Oh, I wish I had my slide now. I’ve got a great slide about this story. It was also little turtles, and a little otter, little sea otter, and they came in sets of three. And, ah, the container was breached and the boxes dissolved in the salt water but the little floaty toys were loose in the Pacific gyre. So we have thousands of rubber duckies going around and around in the gyre. And I read that last year the first one made its way through the Northwest Passage, and showed up on a beach in the UK.
But the problem is that a lot of the floating containers are just below the surface and will sink a yacht (snaps fingers) like that. You know, they’ll just tear the bulb, tear the keel bulb right off of pleasure yachts and capsize her or send her to the bottom (snaps fingers again) and we wouldn’t have anything, no idea. So they are a real navigational hazard for small craft. The untold thousands of containers, the Ghost Containers, floating around out there… (Audience member asks: “Is there a salvage industry?”) I don’t think so, I think these things are impossible to locate. They’re getting easier to locate. There are more sophisticated operations to track container ships and individual containers. Even pre-dating the terrorist concerns that we have, ‘cause these containers – that’s the big concern, is that some poorly-documented container ship is going to import a dirty bomb into Charlestown, for instance, the 60 Minutes program on just that issue. They talked to a guy named Flynn who’s the big consultant, who writes all the books; you know, if you’re a terrorist, buy Mr. Flynn’s books because he points out exactly how far down around our ankles our pants are at the moment when it comes to security. How we effectively screen about 2% of the roughly 9 million containers that flow in and out of our ports annually. So it’s, that’s, that’s the big concern. And there’s a lot of money to be made in that as well. (Audience member says something about “floating around in the Pacific gyre.”) That’s right, although for Pat’s students there is money to be made in this thing, figuring out how to secure this amazing system that developed the way that Glenn will outline on Monday. On Tuesday, not tomorrow, I will talk more about the Queen Mary 2 – never call it the “QM2,” if you’re aboard, the “Queen Mary 2,” just like you never say “QE2” on the Queen Elizabeth 2 – of the Chantiers de l’Atlantique Yard in Le Havre. But you can see from this where she stacks up against the Knock Nevis. Here’s the Emma Maersk, biggest container ship in the world. And there’s the Queen Mary 2. And here’s the Berge Stahl, which I’ll talk about in just a second, the largest bulk carrier in the world. And here’s the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.
By way of comparison…I like this one. (Laughter) This one puts the Knock Nevis up against the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world, in Dubai. The Taipei 101. The Tower formerly known as Sears, now it’s an unpronounceable symbol, I think. And then the Petronas Towers and the Empire State Building and the Knock Nevis. I think that really does a good job. And I think that this is my favorite. Here’s the Knock Nevis superimposed against the Pentagon. And the battleship Missouri, the Hindenburg, the Enterprise, the Queen Mary 2 and the Empire State Building. You thought this talk was going to be on China, didn’t you? There she is, the largest bulk carrier, build in 1986 at the Hyundai Yard in Korea, the Berge Stahl, 208 foot in the beam. Only two ports in the world it can get into. Some iron-ore terminal up near Salvador de Bahia, not Salvador itself, one of these new industrial ports, and Rotterdam, a Europort.
Female audience member: “So once they build, it seems like you could sort of figure that out. Like, we know where all the ports are, we know how big they are, so let’s not build a boat that can’t fit into anything. (Laughter) It seems like such a weird – ”
Roorda: “Doesn’t it though? (Audience member agrees.) Yeah, to completely max out, to build it so big you can only get into two ports and only at high tide, that is a really self-limiting factor.”
Male audience member: “But the increase in capacity will eventually pay for the construction of the facility and then – ”
Roorda: “You hope! Yeah, you hope. This one proved to be just untenable.”
Male audience member: “Accountants, he is accountable.”
Roorda: “You know, I’d like to tell stuff from my own lines for next Tuesday.”
The Queen Mary 2 of course followed Micky Arison’s vision of having an ocean liner, not a cruise ship, Queen Mary 2 is not a cruise ship, she’s an ocean liner built for the North Atlantic in the wintertime (like the Plimsoll line that Glenn went into illustrates how stormy those waters are) and so she needed to emulate her great ancestor the Queen Mary of 1930s fame, one of the great troop transport histories of World War II, she was incredible workhorse in World War II, was Queen Mary. Now, the Verrazzano Straits Bridge was constructed so that the Queen Mary could fit under it; it was the biggest thing in the world at that time. The Queen Mary 2 was constructed so that it could fit under the Verrazzano Straits Bridge. Ah, there’s your limiting factor. God knows how big Micky would have built it if it hadn’t been for the Verrazzano Bridge – the Queen Mary 2 might have even been bigger.
Then we get to the supertankers, the largest ships ever built. Last one scrapped out 9 years ago; this was, they reached the max, they couldn’t get bigger and the economy scale did not hold up. These things were behemoths, they couldn’t maintain ‘em, and they had a brief career. This was the biggest ever, the Batillus supertanker and I think there were three sister ships, Dutch Royal Shell Corporation. (Audience member asks: “Why did the expense of keeping them outweigh the boat, the cargo?”) I don’t know my history about the container ship that well. I just know these guys were just too big, Shell bailed out on them after a relatively short time. They didn’t build more. They, done there, and they went to slightly smaller – you know, supertankers are still supertankers but they’re not that incredibly enormous.
But to bring it back to China just for a little bit here before I let you go, right now China’s got about, this is last year’s stats, I don’t know what it is now, but China holds 26% of the national debt, which stood at $14.5 trillion last year and is up another tick now. So, look, 12 year ago they only had 6% of our debt and now they have more than a quarter of our debt and that’s a scary development for people who have kind of a geopolitical way of looking at M1, at our cash supply. You know, if China were to bail out on our T-Bonds then it would be a very, very sticky situation. Of course that would be like shooting themselves in the foot too. Sarah?
Female audience member: “What’s the difference between a supertanker and a cargo ship, a container ship?”
Roorda: “A tanker takes liquids.”
Female audience member: “Oh, okay.”
Roorda: “Yeah. A bulk carrier will take things like taconite, iron ore in round pellets, which means you can carry much more iron ore in a hold than if you had it in rough pieces like it comes out of the ground or out of the mill. And flour, and grain, things like that – not flour, but grain. Although, as Glenn will tell you next week, it’s getting cheaper even to ship things like that in containers. They’re even shipping grain in containers now. So even the bulk carriers might…”
So this tells a pretty big, you know, this is China’s portion of the U.S. debt, and the U.S. trade deficit with China just since 1990, it’s really going off the edge, we’re addicted to these cheap Chinese products. And so now we’ve got the modern return of the Manila Galleons, right, we talked about them on the very first day that I held forth. Remember Urdaneta in 1565 figured out that you could sail around the Pacific gyre, you could sail around and around Hawaii without finding it for 200 years, and that’s what they did. And so now because China has got this massive industrial output and is looking for new markets everyplace, they need to find places to bring that stuff in. And so look at the way they’ve taken over the Mexico market recently, for instance. Wal-marts are burgeoning in Mexico. Big, huge Wal-marts that have restaurants in them, and they’re the kind of places where a Mexican family will go and spend the day like they’re an amusement park. So these places are filled with Chinese products and they are not coming through Long Beach anymore. They’re coming through the brand-new port of Lazaro Cardenas, named for the revolutionary president of Mexico in the 1930s. There was no port there. They made a port. Acapulco was too small for these container ships and they didn’t want to go through Terminal Island in Los Angeles, that just goes through Yankee land. They get a lot more money and a lot more control by making their own brand-new port. So, that’s China in Mexico. You know, Mexico, we just assume, we take for granted, “We’re gonna dominate the Mexican economy.” Not so. The Chinese are gonna dominate the Mexican economy here in the next few years. They’re gonna take over the Mexican economy.
Uh, from a military perspective, oh here’s Gwadar in Pakistan. This one is, from a military perspective, even scarier. Now it’s a container ship port but this can also be a deepwater naval facility. It has that capacity. And so this is a place where Chinese products can bypass I guess Dubai, and find markets here, also, brand-new, Chinese-made. And recently their naval muscle has led to a whole series of reports of a naval war college. Here’s one from 2006. Ah, the most recent one was out in 2010 but this is last year’s information, I haven’t had a chance to go back and see if there was another report since last summer to add to the six that have come out in these five years, six reports. Here’s one. “U.S.-China Maritime Confidence Building: Paradigms, Precedents and Prospects,” where it warns about the Chinese naval capacity, what they call “the ability to project naval power.” And traditionally Chinese naval power has not been projected beyond the Strait of Formosa or Hainan Dao, the Chinese Hawaii, that forms the Tonkin Gulf to the far south. But now Chinese naval power is such that it can be projected much farther, to the Spratley Islands, for instance, which potentially could be sitting on a giant reserve of petroleum, and which are claimed by all of the much-closer nations in the region (Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei), they all claim the Spratleys. Distant, powerful China says, “Little countries, you are all wrong! That’s Chinese. And we’ve got the boats to back it up.”
And they have gotten their boats in very interesting ways. Um, they’re building their own aircraft carriers now as of last year; this was hot news when I gave this talk last year. And they’re basing the new ones – this is like so many Michael Jackson CDs, they just needed to get one to copy it. And so when the Soviet Union fell apart the Ukraine had a bunch of aircraft carriers they didn’t know what to do with, that were either building or had just been built, and so the Chinese went about acquiring some. Now at first no one was too worried in naval circles about this development, because the first one that they bought, well they just made an amusement part out of it. It’s the Kiev. And it’s a military-themed amusement park in the port of Beijing, in Tianjin, and you can go aboard and there’s different rides and things. And then did the, they bought the Minsk and they did the same thing in Shenzhen (again, special economic zone), tourist area as well as economic dynamo, place that draws 16-year-old tiny Chinese girls from the countryside like a giant black hole to the sweatshops. Ah, and so in Shenzhen you can go, I forget what they call this amusement park, “Military,” “Military Amusement Park,” something like that. And they bought an Australian aircraft carrier. So nobody was too, too concerned when they bought this much more modern, much more powerful, Soviet/Ukranian Varyag aircraft carrier, rehabbed her, put her in naval service and started knocking out their own versions of her from their own shipyards. So, an aircraft carrier is capable of projecting naval force very, very far. And that’s what they’re worried about in Rhode Island. And that brings me to the end of my talk. So, thank you very much. (Applause) Did I include enough?