China Beat Archive



Paul French

Date of this Version


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June 2, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright June 2, 2009 Paul French. Used by permission.


Five foreign correspondents of the past I never tired of reading while doing my research for this book:

1) JOP Bland – the man who (about 1906) complained there were too many books on China being written and then promptly wrote about half a dozen himself (can’t not feel a kindred spirit there).

2) BL Putnam Weale – who decided mocking the pompous was not enough and dedicated his life to getting involved in one warlord intrigue after another until he got himself butchered and assassinated in Tianjin in some dodgy deal.

3) Aleko Lilius – who came to China with no other ambition than to find the most ruthless, cutthroat and down and dirty pirates of the South China Seas and hang out with them, did and wrote some great reports and a book about it

4) Edna Lee Booker – the first “girl reporter” on the China Press who famously disregarded the advice of the old China Hands and got the first interview ever given to a woman by the Old Marshal Zhang Zuolin, at the time China’s most feared Warlord before doing it again securing an interview with Wu “Jade Marshal” Peifu.

5) Peter Fleming – for the sheer gall of writing a book called One’s Companywhen he was never alone and went everywhere immaculately attired and for creating the image in his books of travelling light while always carrying with him a typewriter, a box of books, a gramophone, multiple bottles of brandy and his essential supplies of potted grouse and Stilton from Fortnum and Mason.