Writing her way out of Poverty: Part 2 of 2

July 29, 2015

A few days after Ma Yan heard that her family could not afford to continue her education past fifth grade, Pierre Haski, the French journalist, visited her village.  After seeing the diaries, Haski promised that he would help her continue school then go to a university or even further than that.

Needless to say, after the publication of her diaries, Ma Yan continued on to middle school along with lots of attention from the media.

Ma Yan says that most of the media asked her about her experience at school, and she wanted to tell them what it was like so the world would hear of the other poor children that wanted to go to school longer.

Because of that media attention, the students at her elementary and middle schools received offers of help.

That outpouring of interest led to the founding of Children of Ningxia, but it closed its doors in 2013. Details about funding for this project may be found at Global Giving. Global Giving reports that they have helped 245 young people from Ningxia through this program and 34 already graduated.

China’s government also abolished school fees through ninth grade but many remote, rural families still struggle to pay for boarding fees.

As the Al Jazeera segment of Ma Yan’s Story ends, I thought of the billion people living in poverty around the world. Less than 10% of those people live in China and this story is only of a few of those people.

In fact, child poverty in the United States is among the worst in the developed world, and many American children who live in poverty also can’t afford to go to college. More than 15 million children in the US—22% of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. – NCCP

As for China, a survey conducted by Peking University and Beijing Normal University on young people in 18 counties in 2010 revealed that 4.9 percent of the respondents live in poverty. China has a population of 309 million under the age of 18, of which 60 percent live in rural areas. The survey findings suggest there are an estimated 9 million children living in poverty in rural China. – SOS Children’s Villages Canada

Curious to know what happened to Ma Yan all these years later, and what she was doing with her life, I used Google search but found nothing. I then found Pierre Haski’s Facebook page and left a question asking if he knew what had happened to Ma Yan in France. Last time I checked, I couldn’t find my question, and Haski has not replied.

Return to or start with Part 1

______________________________

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.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Writing her way out of Poverty: Part 1 of 2

July 28, 2015

In January 2010, Al Jazeera Witness reported the story of Ma Yan, a young Chinese girl that lived in rural China in the same poverty that rural Chinese have lived with for centuries, and how The Diary of Ma Yan (link goes to Amazon.com) was published in many countries including China (where it was a best seller) and in the United States.

The village where Ma Yan lived was described in Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China, but since that time, few outsiders visited. The United Nations says this is a region unfit for human habitation. Source: China.org.cn

Contrary to popular opinion in the West and especially in the United States, the poor in China did not get this way because of the Communists. The hardship and poverty of Ma Yan’s people and many others in China had been that way for centuries.

It also didn’t help when the Communists won China’s civil war and the defeated Nationalists took the nation’s treasury and most of the ancient Imperial treasures to Taiwan leaving China nothing but people and land.

In this segment of Witness, we travel with Mao Yan as she breaks the cycle of poverty.

By chance in 2001, a French journalist, Pierre Haski, was visiting remote Ningxia province in northwest China when a Muslim woman wearing the white headscarf of the Hui people thrust her daughter’s diaries into his hands.

Ma Yan writes that the economy where she lived has not been developed. However, Mao Yan is not alone wanting to escape the hardship of poverty.  She wrote that her life was like a death sentence.

Then the French journalist read the diary Mao Yan’s mother had given him and was so impressed, he arranged for excerpts to be published in one of the French daily newspapers.

By 2007, Ma Yan passed a university exam and was one of the first girls from her village to be eligible for a university education. She then flew to Paris to live with a French family and attend a university there.

Continued in Part 2 on July 29, 2015

______________________________

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.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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The Stock Market Roller-Coaster Tsunami in China

July 22, 2015

The Chinese are finding out what it’s like be Americans, who have suffered repeatedly from the roller-coaster of land speculation and the fluctuations of the stock-market in the U.S.

Wikipedia lists twenty-two stock market crashes in the United States since 1772—about one every ten years on average (the next one should arrive in about two years in 2017). Most of the names of these crashes begin with the word “Panic”, and Business Insider gives us “The Complete History of US Real Estate Bubbles Since 1800” revealing that the real estate market in the United Sates peaks and crashes about every 18 years. “The world’s worst downturns are always preceded by land speculation (the chasing of the economic rent) fueled by misguided credit creation courtesy of the banks.”

The Guardian in the UK says, “Real estate agents in Australia, Britain and Canada are bracing for a surge of new interest in their already hot property markets, with early signs that wealthy Chinese investors are seeking a safe haven from the turmoil in Shanghai’s stock markets.”

Should we warn wealthy Chinese that it might be a bad idea moving from the stock market to real estate—like leaping from the frying pan into a fire?

A Market Watch Op-Ed piece alleged, “China’s stock-market crash is just beginning.”

The Wall Street Journal, “China’s leaders are clearly freaked out about the (Chinese) stock market. Global investors need to wonder how nervous they should be, too.”

CNN Money reports, “China’s stock markets are suffering their worst crash since the global financial crisis.”

This is where it helps to pause and remember that the global financial crises started in the United States. “August 2007: The Landslide Begins: It became apparent in August 2007 that the financial market could not solve the subprime crisis on its own and the problems spread beyond the United States borders.” – investopedia.com

For China, where did this all start? To find out, let’s begin with Shanghai’s public schools.


This Al Jazeera English news segment aired June 23, 2007.

On December 9, 2010, a CNN Go Asia headline said, “Shanghai has the world’s smartest teens”.

If you heard the news of Shanghai students beating out 65 countries in student scholastic performance tests in three key categories of ability, the Al Jazeera English video embedded with this post may provide part of the answer of how that happened.

While many American students are applying makeup, drinking sodas, eating candy and French fries in class while texting friends and ignoring teachers let alone reading or doing homework, Al Jazeera reports of twelve year olds in Shenyang, China learning how to be stock brokers.

These students buy and sell and learn how to get the latest information on global stocks.

One Student, Ding Chuan, was asked how his investment portfolio (a class assignment where the students don’t actually buy stocks) was doing, and he replied that last year his investments hit 10,000. Now, his portfolio is at 20,000. He wants to be a millionaire when he grows up.

Xiu Shu Jun, the headmistress for the school, says, “We decided to do it because we wanted to give the children a more realistic and practical financial education.”

I wonder if that realistic education includes the part where you lose all your money.

Tony Cheng, the Al Jazeera reporter, says, “It is ironic that the largest Communist nation in the world has become obsessed with this capitalist pastime.”

Cheng says, “Stock trading goes against about every principal Chairman Mao stood for, and he would be pretty horrified to learn that there are now more registered (stock) traders in China than there are members of the Communist Party.”

Mao’s statue in Shenyang is surrounded by banks. After all, Tony Cheng says, today to be rich in China is glorious.

I say, What Tony Cheng doesn’t tell us is when Deng Xiaoping came to power by arresting those that would have continued the Cultural Revolution, China’s central government repudiated revolutionary Maoism and launched a Chinese style of socialist-capitalism.

Meanwhile, outside of school where children are being indoctrinate into capitalistic tendencies, China’s citizens bought stocks hoping to get rich quick not realizing that this is the same as going to the casinos of Macau, Monte Carlo and Las Vegas and throwing all of your money on the roulette table.

It seems that the Chinese are learning the hard way that in a capitalist economy what goes up also comes down.

______________________________

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.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Land Grabs and Murder

July 14, 2015

A friend and expatriate living in China sent me a link to a piece written by Gillian Wong for her New Witness accounts renew suspicions over Chinese village leader’s gruesome death.

Gillian Wong wrote, “The persisting suspicions about Qian’s death reflect a growing lack of trust in China’s government as rampant corruption and official abuse erode public confidence.”

The language Wong uses to place blame bothers me. What she writes assumes that China’s central government has total control over everything that happens in China, which it doesn’t. China is about the size of the United States with almost five times the population, and most police work and governing takes place at the local level as in the US.

In fact, China couldn’t have joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001 without having a legal system in place similar to most Western democracies, which means this issue of a rural village leader being murdered over a land grab has to be dealt with by China’s infant legal system guided by the laws of China and not the laws of another country like the United States.

And this means criminals often go free—for instance, like in the United States. If the evidence and witnesses do not exist, no one is punished. The old days of Chinese officials rounding up the accused and executing them without evidence and a proper trial are supposed to be over.

For example, in 1973, Al Pacino played the part of an honest real-life New York cop, Frank Serpico, who blew the whistle on corruption in the city police force only to have his comrades in police uniforms turn against him. Pacino’s film was based on a true story.

The US even has a witness protection program to protect the lives of innocent people from criminals that want to erase all evidence against them even if it means murdering witnesses

I’ve written about corruption in China before and what is being done about it. What the West considers corruption in China and all of Asia was a way of life for several thousand years. The old ways of doing things do not change instantly just because a foreign legal system and new laws are created.

To allow this new legal system to work, the slow wheels of justice must be allowed to turn and that doesn’t guarantee that justice will be served. If you believe China is doing nothing about crime and corruption, then I suggest you read What China’s Anti-Corruption Investigation Means For International Business from Forbes.

Another American movie, Walking Tall, was also based on the true story of honest Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser, who almost single-handily cleaned up his small town of crime and corruption, but at a horrible price, and he nearly lost his life as Serpico did.

No, I refuse to blame that rural village leader’s death on China’s central government, and I cannot expect Beijing to send in the teenage Red Guard goon squad, which doesn’t exist anymore, as Mao would have done during the Cultural Revolution to punish everyone accused of a crime, even innocent people, without evidence as defined by China’s new legal system.

Gillian Wong also says, “Qian’s death is the latest violent incident to touch a nerve among the Chinese public, angry over official corruption and abuse of power, including unfair seizure of farmers’ land for development…”

Wong’s statements make it sound as if the land belongs to the farmers. It doesn’t.

In fact, the land the farmers work belongs to the collective and the government but not individuals. In fact, even the title to urban homes individuals buy in cities clearly says that all the land belongs to the government. It’s more of a long-term lease.

How do you measure fair compensation of land that never legally belonged to the farmers in the first place?

Before 1949, most rural land belonged to a small number of wealthy landowners. In fact, the ancestors of the peasant farmers working the land today were tenant farmers that paid rent to the real landowners, who often abused the peasants.

After winning the Chinese civil war, Mao allowed the peasants to punish many of the original landowners and almost one million were found guilty and executed.

Correct me if you have other “facts”, but most of China’s rural farmers have worked the land free for about sixty years with no rent, no mortgage and no property tax.

As for murder, with a Western style legal system and no witnesses willing to step forward, there is no case. The main character of My Splendid Concubine wrote in one of his journals that in China the innocent were often punished along with the guilty while in England the criminals often went free and there was no justice for the victims. What does that mean for China now that it’s developing a Western style (capitalist) legal system?

Then there is the law of eminent domain. “The power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The (United States) Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners.”  – Cornell University Law School

What about China? – An Analysis of the Conflict in Chinese Property Law: Eminent Domain Powers versus Real Property Rights

______________________________

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.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Why do Suicides in China get so much attention in the U.S. Media?

July 1, 2015

USA Today reported in May 2015: Desperate Chinese turn to mass suicide in protest. USA Today said, “For some in China, suicide is the ultimate form of protest.” In addition, The World of Chinese Magazine alleged that China has one of the highest suicide rates per capita in the world.

How can that be when the World Health Organization lists China’s suicides for both sexes at 7.8 per 100,000 — ranked #94 compared to 170 countries?  That means there were 93 countries with higher suicide rates, and the United States was one of them at #50.

Guyana was #1 with 44.2 suicides per 100,000, but USA Today didn’t run a story on that country. If they did, I didn’t find it through Google, but Google had no problem finding the one USA Today did on China.

To be fair, USA Today did report in 2014: 40,000 suicides annually, yet America simply shrugs, and said, “Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. Homicides have fallen by half since 1991, but the U.S. suicide rate keeps climbing.”

What about comparing China to several other Western democracies?

  • France was ranked #47
  • Germany was #77
  • United Kingdom was #105
  • Canada was #70
  • Australia was # 63

What are the reasons why five out of six (including the U.S.) of these Western democracies had higher rates of suicide than China — too much freedom maybe? (Note: I didn’t check all the democracies on the list to see how many had lower or higher rates of suicide than China.)

I know of one Chinese man’s suicide first hand and an attempted suicide by a Japanese woman, and both took place in California.

When our daughter was nine, we were hiking along trails in the hills near our Southern California home. She rushed ahead of us on the winding path until we lost sight of her.

Then she ran back saying she saw a man hanging from a tree and he looked dead. My friend Neil and I hurried to the hanging tree. While Neil climbed into the tree to see if the man was alive, I called 911.

When the police arrived, they searched the dead man’s wallet and called his mother’s house. It turns out that he was an architect from Taiwan. We discovered that his Taiwanese company had gone bankrupt, and he saw himself as a failure. He was about age 40.

The second incident I read about in the Los Angeles Times a few years back was about a Japanese woman who had taken her young children to the end of Santa Monica pier and leaped into the ocean with them. Surfers managed to save her but all of her young children died.

Her reason for attempting suicide was that her husband, a Japanese executive working in the US, had an affair. When the Japanese wife discovered her husband was cheating on her, she thought she had failed as a wife, and the only way to erase the shame was to kill herself and her children.

Since she was a Japanese citizen, Japan requested that she be returned to Japan. The reason given was due to cultural differences.

And last but not least, Americans have also used suicide as a form of protest against their own government. For instance, in 1998, The New York Times reported that the I.R.S. settled a widow’s lawsuit over the suicide of her husband. “A woman who accused the Internal Revenue Service of driving her husband to suicide said today that the agency had agreed to settle her $1 million lawsuit by eliminating her tax debt of more than $400,000 and letting her keep her home.”

The man’s wife, a librarian, said, “”When they decided to take everything I had (after her husband killed himself), I decided to fight back against the most feared and loathsome agency in the United States.”

And in 2010, Daily Finance.com reported that “8% of those surveyed (in the United States) said they would be willing to commit suicide “as an aggressive form of protest” in order to be heard by Congress about their student loan plight.”

Why do you think the U.S. media pays so much attention to suicides in China while ignoring so many other great suicide stories in other countries like the U.S.?

______________________________

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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The Return of Technological Innovation to China

June 30, 2015

Last year, a friend from China who works in China’s investment banking industry in Shanghai came for a visit. She earned her MBA in the UK, and speaks fluent English. While in California, she decided to see how efficient America’s Amazon.com was compared to China’s Alibaba, and when it took more than a week for the average order to arrive from Amazon, she declared Alibaba the winner, because when she ordered a product in Shanghai through Alibaba in the morning, it was delivered to her front door that same afternoon and without the use of drones.

The rest of this post is mostly about Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, which is located in Beijing’s Haidian District and was first developed in the late 1990s.

Here are a few pictures of the concrete, glass and steel canyons of Zhongguancun taken by Steve Hsu, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon.

Recently I have read several times on Blogs and in Op-Ed pieces in the Western media that China doesn’t have a chance to match California’s Silicon Valley, because China lacks freedom.

This is simplistic and flawed thinking.

The Chinese have every economic freedom that many Americans have and the few that they don’t have are not economic in nature—for instance, freedom of religion and limited political expression. It isn’t as if these few limits to freedom are a secret since they are part of China’s Constitution, which is taught in the public schools. In China, the people are free to follow five officially sanctioned religions: Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam. In comparison the U.S. has about 313 religions and denominations to choose from.

Other than that, since money and freedom are linked, the growing Chinese middle class has as much freedom to live the same consumer lifestyle as many Americans do, but in the United States poverty is on the rise and with poverty comes less freedom unless you include hunger and being homeless as an example of freedom.

For instance, in 1985, the poverty rate in the U.S was 14% (33.3 million of 237.9 million people), and today (2015) Stanford.edu reports that the mean poverty rate in the U.S. is 15.13% (48.5 million of 321 million people). How does that compare to China? In 1985, the poverty headcount rate in China was 30.7% (317 million of 1 billion people).  Today, the CIA reports it’s 6.1% (about 79.3 million of 1.3 billion people).

In addition, if democracy is so precious, why do so many Americans not vote? A 2010 survey by the California Voter Foundation found that 51 percent of nonvoters (in the U.S.) grew up in families that did not often discuss political issues and candidates. Does that mean in the U.S., we are also free to give our freedom away?

Where is the evidence that total freedom of religion and/or political expression is necessary for entrepreneurial innovation? Good luck, because you won’t find that evidence, but in the next few paragraphs you will find evidence that shows that total freedom of religious choice and political expression are not necessary to prosper and innovate.

“Shenzhen has never hidden its ambition to be China’s answer to Silicon Valley. Last year (2014), the city saw more than 64 billion yuan (HK$80.46 billion) invested in research and development, accounting for 4 per cent of GDP, only matched by South Korea and Israel.” – South China Morning Post


This 2008 video takes us to a lab in Tsinghua University in Beijing where students are discussing solar technology.

Ye Yuming, an award-winning student at Tsinghua University said, “China lags behind other countries in the solar power industry. The solar PV will help us improve and break the monopoly held by foreign businesses. The solar PV has great market potential, especially in China. The market size is huge.”

What Ye Yuming said in 2008 was true, but two years later, China became the world’s largest solar power manufacturer.

Bloomberg Business reports, “Along with the new companies, China is also experiencing a surge in technological innovation. The country had more than 660,000 effective invention patents last year, up 12 percent from a year earlier …”

And The Wall Street Journal says, “Increasingly, China’s own technology companies are challenging market leaders and setting trends in telecommunications, mobile devices and online services.”

In conclusion, British scientist, historian and sinologist Joseph Needham proved with his Science and Civilisation in China Series that China led the world in technological innovations for about 1,500 years until the 16th century. Then the West led the world in innovation. Is that about to change again?

______________________________

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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A STARTLING two-point-three percent

June 24, 2015

If we counted the number of students who cheated in college, what number would be more shocking—2.3% or 70%?

Well, according to the Institute of International Education, 274,439 students from China attended school in the United States in 2013-14, and the report went on: “A startling number of Chinese students are getting kicked out of American colleges. According to a white paper published by WholeRen, a Pittsburgh-based consultancy, an estimated 8,000 students from China were expelled (2.9% of the total) from universities and colleges across the United States in 2013-4. The vast majority of these students—80 percent of 8,000 equals 6.400 (2.3%)—were removed due to cheating or failing their classes.

My first impression while reading the report was that it made the Chinese students look horrible—until I stopped to think and asked what those numbers really meant, and I discovered that alleging that a “startling number of Chinese students are getting kicked out of American colleges” is an exaggeration in the best tradition of Yellow Journalism.

What I found most disturbing with this inflammatory and biased report is that there is no comparison with the total number of college students. To discover that comparison, I turned to Google and found my first source at Forbes.com that said, “The vast majority of students don’t graduate on time. … In fact, most students don’t graduate at all. For new first-time, full-time students in the class of 2009 at four-year institutions, only 39% completed a degree in four years. 58% completed a degree within six years. At two-year colleges, 31% of the 2008 cohort graduated within three years of starting. At two-year public colleges, which educate the greatest share of students, this number was only 20%.”

My next quest was to discover how many Chinese students dropped out of college to return to China, and I found one answer from the International Business Times where Michelle FlorCruz wrote, “One in four Chinese students drop out of Ivy Universities and return home for jobs.” If that 25% is startling, what do we call the 61% of Americans who didn’t finish in four years, the 41% who didn’t finish in six years or the 69% to 80% that drop out of a two year college? Clearly, more Chinese stay  in college to graduate than American students, and that is really startling, but in a good way. Before I go on, consider that English is a second language for all of the Chinese students.

At Open Education Database (OEDb.org), I discovered that “60.8% of polled college students admitted to cheating.” In addition, “This lines up closely with a questionnaire sent out to Rutgers students as well, to which 68% of students confessed that they had broken the university’s explicit anti-cheating rules. And the number only seems to swell as the years progress, with freshmen the most likely to fudge their way through class.” And “85% of them think cheating is essential. Even college students that don’t cheat still think it a valuable strategy to scoring the best grades, internships, scholarships and awards possible.”

In a sample of 1,800 students at nine state universities: – caveon.com Test Security

70% of the students admitted to cheating on exams

84% admitted to cheating on written assignments

52% had copied a few sentences from a website w/o citing the source

Before I finish, one last thought. There’s another number the U.S. media recklessly throws around without a proper explanation—the ratio of college graduates compared to other countries.

For instance, we will probably never hear in the media that the United States graduates more students from college than any country on the planet, and I’m not talking about ratios/percentages. I’m talking about total numbers. The U.S. doesn’t have the highest ratio of college graduates (what the media reports to make the U.S. look bad), but the U.S. does have the most college graduates.

There is a reason for that. The U.S. has the 3rd largest population on the planet at 316+ million. Only China and India have more people, and if we look at the total number of college graduates age 25 to 34, the U.S. has about 17.6 million in that age bracket (actually a lot closer to 100 million if we include ages 25 to 65).

It’s true that Ireland, for instance, has a slightly higher ratio of college graduates (43.9% to 43% for the U.S.) in the same age bracket, but Ireland only has a total population of 4.8 million people, and about a half million are college graduates ages 25 to 34 or 2.8% of the total number of college graduates in the U.S.

If we look at the few countries that graduate higher ratios of college students than the U.S., there is no way  any of them will have more college graduates.

For instance, Japan graduates 53.7% of ages 25 to 34, but Japan’s total population is only 126.8 million or 40% of the United States. The same goes for Russia with 146.7 million people or less than half the population of the U.S.

It’s even worse for South Korea with only 50.4 million people, or Canada with only 35.5 million people .

In conclusion, why is that 2.3% is more shocking to the U.S. media than the total number of cheaters—is it because they are Chinese?

______________________________

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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