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.

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Do you hear the thunder of Chinese Drums?

March 26, 2014

The earliest evidence of the use of drums in China was found in Oracle inscriptions from the Shang Dynasty (1783-1123 BC).

Drums were used to motivate troops, set a marching pace and for sending orders or announcements.

The drum had a purpose in almost all elements of Chinese life. Copper drums come from southern China and date to almost a thousand years before Christ.  The copper drum was also called the war drum.

The Han Dynasty used copper drums for war too.

The Fengyang Drum Dance originated in Anhui Province and was used by traveling musicians and dancers in the streets of villages and towns. In time, it would represent poverty.

Tibetan drums are part of the Sholdon (Yogurt) Festival, which occurs in late August.

Drums are also used for the traditional Chinese New Year’s Lion Dance.

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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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Is Maoism still alive?

March 19, 2014

Caution—do not confuse Maoists with the Communist Party that currently rules China. Maoism, known as Mao Zedong thought, is a variant of Marxism derived from the teachings of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976). 

Maoism was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology in the Communist Party between 1949 and 1976, which led to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution.

But according to France 24, a new generation of Maoists in China thinks the CCP has “betrayed their leader’s roots by succumbing to capitalism and world trade.” And these “Maoists are very active on Chinese social networks.”

The Maoists in China want to roll back time to Mao’s Cultural Revolution where pure socialism rules with no capitalism.

After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the Communist Party under Deng Xiaoping repudiated revolutionary Maoism and embarked on the path toward a socialist-capitalist economic model that has led to prosperity for several hundred million people in China but more Chinese are not benefiting equally from economic growth in China—at least not as fast as they’d like, which explains why Maoism has not vanished.


China’s last Maoist village

Outside China, Maoism’s Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) was founded in 1984 and included the Communist Party of Peru (also known as the “Shining Path”).

In addition, there have been Maoist movements in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Palestine, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Somalia, Turkey and even the United States (where poverty is increasing). However, the international Maoist movement doesn’t have a unified, global leadership.

Recently, the Chinese “Maoist” Communist Party thought they had a leader in Bo Xilai. Then in 2012, Bo was connected to a cover up linked to his wife’s involvement in the murder of a British citizen. Bo was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, abuse of power and corruption. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of murder and was given a suspended death sentence. She may spend the rest of her life in prison or get out on a medical parole after serving nine years.

In 2009, the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal formed a coalition government, which collapsed a few months later as different rebel factions fought with each other. The Maoist’s goal was to turn Nepal into a Marxist Republic. (Nepal Assessment 2010)

In India, there is an ongoing Naxalite-Maoist rebellion in Andhra Pradesh but by the end of 2013, the movement was weak and not the threat it had been years earlier. The Maoist influence in India was caused by the lack of progress to end starvation among rural Indians—thousands die daily—who have had no improvement in their lifestyles for decades. (Naxalite-Maoist insurgency)

In the US, the Black Panthers (1967) was a militant Maoist organization.

In Paris in 1968, the National Liberation Front, another Maoist group, was the cause of street combat.

Maoism is caused by too much poverty and suffering when the poor working class rises up in rebellion against the wealthy in an attempt to distribute the wealth more evenly, but historically this has led to brutal dictatorships and then more suffering and death.

Pure socialism hasn’t worked because historically, it’s inefficient, against the competitive nature of humans and leads to shortages and a waste of workers time.

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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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Organized Religions in China

February 19, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner once said, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer difficult questions: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” Source: Theocracy Watch

The answer to Justice O’Conner’s question may be the reason why China’s government keeps such a close watch on religions and decides which ones may practice there. In fact, there’s plenty of historical evidence that China’s restrictions on religions may be justified.

For instance, Roman Catholic Popes influenced the kings of Europe leading to the Crusades (1095 – 1291) with 1 to 3 million dead; the persecution and eradication of the Cathars, and the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman inquisitions.

Then there were the Protestant-Catholic Wars: the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) with 3 to 11.5 million dead and the French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598) with 2 to 4 million dead.

Next there are the major modern Islamic-Christian wars: The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) with 1 to 3 million dead; Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) with 1 to 2 million dead, and the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990) with 120 – 250 thousand dead.

Last there’s China’s Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) led by converted Chinese Christians against the Qing Dynasty with 30 to 100 million dead.

You may have noticed from the few examples that religions with too much political influence and power do not have a good track record.

Then consider how many major religions there are. Why does it have to be so complicated? After all, there’s only one God—I think.

As it is, “China is a country with a great diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism… According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.” Source: Chinese Culture

If you visited the previous link, you discovered that China does allow people to worship God and join a few approved closely watched religions.

Reuters.com reports: “About half of China’s estimated 100 million religious followers are Christians or Muslims, with the rest Buddhists or Taoists, the government says, though it thinks the real number of believers is probably much higher.”

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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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Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 1 of 2

January 21, 2014

China is often criticized for not being a democracy with the same freedom of expression that the 1st Amendment of the United States offers its citizens.

However, no one considers that the political structure of today’s China might be closer to Sun Yat-sen’s vision than the democracy we find in the United States. In fact, the China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may offer the Chinese people more of a voice than the republic Sun Yat-sen was building before his death.

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925], considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, was introduced to the United States in 1882 when he attended a Christian school in Hawaii. That experience exposed him to American politics, and later he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

To learn about the United States that Sun Yat-sen discovered, we must step back and examine America’s political structure at that time.

“After the British were defeated a centralized, national government was seen by George Washington and company not as a method of extending freedom and the right to vote, but as a way of keeping control in the hands of rich. They wrote several anti-democratic provisions into the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was institutionalized. The Senate was not to be elected directly by the people; rather Senators were to be appointed by state legislatures. The President was not to be directly elected by the voters, but elected through an electoral college. The Supreme Court was to be appointed. Only the House of Representatives was elected directly.” (http://www.williampmeyers.org/republic.html)

In 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections. Where was Sun when this happened? He was in China leading a rebellion and struggling to build a multi-party republic that included the Communist and Nationalist parties. His ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades earlier.

The political climate that existed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will show us what Sun learned about politics in the United States. For instance, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in the spring of 1882 that was still in force. It wouldn’t be until 1942 that the act would be repealed.

In addition, in 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage could not become naturalized citizens. The following year the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians also could not become citizens, and the law that barred Native American’s from voting wasn’t removed until 1947.

How about the way children were treated in the United States?

It may shock some that children could be sold into slavery and end up working in factories, coal mines and whore houses as young as five. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that a federal law stopped this form of child slavery in the United States. America’s Civil War [1861 – 1865] may have ended black slavery but it didn’t free women and children of any race.

Continued on January 22, 2014 in Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 2

Discover three of China’s other republics; then decide how they are different from 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.

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


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