Yeah it’s been a while. Yeah I’m a terrible blogger. Where have I been? Well for one, China.
Stinky and I got visas and took a big long 3 week trip, hitting Taiwan, Guangzhou, Guilin, Yangshuo, and Sanya. Lots to learn and see. And eat. And eat. And eeeeeat.
Before I go any further, lemme drop some history, because you’d be surprised at how many folks don’t know this bit, and it’s really important.
So the Qing Dynasty took over in 1644-ish. The Qing weren’t “ethnic Han,” (which is a sort of complex term I won’t go into) – they were Manchus from the north. For roughly 300 years, people had a lot of remorse for their non-Chinese rulers.
During the Qing, stuff like the Opium Wars happened, where various Western powers came in and basically used military might to exploit the economy. The replies were things like the Boxer Rebellion, where people basically wanted to kick out the foreigners. They also had various rebellions, like the Taiping Rebellion, against the Qing rulers, but of course all this stuff failed and it remained status quo – China was still weak and carved-up by foreigners. This all goes on until The Xinhai Revolution in 1911.
Various uprisings end-up displacing the thousands of years old dynastic rule and replacing it with the Republic of China, led by the dude we know as Sun Yat-Sen (or Sun Zhongshan as he’s more commonly known as in China – he’s soooort of like our George Washington). Chiang Kai-Shek took over when Sun Yat-Sen died, and he duked it out with the growing communist party in the north.
That didn’t last too long because in 1937, the Japanese invaded. The nationalists and communists worked (mostly) together to fight the Japanese, and when WWII ended and the Japanese left China, the communists (led by Mao Zedong) and Chiang Kai-Shek’s nationalists went back to fighting. The nationalists made some strategic blunders and eventually had to leave mainland China, taking up residence on the island of Taiwan.
The point of all this is 1 ) that Taiwan isn’t officially part of China. The Chinese government tends to SAY it is, but they’re smart about not treating it like that. People I talk to about this trip tend to think Taiwan is just another part of China, but it’s totally not. Case and point : we needed visas to get into China. To get into Taiwan, all we needed was a passport. Also 2 ) the Chinese have basically been everyone’s imperial exploitation bitch for a couple centuries now, and before (and during) that, they were directly controlled by what people saw as outsiders (the Qing were Manchus and later the Japanese occupation). Right now they have a lot of interest in never letting that happen again, and rightfully so (we’d do the same thing if it happened to us). Whether or not that justifies their current regime is irrelevant – they’ve got centuries of history to overcome.
So you’re probably thinking, “why the history lesson?” Well, because it colors our visit. I’ll go into detail in later posts, but this is the historical lens I went into this with.
What does all this have to do with writing? Well, as wuxia primarily takes place in China, and I wanted to see some of the places and architecture. I’ll get to that though!