2012 Events

2012 Events

The Meridian Society Christmas Lunch and Talk

As we enter into the Christmas season once again, we are holding a Christmas lunch with a talk by Prof. Patricia Laurence, a distinguished scholar in English literature (with a special interest in the Bloomsbury writers and Chinese literature) from City University, New York. She will give a pre-lunch talk “Bloomsbury and the Crescent Moon: A 1930s tale of Chinese & English literary romance”.

Our venue will be Hunan General’s Mansion Restaurant (湘军府) near the British Museum.This is a very pleasant restaurant serving Hunanese and other Chinese dishes.


Time: 12:00, Saturday, 15th December
Venue: Hunan General’s Mansion Restaurant (湘军府), 31 Bloomsbury Way, WC1A 2SA (Nearest Tube Station: Holborn/Tottenham Court Road)

Menu: Chilli Fish香辣鱼, Dry Pot Hand-torn Chicken干锅手撕鸡, Sweetcorn with Pine Nuts松子玉米, Sizzling Squid铁板鱿鱼 , Fried Aubergine and Runner Beans茄子豆角, Fried Cabbage with Red Chilli手撕包菜, Fried Pork with Chilli辣椒炒肉, Fillet Steak with Black Bean & Pepper豉椒牛柳, and Rib Soup排骨汤. Rice and fresh fruit will be served.


Talk by Dr Mary Tiffen preceded by book launch 赫德爵士的朋友们

51Sir Robert Hart, Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Customs, 1863-1908 had a hectic career in the service of the declining Qing dynasty. It ruined his family life, but his friendship with three generations of Carrall women partially relieved his loneliness. A cannon ball just missed Emma in 1854, allowing her to meet Hart in 1858 and to ask for a Customs post for her son, Jim Carrall. Jim and his wife Frances survived a horrific French attack on Fuzhou in 1884 and their daughters visited Hart in Peking just before the Boxer rebellion of 1900. Letters, diaries, and over seventy photographs bring nineteenth-century expatriate China vividly to life.
Date: Wednesday, 7th November
Book Launch: 6pm-6.30pm, Arthur Probsthain Bookshop
Talk: 7pm-9pm, Room G3, SOAS, University of London, Russell Square

Arthur Probsthain Bookshop
41 Great Russell Street
London WC1B
(opposite British Museum)

Room G3, SOAS, Univerisity of London
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

Entry: Free, plus book discount, for members of Meridian Society, SOAS CSSA and SACU; £5 donation for non-members

Dr Mary Tiffen read history at Cambridge University, but after a Ph.D at the London School of Economics, made her main career in examining the social and economic aspects of agricultural change in Africa and the Middle East. She is best known as the leader of a team examining change in Machakos District, Kenya, 1930 to 1990. Now in retirement, she has been examining her own family background, and found a fascinating story of her connection over three maternal generations with an outstanding Ulster man who was head of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs from 1863 to 1908.

THE SCRAMBLE FOR CHINA a talk by Professor Robert Bickers preceded by book launch

Date: Thursday, 13th Septemberb
Time: 7.00-8.30 pm
Venue: To be confirmed
Entry: Members of The Meridian Society and SACU free, Non-members £5 donation

Registration:  themeridiansociety@gmail.com

Robert Bickers obtained his PhD at SOAS, University of London. He is Professor of History at Bristol University. His publications include Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai; Britain in China: Community and Colonialism, 1900-49; Picturing China, 1870-1950: Photographs from Bristol Collections; The Boxers, China and the World ed. with R.G Tiedermann)

His latest book, The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914, covers the period of upheaval in China’s modern history, when European powers invaded and controlled Chinese territory, pioneered by merchants, traders, missionaries, East India Company officials, military adventurers and finally gunboat naval officers and seamen. This was the quest to open up China to foreign trade, prising open a free market against the restraints and restrictions of the Qing Dynasty Manchu rulers. The tool was opium imports in exchange for tea, silk and other Chinese luxuries and the method was war, starting with the first Opium War of 1839-1842.

This talk will be preceded by book launch at Arthur Probsthain Bookshop
Time: 6.00 – 6.30 pm.
Venue:  41 Great Russell Street, London WC1B






Date: 17th July
Time: 6pm
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.



These documentary films look at the “aftershock” of 2008 Beijing Olympics, on what Beijing has gained and lost.

Xie Jingjing (Christina), Film Curator of Chinese Visual Festival, will be introducing these films at the event.

Alert in Beijing 北京的警惕
Hu Tingting/ 2008/10min

With a population of more than 17 million in Beijing, security during the Olympics was of prime importance. There were over 80,000 volunteers assisting in maintaining security and order during the games, scattered over the vast city.

Life Carries On 平静的生活
Zhou Houheng/2008/10min

On 8th August, 2008, the Beijing Olympics started with the grandest Opening Ceremony. Under the Bell Tower, Grandpa Han taught Taichi as he did every day, his life not much different from the time before the Olympics. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, tourists from both within China and overseas all crowded in under the Bell tower.

Bachelor Mountain 光棍
Yu Guangyi/2011/100 min

In the forest of Heilongjiang Province, in the far north of China, timber supplies have dwindled after a century of logging and most of the local men have lost their livelihoods. Meanwhile, the allure of better jobs in nearby cities has led to an outflow of local women, resulting in a “bachelor mountain” populated by legions of lonely, impoverished, single men.

Living in a world of extreme loneliness, San Liangzi, a forty-six year old unemployed logger who lost his job and wife twelve years ago, has grown used to talking to himself. He has been secretly in love with Meizi ,the only single woman in the village for over ten years, and doing unpaid chores for her has brought him the most pleasure in his life. He enjoys the illusion of love,which gives him warmth in such a tough environment and enables his soul to escape the harshness of reality. But his girl will never accept his love because she doesn’t like men….

Xie Jingjing, Film Curator of Chinese Visual Festival
Xie Jingjing graduated with a MA degree in English Literature from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. Before moving to London in 2009, she worked as the Screening Programmer for the only national Chinese documentary festival, Guangzhou International Documentary Festival, for four years. In 2008, she programmed over 110 films to be screened in 5 major commercial cinemas for the festival and it was the largest documentary screening event in China so far. She was the film curator and project manager of the 1st London Chinese Visual Festival. Her successful film programme in the 1st CVF has attracted interests among various institutes and was invited to programme for the BFI’s 2012 Chinese New Year documentary session. She was recently invited as a guest speaker for a Chinese documentary screening at a recent Chinese theme event in London, China Inside Out, organi sed by English Pen.



Date: 30th May 2012 (Wednesday)1
Time: 7.00 – 8.30 pm
Venue: 41 Great Russell Street, London WC1B (Opposite British Museum)

Jonathan Fenby is the author of Chiang Kai-shek and the China he Lost (2005), the Penguin History of Modern China – 1850-2009 (2009) amongst other books. He was a former editor of The Observer and South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.



The Meridian Society and The Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding Joint Event


An illustrated lecture by Dr Li Ruru on Modern Chinese Theatre, and a calligraphy demonstration by Mr Kam Sang Law of the Chinese Dragon and its symbolism and significance in Chinese Culture.

The Meridian Society, together with The Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU), are pleased to organise a lecture on Modern Chinese Theatre by Dr Li Ruru, an expert in the performance of Beijing Opera.

Dr Li Ruru will be talking on the playwright Cao Yu and the significance of his works in the development of modern Chinese literature. Cao Yu was the great pioneer of modern Chinese drama, author of the famous play, Thunderstorm, 1933.

This joint-event will be held on Saturday 28th April.

The lecture will be followed by a demonstration on Chinese Calligraphy by Kam Sang Law. Law will demonstrate how the character, ‘dragon’ is written in different styles and he will bring along objects which have the dragon as motif.

Programme of the Day:

Lecture by Dr Li Ruru

Lunch (with viewing of video clips on Chinese drama)

Calligraphy Demonstration by Kam Sang Law

Promotion of the Meridian Society tour, ‘In the Steps of the Long March’ (October 2012) and SACU/Meridian tour, ‘In the Footsteps of Joseph Needham’ scheduled for 2013.

Dr Li Ruru

Dr Li Ruru is a senior lecturer at Leeds University (where she obtained her PhD degree) and is the step-daughter of Cao Yu, the pioneer of modern Chinese drama. Cao Yu was the author of the famous play, ‘Thunderstorm’ in 1933. Dr Li published a book in 2010 entitled, ‘The Soul of Beijing Opera: Theatrical Creativity in the Changing World.’ She recently organised an exhibition of Cao Yu’s work in cities around the UK and at SOAS.

Kam Sang Law

Kam Sang Law has been practising calligraphy for 27 years. He studied under renowned masters and has developed his own style. His work has been selected for many prestigious exhibitions in Hong Kong, where he was Vice President of the Jiazi Society of Calligraphy.

Date: 28 April 2012 (Saturday)

Time: 12:15pm

Venue: National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8DP


Michael Freeman. Tea Horse Road: China’s ancient trade road to Tibet.


Join Michael Freeman on Tuesday, 13th March, for an illustrated talk with images of dramatic landscapes and amazing journey of the Tea Horse Road, China’s ancient trade road to Tibet.

One of the longest and most dramatic trade routes of the ancient world, the Tea Horse Road carried a crucial exchange for 15 centuries between China and Tibet. China needed war horses to protect its northern borders, and Tibet could supply them. When the Tibetans discovered tea in the 7th century, it became a staple of their diet, but its origins are in southwest China, and they had to trade for it.

Michael Freeman, author and photographer of many books on Southeast Asia’s ancient culture and peoples, spent two years compiling this visual record of dramatic landscapes, from the tea mountains of southern Yunnan and Sichuan to Tibet and beyond.


Sun Shuyun. The Long March

Date: 28th February 2012 (Tuesday)4
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Talk: 6.30pm – 8pm
Venue: Camden Chinese Community Center, 9 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SN.

This is a free event, but please book places.
With free Chinese tea from 6pm

Shuyun has written about the founding myth of modern China, the testing march for survival of the Communist armies during the mid-1930s. Brought up and inspired by the stories of heroism, suffering and sacrifice, she retraced the route of the trek from the southern mountains of Jinggangshan to the arid hills of Yan’an in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, which became the Communist base during the war against Japanese occupation.

Sun Shuyun has penetratingly and critically explored the myths and stories of this epic historical episode, and interviewed many of the local people and veterans of those experiences, revealing many aspects which paint a more realistic and complicated picture than the officially promoted version of history.

This talk will provide a vivid background for those who are interested in following in the footsteps of the Long March with the next Meridian Society tour, and for all others more generally interested.

Sun Shuyun is the author of several other exploratory books on ancient and modern China: A Year in Tibet, and Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud, which recounts the historical tale of the journey of the Chinese Buddhist monk, Xuanzang, who travelled to India and back to bring the Buddhist sutras to China during the 7th Century. Sun Shuyun herself travelled to these places to experience life in Tibet and to explore the territories along the Buddhist sutra road




Lunch & Film 午餐 电影

Saturday 4th February, 2012, marks the Year of the Dragon, one of the most potent symbols of Chinese culture, and The Meridian Society will be celebrating this in a fittingly reverential manner. We will begin our festivities with a sumptuous lunch consisting of 7 dishes + soup + rice + tea + fruit at New Loon Fung Restaurant, followed by a screening of the blockbuster epic ‘Confucius’ directed by Hu Mei and starring Hong Kong screen giant Chow Yun Fat at BFI Southbank (see introduction to film below).

Synopsis of ‘ Confucius ‘
“Confucius”by Hu Mei
China; 125 mins, 4 Feb 14:10 NFT2

Set at the end of the Spring and Autumn Period, when civil war and social upheaval were violently bringing an end to the feudal system of the Zhou Dynasty, Hu Mei’s biopic dramatises the life and belief of the legendary Chinese sage and shows the often difficult conversion of idea into action. Starring Hong Kong icon Chow Yun Fat, it features exquisitely colour-coded set design and costumes, impressive wide-screen spectacle and superb battle sequences


Details of venues:

Venue for lunch: New Loon Fung Restaurant, 42-44 Gerrard Street, London W1D 5QG
Venue for film show: BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT