September 10, 2014

Ling Check Shii /Lin Zexu

Lin Zexu 30 Aug 1785-22 Nov 1850 Photo Courtesy of Freddie Wong,
Urumqi, Red Hill Park.

Lin Zexu (Ling Chek Sii) was a Foochow (Chinese) scholar and official of the Qing Dynasty.

He was most famous for his stand against the opium trade in Guangzhou. He was highly regarded by both Chinese and foreign diplomats for his high moral standards and conduct in this fight against opium addiction.

The Qing Emperor Yongzheng had banned non medicinal consupmption of opium in 1729 but by 1830's British trade in opium had affected China's economy and society.

Many believed that Lin's stand was the catalyst for the First Opium War of 1839-42. As a result he was considered a "role model for moral governance, particularly by the Chinese."

He was born in Fuzhou and his home still stands impeccably preserved as a museum to honour his memory. He was a brilliant scholar, a JINSHI in 1811 and was appointed tothe Hanlin Academy. By 1837 he was governor general of Hunan and Hubei. ( Here he launched a suppression campaign against the trading of opium.

The foreign traders were interested in tea but the Chinese were not interested in their products. The Chinese only wanted silver for their tea. This trade imbalance caused a lot anguish to the foreigners and they hit upon the idea of narcotics, opium. Events were ugly by that time.

Lin was sent by the Empror to Guangdong in1838. "He arrested more than 1,700 Chinese opium dealers and confiscated over 70,000 pipes. It took Lin one and half months before the merchants gave up nearly1.2 million kg of opium..In June 1839, 500 workers took 23 days to destroy all the opium. Opium was mixed with liume and salt and thrown into the sea."

26th June is now the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in honour of Lin Zexu's work.

"In 1839, Lin also wrote an extraordinary memorial to Queen Victoria in the form of an open letter published in Canton, urging her to end the opium trade. The letter is filled with Confucian concepts of morality and spirituality. His primary line of argument is that China is providing Britain with valuable commodities such as tea, porcelain, spices and silk, while Britain sends only "poison" in return. He accuses the "barbarians" (a reference to the private merchants) of coveting profit and lacking morality. His memorial expressed a desire that the Queen would act "in accordance with decent feeling" and support his efforts."

He writes:
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?
—Lin Zexu, Open letter addressed to the sovereign of England and published in Canton (1839)
The Royal Open Letter was prevented from reaching the Queen by shipping merchants, who attacked the Emperor`s forces before the Letter could have been acted on by Her Majesty. Belatedly, after the merchants had drawn Her Majesty`s forces into war, it was delivered and published in The Times.

Lin made significant preparation for war against the possible British invasion. The British sailed north to attack Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The governors of these two provinces failed to heed a warning from Lin, however, and were unprepared when the British easily landed and occupied Dinghai.
Because of this defeat, and also because of the intrinsic behaviour of Chinese imperial political structure of the Qing dynasty, Lin was popularized as a scapegoat for these losses. His position was then given to Qishan in September 1840. As punishment for his failures, Lin was exiled to the remote Ili region in Xinjiang.
The Qing government ultimately considered Lin to be an official of rare virtue, however, and in 1845 he was appointed as governor-general of Shaanxi-Gansu (Shaan-Gan). In 1847 he became governor-general of Yunnan-Guizhou (Yun-Gui). But these posts were less prestigious than his previous position in Canton, and his career did not fully recover from the failures there .[20]
While in Xinjiang, Lin was the first Chinese scholar to take note of several aspects of Muslim culture there. In 1850 he noted in a poem that the Muslims in Ili did not worship idols, but bowed and prayed to tombs decorated with poles that had the tails of cows and horses attached to them. This was the widespread shamanic practice of erecting a tugh, but this was its first recorded appearance in Chinese writings. He also recorded several Kazakh oral tales, such as one concerning a green goat spirit of the lake whose appearance is a harbinger of hail or rain.[21]

Fuzhou Memorial Hall of Lin Zexu

Lin died in 1850 while on his way to Guangzi, where the Qing government was sending him to help put down the Taiping Rebellion. His documents were given to Wei Yuan who published the Illustrated Treatise on the Maritim Kingdoms in 1943.

A wax statue of Lin also appeared in Madame Tussauds wax museum in London.

A statue of Lin stands in Chatham Square (Kimlau Square) in Chinatown, New York City, United States. The base of the statue is inscribed with "Don't do drugs" in English and Chinese. The statue faces what has been dubbed "Fuzhou Street" which means his back is turned to the Manhattan Detention Complex and the city's main police station.

If you do visit Fuzhou City, do spend half a day in the Museum or Memorial Hall which honours Lin Zexu.


Anonymous said...

There was wide speculation that the Queen should apologise to Premier Li for the opium war during his recent visit to UK. But it did not happen.

Ensurai said...

That's a good idea....In those days, Queen Victoria was not at all advised on the terrible behaviour of the British merchants in China.

Anonymous said...

What if? Scotland's steps to independence
With polls showing Scotland's upcoming independence referendum too close to call, the rest of the United Kingdom is starting to consider seriously the implications of a "Yes" victory.
A pro-independence vote would be a global sensation but would change little in the immediate term, except perhaps boost calls for British Prime Minister David Cameron to resign.

But the vote would sound the starting gun for complex talks between the British and Scottish governments on separating two deeply interlinked economies and political systems with three centuries of shared history, finally leading to full independence.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) government has already set the date of March 24, 2016 -- the 309th anniversary of the Acts of Union between England and Scotland -- for a division that would cut the United Kingdom’s landmass by a third and its population by around eight per cent.

Scotland would be the first independent state created in Europe since the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia and the world’s newest country since South Sudan in 2011.

Much of what happens between a "Yes" vote on Thursday and 2016 is uncertain, as is the question of whether Scotland could continue to be a member of the European Union as an independent entity, or whether it would have to start again and re-apply.

The Scottish government has said the first step taken "soon after a vote for independence" would be to seek a formal transfer of powers to the Scottish parliament to establish "the constitutional platform for an independent Scotland".

It said it would also start pre-independence talks with the EU "to settle the terms of an independent Scotland’s continuing membership" -- even though outgoing European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has warned this would be "extremely difficult".

The date of Britain’s next general election -- scheduled for May 2015, when the current five-year mandate runs out -- could be put back if there is an independence vote, as lawmakers from Scotland could only sit in parliament for the relatively short time before full independence.

The consensus among analysts is that the election would not be delayed but that newly-elected Scottish MPs would not be allowed to vote on any laws solely concerning other parts of the UK.

Here are the main practical steps that would likely be taken on the path to Scotland becoming entirely separate:

-- Oil and gas: The North Sea offshore fields would likely be divided up geographically and the government in Edinburgh would move quickly to assert control.

- Eighty-five per cent of known reserves in the area are in what would be Scottish waters and the sector would make up around 15 per cent of the new Scotland’s economy.

- Sharing debt, currency: A key economic question will be how to share out Britain’s #1.4 trillion (1.8 trillion euros, $2.3 trillion) debt. The Scottish government has said this could be divided on the basis of population share or of Scotland’s historic contribution to Britain’s public finances.

- Scotland would continue using the pound in the coming months, but what happens after full independence is in doubt as the British government has excluded a currency union.

The most likely option currently seems to be that Scotland would use the pound without a formal agreement with Britain or a say in policy -- like Panama using the US dollar, or Kosovo using the euro.

- Constitution: The Scottish government has also said it wants a convention bringing together businesses, civil society and trade unions to come up with a written constitution along European lines, something that Britain lacks.

It has said this should include a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons being based in Scotland and wants take steps to order out Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines currently based at the Faslane naval base near Glasgow by 2020.


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

go to Singapore Tigerbalm gardens, there is a statue of Lin.

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