Zheng Cao, who beat the odds and cheated death, is the Mezzo-Soprano from China

March 18, 2013

She describes herself as a girl from China who came to America with $45 and knowing two words of English, “Merry Christmas.”  Source: SFGate

When Zheng Cao burst onto the San Francisco Opera scene in 1995, she played Siebel in “Faust.” Since then, she’s performed in opera houses throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Today, an inspiration, the Shanghai-born Mezzo-soprano has defied the odds of surviving stage four lung cancer and a diagnoses that said she had six months to live.

When diagnosed, she received a death sentence. Months later, she would learn that the rigorous treatment plan had dramatically reduced the cancer threat.

“This is the most impressive response I’ve seen in my life,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Zheng Cao’s tumors either had decreased in size, were no longer visible or no longer considered active.

To learn more about Zhen Cao’s journey, visit her Blog at Caring Bridge.org.

Zheng Cao holds degrees from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music.

While studying, she worked as a singer on the Holland American cruise line where she met Troy Donahue in 1991.

Donahue said, “We were very serious, very committed to each other. It’s the greatest relationship I’ve ever had in my life.” Source: Troy Donahue at encore4.net

Zheng Cao and Troy Donahue were engaged until his death in 2001. She turned 44 on June 9, 2010.

See China’s Got Talent Too

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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No Way is Tibet a Democracy in Exile!

February 18, 2013

I read a misleading post at Global Voices that was titled China and Tibet: Democracy in Exile. My first thought was, “When was Tibet ever a Democracy?”

Let’s see, how did the United States become a Republic? The answer is simple: the American colonists rebelled against the British Empire and fought the American Revolution 1775 – 1783.  There was the Declaration of Independence and then there was the US Constitution followed by twenty-seven ratified amendments. The 27th Amendment was enacted on May 7, 1992, but was proposed September 25, 1789. It only took two-hundred and three years for approval. Wow!

Tibet does not have a similar history. The only thing that is similar is that some Tibetans took part in an uprising against the CCP, and they lost. The same thing could have happened in America from 1775 to 1783. If  the colonists had lost, a reluctant US might still be ruled by the UK.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what the Richard Geres of  the world say or want us to believe—Tibet has never been a republic or a democracy.

Here’s what the Global Voices author said in the first sentence, “Being a Tibetan in exile is a loss that manifests in many forms: the loss of homeland and natural rights fall within that.”

What were the natural rights that were lost?

Most Tibetans in exile (represented by about 1% of the total Tibetan population) gave up land and thousands of serfs who were treated no better than slaves. What was lost were positions of power and wealth.

Before 1950, when Mao’s Red army reoccupied Tibet for China, there had been no democracy or republic in Tibet – ever.

The following quotes show us what Tibet was like before 1950.

“Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.

“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.”  Source: October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979.

I’m sure that under Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and the people did not vote.  Need I saw more?

Between 1912—when those words appeared in National Geographic—and 1950, Tibet did not change, because it stayed the same as it had been for centuries. The only difference was that there was no Chinese governor in Tibet appointed by the Emperor and supported by Chinese troops.

What we have in Global Voices is clever manipulation to elicit support for the Tibetan separatist movement.

There’s nothing wrong with supporting a separatist movement. After all, there are at least eight known and active separatist movements in the United States: the Alaska Independence Party; Hawaiian sovereignty movement; Lakotah Oyate; Puerto Rico Independence Party; League of the South; Texas Secession Movement; Second Vermont Republic and the Cascadia Independence Movement.

In addition, Tibetans have the same odds to be free from China as Hawaiians and the Lakota Sioux have of being free of the United States.

It is a fact that a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing.

Discover Why Tibet?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Seven Wonders of China: Part 5/5

February 15, 2013

To protect the Shibaozhai temple, the Chinese government had a six-hundred foot high, thirty-three foot thick dike built to protect it. When completed, the dike will surround the temple and cliff.

7. Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City is the largest, ancient palace in the world and is one of the most visited tourist sites on the planet. This palace covers more than 7 million square feet in central Beijing next to Tiananmen Square. That is the size of eighty football fields and the palace is surrounded by a moat.

In the early fourteen hundreds, the emperor moved the capital of China to Beijing to establish better control over the country. It took a million laborers and artists fourteen years to build. The Forbidden City has 9,999.5 rooms—as close as man can get to the palace of the gods, which is supposed to have ten-thousand rooms.

Before the Forbidden City became a tourist attraction, the penalty for sneaking inside was death usually by being beheaded. Once the empresses and concubines of the emperor moved into the Forbidden City, none were allowed to leave. Twenty-four emperors ruled China from inside the walls of this palace.

Return to the The Seven Wonders of China: Part 4 or start with 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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The Seven Wonders of China: Part 3/5

February 13, 2013

4. Leshan Buddha

Everything about this Buddha is BIG. More than a thousand years old, it took almost a century to carve the Leshan Buddha from the solid rock cliff. The Buddha looks out over a river and legend says the rugged, unpredictable river sunk many boats drowning people until the Buddha was carved from the cliff.

It is thought that the rocks cut from the cliff while the Buddha was being constructed tumbled into the river and calmed the currents. However, today, air pollution as in acid rain from industry is threatening the Buddha. Maintaining the Buddha has become a challenge. About two million people visit each year.

5.Mount Wudang

To the Chinese, Mt. Wudang is the first mountain under heaven. Ornate palaces may be found on the mountains slopes. Temples, pavilions and bridges are all designed to harmonize with the landscape. This mountain is also the home of Wudang Kung Fu. A martial art that is still active today after seven hundred years. In Chinese terms, Wudang is a small town of 20,000 people that is a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity.

Continued on February 14, 2013 in The Seven Wonders of China: Part 4 or return to 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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Shanghai Teahouse

June 20, 2012

This is where I enjoy shopping when in Shanghai.

It wasn’t crowded yet!

The Huxinting Teahouse has been around for awhile (several centuries–it was restored in 1784).  This pavilion was turned into the tea house in 1855. Nice place to stop and have a cup of tea.  Go early.  It gets crowded.


famous Shanghai tea house on the water

The area in Shanghai around the Huxinting Teahouse is a good place to shop. Many small shops. Do not pay asking price. Be willing to bargain.  Start low and meet in the middle. Don’t be too cheap either.

Shopping before it gets crowded.

The following video gives you a musical tour of the sights of Shanghai’s Old District including Yu Yuan Garden and Huxinting Tea House.

For more about Shanghai, also see:
Shanghai
Shanghai’s History & Culture
Shanghai Huangpu River Tour
Eating Gourmet in Shanghai
Chinese Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo

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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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Note: This edited and revised post first appeared on February 20, 2010 (Note: the author took the photos but did not produce the video)


The Return of Innovation to China – Part 2/2

May 15, 2012

Before counting how many Nobel Prizes in science have gone to Western/American scientists, it should be mentioned that “Ashkenazi Jews (European/white Jews: i.e most Jews) make up just 3% of the United States population, yet were responsible for 27% of the US science Nobel Prizes and 25% of the Turing Awards in the 20th century.”

Jeff Weintraub says, “It’s well known that overseas Chinese have often been compared to the Jews (by themselves and by others).

“Chinese and Jewish cultures are the two oldest civilizations in the world and share a lot in common. Both highly emphasize the family tie function and educational value, and although both have absorbed various exotic cultures, their central core has never changed since birth.” Source: Jews in China: Legends, History and New Peresepectives

“Moreover,” Weintraub says, “it seems like my friends were more or less correct that their Chinese diaspora constitutes the ‘Jews of Asia.’ From Hanoi to Bangkok to Jakarta and beyond, the merchant classes are overwhelmingly peopled with well-educated ethnic Chinese whose connections to the homeland and each other — the ‘Bamboo Network’ — constitute a huge business advantage. They are also, like the Jews, periodically expelled (from Vietnam), repressed (under Indonesia’s Suharto) and rioted against (in Malaysia, Thailand and really everywhere else). Like Jews, they are fiercely proud of their heritage, assimilating somewhat while maintaining temples that assert identity.”

In addition, China’s government has thrown billions in recent years into building a top-notch research establishment, hoping to keep its best scientists working here and lure back those who are abroad. Moreover, there are more foreign students from China attending US universities than from any other country—more than 150,000 annually spending over $4 billion for their US educations, and those students first went to school in China and then came to the US as a college student. In fact, China’s next president has a daughter attending Harvard. When these students return to China with their university degrees, they will be bringing the innovative, critical thinking, problems solving skills home with them.

One example of the results of this investment in “top-notch research” may be seen in a recent breakthrough in carbon nanotube-based cables technology at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Source: Science Daily

To the hardcore skeptic demanding more evidence, in early 2012, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious research foundations, announced Tuesday that it was honoring 28 biomedical researchers who studied in the United States and then returned to their home nations. Each will receive a five-year research grant of $650,000.

Seven — more than any other nation — were from China.

“They’re incredibly energetic, extremely smart, highly productive and accomplished,” Robert Tjian, president of the institute, said of the Chinese winners in a telephone interview.” Source: New York Times

Return to The Return of Innovation to China – 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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China’s Translation Sensation

March 19, 2012

On March 14, I published a post about Premier Wen Jiabao’s farewell speech to China’s National People’s Congress before he steps down later this year and retires from political office.

China is a land of many spoken languages and one written language. In fact, Chinese movies often have subtitles flowing across the bottom of the screen in Mandarin for the hundreds of millions of Chinese that do not speak Mandarin but only read it. To understand how complex this mix of languages is, Mandarin by itself has more than 50 dialects and there are 56 different minority languages.

I suggest you see Wikipedia’s list of Chinese dialects and languages for a better understanding of how complex China is and how amazing it is that this nation has been a unified country for more than two millennia.

After Wen Jiaboa’s speech, I read the media translations in English from several sources and had no idea that in his speech he quoted original poetry dating back to one of ancient China’s greatest and earliest recognized poets, Ch’u Yu (343 – 289 BC). Since Wen’s speech, the micro-Blog debate and criticism in China have been intense, which demonstrates that in China, expressing an opinion is not forbidden.

How would Americans react if an American President gave his State of the Union address laced with quotes from Latin or Old English?

In Latin, The Lord’s Prayer starts, “PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.” In Old English, it starts with, “Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum…”

In China, the response to Wen Jiabao’s use of an ancient and dead Chinese language mostly focused on the translator, Miss Zhang Lu (in Chinese the last name comes first, which emphasized the importance of the family over the individual and demonstrates a major difference between the West and Asia).  Zhang majored in international law and graduated from China’s Institute of Diplomacy. She then became a translator for top ranking Chinese Communist Party officials.

Zhang was praised by many for translating Wen Jiabao’s “I’d not regret dying nine times,” to “For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I’d not regret dying a thousand times.”

I printed 14 pages of comments from a Chinese language micro Blog that was part of the national debate, which started with comments by Chinese professors from different universities in China including Fudan University, Tsinghua University and Shanghai’s Foreign Language Institute correcting and offering suggestions for Miss Zhang’s translation.


Sexy Beijing: Lost in Translation

I’m going to focus on one example of one of the ancient Chinese poems Wen Jiabao quoted when he said, “知我罪我,其惟春秋”, which in proper English translates into “History will judge what I have done.”

Miss Zhang’s translation said, “There are people who will appreciate what I have done but there are also people who will criticize me. Ultimately, history will have the final say.”

One professor’s suggested translation said, “What I have done may be appreciated and criticized by the people, yet ultimately history will give me a fair assessment (or judgment).”

In addition, here are several typical comments from the same micro Blog:

Comment A

What’s wrong with Premier Wen acting like he was competing in a poetry contest? He ought to earn credit for doing a good job managing the country, not to impress with his skill of reciting ancient Chinese poetry.

Comment B

It goes to show how difficult it is to be a leader of Chinese today. Wen should not be criticized for incorporating in his speech a couple of lines from ancient poems. Americans didn’t criticize their President W. Bush for saying things that didn’t make sense or made the wrong sense. Instead, they thought him cool and a “man of his-true-self”.

Comment C

For Heaven’s sake Wen represents the face of China. Americans don’t have trouble with Obama’s talent in speaking beautifully. Instead of ridiculing, they appreciated him.

Comment D

Oh, come on, don’t be so naive. Every question at Wen’s last press conference was pre-selected. Premier Wen must have communicated with his translator prior to show-time. He would never risk the young translator’s misunderstanding or misinterpreting his use of ancient poems.

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In conclusion, the alleged reason Premier Wen Jiabao used passages from ancient Chinese poems may have been to not only demonstrate the beauty of the Chinese language and his knowledge of it, but to infer that China does not need to bend to the rest of the world and do things as a foreign leader might do but as a Chinese leader.

In fact, it is Chinese tradition for scholars and government officials in China to quote ancient poetry and literature in speeches. In addition, the beauty of language is valued highly in China. The use of spoken and written language to many Chinese is not just getting a meaning or emotion across, it is also considered a form of art.

Meanwhile, in the West/America, we read an English translation of his speech, which is a translation of a translation and walk away thinking we know what one of China’s leaders meant, which brings me to a final question.

What happens when there is a mistake in translation during sensitive political negotiations between countries such as China and America?

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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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