Why do Suicides in China get so much attention in the U.S. Media?

July 1, 2015

USA Today reported in May 2015: Desperate Chinese turn to mass suicide in protest. USA Today said, “For some in China, suicide is the ultimate form of protest.” In addition, The World of Chinese Magazine alleged that China has one of the highest suicide rates per capita in the world.

How can that be when the World Health Organization lists China’s suicides for both sexes at 7.8 per 100,000 — ranked #94 compared to 170 countries?  That means there were 93 countries with higher suicide rates, and the United States was one of them at #50.

Guyana was #1 with 44.2 suicides per 100,000, but USA Today didn’t run a story on that country. If they did, I didn’t find it through Google, but Google had no problem finding the one USA Today did on China.

To be fair, USA Today did report in 2014: 40,000 suicides annually, yet America simply shrugs, and said, “Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. Homicides have fallen by half since 1991, but the U.S. suicide rate keeps climbing.”

What about comparing China to several other Western democracies?

  • France was ranked #47
  • Germany was #77
  • United Kingdom was #105
  • Canada was #70
  • Australia was # 63

What are the reasons why five out of six (including the U.S.) of these Western democracies had higher rates of suicide than China — too much freedom maybe? (Note: I didn’t check all the democracies on the list to see how many had lower or higher rates of suicide than China.)

I know of one Chinese man’s suicide first hand and an attempted suicide by a Japanese woman, and both took place in California.

When our daughter was nine, we were hiking along trails in the hills near our Southern California home. She rushed ahead of us on the winding path until we lost sight of her.

Then she ran back saying she saw a man hanging from a tree and he looked dead. My friend Neil and I hurried to the hanging tree. While Neil climbed into the tree to see if the man was alive, I called 911.

When the police arrived, they searched the dead man’s wallet and called his mother’s house. It turns out that he was an architect from Taiwan. We discovered that his Taiwanese company had gone bankrupt, and he saw himself as a failure. He was about age 40.

The second incident I read about in the Los Angeles Times a few years back was about a Japanese woman who had taken her young children to the end of Santa Monica pier and leaped into the ocean with them. Surfers managed to save her but all of her young children died.

Her reason for attempting suicide was that her husband, a Japanese executive working in the US, had an affair. When the Japanese wife discovered her husband was cheating on her, she thought she had failed as a wife, and the only way to erase the shame was to kill herself and her children.

Since she was a Japanese citizen, Japan requested that she be returned to Japan. The reason given was due to cultural differences.

And last but not least, Americans have also used suicide as a form of protest against their own government. For instance, in 1998, The New York Times reported that the I.R.S. settled a widow’s lawsuit over the suicide of her husband. “A woman who accused the Internal Revenue Service of driving her husband to suicide said today that the agency had agreed to settle her $1 million lawsuit by eliminating her tax debt of more than $400,000 and letting her keep her home.”

The man’s wife, a librarian, said, “”When they decided to take everything I had (after her husband killed himself), I decided to fight back against the most feared and loathsome agency in the United States.”

And in 2010, Daily Finance.com reported that “8% of those surveyed (in the United States) said they would be willing to commit suicide “as an aggressive form of protest” in order to be heard by Congress about their student loan plight.”

Why do you think the U.S. media pays so much attention to suicides in China while ignoring so many other great suicide stories in other countries like the U.S.?

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Return of Technological Innovation to China

June 30, 2015

Last year, a friend from China who works in China’s investment banking industry in Shanghai came for a visit. She earned her MBA in the UK, and speaks fluent English. While in California, she decided to see how efficient America’s Amazon.com was compared to China’s Alibaba, and when it took more than a week for the average order to arrive from Amazon, she declared Alibaba the winner, because when she ordered a product in Shanghai through Alibaba in the morning, it was delivered to her front door that same afternoon and without the use of drones.

The rest of this post is mostly about Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, which is located in Beijing’s Haidian District and was first developed in the late 1990s.

Here are a few pictures of the concrete, glass and steel canyons of Zhongguancun taken by Steve Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon.

Recently I have read several times on Blogs and in Op-Ed pieces in the Western media that China doesn’t have a chance to match California’s Silicon Valley, because China lacks freedom.

This is simplistic and flawed thinking.

The Chinese have every economic freedom that many Americans have and the few that they don’t have are not economic in nature—for instance, freedom of religion and limited political expression. It isn’t as if these few limits to freedom are a secret since they are part of China’s Constitution, which is taught in the public schools. In China, the people are free to follow five officially sanctioned religions: Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam. In comparison the U.S. has about 313 religions and denominations to choose from.

Other than that, since money and freedom are linked, the growing Chinese middle class has as much freedom to live the same consumer lifestyle as many Americans do, but in the United States poverty is on the rise and with poverty comes less freedom unless you include hunger and being homeless as an example of freedom.

For instance, in 1985, the poverty rate in the U.S was 14% (33.3 million of 237.9 million people), and today (2015) Stanford.edu reports that the mean poverty rate in the U.S. is 15.13% (48.5 million of 321 million people). How does that compare to China? In 1985, the poverty headcount rate in China was 30.7% (317 million of 1 billion people).  Today, the CIA reports it’s 6.1% (about 79.3 million of 1.3 billion people).

In addition, if democracy is so precious, why do so many Americans not vote? A 2010 survey by the California Voter Foundation found that 51 percent of nonvoters (in the U.S.) grew up in families that did not often discuss political issues and candidates. Does that mean in the U.S., we are also free to give our freedom away?

Where is the evidence that total freedom of religion and/or political expression is necessary for entrepreneurial innovation? Good luck, because you won’t find that evidence, but in the next few paragraphs you will find evidence that shows that total freedom of religious choice and political expression are not necessary to prosper and innovate.

“Shenzhen has never hidden its ambition to be China’s answer to Silicon Valley. Last year (2014), the city saw more than 64 billion yuan (HK$80.46 billion) invested in research and development, accounting for 4 per cent of GDP, only matched by South Korea and Israel.” – South China Morning Post


This 2008 video takes us to a lab in Tsinghua University in Beijing where students are discussing solar technology.

Ye Yuming, an award-winning student at Tsinghua University said, “China lags behind other countries in the solar power industry. The solar PV will help us improve and break the monopoly held by foreign businesses. The solar PV has great market potential, especially in China. The market size is huge.”

What Ye Yuming said in 2008 was true, but two years later, China became the world’s largest solar power manufacturer.

Bloomberg Business reports, “Along with the new companies, China is also experiencing a surge in technological innovation. The country had more than 660,000 effective invention patents last year, up 12 percent from a year earlier …”

And The Wall Street Journal says, “Increasingly, China’s own technology companies are challenging market leaders and setting trends in telecommunications, mobile devices and online services.”

In conclusion, British scientist, historian and sinologist Joseph Needham proved with his Science and Civilisation in China Series that China led the world in technological innovations for about 1,500 years until the 16th century. Then the West led the world in innovation. Is that about to change again?

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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A STARTLING two-point-three percent

June 24, 2015

If we counted the number of students who cheated in college, what number would be more shocking—2.3% or 70%?

Well, according to the Institute of International Education, 274,439 students from China attended school in the United States in 2013-14, and the report went on: “A startling number of Chinese students are getting kicked out of American colleges. According to a white paper published by WholeRen, a Pittsburgh-based consultancy, an estimated 8,000 students from China were expelled (2.9% of the total) from universities and colleges across the United States in 2013-4. The vast majority of these students—80 percent of 8,000 equals 6.400 (2.3%)—were removed due to cheating or failing their classes.

My first impression while reading the report was that it made the Chinese students look horrible—until I stopped to think and asked what those numbers really meant, and I discovered that alleging that a “startling number of Chinese students are getting kicked out of American colleges” is an exaggeration in the best tradition of Yellow Journalism.

What I found most disturbing with this inflammatory and biased report is that there is no comparison with the total number of college students. To discover that comparison, I turned to Google and found my first source at Forbes.com that said, “The vast majority of students don’t graduate on time. … In fact, most students don’t graduate at all. For new first-time, full-time students in the class of 2009 at four-year institutions, only 39% completed a degree in four years. 58% completed a degree within six years. At two-year colleges, 31% of the 2008 cohort graduated within three years of starting. At two-year public colleges, which educate the greatest share of students, this number was only 20%.”

My next quest was to discover how many Chinese students dropped out of college to return to China, and I found one answer from the International Business Times where Michelle FlorCruz wrote, “One in four Chinese students drop out of Ivy Universities and return home for jobs.” If that 25% is startling, what do we call the 61% of Americans who didn’t finish in four years, the 41% who didn’t finish in six years or the 69% to 80% that drop out of a two year college? Clearly, more Chinese stay  in college to graduate than American students, and that is really startling, but in a good way. Before I go on, consider that English is a second language for all of the Chinese students.

At Open Education Database (OEDb.org), I discovered that “60.8% of polled college students admitted to cheating.” In addition, “This lines up closely with a questionnaire sent out to Rutgers students as well, to which 68% of students confessed that they had broken the university’s explicit anti-cheating rules. And the number only seems to swell as the years progress, with freshmen the most likely to fudge their way through class.” And “85% of them think cheating is essential. Even college students that don’t cheat still think it a valuable strategy to scoring the best grades, internships, scholarships and awards possible.”

In a sample of 1,800 students at nine state universities: – caveon.com Test Security

70% of the students admitted to cheating on exams

84% admitted to cheating on written assignments

52% had copied a few sentences from a website w/o citing the source

Before I finish, one last thought. There’s another number the U.S. media recklessly throws around without a proper explanation—the ratio of college graduates compared to other countries.

For instance, we will probably never hear in the media that the United States graduates more students from college than any country on the planet, and I’m not talking about ratios/percentages. I’m talking about total numbers. The U.S. doesn’t have the highest ratio of college graduates (what the media reports to make the U.S. look bad), but the U.S. does have the most college graduates.

There is a reason for that. The U.S. has the 3rd largest population on the planet at 316+ million. Only China and India have more people, and if we look at the total number of college graduates age 25 to 34, the U.S. has about 17.6 million in that age bracket (actually a lot closer to 100 million if we include ages 25 to 65).

It’s true that Ireland, for instance, has a slightly higher ratio of college graduates (43.9% to 43% for the U.S.) in the same age bracket, but Ireland only has a total population of 4.8 million people, and about a half million are college graduates ages 25 to 34 or 2.8% of the total number of college graduates in the U.S.

If we look at the few countries that graduate higher ratios of college students than the U.S., there is no way  any of them will have more college graduates.

For instance, Japan graduates 53.7% of ages 25 to 34, but Japan’s total population is only 126.8 million or 40% of the United States. The same goes for Russia with 146.7 million people or less than half the population of the U.S.

It’s even worse for South Korea with only 50.4 million people, or Canada with only 35.5 million people .

In conclusion, why is that 2.3% is more shocking to the U.S. media than the total number of cheaters—is it because they are Chinese?

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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How love is changing China one couple at a time

June 23, 2015

Five years ago Kellie Schmitt wrote,Love & Other Catastrophes: Conquering China’s young-love taboo, and she blew up the Western stereotype of the Chinese.

In fact, at the time Schmitt was a Shanghai-based writer whose work had appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist’s Business China, Marie Claire, World Hum, Afar Magazine, and Backpacker. I haven’t read all of her work, but this piece was worth sharing.

If you want to learn about China, you would have to travel to China often or live there as an expatriate as Schmitt did. Marrying into a Chinese family like I did also works.

While living in China, Schmitt moonlighted as a restaurant reviewer for City Weekend Shanghai. She went falcon hunting in Yunnan, drank fermented mare’s milk in a Mongolian yurt, and attended a mail-order bride’s wedding and donned qipaos with Shanghai’s senior citizens.

 
Another example of being young in urban China. The world this generation knows is not the world their parents grew up in.

Instead of playing it safe and staying primarily in modern China around other foreigners and expatriates as many do, Schmitt “tasted” what being Chinese really means, and she wrote often of China from Shanghai’s lesbian sub-culture to debates held at the 15th century Sera Monastery by Lhasa monks.

As for young love, Kellie Schmitt writes, “In Shanghai, teachers and parents widely prohibit dating in high school, urging students to study instead.”

But for Enid and Michael—the Chinese couple Schmitt writes about—their love was “worth a little sneaking around” when they were sixteen.

When they turned 22, they were still together and got married. When Schmitt wrote the post for CNN Go Asia, Enid and Michael were 26. Today, they would be in their thirties. As in all marriages, Enid and Michael have had challenges but it appears that love kept them together. I recommend Schmitt’s story to learn more about how China is changing.

Kellie Schmitt now lives in California’s Central Valley.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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a democracy in name only – a bumbling empire for sure

June 17, 2015

The China Mirage, supported by overwhelming factual evidence that was willingly suppressed or ignored for decades, clearly reveals that America is not the peace loving democracy that most Americans think it is.

The reality is that the U.S. is a global empire that took its first step toward World War II in the Pacific on July 8, 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry commanded a U.S. Navy squadron that sailed into Tokyo harbor. Perry—under orders from President Millard Fillmore—demanded a treaty permitting trade and the opening of Japanese ports to U.S. merchant ships. The reluctant Japanese leaders, who wanted to be left alone, were not given a choice if they wanted to avoid the same invasions China had suffered mainly at the hands of the British and French during the Opium Wars.

After being forced to open its doors to Western trade so American corporations could profit—to protect itself in the future—Japan industrialized and built a powerful and ruthless modern military.

The second step toward war in the Pacific took place about fifty years later when President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt started to meddle in Asia’s affairs. The book reveals that Teddy urged Japan to invade Korea leading eventually to Japan’s invasion of China, because Teddy was obsessed with the Japanese and felt strongly that Japan’s role should be to protect Asia from being colonized by the European colonial powers even if it meant Japan’s military would dominate all of Asia.

The third step toward war in the Pacific would be the bumbling, ignorant, secretive, back-stabbing, dysfunctional and manipulative administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt—with help from the powerful and wealthy lying Christian China Lobby that based its thinking on a faulty premise that the Chinese loved democracy and wanted to become a Christian country just like the United States.

The powerful China Lobby’s ignorant and severely flawed agenda would cause the deaths of more than 25 million civilians (mostly Chinese) and 6 million troops (mostly Chinese) in addition to the bombed out devastation of Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan.

Following World War II and the Korean Conflict, the same ignorant and arrogant thinking led to the Vietnam War where U.S. troops fought for almost 20 years, and the United States dropped more bombs on Southeast Asia than it did in all of World War II.

Readers will discover that Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life Magazines, who was called the most influential private citizen in America at the time, was a perfect example of how anyone who has too much power and wealth can create their own reality based on lies that often evaporate later leaving future generations to deal with the damage caused by these fools.

Today, Henry Luce had been replaced by other ignorant, arrogant, wealthy and powerful fools, and they go by the names of, for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family. I think if we looked at history closely we would discover that the rich and powerful have often meddled with the lives of others and then either die or refuse to admit they were wrong.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects the media from government intervention and meddling does not mean the media is balanced and honest. In fact—most of the time—the opposite is true. The so-called free U.S. media is often a propaganda machine that churns out fictions masquerading as truth—mostly owned and controlled by six corporations and at the top six powerful dictatorial oligarchs just like Henry Luce.

To be clear, those media corporations might be doing business in a democracy, but they are not democracies, and they have the power to fool and manipulate the people, the U.S Congress and even the President of the United States.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Broken Bridge

June 16, 2015

Originally posted on spaceship china:

Under a heavy cover of snow, the bridge appears ‘broken‘ from a certain angle. The play of light on the white snow causes a visual effect which makes Broken Bridge  look like it is in two parts.

Tourists on Broken Bridge, Hangzhou

West Lake in Hangzhou has many beautiful bridges, all with poetic names.

Willow Bridge, West Lake, Hangzhou Willow Bridge, West Lake, Hangzhou

Broken Bridge has a well-known folk story connected to it. White Snake was a snake who, after meditating and discipling herself for thousands of years, metamorphised into a beautiful woman. When she fell in love with a young physician, they married and lived happily. Bai Suzhen – Lady White Snake – helped Xu Xian – the young physician – heal the sick.

Lady White Snake, Leifeng Tower, Hangzhou

A Buddhist monk tries to warn Xu Xian that his wife is really a ‘snake demon’, and she drinks a type…

View original 256 more words


Harbin, China’s Northeastern Winter Wonderland

June 16, 2015

Casey Chan of Gizmodo posted A Winter Wonderland in China with two photos of The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival located in Northeast China where the average winter temperature is a (minus) – 16.8 degrees Celsius (1.76 Fahrenheit). The Festival is held in January.

It is June, and you might wonder why I’m posting this now instead of December or January. The simple answer is for travelers who might want to visit China and think Harbin would be a good place to include in the trip—next winter.

Wikipedia says the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival was first held in 1963, but it was interrupted for a few years during the insanity of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Mao died in 1976, and it took time for China’s economic engine to recover. The fact that the festival resumed in 1985 is a sign of the changes taking place in China.

In the comment section of Chan’s Gizmodo post, Adam wrote, “China is awesome when it comes to giant decorations and celebrations (just remember the Olympics!), but the people there still have an extremely low quality of life. Why, if they can do some things so well, do they fail at others?”

Sega8800 asked Adam, “How do you know their life is low quality?”

Adam’s answer was a Wikipedia link to a post of a 1994 book, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power. The couple who wrote the book spent five years in China (1988 to 1993) as journalists for the New York Times—not the best unbiased source about China by a long shot.

I laughed.

The content for that book was based on material that was more than 22-years old, and time in China did not freeze. During those years, China transformed itself by rebuilding the old cities while building more than a hundred new ones in addition to the explosion of a middle class that equals or surpasses the entire population of the United States. China has also crisscrossed the country with new highways, railroads that include high speed rail that doesn’t even exist in the United States yet, and it has built more than 500 new airports while America’s airports are way overdue for an upgrade.

In fact, as the standard of living for China’s still growing middle class expands, the Chinese are now buying more new cars than Americans, traveling the world as tourists (about 100 million annually), and the most popular car that’s a status symbol in China is GM’s Buick (别克).

The embedded videos with this post are of Harbin and previous festivals.

map_china_showing_Harbin

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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