Mao and Snow

December 3, 2012

During one of our trips to Shanghai, China, my wife and I went to see a film called Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow.

Edgar Snow (1905 – 1972) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.

The film was in Mandarin and wasn’t subtitled, so I had to watch carefully to understand what was going on. I Googled the move and found little about it on the Internet.

However, I discovered that Edgar Snow’s wife threatened to sue China if the movie was released but that didn’t stop the Chinese.

There’s no doubt that Mao had to have charisma to lead so many men in battle for so many years to win the civil war.


Edgar Snow and Mao

However, Mao changed after he became a modern emperor, and the power corrupted him. The evidence—the results of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the purges that killed so many.

There was a positive side too.  Mao’s success in the CCP’s war against poverty, the increase in life expectancy that almost doubled during Mao’s rule and the health programs that were implemented such as the bare foot doctors. The reason so many Chinese still think of Mao as the George Washington of China was because life after 1949 was better than life before the CCP won the Civil War.

Students of China may want to see this movie, but the only place one may buy a DVD of this movie is probably China.

When Edgar Snow came down with pancreatic cancer, Zhou Enlai dispatched a team of Chinese doctors to Switzerland to treat him.

The next best thing would be to read Snow’s book about Mao, Red Star Over China and/or discover about Health Care During Mao’s Time.

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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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How one Amazon reader review Misleads and what many in the West do not know about China

August 28, 2012

There is always two sides to every issue so it is time to hear both sides in the same post—again.

A one-star Amazon Reader review written by an Adnil Nevets of “The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village” by Dongping Han said, “The author’s credentials are indisputable. He grew up in China and has an intimate knowledge of Chinese history and Mao’s policies. But, his version of history does not agree with 99% of the (note: Western) academic community, and indeed, official Chinese history.”

Adnil says, “I would suggest that readers keep in mind that there were intelligent, well-educated, scientific and academic members of the Nazi party who were completely smitten with Hitler and defended him to their graves. Sometimes closeness to a historical event does not yield clarity of thought.”

Hmmm, when I checked, Adnil Nevets’ Review Ranking on Amazon was 10,356,111.

Here is my response at Adnil’s reader review.

Regardless of the negative aspects of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Mao era, there is another side to China’s history—a positive one that is not all doom and gloom as Adnil infers.

In 1949, the average lifespan in China was age 35, more than 90% of Chinese lived in severe poverty, 80% were illiterate and China suffered from loss of life caused by famines in one or more provinces on an annual basis—deaths by starvation from famines have been documented going back annually for more than 2000 years.  For the first time in China’s history, deaths from famine have not happened in sixty of the sixty-three years that China has been ruled by the CCP.

During the Mao’s era, the average lifespan in years doubled, the population doubled, there was only one famine that caused deaths from starvation (1959-1961), but in the West Mao was blamed for that famine while Western authors and politicians ignore two thousand years of Chinese history, and people living in severe poverty have almost vanished (there are still many that live in poverty but it is not as severe as it was before 1949).

In fact, since 1976, literacy improved from 20% to more than 90% and China’s middle class grew from almost nothing to about 300-million people today with estimates that there may be 600-to-800 million middle-class Chinese by 2025.


The CCP is the only government in China’s LONG history to set goals and do something about poverty.

All of these improvements in lifestyle quality in China have been documented by the World Bank and other reputable international agencies,  although we seldom if ever hear about these positive changes in the Western media or in books written by so-called experts in Western Academia that focus only on the dark side of the CCP.


From 1982 to 2005 China succeeded in lifting over 600-million of its citizens out of grinding poverty.

How about if we focus on the dark-side of American democracy instead?

There was a bloody Civil War to end slavery (that has returned today but in a different form), the battle for women’s rights, poverty (more than 40-million Americans live in poverty), starvation in America exists, endless foreign wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc), and continued racism, etc.


News that should be covered more than it is in the United States

Is there anyone out there that cares about both sides of the truth supported with facts?

Discover Health Care During Mao’s Time

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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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Country Driving in China with Peter Hessler – Part 1/2

May 28, 2012

Most books that I’ve read of China cover its history up to Mao’s death and after 1949, it is difficult to trust almost anything one reads in the West or in China, since most of this work is either biased and/or propagandized in the West or propaganda in China since the mass media is owned by the State.

However, I’m glad that I read Peter Hessler’s memoir of China, Country Driving. Rarely does Hessler intrude with his own Western bias (if there is one), which appears to make a slight appearance near the end. I suspect that his editor at Harper Collins suggested that he add it to the story, and he complied, because the few opinions he expresses near the conclusion of his memoir do not match the experiences that he shares with his readers in the rest of the book. In fact, while reading the book, I grew to trust Hessler’s perspective of today’s China.

It is obvious that Hessler honestly loves/respects China and its people and this infatuation runs throughout the memoir. He also carefully or unintentionally avoids mention of what he thinks about his own culture, which made me wonder if there is a lot he doesn’t respect about his homeland.

Maybe the reason why he continues to return to China is because of this infatuation with a culture that values family more than most Americans do.  In fact, in the memoir’s acknowledgements, I discovered that Hessler was married to Leslie T. Chang, which even my wife—a Chinese immigrant to the US, whose first book, a memoir of growing up during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year—didn’t know.


Leslie Chang discussing her novel “Factory Girls”

Hessler’s wife is the author of Factory Girls, which is also about today’s China. Chang is Chinese-American and a graduate of Harvard. She is also an accomplished journalist and was raised outside New York City by immigrant parents, who forced her to attend Saturday-morning Chinese school, which is so Chinese.

For example, our daughter speaks Mandarin fluently and she was born in Chicago and is a product of the US public schools but with an immigrant mother and an American step father (me), which may explain (in part) why she is completing her second year at Stanford currently majoring in biology instead of trying out for American Idol while waiting tables in a Hollywood coffee shop.

Both Peter and Leslie have published work that went on to be honored as New York Times Notable Books.

Anyway, back to Country Driving. Much of Hessler’s memoir was connected to projects he wrote at The New Yorker or National Geographic. The memoir is divided into three sections:  Book I, The Wall; Book II, The Village, and Book III, The Factory.

Throughout the book there is a common theme: the independence and individuality of most Chinese and the failure of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda, which is there but often ignored by most of the people unless they can use the CCP to their own advantage.  That doesn’t mean the propaganda has no influence but the people seldom let it get in their way as they work to improve the quality of their lives.

In fact, it becomes clear in Hessler’s memoir that there are three Chinas: there is rural China, urban China and the Chinese Communist Party and many shades of gray among them.

Continued on May 29, 2012 in Country Driving in China with Peter Hessler – 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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Nap Time in China

February 5, 2012

Back in November 2010, I wrote about IKEA Sleepovers in Beijing. When I wrote that post about customers snoozing at IKEA’s Beijing store, I had no idea that napping was a custom in much of China. I thought it was because the beds at IKEA were more comfortable than the ones at home.  If you have ever slept on an average Chinese bed, you may know what I mean.

The reason I didn’t know this was because my wife does not take naps. However, my father-in-law, who is age 82, naps every afternoon, but I thought it was due to his age.

Then after more than a decade of marriage, I asked my wife if her father had always taken afternoon naps. She said yes and that even at work in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party bosses made everyone take a long nap after lunch—about two hours each day.

Deciding to learn more on this topic, I turned to Google. Middle Kingdom Life.com, says. “The Chinese, particularly those in the southern and south-eastern regions, take what could be called an afternoon siesta that lasts from approximately 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.”

I learned that afternoon naps in China are common, but that doesn’t mean everyone does it.  Using Google, I also learned that the Internet and the modern-urban lifestyle has cut into the old habit of napping.

In fact, micro-blogging in China has had an impact on this centuries old custom. MSNBC.com reported that the Chinese government “sensitive to public opinion, especially stories of lazy or corrupt bureaucrats carried by massively popular micro-blogging sites,” cracked down on napping at meetings in an attempt to “instill a greater sense of duty into its officials.”

If this trend continues, this might seriously impact public health, creativity and learning in China.

Han Fang, a professor at Peking University People’s Hospital, says, “Lack of sleep can cause a significant lowering of immunity…”

In addition, the New York Times reported, “New research has found that young adults who slept for 90 minutes after lunch raised their learning power, their memory apparently primed to absorb new facts.”

“Other studies have indicated that sleep helps consolidate memories after cramming, but the new study suggests that sleep can actually restore the ability to learn,” which may explain why “Most Chinese schools have a half-hour nap programmed straight after lunch.” Source: Wiki.answers.com

Then from the China Post, I discovered, “According to the advocates, a short 10-20 minute nap in the middle of a working day can increase productivity by over 30 percent and alertness by 100 percent as well as improve memory and concentration. They also claim that it can reduce stress and the risk of heart disease by 34 percent.”

Maybe I should consider cultivating an afternoon nap.

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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 IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5/5

January 9, 2012

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, his concept of a republic would have been very different from what the American democracy looks like today.

In addition, members of the U.S. Senate were not elected to office by the popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was amended to provide for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun Yat-sen were aware of the details of America’s political history and its limitation by the time he left Hawaii at the age of 17 in 1883, the republic and/or democracy he envisioned for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including all women.

In addition, by 1903, when Sun Yat-sen returned to Hawaii looking for support for his dream of a future republic and/or democracy in China, Hawaii was no longer a republic but was a territory of the United States—not a state—and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic and/or democracy Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China may possibly have included at last one House as a National Congress with its members appointed by the elected legislatures of each province, and women would have been excluded from voting and possibly considered the property of men as women were in the United States at that time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic and/or democracy where the citizens elected China’s leader with a popular vote of the people since Hawaii’s Constitution of 1864 charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king, who was King Kalākaua—the one forced to sign the 1887 Constitution four years after the young Sun Yat-sen returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and now, it is easier to accept that the Chinese Communist Party’s 1982 Constitution created a government in China closer—and maybe even better—than what Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China.

How could Sun Yat-sen have envisioned a republic and/or democracy similar to what the United States has today in the 21st century?

In fact, under a Sun Yat-sen republic, children in China might still be considered the property of parents as they were in the United States until the 1938 Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Before 1938, parents in the US had the right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

In addition, writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is “the delegation of the government [in a republic] to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.

When James Madison wrote this, the number of US citizens allowed to vote in federal elections was limited to white property owners (excluding Jews), which represented about 10% of the population of the US in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – 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 IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 4/5

January 8, 2012

If you recall from Part 1, Hawaii was not a democracy modeled after today’s United States when Sun Yat-sen lived there from the ages of 13 to 17 [1879 – 1883].

In fact, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii, it was a kingdom ruled by a king and was a Constitutional Monarchy similar to but not the same as Great Britain at the same time.

It wouldn’t be until 1887, that the Hawaiian King Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution [after Sun Yat-sen had returned to China] of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which stripped him of any authority he had making him into a figurehead.

In addition, there was a property qualification in 1887’s Hawaiian Constitution for voting rights similar to what the Founding Fathers wrote into the US Constitution in 1776, and resident whites, who owned the property since Asians were not allowed to own property or could not afford to buy it, were the only ones allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the American Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 excluded skilled and unskilled Chinese from entering the United States for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. In the US at this time, many Chinese were relentlessly beaten just because of their race.

Therefore, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii as a Chinese teenager, it was not a republic or a democracy and he was a second-class person barred from entering the United States.

The structure of the political system in the United States was also dramatically different from the one America has today.

In 1790, the Constitution explicitly says that only “free white” immigrants could become naturalized citizens.

In 1848, Mexican-Americans were granted U.S. Citizenship but not voting rights.

In 1856, voting rights were expanded to all white men and not just property owners.

In 1868, four years after the end of the American Civil War, former slaves were granted citizenship, however only African-American men were allowed to be citizens and the right to vote was left up to each state.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed saying the right to vote could not be denied by the federal or state governments based on race [this still did not include women], but some states restricted the right to vote based on voting taxes and literacy tests.

In 1876, the US Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens and could not vote.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred people of Chinese ancestry from naturalizing to become U.S. citizens.

In 1920, the right to vote was extended to women when the 19th Amendment passed. Source: U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

What do you think Sun Yat-sen learned from these facts about a democracy?

Continued on January 9, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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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 IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 3/5

January 7, 2012

Mr. Parfitt is either ignorant or playing on the IGNORANCE Factor to further his cultural and/or confirmation bias, which runs through his book, Why China Will Never Rule the World, as if it were a thick artery of coal in a coalmine.

From everything I have learned of Parfitt’s book from reading many of the reviews on it by people that have read it, I know this much—he’s a talented and powerful writer driven by either a cultural bias and/or possibly a personal vendetta against Chinese culture and China.

Did something personal happen to Parfitt while teaching ESL in Taiwan that caused him to declare war on Confucianism and the Chinese culture?

Troy Parfitt asked, “One of the tenets of Sun’s philosophy was democracy. Has China achieved democracy?”

The answer to Parfitt’s question has nothing to do with the democracy of the United States, as it exists today.

However, it does have everything to do with the politics of Hawaii when Sun Yat-sen lived there for four years of his young life, and of the United States at that time.


Sun Yat-sen attended a Christian British Bishop’s school in Hawaii for four years. His model on a Chinese republic may have been based on the beliefs of America’s Founding Fathers, who despised democracy as mob rule. Since Sun attended a British school, we may assume safely that he also learned about the British parliamentary system where the prime minister is not elected to office but is the leader of the majority party and there is no term limit. In fact, there was no term limit for the president of the U.S. until 1947, long after Sun’s death.

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According to Sun Yat-Sen Hawaii Foundation, he arrived in Hawaii in 1879 at the age of thirteen. He then spent four of his teenage years being educated in Hawaii. China’s first revolutionary society, the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) was organized in Hawaii in 1894 more than a decade after Sun left.

Sun Yat-sen would later be involved in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and a failed attempt to establish a republic in China. He never achieved his goals during his lifetime.

Whatever Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic might look like was formed during the four years he lived in Hawaii as a teen.  The Sun Yat-sen Timeline shows that he returned to China in 1883.

To discover what Sun Yat-sen may have believed means learning about the political structure of Hawaii and the United States between 1879 and 1883.

Continued on January 8, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – 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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