Sine magazine

Sine Articles by John Chinnery

By Website Editor

Dr John Chinnery, the SCA's Honorary President, died on 12 October 2010. He was a founding member of the Scotland-China Association and its chairman for many years, and was head of the Department of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh from 1965 to 1989.

As well as his many academic publications, Dr Chinnery was a regular contributor to Sine.As part of the commemoration of his life that will take place at the Association's 2011 AGM, we have collected together his eighteen articles from Sine, dating from 1973 to 2009. We appreciate the assistance of Elsie Collier, Dale Finlayson and the National Library of Scotland in gathering these materials, many of which have not seen the light of day for some years.These articles are now available in PDF format (and one weblink) by clicking on the article titles below.

Reading these articles as a collection, what is quite striking is the sheer variety of topics that Dr Chinnery covered. Whether he was analysing the role of Confucius in Chinese culture, making incisive comment on Chinese politics, giving an entertaining explanation of the mysteries of Chinese names, or advocating a greater emphasis on Chinese teaching in Scotland, the writing is clear, well-researched, and sensitive.

He had, of course, a great love for China. Recounting his positive experience in a Guangzhou hospital after a heart attack at the beginning of an SCA visit in 1973, he notes, “for a patient with an unpleasant illness the most important thing is human contact, and of that there was never any lack”. His careful analysis of the events of June 1989 observed that there had been a "yearning for social justice", and he regretted that the Chinese leadership had lost its "youthful vigour". In his most recent article, on Daniel Defoe's writing on China in the The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, he effectively >demolishes Defoe's poor depiction of eighteenth-century China.

Dr Chinnery had a particular interest in Confucius, and there are two articles on this topic in the collection. In 1974, during a period when the writings of the ancient sage were being officially vilified in China, he wrote, “the image of Confucius will never be the same again”. Some forty years later, he was surely amused to see how the modern Chinese state used Confucius as its "brand" for international cultural activity !

The second constant theme in his articles is wholehearted involvement in the work of the SCA itself, whether on its tours to China, the hosting of delegations in Scotland, or promoting Chinese culture here.>He notes, for example, that 5,000 people visited various exhibitions in Edinburgh during a 'China Week' in 1987 - we would be pleased by that turnout now. Dr Chinnery's contribution to the Scotland-China Association over nearly fifty years was immense, and we hope that by publicising these articles to a new and wider audience, his knowledge will inspire another generation of members and friends.

The articles are listed below, all in Sine unless otherwise stated:

'Coronary in Canton', Spring 1973

'Trade Unions Re-emphasised', Volume 2, No. 3, 1974

'Confucianism in Modern China', Volume 3, No. 1, 1974

'Chinese Graphic Art', Volume 3, No. 3, 1975

'New Policies for a New Period', October 1978 (the magazine was known as the Bulletin at this time)

'Visit of the Xi'an Municipal Delegation', No. 1, 1985

'Edinburgh China Week', No. 1, 1987

'An Overview of the SCA's 1987 Friendship Delegation Tour', January 1988

'The Teaching of Chinese in Scotland', January 1989

'Some Observations on the Crisis in China', September 1989

'A Note on the Early History of the SCA', November 1996

'Confucius and Modernisation', Spring 1997

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the PRC', November 1999

'What's in a (Chinese) Name?', October 2000

'Lu Xun's Childhood, Part 1', October 2002

'Lu Xun's Childhood, Part 2', February 2003

'Forty Years of the Scotland-China Association, Part 1', October 2006

'Robinson Crusoe in China', January 2009

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