The land of famines and drought: China

April 9, 2014

For more than two millennia, imperial records show that China has suffered from droughts and famines on an annual basis in one or more of its provinces.  This history may explain why China spent several centuries starting long before the birth of Christ to build its thousand mile long Grand Canal that puts the Panama and Suez Canals to shame.

Today, China finds itself water challenged in the north and southwest.  The Daily Mail reported January 2014 that “The largest freshwater lake in China which covers an expanse twice the size of London has dried up because of an ongoing drought.”

Solve Climate News reports that drought had dried up areas of southern China.  Three-hundred-and-ten reservoirs, 580 rivers and 3,600 pools have been baked dry.

Older villagers say reservoirs and irrigation channels are dry for the first time in their lives.

Some blame Global Warming, while environmental activists blame China’s biggest hydro-engineering project, the South-to-North water diversion scheme, which is designed to channel water north to cities such as Beijing and Tianjin.

In fact, this couldn’t be true because the South-to-North water diversion will not be completed until 2050 and due to environmental concerns; the western line is still in the planning stages. Only the eastern and central lines are under construction. Source: Water Link International

CNN reports that drought in northern China is threatening crops in at least 12 provinces where more than 3.5 million people live, including about 2 million livestock. More than 200 million people live in northern China.

The only region of China that’s getting torrential, record rainfall is southeast China where floods have killed many and displaced thousands. Source Accuweather.com

Much of China’s water originates in Tibet. In southwest China, the Mekong River originates on the Tibetan plateau. The Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers comes from the glaciers and melt water of the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. However, the snow and ice in Tibet is melting and the region is turning into a desert.

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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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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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Jack London’s brief visit to China

April 2, 2014

At the Northern California Independent Booksellers Trade Show in Oakland (NCIBA) back in 2010, I stopped at the University of Georgia Press booth searching for a book about Jack London (1876 – 1916).

In fact, Jack London, Photographer (ISBN 978-0-8203-2967-3) by Jeanne Campbell Reesman, Sara S. Hodson and Philip Adam was there, and I have a copy in front of me as I’m writing this post—that’s after I slipped it off my bookshelf where it sat since then.

It’s a beautiful book and proves that London had talent beyond writing stories such as White Fang or Call of the Wild.

London took photos in 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War in Korea and Manchuria.

On page 57, the caption says, “London had his camera confiscated in Japan and was often detained by Japanese officials when he got too close to the front lines, especially as the war spread to the Yalu River, the boundary between Korea and Manchuria.” 

The experiences London had in Korea and China would lead to an essay and a story that ignited a debate that he was a racist.


Jack London, Socialist-Capitalist

He wrote the The Unparalleled Invasion, which takes place in a fictional 1975, when the West decides to destroy China (for no good reason) by using biological warfare. I guess the West couldn’t sell opium to China anymore.

While at the NCIBA, I had two conversations about London. One editor said she had heard that London was a racist and she had trouble believing that.  Later, another editor from the University of George Press also said he didn’t believe London was a racist.

London’s 1904 essay, The Yellow Peril, may have contributed to the claim that he was a racist. Using Google, I found sites that support this theory.

However, after seeing the pictures in Jack London, Photographer (Amazon link), it’s hard to believe he was a racist. There have also been rumors that London committed suicide but there is no evidence to support that theory either.

If London were a racist, why did his Japanese servant Tokinosuke Sekine stay loyal to the end even after London was bankrupt and his “fair weather” friends had abandoned him?

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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.

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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