The seemingly only thing Chairman Mao and Santa Claus have in common is an infatuation with the colour red. After all, only a short time ago Ye Olde Saint Nick and his merry elves would have been attacked as counterrevolutionaries and agents of Western Imperialism in Communist China. But change is now fast afoot in China.
Kashgar: Mission Impossible A day or two from Irkeshtam Pass, Gustaf Mannerheim separated from Paul Pelliot, the legendary French sinologist with whom he was travelling from Osh. The two men did not get along, and a power struggle ensued about who was in charge of the expedition. However, they both stayed at the Russian consulate [...]
Lanzhou: The Chinese Renaissance In 1907, Lanzhou was still an archaic outpost whose fortified clay walls ran for two kilometres along the Yellow River. It lay pinched at a narrow spot in the dramatic river gorge, surrounded by mountaintop temples, terraced farmland and fruit groves. Inside the fortress town, streets recently paved in cobblestone were [...]
Taiyuan: Opium of the People In 1908, Gustaf Mannerheim noted the rich coal and mineral deposits of Shanxi province. “In the future,” he wrote in his military report, “its material riches will be an inexhaustible source for the state treasury.” Its modern mining and steel industries were still nascent and largely dependent on foreign investment, [...]