Harbin, China’s Northeastern Winter Wonderland

June 16, 2015

Casey Chan of Gizmodo posted A Winter Wonderland in China with two photos of The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival located in Northeast China where the average winter temperature is a (minus) – 16.8 degrees Celsius (1.76 Fahrenheit). The Festival is held in January.

It is June, and you might wonder why I’m posting this now instead of December or January. The simple answer is for travelers who might want to visit China and think Harbin would be a good place to include in the trip—next winter.

Wikipedia says the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival was first held in 1963, but it was interrupted for a few years during the insanity of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Mao died in 1976, and it took time for China’s economic engine to recover. The fact that the festival resumed in 1985 is a sign of the changes taking place in China.

In the comment section of Chan’s Gizmodo post, Adam wrote, “China is awesome when it comes to giant decorations and celebrations (just remember the Olympics!), but the people there still have an extremely low quality of life. Why, if they can do some things so well, do they fail at others?”

Sega8800 asked Adam, “How do you know their life is low quality?”

Adam’s answer was a Wikipedia link to a post of a 1994 book, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power. The couple who wrote the book spent five years in China (1988 to 1993) as journalists for the New York Times—not the best unbiased source about China by a long shot.

I laughed.

The content for that book was based on material that was more than 22-years old, and time in China did not freeze. During those years, China transformed itself by rebuilding the old cities while building more than a hundred new ones in addition to the explosion of a middle class that equals or surpasses the entire population of the United States. China has also crisscrossed the country with new highways, railroads that include high speed rail that doesn’t even exist in the United States yet, and it has built more than 500 new airports while America’s airports are way overdue for an upgrade.

In fact, as the standard of living for China’s still growing middle class expands, the Chinese are now buying more new cars than Americans, traveling the world as tourists (about 100 million annually), and the most popular car that’s a status symbol in China is GM’s Buick (别克).

The embedded videos with this post are of Harbin and previous festivals.

map_china_showing_Harbin

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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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Yao Ming, China’s basketball superstar

May 26, 2015

The embedded ten-minute video of the China Daily interview with Yao Ming is in Mandarin with English subtitles.

For those who don’t know who Yao Ming is, he was born in Shanghai, China in 1980.  When he was twenty-two, Yao Ming came to the US. where he played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association and, at the time, was the tallest player in the NBA at 2.29 meters or 7 feet 6 inches.

Before Yao Ming came to the US, he played for the Shanghai Sharks as a teen then played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Watching the China Daily interview revealed another side to this gentle giant. A brief abridged transcript of the interview is provided.

The People Daily interview took place in July 2010 shortly before a charity game held in Beijing. The reporter conducting the interview is Yu Yilei

Yu Yilei – Your charity game will be held in Beijing. What idea do you want to convey through it?

Yao Ming – The main purpose of the game is to help kids in Sichuan and other remote areas to rebuild their schools. In addition, we want to tell the public that people like us, who live in big cities, have the responsibility and obligation to help others.

It (the charity) was actually Steve Nash’s idea. Nash had a friend who was an entrepreneur in China, and he’d been concerned about China’s education in its remote areas.  It was an early time, the beginning of 2007.

I said I needed to think it over, because I didn’t have any experience in terms of charity (In fact, Charity as we know it in America and/or the West was new to the Chinese).

The man who provided the information about education in remote areas of China shocked “us” deeply.

A foreigner knew more about China than I did.  It feels… It makes me blush. (He then mentions that charity is just getting started in China and there hasn’t yet been time to develop regulations to supervise and protect it.)

Yu Yilei – How to you insure the regulation of the Yao Foundation?

Yao Ming – I think information transparency is most important. There is a professional management team and accountants. You can also find out very clearly on our website what each donation has been used for.

Yao Ming goes on to talk about his son and how China and America have influenced him.

Notes: In 2004, Business Week reported that Yao’s four-year contract with the Rockets was worth $18 million, and he earned an estimated $15 million a year in longer-term deals with top-tier brands Pepsi, Reebok, Gatorade, and McDonalds.…Some executives believe Yao has the potential to gross $300 million in his first 10 years in the league. Yao Ming earned 51 million U.S. Dollars (357 million yuan) in 2008 alone.

In July 2011, Yao announced his retirement from professional basketball due to a series of foot and ankle injuries that forced him to miss 250 games in his last six seasons. In eight seasons with the Rockets, Yao ranks sixth among franchise leaders in total points and total rebounds, and second in total blocks.

Yao is married to Ye Li, a women’s basketball player for China. He met her when he was 17 years old. Ye was not fond of Yao at first, but finally accepted him after he gave her the team pins he had collected during the 2000 Summer Olympics. She’s the only woman he has ever dated. Their relationship became public when they appeared together during the 2004 Olympics closing ceremony. On August 6, 2007, Yao married Ye in a ceremony attended by close friends and family and closed to the media.

In August 2012, Yao started filming a documentary about the northern white rhinoceros. He is also an ambassador for elephant conservation. Yao has filmed a number of public service announcements for elephant and rhino conservation for the “Say No” Campaign with partners African Wildlife Foundation and WildAid.

______________________________

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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Finding Clean Air in China

January 20, 2015

If asked to name cities in China, most people outside of China would probably say Shanghai and Beijing, but China has more than a hundred cities with populations over a million and some of them actually have clean air.

Mike Conklin, in a special to the Chicago Tribune, reveals a rare gem in Xiamen, China—a southeast port across the Taiwan Straits from Taiwan.

One of China’s top universities is located in Xiamen with about 30,000 students along with a half dozen other colleges.

Besides great beaches and “CLEAN AIR”, the population is environmentally conscious and prices are low.  A few years ago, the CCP planned to build a chemical plant in Xianmen.  But students took to the streets in peaceful protest and more than a million text messages were sent objecting to the chemical plant.

The central government changed its plans—meaning NO chemical plant was built in or near Xiamen.

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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.

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

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

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Spilling oil is something China may have in common with other countries, but who spills the most?

September 16, 2014

MSNBC reported on BP’s April 20, 2010 oil spill disaster. After an explosion that killed 11 workers and injured 17, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing industries and tourism was devastated while oil washed ashore turning beaches black with goo.

A few months later in July 2010, the BBC reported on China struggling to recover from their worst oil spill disaster ever—about 18 to 28 million gallons of crude oil spilled.

China was new to this type of disaster and yet, they quickly mobilized an army of volunteers and anglers to help clean the pollution from the area around the port of Dalian, one of China’s most important strategic oil reserves.

China’s oil spill came from an explosion in an oil pipeline. Witnesses report that China may have responded faster than the US did for the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline that exploded belonged to China National Petroleum Corporation.

Using this list published by Foreign Policy Magazine of the world’s largest oil spills, let’s see how China’s oil spill compares? I mean, who spilled more oil?

In January 1991, As Iraqi forces withdrew from their position in Kuwait, they sabotaged hundreds of wells, oil terminals, and tankers. Between 160 million and 410 million gallons poured into the Persian Gulf.

In June 1979, the IXTOC 1 Oil Well exploded spilling 138 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.

In July 1979, 90 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean 10 miles off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago.

In February 1983, 80 million gallons of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf during the height of the Iran-Iraq war when an oil tanker hit the Nowrux Field Platform causing a leak that couldn’t be capped for months because the platform was under constant attack by Iraqi planes.

In May of 1991, 80 million gallons spilled into the ocean 900 miles off the coast of Angola when a tanker holding 260,000 tons of crude exploded.

Foreign Policy Magazine didn’t list the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989 where about 11 million U.S. gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound. For a more complete list of global oil spills, check this list on Wikipedia. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page so you don’t miss anything. You may notice that only 3 are listed for China versus the 62, I counted for the U.S.

Is this the price we must pay for a world that depends on oil/coal for electricity and transportation while the oil and coal industries all but ignore alternative sources of power, and people like the Koch brothers often succeed at pressuring the U.S. government to do little to nothing?

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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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Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s Garden: Part 2 of 2

September 3, 2014

Easy Diving Blogspot.com posted a piece (with a few stunning winter pictures) about Suzhou. Easy Diving said the city’s history goes back to 514 BC.  The gardens were built by imperial officials to create an oasis of tranquility intended for inward reflection.

That tranquility was shattered several times.  The gardens were first destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion.

Then the Japanese invaded China during World War II, and the gardens were destroyed a second time.

During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, many of the gardens were destroyed a third time.

It wasn’t until 1981, several years after Mao’s death, and Deng Xiaoping ruled the Communist Party, that most of the gardens were rebuilt along with many of China’s Buddhist temples that had been destroyed.

Start with or return to Return to Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s Garden: 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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China Saving the Giant Panda

July 22, 2014

The giant panda is popular.  I just Googled “Giant Panda” and there were almost 27 million hits, and a Google Blog search resulted in 620 thousand hits. The second Blog listed on that search was the Smithsonian and the post was about giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian at the National Zoo.

When we took my sister and her youngest daughter to China in 2008, my forty-year-old niece wanted to see the pandas and have a picture taken of one sitting on her lap. That was one area of China we didn’t visit, so that didn’t happen.

The giant panda—because it’s so cute with its black and white coloring—is considered by many of the bear’s fans as docile, but it has been known to attack humans. It probably isn’t a good idea to have a giant panda sit on your lap. An adult male may weigh 330 pounds and a female 275 pounds. After all, it’s still a wild animal.

In fact, China’s giant pandas are considered a living treasure. Although the dragon has historically served as China’s national emblem, recently the giant panda has also served as an emblem for the country. The Chengdu Research Base is working hard to breed the pandas so the species survives.

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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 third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.

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Greenpeace in China

June 3, 2014

If China is a totalitarian country without much freedom as critics such as Liu Xiaobo claim, why is Greenpeace thriving there without harassment from China’s central government?

Then, if democracies are so desirable, why did Japan send two Greenpeace activists to jail for one year after exposing widespread corruption in the Japanese government’s Southern Ocean whaling programme?

While in China, efforts to combat climate change demonstrate that China’s government acknowledges the challenge as well as the responsibility of China to tackle them.


Listen to Greenpeace China’s Tom Wang in Tianjin calmly being honest about China’s pollution challenges.

In fact, Greenpeace China has offices in Hong Kong (opened 1997), Beijing and Guangzhou (opened in 2002) and is the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in the People’s Republic of China.

Then in 2006, Greenpeace China was the only NGO to be consulted on an early draft of renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress.

Has the US government consulted with Greenpeace?

China has also allowed two Greenpeace expeditions to China’s Himalayan region in 2006 and 2007 where evidence was discovered of the dramatic retreat of glaciers, which was reported in National Geographic Magazine.

One Greenpeace China campaign focused on stopping Monsanto, a US-headquartered biotechnology giant, from patenting a Chinese indigenous soybean variety.

Earlier campaigns in China focused on food, agriculture and electronic waste while highlighting the dangers of PVC in children’s toys.

Today, Greenpeace China runs five major campaigns focused on climate, energy, food and agriculture, water pollution and a campaign on air pollution focused in Hong Kong.

I admit finding this information about Greenpeace China surprised me because all I’ve heard in the Western media of Greenpeace is that they are a gang of dangerous activists doing crazy things to get attention.

Until reading about Greenpeace in China, I didn’t know what a positive force this NGO was for cleaning the environment.

Now I want to know why the US isn’t doing more. But I already know the answer: the Koch brothers, who own most of the U.S. Congress.

Visit Greenpeace East Asia to discover more of what Greenpeace is up to in China.

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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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