September 30, 2022



4 min read

RYAN BYRNE WRITES – Lately, the rhetoric between China and the US has grown extra intense. A commerce battle, infinite diplomatic wrangling over the South China Sea and conflicts with Taiwan have helped make China a degree of political curiosity for increasingly People. As the eye on China heats up, many have lamented that press protection of China within the West (particularly in the US) is commonly inconsistent. Some argue that People lack an understanding of Chinese language historical past.

As host of the China Historical past Podcast, Laszlo Montgomery is attempting to vary that: “I used to be watching loads of C-Span and I might simply comment […] senators, congressmen […] don’t know something about China. They might simply say essentially the most uninformed issues.”

For Montgomery, a 63-year-old graduate of the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this was the impetus of his now 12-year-old podcast.

“It was simply meant to be, not a deep dive, only a form of a comic book guide model of Chinese language historical past for those that didn’t have PhDs or school levels,” Montgomery stated. “It’s simply so laborious to get your palms round it. So, I attempted to make it as easy and simple as doable.”

Although he sat for this interview in entrance of a large bookshelf stuffed with works about China, has spoken at universities, been written up in main newspapers and magazines, and had his work highlighted by suppose tanks, Montgomery isn’t a historical past professor. “You understand I’m not trying to bore anyone by simply being one other tutorial spewing out Chinese language historical past,” he stated in an interview with AMI.

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The truth is, Montgomery has been a businessman for years. After working for a cargo airline in Los Angeles, he moved throughout the Pacific within the late Eighties. “I discovered a job with a producer in Hong Kong, who had factories in China,” he stated. “For thirty-five years I labored in manufacturing, gross sales and advertising principally because the Westerner contained in the Chinese language firm who would take care of growing markets in the US, Europe and Australia.”

But the fervour for China began lengthy earlier than his profession took him abroad: “It simply grabbed maintain of me from such a younger age […] it simply was one thing that simply wowed me from my earliest occasions.”

Since 2010, he has continued to discover that keenness for China within the type of his podcast. Whereas he stated that, though in later episodes he has gone extra in-depth with Chinese language historical past, he tries to take care of his authentic ethos: “It’s only a nice historical past, it’s an amazing tradition, and there’s one thing in it for everyone.”

Certainly, his podcast has coated a variety of matters, from the Taiping Rebel to the Nanjing Bloodbath to lesser-known matters corresponding to an episode devoted to Olive Yang or the Chinese language Labour Corps. Montgomery stated that, in sharing his ardour for China with others, he has tried to take care of neutrality. For instance, he stated that in masking the historical past of Xinjiang (a area in China with a large Uyghur inhabitants the place the Chinese language authorities has been accused of oppressing the ethnic minority, “I by no means would throw in these little snarky asides and supply my little opinions or feedback.”


Requested why he thinks studying Chinese language historical past is essential as we speak, the podcast host stated that “it could be essential for us People to study as a lot as we might about China, in order that it could mood our opinions and permit us to present extra knowledgeable statements about the place we stand […] I’m not saying ‘love them’; find out about them, and that’s actually what the China Historical past Podcast is all about.”

Montgomery, who simply retired from his work in manufacturing a yr in the past, stated that producing the podcast has been an “infinite cycle” of weeks studying books, tutorial articles and on-line sources earlier than growing and recording. Despite the in depth effort and time he places into making each episode, he says it’s his work with the podcast that “offers me the best quantity of enjoyment […] It’s simply opened doorways everywhere in the world. It’s simply the best factor on the planet to me. I simply so get pleasure from this neighborhood that I’ve created.”

With tons of of hours of content material produced already, the China fanatic isn’t trying to decelerate anytime quickly. “I’ll most likely do that until the day I die,” he stated.


Ryan Byrne is a contributor to Asia Media Worldwide.

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