The program begins by reviewing the death threats and intimidation that the authors of Gold Warriors received over the publication of this and other books.
” . . . .When we published The Soong Dynasty we were warned by a senior CIA official that a hit team was being assembled in Taiwan to come murder us. He said, ‘I would take this very seriously, if I were you.’ We vanished for a year to an island off the coast of British Columbia. While we were gone, a Taiwan hit team arrived in San Francisco and shot dead the Chinese-American journalist Henry Liu. . . .”
Sterling’s fears about Opus Dei and his and Peggy’s proximity to Spain–the seat of that organization’s power turned out to be prescient. On Christmas Day of 2011, he narrowly escaped assassination while returning home. He felt that the attempt on his life may well have been motivated by the publication of the Spanish language edition of Gold Warriors.
” . . . . A hired thug tried to murder me on the serpentine road leading up to our isolated house on the ridge overlooking Banyuls-sur-Mer, and nearly succeeded. (We’ve had several serious death threats because of our books.) The road was very narrow in places, with tarmac barely the width of my tires. At 10 pm Christmas night, in 2011, after visiting Peggy at a clinic in Perpignan, as I turned the final hairpin, I clearly saw a guy sitting on a cement block path leading up to a shed for the uphill vineyard. He was obviously waiting for me because we were the only people living up there on that mountain shoulder. He jumped up, raised a long pole, and unfurled a black fabric that totally blocked the narrowest turn ahead of me. I tried to swerve to avoid him (not knowing whether he also had a gun), and my right front drive wheel went off the tarmac and lost traction in the rubble.
The car teetered and then plunged down through a steep vineyard on my right side, rolling and bouncing front and rear, 100 meters into a ravine where it finally came to rest against a tree. Thanks to my seatbelt and air bag, I survived. . . .”
One cannot understand contemporary China and the political history of that country over the last couple of centuries without a comprehensive grasp of the effect of the Opium Wars on that nation and its people.
Indeed, one cannot grasp Chinese history and politics without an understanding of the narcotics trade’s central position in that country’s politics.
A viable understanding of China’s past yields understanding of its present.
Awareness of key dynamics of Chinese history includes:
1.–The decisive role of European and American military domination and economic exploitation of China.
2.–The role of the narcotics traffic in the erosion of Chinese society in the 19th century.
3.–The British-led “Opium Wars,” which were the foundation of the destruction wrought by dope addiction in China.
4.–The Opium Wars and their implementation by “Gunboat Diplomacy” of British and European territorial expansion in China.
5.–The pivotal role of that “Gunboat Diplomacy” in the British acquisition of Hong Kong.
6.–Contemporary Chinese concern with the military safety of their ports, territorial waters, adjacent seas and oceans, shipping lanes, merchant marine traffic. This stems in large measure from China’s experience with “Gunboat Diplomacy” and the ravaging of China by Imperial Japan during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
7.–The introduction of Western missionaries into China–American missionaries, in particular.
8.–The fostering of the “Missionary position” toward China on the part of the U.S.
9.–American missionaries’ use of morphine to cure Chinese opium addicts, a practice so prevalent that the Chinese referred to morphine as “Jesus opium.”
10.–The enormous opium trade in China as the foundation for the coalescence and ascent of Shanghai’s Green Gang and Tu Yueh-Shen: “Big Eared Tu.”
11.–The dominance of the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-Shek by the Green Gang and Big-Eared Tu.
12.–The fundamental reliance of Chiang’s government on the narcotics trade.
13.–The dominant role of Chiang Kai-Shek’s regime in the U.S. narcotics trade.
14.–The doctrinaire fascism of Chiang Kai-Shek and his operational relationships with Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Imperial Japan.
15.–The central role of the Soong family in Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang; T.V. Soong, his sisters Mae-ling (married to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek), Ai-ling (married to H.H. Kung, a key finance minister of the Kuomintang), and several of T. V.’s brothers, who also shared in the slicing of the pie under Chiang.
16.–The pivotal role of American publishing giant Henry Luce, whose missionary background in China informed and animated his adoration of Chiang Kai-Shek and Mme. Chiang.
17.–The role of the Luce publishing empire and the enormous financial influence of the consummately corrupt Soong family in spawning “The China Lobby.”
18.–The decisive role of the Chiang Kai-Shek’s refusal to fight the Japanese invaders, combined with the brutal repression and civic ineptitude in driving the Chinese people into the arms of Mao Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communist Party.
Key points of analysis and discussion of the Opium Wars include:
1.–The economic imperative for the conflicts were the trade imbalance between China and Britain: “ . . . . In the 18th century the demand for Chinese luxury goods (particularly silk, porcelain, and tea) created a trade imbalance between China and Britain. European silver flowed into Chinathrough the Canton System, which confined incoming foreign trade to the southern port city of Canton. . . .”
2.–To alter that dynamic, the British East India Company turned to the opium trade: “ . . . . To counter this imbalance, the British East India Company began to grow opium in Bengal and allowed private British merchants to sell opium to Chinese smugglers for illegal sale in China. The influx of narcotics reversed the Chinese trade surplus, drained the economy of silver, and increased the numbers of opium addicts inside the country, outcomes that seriously worried Chinese officials. . . .”
3.–The Chinese attempt at interdicting the opium trade was countered with force of arms: “ . . . . In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor, rejecting proposals to legalize and tax opium, appointed ViceroyLin Zexu to go to Canton to halt the opium trade completely. Lin wrote an open letter to Queen Victoria, which she never saw, appealing to her moral responsibility to stop the opium trade. Lin then resorted to using force in the western merchants’ enclave. He confiscated all supplies and ordered a blockade of foreign ships on the Pearl River. Lin also confiscated and destroyed a significant quantity of European opium. The British government responded by dispatching a military force to China and in the ensuing conflict, the Royal Navy used its naval and gunnery power to inflict a series of decisive defeats on the Chinese Empire, a tactic later referred to as gunboat diplomacy. . . .”
4.–Forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, China experienced: “ . . . . In 1842, the Qing dynasty was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking—the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal treaties—which granted an indemnity and extraterritoriality to British subjects in China . . . . The 1842 Treaty of Nanking not only opened the way for further opium trade, but ceded the territory of Hong Kong . . . . ”
5.–The trade imbalance between China and Britain worsened, and the expense of maintain new colonial territories—including Hong Kong (appropriated through the first Opium War)—led to the second Opium War. Note that the “extraterritoriality” granted to British subjects exempted them from Chinese law, including the official prohibition against opium trafficking: “ . . . . Despite the new ports available for trade under the Treaty of Nanking, by 1854 Britain’s imports from China had reached nine times their exports to the country. At the same time British imperial finances came under further pressure from the expense of administering the burgeoning colonies of Hong Kong and Singapore in addition to India. Only the latter’s opium could balance the deficit. Along with various complaints about the treatment of British merchants in Chinese ports and the Qing government’s refusal to accept further foreign ambassadors, the relatively minor ‘Arrow Incident’ provided the pretext the British needed to once more resort to military force to ensure the opium kept flowing. . . . Matters quickly escalated and led to the Second Opium War . . . .”
6.–As a result of the Second Opium War, China was obliged to Cede No.1 District of Kowloon (south of present-day Boundary Street) to Britain; grant “freedom of religion,” which led to an influx of Western Missionaries, U.S. in particular; British ships were allowed to carry indentured Chinese to the Americas; legalization of the opium trade.”
7.–Fierce, eloquent condemnation of the Opium Wars was voiced by British Prime Minister Gladstone: “ . . . . The opium trade incurred intense enmity from the later British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. As a member of Parliament, Gladstone called it ‘most infamous and atrocious’, referring to the opium trade between China and British India in particular. Gladstone was fiercely against both of the Opium Wars, was ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China, and denounced British violence against Chinese. Gladstone lambasted it as ‘Palmerston’s Opium War’ and said that he felt ‘in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China’ in May 1840. A famous speech was made by Gladstone in Parliament against the First Opium War. Gladstone criticized it as ‘a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace’. . . .”
The program concludes with two key excerpts from The Soong Dynasty.
After detailing Tu Yueh-Sheng’s ascent to the pinnacle of Chinese power through his reorganization of China’s opium trade into a cartel, the program sets forth Chiang Kai-shek and the Green Gang’s control of the Whampoa Military Academy, which spawned control of the Kuomintang Army by the Green Gang.