2010 Events

2010 Events


Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City
Talk & Exhibition


Date: Saturday 18th December 2010
Venue: Victoria and Albert Museum
Cost: £22 for Meridian Society and SACU members/£25 non-members

In The Meridian Society is organising a special visit to the above exhibition, which is being held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. We are combining this visit with a Chinese meal afterwards in Chinatown, so the occasion will be both cultural and social. We know that diaries are full at this time of year but we hope you can join us to ‘ round-off ‘ another successful year on a festive note.

The exhibition shows three centuries of beautiful and historic royal robes worn by the emperors and empresses of the Qing Dynasty. On display will be the elaborate robes, hats, shoes and children’s clothes from the imperial court. These are significant historical artefacts which are being shown in Europe for the first time, so they should be of interest to all and not just to those interested in the history of fashion.

We are very privileged to be offered a talk on the exhibition by the curator which is exclusive to our group.


10.45 a.m. : meet in entrance foyer of V+A
11.00 – 12 a.m. : viewing of exhibition
12-12.30 p.m. : talk
[make way to Chinatown]
1.30 p.m. : meal in restaurant

Details of and directions to venues

1. Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7
020 7942 2000

Travel: the nearest tube stations are South Kensington or Knightsbridge. Buses: C1, 14, 414 and 74

2. Loon Tao Restaurant, 31 Gerrard Street, London W1
020 7287 2669

Travel: The nearest tube station is Leicester Square. The restaurant is the first one past the stone lions in Gerrard Street walking towards Wardour Street on the left. (We should be travelling as a group from the V+A so these directions are for those who want to split-off).

To enable us to make the necessary arrangements could you register your interest in attending a.s.a.p. by e-mailing us at: themeridiansociety@gmail.com

Please follow this up by completing the attached form and sending it together with the appropriate remittance (full instructions are given on the form). This should reach us by no later than 13th December 2010.

Remembering Yang Xianyi (Jan.1915-Nov.2009)

yang montage

Saturday, 20th November 2010, 2pm to 4pm.

In the Khalili Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh St. next to Russell Square, London WC1B 3PE (nearest tube station: Russell Square; see attached map).

On the first anniversary of Yang Xianyi’s death, the Meridian Society, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association of SOAS and the Royal Asiatic Society jointly invite you to participate in a celebration of his life.

Yang Xianyi is one China’s outstanding literary figures of the past century. Prolific translator, scholar, historian, revolutionary, poet, bon vivant, humourist, brave and independent-minded thinker, Yang Xianyi was an Anglophile and perfect gentleman.

Born in feudal times, he lived through Mao’s many revolutions, finally coming to rest in the bosom of his family in the heart of Beijing. A cross-cultural symbol both in China and the West, Xianyi was born in Tianjin, the only son of the President of the Bank of China. He enjoyed a privileged childhood, was educated at Oxford, became a fervent communist, and with his beloved English wife, Gladys, lived through all the excitement and hardships of 20th century China. In family life, pioneering literary work at the Foreign Languages Press, even years in prison, they shared everything until Gladys died, exactly ten years before him.

We will be inviting friends to speak about their memories and personal impressions of Xianyi, showing a short film, displaying the Yangs’ books and translations and there will be readings from his poetry and memoirs. Mainly we would like you to come and remember him with us.

We hope this meeting will be a moving and memorable memorial to him, not just for friends and family, but even those of you who know nothing about the Yangs. You will be enriched by learning about this most extraordinary man.

Attendance to the meeting is FREE.

RSVP themeridiansociety@gmail.com

Please note that a programme of the event will be sent to you by email in advance if you book places.

Read Obituary in the Guardian


Read Obituary in the Independent


The Meridian Society Annual Lecture 2010

We are delighted to be joining forces with the Royal Institute of Brititsh Architects to invite Prof Ruan Yisan, Director of the National Research Centre for Historic Cities, Tongji University, to deliver the society’s annual lecture this year.

The talk will be followed by a wine and nibbles reception, during which time there will be a chance to view the exhibition “Urban Heritage Conservation in China” by the Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation.

Meridian Society/SACU members £5.50; non-members £8.50

All Meridian/SACU members must book through the RIBA website – they cannot book through us. The process is as follows:

Follow the weblink: http://www.architecture.com/WhatsOn/Talks/Events/2010/Autumn/ShanghaiImpossibleCity.aspx

Go into Register now

(Note: This does not oblige you to become a member of RIBA)

Complete personal details, including security question and answer

You will be given a password via the email account you have entered

Once you have your password, follow the same link as above and click on Guest login

Login with your email address and password; this will take you into the Talks page

Tick “Shanghai: Impossible City” and click on Book at bottom of page

This will eventually lead you to a page with payment details. If you are a Meridian Society/SACU member, please tick this and indicate the number of tickets you need.

You can pay with a credit card or debit card.



Synopsis of talk

Shanghai is a city of opposites – East and West , new and old , traditional and avant-garde. Can this international metropolis, with a burgeoning population of 20 million and a surging economy, conceivably balance the demands of development and growth with a respect for the city’s historic identity and a sustainable approach to its heritage buildings and sites? This challenge has created controversy and conflict and continues to throw up new challenges for the city’s architects, urban planners and policy-makers.

Professor Ruan Yisan is an eminent urban planner who for 30 years has been intimately involved in these issues. He is Director of the National Research Centre of Historic Cities at Tongji University in Shanghai and Chair of the Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation.

Note this event will have simultaneous translation.



Mid Autumn Festival Dinner-Debate

Speaker for the motion: Lord Donald Hankey
Lord Donald Hankey is founder of GHK, a consultancy of architects, planners, engineers, economists and sociologists, specialising in public policy, international development, institutional strengthening and project management. A specialist in cultural heritage and its significance, Lord Hankey works in many continents and frequently in China, where he is currently advising for the World Bank on the restoration of Confucius’ and Mencius’ hometowns of Qufu and Zoucheng and their national and World Heritage Sites. He is also President of the International Council on Monuments & Sites UK.

Speaker against the motion: Chung-Min Pang
Chung-Min Pang originally trained as a civil engineer and worked on buildings and ports before moving onto economics and international development. He has extensive experience of developing countries, especially China, where he was involved in rural development and economic reform at the Ministry of Agriculture. He subsequently joined the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank, where he undertook projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Central Europe, including the financing of large infrastructure projects. He served as a member of the UNIDO Task Force on BOT Projects and was co-author of UNIDO BOT Guidelines.

If you wish to put yourself forward as a seconder, please email us mentioning whether you wish to speak for or against the motion.

Meridian Society and SACU Members: £20
Non-members: £25

RSVP to themeridiansociety@gmail.com to reserve your place by Monday 6th September, 2010, and send your cheque made out to “The Meridian Society”, c/o Arthur Probsthain Bookshop, 41 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3PE.”

If you prefer to make a direct bank transfer, please email us and we will supply details of our bank account.



Please note: The Annual General Meeting (AGM) applies to Members of The Meridian Society ONLY

The 2010 AGM of The Meridian Society will take place as follows:

Date: Saturday 15th May 2010
Time: 11.30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Venue: Room B102, Brunei Gallery, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies),
University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
(Brunei Gallery is opposite the main building of SOAS.)


  1. Minutes of the last AGM 30th January 2009
  2. Chairperson’s report
  3. Ordinary Business
    1. To receive the  Annual Accounts and the Reports of the Directors and Auditors for the year ended 31st December 2009
    2.  Retirement of Directors of the Board
    3. Re-election/election of Directors of the Board
    4. (Re)election of Honorary Auditor
    5. Election of Office Bearers
  4. Any other business

James Candler
Committee Secretary
14th April 2010


The nearest tube stations are Russell Square (Piccadilly Line) and Goodge Street (Northern Line). Alternatively, buses 7, 15, 68 and 168 go to Russell Square.

Copies of the Directors’ Report and Annual Accounts 2009 can be obtained from the Administrator at: themeridiansociety@gmail.com.

We are holding our AGM at the same time as our affiliated society SACU (Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding) is holding theirs. We have, therefore, arranged a talk and film-show to follow the AGM. We can also arrange for a lunch-box to be provided. These events are separate and are elective. If you wish to attend only the AGM then please feel free to do so. Whichever the case, we hope you will come along and take part in the governance of the society, meet the directors and fellow members, and perhaps enjoy the events we have arranged after the AGM.

You are welcome to bring friends to The Meridian Society & SACU Joint Event as it is open to all.


The Meridian Society & SACU Joint Event

Date:  Saturday 15th May, 2010
Time:   13:00 – 17:00
Venue:  Room G3, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies),
University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG


13:00   Lunch (choice of a variety of lunchboxes, see booking form below)
14:00   Talk on ‘The Art of the Abacus‘ by Dr Zhang Qing and demonstration
15:00   Tea break
15:30   Film Home Sweet Home – After the Quake (donations will be collected for the earthquake appeal)
16:30   Pre-tour talk Conservation of Old Shanghai and the Water-towns of South-east China

These events are separate and elective.

Enjoy a variety of Chinese, English tea and Chinese biscuits during the lunch time and tea break time.

Entrance fee only (without Lunch):
Meridian Society Members and SACU Members Free; Non-members £5.00
Entrance fee with Lunch box:
Meridian Society Members and SACU Members £7.00; Non-members £12.00


‘THE ART OF THE ABACUS’ – Talk by Dr Zhang Qing

1The talk will include a brief history of the origins of the abacus, how it is used and how it compares with the calculator/computer in recent times.

Dr Zhang Qing is a businesswoman with a doctorate in Economics.  Her experience with the abacus spans more than 20 years, during which time she has worked for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Beijing. The abacus was the instrument used in all the Bank’s financial calculations.  Dr Zhang took part in many abacus competitions in China and won a number of prizes in Beijing.  She has been teaching the abacus at various levels over the past ten years and, as a member of the Abacus Association, has trained students and professional staff for commercial companies, banks and offices.


1This is a story of a rural family in Pingqiao in northern Sichuan Province, who try to rebuild their lives after the disastrous earthquake of May 2008 decimated their village.  Heart-wrenching, honest and at times humorous, it looks at the conflict that emerges between Grandma Liu, who insists on the family home being rebuilt on the original site in honour of their ancestors, her son Li who feels that living near the main road will bring greater opportunities for work and her daughter-in-law Xiong who, as head of the village production brigade, must try to keep everyone satisfied.  Filmed over a period of several months by an army film crew, this documentary was aired last year on BBC World to great acclaim.  Peng Wenlan, Chair of The Meridian Society, will be introducing the film.

A suggested donation of £5 per person for the Sichuan Earthquake Appeal will be collected for the film and proceeds will be forwarded to the British Red Cross.

Transport: The nearest tube stations are Russell Square and Goodge Street. For more options please go to: http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=e

Chinese Calligraphy

Date: Friday 2nd July 2010
Time: 6.30pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Room FG08, SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
The Meridian Society is hosting a talk on Chinese Calligraphy on Friday 2nd July 2010. The talk will be delivered by Mr Kam Sang Law. In the talk Mr Law will be introducing the characteristics of the main Chinese calligraphy scripts, with special mention of the’ Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection’, which is regarded as the most important examples of the running script in Chinese calligraphic history. The Orchid Pavilion (Lanting) is featured on our forthcoming tour of China, so this will be of particular interest to intending participants.


The Orchid Pavilion is located at the foot of Zhushan Mountain 13 km southwest to the ancient city of Shaoxing. In the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Wang Xizhi organized at the pavilion a historically famous gathering of scholars, where he improvised Preface to the Orchid Pavilion, which is a masterpiece in terms of both literary grace and calligraphic writing. Ever since then, the Orchid Pavilion has become a place known far and wide, a Mecca for generations of calligraphers and the literati. Currently on each March 3th of the lunar calendar, a calligraphy festival is held here, which is a grand meeting for modern Chinese calligraphy.
Mr Kam Sang Law has been practising Chinese calligraphy for over 27 years. He studied this art form with renowned masters and has developed his own distinctive style. Before retiring to England from his job as a senior civil servant he was Vice-President of the Jiazi Society of Calligraphy in Hong Kong and his calligraphy has been selected for many prestigious exhibitions in Hong Kong. He now teaches Chinese calligraphy, as well as Tai Chi.

Please email us at themeridiansociety@gmail.com to reserve your seat.

TMS/SACU Member: free; Non-member: £5 contribution at the door

Transport: The nearest tube stations are Russell Square and Goodge Street. For more options please go to: http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=e