Jun 10

For All the Tea in China, by Sarah Rose ★★★
Sarah Rose provides a most interesting story of the adventures of a Mr. Robert Fortune of the British East India Company in China during the 1840’s and 1850’s, stealing prized tea plants from China and exporting them to the Himalayas, under the immediate control of Great Britain, to permit them to compete with China in the tea industry. Also taken was the technology for growing and processing the tea leaves into great tea. It is a most fascinating story that is not often told. Fortune had several very unfortunate attempts, in part from bungling up the tea plants and leaves in the process of shipping them to the Himalayas, as well as incompetence and ineptitude on the part of arrogant British horticulturists, even when told by Chinese coolies what they were doing wrong with the plants.  Sarah’s writing style attempts a mix of pure historical reporting and historical fiction, leaving one certain that the tales of Fortune’s adventures were probably just approximately recounted in this book. Sarah maintains a heavy pro-British bent in her reporting, going very light on the evils of the British empire in their dealings with China (such as with the Opium Wars), as well as the Indians. This poor historical accounting even goes to British competitors in the west. When she speaks of the development of porcelain in the west to compete with fine “china” from China, she drools over Wedgewood and British porcelain manufactors, she blindly forgets the role of the Germans (especially the town of Meissen) in re-discovering and developing the European porcelain industry). A perfect example her Western blindness can be quoted from near the end of the book…
” By the time the Chinese realized that Fortune had stolen an inestimable treasure from them [the Chinese], it was many years too late to remediate their loss. His theft helped spread tea to a wider world at lower prices. He democratized a luxury, and the world has been enjoying it ever since”
That quote sounds warm and fuzzy except for a few glaring details. Now that China is reportedly “stealing” technology from the West, I suppose that they can use the same justification, since they are simply spreading Western technology at a much lower price. It is hard for me to have a sympathetic ear toward the west when they rail on China being an aggressive competitor in the markets. We are simply getting our own medicine back on us 150 years later. Most of the world has a better memory than Amerikans.

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One Response to “For All the Tea in China”

  1. Onkel Dennis says:

    “It is hard for me to have a sympathetic ear toward the west when they rail on China being an aggressive competitor in the markets.”
    In the recent news this kind of history has been repeating itself.
    The Malaysian flight that “disappeared” to the south Indian Ocean island that was recently captured and made into a US military base, Diego Garcia, had on it 20 Chinese engineers who work(ed?) for Freescale Semiconductor, a company that was part of the break-up of Motorola. Freescale has a patent that is of great importance and his held by 4 of these Chinese engineers and also by Blackstone, a company of the Rothschild empire. With the four Chinese out of the picture, this leaves Blackstone holding the patent. Did the Rothschilds of Britain once again schnoozle the Chinese out of technology?
    And how is it known (outside the lamestream media) that the plane landed at DG? The plane was spotted flying at low altitude over the Maldive Islands. One of the people on-board, an Intel employee, shoved an iPhone up his backside. Later, he sent a message accompanying a black video picture that had no video content but contained the other info accompanying a videophone picture including GPS coordinates. And the coordinates indicate that the location was DG. Furthermore, every Rolls Royce engine and every Boeing airplane have telemetry transmitters that send airplane and engine data to the two respective companies. They both would know where the airplane is. The black-box search is a shenanigan, chicanery. The plane never crashed into the ocean.

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