China’s Ancient Capital: Part 2 of 5

January 27, 2016

In Part One, I mentioned the subway system under construction in modern Xi’an.  That was in September 2008.

For an update, Travel China Guide.com says, “The Xi’an subway system is scheduled to have 6 lines, with a total length of 251.8 kilometers… While the first phase of subway Line 2 has been in use since Sep 16, 2011, the other five lines are designed to be finished in 2018 in sequence.”

When the second phase is completed, the full length of Line 2 will be 26.64 kilometers (about 16.5 miles).

The population of Xi’an has also increased since Neville Gishford hosted The Discovery Channel’s documentary of China’s Most Honourable City. Today, there are more than 8 million people living there.

Gishford’s documentary started with Archaeologist Charles Higham (born 1939), a world famous authority on ancient Asian cities. Higham is a British archaeologist most noted for his work in Southeast Asia. Among his noted contributions to archaeology are his work (including several documentaries) about the Angkor civilization in Cambodia, and his current work in Northeast Thailand. He is a Research Professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Higham said, “A delegation of jugglers from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD, who is regarded as one of the greatest emperors in Roman history) traveled and performed in the Han Court of Chang’an.”

More than two thousand years ago, the walls of Chang’an were made of rammed (compressed) earth and much of the city from kiln fired clay bricks, which was a revolutionary building material at the time that changed the history of architecture.

The builders of Han Chang’an used this new technology in revolutionary ways. For instance, building an underground sewer system connected to the moat that surrounded the city.

Continued on January 28, 2016 in Part 3 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 unique 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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China’s Ancient Capital: Part 1 of 5

January 26, 2016

China’s Ancient Capital: Part 1 of 5

Most people outside of China only know of Beijing—first known as Peking—as the capital of China. However, another city was China’s capital for more than a thousand years, and more than 4,000 historical sites and tombs have been excavated there.

That city was Chang’an and it served as the capital of China from the Han to the Tang Dynasty spanning more than eleven hundred years. It was also the cultural center of the Silk Road.

In 2008, the last time we visited Xi’an (near the original site of Chang-an), subway construction was running behind schedule due to a law that does not allow the destruction of historical sites such as the tombs of emperors.  There are so many of these tombs below ground that the subway tunnels must be diverted to avoid them causing construction delays.


This is the first part of a documentary about Xian produced by the Discovery Channel. I watched the five-part series on You Tube in 2011 but only found Part 1 to share with this series of Blog post.

To learn about Chang’an and Xi’an’s also teaches us a lot about China’s civilization.

In the Discovery Channel’s documentary, Neville Gishford said, “It (Han Chang’an) was more powerful than Rome. If any Roman army had actually gone there, they would have been absolutely annihilated.”

The city of Han Chang’an was larger than Constantinople and richer than Egypt’s Alexandria.

The three cities of Xian

Today, another city called Xi’an, near the original location of Chang’an, is home to millions of people and thousands of men made of clay, the Terra Cotta Warriors guarding China’s first emperor.

In addition, the current massive city wall for Xi’an is more than six hundred years old and longer than 12 kilometers. Cracks are appearing and an engineering team keeps close watch and makes repairs

Soon after the Qin Dynasty capital of Xianyang was destroyed, the Han Dynasty built the second city Chang’an, which is close to the modern city of Xi’an, and the old eroding walls of Chang’an are still visible.

Covering 36 square kilometers, Han Chang’an (202 BCE – 24 CE and again in the 4th to 10th centuries AD) was more than one and a half times the size of Rome.

Continued January 27, 2016 in Part 2

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Taiwan: does democracy work in Asia? Part 6 of 6

January 24, 2016

The last alleged Asian democracy to shine a brief spotlight on is Taiwan, which isn’t really a country, since the United States and most other significant nations recognize one China and thus include the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of (mainland) China.

In fact, China claims Taiwan as its province, and the international community does not want to contradict China, so Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Although local elections were allowed in Taiwan as early as the 1950s, the Kuomintang (KMT) ruled Taiwan with martial law under Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1976), and repressed democracy advocates for more than three decades—sometimes brutally.

For instance, there was another massacre “I never heard of” that I stumbled on by accident while researching another post, the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from 10,000 to 30,000 or more. The massacre marked the beginning of the Kuomintang’s White Terror period in Taiwan, in which thousands more inhabitants vanished, died, or were imprisoned. Has anyone heard the U.S. media remind Americans of the massacre in Taiwan that murdered as many as 10 times the casualties that have been reported annually about the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square?

After Chiang Kai-shek’s death, in 1976, the KMT held onto power until 2000. Then in direct elections, the Taiwanese people voted for a president in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, but corruption reared its ugly head again.

In 2009, Time World reported on former President Chen Shui-bian‘s corruption trial. Chen was accused of taking $9 million dollars in personal kickbacks on a state-sanctioned land deal, embezzling over $3 million from a state fund and laundering millions to overseas accounts.

Then in 2010, the Taipei Times reported, “A former president (Chen Shui-bian) jailed for graft, a retired head of military police indicted for embezzlement, three top judges accused of taking bribes — the list goes on. Taiwan has a problem with corruption.”

In addition, New York Times reported, “Lee Teng-hui, a former president (served 1996 – 2000), who moved the self-governing island toward democracy, was indicted … on charges of embezzling $7.79 million from a state fund, becoming the second former president of Taiwan to be charged with corruption.”

One good thing to say for Taiwan is a low poverty level similar to mainland China. However, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the U.S. 2010 Census says 15.7 percent of Americans live in poverty and that is 47.8 million people—more than twice the population of Taiwan.

After discovering the track record of these so-called multi-party democracies in Asia, do you think mainland China’s growing middle class will eventually want a multi-party democracy?

For one answer, Professor Stephen Kobrin of the Wharton School of Knowledge at the University of Pennsylvania says, “We tend to assume all middle-class people have certain values.”

Kobrin points to the common assertion that people rising into the middle class will press for democracy. However, that does not seem to be happening in China where he suggests that people may be willing to accept more autocratic regimes in return for stability and a middle-class consumer lifestyle.

“The assumption has been that there’s a link between capitalism and democracy, that as incomes rise and people become educated, they will increase pressure for democracy and freedom and civil liberties,” notes Kobrin. “That may or may not be true.”

What do you think—is democracy in Asia working and should China give it a try?

Return to India in Part 5 or start with Japan in 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 unique 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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India: does democracy work in Asia? Part 5 of 6

January 23, 2016

Among the alleged Asian democracies, India is next.  The Guardian says of corruption in India that “All your life you pay for things that should be free.”

The Guardian reported that “one ordinary man” had to pay at least a third of his income to survive. “Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes,” Vishal, 26, said. But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest into the best local school he paid a “donation” of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster.”

Economy Watch.com said, “India’s underground economy is believed to be 50 percent of the country’s GDP – US$640 billion at the end of 2008,” and Janamejayan’s Weblog goes into detail of one scam that cost $40 billion, which is 3% of India’s GDP.


Poverty in India, 2011

In addition, there is confusion over how many live in poverty in India.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme reported that literacy in India was about 74 percent, while the CIA Factbook set the literacy rate at 61 percent (literacy and poverty are linked), which explains The World Bank’s estimates of poverty in India at 41.6 percent.

However, the Hindustan Times says for 2011 that there are 406 million poor in India, which is a third of the population—an increase of 8% since 2009.

In addition, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India

In 2009, India’s population was about 1.2 billion, and the country had six nationally recognized political parties and about 46 recognized state/provincial parties. Source: List of Recognized Political Parties in India (Wiki)

India has been the world’s largest democracy since 1947, and although India claims to have reduced poverty from about 53% in 1973-74 to 25.6% in 1999-2000, the definition and difficulty in reporting the exact numbers casts doubt on this claim.

However, in the same time span, China reduced poverty from 64% to less than 3%, and China is not a multi-party democracy. If China had been a multi-party democracy like India, would poverty have been reduced so dramatically?

In addition, according to Time’s Global Spin, a blog about the world, its people and its politics, “The size of India’s middle class was 50 million in 2005, according to this report by McKinsey,” and McKinsey may be wrong and the number may be lower.

In contrast, Martin Trieu, President of Tourmaline Capital, estimates “there are at least 250-300 million people (in China) who now fall into this (middle class) category.”

Helen H. Wang of Forbes Magazine’s China Tracker agrees with Trieu, and says, “Today, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years.”

How precious is freedom when you are too poor to enjoy it?

Continued with Taiwan on January 24, 2016 in Part 6 or return to Part 4

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Thailand: does democracy work in Asia? Part 4 of 6

January 22, 2016

The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule after a bloody coup in 1976. The previous military rulers had been removed due to a Revolution in 1973.

For most of the 1980s, Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, a democratically inclined strongman who restored parliamentary politics, and the country remained a democracy apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to 1992.

The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests against the Thai Rak Thai party’s alleged corruption, prompted the military to stage a coup in September.

However, a general election in December 2007 restored a civilian government.

The politics of Thailand after the 2006 coup still concerned the two fighting factions, supporters and opponents of the former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The anti-Thaksinists formed the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), known as The Yellow Shirts, as they included the defense of the Crown as the symbol of the constitutional monarchy.

The pro-Thaksinists aimed at lessening the royal power; combined with anti-2006 coup activists, they formed UDD, known as The Red Shirts’, supporting the overthrow of the current constitution and an amnesty for Thaksin and his allies.

The country has been ruled by a succession of military leaders installed after several coups d’état, the most recent was May 2014, but along the way there have been a few democratic intervals. The 2007 Constitution (drafted by a military-appointed council, but approved by a referendum) was annulled by the 2014 coup-makers who currently rule the country as a military dictatorship.

Thailand has so far had seventeen Constitutions. Throughout, the basic structure of government has remained the same. A prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the government. More than 80 civilians and 6 soldiers were killed and more than 2,100 injured. Why hasn’t the U.S. media reminded Americans repeatedly of these deaths and casualties caused during protests calling for democracy? After all, the U.S. media does it annually for the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square.

The United Nations Development Programme reported in 2006, that 13.6 percent of Thailand’s population lived in poverty, while the CIA reports the number of people living in poverty was 9.6 percent.

However, Stickman Bangkok.com says, “According to a United Nations report issued in 2000, Thailand has 9.8 million poor people, 5.8 million ultra-poor people and 3.4 million almost poor people. The total figure is 19 million, or 29.9% of the population, and is concentrated in provinces along the borders in the West, North, and Northeast regions.”

In addition, “Presently, according to Thailand Government Public Health Department, there are approximately 75,000 prostitutes in Thailand, but several well-informed non-governmental organization (NGO) groups estimate that the number of prostitutes at any given time is closer to 2 million. This figure represents 9% of female adult population and 3.15% of total population.”

Continued with India on January 23, 2016 in Part 5 or return to Part 3

______________________________

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 unique 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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Singapore: does democracy work in Asia? Part 3 of 6

January 21, 2016

The People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore has been the dominant political party since 1959. The politics of Singapore take the form of a parliamentary republic and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

The 2015 Singaporean general election was held on September 11th to form Singapore’s Parliament. The previous Parliament was dissolved on August 25, 2015 by President Tony Tanon on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and candidates were nominated on 1 September.

The 2015 election was the first since Singapore’s independence in 1965 which saw all seats contested. PAP won 83 of the 89 seats.

Singapore has been accused of being a social democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit says Singapore is a “hybrid” country, with authoritarian and democratic elements. Freedom House does not consider Singapore an “electoral democracy” and ranks the country as “partly free”.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore #136 of more than 178 countries listed in the 2010 Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

The ruling Party’s policies contain aspects of socialism as does mainland China, which includes government-owned public housing constituting the majority of real estate and the dominance of government controlled companies in the local economy.

For 31 years from 1959 to 1990, Lee Kuan Yew ruled Singapore as its prime minister. He died March 23, 2015. Imagine the United States with the same president and party in power for more than three decades.

Chinese make up 76.8 percent of the population and according to a comment left for another post, the Chinese mostly vote for the PAP keeping Lee Kuan Yew’s party in power.

The CIA says unemployment is 2.2% and there is no information from the World Bank, the CIA, the World Health Organization, or from  Global Edge on how many live in poverty in Singapore.

Mr. Biao.com says, “Singapore has no beggars, because they will be picked up by the police. … We have no poverty, because Singapore has no official poverty line.”

Continued with Thailand on January 22, 2015 with Part 4 or return to Part 2

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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South Korea: does democracy work in Asia? Part 2 of 6

January 20, 2016

When you discover the roller-coaster ride of corruption, protests, shootings/assassinations, and military coups/dictatorships that have taken place in the Republic of (South) Korea [RoK], it makes Japan look honest in comparison and provides more evidence to explain why the West and America, in particular, wants China to become a similar multi-party democracy.

On August 14, 1948, Syngman Rhee became the first president of the RoK. In May 1952, Rhee pushed through constitutional amendments, which made the presidency a directly elected position. To do this, he declared martial law, arrested opposing members of parliament, demonstrators, and anti-government groups.  In 1954, Rhee regained control of parliament by fraudulently pushing through an amendment that exempted him from the eight-year term limit.

Then in 1956, Rhee’s administration arrested members of the opposing party and executed the leader after accusing him of being a North Korean spy.

The U.S. Department of State said, “President Syngman Rhee was forced to resign in April 1960 following a student-led uprising.”

The Second Republic under the leadership of Chang Myon ended one year later when Major General Park Chung-hee led a military coup. Park declared martial law, dissolved the National Assembly and suspended the constitution, which resulted in mass protests and a return to democracy.

Park’s rule, which resulted in tremendous economic growth and development but increasingly restricted political freedoms, ended with his assassination in 1979, when a powerful group of military officers, led by Lieutenant General Chun Doo-hwan, declared martial law and grabbed power.

Then on May 18, 1980, students at Chonnam National University protested, which led to the Gwangju Massacre with estimates of the civilian death toll ranging from a few dozen to 2,000. Later, a full investigation by the civilian government reported nearly 200 deaths and 850 injured.

It wouldn’t be until October 1987 that a revised Constitution would be approved by a national referendum leading to the direct elections of President Roh Tae-woo in the first direct presidential election in 16 years.

In 1997, the country suffered a severe economic crises leading to the next civilian president, Roh Moo-hyun being impeached in March 2004 on charges of a breach of election laws and corruption. While under investigation for bribery and corruption, he committed suicide.

Roh’s successor was Lee Myung-bak, who was inaugurated in February 2008 and led the country until 2013 when Park Geun-hye, the first female president of South Korea was elected, and she is still in office.

SIDE NOTE: The Gwangju Massacre (1980) in The Republic of (South) Korea—a strong ally of the United States—is the second massacre “I never heard of” until I was doing research for this post.

However, annually, the media and American politicians remind us of the so-called Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, which I wrote about in The Tiananmen Square Hoax after learning from Wiki Leaks that a massacre never happened.

In addition, the protests in Beijing in 1989 were never a democracy movement, which was revealed by a BBC documentary. I wrote of this in What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?

Continued with Singapore on January 21, 2016 in Part 3 or return to 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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Where to Buy

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