14 July 2011
The Opium War Set to Reopen Debate
Julia Lovell’s New Book to Launch at the Hong Kong Book Fair
14 July 2011 – The Opium War of 1839 to 1842 is being given a fresh viewing in a new book by British writer Julia Lovell. Titled The Opium War, the new account will be launched at the HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair, which runs 20-26 July.
“If you look at the reality of the war, pragmatism was a very important force in governments and interaction between the Chinese and the British,” said Ms Lovell, who teaches modern Chinese history at Birkbeck College, University of London. “So it wasn’t a clear-cut story of innocent Chinese on the one hand, and the British invaders on the other.”
Ms Lovell’s comments were made in a 4 July video interview available on the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) webcast service at http://www.youtube.com/hktdc.
“But even if you look at the time, what’s going on during the time of the war itself, the Chinese are supplying the British, they are navigating for the British, they are spying for the British, for a fee of course, so there is an extraordinary pragmatism,” she said. “They don’t necessarily feel the loyalty to the idea of the Chinese imperial centre or the emperor or anything else, they will go with where the smart money is. And the British couldn’t have won the war without this assistance.”
Ms Lovell said she has always wanted to go back to this episode in history, “and see whether things really were as black and white as the Chinese textbooks seem to say it was. What I wanted to try to do with this book is try to tell a tale of the Opium War which looked from both the Chinese and British perspectives.”
Other British authors featured as part of the Book Fair include notable United Kingdom novelist and publisher Nicholas Coleridge, food writer Tom Parker Bowles, historian and broadcaster David Starkey, and controversial critic and essayist AA Gill.
UK poet Wendy Cope and author Justin Hill, who lives in Hong Kong, will also speak at the fair. Other notable authors taking part include Americans Ridley Pearson and Karl Taro Greenfeld, India’s Tabish Khair and Hong Kong’s own Xu Xi.
Organised by the HKTDC, the Hong Kong Book Fair celebrates its 22nd edition this year. The July fair will feature nearly 300 cultural events under the theme “Reading the World, Reading as Self-discovery.”
HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair – http://hkbookfair.hktdc.com/en/
HKTDC Webcast – http://www.hktdc.com/info/webcast/v/en/en/1X04B0EM
Please contact the HKTDC's Corporate Communication Department:
Tel: (852) 2584 4341
About the HKTDC
A statutory body established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers. With more than 40 global offices, including 11 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and on the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com