What really happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989?

February 25, 2015

Twenty-six years after the alleged 1989 Tiananmen Square incident—and three Chinese Presidents later: Jiang Zemin (1993-2003), Hu Jintao (2003-2013), and now Xi Jinping (2013 – )—the U.S. media continues to annually remind the world of what might have happened.

I’ve heard from several Chinese American friends (now US citizens), who lived in China in 1989, that the student leaders behind the Tiananmen Square protest/massacre (April 14 – June 4, 1989) were supported by the CIA, and I asked myself if this was another conspiracy theory.

However, my curiosity was stirred, so I spent hours hunting the internet for clues that this might be true, and I discovered several coincidences that raised an eyebrow.

The U.S. Ambassador in China at the time, James Lilley (April 20, 1989 to 1991), was a former CIA operative who worked in Asia and helped insert CIA agents into China. President H. W. Bush (1989-1993) served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing (1974 – 1976), who then went to serve as Director of the CIA (1976 – 1977).

Why did President H. W. Bush replace Winston Lord as ambassador to China (1985-1989) during the early days of the Tiananmen Square incident with a former CIA agent? After all, Lord spoke some Chinese and was a key figure in the restoration of relations between the US and China in 1972.  Wasn’t he the best man for the job during a crisis like this one?

I returned to my friends and asked, “How do you know the CIA helped the student leaders of the protest?”

“It’s obvious,” was the answer. The reason, my friends explained, was the fact that it was very difficult, almost impossible, for anyone in China to get a visa to visit the United States before the 21st century. Yet most of the young student leaders of the Tiananmen Square incident left China quickly after the event and prospered in the West without any obvious difficulty. In addition, after these student leaders came to the West, many were successful and became wealthy.

I returned to my investigation to verify these claims. Let’s Welcome Chinese Tourists was one piece I read from The Washington Post documenting how difficult it was to get a visa back then to visit the United States from China. I read another piece in The Chicago Tribune on the same subject. And my wife told me her brother and two sisters were denied visas to the U.S.

After more sleuthing, I learned that Wang Dan, one of the principal student organizers of the Tiananmen incident, went to jail because he stayed in China when most of the other student leaders fled. Today, Wang lives in the West and cannot go back. Two others went to Harvard and a third went to Yale. Where did they get the money—it’s expensive to attend these private universities?

How about the other leaders who fled to the West? Time Magazine reported, “Some have reincarnated themselves as Internet entrepreneurs, stockbrokers, or in one case, as a chaplain for the U.S. military in Iraq. Several have been back to China to investigate potential business opportunities.”

Official figures of the dead during the incident ranged from 200 to 300. At the Chinese State Council press conference on June 6, spokesman Yuan Mu said that “preliminary tallies” by the government showed that about 300 civilians and soldiers died, including 23 students from universities in Beijing, along with a number of people he described as “ruffians”. Yuan also said some 5,000 soldiers and police along with 2,000 civilians were wounded. On June 19, Beijing Party Secretary Li Ximing reported to the Politburo that the government’s confirmed death toll was 241, including 218 civilians (of which 36 were students), 10 PLA soldiers and 13 People’s Armed Police, along with 7,000 wounded.

Chinese government officials have long asserted that no one died in the Square itself in the early morning hours of June 4, during the ‘hold-out’ of the last batch of students in the south of the Square. Initially foreign media reports of a “massacre” on the Square were prevalent, though later journalists acknowledged that most of the deaths occurred outside of the Square in western Beijing.

Several people who were situated around the square that night, including Jay Mathews, former Beijing bureau chief of The Washington Post, and Richard Roth, CBS correspondent, reported that while they heard sporadic gunfire, they could not find enough evidence to suggest that a massacre took place on the Square itself.

If the U.S. media annually reminds the world of the alleged Tiananmen Square massacre, why don’t they also remind us of another massacre that took place in Taiwan in 1947 where about 30,000 Taiwanese citizens were slaughtered during the 2-28 Massacre by troops of America’s ally Chang Kai-shek?

Can anyone explain why the deaths of a few hundred Chinese in Communist China in 1989 are more important than the slaughter of 30,000 civilians in 1947 by an American ally?

Thanks to a comment, I learned about another slaughter of citizens demanding democracy that took place in South Korea in 1980.

_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


A brief history of Chinese Herbalism

February 24, 2015

The use of herbal medicines in China has been traced to the Zhou Dynasty, late Bronze/early Iron Age, about 2500 to 3000 years ago.

In 1596, hundreds of years before the age of modern Western medicine, Li Shizhen spent decades documenting the vast knowledge of herbal lore.

His book, the Ben Cao Gang Mu (1596), has been used as a pharmacopoeia, but it was also a treatise on botany, zoology, mineralogy and metallurgy.

The Ben Cao Gang Mu mentions 1,892 different herbs and is divided into 6 sections, 52 scrolls and 60 different categories.

It has been reported that Darwin had a copy of the Ben Cao Gang Mu with him on his voyage of discovery in 1831.

The World Health Organization says, “Traditional herbal medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived substances with minimal or no industrial processing that have been used to treat illness within local or regional healing practices.”

I think that today’s profit-based corporations that produce modern medicine probably don’t want people to be free to use herbal medicine. because it cuts into their profits, but—if given a choice—I’d rather use herbal medicine first and modern medicine as a last resort.

_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 

 


Tom Carter traveled 35,000 miles in two years to capture a portrait of China’s people

February 18, 2015

“Tom Carter is an extraordinary photographer whose powerful work captures the heart and soul of the Chinese people.” – Anchee Min, author of “Red Azalea”.

Most tourists travel by jet or bus and spend nights in four-or-five star hotels sleeping on plush beds. They eat at only the best restaurants. A rare few visit countries like Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous nineteenth century explorer and adventurer. Tom Carter is one of the rare few. Imagine backpacking for two years and walking 35,000 miles to capture the heart and soul of a nation. That’s what Tom Carter did to create China: Portrait of a People.

The consensus among ‘backpackers’ is that China is probably the single most challenging country in the world to visit on foot. That by itself says a lot.

There are more than 1.3 billion people in China. Besides the majority Han Chinese, the population includes fifty-six ethnic groups numbering over one hundred million. Carter saw it all from the teenage girl living in Chengdu dressed like an American punk rocker to the soot covered coal miner in Southern Shanxi. Carter’s camera lens captured the complexity and diversity of China.

Tom Carter is a guerrilla hit-and-run photojournalist with a camera instead of a grenade launcher.  To take the up-close-and-personal pictures in ‘Portrait of  a People’, Carter risked jail; almost froze on his way to Tibet; faced exhaustion and hunger; was beaten by drunks; plagued by viral infections, and risked being shot by North Korean border guards.  The hundreds of photos in ‘Portrait’ are priceless. I doubt if there will ever be another book about China like this one. From Inner Mongolian nomads to newlyweds in Hong Kong, Carter captured it all with his photography.

There is an old saying that a picture is equal to a thousand words. Great pictures tell stories.

In ‘China: Portrait of a People’, each picture is worth ten thousand words or maybe more. Carter’s photojournalist study of China stands alone in its genre as it focuses expressly on the Chinese people. Carter backpacked to remote areas to visit China’s minorities like the thousand year old Phoenix Village perched over the Tuo Jiang River or the seventy-five year old Pai Yao minority farmer in his red turban.

To reach some locations, Carter had to travel on foot into some seriously rugged terrain. To get an idea what I’m talking about, consider that China, almost the size of the United States, has only sixteen percent of its land for growing crops. The rest is either mountains or deserts.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will see what happens when a modern day Sir Richard Francis Burton spends two years backpacking through China’s thirty-three provinces and autonomous regions, not once but twice. During his odyssey, Carter discovered that the Chinese are a friendly, open hearted people.

If you plan to visit China, buy this book before you go. On the other hand, if you are an armchair tourist that never strays far from home, Carter’s Rembrandt ‘Portrait’ of China will not disappoint. You will chuckle when you see the young, twin boys walking out of the river after a swim or watch the eight-year-old acrobat student at Wuqiao bending herself like a folded sheet of paper.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will start a vicarious journey visiting China like few have done even among the Chinese. You will travel on this 35,000 mile journey without leaving your house, bus or jet seat.

  • The Christian Science Monitor said, Tom Carter shows us that there are actually dozens of Chinas. The American photojournalist spent two years traveling 35,000 miles through every province of China by bus, boat, train, mule, motorcycle, and on foot. – August 27, 2010
  • The San Francisco Chronicle said, Getting a full picture of China – a vast country with an enormous population, a place that is experiencing sweeping cultural and economic changes – is, of course, impossible. But Tom Carter comes close. … It’s a remarkable book, compact yet bursting with images that display the diversity of a nation of 56 ethnic groups. – September 26, 2010

As you might see, there is no way this review does justice for ’China: Portrait of a People’. To try might require a million words—seeing is believing. What are you waiting for?

_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Kindle_LR_e-book_cover_MSC_July_25_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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A few China versus U.S. questions I have been thinking about for some time

February 17, 2015

In this post there will be a few questions I’m going to answer, but leave others for you—if you want to leave a comment.

First, the dictionary definition for Communism: a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

What about the definition of socialism—after all, capitalists hate both communism and socialism? Socialism means a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

How many of the 1.3+ billion people in China belong to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? There are 86.7 million members in the CCP and most if not all of the millionaires and billionaires in China are invited to join the CCP after they get rich and are screened, and many of the members who are not millionaires or billionaires have secure jobs, responsibility, power and earn money legally or illegally, but taking money illegally might be dangerous. The CCP aggressively prosecutes white collar crooks if they catch them and sends some to prison and executes a few—white collar crime is not a safe  profession in China. In fact, CBS reported that “82,533 Communist Party members had been investigated. Some lost their jobs; others kicked out of the Communist Party … And no one, no matter how high-ranking, appears safe.”

With 6.7% of the population belonging to the CCP that means 93.3% are not Communists—they just live in a country where actual ownership of everything belongs to the collective and/or the state. You don’t buy property in China. In urban China, you lease it and you can sell the lease to someone else, but in most of rural China the land is owned jointly by the people and the state. There is no rent, no mortgage and no property tax. You also can’t sell the house you live or the land you farm. Rural Chinese might not earn much money, but they also don’t get evicted by the bank for missing mortgage payments.

There are essentially two kinds of land ownership in China, state ownership and collective ownership. Rural land, or housing land and the household contract farmland, is collectively owned. Farmers are part of the collective community and have property rights to their land, but with restrictions. – China.org.cn

In addition, in the last 30 years, China is responsible for 90% of global poverty reduction. Since the start of the far-reaching economic reforms in the late 1970s, growth has fueled a remarkable increase in per capita income and a decline in the poverty rate from 85% in 1981 to 6.1% below the poverty line in 2014.

At no stage over the past 30 years has the CCP relinquished control of the “commanding heights” or “levers” of the Chinese economy: agricultural pricing, heavy industry, power and energy, transport, communications, foreign trade, and finance (state banks). – Marxism-Leninism Today

China now boasts 350 million middle-class citizens (more than the entire U.S. population). In addition, China has 2 million millionaires and ranks second only to the U.S. in terms of billionaires. Some 100 million Chinese traveled outside their country this year, and spent an astounding $7,500 per person, per trip, the highest in the world. – The Middle Class: China’s Game-Changing Demographics

For the United States, keep in mind that capitalism does not equal democracy. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. But a democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives—but these days it sure doesn’t feel like it is working that way.

It is possible for a democracy and socialism to exist in the same country.Those countries are called social democracies. In fact, three of the happiest countries in the world are social democracies: Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. The 10 most socialist countries in the world are: China, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and Belgium.

There are more than 316.1 million Americans, and how many are successful capitalists? CNN reports that there are 9.63 million millionaires (3% of the population), and 492 billionaires (0.00015% of the population).

Is it possible that in the U.S. the 3.00015% or the 0.00015% want to rule over the remaining 96.99% like the 6.7% does in China for the 93.3%—something to think about? Are some of these U.S. millionaires and billionaires envious of the CCP’s power?

The U.S. has a poverty rate of almost 15%, and poverty has been increasing in recent years. There is also a 2nd poverty rate in the US, and it’s called Extreme Poverty. In fact, in 1900, before the Progressive era launched by President Teddy Roosevelt to make life better for most Americans, 40% of Americans lived in poverty and less than 7% graduated from high school.

Using a World Bank definition, “extreme poverty” is surviving on less than $2 per day, per person, each month. The National Poverty Center finds that 1.65 million American households (not people but families) live in “extreme poverty,” and these households include 3.55 million children.

America has protection for freedom of speech, but China doesn’t. However, the U.S.—even with freedom of speech—has the largest prison population on the planet (2.2+ million), more than China (1.7+ million) that has the second largest prison population, but more than four times the population of the United States.

To compare it another way—the United States has 707 prisoners per 100,000 versus China with 124 per 100,000 behind bars—think about it.

What about cracking down on white collar crime in the United States like China is doing? The New York Times reports, “In Financial Crises, No Prosecutions of Top Figures.” And The New York Times asks, “It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?”

For all the problems the U.S. has, I don’t plan to move to China, because the air is cleaner where I live in the United States—but if the Koch brothers and Standard Oil have their way that could change. I also prefer shopping at Costco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and farmers’ markets for organic fruits and vegetables—although a few U.S. corporations are lobbying to ruin that too.

_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!

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What Honor Means to Most Chinese: part 3 of 3

February 12, 2015

In 1935, Lin Yutang said, “Face cannot be translated or defined. It is like honor and is not honor. It cannot be purchased with money, and gives a man or a woman a material pride. It is hollow and is what men fight for and what many women die for.

“It is invisible and yet by definition exists by being shown to the public. It exists in the ether and yet can be heard, and sounds eminently respectable and solid. It is amenable, not to reason but to social convention.

“It protracts lawsuits, breaks up family fortunes, causes murders and suicides, and yet it often makes man out of a renegade who has been insulted by his fellow townsmen, and it is prized above all earthy possession.”

“It is more powerful than fate and favor,” Lin Yutang said, “and more respected than the constitution. It often decides a military victory or defeat, and can demolish a whole government ministry. It is that hollow thing which men in China live by.” (Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, Halcyon House, New York, NY, 1938, page 200)

Chinese like Yue Fei and Guan Yu were honorable men and gained much face/respect because of their beliefs and behavior.

When anyone in China reacts to anything, politically or personally, honor plays a large role. It doesn’t matter if one is a member of the Communist Party, a farmer or a factory worker or one of the wealthiest members of the new capitalist elite.

Most Chinese measure what is important in life by a different standard than the rest of the world.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


What Honor Means to Most Chinese: part 2 of 3

February 11, 2015

Although the Communist Chinese government has made it illegal to spit on those statues for public health reasons, hundreds defy the law on a daily basis, and continue to insult those traitors while honoring Yue Fei.

There is another moral hero from China’s history. During the Three Kingdoms era (220-265 A.D.) after the fall of the Han Dynasty, there was a period of civil war. Out of this era came the story of Guan Yu, who was another moral model of loyalty and righteousness.

Guan Yu lived almost eighteen hundred years ago, but it is easy to find carvings and statues of him in China. In fact, I have several hand carved in wood, and here are two of them.

Photo of Guan Yu wood carvings

It doesn’t matter if one is a member of the Communist Party, because role models like Yue Fei and Guan Yu still play an important part in how many Chinese behave and what they think. Anyone in China holding a position of power is measured against men like Yue Fei and Guan Yu.

To help gain a better understanding of what honor means to the Chinese, here’s a link to a piece published in the Los Angeles Times.

Continued in Part 3 on February 12, 2015, or start with Part 1

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_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


What Honor Means to Many Chinese: part 1 of 3

February 10, 2015

We visited General Yue Fei’s tomb in Hangzhou, and hundreds of Chinese tourists were there. It was early October 2008. This was our third trip to the city in a decade, and I was watching people spitting on the kneeling, life sized metal statues of men dead for more than eight centuries. Those metal effigies with their hands tied behind their backs had been traitors.

It may be difficult to understand what honor means to most of the Chinese if one isn’t Chinese. One way to possibly understand the importance of this concept is to examine two of China’s historical heroes.

General Yue Fei died on January 27, 1142. He was a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty.

Several jealous Song ministers lied to the emperor saying that Yue Fei was planning to kill him and take over. The emperor believed these lies and had General Yue Fei executed. When the truth came out, Yue Fei became a model for loyalty in Chinese culture. By spitting on those statues of those ministers who lied, the Chinese honor Yue Fei’s memory.

Continued in Part 2 on February 11, 2015

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_______________

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.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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