The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: Part 2 of 2

November 27, 2013

Imagine how Americans would have felt if China had deployed several of its army divisions in the United States to protect the Chinese living in America after the racist and discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by U.S. President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1886—this law would not be repealed until 1943.

Then there was Mao surviving Chiang Kai-shek‘s crack down on the labor movement led by the Communist Party. During World War II, Mao’s army not only fought Chiang Kai-shek’s troops but also the Japanese, who killed between 10 to 20 million Chinese in their attempt to conquer China.

The peasants trusted Mao’s troops but did not trust Chiang Kai-shek’s army. Do you know why?

Then there was the West’s wars in Korea (1950 – 1953: with an estimated 2.5 million killed/wounded) and Vietnam (1955 – 1975: with an estimated 3.8 million killed/wounded) in addition to America’s necklace of military basses surrounding China to this day. Source: Foreign Policy.com

Mao believed that socialism would create a better life for the Chinese. His failures were attempts to make China strong enough to defend his country against the foreign meddling and invasions that had plagued China since the 1850s.

Regardless of all the horrible facts the Western media keeps reminding the world about, there are a few facts that are not well known in the West about Mao and China—when Mao became the leader of mainland China in 1949, the average lifespan in China was age 35. When Mao died in 1976, the average lifespan had increased by twenty years to age 55—today the average life expectancy is almost age 75. In addition, the population of China was 400 million in 1949. Twenty-seven years later at the time of Mao’s death, China’s population had increased to 700 million.

These two facts alone call into question many of the alleged and inflated claims of deaths and suffering caused by the mistakes of the Great Leap Forward famine and the national insanity of the Cultural Revolution that are often trumpeted by China’s critics—some are quite rabid and idealistic and are more than willing to inflate and exaggerate the facts that are known.

Mao was not perfect by any means but even the Chinese—after his death—credited his leadership as 70% good and only 30% bad. You may not agree with this assessment, but did you live in China during and before the Mao era? Have you any idea how horrible life was for most Chinese before 1949?

Return to or Start with The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: Part 1

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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.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: Part 1 of 2

November 26, 2013

Why did Mao cause so much suffering with his failed Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution? Yes, many of us have heard that power corrupts and no country is without its examples. And, for sure, the power Mao held was a factor in the decisions he made, but fear of repeating history may have been a bigger factor in his decisions.

For example, how many millions of Chinese were addicted to Western opium forced on China by Great Britain; France and for a short period even the United States during the Opium Wars [1st: 1839-1842; 2nd: 1856-1860]? To the credit of the U.S., the Congress eventually voted to pull America’s troops out of the 2nd Opium War and gave back the reparations China was forced to pay its invaders after losing that war.

“During the nineteenth century, Britain fought two wars of choice with China to force it to import opium. The opium grown in India and shipped to China first by the British East India Company and after 1857 by the government of India, helped Britain finance much of its military and colonial budgets in South and Southeast Asia. The Australian scholar Carl A. Trocki concludes that, given the huge profits from the sale of opium, “without the drug, there probably would have been no British empire.” Source: 5th World.com

In addition, historians think that 20 to 100 million may have died due to the Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864). The Taiping Rebellion was led by a failed Confusion scholar who converted to Christianity and then claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus Chris. He even wrote his own gospel and added it to the Bible.

If Christian missionaries had not been forced on China at the conclusion of the 1st Opium War, would that rebellion have taken place?

More than 100,000 Chinese were killed during the Boxer Rebellion (1899 – 1901), which was a popular peasant uprising against Christian missionaries, and the meddling and exploitation of foreigners in China to make money.

Could these wars and rebellions all linked to Christianity and opium sold by Western countries have motivated Mao to declare war on religion in China?

After 1911, when the Qing Dynasty collapsed, chaos and anarchy ruled China, while foreigners—Americans included—lived in luxury in the treaty ports that were the result of the Opium Wars and these foreign enclaves were protected by modern, foreign military forces on Chinese soil. A Century of Madness chronicles this time.

Continued on November 27, 2013 in The History that Drove Mao’s Decisions as China’s Leader: 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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Tragedy Museum

October 8, 2013

The atrocities committed in Europe during World War II are well known except maybe in Iran where former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once claimed the Holocaust never happened.

However, recently Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, said the Holocaust did happen and what Ahmadinejad said in December 2005—and again on April 24, 2006; May 30, 2006; December 11, 2006; June 2009; September 2009; and September 2010—was taken out of context.

Regardless of Lame Brain Ahmadinejad, the Global Directory of Holocaust Museums tells us how widespread this knowledge is. It’s when we forget about history that we tend to repeat it.  Simon Wiesenthal said, “Freedom is not a gift from heaven … you must fight for it every day.”

Admitting the truth is the first step toward healing and avoiding similar tragedies again. “There is Chinese proverb which says you should use history as a mirror,” said Peng Qian, a former deputy mayor of Shantou.

The official Communist Party line is that Mao was 70 percent good and 30 percent bad—you may disagree with these ratios but don’t lose sight of the fact that the CCP admitted publicly that Mao was not perfect. And there is a museum in China that focuses on the atrocities of the Cultural Revolution. This museum was built near the industrial port city of Shantou in the Guangdong district. Sources: Frum ForumThe Independent; the Washington Post, and on August 18, 2012 the South China Morning Post.

If you think the CCP is ignoring the Shantou museum, you would be wrong because on February 8, 2013, China’s national state-run news service reported that the museum keeps Cultural Revolution memories alive. The museum consists of outdoor and indoor exhibitions.

Xinhua said, “The indoor exhibition, housed in a three-story, traditional-style building that resembles the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, displays 1,100 historical photographs chiseled into granite slabs. Some of the exhibits show gruesome scenes where victims are tortured and humiliated, while others bear insults that persecutors used to describe their class enemies.”

This museum demonstrates how far China has come since Mao’s death in 1976. As China continues to open to the world like a flower, one day there may be a list of Cultural Revolution Museums spread across China to equal the Holocaust Museums of World War II.

In fact, the Voice of America reported that some accounts of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution have been published in the Chinese media, a sign of an increased willingness to revisit painful memories that are still very much alive for both victims and their tormenters.

Discover China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

_______________

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.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Farewell My Concubine – a movie review

July 2, 2013

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

_______________

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.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Not Rule the World” – Part 12/12

December 8, 2011

Note from Blog host: Troy Parfitt’s closing statement of about 500 words appears first. To read Lloyd Lofthouse’s closing statement, you may have to scroll down this page.

Closing Statement [Parfitt]:

I would like to thank Tom Carter for suggesting and facilitating this debate. But most of all, I would like to thank Lloyd Lofthouse. True, this is his website, but Lloyd’s been key in getting this organized, and has been nothing but helpful, positive, and polite.

Between the episodes of verbal jousting, which hopefully have kept you interested and entertained, we’ve communicated amicably about China and related topics, which is great. Two literary publications have refused to review my book, one citing arrogance, the other controversy and bigotry. It’s a sign of the times (you have total intellectual freedom to say anything you want, except things people don’t want to hear), so good on Lloyd for being so tolerant of someone like me, whose views on China have little overlap with his.

China is a complicated subject, and because debate about it is so divisive, it’s sometimes difficult for people with only a casual interest to sort fact from fiction. To come to any kind of understanding, you’ve got to spend a lot of time reading about China, and it helps enormously to understand Mandarin and travel or live there.

The West has some serious problems; it always has and it always will. Somber problems are normal for human societies; we’re a troubled species. In light of Western inadequacy and hypocrisy, it’s tempting to see China as a land of answers and alternatives. China can appear as the great Other: the feminine to the West’s masculine; grace to aggression; cultivation to calculation. But that’s a romanticized construct located in the recesses of the Western psyche, with little basis in reality.

That’s not to say China isn’t a noteworthy subject; it’s a fascinating one. Nevertheless, determined and altruistic cadres, heroic Communist leaders, an overriding system of guanxi, a citizenry instilled with the wisdom and morality of Confucianism, a harmonious society, a glorious past, and a mission to help neighboring states, are concepts that exist largely in people’s imaginations. They are myths, both Chinese and Western, that mainly block the view.

People like myths; they’re easy to latch on to; easy to remember; they cover up what isn’t flattering; they justify, and can make you feel good. But they won’t bring anyone closer to understanding what China is, how it got that way, and where it might be headed. To do that, one needs to research, observe, and apply critical thinking. Counter evidence cannot be denied, dubious sources should be treated as such, and a sense of fairness must always be employed. Once you’ve got a working theory about China, its nature, and so on, you must test that hypothesis constantly; that’s how you’ll discover the wonderful and terrible truth.

Again, I’d like to thank Tom and Lloyd for setting this debate up. It was good for me to defend and reflect on my ideas, and China is such an important topic; debate about it is crucial.

Thank you very much.

Troy Parfitt

Closing Statement [Lofthouse]:

In the prologue of Lin Yutang’s My Country and My People, the author says few in the West understand the Chinese and their culture. He writes, “It is difficult to deny the Old China Hand (Note—foreigners that lived or are still living in China) the right to write books and articles about China…”

Lin Yutang says that only one in ten thousand of these “Old China Hands” understands China, while the other 9,999 results in a “constant, unintelligent elaboration of the Chinaman”. He mentions Sir Robert Hart and Bertrand Russell as examples of the few that understand China.

At the urging of Pearl S. Buck, “My Country and My People” was written and then published in 1935 and what Lin Yutang wrote then is still relevant today.

Pearl S. Buck writes in the book’s Introduction that when China was “not able to meet the dangerous and aggressive modernity of the West… They forced out of existence the old dynastic rule, they changed with incredible speed the system of education, and with indefatigable zeal they planned and set up a scheme of modern government”.

This metamorphosis of China that we have witnessed in the last few decades has almost eradicated severe poverty from more than 70% in 1949 to 2.5% of the population today in addition to the growth of a modern, Western style urban consumer middle class that is still a work in progress. This transformation took a literacy rate of 20% in 1976 and increased it to more than 90% today.

In 1949, we witnessed an element of that transformation as Mao declared war on Confucianism and then again as the age of Mao gave way to Deng Xiaoping’s “Getting Rich is Glorious” era, which turned China into the world’s factory floor. Then in 1982, China wrote a new constitution and started a process to reinvent its legal system to be more Western in its structure and laws.

I thank Mr. Troy Parfitt for his participating in this debate. However, he is not a Sir Robert Hart or Bertrand Russell.

In Part 1, he claimed that “face” was a license to behave however one pleases, which is not the case.

He then inferred that because Jonathan Spence never mentions Mao’s war on Confucianism in his biography of Mao that it never happened.

Yet, Henry Kissinger in On China made it clear that Mao was passionately and publicly anti-Confucian. Zhou Enlai even told Kissinger that Confucianism was a doctrine of class oppression.

Parfitt’s “gossip” includes his opinion of “Confucianism”, “face”, “Guanxi”, the “Mandate of Heaven”, corruption in China, and Mao being a monster that deliberately caused millions of deaths from a famine, which took place during the Great Leap Forward in a few of China’s provinces.

As Lin Yutang says, “It is difficult to deny the “Old China Hand” the right to write books and articles about China… Nevertheless, such books and articles must necessarily remain on the level of the gossip along the world’s longest bar.”

Return to the Discussion with Troy Parfitt – Part 11, author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas“, or start with Part 1.

See Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 1

______________

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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Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Not Rule the World” – Part 11/12

December 7, 2011

Tenth Question [Parfitt]:

What’s your take on Chinese education?

Answer [Lofthouse]:

China faces many challenges educating its youth. The Compulsory Education law took effect in 1986. In addition, because urban teachers continue to earn more than their rural counterparts do and because academic standards in the countryside are lower, it remains difficult to recruit teachers for rural areas, so China faces an acute shortage of qualified teachers.

It didn’t help that during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the education system was gutted and literacy dropped to 20%.  However, today, literacy is above 90% and improving.

After Mao’s death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping enacted gradual reforms that included not only the economy but education. One of the first changes was to get rid of Mao’s Little Red Book that inflamed a generation of radical youths during the Cultural Revolution.  Today, dogmatic Party slogans have no place in China’s classrooms.

While Chinese education stood still for twenty-seven years under Mao, Western educational science evolved emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving skills over rote learning, and now China is learning those methods and introducing them slowly as teachers are trained.

One component of change sees hundreds of thousands of university students earning degrees in America and other Western nations and then taking that knowledge back to China. In fact, many children of China’s top leaders are attending universities in the West such as Harvard or Stanford.

The first schools to see changes were in Shanghai about 18 years ago, and the results were dramatic when fifteen-year-old Shanghai students took first place in every category in the 2009 international PISA test, which has components that test critical thinking and problem solving skills.

However, China’s central government was quick to announce that the rest of China would take about fifteen to twenty years to catch up to Shanghai.

I understand that over the doorway of classrooms in Shanghai are signs that says something like “there is more than one answers for each question” and the dogmatic methods used for centuries are being phased out as teachers are retrained but change is slow and the challenges many. Teaching an old dog new tricks is not easy.

Response [Parfitt]:

I taught in Taiwan, where, like China, schooling is test-based, geared toward entrance exams, and bolstered by rote memorization. School days are long (8 to 13 hours), homework received in heaps, and evenings, if free, filled with cram-school classes.

The goal is admission to National Taiwan University, nationally number 1. Globally, it has a Times Higher Education World University Ranking of 115.

In that index’s top 100, China has only 3 entries. Australia has 5, America 52. China’s flagship, Peking University, is ranked 37.

“More than one possible answer,” is great, but I wonder how China can transition to Western education without belittling Confucian principles. I also wonder about returning students, who sometimes find it difficult to assimilate after Western exposure. Returning scientists have said it’s most important to report what superiors want to hear, and that they are powerless to change things. Change requires freedom; freedom is impossible.

Final Word [Lofthouse]:

Most students in collective Confucian cultures have no problems learning from Western educational techniques while surviving the influence of Western values after returning home.

In Singapore, Confucian beliefs are so autocratic, parents face harsh penalties and jail time if a student’s schoolwork suffers. In addition, Singapore students face caning when breaking rules, yet fifteen-year-old students in Singapore placed fifth in the 2009 international PISA test.

In fact, among the top eleven nations that scored significantly above the OECD average in the PISA test, five were cultures influenced by Confucius.

Shanghai-China placed first, South Korea second, Hong Kong-China fourth, Singapore fifth and Japan eighth, while the US placed seventeenth.

In addition, the US may have 52 of the top 100 universities but 62% of foreign students attending US universities are from countries influenced by Confucius, and Doctoral-level institutions, for example, reported an increase of 130 percent, on average, in Chinese students.

Continued on December 8, 2011 in Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” – Part 12 or return to Part 10.

See Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 1

______________

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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Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Not Rule the World” – Part 10/12

December 6, 2011

Ninth Question [Lofthouse]:

What is your opinion on Tibet as part of China and how would you describe the Tibet issue?

Answer [Parfitt]:

Westerns tend to idealize Tibet and know little about its history or society. I wonder how many readers are aware, for example, that Tibet was invaded by Britain in 1903, with the British killing 3,000 Tibetans and sending the Dalai Lama fleeing to Mongolia.

Tibet remains an acutely backward society, filled with superstition, quackery, sorcery…. Until recently, mutilation was considered a valid punishment.

Tibetan history is riddled with violence; Tibet was once an ambitious military state. Tibetans often fought against, and defeated, the Chinese. They toppled China’s emperor in Xian in the eight century, illustrating that the mighty Han were really limp wristed. The Tibetans withdrew after the Chinese acknowledged the Sino-Tibetan border, etc., but the Chinese never forgot how the long-haired barbarians caused them to lose face. Revenge is such a potent element in Chinese culture; an ever-present theme.

Savage-brimming “borderlands,” like Mongolia, Tibet, and Taiwan would have to be Sinicized. Taiwan got away. Mongolia became a Soviet suzerainty in exchange for aid. Tibet, which had swapped its martial tradition for Buddhism, was ripe for the picking. With the Korean War, larger powers were distracted. There were several reasons for China’s invasion and annexation of Tibet, but the paramount one was revenge.

Chinese rule in Tibet vacillates between cultural suffocation and cultural genocide. Oh, and murder. It isn’t known how many Tibetans have died under Chinese occupation. Thousands, tens of thousands…. Nobody is sure, and estimates from Dharamsala have been unreliable. Tibetans are forced to sign conduct agreements; life in Lhasa is closely monitored by the police; there are informants, spies; Tibetans who aren’t deemed patriotic citizens are jailed, tortured…. It’s a shitty situation.

Probably the saddest part, beyond the death and repression, is that Western governments have been reluctant to act. UN resolutions are useless, too. The West criticizes China’s involvement in Africa, accusing the Chinese Communist Party of doing business with any two-bit thug-state, but China represents the biggest thug-state on Earth, only its leaders often wear nicer suits and have American PhDs.

For further reading, see Patrick French’s Tibet, Tibet and Ma Jian’s Stick Out Your Tongue.

Response [Lofthouse]:

In October 1885, Robert Hart wrote a letter to his London agent saying China did not want Tibet exposed to Western trade and influence.

Then in a 1903 letter, Hart mentioned the 2,000 British troops that invaded Tibet. Since China claimed Tibet as its territory, the British were warned to leave or risk war.

As for claims of cultural suffocation and genocide in today’s Tibet, anyone that reads the article in the October 1912 issue of National Geographic Magazine by a Chinese medical doctor sent to Tibet in 1907 would discover that Tibetans are better off today.

If Tibet returned to the situation Dr. Shaoching H. Chuan described in National Geographic [including many photos], it would be an inhuman act. Under the CCP, the quality of life in Tibet has improved dramatically from that feudal culture where 99% of the people were slaves to a dogmatic religion and rich landowners.

Final Word [Parfitt]:

Stick Out Your Tongue, which should erase any idealized notions of Tibet, was blasted by the CCP for failing to depict “the great strides the Tibetan people have made in building a united, prosperous, and civilized Socialist Tibet.”

Yes, China has made improvements in Tibet. Even the Dalai Lama admits this.

Still.

Canada is less advanced than America. Canadian news stories sometimes conclude: ‘Unlike the US, Canada doesn’t have a law/committee/policy/plan to deal with ‘subject.’ But I don’t think America should invade, force the government to London, destroy the hockey rinks, ban national institutions, torture new and ungrateful “American citizens,” or put them in front of firing squads – to rescue them from their own ignorance.

If China hadn’t invaded, Tibet might have gotten assistance from the West. But China’s concern about Western influence in Tibet was one reason it invaded.

It was not for Tibetans that China annexed Tibet.

Continued on December 7, 2011 in Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” – Part 11 or return to Part 9.

See Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 1

______________

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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