Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A History of Sino-Barbarian Relations

Chatham Square lies at the main intersection of East Broadway, the Bowery and Worth Street and faces the Manhattan Detention Complex, also known as 'the Tombs' and One Police Place. The statue of Lin Xezu was erected at the cost of $USD200,000  in 1997 by the local Fujianese community, and is exactly 18 feet and 5 inches high.

Lin Xezu was a prominent Qing dynasty official who was sent to Guangdong by the Daoguang Emperor to implement hard line policies attacking the smuggling of opium into China by British private traders and their Chinese accomplices. Two acts by Xesu are of historical importance here, the first was his private letter to Queen Victoria which appealed to her better instincts and latent Confucian morality to prohibit the illicit trade of drugs into China by British nationals.

We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. Yet there are barbarian ships that strive to come here for trade for the purpose of making a great profit. The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians. That is to say, the great profit made by barbarians is all taken from the rightful share of China. By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where is your conscience?

The second was his decision to have 20,000 cases of British owned opium, belonging to one William Jardine  destroyed in 1839. Jardine would successfully petition Lord Palmerston to wage war against China in retaliation which would lead to the First Opium War, the signing of the unequal treaties, opening of foreign 'Treaty Ports' across China and the succession of Hong Kong Island as a British crown colony. The origins of Jardine's power and wealth today as the worlds largest holdings company is far from obscured in their official history as evidenced in their logo.

The first waves of Cantonese from Taishan in Guangdong province first arrived in the 1850's, not long after the conclusion of the First Opium War. This accelerated with the turmoil which engulfed Guangdong province as a result of natural disasters, foreign occupation and the the disorder of the late-Qing empire until the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. Second large waves of immigrants would arrive from Hong Kong after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and would turn the districts around the Canal Street and the Bowery into a Little Hong Kong.

In 1972, with funds provided by the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan, the Cantonese community erect a statue of Confucius made from Taiwanese green marble. At 16 feet high, it is two feet and two inches smaller than the Lin Zexu statue, carved from Fujianese red granite.

Confucius faces Wall Street and the site of the former World Trade Center. The statue of Xezu is located in Little Fujian mostly populated by newly arrived Mandarin speaking migrants from mainland China and is symbolically placed with its back turned away from the tombs.  The statue is inscribed with the words 'Say No To Drugs'.

'We have to continue to fight the evils of communism and to fight you must have an army, and an army must have guns, and to buys guns you must have money. In these mountains, the only money is opium.'

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