The Soong Dynasty
Dear Ladies of the Club:
My dears, I find the Soong dynasty simply charming! The Soong Dynasty is not to be confused with the imperial Sung Dynasty of 960 to 1279. The Soong dynasty was not imperial in the sense that China was ruled by emperors, but in the sense that as Madame Sun Yat Sen claimed: “the Soongs were made for China, not China for the Soongs.”Who were the Soongs and from whence did they come—how did they become so powerful—not just in China, but in the West, particularly in the United States. The tale is part truth and part myth.
Shanghai (means by the sea) is the setting for this story. In the l800s it was a village on the Whangpoo River near the estuary of the Yangtze River. Location was important even then since the site of this village was on a very flat plain allowing a commanding view of the river traffic deep into the interior. Up to this point foreigners were allowed to trade only at the port of Canton. Great Britain had been trading with China through the British East India Company since the late 1700s,and the imbalance of trade was growing at a great rate—more tea and silk exported from China and fewer British manufactured goods to China; therefore, the outlay of silver was of great concern to the Crown. What to do? The British thought that if they could only open up more ports to their goods the trade balance would improve. They thought that opium was the way to do this. The primary source then of opium was India and the Middle East and controlled by the British East India Company. Dr. William Jardine (Jardine-Matheson) and opium merchant purchased raw opium from India for a very small sum and resold it to the Chinese through Hong Kong for very large sums. As tea consumption rose in England, opium traffic had to increase accordingly. Since the Manchu regime had banned opium trading, British ships off loaded the opium in Macao (Portuguese) for distribution until they could bribe the officials...