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.

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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.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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China’s Changing One-Child Policy

May 12, 2015

In 2008, France 24 International News provided an example of how the Chinese families could get around the one-child policy and reported how one Chinese couple wanted to have more than one child and how the couple used loopholes to have three.

The mother’s first child was a boy, and she was desperate to have a girl.

Since fines are less for a second child if delivered in a remote province, the couple moved south from Shanghai.

However, the mother discovered she was pregnant again soon after the birth of the second child, a girl.

The doctor told her that because of her health she couldn’t have an abortion.

Due to where the children were born, she was told her children would not be allowed to attend school in Shanghai. The mother was upset because she said rural schools were not as good as urban schools.

At the time, she also resented the fact that wealthy Chinese businessmen, television and movie stars often avoided the one-child policy because they have money to pay the fines. Ten percent of rich Chinese have three children and this practice is spreading among the upper-middle class.

Explaining how wealthy Chinese got away with it, Peng Xizhe, dean of social development and public policy at Fudan University, said, “In the Maoist era everyone was controlled by his work unit. It’s over now. Many workers are independent.”

Then in late 2013, China declared it was relaxing its one-child policy. The Guardian.com reported, “Experts say this only underlines a looming demographic crisis in China: low fertility rates, a rapidly ageing population and a shrinking labour force.”

______________________________

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.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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Yuan Shikai, China’s second president and its last emperor

May 6, 2015

For thousands of years, the history of China has been defined by wars, rebellion, power struggles and famine, which explains why today’s central government worries about famine and allowing dissidents a voice.

Between 1911 and 1976, three Chinese men were responsible for much of the devastation and death that swept over China causing tens of millions of deaths (not counting what the Japanese did during World War II). Those Chinese leaders were: Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung.

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell, Yuan Shikai was a general and commander of the most modern military force in Imperial China. He kept his position by supporting the revolutionaries that brought down the Qing Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty fell, rebellion spread through the Yangtze River Valley before revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected Sun Yat-sen president of a provisional (temporary) government and in January 1912, Sun announced the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, generals controlled China’s provinces and refused to give up power. China’s young republic was essentially the capital city of Nanjing.

On March 20, 1913, Yuan Shikai’s agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen, who helped Sun Yat-sen become the first president. Sun demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Yuan Shikai resisted, sparking a “so-called” second revolution and on September 15, 1913, he ordered Sun Yat-sen’s arrest. To survive, Sun fled to Japan as a political refugee. He wouldn’t return to China until a few months after Yuan Shikai’s death.

Yuan Shikai, supported financially by the British Empire, became China’s second president, but after 1914, World War I caused a reduction in Britain’s financial support.

Weakened, Yuan Shaikai was forced to accept twenty-one demands made by Japan, which included giving up Chinese territory. He agreed on May 7, 1916, which is now considered National Humiliation Day.

Yuan Shaikai was unable to establish control beyond Nanking so he declared himself emperor. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy and him as emperor touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun Yat-sen’s followers in several other provinces.

This resulted in twelve years of warfare between the warlord generals of China’s provinces and the weak Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai died in 1916, then Sun Yat-sen returned to lead the republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, which led to the Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

______________________________

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.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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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

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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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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.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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