The Earth was Flat Once

July 30, 2014

In 1610, Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius, the Starry Messenger, about discoveries he made with his new telescope. He was attacked for his theory because it seemed to contradict Scripture and what the Church told people to believe if they wanted to get into heaven.  Because of this, in 1633, Galileo was tried and convicted of heresy.


Have you heard of the Flat Earth Society?

Fifteen hundred years prior to Galileo’s discovery that the earth was round and orbited the sun, there is evidence that Chinese mathematicians had calculated the size of the earth on the basis that it must have been spherical (round). However, similar to what happened to Galileo, the Chinese people would continue to believe the earth was flat for centuries.  It’s possible that when Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), China’s first emperor, had the great book burning, he burned the evidence of earlier Chinese mathematical texts.

In addition, older Chinese creation myths included details that accounted for the tilt of the earth and other astronomical facts.  Several existing, ancient Chinese applied mathematics texts prove the Chinese were the first to use some of the most basic and advanced mathematical principles and concepts utilized in modern times. Two of these texts are the Chou Pei and Chiu Chang (these texts date from the period of the Zhou Dynasty from 1046—256 BCE).

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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 History of Moon Madness

July 27, 2014

This is the year of the Horse.  I was born in the year of the Rooster. To discover your year, use the Chinese Zodiac Sign Calculator.  Just feed in your date of birth.

China’s ancient calendar is based on a twelve-year lunar cycle. At one time, the Chinese calendar was confusing and complex. Buddhists have been given credit for simplifying it by replacing a complex system of numerical symbols with the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

There are several Chinese calendars, which are still in use today. Each has its own purpose. Farmers in rural China use one. There’s even a Chinese gender calendar to help conceive a boy or girl.

In addition to the lunar, numerical, astronomical, gender and agricultural calendars, each day also has a name from one of twenty-eight constellations, with a ruling spirit for the day.

In charting the sky, the Chinese divided the heavens into 28 constellations located along the Equator and the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere), each named after a star in the vicinity.

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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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The Return of Confucius

June 4, 2014

The bronze sculpture of Confucius stands tall at 31 feet (9.5 meters) and is described as having a serious expression. Four months after appearing in Tienanmen Square staring at Mao portrait hanging from the walls of the Forbidden City, the statue—without fanfare—was quietly moved to the courtyard of a museum in Beijing.

Chang writes, “Confucius is enjoying a revival, in books and films, on TV and in classrooms…” In fact, a $500-million dollar museum-and-park complex is under construction in his hometown of Qufu in Shandong Province that includes a statue of Confucius almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

For those who don’t know, Mao declared war on Confucianism and education during the Cultural Revolution.

My wife, who grew up in China during Mao’s era, still believes Confucian values for harmony and peace are what made China weak and a victim to Western Imperialism during the 19th century and to the Japanese during World War II. She may be right. At the time, China believed it was too civilized to worry and wasn’t prepared to defend itself as it is today.

However, she also says to pay attention to the small things the government does. Don’t expect Chinese to be as direct as Westerners.

There’s a strong message in Confucius standing opposite Mao across the vastness of Tiananmen Square as if he were scolding Mao for what he did and few mainland Chinese will miss the meaning. Mao, the student, has been chastised and Tiger Mothers such as Amy Chua are being sent a message to stay tough with their children when it comes to having the kids eat bitterness and sacrifice having fun while working hard earning an education.

Confucius wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now that China is a capitalist/socialist nation with an open market economy, the need for Confucian values is making a comeback with government support. Confucius taught duty to family, respect for learning, virtuous behavior (three traits rare in the West) and obedience of individuals to the state.

What Chang doesn’t say is that Confucius also had expectations for the state to lead by example and to act the part of a gentleman. China’s leaders are aware that they are responsible to provide security for the nation and economic progress for the people in ways that most Western rulers would never consider.

Although China’s central government hasn’t launched a Western style public relations campaign to resurrect Confucian values, which are still a strong foundation for most Chinese families, Chang indicates that we will see some top leaders promoting Confucianism.

In fact, in 2010, a movie of Confucius with Chow Yun Fat was filmed and released in China.

There’s another message that most American weapons’ manufactures and conservative hawks won’t want the world to understand. If China is really moving back to Confucian values, that means China will not be the aggressor in war but will keep a modern military for defense only.

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Lloyd Lofthouseis 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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China’s Greatest Leaders

May 14, 2014

China’s longest lasting dynasties survived due to one or more great emperors.

After China was unified by Qin Shi Huangdi (221 – 207 BC), there were only five dynasties that survived for long periods: the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

Although China’s civilization survived, the country’s history is rampant with rebellions, palace coups, corruption among palace officials, and insurrections. Between the five longest dynasties, the country usually fell apart into warring regions as it did after 1911.

The most successful emperors managed to stabilize the country while leading wisely as the Communist Party has done since 1976.

Emperor Han Wudi (ruled 141 – 87 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 219 A.D.) was fifteen when he first sat on the throne.

Wudi is considered one of the greatest emperors in China’s history. He expanded the borders, opened the early Silk Road, developed the economy, and established state monopolies on salt, liquor and rice.

After the Han Dynasty collapsed, China fell apart for almost 400 years before the Tang Dynasty was established (618 -906). The Tang Dynasty was blessed with several powerful emperors.

The first was Emperor Tang Taizong, who ruled from 627-649.

According to historical records, Wu Zetain (624 to 705 AD), China’s only woman emperor, also ruled wisely.

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, Zetain’s grandson, ruled longer (712 – 756) than any Tang emperor (43 years) and the dynasty prospered  during the first half of his reign but declined after the Anshi Rebellion (755 – 763).

After the Tang dynasty fell, there would be a short period of about 60 years before the Sung Dynasty reestablished order and unified the country again.

The second emperor of the Sung Dynasty, Sung Taizong (ruled 976 – 997) unified China after defeating the Northern Han Dynasty. The third emperor, Sung Zhenzong (ruled 997-1022) also deserves credit for maintaining stability.

The Sung Dynasty then declined until a revival by Sung Ningzong, who ruled from 1194 to 1224 AD. After he died, the dynasty limped along until Kublai Khan defeated the last emperor in 1279.

After conquering all of China, Kublai Khan founded the Mongol, Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367). Not long after Kublai died, his dynasty was swept away when in 1368, a peasant rebellion defeated the Yuan Dynasty and drove the Mongols out of China followed by the Ming Dynasty (1271 – 1368) that’s known for rebuilding, strengthening and extending the Great Wall among a list of other accomplishments.

Historical records show that under the third Ming Emperor, Ming Chengzu (ruled 1403 – 1424), China was prosperous.

After Chengzu, the dynasty would decline until 1567 when Emperor Ming Muzong reversed the decline.

His son, Emperor Ming Shenzong, also ruled wisely from 1573 to 1620.

After Shenzong’s death, the Ming Dynasty quickly declined and was replaced by the Qing Dynasty in 1644.

The Opium Wars started by England and France and the Taiping Rebellion led by a Christian convert in the 19th century would contribute to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

The Qing Dynasty was fortunate to have three powerful, consecutive emperors: Emperor Kangxi (1661 – 1722), Yongzhen (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796). Under these three leaders, for one-hundred-and-thirty-five years, China remained strong and prosperous.

After the corrupt Qing Dynasty was swept aside in 1911 by a rebellion led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, China fell apart and warlords fought to see who’d rule China.

When Sun Yat-sen died, the republic he was building in southern China fell apart when Chiang Kai-shek broke the coalition that Sun Yat-sen had formed between the Nationalist and Communist Parties. Mao’s famous Long March shows how the Communists survived.

Then Japan invaded, and China would be engulfed in war and rebellion until 1945 when World War II ended. After World War II, the rebellion between the Nationalist and Communists ended in a victory for the Communists in 1949.

This victory was made possible because the Communists were supported by China’s peasants that hated, despised and distrusted the Nationalist Party, which represented China’s ruling elite.

The Communists gained the support of the peasants by treating the peasants with respect and promising reforms that would end the suffering.

Then Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution contributed to more suffering.

However, since the early 1980s, the Communist Party has been working to fulfill the promises made during the revolution, and the lifestyles of China’s people has been steadily improving.

There are many impatient voices in the West and a few in China that are not happy with the speed of China’s reforms or how the Party has handled them.

However, China has modernized and improved lifestyles starting in the early 1980s at a pace that has never been seen before in recorded world history.

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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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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