“For All the Tea in China” – a book review

October 23, 2012

If you are interested in a real-life collision between the West and China early in the 19th century, then I highly recommend Sarah Rose’s nonfiction work. You will discover that the British Empire and its merchants were successful, because they were more ruthless and devious than anyone else on Earth.

You may be interested in the list of wars that involved the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1701 – 2011. Be prepared for shock and a dropped jaw. The price of an empire is blood, lots of spilled blood.

At its greatest extent, the British Empire was known as the largest in history, and it covered more than thirteen-million square miles (20,921,472 square kilometers), which is about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area, and she controlled more than 500 million people—a quarter of the world’s population.

The English language, which the British Empire spread, is the second most-widely spoken language in the world today—in reality, the standard language of the world.

What financed the brutal expansion of this empire?  According to For All the Tea in China, drugs paid for the empire.  The British Empire was a thief and the largest drug cartel in human history.

Sarah Rose wrote a fascinating story of Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) and one of, if not the largest, acts of corporate espionage and theft in history. This nonfiction book is about how the British stole tea plants and the method of producing tea from China and successfully transplanted this industry in India.

For example, if you drink Darjeeling Tea from India, you are drinking a product that was stolen from China by Robert Fortune in the early half of the 19th century.

But there is much more to this story than the theft of tea from the country that may have invented it almost five thousand years ago. In fact, China is considered to have the earliest records of tea drinking, with recorded tea use in its history dating back to the first millennium BCE.

However, first, I want to dispel a misconception I discovered from a two-star Amazon reader review that said, “I was a little skeptical about her comment in the notes ‘As this is a work of popular history, not a scholarly undertaking, I have avoided the use of footnotes and tried to steer clear of mentioning sources in the body of the text. Nevertheless, this is a work of nonfiction …’ “

That unfair review left off the rest of Sarah Rose’s quote that said, “Nevertheless, this is a work of nonfiction, and anything in quotes comes from a letter, memoir, newspaper or other contemporaneous sources.

“I have relied heavily on Robert Fortune’s four memoires (listed at the end of this post), his letters to the East India Company and other company documents housed in the British Library. Over five hundred books and documents were consulted in putting this project together.” (pg. 251, hardcover)

On page 227 of the hardcover, Rose wrote, “By the time the Chinese realized that Fortune had stolen an inestimable treasure from them, it was many years too late to remediate their loss. His theft helped spread tea to a wider world at lower prices.”

In addition, “Tea likewise revolutionized Britain’s capital and banking systems and influenced the rapid growth of trade networks in the Far East. It was instrumental in extending the reach of British colonialism as the empire expanded to include countries such as Burma, Ceylon, East Africa and others where tea could be grown …”

On page 178, we discover, “It was through drug-based commercial enterprises such as the tea and opium trade that Britain became the greatest of all hegemonic empires. The British campaign to sell opium in China was tremendously profitable. … Britain’s all-conquering naval fleet was able to be constantly improved with newly minted capital from the sugar, tea and opium trades. Without opium, the India trade would not have flourished and without India, Britain’s post-Napoleonic global ascendency could well have collapsed.”

However, these few quotes do not do justice to Robert Fortune’s adventure in China. He successfully passed himself off as a citizen of the Qing Empire dressed in mandarin robes. He even had a queue, a braid of hair worn hanging down behind the head, sewn to his scalp and had his head shaved to match the style of the time.

“He eventfully became proficient enough with speaking Mandarin that he was able to adopt the local dress and move among the populous largely unnoticed. By shaving his head and adopting a ponytail, this rather gruff Scotsman was able to effectively blend in. So well in fact, that he was able to enter the forbidden city of Souchow (now Wuhsien) unchallenged.” Source: Planet Explorers.com

Besides being nonfiction loaded with facts, this book was also an adventure and/or spy thriller based on a real person and his mission of intrigue—if caught, he would have been executed. To pull off the biggest heist of all time, Fortune traveled to areas of China that no foreigner had ever visited before, and his only companions were Chinese that he had bribed to work for him.

Today, tea is the most popular drink in the world in terms of consumption. Its consumption equals all other manufactured drinks in the world – including coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol – put together. In fact, China is still the leading tea producer in the world: in 2010 China produced 1,467,467 tons (32.5%) compared to second place India at 991,180 tons (21.9%). Third place went to Kenya at 399,000 tons (8.83%).

In addition, consumption of tea in 2010 grew at a faster rate than global production. In the United States alone in 2011, the US tea industry gross revenue through all foodservice and retail outlets was greater than $27-billion (and twelve countries consumed more tea than the US). For a comparison, ticket sales for the US domestic movie market were only $10.28-billion in 2011.

Tea is more popular than Hollywood.

Robert Fortune’s memoirs:

1. Three Years’ Wandering in the Northern Provinces of China, A Visit to the Tea, Silk, and Cotton Countries, with an account of the Agriculture and Horticulture of the Chinese, New Plants, etc., London: John Murray  (1847)

2. A Journey To The Tea Countries Of China; Including Sung-Lo And The Bohea Hills; With A Short Notice Of The East India Company’s Tea Plantations In The Himalaya Mountains. With Map And Illustrations, London: John Murray  (1853)

3. Two visits to the tea countries of China and the British tea plantations in the Himalaya: with a narrative of adventures, and a full description of the culture of the tea plant, the agriculture, horticulture, and botany of China, London: John Murray (1853)

4. A Residence Among the Chinese; Inland, On the Coast and at Sea; being a Narrative of Scenes and Adventures During a Third Visit to China from 1853 to 1856, including Notices of Many Natural Productions and Works of Art, the Culture of Silk, &c, London: John Murray (1857)

5. Yedo and Peking; A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China, with Notices of the Natural Productions, Agriculture, Horticulture and Trade of those Countries and Other Things Met with By the Way, London: John Murray  (1863)

Discover The Tea Horse Road or learn about The Magic of Puer Tea

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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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The United States versus the People’s Republic of China — Who is more AGGRESSIVE?

September 3, 2012

Here’s an “AGGRESSION” comparison between People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States (USA). To keep score, I will only count casualties (those killed on both sides—the wounded and cost of the wars will not be counted).  The most aggressive nation will have the highest score.

First Tibet (1950): Technically Tibet was an independent country from 1911-12 to 1950—thirty-eight years.

Before that, Tibet was ruled over by China starting with the Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367) ), Ming Dynasty (1368-1643) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) —five-hundred-forty-three years.

To read about this from a reputable Western source (because few in the West trust PRC sources), I suggest the October 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine.  There’s a piece in the magazine written by a Western trained, Qing-Dynasty doctor that the Chinese emperor sent to Tibet in 1907 for two years. His name was Shaoching H. Chuan, M.D. ( I have an original copy of this almost 100-year-old magazine).

When the Chinese Communist Party won the Civil War against Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT Party, in 1950, Mao sent the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to take Tibet back. For a comparison, when the United States declared its independence from the British Empire, the revolution lasted from 1776 to 1783—seven years.

Casualties and losses comparing the America’s Revolution with the British Empire to Tibet’s Revolution with China

Total American causalities 25,000 dead
America’s allies: The French and Spanish lost about 8,000 in Europe and America

The British lost about 20,000.

In comparison to America’s Revolution that cost 53,000 lives over seven years, in 1950 after the PLA reoccupied Tibet, the war was over in a matter of days/weeks.

The Tibetan government in exile exaggerated the number killed in Tibet at 1.2 million and has accused China of genocide.

However, Michael Parenti wrote this in his book Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth: “The official 1953 census–six years before the Chinese crackdown–recorded the entire population residing in Tibet at 1,274,000. Other census counts put the population within Tibet at about two million.”

Source: http://thenewvoice.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/the-myth-of-tibet-genocide/

In addition, China puts the actual combat losses at 114 PLA soldiers and 180 Tibetan troops, while a Western source, Thomas Laird, claims 5,000 (for the comparison, I will use Laird’s number) Tibetan troops were killed.

“Tibetan prisoners of war were generally well treated. After confiscating their weapons, the PLA soldiers gave the prisoners lectures on socialism and a small amount of money, before allowing them to return to their homes. According to Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the PLA did not attack civilians.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_Tibet_into_the_People’s_Republic_of_China#Behavior_of_the_PLA

Note: In 1949, the average life expectancy in years in Tibet was 35 years.  Today it is close to 70 years. The average life expectancy in a nation may indicate the quality of life.

Korean Conflict (June 1950 – July 1953) – this war never resolved. Technically, America and South Korea are still at war with North Korea.

America and its allies lost 776,360 troops (America’s share of those losses was about 40,000 dead)

China and its allies lost 1,545,822–1,648,582 (easily twice the other side)

America’s Vietnam War (1955 – 1975) – It has been proven that America’s President L. B. Johnson started this war with a lie—watch the video.

America and its allies lost 676,585 – 1,035,585 (America’s share 58,220 dead)

North Vietnam and its allies–the PRC and the USSR lost 588,462 – 1,672,462

Civilians = 486,000 – 1,200,000.

China’s Vietnam War (1979) Note: China occupied and ruled over Vietnam for 1,000 years

“The first major threat to Vietnam’s existence as a separate people and nation was the conquest of the Red River Delta by the Chinese, under the mighty Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), in the first century B.C. At that time, and in later centuries, the expanding Chinese empire assimilated a number of small bordering nations politically and culturally. Although Vietnam spent 1,000 years under Chinese rule, it succeeded in throwing off the yoke of its powerful neighbor in the tenth century.”

Source: http://countrystudies.us/vietnam/2.htm

China’s casualties = 6,954 – 26,000 (depending on who you believe)

Vietnam’s casualties = 10,000 to 30,000 (depending on who you believe)

China’s War with India (1962 for about two months)

Note: China has clearly been successful in resolving border disputes with most of its neighbours in a ‘win-win’ situation since the 1990s.

However, India has had border wars with three of its neighbors: China, Pakistan and Nepal. In comparison, China has negotiated border disputes peacefully with North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.

Source: http://www.eu-asiacentre.eu/pub_details.php?pub_id=46

India’s casualties = 1,383

China’s casualties = 722

America’s War in Iraq (March 2004 – December 2011)

America and its allies:

Iraq Security Forces = 16,623 dead

Coalition Forces (America and its allies) = 4,805

Contractors = 1,554

Awakening Councils = 1,002 or more

Documented civilian deaths from violence = 103,160 – 113,729.

America’s enemies:

Iraqi combatants during the gulf war = 7,600 – 11,000

Insurgents killed = 21,221 – 26,405

America’s War in Afghanistan (2001 – present)

America and its allies: 14,446+

No way to reliable estimate how many Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc have lost.

Civilians killed : 12,500 – 14,700

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Final Score: (Note: In most cases, the low estimate was used—the only exception being Tibet versus China)

The United States = 2.7 million deaths (the low estimate) and forty-eight years of war

The People’s Republic of China = 1.6 million and about three years of war. (about 1.5 million of those killed were in Korea)

Some more facts to help measure AGGRESSION – nuclear warheads

The USA = 8,500
The PRC = 240

Private industry weapon sales to the world:

USA = 30% of all global weapons sales—isn’t capitalism great?
PRC = about 5% of the global weapons sales

Note: The world’s biggest weapons suppliers are the USA, the UK, Russia, Germany and France.  China doesn’t even make the top-five.

Source: http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/world-top-ten-countries-by-nuclear-warheads-map.html

Who won the AGGRESSION contest between the USA and PRC? — YOU DECIDE

Discover The Tiananmen Square Hoax

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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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The Sex and the City Generation and the Mulberry Child – Part 2/2

July 3, 2012

While I was reading the reviews on Amazon of the memoir Mulberry Child, I thought that many critics in the West that crucify the Chinese Communist Party due to Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) seldom mention similar suffering that is happening somewhere else in the world every day.

For example, in India, between 6,000 to 13,000 children die of starvation daily (depending on the source/study you read). Tens of millions have died of starvation and malnutrition since India became a democracy in 1947—constantly repeating a history of suffering generation after generation.

In fact, Mao’s Cultural Revolution is now history as slavery in the United States was (past tense—slavery has returned) history due to the bloody American Civil War (1861 – 1865) and the Civil Rights Movement in the US (1955 – 1968).  Parents should learn from the mistakes of history and teach the children so they may avoid making the same mistakes.

Jian started writing the “Mulberry Child” memoir in the year 2000 when her daughter Lisa was still a teenager. The reason she wrote the memoir was because she was having difficulty communicating with her daughter and did not want her to forget where she came from (Lisa was born in China and came to the US at age four years six months).  It took eight years for Jian to finish the memoir due to her demanding work schedule.

The memoir focuses on the past but the documentary focuses on the present—the relationship between a mother and daughter.

At first, when the documentary of the “Mulberry Child” went into production, Lisa, the daughter, resisted getting involved. Today, she is proud that she was part of the process, and she is still discovering what her Chinese heritage means.

However—it is obvious from watching the YouTube interview (above)—Lisa is more of an American member of the “Sex and the City” generation than she is a Chinese immigrant to the US.

Therefore, it is the duty of mothers/parents that love their children—that do not want them to repeat the mistakes of the past—to take them on this journey of discovery that Jian Ping took her daughter Lisa on.

Once the next generation forgets the suffering of the past, history may repeat itself.

Return to The Sex and the City Generation and the Mulberry Child – Part 1

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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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Searching for Impurity – Part 3/3

May 23, 2012

On page 23, Worst Polluted.org reported, “Almost every country in the world has some kind of industrial estate, with Vietnam and Sri Lanka estimated to each have 50 to 60 industrial areas, and India and China reaching hundreds of industrial clusters…”

On page 32, the report said, “Studies in China have found that certain crops, such as corn, are particularly susceptible to lead accumulation when grown in close proximity to smelters.”

There was also a list of four countries at the top of page 32 on regions most impacted by lead pollution and lead smelting. China was in last place with seven sites impacting 158,100 people. The other three countries/areas totaled more than 1.8 million people impacted by this type of pollution.

On page 43, there was a picture of a lead-zinc mining facility in China.

On page 59, there was a picture of a chemical manufacturing plant in China.

That was it. In seventy-six pages, China was only mentioned five times. What a disappointment. I was expecting so much more considering the amount of criticism heaped on China by its enemies and critics.

One city in China was listed as the most polluted in the world in 2006. I wondered why it didn’t make the list for 2011.

Linfen, China is situated in China’s southern Shanxi province along the banks of the Fen River.  In 2010, this city had a population of about 4.3 million inhabitants.

Then in 2007, Times Magazine said that China was home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, and said, “Only 1% of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is deemed safe by European Union standards.”

However, it was tragic to learn that China is now leading the clean economy race. The Chinese government is “going for the gold” and “taking this challenge much more seriously than others … doing things differently, making longer-term, sustained commitments that are much larger,” wrote Andrew Winston in the Harvard Business Review. [ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China is investing about US$75 to $100 billion EACH year in clean energy for the 10 years between 2010 and 2020, according to the “country’s ten-year plan that made some jaws drop”. [ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China retained the top spot in 2010 as the world’s leading investor in low-carbon energy technology, according to a report by the US Pew Environment Group, which wrote that China’s “ascendance has been steady and steep … With aggressive clean energy targets and clear ambition to dominate clean energy manufacturing and power generation, China is rapidly moving ahead of the rest of the world.” [ Pew Environment Group report “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2010?”; BBC News “China tops global clean energy table” March 29, 2011 ]

On an end note, Worst Polluted.org mentioned the United States three times, Canada once and India twenty-three times. I didn’t check for any other countries on this report. As I finished posting this series, I realized that I could not score any points with China’s enemies and critics, since it was a country that many in the West love to hate. In addition, I suspect India is mostly ignored by these same people because it was a Western style democracy.

Return to Searching for Impurity – Part 2 or start with Part 1

For more on the topic of pollution, see The cause of China’s pollution or Contaminated Water and Soil is a Global Problem

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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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Searching for Impurity – Part 1/3

May 21, 2012

My goal with this post was to prove China’s critics and enemies were correct when they claim China is a horrible place to live and due to pollution—the worst country in the world.

I failed. Sorry guys. I should have only focused on air pollution and the rivers where most of China’s industries are located and stayed away from the global comparison lists.

After having read so much about “horrible” China due to its pollution, I decided to see how many of its cities made the top ten lists and was shocked to discover none made the list in 2011.

Time Magazine has a Blog called Ecocentric, and it is about all things green. Here’s that list of the world’s top-ten most polluted cities for 2011.

1. Ahwaz, Iran

2. Ulan Bator, Mongolia

3. Sanadaj, Iran

4. Ludhiana, India

5. Quetta, Pakistan

6. Kermanshah, Iran

7. Peshawar, Pakistan

8. Gaberone, Botswana

9. Yasouj, Iran

10. Kanpor, India

Did you see China on that list?  You have no idea how disappointed I was.

Ecocentric says that all of these cities have one thing in common—they are fairly poor except for number eight in Botswana, which is considered a middle income country/city. “Residents often burn heavy, polluting fuel for heat and energy—including firewood or even dung, which can produce heavy, thick smoke. Add in old, diesel-powered cars that belch black carbon and growing population density in urban slums—plus weather conditions like Ulan Bator’s extreme cold, which worsens air pollution – and you have an ugly mess.”

But what about China? After all, there is so much attention focused on China by Western Blogs and the media about China’s pollution problems, while often ignoring the same problems in the rest of the world, one would think that with more than 800 million rural Chinese living in near poverty using coal to cook and heat their homes, the air would be a thick, black pea soup one could swim in let alone breathe.

Then I visited the top  ten list at Mibazzar.com and discovered that two cities in China’s made that list: I was overjoyed, and then I saw that the date for that list was 2007. Darn! Failed again!

Those two cities that made the list in 2007 were Linfen, China (3,000,000 people affected) and Tianying China (140,000 people affected). Wow, that wasn’t even one percent of China’s population.

Two of the cities on Mibazzar’s 2007 list were in India, one in Zambia, one in Peru, one Azerbeijan, Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and Norilsk in Russia.

Continued on May 19, 2012 in Searching for Impurity – Part 2

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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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