CHP-180-The Earliest Years of Christianity in China

Many people don’t know that the first preaching of Christianity in China pre-dated the Jesuits by more than nine centuries.  We’ll take a second cursory look at the Jesuits as part of a bigger story that includes Christianity in China during the Tang and Yuan dynasties.  We’ll see that prior to the arrival of Matteo Ricci, there were two other lesser known attempts to grow Christianity in China. Continue reading “CHP-180-The Earliest Years of Christianity in China”

CHP-179-The Ancient History of Silk


Thanks to Carole in Virginia for giving me enough of a push to get this episode finally produced.  This might have been one of the first ten topics I came up with when I began writing the original list back in 2010.  The history of silk is really an amazing testament to humankind’s ingenuity and the randomness of life since Neolithic times. I hope you enjoy this episode.  It turned out to be a much greater story than I was ever aware of. Continue reading “CHP-179-The Ancient History of Silk”

CHP-177-William Mesny Part 1


In this first part of a two-part series we examine the forgotten life of William Mesny. Drawing from author David Leffman’s 2016 book “The Mercenary Mandarin,” Laszlo discusses an unknown character from the bad old days of late Qing Dynasty China. Though he never made it to the history books, he nonetheless witnessed and took part in a lot of it. Through Mesny we can once again wander through some of Imperial China’s worst years.
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CHP-176-The History of the Teochew People

In this episode Laszlo explains a little about the “Gagi Nang”, the 自己人, known the world over as the Teochew (Chiu Chow or Chaozhou) people. Like the Hakka people, the Teochew’s were originally from the Yellow River Valley and migrated to their present location on the Guangdong coast via Fujian province. Their language and culture is unique. Their food and Chaozhou culture is celebrated in more places than Chaozhou and not just by the people from that region. There are Chaozhounese people on every continent except maybe Antarctica. They’re a proud group of people with a collective track record that is admirable by any standards of human achievement. The only mentions in this episode were of the Teochew’s of South East Asia and the US. There are plenty of other lesser known or unknown histories of Teochew’s in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America and of course Australia and New Zealand. The great 19th century Chinese diaspora is filled with stories, legends and historic events. The Chiu Chow people are a major part of everything that happened. They contributed not only to the society and the economy of their adoptive homelands, they still kept their ties with the eight districts of Chao-Shan.

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CHP-175-Su Dongpo

In this 175th episode Laszlo gives the great Northern Song jack-of-all-literary-trades Su Dongpo the once over. This isn’t meant to be a deep dive into the reasons for all his renown in literature, calligraphy and painting. Instead, this is just a “popular Chinese historical” overview of who he was and the times he lived in.  And for those who never heard of him, this is a good intro. In America we have Washington Irving, Mark Twain, Hemingway and so on. In China….Su Dongpo would be mentioned when rattling off their best of the best. He was definitely a major guy not only in the Song, but in the overall world of Chinese culture as well. Continue reading “CHP-175-Su Dongpo”

CHP-174-The Pirate Queen Zheng Yi Sao

In this latest episode Laszlo finally gets around to the oft requested subject of piracy in early 19th century China. Pirates had been a fact of life going back to the most olden days. Mid to late Qing Dynasty the amount of trade being plied on the China coast attracted pirates like never before. Zheng Yi Sao (“Zheng Yi’s Wife”) was a tough woman from the Pearl River Delta who married the most notorious pirate of his day, Zheng Yi. Upon Zheng Yi’s death, his widow took control of his massive pirate fleet. With her adopted son, and later husband Cheung Po Tsai, she controlled what as, at the time, the largest pirate fleet that preyed on coastal dwellers and vessels engaged in trade. She later became an inspiration for many characters that appeared in books, movies, video games and other media.

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CHP-171-The Tong Wars of New York Chinatown Part 1

In this long awaited and oft requested episode Laszlo explains about the Tong Wars of New York’s Chinatown. With the help of Scott Seligman’s latest book, Tong Wars, The Untold Story of Vice, Money and Murder in New York’s Chinatown, we go back to late 19th – early 20th century America and focus on New York’s Chinatown. These were terribly unpleasant days for most citizens of Chinese ancestry and especially for those immigrants who either had not begun the process or lived in the shadows illegally. The Chinese Exclusion Laws tarred these citizens like no other immigrant group in US history. The Tong Wars didn’t happen because of these laws but they were certainly part of the story. With everything Chinese-Americans have done to make America great over the past century it’s interesting to look back at another time when the ordinary law-abiding Chinese and the bloodiest Tong soldier were equally reviled in society that was loathe to accept them.

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