Jinan and Qufu notes

by on May 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm in History, Travels, Uncategorized | Permalink

Jinan is the second largest city in Shandong province, and a good place to see “normal China”; it is much more in the “concrete and motorbikes” mode than is Qingdao.

Qufu is the birthplace of Confucius, and a longstanding home of the Chinese nobility and Chinese scholars, with monument-building visits by various emperors.  Reputedly the town is full of fine-featured individuals with very exact patterns of speech.  In any case downtown is pleasant to walk and shop in, and has relatively few environmental problems.


The tomb of Confucius was my favorite site.  There is a continuity of civilization (if not regime) for over 2500 years, and visiting the tomb drives this point home.  Even the Cultural Revolution did not much damage this area of homage, in part because of loyalty to Confucius, itself a form of Confucian behavior.

Many of the flowers on the tomb were left by the national television station, perhaps as advertising and also signaling loyalty to Confucian ideals.

But that is not China’s oldest heritage, far from it:

This research reveals a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in which broomcorn millet, barley, Job’s tears, and tubers were fermented together. To our knowledge, our data provide the earliest direct evidence of in situ beer production in China, showing that an advanced beer-brewing technique was established around 5,000 y ago.

One local functionary said to me: “We think Trump will win.  You always surprise us — he is the next surprise.”

1 BenK May 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Since the noodles were only 4000 years old…

2 prior_test2 May 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm

‘One local functionary said to me: “We think Trump will win. You always surprise us — he is the next surprise.”’

With a big South China Sea pay-off for the Chinese, one assumes. Putin is not the only one on the world stage looking forward to dealing with President Trump.

3 Bob May 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Republican administrations are better for China, especially Republican foreign policy realists that Trump has been flirting with. Whereas neocon and Democratic foreign policy, both realist and liberal interventionist, is generally worse for and more antagonistic towards China.

4 msgkings May 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Not sure China is a big fan of Trump’s ‘positions’ on trading with them.

5 Taeyoung May 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm

the Cultural Revolution did not much damage this area of homage

Didn’t they dig up the graves of Confucius’s descendants and hang them from trees? I suppose compared to other monuments and graves, they were not much desecrated by the savage activism of those politically engaged young people, but I don’t think they escaped entirely.

I do want to see Qufu before I die, though.

6 Axa May 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm

The last sentence is perfect for the Turing test =)

7 Daniel Weber May 25, 2016 at 8:09 pm

To see if a wonderful post about China will get taken over by American politics?

8 mulp May 25, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I was struck by the near 1500 years the Hagia Sophia has stood, for a thousand years it was the world’s largest dome and tallest building. But it isn’t the oldest building still in continuous use, but we in the West have blind spots in tallying up such things in the East so I can’t readily name them.

Still, the equivalent to the Hagia Sophia is the Superdome, that after 30 years many called for it to be torn down. Instead it was refurbished and only needs to be maintained for another 1430 years to equal the current record of iconic super dome.

So, will the fossil fuel powered economy last 1500 years, or 2500 years? Will the current model of fossil fuel economy last 150 years?

9 Hong G. May 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm

One can readily understand TC’s respect for Confucian ideals given he comes from Virginia where a Governor under a cloud is hurling abuse at his investigators: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/281198-mcauliffe-challenges-leak-doj-should-be-held-to-higher-standard and his scandal-plagued colleagues at the university continue to scurry to hide their efforts to criminalize critical thought: http://www.breitbart.com/environment/2016/05/15/sons-climategate-dodgy-scientists-caught-red-handed-foia-lawsuit/

10 Jamie_NYC May 25, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Re. ‘beer’: why is that concoction that they brewed considered beer? If they had meadows in which kids were chasing each other, does that mean they had discovered golf 2,500 years ago?

11 John May 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

It was due ot the importation of barley for the mash that was used from what I can tell. Perhasp the heemical analysis showed it as a significant input and not merely an additive element.

12 JonFraz May 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Every Internet source I pulled up claims that writing in China dates back only to the Shang dynasty– maybe around 1500BC max. That is a bit short of “500 years ago”.

13 Troll me May 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm

It is somewhat of an article of faith in China that Chinese civilization is 5000 years old. I imagine it’s not an empty view. Perhaps you should look to the Chinese sources on the matter? I suspect they might know their own history better (certain details from the modern age excepted perhaps, but even then, they probably know more than they let on.)

14 Daniel Weber May 25, 2016 at 8:18 pm

The Xia go back further, but there are no written records. As I understand it we’re lucky to even have the Oracle Bones from the Shang.

Looking at the research paper, we don’t have a 4500 year old recipe; what we have is archaeological evidence that lets us reconstruct what we guess was the recipe 4500 years ago. (If it was really written down they buried the lede because they have something rivaling the Sumerians.)

15 JonFraz May 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Civilization no where popped up over night. Everywhere it appeared, civilization was a gradual process beginning with the adoption of agriculture and animal husbandry. However I was mentioning Chinese writing specifically, and that is dated to no farther back than ~1500BC.

But on the larger topic while China is longest-lived continuing civilization, it was the youngest of the Old World “Cradle” civilizations: Egypt, Sumeria and India (Indus Valley) were all older.

16 John May 26, 2016 at 11:09 am

Might be a diftinction between an ethnic/linguinist identy and an unified country/polity

17 dearieme May 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Eight years or so ago a Chinese quizzed me on who would become US pres. “Oh, probably Obama.” “But he’s black!”

I suspected he wouldn’t understand if I replied “But not very.”

18 Troll me May 25, 2016 at 6:16 pm

True-ish. But most Americans regard a little bit black as just as black as anyone, no?

19 Anon May 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm

What’s the equivalent for Trump ? Crazy ? “But not very”?

20 Troll me May 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Very nice park. I especially like that it’s not over-manicured like a lot of Chinese parks. And HUGE. Lots of peaceful places, or at least there used to be.

21 Chip May 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Might be more people sleeping in that park soon.

“Apple and Samsung supplier Foxconn has reportedly replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots. One factory has “reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots”, a government official told the South China Morning Post. Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, added: “More companies are likely to follow suit.”

22 Chip May 25, 2016 at 7:45 pm


“Since September 2014, 505 factories across Dongguan, in the Guangdong province, have invested 4.2bn yuan (£430m) in robots, aiming to replace thousands of workers.”

Almost a billion dollars in Dongguan in 18 months to automate production. Wow.

Who, I wonder, will navigate the transition from widespread human labor to machines with the least chaos – China or the US.

23 John Hawkins May 25, 2016 at 8:40 pm

On my visit to rural China, I was also amazed at the cultural continuity, only to realize that many of the temples I was visiting had been burned down in the cultural revolution, and then were rebuilt by the communist party for novelty’s sake and tourist attraction. With upheavaling 180s like that, I’m not sure what I believe is real over there anymore.

24 Jonathan May 25, 2016 at 8:56 pm

One thing worth noting is that many, many of the temples and other historic sites that were burned down or looted during the cultural revolution had, in fact, been burned down or destroyed, and then rebuilt many times before. Not that that makes wanton destruction any more reasonable (it doesn’t), but it does give some perspective.

25 dux.ie May 25, 2016 at 9:13 pm

For some unknown reason, Mossack Fonseca has a office in Jinan,


“Mossack Fonseca’s offices in China include the major financial centres of Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as port cities Qingdao and Dalian, but also lesser-known provincial capitals such as Shandong’s Jinan, known for its links to China’s coal industry, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang, along with Ningbo, also in the eastern province.”

Interestingly none in Beijing.

Now TC is serially going to 2/7 of them, what is going on?? Surely he’ll go to Shanghai, making it 3/7?

26 Mc May 25, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Thanks for posting the pic, a very humble depiction, of a fount of wisdom, in perpetuity.

27 Bruce M. May 27, 2016 at 6:43 am

I had the opposite take of Jinan vs. Qufu. In the last few years Jinan has made enormous progress in restoring the natural spring parks in the city centre, and there are some amazing clean open spaces even close the the shopping malls and tower blocks and with a modern living feel rather than merely restored museum pieces. I went to Qufu (naively) expecting a scholarly Oxford or Cambridge sort of city, but found it to be equally dominated by industry and concrete as anywhere else until reaching the preserved old parts that were more like visiting a preserved tourist attraction.

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