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[TIMLINE] Big-eared Tu / Shanghai (Paris/Whore of the East)

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  • madchinaman
    Sin City By Sheryl WuDunn Sheryl WuDunn is the co-author of China Wakes, with Nicholas D. Kristof. Their new book, Thunder From the East, will be
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2009
      Sin City
      By Sheryl WuDunn
      Sheryl WuDunn is the co-author of ''China Wakes,'' with Nicholas D. Kristof. Their new book, ''Thunder From the East,'' will be published in the fall.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/30/books/sin-city.html


      Shanghai
      The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City.
      By Stella Dong.
      Illustrated. 318 pp. New York:
      William Morrow & Company. $27.50.


      -

      Chiang Kai-shek and his administration were themselves heavily dependent on opium revenue. Chiang had had his early political career bankrolled by an infamous Shanghai gangster name Tu Yueh-sheng, also known as Big-eared Tu, who ran the Green Gang, a large, particularly well-organized and ruthless Chinese secret fraternity.
      *
      T.V. Soong, one of the wealthiest men in China and the Harvard-educated Finance Minister, purchased 700 chests of Persian opium through Big-eared Tu in 1930 to supplement a temporary shortage in home product, using Kuomintang soldiers to off-load and guard it in Shanghai. Soong took a hefty commission.
      *
      Tu controlled opium and therefore Chiang Kai-shek.
      *
      The Farmers Bank of China, colloquially known amongst expatriate Europeans as the Opium Farmers Bank, was in augurated in the same year. Chiang Kai-shek was closely involved in it and used it for his private banking transactions. A conduit for heroin and opium revenue, it issued its own notes, Chiang increasing the print run when his funds ran low. The reserves were never audited nor the books opened for inspection.
      *
      Anyone remotely familiar with Chinese history, or with even modest knowledge of world history, knows Shanghai's pre-World War II reputation as both the "Paris of the East" and the "Whore of the East."
      *
      "At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid, and decadent city in the world."
      *
      From an obscure fishing village 160 years ago, ''the land of rice and fish'' became a fabulous gangster city, Dong says, a city of so much sin that it made the Chicago of Al Capone appear staid.
      *
      As trade grew, so did the port city's underworld, with Pockmarked Huang and Big-Eared Tu at the center. Nicknamed after his childhood scars from smallpox, Huang, cunning and greedy, started as the head police chief of the French Concession and soon became a mob boss. Tu, a wily opium addict, lost his parents when he was 9, and found his footing as a gambler and thief before he became a rising star in the underworld.
      *
      old residents of Shanghai, like Silas Hardoon, at one time the richest foreigner in the Far East, and Big-Eared Tu and Pockmarked Huang, who together ran the underworld Green Gang. ''Shanghai,''
      *
      Hardoon, a trader from Baghdad, became one of the most controversial figures in Shanghai, with a personal estate valued at one point at $150 million, made through trading in cotton and then opium and real estate. He went around town with an Irish bodyguard and personally collected rent from late-paying tenants.
      *
      Shanghai became the world's biggest opium den as the British merchants settled in 1843 and plied the Chinese with the most insidious drug of the 19th century.
      *
      Most appalling of all is Mr. Seagrave's study of Big-eared Tu Yueh- sheng, who, with two associates known as Pockmarked Huang Chih- jung and Curio Chang Ching-chang (for his profiteering in Chinese antiquities), ran the Shanghai underworld with spectacularly insouciant brutality. This study is highlighted by an interview with Big-eared Tu wrested from him by a Polish-born journalist named Ilona Ralf Sues, who published it in her little-noticed 1944 memoir, ''Shark's Fins and Millet.''
      *
      As he sums up T. V. Soong's ''operatic courtship of America'' in the 1930's: ''The Soong family would serve as the courtiers, the handmaidens, and the compradors. They would set the terms, carry the moneybags, keep the accounting ledgers, and be responsible for identifying all enemies and villains. America's role would be to provide the funds. In return for their money, Americans would be in charge of feeling virtuous.''
      *
      When all the clan members are brought together in a single study, it is possible to see how they helped and hindered each other in the path to power, and to see in sharp relief their regime's long involvement with and dependence upon the Shanghai gangster underworld.'' (Sterling Seagrave)

      -


      If you stand on Huai Hai Road in Shanghai on a busy evening, you get caught up in the crowds and the energy, the commercialism and fashion, and it is easy to feel that the city is tilting entirely toward the future and is blind to its past. That makes Shanghai an exciting place, all the more so because of its rich and rocky history. It is this often forgotten past, short but action-filled, that Stella Dong recounts in ''Shanghai,'' a breathless overview of the recent history of China's largest city.

      From an obscure fishing village 160 years ago, ''the land of rice and fish'' became a fabulous gangster city, Dong says, a city of so much sin that it made the Chicago of Al Capone appear staid. Dong, a journalist, has doggedly uncovered some delightfully colorful details about the old residents of Shanghai, like Silas Hardoon, at one time the richest foreigner in the Far East, and Big-Eared Tu and Pockmarked Huang, who together ran the underworld Green Gang. ''Shanghai,'' Dong's first book, provides a rich tapestry. But it could have benefited from a more cohesive theme, one that not only guided the narrative but also reached a conclusion about the old Shanghai and its relevance to Shanghai today.

      Shanghai became the world's biggest opium den as the British merchants settled in 1843 and plied the Chinese with the most insidious drug of the 19th century. Each side, Dong shows, viewed the other with grave suspicion, partly because they were not always able to communicate, save in a gibberish code language that resembled neither English nor Shanghainese (later, channels became smoother through Chinese compradors who served as interpreters, brokers and traders).

      Near the turn of the century, as Shanghai's port expanded, so did the wealth that foreigners could make. Hardoon, a trader from Baghdad, became one of the most controversial figures in Shanghai, with a personal estate valued at one point at $150 million, made through trading in cotton and then opium and real estate. He went around town with an Irish bodyguard and personally collected rent from late-paying tenants.

      As trade grew, so did the port city's underworld, with Pockmarked Huang and Big-Eared Tu at the center. Nicknamed after his childhood scars from smallpox, Huang, cunning and greedy, started as the head police chief of the French Concession and soon became a mob boss. Tu, a wily opium addict, lost his parents when he was 9, and found his footing as a gambler and thief before he became a rising star in the underworld.

      Dong moves through prostitution and capitalists in Shanghai and then on to Shanghai during World War I, the collapse of the Qing dynasty, the rise of Sun Yat-sen and that of one of China's most prominent families of that time: Charlie Soong and the Soong sisters. Much of this history is well trodden, but Dong adds a dimension with ordinary people as well: women in their flapper-style and cheongsam dresses with the long slits up the sides and Hollywood-inspired Chinese actresses who styled their hair like Jean Harlow and mimicked Mae West.

      She outlines China's civil war and tracks Shanghai's role as an intellectual hub of the Communist revolution. She devotes a chapter to a wave of killings that began as local Chinese in Shanghai protested against foreigners and sparked protests across the country, and lays out the effects of the Japanese invasion and occupation. By the 1940's, Shanghai and the rest of China were in political and economic shambles, with inflation spinning upward so fast that Chinese notes were literally worth less than the paper they were printed on. One paper mill, Dong notes, bought 800 cases of notes of $100 to $2,000 bills to use as raw materials.

      In ''Shanghai,'' Dong has produced an informative record. Though she resists a more penetrating inquiry into the events she describes, her work is an entertaining relation of more than a century in one of China's most tumultuous times and cities.


      =====


      Opium: A History
      Martin Booth
      http://books.google.com/books?id=kHRyZEQ5rC4C&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=Big-Eared+Tu&source=bl&ots=1L6jKadv8F&sig=Tmomqs8z1AwpgdHtu7u90m9AdGY&hl=en&ei=H4jqSqfWDIWcswPF0qTVCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Big-Eared%20Tu&f=false


      From the late 1920s to the 1930s and the upheaval of the Sino-Japanese and the Second World Wars, despite some official measures, in practice opium was given more or less free rein in China. The Kuomintang authorities, which had been headed by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek since Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, were trying to unify China, fight the Japanese, woo the British and Americans and fend off the Communist forces of Mao Zedong. Yet their preoccupation with politics and military matters was not the only reason for opium's freedom. Chiang Kai-shek and his administration were themselves heavily dependent on opium revenue. Chiang had had his early political career bankrolled by an infamous Shanghai gangster name Tu Yueh-sheng, also known as Big-eared Tu, who ran the Green Gang, a large, particularly well-organized and ruthless Chinese secret fraternity. Tu owned extensive poppy-growing interests in Chekiang and Kiangsu provinces and controlled most, if not all, of the opium trade along the Yangtze River and in Shanghai itself, a major opium trade hub.

      Throughout his time in China, before he fled to Taiwan upon losing the country to the Communists, Chiang Kai-shek had an ambiguous relationship with opium. What the Japanese did not do to China with opium, he did.

      Chiang Kai-shek knew that if he controlled opium, he could fund his army. In 1927, the finance ministry organized an official opium monopoly, facetiously entitled the National Anti-Opium Bureau. Things went well until the monopoly was extended to Big-eared Tu's opium growing regions. Here Tu's opium-handling company, the Da Gong Si, held sway. Within a fortnight, the Nationalist government canceled the monopoly and closed the anti-opium bureau.

      The international outcry which accompanied this move forced Chiang Kai-shek, who was keen to develop relations with the West, to reinstate the bureau as the National Opium Suppression Committee. Chiang Kai-shek announced grandiloquently. The National government will not attempt to get one cent from the opium tax. It would not be worthy of your confidence if it should be found to make an opium tax one of its chief sources of revenue.

      It was a charade.

      Words, like human life, were cheap for Chiang Kai-shek. The following year, 1929, his government took $17 million in what was euphemistically termed "opium prohibition revenue." To add insult to injury - T.V. Soong, one of the wealthiest men in China and the Harvard-educated Finance Minister, purchased 700 chests of Persian opium through Big-eared Tu in 1930 to supplement a temporary shortage in home product, using Kuomintang soldiers to off-load and guard it in Shanghai. Soong took a hefty commission.

      That was not all. In 1931, Chiang Kai-shek struck a deal with Big-eared Tu. Tu's Green Gang would afforded government protestion in all aspects of opium, have a veto over the appointment of government opium official and take a large percentage of the earnings in exchange for a down payment to the treasury of $6 million against forthcoming profits. In the long run, the deal fell through but the intentions behind it were plain. Tu controlled opium and therefore Chiang Kai-shek. To err on the side of caution though, Big-eared Tu lived in the French concession in Shanghai, safe from Chinese law.

      Tu was also an opium and morphine addict and, later, he became a heroin addict. Further, he was the main heroin producer in China where it was available as pills and tablets for swallowing or pink pills for smoking. Yet his infamy extended well beyond Shanghai and Chinese politics.

      Over 50% of Big-eared Tu's heroin was exported to France through official channels. The police force in the French concession was administeed from Vietnam, then French Indo-China. The captain of police, Etienne Fiori, was a Corsican and a representative of the Union Corse, the Corsican equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia. With French Consul-General Koechlin, he was beholden to Big-eared Tu who paid both the diplomat and the police captain hefty bribes in addition to providing them with concubines. On Tu's behalf, Fiori assisted in setting up his distribution route to France. Heroin, manufactured by Tu in Shanghai, was shipped to France via Hanoi, Saigon and Marseilles. Tu paid a substantial part of his profits to key civil servants and politicians in France to ensure the French government kept its inquisitive nose out of Shanghai.

      This protection did not last long, despite Tu increasing his Parisan bribe level and sending as his undercover emmisary Mme. Wellington Koo, wife of China's representative at the Treaty of Versailles negotiations. The French government was not for turning. Fiori and Koechlin had let down and possibly double-crossed Tu. In 1933, both were poisened at a farewell banquet before retiring to France. Koechlin died in extreme pain (along with a few other misfortunates who shared his serving dish) whilst Fiori was ill for months, his health broken.

      The Farmers Bank of China, colloquially known amongst expatriate Europeans as the Opium Farmers Bank, was in augurated in the same year. Chiang Kai-shek was closely involved in it and used it for his private banking transactions. A conduit for heroin and opium revenue, it issued its own notes, Chiang increasing the print run when his funds ran low. The reserves were never audited nor the books opened for inspection.

      Perhaps the greatest public irony of all was Chiang Kai-shek's fiftieth birthday present from Big-eared Tu. For several years, aware China needed to be strong to defend itself (and his way of life), Tu spent millions of dollars purchasing American fighter aircraft to build up the air force. On an auspicious day in 1936, Tu presented Chiang Kai-shek with an aircraft bewaring the name Opium Suppression of Shanghai on its nose. The hyprocisy and arrogance of the two men were staggering. A poetical expatriate witticism of the time went:

      A way at last has now been found
      To get opium suppression off the ground

      By the end of the 1930s, it was estimated that 10% of the Chinese nation (about 40 million people) were opium addicts, the Japanese occupation during the Sino-Japanese and Second World Wars not significantly reducing the figures; it was in Japan's interest to keep as many Chinese as possible habituated. In Shanghai, even after the privations of the latter conflict, opium was readily available to all levels of society. Opium poppy growing at the time was still so common as to be found in the suburbs of Canton. Domestic production and importation continued unabated until 1949 when, after four years of bitter civil war, the Kuomintang army was defeated by the Communists.


      =====


      Historically Thorough but Doesn't Convey the City's Outrageous Audacity, December 31, 2008
      By Steve Koss
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R3FH8294AW83NI


      Anyone remotely familiar with Chinese history, or with even modest knowledge of world history, knows Shanghai's pre-World War II reputation as both the "Paris of the East" and the "Whore of the East." Thus, one approaches a history of the city from its first Western intrusions to the creation of the People's Republic with expectations of a fantastic story of outrageous exploits (and exploitation) carried out by bigger-than-life actors. A mud hut fishing village suddenly become a major international port city, forced to host foreign enclaves independent of Chinese law and government, world capital of the 19th and early 20th Century opium trade and its attendant vices of gang violence and prostitution, host to all manner of Western con artists, shysters, and cutthroat businessmen, focal point of the Japanese invasion, symbol of national shame and Western imperialism, pre-1949 Shanghai was the very embodiment of the West's colonial ills writ large, a mirror into the Western world's own blackened soul.

      Stella Dong's impressively well-researched urban biography, SHANGHAI: 1842-1949, opens with precisely this premise. "At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid, and decadent city in the world." Yet the story that follows this promising beginning substantially fails to convey the raw excitement, audaciously self-serving exploitation, and generally over-the-top behavior for which her subject is so famously known. It's not as though the facts aren't there; they are, in exacting if not excruciating detail. Yet the sum of these thousands of parts does not come close to equaling the whole. Fascinating people like the Soong sisters come and go, but they pass merely as names, not as flesh and blood people.

      Ms. Dong's Shanghai biography begins in 1842 with the arrival of British gunboats and ends in 1949 with the arrival of the Communist Party's declaration of the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong. In between, the author traces the impacts of Western colonial imperialism, the Taiping Rebellion, the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the ascent of the first Republic under Sun Yat-Sen, the rise of General Chiang Kai-Shek, the birth of the Communist Party movement, and the Japanese incursion and finally invasion in 1937. Ms. Dong introduces a small host of power brokers like Yuan Shi-Kai and memorable gangsters with such descriptives names as Big-Eared Tu and Pockmarked Huang. Oddly, though, Ms. Dong's Westerners are largely faceless. Even the city's richest and most influential early arrivals like Silas Hardoon and the Sassoons family come and go in just a page or two each. Despite creating pre-1937 Shanghai in their collectively failed image, no Western players appear worthy of being singled out for deeper examination.

      For anyone seeking an academician's detailed information about the city's history, SHANGHAI is a worthy source. However, for the common reader who simply wants to learn more about the city's history and vicariously experience a little of its wild madness, Ms. Dong's book is not the place to look. The detail is just too great, the writing just too dry and clinical, rather like experiencing a Ferrari by reading the engine specifications. Another small peeve, perhaps mine alone, was the author's use of the old-style English transliterations of Chinese person and place names. The choice may have been historically fitting, but modern readers may well find offputting the use of spellings like Whangpu (today, Huangpu), Pootung (Pudong), Hongkew (Hangkou), Kiangsu (Jiangsu), Soochow (Suzhou), Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong), Chou En-lai (Zhou Enlai), and Chiang Ching (Jiang Qing).

      Ms. Dong ends her Shanghai story abruptly in early 1949. While this closing is consistent with her book's title, the lack of an Afterword does not give the author an opportunity to reflect on her city's history in light of the far different "new Shanghai" that has emerged in the last fifty years. Such perspective and commentary by a well-informed student of the city's history would certainly have been welcomed.


      =======


      BOOKS OF THE TIMES
      CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT
      http://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/14/books/books-of-the-times-092326.html


      THE SOONG DYNASTY. By Sterling Seagrave. 532 pages. Illustrated. Harper & Row. $22.50.


      OF the three Soong sisters, it is now said in China: ''One loved money, one loved power, one loved China.'' The money-lover was Ai-ling, who made a fortune as a speculator while married to H. H. Kung, the equally wealthy financier who served intermittently as Finance Minister of the Chinese Republic. The power-lover was May-ling, who married Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and, as the dragon lady Madame Chiang, helped to sell the United States on backing Nationalist China during World War II. The China-lover was Ching-ling, who married Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary founder of the Republic of China, and who after his death became a vice chairman of Mao's People's Republic of China.

      Of their brother, T. V. Soong, the Harvard-educated business tycoon who became Chiang Kai-shek's Prime Minister, it is merely said that for a time he was the richest man in the world. So as far as the influence the Soongs exerted, it is not far- fetched of the journalist Sterling Seagrave to begin his richly detailed history of the family by asserting, ''Few families since the Borgias have played such a disturbing role in human history.''

      Nor is the statement an exaggeration in terms of the family's malignancy. The most dramatic revelations of ''The Soong Dynasty'' concern Chiang Kai-shek's involvement with the criminal underground - in particular one Big-eared Tu, the godfather of Shanghai's notorious Green Gang, who bolstered Chiang's regime through drugs, extortion, and political muscle, and exterminated dissenters by the tens of thousands. But except for Sun Yat-sen's widow, Ching-ling, who refused to be drawn into Chiang Kai-shek's orbit, every member of the family is convincingly painted monstrous by Mr. Seagrave in one or another special way.

      If Mr. Seagrave has any problem, it lies in sustaining the drama of his revelations. As he points out in his prologue, writing about the Soongs poses ''special difficulties'' because like the Cheshire Cat, they ''were visible only when they wished to be.'' Because so much about them remains hidden, he has ''chosen a way of revealing the Soongs that is less subject to interpretation by friends or foes. Like Perseus, who avoided staring straight at Medusa, I have searched for the Soongs in the mirror of their times and in the lives of their close associates.'' He also searches for them as they have been mirrored in previous histories and biographies of the period.

      The result of this approach is often successful. There is a lively portrait of the founding father, Charlie Soong, who ran off to America in 1878 and got himself trained as a missionary by Southern Methodists. Indeed the charm of the man often outshines Mr. Seagrave's attempts both to debunk him and make him sinister. On the other hand, the picture of Chiang Kai- shek that emerges is one that rivals Mussolini, if not Hitler, as the very model of a modern major dictator. And it is backed up by solid and dramatic evidence of Chiang's intimate involvement with the Green Gang.

      Most appalling of all is Mr. Seagrave's study of Big-eared Tu Yueh- sheng, who, with two associates known as Pockmarked Huang Chih- jung and Curio Chang Ching-chang (for his profiteering in Chinese antiquities), ran the Shanghai underworld with spectacularly insouciant brutality. This study is highlighted by an interview with Big-eared Tu wrested from him by a Polish-born journalist named Ilona Ralf Sues, who published it in her little-noticed 1944 memoir, ''Shark's Fins and Millet.''

      And this bears upon the major shortcoming of ''The Soong Dynasty'': So much of it depends on previously published books that it inevitably creates a sense of dej a vu. Despite many revelations gleaned through the Freedom of Information Act, there remains a sense that one has read much of this before - in Barbara Tuchman's ''Stillwell and the American Experience in China,'' in Theodore H. White's ''In Search of History: A Personal Adventure,'' in W. A. Swanberg's ''Luce and His Empire,'' and in the works of Edgar Snow, John King Fairbank and at least half a dozen others.

      Of course the point is that Mr. Seagrave - a journalist who grew up in the 1940's on the China-Burma border - has put the story together as it has not been done previously. And no doubt it bears repeating and repeating, to put in the perspective of history what Mr. Seagrave regards as the spectacular folly of the United States for having swallowed what he characterizes as a fairy tale cooked up by the Soongs and served by Henry Luce and his publishing empire.

      As he sums up T. V. Soong's ''operatic courtship of America'' in the 1930's: ''The Soong family would serve as the courtiers, the handmaidens, and the compradors. They would set the terms, carry the moneybags, keep the accounting ledgers, and be responsible for identifying all enemies and villains. America's role would be to provide the funds. In return for their money, Americans would be in charge of feeling virtuous.''

      Still, the greatest excitement of ''The Soong Dynasty'' lies in the author's introductory announcement of what it accomplishes: ''This book is the first biography of the whole clan, and the first to examine both their positive contributions and their long- hidden, more sinister activities. When all the clan members are brought together in a single study, it is possible to see how they helped and hindered each other in the path to power, and to see in sharp relief their regime's long involvement with and dependence upon the Shanghai gangster underworld.''

      After this, the proof of the pudding is depressingly familiar. By his method of staring away from Medusa we are forced by Mr. Seagrave to look at too much of what we already known about the long and tortuous struggle for control of 20th-century China.
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