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?

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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

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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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.

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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”!
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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 5 of 5

December 20, 2014

Most of the prostitutes in the cities are village girls and many have little orno idea about safe sex. This is causing an increase in HIV, because many of the men refuse to wear condoms. Sometimes, when the girl says no, the paying customer will rape her.

The sexual revolution in China is fragile. While the new China supports it, the old China is afraid of the changes. Adultery and divorce are on the rise. Kids are leaving home, and there is a growing generation gap.

In the video, one older Chinese man says that China is not used to this. Under pressure from the older generation, the police end up raiding bordellos and arresting prostitutes.

However, now that China’s sexual revolution is in the open, it will be almost impossible to stop without a return to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and few in China want that to happen. At first, the government tried to stop what was going on but soon backed off, and parents, who grew up in Mao’s puritanical era, don’t want their children to experience the same repression.

With this new found freedom, women are gaining power that they never had before, and many families now value having female children. Few want to return to the way things were.

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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.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 4 of 5

December 19, 2014

China’s one-child policy, created to control the growth of the population, is complicated and is complicating the sexual revolution.

By ending the pressure on Chinese women to have many children, this has liberated them. Now Chinese women have the freedom to get an education and find a paying job.

The one-child policy also created another problem. Since Chinese families have always favored having boys, many women get abortions when the fetus is identified as a female. This has led to a growing imbalance between the number of men and women causing millions of poor men to not find a mate. With so many poor men unable to find women, gangs and crime have become a problem.

With this challenge, China also has the fastest growing sex industry in the world. A decade ago, there was little prostitution Today, there are many brothels masquerading as massage parlors, and ome are modeled after the brothels in Thailand.

Capitalism has arrived in all its guises, and the same problems the United States has with sex slavery and drugs is now a problem in China too.

Continued on December 20, 2014 in Part 5 or return to Part 3

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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.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 3 of 5

December 18, 2014

In China today, teenage girls are living lives their parents never imagined and don’t understand. The teens are very open about what turns them on in a guy. Many do not care what their parents think. They only want to have fun—sounds like the United States, doesn’t it?

Listening to the conversation between this group of Chinese girls sounds like listening to spoiled kids in the US talking.

The teens often go out clubbing and the nightclubs are equal to or better than the best in the West. The nightclub featured in the video has life-sized wall paintings from Cultural Revolution posters while teens dressed in sexy clothes dance and grind to loud music. These changes started in the late 1990s.

Even in China’s rural villages, the sexual revolution has been felt as millions of young women leave the villages to the big cities and experience what the urban Chinese are doing. The first stop is the hair salon.

The media is even climbing on board this sexual revolution. Glitzy magazines, like the Chinese edition of Cosmopolitan, feature the stylish, hot and sexy.

Continued on December 19, 2014 in Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 2 of 5

December 17, 2014

According to a 2004 survey, only twenty percent of Chinese men know where to find the clitoris, while fifty percent of Chinese women haven’t had an orgasm. Sexual ignorance and dysfunction is common. Mao’s Cultural Revolution left invisible scars.

China also has a new, popular holiday, Valentine’s Day. On February 14, cupid and roses have become fashionable. Nightclubs hold Valentine’s festivals where  couples meet, drug use is common and kissing leads to sex.

Private businesses that cater to romance and sex are flourishing in China. Some shops are a cross between a sexual education center that also sells adult sex toys. In Beijing, there are an estimated five thousand sex shops and business is booming. This industry is worth billions.

When the first graphic sex Blog came online, the server crashed and was down for several days. When the government censors shut down a sex Blog, more replace it.

Continued on December 18, 2014 in Part 3 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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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