A captivating story of Shanghai and China set in the early 20th century

April 8, 2014

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones kept me reading late into the night until I finished the book in record time. It’s all there: love, intrigue, suspense, drama, music and history masterly woven through the story.

Thomas Greene is an African American classical pianist who is recruited by Lin Ming—the illegitimate son of the powerful leader of Shanghai’s Green Gang, Du Yue-Sheng—to leave the United States and lead a jazz band of fellow African-Americans in Shanghai. It’s in Shanghai where Thomas discovers a life that isn’t plagued by the poverty and the racial discrimination he knew in America, and he falls in love with the city and people with no intention of going home.

Thomas has a lusty affair with a beautiful Russian refugee and makes friends with Jews fleeing the madness of Hitler’s Germany. Then Thomas meets the woman who will fill his life with passion and love. Her name is Song Yuhua, but she is the property of Du Yeu-Sheng. Song’s father gave her to the gangster to pay off a gambling debt.

In addition, you’ll discover the story of the Chinese Schindler, who risked his life while working in Europe as a Chinese diplomat to save more Jews than the real Schindler did—there should be a film about his courage but at least we now have this novel.

You’ll also discover the efforts by both some Chinese and China’s Japanese invaders to protect the Jews who escaped to China. Hitler pressured both Chiang Kai-shek and Japan’s leaders to kill all the Jews in China, but they refused. Instead, they did something no other country on the earth—even the United States—did. Chinese leaders and Japan’s military leaders in China protected the Jews and offered them a safe haven during the horrors of World War II.

And I learned something new—that Chiang Kai-shek admired Adolf Hitler. This kicked my curiosity into high gear and I did some Google research to discover that Chiang Kai-shek and Hitler were friends who admired each other. The two first met in 1912. In 1913, they even rented a room together in Munich. After Japan invaded China, Chiang asked Hitler’s for help with the Japanese but he didn’t know that Hitler was already forming a military alliance with Japan. In fact, The Nationalist Chinese led by Chiang Kai-shek cooperated with the Nazis from the late 1920s until the late 1930s.

“Night in Shanghai” also makes it clear that the Chinese Communists under Mao were nationalists first and communists second. In my Google research I discovered that the communists proclaimed: “There is the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler, and there is our patriotism. Communists must resolutely oppose the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler.”

The first character we meet in the novel is Song Yuhua. Near the end of the story, as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is imminent, she must choose between her loyalty to the Chinese Communists and her love for Thomas Greene. You’ll have to read the book to discover her choice.

I received an advanced reading copy of this novel through Amazon Vine and this review is my own opinion of the novel.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s IKEA Sleepover

April 1, 2014

Zach Honig, a former editor at PC Magazine, writes a Blog called Tech, Travel and Tuna.

While in Beijing, Honig remembered a piece he read in the LA Times about Beijing residents loving IKEA but not for shopping. Curious, he visited the IKEA in Beijing and saw how popular IKEA is in a snoozy sort of way.

In fact, I sympathize with the Chinese snoozers.  Have you ever slept on a “hard” Chinese bed?


Love after the first bite.

Honig also mentioned that he ran into China’s Net Nanny since he couldn’t access his WordPress Blog, Twitter or Facebook, which includes anarchists scheming to bring down orderly societies. There is some truth to that.

Meanwhile, the IKEA snoozers have not slowed expansion plans in the Middle Kingdom since IKEA plans to increase the number of stores in China to 18 by 2015. The first store opened in 1977.

The current sixteen IKEA stores in China saw 15 million visitors in fiscal 2012 (or should I saw snoozers). IKEA also owns a 49% share of Inter Ikea Centre Group that builds shopping centers and is planning to spend billions to build more malls in China.


Bargains at IKEA Shanghai store

The BBC ran a piece about IKEA in China: Store or theme park? As one Chinese customer said, “Every time I come here, I stay for the whole day and have lunch here.

And “Products have also been redesigned with Chinese customers in mind – little things, like deepening bowls so they can hold rice,” the BBC reported. “Every store in China features mock-ups of the tiny apartments common in many Chinese cities, kitted out with Ikea products.”

Another factor is the Chinese save then pay cash for most of what they buy. It is estimated that Chinese households have accumulated $16.5 trillion (valued in US dollars) in assets.

Don’t forget to drop by Zach Honig’s Blog and see his photos of snoozing IKEA fans in Beijing. The link is at the top of this post.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Do you hear the thunder of Chinese Drums?

March 26, 2014

The earliest evidence of the use of drums in China was found in Oracle inscriptions from the Shang Dynasty (1783-1123 BC).

Drums were used to motivate troops, set a marching pace and for sending orders or announcements.

The drum had a purpose in almost all elements of Chinese life. Copper drums come from southern China and date to almost a thousand years before Christ.  The copper drum was also called the war drum.

The Han Dynasty used copper drums for war too.

The Fengyang Drum Dance originated in Anhui Province and was used by traveling musicians and dancers in the streets of villages and towns. In time, it would represent poverty.

Tibetan drums are part of the Sholdon (Yogurt) Festival, which occurs in late August.

Drums are also used for the traditional Chinese New Year’s Lion Dance.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Is Maoism still alive?

March 19, 2014

Caution—do not confuse Maoists with the Communist Party that currently rules China. Maoism, known as Mao Zedong thought, is a variant of Marxism derived from the teachings of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976). 

Maoism was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology in the Communist Party between 1949 and 1976, which led to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution.

But according to France 24, a new generation of Maoists in China thinks the CCP has “betrayed their leader’s roots by succumbing to capitalism and world trade.” And these “Maoists are very active on Chinese social networks.”

The Maoists in China want to roll back time to Mao’s Cultural Revolution where pure socialism rules with no capitalism.

After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the Communist Party under Deng Xiaoping repudiated revolutionary Maoism and embarked on the path toward a socialist-capitalist economic model that has led to prosperity for several hundred million people in China but more Chinese are not benefiting equally from economic growth in China—at least not as fast as they’d like, which explains why Maoism has not vanished.


China’s last Maoist village

Outside China, Maoism’s Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) was founded in 1984 and included the Communist Party of Peru (also known as the “Shining Path”).

In addition, there have been Maoist movements in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Palestine, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Somalia, Turkey and even the United States (where poverty is increasing). However, the international Maoist movement doesn’t have a unified, global leadership.

Recently, the Chinese “Maoist” Communist Party thought they had a leader in Bo Xilai. Then in 2012, Bo was connected to a cover up linked to his wife’s involvement in the murder of a British citizen. Bo was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, abuse of power and corruption. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of murder and was given a suspended death sentence. She may spend the rest of her life in prison or get out on a medical parole after serving nine years.

In 2009, the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal formed a coalition government, which collapsed a few months later as different rebel factions fought with each other. The Maoist’s goal was to turn Nepal into a Marxist Republic. (Nepal Assessment 2010)

In India, there is an ongoing Naxalite-Maoist rebellion in Andhra Pradesh but by the end of 2013, the movement was weak and not the threat it had been years earlier. The Maoist influence in India was caused by the lack of progress to end starvation among rural Indians—thousands die daily—who have had no improvement in their lifestyles for decades. (Naxalite-Maoist insurgency)

In the US, the Black Panthers (1967) was a militant Maoist organization.

In Paris in 1968, the National Liberation Front, another Maoist group, was the cause of street combat.

Maoism is caused by too much poverty and suffering when the poor working class rises up in rebellion against the wealthy in an attempt to distribute the wealth more evenly, but historically this has led to brutal dictatorships and then more suffering and death.

Pure socialism hasn’t worked because historically, it’s inefficient, against the competitive nature of humans and leads to shortages and a waste of workers time.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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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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Discover the History of Guanxi

March 11, 2014

I first heard of Guanxi from the China Law Blog, which referred to the Silicon Hutong Blog.

After reading the China Law Blog’s post, I did more research and also watched a few videos on the subject.

I learned that Guanxi is an aspect of Chinese culture that does not translate easily.

There are several elements and layers to Guanxi. First, Guanxi is based on a Confucian hierarchy of familial relationships, long-term friendships, classmates, and schoolmates and to those no stranger—Chinese or foreign—will ever have access to. (Silicon Hutong)

Guanxi evolved over the millennia because China didn’t have a stable and effective legal system. In fact, the legal system in China today is relatively new and made its appearance after the 1982 Chinese Constitution was established.

Since 1982, there have been several amendments to the Constitution as China adapts its evolving legal system.

In time, this legal system may replace Guanxi since business law modeled on Western law with Chinese characteristic is developing faster than civil law.

Through the centuries, merchants in China needed a way to avoid disputes and problems in the absence of a well-developed legal system. To survive, this complex system called Guanxi developed with many components such as partnerships, trust, credibility, etc.

Guanxi developed organically in civil society due to the absence of a uniform, government mandated legal system, and maintaining Guanxi is different than how relationships are maintained in other cultures. The embedded video with this post offers a more detailed explanation.

The China Law Blog’s had more than twenty comments, and it was a lively discussion worth reading if you are interested in discovering more on this topic.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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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