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Qingdao: Enchanting city with an intriguing history

By Ryan Carroll Usher | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-20 08:36
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Tsingtao Brewery.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Like many people living in China, my ability to travel over the past few years has been extremely limited due to the pandemic. So, when I was afforded a spontaneous opportunity to travel to Qingdao, Shandong province, for a weekend, I couldn't refuse!

Upon arriving in the city, my first priority was to try some of Qingdao's famous seafood. This led me to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where a succulent meal of freshly caught fish, crab, octopus and oysters awaited me. More important than the food, however, this was my first experience with the locals of Qingdao, who, as a whole, are some of the kindest people I have ever met. The residents of Qingdao have a welcoming and magnanimous energy that complements the relaxing aesthetic of the seaside city. Although there were some language barriers between us, there was no shortage of smiles, laughs and cheers of ganbei! Hugs were exchanged as I left the restaurant, heading for my first "tourist destination": Tsingtao Brewery.

Walking into the brewery, I was excited to see how one of my favorite beers was made firsthand. What I wasn't expecting, however, was for the tour to include such an in-depth history of the brewery that delved into how it's not only inexorably linked to the history of Qingdao, but the history of China in the 20th century.

I learned of how Qingdao had been occupied by both the Germans and the Japanese throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, how the Germans built Tsingtao Brewery and how they then lost the city to the English and the Japanese during World War I. The latter promptly occupied the city for themselves. I learned of the refusal of Western nations to relinquish ownership of the city, as well as its surrounding area, back to China after World War I ended, which led to the May Fourth Movement — a movement that filled many young Chinese students with a fervor and passion for their nation that would inspire them to later become leaders of the burgeoning Communist Party of China. It was astounding for me to think that the little green can of beer that I had previously viewed only as a refreshment represented an important catalyst in China's political history.

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