Canton. The idea is romantic, and unavoidably one of Orientalism. Still, I lived there on and off for a few years, known now as Guangzhou. Whatever centre of the world Canton once inhabited, it has long been overshadowed in China by Beijing and Shanghai to the north, and that city of internationalism and projected fantasies to the south, Hong Kong. It is a city with a history though, and a very long one. I feel an affection to that place I called home, and hoard what I might find on its history, as however much it might be inside China, it has always been the outward-looking southern barbarian.
The Opium War. Drugs, piracy, smuggling, empires and colonialism in Canton from the 17th Century till the communist dictatorship. That’s enough, no?