For All the Tea in China

22 February, 1784: The first American trade ship to China weighs anchor in New York City. The history of trade between China and the West is fraught with conflict and cultural complications, as demonstrated by the audacious 19th-century attempt by the British to steal China’s tea crop and transplant it to its own plantations in India. The caper is recounted in Sarah Rose‘s FOR ALL THE TEA IN CHINA.

In the dramatic story of one of the greatest acts of corporate espionage ever committed, Sarah Rose recounts the fascinating, unlikely circumstances surrounding a turning point in economic history. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British East India Company faced the loss of its monopoly on the fantastically lucrative tea trade with China, forcing it to make the drastic decision of sending Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India. Fortune’s danger-filled odyssey, magnificently recounted here, reads like adventure fiction, revealing a long-forgotten chapter of the past and the wondrous origins of a seemingly ordinary beverage.

22 February, 1784: The first American trade ship to China weighs anchor in New York City. The history of trade between China and the West is fraught with conflict and cultural complications, as demonstrated by the audacious 19th-century attempt by the British to steal China's tea crop and transplant it to its own plantations in India. The caper is recounted in Sarah Rose's FOR ALL THE TEA IN CHINA: http://bit.ly/Zn5SltIn the dramatic story of one of the greatest acts of corporate espionage ever committed, Sarah Rose recounts the fascinating, unlikely circumstances surrounding a turning point in economic history. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British East India Company faced the loss of its monopoly on the fantastically lucrative tea trade with China, forcing it to make the drastic decision of sending Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India. Fortune's danger-filled odyssey, magnificently recounted here, reads like adventure fiction, revealing a long-forgotten chapter of the past and the wondrous origins of a seemingly ordinary beverage.
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A Satellite’s View of Ship Pollution and globalization

Cargo-Ship650The geographical hotspots of the world are all related to economic trade and global exchange of political interests. Places such as the Panama and Suez Canals have always been in the Western media. However, from an economic and strategic perspective, the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world in the 21st Century. The history of this Strait’s geopolitical relevance goes as back as 400 years of history.

For centuries the strait has been the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It has been controlled by the major regional powers and also by the mayor global power during different historical periods. In 2011 hundreds of thousands of containers in more than 60,000 vessels crossed its waters carrying about one-quarter of the world’s traded goods including oil, Chinese manufactures, and Indonesian coffee.

In order to understand which is the geopolitical importance of the Strait of Malacca for the Chinese government we need to overview the current geopolitical dynamics and economic investments in the region.

The following image from NASA clearly depicts what are some of the IMPRESSIVE negative externalities caused by the transport of global goods in the region and opens the door for discussing

  • How can we fix this?
  • Who should fix it?
  • Can it be fixed?
  • Can we reduce the future impacts in the area?
  • What solutions are available?
A Satellite’s View of Ship Pollution

Color bar for A Satellite’s View of Ship Pollution
acquired 2005 – 2012 download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 1800×1800)

Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide pop out over certain shipping lanes in observations made by the Aura satellite between 2005-2012. The signal was the strongest over the northeastern Indian Ocean.

Data from the Dutch and Finnish-built Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite show long tracks of elevated nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels along certain shipping routes. NO2, is among a group of highly-reactive oxides of nitrogen, known as NOx, that can lead to the production of fine particles and ozone that damage the human cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Combustion engines, such as those that propel ships and motor vehicles, are a major source of NO2 pollution.

To learn some more on the importance of the Strait of Malacca and the value of this shipping lane you can read the essay I wrote titled “The Strait of Malacca as one of the most important geopolitical regions for the People’s Republic of China. Download (.pdf)

China & Global Oil

I am currently enrolled in the course “Oil, Power and Climate – A Global Perspective” with Dr. habil. Peter Gärtner who is an specialist in Global Studies, North-South relations, democratization, development theory and policy, law and globalization with a regional focus in Latin America.

As part of our initial discussions we were required to present a review of the current status of the main importers and exporters of oil.  My selection was China and its raising demand of energy resources in order to continue providing for the world the largest amount of goods ever made in history.  Indeed, the numbers I found of China were astounding and the forecast of its increase for the next ten years is even more astonishing.    As forecasts show, the United States is soon to lose its hegemonic position in the world as the largest economy due to the fact that since 2010 it was China the world’s largest energy consumer (and its growth continues to further grow).

For the last six months I have been paying much attention to literature in the Asia region and I have started to draw a new world map that has South East Asia and the Pacific at its core. I foresee a semester full of Asia related topics and I will most certainly enjoy focusing in that area.

I share with you the handout with the latest figures and updates on China that I prepared for a discussion.  The file is accessible online and can be downloaded as a PDF: http://issuu.com/condottiero/docs/oil-china-lgpr

Earth in Detail. Fantastic high resolution photographies!

The Spanish blog “Pasa la vida” shared these wonderful pictures of Earth in high resolution (11500 x11500)  As mentioned by them, the pictures were taken by the satellite  Suomi NPP with the instrument Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

Picture 1

Picture 2

by by NASA Goddard Photo and Video in Flickr.com

The face of North Korea’s New Communist “Supreme Leader”

Kim Jong Un - Supreme Leader of North Korea - via: The Economist

Here’s the face of Kim Jong-un, the new Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).  Kim Jong Un is the son and heir of Kim Jong Il who passed away on Saturday December 17, 2011. Jong Un is in his twenties and has inherited the control of what many consider to be a Communist Dictator system of leadership.  Lets see what history comes from this new, young and small powerful dictator and soon new Supreme Leader (General Secretary of the WPK).

As his father did, this young men would be in charge of a territory of 120,540 km2 and of 24,051,218 million people (the 51 most populated country).

North Korea is also a proven nuclear power and nuclear weapon country since 2006 that has consistently menaced the world with the use of its weapons in retaliation against South Corea and Japan. Diplomacy and food supplies to its dying population has been the methods used by countries in the United Nations to stop their menaces.

Did Empire Matter? Indian Migration in Global Context 1834-1940

Bombay Fort
Image via Wikipedia

Prof. Adam McKeown from Columbia University did an online conference a couple weeks ago (November 08, 2011. University of Pittsburgh. World History Center.).  The title was “Did Empire Matter? Indian Migration in Global Context 1834-1940” as a continuation of the Global Migrations Discussion.  I have uploaded a summary of that lecture’s content and here’s the link to the pdf,

McKeown - Migrations

You can still watch the tape of the online conference in this link: LIVE Conference (taped)

Prof. Adam McKeown, is a leading figure in world-historical interpretation, has shown the value of migration studies in clarifying global patterns. He is author of studies including, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders /(2008), and he is writing a history of globalization since 1760. He co-directs the International and Global History graduate track at Columbia.

Journal Reco. “Sino-Pacifica”: Conceptualizing Greater Southeast Asia as a Sub-Arena of World History

Map of Southeast Asia
Image via Wikipedia

I just got my hands in a great article on Southeast Asia issues.  Here’s the abstract for the article (via Project MUSE) and I hope you’ll get to enjoy it too,

Conventional geography’s boundary line between a “Southeast Asia” and an “East Asia,” following a “civilizational” divide between a “Confucian” sphere and a “Viet­nam aside, everything but Confucian” zone, obscures the essential unity of the two regions. This article argues the coherence of a macroregion “Sino-Pacifica” encom­passing both and explores this new framework’s implications: the Yangzi River basin, rather than the Yellow River basin, pioneered the developments that led to the rise of Chinese civilization, and the eventual prominence of the Yellow River basin came not from centrality but rather from its liminality—its position as the contact zone between Inner Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

In a sense . . . the frontier of Southeast Asia has retreated slowly from the line of the Yangzi (in what is now central China) to the Mekong delta (in what is now southern Vietnam).

—Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia

[T]he Vietnamese-Lao wars of the seventeenth century were resolved wisely when the Le rulers in Vietnam and the Lao monarch agreed that every inhabitant in the upper Mekong valley who lived in a house built on stilts owed allegiance to Laos, while those whose homes had earth floors owed allegiance to Vietnam.

—The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History [End Page 659]

The question of boundaries is the first to be encountered; from it all others flow.

Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II

In conventional geography, the largest division of the human community is the continental or subcontinental scale “world region.” World regions are the most useful as concepts when their boundaries can be seen as enduring, immobile, and, above all, easy to map. Yet, in the first quotation above, we see a border between two world regions, Southeast and East Asia, that rolls southward thousands of miles over thousands of years. In the second quotation, we see a border between two kingdoms within the same world region, Southeast Asia, that cannot be traced as a simple line on the ground, being created by the contrasting cultural preferences of inextricably mixed populations. The moving boundary and the undrawable boundary are actually the same, the frontiers between Sinified Vietnam and its un-Sinified neighbors.