Chasing the Dragon in Shanghai
Canada’s Early Relations with China, 1858-1952
Canadians share a long history with China. Canada is home to a large Chinese diaspora, it appointed a trade commissioner to Shanghai over a century ago, and it was one of the first Western nations to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
This absorbing account of Canadian sojourners in Shanghai, from the arrival of Lord Elgin in 1858 to the closing of the consulate general in 1952, gives a human face to that history. Drawing on the papers of missionaries, business people, and government officials, John Meehan brings to life a Shanghai that was not only the gateway to Asia and an important cultural contact zone but also a symbol of China’s best hope and bleakest future. Some Canadians came to save souls, nourish bodies, and educate minds; others sought financial and political gain. Their experiences – which unfolded against a backdrop of civil war, invasion, and revolution in China and were coloured by Canada’s own evolution from colony to nation – reflected Canada’s deepening relationship with China and the troubling asymmetries that underpinned it.
Although Canadians, like other foreigners, had left Shanghai by the early 1950s, their lives and activities foreshadowed more recent Canadian initiatives in that city, and in China more generally.
This book will be of interest to students of diplomatic history, Canadian studies, cultural relations, and Chinese history.
This very important work helps fill the gap in the literature about the priority of China in Canada'’s international relations during the period covered. It counters a Eurocentric point of view by examing the lives of Canadians in Shanghai, offering a colourful and skilful evocation of history extending beyond government to such matters as trade, finance, and missionary activity amidst the vicissitudes of civil war, invasion, and revolution.
Prologue: The Gateway to China
1 Imperial Overtures
2 Establishing a Presence
3 The Tide of Nationalism
4 A False Security
5 Forged in Fire
6 Preparing for the End
Conclusion: From Asymmetry to Opportunity
Appendix: List of Canadians Interned in Shanghai (1943-45)
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