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Chinese Revolutions is a podcast showing how China came to be the way it is today. We are looking at modern Chinese history through the lens of revolutionary movements from the Opium Wars to the present. The Communist Party of China inherits quite a lot from previous revolutionary movements, and the Chinese nationalism it brings forward all come from somewhere. Here, we’re going to find out. Your host, Nathan Bennett, lived in China for seven years. This podcast is a love letter and a farewe ...
 
Put down that lengthy history book spanning thousands of years and instead follow the “Makers and Shakers of Chinese History” podcast, which presents the biographies of 20 historic figures who shaped the course of ancient China. Meet the most renowned ancient Chinese rulers, ministers, thinkers, scientists, poets, and rebels, and find out how they continue to influence the Chinese to this day. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
 
There is a difference in business culture between Asia and the West. Much of the startup related literature are western dominated and there is a vacuum for Asian business strategies related discussions in English. On each episode of CHATS, Old Chang will pick a topic which will interest English speaking founders and professionals by seeking out relevant lessons from Chinese history.
 
Did you know that a heavy rain was responsible for the demise of a Dynasty, during which the Great Wall was built? Did you know that Italian merchant and explorer Marco Polo finished his master piece about China in prison? And an Emperor proclaimed African giraffes as magical Chinese unicorns Qilin. Follow the podcast, ‘Stuff you missed in Chinese history,’ to learn more fun facts during the past few thousand years in this country. Our GDPR privacy policy was updated on August 8, 2022. Visit ...
 
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Some time in 76 A.D., a band of Chinese soldiers, the last survivors of a garrison, their clothes torn to ribbons and their bodies emaciated so that they barely seemed like living men, stumbled into Yumen Guan or "the Jade Gate Pass," the western terminus of the Han Dynasty Great Wall. We may consider their story in light of episodes from the same …
 
S01E37 Taiping Rebellion: Taiping Propaganda Under Hong Rengan Here we go, grinding back into gear with this year's episodes. This episode's title addresses one of the main actual insights in the episode, not quite what it's about. Hong Rengan is working on planning the modern government structure of the future of the Taiping government apparatus. …
 
In 499 A.D., a Buddhist monk named Hui Shen walked into the city of Jingzhou and regaled the people there with tales from his recent adventure to a distant country called Fusang. Fusang, according to a number of scholars, was in modern-day Mexico. Was it? What does "The Book of Liang," the original Chinese source for this account, really say about …
 
A nation under attack by a superior foe. A desperate people suffering through a long season of privation, a time that tries men’s souls, and yet they remain resilient and determined. In their struggle for survival, they rely on that so-called “Arsenal of Democracy,” the United States of America. And, at a critical juncture in the war, a leader of t…
 
In my travels around Mainland China, I often heard a saying: "In the sky there is the Nine-Headed Bird, so on earth there is the man from Hubei." What does this saying mean, and where does it come from? It all has to do with the Ming Dynasty statesman Zhang Juzheng...William Han
 
A century ago, in December 1922, a New York Times front page article confidently predicted that the next leader of China would be a military officer named Wu Peifu. The Times was wrong about this: General Wu turned out to be little more than a footnote in the great trends of modern Chinese history. But who was he? And how did he get into a position…
 
It was the Mongols who chose Beijing as the Chinese capital. After the Ming Dynasty overthrow the Mongols, though, the Chinese relocated their capital south to Nanjing. And yet just a few decades later, they moved it back to Beijing. Why? This is a "Game of Thrones" kind of story about fathers and sons and uncles and nephews, in particular the Jian…
 
Of all the uncertainties and mysterious surrounding China's mythical founder, the Yellow Emperor, one is the name of his father's tribe. Ancient sources tell us it was called "youxiong," literally "have bears." Bears? What bears? What does it mean?William Han
 
S01E36 Taiping Rebellion: Other Foreign Visitors to the Taiping In this episode, we look at more of the visitors to Hong Rengan, effective foreign minister for the Taiping. First is Griffith John, a Welsh missionary. He came on a factfinding mission to see what Nanjing was like under the Taiping. He thought the Taiping were very wrong, religiously …
 
In 1728, Emperor Yongzheng complained that he couldn't understand officials hailing from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, where they spoke, respectively, Cantonese and Hokkien. Three hundred years later, we continue to struggle with the question of how dominant the lingua franca of Mandarin should be over more local languages. In the PRC, the…
 
S01E35 Taiping Rebellion: Issachar Roberts In the present look at Hong Rengan in the Taiping hierarchy, we are looking at some of the foreigners who drifted over to the Taiping side. This episode focuses on eccentric loose cannon missionary Issachar Roberts. In this episode, we see an example of how the Taiping were a little "too Chinese" to make a…
 
How did Taiwan, a small island off the Chinese coast, become by far the most dominant player in the global semiconductor industry? How did a place that as of the mid-20th century was emphatically an economic backwater gain such a position? Much has been written about Morris Chang, the founder of TSMC, the largest of Taiwan's semiconductor manufactu…
 
S01E34 Taiping Rebellion: Foreigners and Revolutions In this episode we're shifting back to look at the Taiping side of the Taiping Rebellion. We look at how the Taiping Rebellion works out to be a failed, an incomplete revolution. It brings out certain problems that future revolutions will resolve, but it fails in certain critical ways. We further…
 
Deterrence theory is well known in political science and particularly popular during the Cold War. In the annals of Chinese history, we find examples of a specific type of deterrence: making your enemy refrain from attacking by being clever and displaying your intellect for your enemy to see. Let's look at the famous cases of the Su Brothers, Li Ba…
 
S01E33 Taiping Rebellion: Siege of Anqing Begins In this episode, we wrap up a bunch of episodes on Zeng Guofan. We talk about the human element in war, how Zeng Guofan is conserving his troops' morale and will to fight, and how he's taking on much larger numbers through careful strategy and tactics. The American Civil War (1861-1865) was contempor…
 
During the Warring States era, when the genius inventor Lu Ban designs a new siege weapon for the Kingdom of Chu, the king decides to attack the much weaker Kingdom of Song. Hearing this, the pacifist philosopher Mozi rushes to the scene to try to persuade the king otherwise. What follows is possibly the earliest recorded table-top wargame in histo…
 
Everyone has heard of Sunzi's "The Art of War." But did you know that it is only one of many treatises on warfare from ancient China? In fact, Sunzi's book has long been considered only the first of a list of seven texts considered required reading for students of warfare...William Han
 
In the middle of the 20th century, one Chinese writer began publishing books in English. It was a truly unusual thing, given that proportionally a lot fewer Chinese at the time even could speak English with much competence. But Lin Yutang was no ordinary man. Through his bestselling books that often sought to explain Chinese history and culture to …
 
Ban Chao, "the Marquis Who Pacified Faraway Lands," remains a household name today among the Chinese. And he endowed the Chinese language with more than one common expression. What made him into a legend was his military and diplomatic career in the late-first century A.D. dealing with the many states of the "Western Lands" (modern Xinjiang) and th…
 
S01E32 Taiping Rebellion: Zeng Guofan Perfects His Strategy In this episode, we see Zeng Guofan start to get a grip on the task of fighting the Taiping Rebellion. He has to balance between the political necessities of showing his troops that fighting far from home is a way to protect home and achieving strategic results for the emperor. Zeng Guofan…
 
In 751 A.D., the forces of Tang China, led by a Korean general, met a distant foe on a battlefield in what is now Kyrgyzstan: the Muslims of the Abbasid Caliphate. What resulted was a key turning point in human history, though one seldom appreciated in the Western world.William Han
 
S01E31 Taiping Rebellion: Zeng Guofan Starts Attacking In this episode, we go over the organization of Zeng Guofan's army and the first few years of his campaigns against the Taiping rebels. We are following the book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War by Stephen R. Platt for this episode. Mo…
 
The first Chinese national to graduate from a U.S. university lived a life that was full of disappointments. At the time, Yung Wing was perhaps simply too much of a rarity. As the Chinese proverb says: "It is difficult to clap with only one palm." But he was a kind of Forrest Gump of Chinese history, turning up at many of the key moments in the sec…
 
S01E30 Taiping Rebellion: Zeng Guofan Builds His Army In this episode, we look at the process that Zeng Guofan went through to build his army. When he was in Hunan to mourn the death of his mother, in 1853 he accepted the mission from the emperor to take charge of military affairs in the province. Ordinarily, the Han elements of the Qing army had a…
 
S01E29 Taiping Rebellion: Introducing Zeng Guofan This week we regroup and look at the big picture of what the Taiping Rebellion is showing about the theme of our podcast, and we introduce Zeng Guofan, a guy we here at Chinese Revolutions (we as in the "more fun to say 'we' than 'I' because it makes it seem like I've got a whole department") have b…
 
The recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom brings to mind a fascinating moment in Chinese history. In the early-20th century, during the final years of empire, the Qing Dynasty attempted to transform itself into a constitutional monarchy not unlike the model in the UK, in Japan, and in a number of other countries. With the advan…
 
Zhang Xueliang, known as "the Young Marshal," lived one of the most interesting lives of 20th century China. After inheriting Manchuria from his father in his 20s, the young warlord went on to play in a pivotal role in the Xi'an Incident of December 1936. The event, for better or worse, would forever alter the course of Chinese and hence world hist…
 
S01E28 Taiping Rebellion: Unequal Treaties and Modernizing China This week, we're talking about how the unequal treaties forced on China during the Second Opium War further clarified anti-imperialism as a driver in later Chinese revolutions. Foreign powers readily turned to force to push things along in China whenever dialogue got stuck. Force had …
 
Historian Michael McCormick has nominated 536 A.D. as the worst year in history to be alive. It was a "year without a summer," and around the globe strange weather phenomena led to crop failures and famines. Around the globe, including in China. What do the Chinese records from the time say about the strange and terrible events that, modern science…
 
S01E27 Taiping Rebellion: Second Opium War-Storming the Dagu Forts As part of the ongoing series on the Taiping Rebellion, we're taking a look at the storming of the Dagu Forts, which guarded the waterway approaching Beijing. While the civil war between official Qing forces and Taiping rebels was going on, the foreign powers decided to push their o…
 
In the previous episode we looked at how climate change in the Roman Empire paralleled climate change in Han Dynasty China and contributed to the rise and fall of both empires. Today, let's examine how pandemic diseases in both ends of Eurasia also coincided to help to bring down both empires. In Rome, the Antonine Plague came in the second century…
 
S01E26 Taiping Rebellion: Hong Rengan in Nanjing In this episode, we go over Hong Rengan's journey from Hong Kong to Nanjing, what it was like when he got there, and his prospects for changing the Taiping movement. Today's episode substantially based on Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War by …
 
In his book, "The Fate of Rome," Prof. Kyle Harper argues that much of the history of the Roman Empire can be attributed to climate: the period known as the "Roman Climate Optimum," around 200 B.C. to 150 A.D., neatly encapsulates the rise of the Roman Republic through its transition into Empire until the beginning of its decline during the age of …
 
S01E25 Taiping Rebellion: Hong Rengan Today we're looking at the re-emergence of Hong Rengan, younger cousin of Taiping leader Hong Xiuquan. Hong Rengan was one of the earliest converts, but he was cut off from the main Taiping group early and he had to run away to British Hong Kong to survive the Qing purges of Taiping supporters and sympathizers.…
 
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov, Marshal of the Soviet Union, is chiefly remembered in Russia as the iron-willed commander who successfully defended Stalingrad against Nazi assault during WWII. What has been largely forgotten is that Chuikov learned to speak Chinese and spent years in China. Before Stalingrad, he served as a military advisor to none other…
 
S01E24 Foreigners in China: The Customs Department Today we're talking about the customs department instituted for China by foreign powers intervening in China. The customs department did much more than collect import-export taxes: foreigners working with the Chinese government sent scientific and sociological studies back to Europe, lighthouses es…
 
The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, originated in borderlands of southwestern China and what is now Burma. For many centuries, though, people didn't consume tea the way we do it today. Drawing on work by Prof. Miranda Brown, this is the story of Lu Yu, the Tang Dynasty comic actor and author who taught the Chinese literati, and later the whole world,…
 
S01E23 Foreigners in China: Foreign Settlements This week we're starting a 2-3 episode series on what foreigners have been building in China since the Opium War blew open the Treaty Ports to foreign use. Because foreign influence will make or break Chinese revolutions, we need to see how foreign powers set themselves up in China. Treaty Port Settle…
 
Ni Kuang, the hyper-prolific leading light of Hong Kong science fiction, died in early July. This is his improbable legend, from his beginnings as a boy communist in Mainland China to his days as a refugee smuggling himself across the border to his ultimate success and achievements in Hong Kong. It's almost as improbable as the adventures he invent…
 
Henri Cernuschi, an Italian revolutionary who became a French banker, came to collect East Asian and particularly Chinese artifacts later in life. Today, a walk through the Cernuschi Museum in Paris is amounts to a stroll through Chinese history.William Han
 
S01E22 The Taiping Rebellion: On to Nanjing In today's episode, we cover a bit over a year of lightning-speed hard campaigning by Taiping forces, taking them from Southwest China so Eastern China. Using the rivers of China, the Taiping covered 500 miles (800 km) from Yongan to Wuchang (today Wuhan), then 600 miles (965 km) down the Yangtze to Nanji…
 
As discussed in the previous episode, the rediscovery of the Mogao Caves at the beginning of the 20th century has immeasurably enriched our understanding of Silk Road history. The story of that discovery itself is full of drama and involves some incredibly fascinating scholar-explorers. Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, Paul Pelliot, Langdon Warner, Kozui O…
 
S01E21 The Taiping Rebellion: They Take their First City In this episode, we talk about the Taiping occupation of the city of Yongan. Taking control of a city gives them the resources and facilities to develop their movement. Hong Xiuquan writes more advanced indoctrination materials, noble titles and hereditary offices are created for Taiping lead…
 
If you ever get a chance, make sure to visit the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang. In today's Gansu Province, the town of Dunhuang, situated on the historic Silk Road, witnessed a thousand years' worth of travelers: merchants and pilgrims, holy men and knaves, and not only Chinese but members of many races speaking many languages. And, starting in 366 A.D.,…
 
S01E20 Taiping Rebellion: Open Conflict Begins In this episode, we speed up the story a bit, moving from the end of 1849 to the middle of 1851 and the Taiping capture of their first real city. The Taiping started in a 60 by 80 square mile (100 by 130 km) base area in rugged rural Guangxi, but then they moved out of that area as the Qing began to co…
 
Quite likely the greatest female poet in Chinese history, Li Qingzhao might be deemed a Sappho of the East or the Emily Dickinson of China. Living during the Song Dynasty, Li Qingzhao came from an extraordinary family background and received the best possible education in imperial China. As a teenager, she already wrote better verses than most of t…
 
S01E19 Taiping Rebellion: At Thistle Mountain In this episode, we talk further about the solidification of the Taiping movement's ideology and and increasingly open action against Chinese religion and Qing rule. New books mentioned: China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842-1965 by Philip Thai Just start…
 
Two of the longest-reigning emperors in Chinese history ruled during the Qing Dynasty: Kangxi, who sat on the throne from 1662 until 1722, and his grandson Qianlong, who ruled from 1735 until 1799. The figure sandwiched between them was Emperor Yongzheng. Son of Kangxi and father of Qianlong and to some extent eclipsed by both, Yongzheng was in fac…
 
S01E18: Taiping Rebellion—Pirates, Bandits, Secret Societies In this episode we fill in a little context for the area in which the movement behind the Taiping Rebellion is coming together. Pirates, bandits, and secret societies are always good fun. If you know anything about the mafia, you can basically copy that over to understand how Chinese band…
 
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