Fireworks

Lead: Brought from China by Italian traders over five centuries ago, fireworks are enticing, spectacular, complex and especially dangerous. We love them.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Sometime in the ninth century of the Common Era, Chinese alchemists combined the enriching powers of potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, with charcoal and sulfur. Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, said the resulting wizardry revolutionized the world. Lacking a true gun, however, the Chinese could make little more use of gunpowder in warfare than fire lances and war rockets. Therefore, they used it primarily for entertainment. Not so the Europeans. When they got hold of gunpowder, the cannon soon became a vital component of continental militarism. The social and political landscape of Western Europe and then the world was changed.  

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Confucius II

Lead: After his death in 479 B.C.E., as they scattered throughout China, the disciples of Confucius spread his conversations and teachings recorded in the years soon after his lifetime.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: What we know of Confucius, the brilliant Chinese teacher and scholar, does not come from his own writings but from those his followers and is known as the Analects of Confucius. This is considered perhaps the most influential work on eastern thought and philosophy today. Since parts of the Analects were recorded close to his lifetime, this is considered the most authentic record of the teachings of Confucius. Some recorded traditions about Confucius appeared centuries after his lifetime and are considered mythological.

 

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Confucius I

Lead: Over two and one half millennia, Confucius, China’s most influential thinker, has helped shaped the conversation and behavior of the Chinese on how to reform their society.

 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: “Kongfuzi,” know by the Latin version of his name – Confucius, was born about 551 BCE in what is now Shandong Province in the Yellow River Valley in eastern China. Young Confucius had a passion for learning and though he may have studied with one or more noted teachers, he was mostly self-taught.

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Hong Kong I

Lead: Seeking a trading base on the coast of China, Britain used military and diplomatic muscle to acquire what was considered, at the time, a relatively useless island at the mouth of the Pearl River.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: European trade with China reached back to the adventures of the Polo brothers in the 12th century. After the publication of Marco Polo’s Le Devisiment du Monde, Europe’s fascination with all things Asian was insatiable. No fashionable London mansion, Parisian palace, or Milanese villa would be complete without Chinese porcelain or decorative art. Imported Asian spices became an essential part of the western European diet and Chinese silk an irresistible feature of clothing for even the lower classes. It was the huge popularity of oriental tea, however, that drew the great powers of Europe into direct intervention in the affairs of China and its neighbors.

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Hong Kong II

Lead: In the early 1840s, to protect its merchants and their trading interests, Great Britain was seeking a trading base on the east coast of China. Captain Charles Elliot was in charge of the search.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the mid-1900s China, from ancient time the superior civilization in Asia, regarded all foreigners as barbarians. Concessions by Qing Dynasty of Emperors permitted European trade but only through the City of Guangzhou (or Canton). Foreign merchants had to stay in small enclosures called factories erected on the outside of the City. The British had been trying to secure diplomatic relations and a liberalized trade policy, but the Chinese rejected such overtures because this would have reflected equality. Dispute over the import of opium, however, gave the British the opportunity they needed. The Opium Wars demonstrated western military superiority and forced China to deal.

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Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi I

Lead: Powerful, cunning and ruthless, Tzu-Hsi, Empress Dowager of China, effectively ruled the for five decades.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1852, at the age of seventeen, the young beauty Tzu-Hsi was conscripted from the lower middle ranks of Manchu society to become one of the concubines at court of the Emperor Hsien-Feng. Behind the walls of the Forbidden City she began to learn the arts of intrigue. There in sequestered luxury Chinese emperors lived among a vast retinue of submissive officials, eunuchs, concubines and servants. Tzu-His learned well. Through sheer force of character and cunning this ingenious woman became one of the most powerful women in the history of China.

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Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi II

Lead: Always reluctant to surrender power, Tzu-Hsi, Empress Dowager of China, the mother of Emperor Kuang-Hsu, in 1898 led a palace coup to defeat attempts at reform and modernization.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1852 Tzu-Hsi, a delivered his only son to the emperor of China. At the old man’s death in 1861 the widow assumed control of the nation as regent. When her son died 15 years later, quite possibly by her order, she installed her nephew as emperor and continued to rule behind the scenes. This was a ruthless and intimidating woman who had under her spell the young emperor his court who lived behind the walls of the Forbidden City that secret royal enclave in heart of Beijing.

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