The Power of Chinese Assimilation

August 27, 2014

Andrew Clark contributed a post to Politics Daily about China’s minorities and the autonomous regions they call home. As Clark points out, “Han Chinese make up 92 percent of the People’s Republic of China. The remaining 8 percent is made up of minority groups, mainly Tibetan, Zhuang, Uyghur, Mongolian, Miao, Manchu, and Hui (these are the major ethnic groups—China officially recognizes 56 minority populations).” Eight percent may not sound like much, but in China that represents more than 109 million people.

To put that in perspective, there are about 240 countries in the world but only eleven have populations of more than 100 million.

Clark concludes that “It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government can successfully assimilate these groups, or if consistent suppression of uprisings can force social tranquility.”

The Chinese map has inflated and deflated for more than two-thousand years. Some of these minorities have been in China longer than others. The Mongolians Clark visited, like the Tibetans and the Uyghur, are three who haven’t been inside China as long since they were conquered by the Qing Dynasty (the Manchu minority), who ruled China from 1644 – 1911.

Another minority ruled China for a brief time and that was the Mongols as the Yuan Dynasty (1277 – 1367). Both the rulers of the Qing and the Yuan were assimilated into the Han culture while they ruled China. That was primarily because they were heavily outnumbered by the Han Chinese.

Tibet broke from China in 1913 and stayed out until 1950 when Mao sent an army into Tibet, which has always been a difficult place for China to manage since sending armies there to enforce control was difficult. But today, a highway and a railroad make that journey easy. If those transportation routes are cut, there’s still air transportation. The travel distance between Tibet and Beijing is shorter than it was a century ago.

China is currently adding about 40 thousand more kilometers of rail throughout China and is extending its high-speed rail to reach every major city. This improved transportation system is also bringing about change and causing a Han migration that would have been unthinkable more than a century ago when most of China didn’t have electricity or roads.

For centuries, China ruled over these minorities without moving Han Chinese into their territories, but times have changed and the Han Chinese—like the Europeans in North America moving West—have been migrating into the autonomous regions for years, which may have more of an impact keeping these territories part of China than armies ever have. And if that doesn’t work, China still has the largest standing army in the world.

Clark also claimed, “the United States has seemingly countless ethnic and cultural minorities that are proud to call themselves American…”  While somewhat true, many of almost 2,500 American native tribes still  hold to their old ways and live on reservations proud to be Navaho or Sioux, Black Foot or Apache, maybe more so than being American.

If given a choice,  many of these North American tribes would jump at the chance to have their ancestral homes back. But the FBI keeps a tight watch over these American minorities, and the US Marines are always a phone call away.

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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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Climbing the Dragon’s Back in Southeast China

August 5, 2014

The Dragon Back Rice Terraces are located in Guangxi Province in southeast China near Vietnam.  The nearest city is Guilin, which is close to the Li River.

When we arrived, there was two-legged transportation for anyone who wasn’t strong or healthy enough to climb to the top.

There are fifty-six minorities in China and this is an autonomous region where the Zhuan minority lives— the largest minority in China with more than sixteen million people. The ancient Zhuang culture has been traced back more than two thousand years.

Halfway to the top, we passed this woman cleaning rice.

We arrived in the autumn and the rice had been harvested. The terraces were turning brown. For lunch, we ate in the village.  The terraced rice was cooked in segments of bamboo over an open fire.

At the top, we looked toward the far mountains—a foggy blue outline.

On the way down, we noticed an entrepreneur making money by letting tourists dress in minority costumes and take pictures.


Video from Oregon Lifestyles

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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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Li River Cruise 2008

June 27, 2013

Southeast China near Vietnam and Laos is a beautiful area to visit.  The air is clean. The sky blue. One morning, we left the hotel early to join a river cruise along the Li River. Click on the photos for a larger view.

Soon after leaving the dock, I snapped this shot of the boat in front of ours. While the tourists were on the upper decks, the cooks were preparing lunch.  The dinning room is in the large, first-deck cabin.

Cruising the Li River will carry you past one of the ten places to see in China.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of water buffalo eating the plants that grow under the water.  They would dip their heads under and come up with a mouthfull of green.

Small boats and villages are scattered along the river.

I wasn’t the only tourist taking pictures.  Most of the tourists were from the Chinese middle class.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Shanghai Huangpu River Tour

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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, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 4/5

January 20, 2012

After the “Puer” tea is ready, the journey begins.

For the Pu’erh that I buy, Emperor’s Pu’erh, it leaves Yunnan, reaches China’s coast and then crosses the Pacific to end on a shelf at a Whole Foods Market. However, before that, for centuries, Puer tea traveled to Tibet and China’s capital for the Emperor.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 1 1/2

Most people have heard of or read about the Silk Road from China to Europe. I’m sure that few have heard of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, which I discovered in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 1 2/2

Legend says that tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 2 1/2

But that isn’t what struck me the most about the piece. It’s the example that demonstrated why the peasants loved and possibly worshiped Mao Tse-Tung.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 2 2/2

For more than a thousand years, men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea on their backs across rugged mountains into Lhasa. Some froze to death in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed into the clouds.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 3 1/2

This all ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket, whom the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.


CCTV 9 Travelogue – Tea and Horse Road – Part 3 2/2

Before ending the four posts on Puer [Pu'erh] tea and moving on to Kombucha Fermented Tea in Post 5, Numi Organic tea, Emperor’s Pu’erh, the one I buy at Whole Foods, says, “These old-growth rare Pu’erh trees are communally owned by the local villagers who pick them for their livelihood, ensuring that they continue to grow for generations to come… Pu’erh is an ancient healing tea picked from 500-year-old organic wild tea trees in Yunnan, China. Pu’erh has more antioxidant than most green teas.”

Continued on January 21, 2012 in Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Kombucha Fermented Tea – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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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Note: This five-part series of posts on “Tea for Emperors and Tibet” first appeared May 2010, as The Magic of “Puer” Tea, The Tea Horse Road, and Kambucha Fermented Tea.


Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 3/5

January 19, 2012

The fermentation of “Puer” tea demands a perfect mix of water, moisture and air. This provides the conditions for the development of microbes and the necessary fermentation.

The fermentation of broad leaf “Puer” tea produces a substance called theaflavin often called the soft-gold of tea.

Clinical experiments show that theaflavin reduces blood fat and cardiovascular disease among other benefits.

In animal experiments, the mice fed theaflavin had their blood fat reduced by 30% compared to the control group’s 10% blood fat reduction.


Chinese Puer tea – Part 3/3

Due to the process of producing “Puer”, the tea may be stored as long as a century without losing its flavor or health enhancing benefits.

The 110 days of fermentation for “Puer” is important to achieve the best flavor and enhanced, health benefits—the time must not be shortened. The temperature and humidity must also be stable and many warehouses are built partially underground to achieve this.

I’ll bet you didn’t know much about the process the tea you may be drinking went through before filling your cup. The process to produce Puer tea represents almost two thousand years of China’s tea culture.

“Puer” got its name because it used to be sold in a town by the same name.

Continued on January 20, 2012 in Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 4 or return to Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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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Note: This five-part series of posts on “Tea for Emperors and Tibet” first appeared May 2010, as The Magic of “Puer” Tea, The Tea Horse Road, and Kambucha Fermented Tea.


Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 2/5

January 18, 2012

Puer tea is mellowed by aging, the period by which it is transported and stored.

The largest, tallest tea trees in the world grow in the mountains of Yunnan. This region also produces black, green, Oolong and other kinds of tea.

The leaves for “Puer” tea are divided into three sizes and the largest contain more of the health benefits attributed to “Puer” tea.

For centuries, the process of making tea from picking, to washing, to boiling, mixing, pressing, clustering, baking, and packing has been improved to enhance the flavor of the tea.


Chinese Puer tea – Part 2/3

Dao Linyin, the governor of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous region in China says, “Puer tea contains many vitamins. Very few Puer drinkers get high blood pressure.”

Standards for selecting the thickest broad leaves for “Puer” tea means only about 30% of the tea leaves that are picked pass inspection to be processed into the final product. This selection process is important because the wrong leaves will have a negative impact on the fermentation process.

The fermentation step in the process of producing “Puer” tea takes 110 days.

Continued on January 19, 2012 in Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 3 or return to Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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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Note: This five-part series of posts on “Tea for Emperors and Tibet” first appeared May 2010, as The Magic of “Puer” Tea, The Tea Horse Road, and Kambucha Fermented Tea.


Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 1/5

January 17, 2012

My weekend cup of Numi Organic Pu’erh tea reaches back into China and Tibet’s history almost two thousand years. The journey this tea takes starts in China’s Southwest Yunnan province along the border of Laos and Vietnam.

There are several varieties of tea — white, black, scented and green to name a few.

The mountainous region of southwest China in Yunnan Province produces a special tea called “Puer”.

The custom with “Puer” is to pick new tea and drink old tea. This refers to a practice unique for “Puer” tea of aging the tea in storage to obtain the unique flavor.

In addition, modern science has recognized “Puer” for its health benefits beyond black tea.


Chinese Puer tea – Part 1/3

In 225 A.D., when China was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu, the prime minister of Shu led a military expedition to Yunnan.

Historical records say that many of the Shu troops came down with eye diseases. After they drank the boiled tea, it is believed that the troops were cured.

The leaves came from a tea tree in Yunnan. Over time, tea drinking for health benefits became a tradition in other areas of China including Tibet.

There is an old saying in Tibet. “Better three days without food than a day without tea.” Historical records show that Tibetans started drinking tea during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) in 641.

Tibet does not grow tea trees, so the famous Tea Horse Road from Tibet to Yunnan was opened. Over the centuries, tens of thousands of horses were traded with China for tea.

In the early 19th century, Emperor Daoguang named “Puer” tea as a “Divine Tribute to the Kingdom of Heaven”.

Continued on January 18, 2012 in Tea for Emperors and Tibet – Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
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About iLook China

Note: This five-part series of posts on “Tea for Emperors and Tibet” first appeared May 2010, as The Magic of “Puer” Tea, The Tea Horse Road, and Kambucha Fermented Tea.


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