History

During the days of the Republic, Nanjing Road in Shanghai was one of the best-known commercial streets in the world. Stores and advertisements lined the streets; advertisement placards announcing sales and discounts were waved in the streets while tobacconists, pharmacies, watch shops and metal workshops vied for customers side by side.

[Photo story] The many faces of Shanghai over a hundred years

Over a century, the city of Shanghai saw it all. Westerners fell in love with Republican Shanghai, where commerce and culture flourished; Japanese invaders advanced and retreated; communism and capitalism vied for a stage. Despite these ups and downs, Shanghai has maintained a demeanour and style unto itself. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces Shanghai’s days of glamour and the front-row seat it had in war, revolution, and reform.  
Qin Shi Huang's Terracotta Army, built to protect the emperor in his afterlife. (iStock)

Why were Chinese imperial families prone to fratricides and tragedies?

Throughout Chinese history, imperial families were some of the fiercest battlegrounds. Emperors stopped at nothing to hold on to power. At the instigation of wily courtiers, they might even have executed their kin without batting an eyelid. Li Jingkui says economically speaking, this has to do with the logic of contract theory — there was no neutral arbiter in leadership transitions. Without a third party to oversee the proceedings, family members were often subjected to the tyranny of the “lion king“. But under those circumstances, could anyone else other than the emperor have held court?
The Soong sisters on their return to China after graduating from college in the US. From left: Soong Ching-ling, Ai-ling, and Mei-ling. The Soong family was from Hainan island, and father Charlie Soong was a businessman who migrated to the US.

[Photo story] The Soong sisters and their place in Chinese modern history

The Soong sisters — Ai-ling, Ching-ling and Mei-ling — born in Shanghai and educated in the US, are some of the most well-known personalities in Chinese modern history. All of them were supporters of the nationalist revolution; two of them went on to become the wives of revolutionary leaders Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and political figures in their own right. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao examines their impact through his collection of photos.
Tourists taking photos in front of a statue of Deng Xiaoping in Lianhuashan Park, Shenzhen, China. (iStock)

Was Deng Xiaoping Hakka?

The Hakka people, or “guest people”, are Han Chinese who were mostly northerners that migrated to the south of China to provinces such as Fujian, Guangdong and Sichuan. Some say that a common heritage and language, more than a specific region ties them together. Deng Xiaoping from Guang’an, Sichuan was not known to be one of the Hakka people, but arguable bits of history point otherwise, and some continue to insist on his Hakka ancestry.  
The cheers from the civilian Russians show that to Russia, there was no doubt of victory in the war. They called the Japanese “yellow monkeys”, and believed that Japan was too weak to dare to attack. They thought the Russian army had the absolute advantage and winning was just a matter of time.

[Photo story] Russo-Japanese War: A war fought on Chinese soil and its hard lessons

The Russo-Japanese War was in fact not fought in either Russia or Japan, but in China. It was the culmination of a fierce rivalry between a Eurasian power and an Asian country that showed it could hold its own against a much bigger opponent. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao takes us through a painful period in history that saw many Chinese lives taken.
A stall selling Hokkien fried noodles in the 1950s, Singapore. The Chinese in Singapore were mainly emigrants from the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China, and their food reflects the characteristics of their hometown. But fried Hokkien noodles is a dish unique to Singapore.

[Picture story] How Chinese food made its way all over the world

Chinese cuisine is far from the sweet and sour pork or fortune cookies found in the Chinatowns of the West. From the familiar flavours of Cantonese cuisine to the spicy notes in Sichuan fare and the clean flavours of Jiangsu cuisine, every taste has a place in the rich tapestry of China’s food heritage. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces how the Chinese and their food — complete with an entire culture — travelled in history beyond Asia into the wider world.
The Dalai Lama (second from right) and Panchen Lama (second from left) with Mao Zedong, accompanied by Premier Zhou Enlai (first from left) and CCP vice chairman Liu Shaoqi during the Chinese New Year period, 23 February 1955.

[Photo story] Chinese central government and the Dalai Lama: 1950–1956

From the signing of the 17-point agreement, or in full, the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, to the inaugural meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet held at Lhasa Hall, Tibet’s first auditorium, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao offers a glimpse of Tibetan history during the early 1950s.
The Military Assistance Advisory Group training KMT troops to use automatic rifles provided by the US, 1951. After the Korean War broke out, the US government sent an advisory group to Taiwan to strengthen its military.

The Taiwan Strait Crises of the 1950s and the evolution of Sino-US relations [Photo story]

What was behind the web of complicated relations between the US, the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing in the 1950s? What impacts do these complex relationships and interlinked issues have on the present? Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao gives a pictorial overview of the situation.
In 1951, the volunteer army surrounded and attacked the US army's 1st and 7th infantry divisions. As it was barely one year since the CCP established the PRC, it did not yet have its own defence weapons industry. The troops were using mainly Soviet-made weapons, arms left behind by the Japanese, and US weapons seized from the KMT army. The volunteers in the photo are using Czech-made ZB-26 light machine guns, which were relatively rare among the volunteers due to the lack of matching bullets.

[Photo story] The Korean War: The first large-scale war between China and the US

China and the US fought their first major war against each other during the Korean War. China's ill-equipped volunteer troops suffered huge losses, sacrificing eight lives for every one lost on the US side. Nonetheless, China showed great determination and resilience during the war. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao delves deep into the images and facts of the Korean War, and reflects on how it has shaped modern international geopolitics.