Maritime Sector, Institutions, and Sea Power of Premodern China

Maritime Sector, Institutions, and Sea Power of Premodern China

Maritime Sector, Institutions, and Sea Power of Premodern China

Maritime Sector, Institutions, and Sea Power of Premodern China

Excerpt

This book is an expansion of my earlier work entitled Chinese Maritime Activities and Socioeconomic Development, c. 2100 B.C.- 1900 A.D. published in 1997 in an attempt to look at all aspects of maritime achievements of the Chinese.

To me China's sea power (or the lack of it) in the recent past is not something intangible or purely academic. My grandfather was a successful exporting silk merchant until 1937 when the Japanese launched their full-scale attack on China's east coast as part of their plan “to finish China off within three months” for an evil empire called “the Co-Prosperity Sphere of Greater East Asia.” With 250,000 troops, the Japanese first invaded Shanghai in August 1937. In December of that year, they captured the capital city Nanjing (Nanking) and in the “Rape of Nanking” mey massacred at least 300,000 armless civilians including a great many women and children. On their way to Nanjing, the Japanese systematically devastated railways and every single trading town along the lower reaches of the Yangzi River, including Zhenjiang—a prosperous commercial hub since Ming times in the Jiangnan region —where my grandfather was based. The family property, a large two-storeyed building, was completely levelled to ashes. According to my father, the only recognisable item was the metal barrel of his beebee gun. Overnight, my grandfather was forced out of his business and the family of nine—my grandparents and their four sons, two daughters and a daughter-in-law—became homeless. One of my aunts told me that they had to hide in fields during the day to escape the hunting squads of the Japanese and beg for food at night in villages after running out of money. My grandfather soon died of a combination of poverty and illness. My father had to give up his final year of study at university. He joined the resistance movement to fight the invaders until 1945. The price for losing sea power cost China dearly . . .

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