Using the tennis star for political point scoring obscures her background
Emma Raducanu’s Twitter bio lists four cities: “london | toronto | shenyang | bucharest”. Those, respectively, are where she grew up, where she was born, where her mother came from and where her father came from.
From a British perspective, we obviously all know about London. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is also pretty familiar. Bucharest, the Romanian capital, is probably less so — but at least most of us have heard of it.
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But how many of us could honestly say the same about Shenyang? Certainly, we ought to have heard of it. For a start, it’s huge — with a population of five to nine million depending on where you draw the city limits. If it were in Europe or North America, it would be world famous. But like so many other Chinese cities, it is all but unknown in the West.
Or perhaps should I say forgotten. Shenyang is one of the most significant locations of the first half of the 20th century. In fact, it should be right up there with Sarajevo, Verdun and Stalingrad as a turning point in the course of world history — and in Shenyang’s case, not once, but twice.
Shenyang is better known to western historians as Mukden (the city’s name in the Manchu language). In 1905, the Battle of Mukden took place between the Russians and Japanese, who were vying for control of Manchuria. At the time this was literally the most explosive battle there had ever been — a warning of what was to come during the First World War.
The outcome was a Japanese victory, which was an almighty shock not just for the tottering Tsarist Empire, but to all the nations of Europe. Their superiority over other parts of the world could no longer be arrogantly assumed.
Perhaps of even greater significance was the Mukden Incident of 1931 — a false flag operation that provided the Japanese Empire with a pretext for its invasion and occupation of China, starting with Manchuria.
It can be argued that this was the real start of the Second World War. Indeed, after the war, China was given the honour of being the first country to sign the United Nations charter — out of recognition of having been the first to be attacked.
Hopefully, those taking so much interest in Raducanu’s family heritage will take the trouble not just to make facile political points, but also actually learn something about the places in question.