Notes from a Small Island
Sanya, Hainan, China

This article is going to start by talking about one set of Hainan pioneers and then segue seamlessly into talking about a different set of Hainan pioneers. See if you can spot the join.

OK, so what’s Hainan’s second most famous export after Hainan Chicken Rice?

No, no points if you said ‘sunburn’.

The answer is… the 100+ women of the Special Company of the 2nd Independent Division of the Chinese Red Army.

Red Detachment of WomenThat’s right. During the years 1966-76, these feisty Hainan locals, known to posterity as The Red Detachment of Women, were pretty much the only show in town. Their story, made first into a novel, then a ballet, then a film, then a Beijing opera, then a film remake, was one of only eight model performances allowed in China during the decade. That means they were bigger than Big S and Little S put together. (Read more…)