History

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 elite 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.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and US ambassador to China Patrick J. Hurley (back row) in an American army jeep.

[Photo story] The Dixie Mission during WWII: First contact between the US and the CCP

The Dixie Mission was a short-lived but important effort by the US to work with the CCP during World War II. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces this initiative, as well as the beginnings and rise of the CCP.
26 December 1944, India-Burma border — Members of the Chinese Expeditionary Force stationed in India are boarding the American M4A4 tanks, known as M4 Sherman, to push into northern Burma to support the offensives of the US-China Joint Forces. The Allied forces prioritised the recapture of Burma as a key ground operation in the Far East.

75th anniversary of the end of WWII: Ashes to glory in the China-Burma-India Theatre

As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recounts the events in the Pacific theatre, noting that Chinese troops who were part of the Allied forces also played a significant role in the China-Burma-India Theatre.
A boat arriving in Singapore with coolies, circa 1900. The coolies step out of the hold and stand on deck for a photograph taken by the German boat owner. This is a rare and valuable image because there are generally no photographs of early Chinese coolies. Coloured using modern image-processing technology, the photograph takes us right back to that boat deck a century ago, giving us a hint of how these coolies must have looked and felt upon arriving at their destination.

An album of rare photos: From Chinese coolies to Singaporeans

From the 19th century to the 1920s and 1930s, ships transporting hundreds of Chinese coolies ready to work hard and make their "fortune" in Nanyang often docked at Kallang River. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recently obtained an album with rare photographs of such a ship bringing coolies from Xiamen in Fujian, China, to Singapore in the early 20th century. They are an authentic visual record of Chinese coolies in Singapore a century ago and a powerful throwback to that period.
Tan Kah Kee (L) and Aw Boon Haw made major contributions to China's resistance efforts during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Tan Kah Kee, Aw Boon Haw and the Second Sino-Japanese War [Photo story]

When Japan attacked China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia made contributions to China’s war efforts. Among the most prominent community leaders were Tan Kah Kee and Aw Boon Haw, who corralled donations and made separate visits to Chongqing. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao takes us back to that period and shows us the atrocities of war and the indomitable human spirit reflected in old photos.
Chinese and American air force pilots talk, after a mission against the Japanese, March 1943. Both sides forged a deep friendship from fighting against the Japanese.

Soong Mei-ling and the flying tigers: When China and the US fought shoulder to shoulder

No one would deny that the US and China are not the best of friends at the moment. But there was a time ⁠— and not so long ago at that ⁠— when these two countries came together in goodwill and support. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao brings us back to the WWII period, when this seemingly improbable state of affairs was a reality.
Can the Covid-19 pandemic let us rethink how we treat foreigners, and whether and how our attitude toward foreigners reflects our character and our values as a person, a community, or a nation? A look at the attitude toward foreigners in an earlier time may give us some perspective on our current situation. This is an old map of Asia created by Willem Bleau and published in Amsterdam, ca. 1650. (iStock)

Us and them: Lessons from ancient China about demonising 'enemies'

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the notion of ethnic groups and accentuated the distinction between "us" and "them". What was it like in ancient China? How did the Chinese people look at the world around them and were the "outsiders" friends or enemies? While admitting that human society does not always act in its best interest, historian Prof Poo reminds us to differentiate between rhetoric and reality, to value good neighbourliness, and to be aware that groups are vulnerable to political manipulation.
In 1904, The Judge magazine ran this cartoon titled The New Square-Deal Deck, with Theodore Roosevelt saying, "Come, now, gentlemen; it is time to throw aside that worn-out deck and try one which will give both of you a square deal." The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was repeatedly extended, sparking anger from the Chinese government and overseas Chinese. In the picture, a Chinese and Uncle Sam take turns to play their political cards, neither side willing to give in.

[Photo story] China-US relations in the late 19th century: Is history repeating itself?

Were China-US relations always as they are now? Or was there something that changed the situation? Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao presents powerful images from US magazines in the late 19th century, which depict sinophobia in US society and difficulties in China-US relations more than a century ago. Are these images proof that history repeats itself?