Xi’an (Chang’ an) – China’s Ancient Capital – Part 2/5

October 22, 2011

In Part One, I mentioned the subway system that was 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 documentary for China’s Most Honourable City. Today, there are more than 8 million people living there.

This segment of Gishford’s documentary starts with Archaeologist Charles Higham, a world famous authority on ancient Asian cities.

Higham says, “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 (Xi’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 (Xi’an) used this new technology in revolutionary ways such as building an underground sewer system connected to the moat that surrounded the city.

Continued on October 19, 2011, in Xi’an (Chang’ an) – China’s Ancient Capital – Part 3 or return to 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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History Counts – Part 1/2

October 13, 2011

Atrocities abound in the history books concerning treatment of Native American Indians during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. The Spanish destroyed the Aztec and Inca civilizations with disease and warfare, and the Catholic mission system in California enslaved Native American Indians.

After the Civil War, the United States military was sent west to drive North American native Indians from the land they had lived on for thousands of years and slaughtered men, women and children—millions died.

Today, many of the surviving American natives live in horrible poverty on reservations.

Then the American government grabbed Hawaii from the native Hawaiian people against their will. (There is a native Hawaiian nonviolent separatist movement asking for freedom from America.)

After the Spanish American War, America took possession of the Philippine islands and waged war against the native people killing
more than two hundred thousand. This went on until America entered World War II.

In fact, the treatment of American Indians has not changed much. The United States government might not wage brutal war against Native American Indians today as they did in the past, but in recent times billions of dollars slated to support Native American Indian tribes on reservations went missing, and no one seems to care where all that money went—except the native Indians.

It would appear that the era of lies and broken treaties has not ended.

If you want to learn more about native American Indians, I suggest you read what the New York Times said about the work written by Vine Deloria Jr., and check out Native American Literature worth reading.


Nearly a quarter of the Cherokee Nation froze or starved to death on the trail to Oklahoma Indian Territory. This video explores America’s darkest period: President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma in 1838.

It is best to stay away from Hollywood movies if you want to discover the truth.

When I brought this topic up in a 2010 E-mail conversation with a conservative, evangelical Christian friend, he said what happened in the past does not count today.

I disagree. History always counts. Jesus Christ said, “Let he who has no sin, cast the first stone,” and, “Go and sin no more”, and investigations in Iraq revealed that under President George W. Bush, the CIA was torturing prisoners.


Errol Morris examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Most in the West and America have heard about Tibet and the demands by Tibetans in exile that Tibet be free from China to rule itself. We hear claims of human rights violations taking place without much evidence to support the claims, and people that fear and hate Communism (the word not the reality) will believe anything.

The American media recently revealed that tens of thousands of illegal aliens in America (some seeking political asylum) were locked up in detention centers and were not getting proper medical care and were dying because of it.

Unlike Mao’s time, today’s Chinese leaders must answer to the seventy-million Party members scattered throughout China. These people listen to the 1.3 billion Chinese that do not belong to the party. The result: if an elected official is not doing his or her job, that person usually isn’t reelected.

Continued on October 14, 2011 in History Counts – 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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.

 

Note: This revised and edited post first appeared in February 2010 as An American Genocide, An American Shadow Over the Philippines, In a Dark Mirror Without Reflection, and After Mao.


A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 2/6

September 28, 2011

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 of 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 says, “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 took 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 is still in office.

The CIA says 15% of the RoK’s population lives below the poverty line, while poverty in the United States in 2009 was 14.3%.

In August 2011, CBS reported that 20 percent of American children lived in poverty.

In fact, Homelessness in America remains an issue of deep concern. The American dream is a distant one for about 2.3 million to 3.5 million Americans that do not have a place to call home and about 1.35 million of the homeless are children.

Continued on September 29, 2011 in A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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” while writing this Blog.

However, annually, the media and American politicians remind us of the so-called Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, which I wrote of 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?

Then there was the first massacre “I never heard of” until I stumbled on it by accident while researching another post. I wrote of that massacre [by a strong ally of America] in the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan.

Why is it that the world knows so much about the Tiananmen Square Incident while hardly anyone knows about the Gwangju Massacre and the one in Taiwan?

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Wu Zetian, China’s only Female Emperor — a “Very Early” Feminist (Viewed as Single Page)

September 21, 2011

After writing the post about Detective Dee, I decided to combine the four-part series of Emperor Wu Zetian (624 – 705 AD), who was the only woman in China’s history to be an emperor.

Her rise and reign has been criticized harshly by Confucian historians but after the 1950s has been viewed in a better light.

Emperor Zetian ranks alongside Cleopatra—the last Pharaoh of Egypt, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella of Spain, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great and Queen Victoria.

However, In 637 AD at fourteen, Zetian did not have the official status of a court concubine. She was a serving girl in the Imperial palace.

The second and third emperors of the Tang Dynasty were her husbands and seventeen of the emperors that ruled after her second husband died were her children and their children. Empress Zetian gave birth to four sons and two daughters.

After her first husband Emperor Taizong died, she became a nun in Ganye (Buddhist) Temple where she stayed for several years before being chosen at the age of twenty-seven to be a low ranking wife of Emperor Gaozong, the second Tang emperor’s son.

Historical records say Zetian was a stunning beauty and that because of this Emperor Gaozong was attracted to her, but some scholars say it was her intelligence that won him over.

One year after being married to Gaozong, Zetian outperformed the other wives and concubines to become the Empress.

After becoming Empress, she advised Gaozong on many political issues, which benefited the empire. Eventually, she earned the title of “Queen of Heaven”.

When Emperor Gaozong became seriously ill, he named Zetian to deal with the affairs of state in his name. He died in 683 AD, and Zetian’s third son Lixian became emperor.

However, a month later, Zetian, as the Empress Dowager, removed Lixian from power. Then she turned to her fourth son, but at first, he refused and then eventually accepted the title and became known as Emperor Tang Ruizong.

Zetian believed her sons were weak, so she continued to control the affairs of state as the Dowager Empress.

After Gaozong’s death, she funded the carving of the 17 meter high (almost 56 feet) Lu Shena Buddha, the largest rock carved Buddha in the Longmen Grotto.

It is believed that the Buddha’s face is modeled after Zetian, since she funded the project.

Although there are rumors and gossip that Zetian had many lovers, it is obvious from her age when Emperor Gaozong died that the stories are exaggerations encouraged by her political enemies and the imaginations of future scholars of history texts and authors of fiction, such as the Detective Dee movie.


Mandarin

After eight years of ruling the empire without officially being the Emperor, Zetian made a shocking decision. In 690 AD, she changed the Tang Dynasty into the Zhou Dynasty and declared herself an Emperor when she was age sixty-seven.

While Zetian ruled the Tang Dynasty, the economy, culture, social and political affairs prospered. She was also a talented military leader who reformed the army. After the reforms, without leaving her palace, she managed military conflicts with rival states and defeated them.

Under her leadership, the empire expanded and grew stronger.

Near her death in 704 AD, Zetian returned the throne to her third son Lixian, who became Emperor again.

Some scholars claim that she became a Buddhist for political reasons, but she had many Buddhist temples built and sculptures of Buddha made, and these projects were expensive.

However, as far as affairs of state were concerned, she did not allow her Buddhist beliefs to influence her decisions. For example, she promoted officials that earned the right through merit. There is no evidence of favoritism. In fact, officials convicted of failing in their duties to the people were punished and often beheaded.


Mandarin

She also did not rule as a tyrant. Before making decisions, she listened to all opinions on an issue. Today, historians study her ruling style, and the evidence says her political decisions were wise ones.

During the fifty years that Zetian ruled the Tang Dynasty as Dowager Empress and then as an Emperor, China’s borders expanded north, south and west and she did not lose any of the territory gained.

She understood that with the people’s support, political stability was guaranteed. When there were tragedies such as floods, the dynasty quickly offered relief so recovery was swift.

Although imperial family members of the Tang Dynasty staged revolutions, most of the rebellions were suppressed in a few months.

While Zetian ruled China, the role of women in society changed drastically and due to her, feminism existed in China more than 1,300 years ago. Women didn’t have to worry about the clothing they wore. They were free to explore the arts such as writing poetry. Women rode horses, played Chinese chess, wrote and played music and practiced archery as men did.

Even after Zetian was forced to retire at age eighty, there were officials that called for her return. The historical records show that the Tang emperors that followed her were not as wise or trusting as she was.

There is a collection of fifty-eight of Zetian’s poems. Most of her poetry was written for temple ceremonies and some for travel.

She also wrote many books and collected art. For example, Zetian edited the Book of Agriculture, which influenced agricultural development during the Tang Dynasty.

In fact, there is evidence that Zetian respected decisive men such as her Prime Minister De Renji (represented by the fictional Detective Dee in the recent epic Chinese movie), and she often talked about Li Shimin, her first husband, with respect.

After her death in 705 AD, her third son, Lixian, was removed as emperor due to a plot.

In 710 AD, Zetian’s grandson, Li Longji, defeated a rebellion that intended to take over the dynasty and returned his father to the throne. Eventually, Longji would become Emperor Tang Xuanzong, and under his rule the Dynasty prospered again.

However, when Yuanzong grew old, he neglected his duties and spent too much time with his favorite concubine. During those years, the officials became corrupt and this led to the Shi Rebellion, which his son, the next emperor, suppressed.

After that, the eunuchs gained too much power, and the next fourteen emperors from 756 to 907 AD were weak leading to the eventual collapse of the Tang Dynasty.

The historical evidence says Emperor Wu Zetian, as an ancient feminist, should have earned praise since she did a better job as Emperor than most of the men that ruled the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) did.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

Note: This revised and edited post first appeared as a four part series starting with Wu Zetian, China’s Woman Emperor – Part 1 (of a four part series) on November 9, 2010.


China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 2/4

September 1, 2011

The other factors that may have contributed to China’s so-called Great Famine will be listed in order of influence with the most damaging factor listed first and the least damaging last.

The first factors that may have contributed to the famine were droughts, floods and general bad weather.

In 1959 and 1960, the weather was less favorable, and the situation grew considerably worse, with many of China’s provinces experiencing severe famine.

Droughts, floods, and bad weather caught China completely by surprise, and in July 1959, the Yellow River flooded in East China and directly killed,either through starvation from crop failure or drowning, an estimated 2 million people.

In 1960, at least some degree of drought and other bad weather affected 55 percent of cultivated land, while an estimated 60 percent of northern agricultural land received no rain at all. Source: Great Leap Forward – Climate Conditions and famine in China (Wiki)

In fact, droughts and famine are common in China. Between 108 BC and 1911 AD, there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China or one nearly every year in one or another province.

In the West, most if not all of what we hear about Mao is that he was a brutal monster responsible for the deaths of about 30 million people during the Great Leap Forward as if he pulled the trigger and ordered others to deliberately kill people by the millions as Hitler and Stalin did.

However, the facts do not support this claim.

The first time I heard that droughts and extremely bad weather also played a role in the so-called Great Famine was early July 2011 while I was researching another topic for this Blog and stumbled on that mostly unknown fact by accident.

Then I discovered another more insidious factor when I started working on this post, which may have contributed significantly to the early deaths of millions in China and no one in China was responsible for this one.

This factor was influenced by both American and Chinese paranoia generated by the Korean War (1950 – 1953), America’s involvement in Vietnam (1955 – 1975), McCarthyism‘s Red Scare (1947 – 1957) and the Cold War with Communist Russia (1945 – 1991).

Continued on September 2, 2011 in China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Recommended reading on this topic for those who seek the unblemished truth: From the Monthly Review, Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball

From Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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