Celebrity knows no borders, so the Australian visitor to Xi’an, capital of China’s north-western province of Shaanxi, shouldn’t be too surprised to come across images of compatriots like Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman and Nicole ‘Face of Chanel’ Kidman adorning the city’s retail centre. But if they look around in Xi’an’s museums and historical displays, they may be intrigued to find photographs of a less famous compatriot, W.H. Donald (1875–1946), the subject of Craig Collie’s biography. With a nose large enough to amply justify the Chinese stereotype of the big-beaked foreigner, Donald looms up beside Chinese political figures of the 1930s like Zhang Xueliang, the warlord known as the ‘Young Marshal’, and Soong Mei-ling, wife of Nationalist dictator Chiang Kai-shek.
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