China’s Transition Years – Discovering History through Film

July 18, 2017

Farewell, My Concubine covers more than 50-years of Chinese history from 1924 – 1977.

In 1924, prostitute Yanhong sees no other alternative than leaving her son Douzi at a training school for Chinese opera where the boys are beaten, and tortured for forgetting their lines. The only escape is suicide. China’s decades long Civil War between the Communists and Nationalist rages on and then Japan invades China in 1937 and the challenges to survive become worse. After World War II, the Chinese Civil War continues and doesn’t end until 1949.

Two of the boys at the training school, Douzi and Shitou, become friends destined to be great actors, and they impress audiences by performing together. Through the years, with the political situation in China ever changing and not always for the good, Shitou and Douzi remain close.

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 soon after the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is a story of two boys that happen to become famous, but they have difficulties and challenges like most of us do. However, the film takes us from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated, struggling republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II, and through Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie more than 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.

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 2 of 2

June 28, 2017

The segment of Al Jazeeera’s report on Maggie Gu’s “Romance Chinese Style” starts with the sound of violins at a wedding banquet.

The narrator says, “Chinese weddings today combine east and west both in customs and in costumes. However, the all-important wedding banquet must start before twelve to avoid bad luck.”

China is learning about love and romance. However, it is also discovering the agony of divorce since in the last two decades the divorce rate in China has taken flight but is still far from the divorce rate in the US.

Divorce has become so common, that it led to a popular, award winning TV drama “Chinese-Style Divorce”, which is the story of a woman losing her husband due to jealousy. This program struck a chord with millions of Chinese viewers.

The producer/director of Chinese-Style Divorce went through a divorce the year before he started filming. Many in the production crew were also divorced.

Lost love in China has also created opportunities in a new divorce industry leading to lawyers that specialize in divorce.

The Economist also reported that Divorce is on the rise in China.

While Chinese laws have made divorce much easier, Chinese culture is still having a difficult time adjusting to the shock that comes with divorce.

Today, marriage in China is more than just sticking it out through hard times. These days young couples want harmony, happiness, and romance, which means when marriage becomes painful and/or boring there is no hesitation to get a divorce.

But there are still differences between Chinese and marriages in the United States. In China, many expect their new mate to show respect and support for parents.

Chinese parents may also become involved in playing cupid for their children.


A matchmaking party for Chinese female millionaires who don’t have time to find love on their own.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 1 of 2

June 27, 2017

It isn’t easy finding love in China. I’m not talking about sex. This is about love. While sex might be an element of falling in love, it isn’t love. And yes, there are individuals who think of love as a sexual desire.

For instance, high paid white-collar jobs in China are demanding and leave little time for romance, but with western style romance novels and romantic movies leading the way, searching for “love” however one defines it, is becoming common.

Although China’s open economy has made many people rich, “love” is still a difficult word to say since most Asians are more reserved than westerners.

“Romance Chinese Style” is a film by first-time director Maggie Gu that takes a close look at the romance industry in China that is helping to overcome this shortage of time and abundance of shyness.

Al Jazeera English reported on Maggie Gu’s film and looked at on-line dating, blind dates, double dates, and speed dating that is popular in China.

Since China opened its doors to the world, it has become a country in the fast lane, and in 2007, China’s first speed dating club opened.

Speed dating originated in the United States, but the concept reached China where for a small fee, to save time, speed dating takes place over the Internet.

This Internet speed dating service allows busy members of China’s growing middle class to meet potential mates, and since many Chinese find it difficult to express what they feel, there are classes available where wealthy professionals can discover how to express themselves in the language of romance.


A Love Market in China

Part 2 will post on June 28, 2017

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Tobacco Epidemic – Part 2 of 2

March 29, 2017

In 2005, China signed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global anti-tobacco treaty to cut tobacco use. In fact, WHO even awarded China’s Health Minister Chen Zhu for his efforts to battle tobacco use.

However, in China, tobacco companies sponsor public schools and arrange sponsored tours of cigarette factories for elementary students where the slogans say, “Talent stems from hard work, tobacco helps you become accomplished.”

The JAMA Network reports, “Foreign tobacco companies are mounting massive production and advertising campaigns in China. Government health education programs lack funds to counter these influences …” JAMA  is The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bloomberg reported, “Philip Morris subsidized two cigarette factories in 1988 and almost a decade later provided corporate jets when China’s top tobacco regulator, Ni Yijin, visited the U.S., according to internal industry memos. The company’s objective was to build its relationship with Ni and to impress upon him that Philip Morris was the ‘preferred partner’ to modernize and restructure China’s tobacco industry. The visit was carefully orchestrated with talking points, seating charts, and gifts for Ni (such as a $700 Steuben crystal eagle) determined months in advance.”

Where was Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, when he was needed most? After all, when the first emperor wanted to get something done, nothing stopped him. He unified China after winning wars with several other countries that existed in China at the time.

China first emperor also finished building The Great Wall causing the deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of peasants. He mandated one written language, and had the scholars from the conquered countries that complained dig their own graves before setting them on fire and throwing dirt on the remains.

It is highly unlikely that Qin Shi Huangdi would have liked cigarettes since he ordered his alchemists/scientists to discover an elixir for immortality, unless they thought smoking tobacco was that elixir.

Note that the United States is one of 17-countries that did not join the 180-countries that ratified the WHO’s anti-tobacco treaty.  The U.S. also joined a handful of countries, including Iran and Sudan that did not ratify the Convention on Discrimination against Women.  In addition, the U.S. and Somalia have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. and Turkey are the only nations of NATO that did not sign the Mine Ban Treaty.  – Global Policy Forum, US Position on International Treaties

Return to or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Lovers Who Wanted to Save China’s Past

March 22, 2017

Smithsonian Magazine ran a piece on The Lovers of Shanxi. Lin Huiyn and Liang Sicheng are known today as the couple that wanted to save China’s ancient architectural treasures before they were lost forever. On the eve of World War II and Japan’s invasion of China, this married couple set out in the 1930s to search China and document the country’s architectural history.

Smithsonian said, “The couple would go on to make a string of extraordinary discoveries in the 1930s, documenting almost 2,000 exquisitely carved temples, pagodas and monasteries that were on the verge of being lost forever.”

Liang Sicheng is recognized as the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture”. Princeton University, awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1947, and wrote “a creative architect who has also been a teacher of architectural history, a pioneer in historical research and exploration in Chinese architecture and planning, and a leader in the restoration and preservation of the priceless monuments of his country.”

His wife was the first female architect in modern China. Her passion was the restoration of China’s cultural heritage sites.  She died in 1955 of tuberculosis, and soon after her death, her husband was denounced during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and Liang Sicheng died in 1972 before the Cultural Revolution ended. During the years after his first wife’s death, he witnessed the destruction of many of China’s architectural masterpieces.

But today, in China, this couple is remembered and honored for what they accomplished.

These two also visited one of the few surviving examples of ancient China’s architecture to see the massive four-mile-long wall built in 1370 AD that surrounds the city of Pingyao in Shanxi province. One reason this city’s ancient architecture survived the Mao era is because the city was too poor to tear everything down during the Cultural Revolution when Mao was attempting to erase history.

After Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping reversed Mao’s policies and opened China to the world, and over the years many of the damaged buildings were rebuilt.

I can only hope that something similar will happen in the United States once the malignant narcissist Donald Trump is gone.

Today the ancient city of Pengyao is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most buildings in the Old city are from the Ming and Qing dynasties. During the late Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the financial center of China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Did Mao Zedong have Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)? – Part 1 of 2

July 12, 2016

Was Mao the monster that the Western media often makes him out to be, or was he just a product of his environment and life?

Mao has been judged by a Western value system that did not exist in China or the United States during his lifetime. In addition, it is now known that who we grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from environmental and lifestyle influences.

Mao grew up in a world nothing like most in the West have ever experienced.  He was born into China’s collective culture where the individual was not more important than the whole.

There is a strong possibility that Mao also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and this may have influenced his behavior and decisions during the years he ruled China [1949 – 1976].

Helping Psychology reports, “PTSD victims tend to be in a continuous state of heightened alertness. The trauma that precipitates the disorder essentially conditions them to be ever-ready for a life threatening situation to arise at any moment … But the continuous releases of brain chemicals that accompany this reaction time – and their inability to control when this heightened reactivity will occur – take psychological and biological tolls on PTSD victims over time.”

Then Medicine Net.com reports, “Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.”

American combat veterans are not the only people on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of a violent trauma, and if we examine Mao’s life, it could be argued that PTSD played a strong role in the decisions he made as he aged.

We will examine Mao’s long history as a victim of violence in Part 2

Continued on July 13, 2016 in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet, is the best-selling, 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.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Where there’s a Will there is a Way – China’s Legless Chen Zhou

May 18, 2016

Chen Zhou’s said, “God of Heaven took my legs, but he gave me a beautiful wife and a pair of healthy children granting me a platform where I can make my life meaningful. Everyone gets knocked down in life. The winners get up no matter how many times they get knocked down. I’ll keep fighting as long as I breathe.”

Born in 1983, Chen Zhou, age 30, lost his legs in a train accident when he was age 13. He then started singing for money on the streets.

To survive, he also shined shoes, sold newspapers and repaired electronic appliances.

Chen Zhou is more than a traveling musician. He is a mountain climber, an inspirational speaker and an advocate for the handicapped.

In fact, he has climbed China’s Five Great Mountains including Mount Tai eleven times (more than 5,000 feet above sea level—the base starts at 490 feet—an elevation gain of more than 4,500 feet). Mount Tai has been a place of worship for at least 3,000 years and has served as one of China’s most important ceremonial centers—emperors often traveled to the summit of Mount Tai to pay homage to heaven. – Viral Nova.com

The stone stairway to the summit has 7,200 steps. To give you an idea of how high that is, the stairway in a two story house usually has 14 steps. If Mount Tai were a house, it would be about 514 stories high. For a comparison, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, only has 163 floors.

To walk up those steps with his arms, Chen Zhou uses a pair of home-made wooden boxes that each weighs seven pounds (watch videos to see how he does it).

Yu Lei is Chen Zhou’s wife, originally from Henan Province. They first met when she heard him singing in the streets for donations in the town of Jiu-jiang in Jiangxi Province.

She was deeply touched by his story, introduced herself and they became friends.

Chen’s positive attitude toward life and powerful will impressed Yu so much that she fell in love with him, and they married. She felt that she had found her hero.

Chen Zhou promised to have a traditional wedding ceremony on the top of Mount Tai. It took him 19 hours to complete the hike to the summit. In the ceremony both Chen Zhou and Yu Lei wore bright red Chinese traditional costumes to celebrate their marriage and happiness.

The couple has a daughter and a son.

The CCP, China’s government, promotes Chen Zhou as a hero in the media. He has traveled to hundreds of towns and cities in China and has held thousands of street concerts.

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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