Started on June 9th, 2019, protests in Hong Kong had sustained over 110 days. It is going strong well into the 70th National Day of Communist China. Shockingly, what started as a protest against an extradition bill continued well into weeks after the bill was canceled. The involvement of triads in Hong Kong in the protest has also attracted international news.
During the latest protests, triad members with white shirts with swords and sticks chasing protesters look as if they are characters in a kung fu movie from Hollywood.
Since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, the authorities in Hong Kong have relaxed their enforcement toward the triad members. Triad members have extended their business from illegal to legal sectors of the economy. There are currently about 57 triad groups in Hong Kong with 14 of them under police surveillance.
This current development of triad societies are effects brought by socioeconomic changes in Hong Kong. They are behind gambling, drug trade, prostitution, and whatever that could bring them money. They have not always been about money and have had historically been more of a multi-faceted brotherhood organization.
But this is not the first time the triads and mafia members rolled out on the streets as they owned it. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during WWII, triads blocked streets to establish gambling territories. Some of them went as far as to helping the Japanese soldiers to establish comfort stations.
Throughout history in China, triads were involved in every issue as long as they can benefit. The British viewed them as a group that would make Hong Kong impossible to rule if they were allowed to roam free in the city and punished most triad members making their underground activities even more secretive. During the Japanese occupation, most triad members welcomed them as occupiers as anarchy reigned in Hong Kong. As the Imperial Japanese Army came in, the Triads robbed civilians at gunpoints and looted the stores clean. The entire three years of eight months period, not only were civilians living in fear of the Imperial Japanese Army, they were also living in fear of the Triads.
After WWII, Hong Kong was under British ruling again. Triads were again more secretive of their activities. After Mao took over China, triad activities were punishable by law. However, as the latest activities show, some triads are now pro-Beijing as their businesses are depended on Mainland China. However, similar to most issues in Asia, this is not a simple one as most of the triad members are related to KMT in one way of another. 14K was founded by a former Lieutenant-General of Kuomintang.
To learn more about triad activities during WW2, get a copy of Three Year Eight Months: The Forgotten Struggle of Hong Kong During WWII
Pre-colonized Vietnam was split into three states, Cochinchina, Annam, and Tonkin. Cochinchina covered the most southern part of Vietnam in which its primary city was Saigon. Annam was the central state of Vietnam where the ancient capital of Vietnam, Hue, was located. Tonkin was the most northern region where its main city was Hanoi. The first European arrival to Indochina, which was made up of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, began with Portuguese and Dutch missionaries during the 16th and 17th centuries, respectively. These missionaries’ main objective was to start up trading posts along the Vietnamese coast. During the mid-1620s, Jesuit priest, Father Alexandre de Rhodes, arrived in Cochinchina and traveled throughout Vietnam to Tonkin. While in Vietnam, de Rhodes learned the language through speaking with villagers and would write several books chronicling his experience in Vietnam, as well as contain a part in which de Rhodes expresses his interest in the language. In 1630, de Rhodes was expulsed from Vietnam for his preaching of Catholicism where he was able to convert over 6,000 Vietnamese. In 1640, de Rhodes returned to Cochinchina to continue establishing missionaries. In 1645, he would be executed, but by this time, there would be a total of over 120,000 Vietnamese who converted to Christianity. Father de Rhodes was important because through his contribution, he was able to spread Catholicism in a major way in Vietnam and through his books, many others would follow his path to use Southeast Asia to spread Christianity and establish trading networks. Following these European missionaries, there would be an escalation of desire to not only control ports along Vietnam, but also control Southeast Asia to control a major trading line.
The end of the 17th century saw the first arrival of the French in the form of the French East India Company trading organization who were there to establish a trading network in Southeast Asia and spread Catholicism through missionaries. Due to prejudice against Christians and foreigners, after a few centuries of the French establishing missions and trading ports across the Vietnamese coast, the French missionaries, traders and soldiers were attacked by the local Vietnamese. In retaliation, the French waged wars against Vietnamese local tribes and planned to take control over Indochina to establish their colony. In 1862, French and Vietnamese emissaries met in Saigon to cease the war and come to a negotiation. The treaty granted France with Cochinchina where missionaries had the freedom to build missions and preach. France also gained the freedom to allow ships in through the Mekong Delta and open coastal ports to open trade with the west. In 1863, Cochinchina gained its first governor, Admiral Pierre-Paul de la Grandiere, who took an interest in international affairs with Cambodia and the Cambodian monarchy. As governor, La Grandiere signed a treaty with Cambodia granting protection for trade. La Grandiere proposed the expansion into Tonkin in northern Vietnam. As a result, he issued two expeditionary forces to invade Tonkin. While the first expeditionary advance failed in 1868, the second one, launched in 1883, was able to successfully control Hanoi. Following the capture of Hanoi, there was a meeting, known as the Treaty of Hue, between the French and Vietnamese emperor Tu Duc. This treaty granted France full control over Vietnam.
The French government followed their victory by merging their colonies into a single state under one authority figure. This state would be known as the Indochinese Union, or French Indochina. Along with the colonies of Vietnam, it would also include Laos and Cambodia. France altered the political and economic structure of French Indochina to be able to benefit their ways of governing and to make it easier to govern under French rule. Firstly, France moved the capital from Hue to Hanoi which changed the administrative and political central focus of French Indochina closer to China and the Red River Delta. France also established a governor general who would be in charge from Hanoi over all of French Indochina, while governors of smaller colonies, for example, Cochinchina, would work under the governor general. The governor general was also supported by the Upper Council of Indochina, five directors in charge of the colonies’ services.
The French had not only altered Vietnam’s political system, but also changed the social and economic environment within French Indochina. Paul Doumer, in 1897, became General Governor of French Indochina and began forming departments to control finances, customs and monopolies, public works, agriculture and trade, the postal and telegraph service, and other state agencies to maintain civil and international services. Doumer organized three monopolies based around opium, salt, and alcohol. Based on these three items, France applied a heavy tax on these items for the Vietnamese and took away property if the taxes weren’t paid. These taxes were used to help govern the administrative cost of Indochina. The countries, particularly Vietnam, of French Indochina had economic benefits for France based on its natural resources. Vietnam produced rice, rubber and coal. The French government in Indochina began exporting these goods and using villagers to increase their work and increase production rates to keep up with demands. Vietnam became the third largest exporter of rice in the world behind Burma and Thailand. Tire companies such as the Michelin Tire Company bought thousands of acres of land in Vietnam to use the Vietnamese peasants to assist in working for these tire companies through producing rubber to build the tires in return the peasants would be able to keep their land although under French jurisdiction. The farmers, peasants, and coal miners, all of whom were Vietnamese, were underpaid and overworked to support French manufacturing and trading companies.
French Indochina, in particular, Vietnam, through its geographical location and natural resources, became an important strategic economically, and later, militarily, country in Southeast Asia. For the next hundred years, many countries such as France and Japan would see Vietnam as a country to use for their own economic and military goals in which would turn their citizens against their oppressors leading into one of the most important wars in history.
"Chapter 1 The French in Indochina - Digital History." http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/teachers/lesson_plans/pdfs/unit12_1.pdf. Accessed 9 Sep. 2019.
Dommen, Arthur J. (2001). The Indochinese experience of the French and the Americans : nationalism and communism in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 4-18.
Goscha, Christopher E. (2016). Vietnam: A New History. Basic Books: New York, p. 87-88.
Vietnam: A New History. p. 88.
"Chapter 1 The French in Indochina - Digital History."
by Sommer Phan
Marie Kondo has garnered mass mainstream attention through her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011) and the corresponding Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” (2019). In media, Kondo is known for the phrase “spark joy”. As Kondo helps her clients tidy up their houses, she encourages them to think about if the item “sparks joy”. The item is kept if it sparks joy, and thrown away or donated if it does not. Kondo has confirmed that her famous “KonMari Method” of tidying up is partly influenced by Japanese Shintoism. Shintoism is an ancient Japanese belief system. It asserts that the physical or natural world is occupied with spirits and spiritual powers. Kondo worked as a Shinto shrine maiden for five years. The Japanese phrase “mottainai” is often linked with Shinto and Buddhist philosophy; it can be roughly translated to “Oh, what a waste!” “Mottainai” expresses the feeling of guilt or sadness when something is discarded before it has been used to its full potential. In the book “Waste: Consuming Postwar Japan,” Eiko Maruko Siniawer explained that “mottainai was deployed as a lost Japanese virtue, recalling post-World War II frugality as a means of tackling the contemporary problems of mass waste and a perceived pathology of affluence.” This post-war transformation of Japan included the denial of many Japanese wartime atrocities, such as the Nanjing Massacre. Has Japan “Mari Kondo-ed” their wartime history to rebuild their country?
Japan was able to rebuild relatively quickly post World War II. During the immediate post-war era, the United States occupied Japan and implemented reform programs to promote democracy. Japan and the United States later created a mutually beneficial relationship through their Cold War allyship under the command of General MacArthur. Professor of Texas A&M University Lawrence C. Wolken provides an in-depth analysis of Japan’s independent post-war recovery. The post-war economic improvement was exceptional and today Japan is known for its high standard of living. The Japanese government focused its efforts on building infrastructure to support the industrialization of the nation in the 1950s through the 1960s. Concerns over the environmental impact rose with the expansion and decentralization of industries in Japan. This concern can be linked back to the ancient Shintoist regard for the environment. In the 1970s, Japan began to address issues over environmental concern and social groups who were negatively impacted by rapid industrialization. This shift in focus was executed through environmental and social programs such as larger recycling efforts and a public pension system. Although Japan experienced economic success and a high standard of living, it still faced issues such as OPEC’s embargo in 1973. In this whole post-war effort to rebuild the nation, Japan actively attempted to maintain friendly relations with the United States because of the country’s significant influence and effect on Japan’s foreign trade economy. The relationship between the countries has been strained because of international trade competition, but both countries make efforts to address their respective domestic issues while maintaining a friendship with each other.
So how does this relate to Marie Kondo’s success in the United States? Her success has come with a certain degree of backlash. Much of the backlash stems from her approach to tidying up, which may be foreign to Euro-American audiences. Some critics have also interpreted the KonMari method to be overly minimalistic and anti-capitalist. A deeper investigation into the cultural influence, of beliefs such as Shintoism, and the KonMari method may lead to a better understanding of the foundations of Kondo’s approach. Although Japan and the United States have similar methods of national progress, the two have experienced cultural misunderstandings and distrust of one another, amongst other mutual issues. Marie Kondo is a small example of how the cultural relationship between the United States and Japan has played out since the Cold War.
Doyle, Mika. “Marie Kondo Credits This Spiritual Practice With Helping Her Figure Out Her Tidying Philosophy.” Bustle, January 24, 2019. https://www.bustle.com/p/how-shinto-influenced-marie-kondos-konmari-method-of-organizing-15861445.
Gould, Hannah. “Marie Kondo and Kuyō: Is Throwing Things Away Really a Religious Experience?” Religion News Service, February 20, 2019. https://religionnews.com/2019/02/19/marie-kondo-and-kuyo-is-throwing-things-away-really-a-religious-experience/.
“Korean War and Japan's Recovery.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, n.d. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/korean-war.
Wolken, Lawrence C. “The Modernization of an Ancient Culture: Time for Conflict or Cooperation.” SAGE. Mays Business School, n.d. https://maysweb.tamu.edu/sage/gradescourses/9th-12th-grade/economics/the-modernization-of-an-ancient-culture-preface/the-modernization-of-an-ancient-culture-time-for-conflict-or-cooperation/.
How Opium War, Colonization, Trade War, Opioid Crisis, Fentanyl, and Cryptocurrency Shaped the Global Trade in the Modern World (Part 2)
by Peter Lassalle-Klein
The Opium War
Trade has often been ascribed as one of the core building blocks of a successful and healthy society. This remains true today, as there are a plethora of trade relations branching all around different parts of the world. However, many of these relations connect to a country that has a scarring history of trade deals: China. The most notorious of which is known as the Opium Wars. The Opium Wars are the two conflicts that occurred in China from 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 during the Qing Dynasty due to the British Empire’s want to force a trade with the Dynasty. The effects of this conflict can be felt even today through China’s attitude towards trade deals, the presence of opium in China, and even the western families who got rich off of selling opium to the Chinses populace.
To start, the British were the ignition of the fire that spewed the cloud of opium into China. The British Empire had just come out on the losing side of a war with its colonies, the newborn United States, and was hemorrhaging money due to the sheer cost of the war, as well as the loss of their cotton production in the West. They desired the rare items of trade from China: porcelain, silk, and most of all, tea. The British addiction to tea made up a notable amount of the Empire’s economy, and with only silver to offer and a single port that trade could take place in (Canton), China had little interest in the Empire’s dealings. However, at the beginning of the 19th century, the British Empire realized that India (which was currently occupied by the Empire) could produce mass amounts of poppies. These poppies could be refined into opium, a highly addictive and destructive drug which was in extreme demand in China, and also happened to be outlawed in. It was so addictive that, as Professor Jack Patrick Hayes of Chinese and Japanese history at Kwantlen Polytechnic University states, “Many people who stopped ingesting opium suffered chills, nausea, and cramps, and sometimes died from withdrawal.” Even with the prohibition of opium, the British Empire set the East India Company to work, a militant trading company under the command of the crown to handle all trading in East Asia. The Company took advantage of its domination over India and created a monopoly on the drug trade, mass-producing opium out of the province of Bengal. In the early 1800s, the substance was smuggled into China through both British and U.S. ships off the coast of Guangzhou. By 1830, there were over 100 Chinese smuggling ships running opium illegally into China, brought from India by private British and U.S. traders under the command of the Honorable East India Company. Although the East India Company lost its monopoly over the opium trade in 1834, the illegal trade was in full force with over 40,000 chests of the drug flowing in per year.
In a response by 1839, the Dynasty took action by cracking down on opium smugglers, destroying the shipments of opium by dumping them into the sea and pushing the traders from Britain and the U.S. to a desolate island which would one day be known as Hong Kong. Despite the knowledge of opium being illegal in China, opium merchants in English India, Britain, and the East India Company were outraged at the destruction of their contraband with compensation, as the Dynasty was not willing to pay for destroying a substance that was outlawed. This gave politicians in Britain the justification they needed to take more aggressive imperialist action to gain “recompense”, and in 1939, the first battle of the First Opium War took place between East India Company and Chinese ships.
The First Opium War painted a clear picture for the Chinese about their Imperialist invaders: they were technologically outmatched. The war only spanned three years from 1939 to 1942, and despite the Chinese constantly outnumbering the British, the Dynasty’s troops could not withstand the Empire’s barrage of cannons and superior naval ability. The Chinese Junks (ancient Chinese sailing ships) were constantly decimated the Empire’s new steam warship, the Nemesis, which carved a bloody path through Chinese waters. The war ended with the Emperor’s surrender and the Treaty of Nanjing, which is often referred to as one of the “Unequal Treaties” that the Chinese had to sign at figurative gunpoint. The Treaty gave the British many exorbitant benefits, such as:
Famous and “respected” families got their start from smuggling opium illegally into China during these wars. The Astors, who are notable members of the British government, were originally known to be the first American smugglers that brought some of the first opium into Canton, China, before quickly leaving the trade as things began to grow tense. The Delano Family, whose descendant is Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself, sold opioids on the Pearl River in China. Warren Delano Jr., the man who headed this business, argued that the sale of such crippling drugs was “fair, honorable, and legitimate.” Even the Forbes family, the same Forbes who founded the massively successful Forbes Magazine, got their massive wealth by being one of the prime opium traders that smuggled the drug into China in the 1830s to the 1840s. All of these families, all of these deals, came off the suffering of the people of China through the sale of an incredibly addictive and destructive drug that was forced upon the populace through war. The people of China make an effort to never forget this humiliation of their strength and culture, especially with the current Trade War taking place between the U.S. and China. In response to the increase in tariffs between the U.S. and China in May, China’s People’s Daily, a known state mouthpiece said: “The text must be balanced and expressed in terms that are acceptable to the Chinese people and do not undermine the sovereignty and dignity of the country.” The government remembers the embarrassment, as well as its people. Li Xuewei, a Chinese medical student from Shandong, commented on the similarities between the current Trade War and the Opium Wars: “We used to be so behind. Everything was destroyed by those invaders . . . I think China isn’t scared of anything anymore. Whatever happens with the trade war, I don’t think we’ll lose.” Through these families that became rich off the exploitation of drug trade and China’s position on trade with the west, the echoes of the Opium Wars live on today.
“The Opium Wars in China - Asia Pacific Curriculum.” 2019, https://asiapacificcurriculum.ca/sites/default/files/2019-02/Opium%20Wars%20-%20Background%20Reading.pdf. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“The First Opium War: The Anglo-Chinese war of 1839-1842. Essay by Peter C. Perdue - Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” 2011, https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/opium_wars_01/ow1_essay04.html. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“Unequal Treaties with China - ENHE.” 2016, https://ehne.fr/en/article/europe-europeans-and-world/europe-and-legal-regulation-international-relations/unequal-treaties-china. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“5 Elite Families Who Made Their Fortune in the Opium Trade - AlterNet.” 5 June, 2015, https://www.alternet.org/2015/06/5-elite-families-fortunes-opium-trade/. Accessed 23 Aug. 2019.
“The Signing and Sealing of the Treaty of Nanking by F.G. Moon - Brown University Library.” 1846, https://library.brown.edu/cds/catalog/catalog.php?verb=render&id=1249001214271904. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“Destroying Chinese War Junks by E. Duncan - National Maritime Museum, London.” 1843, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Destroying_Chinese_war_junks,_by_E._Duncan_(1843).jpg. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“Fast Boat or Smuggler by Captain E. Belcher - Visualizing Cultures.” 1843, https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/opium_wars_01/ow1_gallery/pages/1843_belcher_238_FastBoat.htm. Accessed 24 Aug. 2019.
“As trade war escalates, Chinese remember ‘national humiliation’ - Los Angeles Times.” 13 May, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-trade-war-tariffs-colonialism-humiliation-20190513-story.html. Accessed 25 Aug. 2019.
by Luke Diep-Nguyen
by Luke Diep-Nguyen
1857 - Establishment of the Indian Independence Movement of 1857 which would last until the eventual Indian independence in 1947. It started with the Indian Mutiny of 1857 which was a revolt led Indian soldiers against the British. The revolt would lead to the joining of anti-British Indian leaders and follow by many Indian citizens. Battles would spread across India, but would eventually lead to the British victory over the Indians. This conflict would be known as the First War of Indian Independence and lasted from May 10, 1957, with the Indian Mutiny to the final battle at Gwalior on June 20, 1858.
1858 - Following the end of the Indian rebellion in 1858, the Dutch East Indian Company was disbanded and Queen Victoria of Britain decided to strengthen British rule over India by proclaiming that India would be governed under the name of the British Monarch. India, under the British General Governor, or Viceroy, would have all their internal affairs, policies, and government under the British with the Viceroy speaking for Queen Victoria who claimed the new title of Empress of India.
1885 - In response to the rise of British power over India, an Indian mass movement, organized by Indian reformists, was created and was known as the Indian National Movement. This would lead to the creation of the Indian National Congress under these reformists. The founders would hold the first session of the Indian National Congress. These founders included reformists such as Allan Octavian Hume. Badruddin Tyabji, W. C. Bonnerjee, Surendranath Banerjea, Pherozeshah Mehta, and Manomohun and Lalmohan Ghose, all of whom had been educated in London. They would also work to publish an Indian magazine called India, discussing Indian news to the British press and politicians to discuss the mistreatment of Indians. The Indian National Congress would gain arguably their most influential figure in the 1920s, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
1919 - On April 13, General Reginald Dyer and a police force fired into a protest rally of Punjab people against the British Indian Government and killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. This would be known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, named after a public garden in Punjab.
1920 - In September of 1920, Mohandas Gandhi formed the Non-Cooperation Movement. The Non-Cooperation Movement was launched in response to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and lead to the withdrawal of national cooperation and support for the British government and authorities. The movement was able to gain support from the Indian masses of millions.
1927 - The Non-Cooperation Movement was not only successful in gaining support, but also put a brake on political activities. In 1927, the British Government sent the Simon Commission to assist in reforming the Indian governments. The Simon Commission did not have any Indian members which led to both the Congress and Muslim League to protest and boycott the Commission.
1929 - On December 1929, Gandhi led a mass civil disobedience movement which was to cause total national disobedience towards the orders of the British rule. To suppress their movement, the British government resulted in violence and killed thousands of Indian civilians. The movement would be suppressed and three members of the Indian National Congress would be arrested and later hanged.
1942 - 1945 - Amid the Second World War, there both peaceful and militaristic anti-British movements some of which included cooperation with Japanese to help force out the British. In 1942, Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement which was another mass civil disobedience movement that called for British to be forced out of India via mass violence against railway stations, government buildings, telegraph offices, and other colonial institutions which stemmed the British ability to operate in India. The movement was forcibly suppressed with many political leaders and members of the Congress being arrested.
While the Quit India Movement and Indian National Congress worked from within India to push for the removal of British colonialism, many attempted to work from without India to assist in the removal of British rule. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who left India after escaping a detention center in Calcutta, established the Indian National Army. The Indian National Army worked with the Japanese to fight against colonialism. They viewed Western colonialism as a greater threat than Japanese imperialism, therefore siding with them to fight against the British. After the war, when Japan lost, Bose planned to escape but was killed because of an airplane crash.
1947 - After the war, the Labour Party took office in Britain under Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee. The Labour Party and Attlee sympathized with the Indian movements for freedom. On August 14, 1947, India would be granted its independence.
"Indian Freedom Struggle (1857-1947) - Culture and Heritage - Know ...." https://archive.india.gov.in/knowindia/culture_heritage.php?id=5. Accessed 25 Aug. 2019.
How Opium War, Colonization, Trade War, Opioid Crisis, Fentanyl, and Cryptocurrency Change the Global Trade in the Modern World (Introduction)
by Luke Diep-Nguyen
Since the presidential election in 2016, trade agreements, particularly with China, has been an important issue with President Donald Trump. President Trump, during and following the election, was heavily critical of previous trade agreements, including NAFTA and the TPP as well as intergovernmental organizations such as the WTO, NATO, and the UN. In 2018, President Trump pulled out of the TPP. The Trump Administration promoted protectionism and it no longer wanted to negotiate trade, among small groups of multiple countries, rather insisting on a bilateral front of negotiations taking place between only two countries. President Trump believed that their current international trade agreements were removing jobs from workers in the United States and outsourcing jobs to other countries such as India and China. As a result, President Trump decided to follow through on his promise to bring back jobs by imposing tariffs on other countries, most notably China, in an attempt to decrease Chinese imports, therefore, decreasing competition for domestic companies and workers.
Trump’s tariff actions against China began when, on September 17, 2018, Trump imposed 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In response, China imposed 10% on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. During the G20 Summit in Bueno Aires in November 2018, President Trump and President Xi Jiping came to a negotiation that no further tariffs would be imposed for the next 90 days until March 1, 2019. During the first few months in 2019, US negotiation team led by U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer and China negotiation team led by Chinese Vice-premier, Liu He, met in a series of negotiation meetings to come to a trade agreement between the two countries. Unfortunately, on May 5, President Trump criticized China for attempting to renegotiate issues that had previously been agreed upon and therefore, announced that the US would increase the previously imposed 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% which was effective on May 10. On May 13, China exacted retribution by increasing its own new tariffs on the $60 billion U.S. goods worth. At the end of the following month, June 29, a 33-day truce was agreed between the U.S. and China in anticipation of negotiation taking place in Osaka during the next G20 summit. Following the G20 summit, Trump imposed new tariffs of 10 % on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods, which will be effective in September 2019. The motivation for this new set of tariffs was China’s failure to implement their purchases of agricultural products from the U.S. and failure to close the exports of fentanyl which has become a major factor in the U.S. opioid crisis. As of September 2019, Trump has imposed a total of 10% on $325 billion worth and an additional, previously established 25% on $200 billion worth. On the other hand, China has imposed tariffs on $110 billion worth of US goods, as well as halt import of US agricultural goods and decreased their currency worth in an attempt to offset Trump’s tariffs.
President Trump believes that this trade war and imposing high tariffs on Chinese goods will benefit America immensely. Trump believes that Americans can get more jobs and improve domestic companies by decreasing Chinese goods imported into the country and shifting to focusing on moving companies domestically. While Trump has been able to engender an increase in job creations, the price of the items tariffed increased might be costing taxpayers more money. Trump’s trade war also a detrimental effect on a huge portion of Trump’s supporters: the Midwestern farmers. Farmers rely heavily on China because China helps buy their agricultural products, particularly their soybeans. In response to Trump’s tariffs, China imposed its own tariffs on American goods, notably, their agricultural goods, like soybeans. A large portion of agricultural products grown by farmers are soybeans in order to market to international countries, mostly China, but now there is a need to alternate to corn and decrease their soybean harvest. This can lead to costing farmers more for insecticides and fertilizers to support the increase of corn. As the supply for corn increases, their prices will decrease lower than the price of soybeans. Midwestern farmers are starting to feel the negative effects of the trade war, yet many farmers in these Midwestern states continue to support President Trump and his trade war.
China’s actions have mostly been in retaliation to Trump’s increased tariffs on their own products, but they have not been able to match Trump’s tariffs, so they plan to take other actions to improve their situation. China’s long term strategy is to help make the yuan the most important global currency and make China the world’s leading nation. Unfortunately, China has been on the decline economically due to the trade war. China’s exports to the U.S. have decreased, as well as imports from the U.S. Instead of trading products with China, the U.S. has shifted their export demands to other Asian countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. On the other hand, China has lost imports coming in from these countries as they shifted to increase their trade with the U.S. In order to help stabilize their economy, China increased the minimum wage in order to increase the purchasing power of their consumers and began manufacturing low margin products such as footwear and apparels. Although in the U.S., the prices of products have increased and farmers are suffering from the loss of products bought from China, the U.S., is able to gain imports and exports to China’s neighboring countries, while China has suffered from losing exports from these countries and loss high-margin products.
This blog post series will explore the history of trade between China and the US, from the opium war to the recent cryptocurrency and trade war and examine each part of the relationship critically. From examining the history closely, hopefully, we can gain a better understanding of the trade war and the US-China relationship.
On April 30th, 1975, the Fall of Saigon occurred and left more than 1.6 million Vietnamese immigrants, to be resettled around the world. Vietnamese immigrants fled in two distinct waves. The first wave of immigrants left in 1975, directly after the Fall of Saigon. This wave of immigrants was mainly made up of the elite and highly educated. Many had ties to the United States after working with or supporting the South Vietnam regime. The second wave occurred throughout the mid-70s and into the early 90s. This wave of immigrants became the majority of refugees that we now commonly known as the “boat people”. Most of these immigrants lived in poverty and were less educated, compared to their previous immigrant counterparts.
After settling around the world, many Vietnamese immigrants were able to establish ethnic enclaves to empower their community, keep Vietnamese culture alive, and create opportunities for profit. These ethnic enclaves, commonly named “Little Saigon”, is a hub for restaurants, grocery stores, and small businesses that allowed the Vietnamese community to keep their tradition and culture while expanding to a new American environment. Little Saigon has been an integral part of many immigrant Vietnamese Americans’ lives, and continue to create the same for future generations of Vietnamese Americans. Some of the most notable Little Saigons around America are located in: Orange County, San Jose, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and Arlington.
The oldest and largest Little Saigon can be found in Westminster, located in Orange County, California. The main focus of Little Saigon is the Bolsa Avenue Center, which boasts a very impressive Asian Garden Mall and a Little Saigon Plaza. This street was so influential, that in the late 1980s, the City Council of Westminster officially designated Bolsa Avenue as “Little Saigon”. Quickly, Little Saigon expanded from one street to a large neighborhood encompassing several suburban strip malls. Within this Little Saigon, there are over 200 restaurants, supermarkets, delis, and more. The First Vietnamese American Bank is the first to serve co-ethnic clientele in the United States and is located within Westminster. Additionally, Westminster is also home to the Saigon National Bank – the first nationally chartered bank organized and owned by Vietnamese Americans. When it comes to the entertainment industry, Westminster is home to several Vietnamese language TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers/magazines. Additionally, the music industry is also extremely popular, as there are several recording studios in Westminster, some larger than the studios in Vietnam.
This shows that Little Saigon in Westminster, being the oldest and largest, is one of the most influential communities for Vietnamese Americans, a location that generates a large variety of influx in everything from food, music, and business. Although building Little Saigon has displayed the pride of Vietnamese Americans, there have also been plenty of hurdles Vietnamese Americans building Little Saigon have dealt with. The Anti-Ho Chi Minh Protest occurred in 1999 in Westminster. The controversy started with Vietnamese American video store owner Truong Van Tran, who displayed a portrait of Ho Chi Minh within his store. This resulted in mass vigils, crowds of people waving the South Vietnam flag, and creating riots in front of the store. Since then, the video store has ceased to exist, but at the same time, it raised some debate about free speech in the United States.
San Jose, California holds the largest Little Saigon within Northern California. Additionally, San Jose is home to over 180,000 Vietnamese American Residents (10.6% of their overall city population) This also means that San Jose has more Vietnamese residents than any single city, outside of Vietnam. San Jose’s Little Saigon stretches through Tully Road and Senter Road. Additionally, the main part of Little Saigon is on Story Road, and located there is the popular Grand Century Mall and Vietnam Town and is officially designated by the San Jose City Council as "Little Saigon".
Similar to Westminster, San Jose’s Little Saigon also has a large entertainment industry. There are several locally produced Vietnamese Language radio and TV stations, such as Que Hong Media, VienThao, and Vietoday TV. Additionally, what makes San Jose’s Little Saigon special is that it holds the influence of both the older generation and the new millennial generation. This is clear when it comes to strolling through Grand Century Mall and Vietnam Town. There are plenty of traditional restaurants that have been there since the ’80s, but next door there are also newer shops that show today’s trends and tastes. These two generations are able to live side by side without creating tension, but instead creates an environment where the businesses can mutually grow.
There are several unofficial Little Saigons in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, though is considered one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the United States. One of the largest of these Little Saigon is located in Garland, along Walnut Street between Audelia Road and Jupiter Road, where there are four large supermarkets and a number of restaurants. In Garland, there is a Cali Saigon Mall, which originally operates from California and Nevada. The supermarket expanded to Texas with its first store in Garland, boasting an all Asian food court. Additionally, there are two other Little Saigons in Arlington, on Pioneer Parkway, and in Irving on Beltline Road. The Little Saigon in Irving is home to Little Saigon Mall, and the area itself infuses Korean, Japanese, Thai, and other cultures.
One of the largest Vietnamese neighborhoods in Philadelphia is located in Passyunk Square. The heart of Little Saigon is centered on the intersection of Eighth Street and Washington Avenue in South Philly. Starting from the 1990s, the Vietnamese community built a plaza, called Hoa Binh Plaza, and later added Wing Phat Plaza, but were both quickly downsized in 1998 with the construction of the New World Plaza and 1st Oriental Market. Aside from Passyunk Square, Southwest Philadelphia and Northeast Philadelphia also contain Vietnamese American neighborhoods. Similar to Little Saigon, there is a Baby Saigon located within in Whitman neighborhood of South Philadelphia. Additionally, the Vietnamese community has additionally expanded eastward across the Delaware River to Camden and Cherry Hill in New Jersey. As of 2005, Vietnamese are projected to become the largest ethnicity in South Philadelphia. Philadelphia is in the top ten cities with Vietnamese populations and Vietnamese immigration destinations. As of 2017, there are over 16,000 Vietnamese Americans living in Philadelphia, making it one of the cities with the largest Vietnamese population on the East Coast. The Asian population has grown by 277% between 1990 and 2010, allowing enclaves such as Little Saigon to gradually expand.
Lastly, Arlington, Virginia is home to one of the biggest Little Saigons in the East Coast. Arlington, right by Washington D.C., is influential in the story of the Vietnamese immigration in 1975. The large influx of Vietnamese immigrants arrives in America through the first wave of immigration, directly after the Fall of Saigon. Many of these immigrants were elite and highly educated, as well as holding ties with the American government. Thus, many settled in Washington D.C. because of the embassy and government, where they could retain their jobs while settling in a new American home. The first Vietnamese business in Arlington was the Saigon Market grocery store, opened in 1972 by a former employee of the Vietnam embassy. The second business that opened was a Vietnam Center, opened by the Vietnamese wife of a CIA employee. At the same time, many Vietnamese entrepreneurs still faced hurdles and obstacles when it came to financial stability. Banks refused to lend money to Vietnamese immigrants, and many had to borrow from their friends and families to start the businesses. Furthermore, many were fined because they did not understand business licensing and regulations.
Overall, Little Saigons in America have provided a safe sanctuary for Vietnamese immigrants and the generations that follow. Through Little Saigon, Vietnamese Americans are able to preserve the culture and traditions familiar to them prior to immigrating. At the same time, the pride of the Vietnamese Americans have motivated the community to come together, and welcome the ideas of newer generations as well as other cultures. By doing so, Little Saigon has the ability to function as a business center, rather than the bustling commotion that a tourist-filled Chinatown might hold. Little Saigons around America has been influential and essential for many Vietnamese American families finding a home away from home.
by Hanna Bobrowicz
It was what we had first bonded over, my boss, co-worker, and I. It was my first day at Pacific Atrocities Education and after nervously making small talk we began listing our favorite Asian American authors. It is unclear who first mentioned Thi Bui’s Memoir, The Best We Could Do, but the second the title was uttered we simultaneously began to gush about the story and how it impacted us. Thi Bui released her illustrated memoir in 2017, weaving her narrative with her parents. Bui details her parent's stories of survival, the families pilgrimage from Vietnam to Berkely, California and the growing pains of living in a new country. Two years after consuming Bui’s story, what lingered in my mind was the trauma that had spread from Bui’s parents to their children, and how learning about their lives and stories allowed wounds of the past to finally heal.
The initial conversation my co-workers and I had, spawned a summer-long discussion about intergenerational trauma within refugee and immigrant families, especially for the Vietnamese-American community. The Best We Can Do is an essential example of living history and demonstrates the importance of learning about Vietnamese Boat people, and other refugee stories. Bui’s story reveals an unspoken truth about the American Dream; that trauma often accompanies immigrants on their journey and continues to impact them while they make a new life. In America, this struggle is compounded with racial prejudice and prevents a path for rehabilitation and stability. Bui’s novel serves a vital memory project for American society, as it encourages all who read her words and consume her images to think about the trauma refugees and immigrants face. Two years on, The Best We Can Do, is a vital read for every American as it informs a history on the Boat people while also forcing the reader to contemplate how the United States treats its newcomers.
The term ‘Boat People’ is a blanket term used to describe the refugees who flee their countries by boat. The Vietnamese Boat People refers to the influx of refugees who left Communist Vietnam in 1954 and throughout 1975-1992. The reasoning for each refugee varies, some were vocal capitalists, others were simply escaping dire living conditions and hoping for a better life. Whatever their reasons where, these refugees would take boats to either Southern Vietnam (while the Vietnam War was occurring) or to nearby countries such as Thailand, the Phillippines, or Malayasia. The journey, as Bui demonstrates in her book, was extremely dangerous. Pirates would routinely pillage boats stealing their valuables and sometimes taking refugees as slaves. This danger in combination with the risk of getting caught by Vietnamese police and treacherous weather conditions led to many deaths on board. Yet, Bui’s family survived and were able to then emigrate to the United States. Many Vietnamese-Americans have a similar story to Bui, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, the United States allowed certain Vietnamese refugees to emigrate. The number of migrants increased in the 1980s and 90s, allowing Bui and her family to live in America. Today, Vietnamese-Americans are the sixth-largest ‘foreign-born’ population in the United States, making stories of the Vietnamese Boat people American stories. Therefore, Bui’s narrative of intergenerational trauma and immigration must be at the forefront of American consensuses.
The Best We Could Do is framed around the universal need for children to understand their parents. The novel begins with the birth of Bui’s son and then quickly threads throughout time, to her adolescence to Bui’s mother and father. The book is a quest to understand herself by learning about her family. She states in one chapter, ‘to understand how my father became the way he was, I had to learn what happened to him as a little boy.’ Bui’s parents could not be ‘typical American parents’ as they were struggling to abandoned their past and embrace American culture and customs. This struggle was observed by Bui, she felt their pain but did not know the details of their past. Bui explains in her book, ‘in America where people their age run marathons or at least live independently, my parents are stuck in limbo between two sets of expectations...and I feel guilty.’ This guilt is a product of living in a new world. Ironically America is a country founded by immigrants, yet little is done to help newcomers adapt and heal from the trauma they experienced. The Best We Could Do demonstrates that when learning about one’s family history it is vital to recognize the trauma that was endured, and see if it still lingers in the present.
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