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This article examines sources for the import of Japanese goods into China in order to discuss Sino-Japanese trade in Suzhou in the eighteenth century and how people in Suzhou consumed Japanese commodities. The ways that Suzhou residents consumed these commodities were influenced not only by the quality of Japanese goods but also by the ruling culture of the Qing dynasty. With the increase of population during the Ming and Qing dynasties, China began to import copper from Japan in order to mint coins. After the mid-eighteenth century, copper imports were outpaced by ocean products from Japan. Analysis of cook books from southern regions of China during the Qing dynasty shows that ocean products, soy sauce, miso, and wines had changed dining habits in China. Japanese wares, already favored by Ming literati, came in wider use during the Qing dynasty. They were commonly found in kitchens and bedchambers; commonly used imports included lacquer tea tables, tea plates, lacquer cabinets, and wash tables. During the Ming dynasty, it was the literati who determined what was fashionable; with the advent of the Qing dynasty, the role of fashion leader shifted to the royal family. The taste of the emperors deeply influenced that of commoners. The kinds of vessels produced by the Suzhou Production Bureau, as well as the gifts chosen by officials for the emperors, all reveal the tastes of the royal family. The dining ware popular during the Qing dynasty shows how ordinary people imitated their superiors. As for the emperors themselves, the Qianlong Emperor usually gave orders to the artisans that, when imitating Western style artifacts, they should somehow eliminate the “western-ness” of those artifacts and make a clear distinction between Chinese and Western. Japanese artifacts, however, suffered from no such limitations and were much favored by the Qianlong Emperor. During his reign, foreign lacquer (yangqi) was not only a name of a particular product but also representated Japanese-style lacquerware in general. The influence of Manchu culture can also be seen in how people of Suzhou adapted to the winter season. Furs were commonly found in Suzhou markets during cold periods; people also used heating equipment imported from Japan. In sum, this article shows how the diet, daily utensils, and social customs changed with the import of Japanese commodities. The gradual assimilation of Japanese goods shows how Qing royal culture influenced common citizens and how citizens imitated this royal culture.
Mutual aid between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and North Korea in the wake of World War II, especially the proposed Asian Communist Intelligence Bureau, formed the foundation of the Sino-Korean alliance. With Joseph Stalin’s support, Kim Il-sung launched war against South Korea in 1950. In response, Mao Zedong decided to postpone the signing of the Sino-Korean alliance treaty. In order to end the war as soon as possible, Mao was anxious to dispatch Chinese troops to Korea. Kim was ambivalent and even rejected Mao’s initial offer with the acquiescence of Moscow. Mao, however, was determined to fight the Americans regardless of whether the Soviets agreed. After China entered the war, Stalin sided with Mao on all major strategic issues, which made Kim feel slighted and alienated. After the end of the war, Kim went to considerable lengths to stress North Korea’s independence and began to purge his opponents within the Korean Workers’ Party. The CCP strongly disagreed with Kim’s handling of the Yan-an faction, and this threatened to destroy their alliance. Mao, however, needed North Korea due to the increasing Sino-Soviet divergence following the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. He thus took a conciliatory stance toward Kim and even initiated the proposal to withdraw the Chinese troops from North Korea. Sino-North Korean relations thus improved, and the two parties signed a bilateral treaty in 1961. This article concludes that the Sino-North Korean relationship was far from the alliance of “teeth and lips” portrayed in the propaganda of the day, but an unstable, conflict-ridden political marriage of convenience.
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