Traveling Modern China with Peter Hessler: Part 2 of 2

February 24, 2016

In the first 122 pages of Country DrivingPeter Hessler sets out to drive the entire length of the Great Wall in a rented Chinese made Jeep Cherokee, and he achieves his goal. In this section, I learned that the Wall was successful most of the time and not the failure historians claim it was. Yes, in several thousand years, the wall failed a few times but it served its purpose and did protect China’s heartland for centuries. Hessler says that there is no archaeologist in the world that has studied the history of the Great Wall but he wrote that there are amateur experts, and we meet a few in this section along with a unique view of rural China.

In Part II, Hessler takes us into a small village a few hours drive outside Beijing where he rents a house and becomes accepted by the insular-rural village community. Along the way, he makes friends and becomes involved personally with local families. The man that becomes his closest contact and friend in the village eventually joins the Chinese Communist Party (there are about 80 million CCP members in China) and uses this to his advantage as he continues to improve the quality of his family’s lifestyle.

In Part III, Hessler travels to the city of Winzhou in Southern China where he spends time developing relationships with factory bosses and workers.  In this section, the Chinese people he meets are open and friendly. Hessler sees a side of China that few witness, and it is obvious that the factory workers are not victims because of low pay and long work hours. Instead, they see this new life as an opportunity.


Peter Hessler discussing his novel “Oracle Bones”

When I finished Hessler’s memoir, I walked away feeling as if I had experienced an in-depth taste of the dramatic changes that have taken place in China since Mao’s death in 1976. Since China’s critics mostly focus on the negative, which is the corruption and/or authoritarian one-party system, and never admit the good that the CCP has accomplished, most people would not understand what I discovered.  To understand what I mean, one must compare China before 1949, by reading such books like those written by Hessler and his wife.

Before 1949, more than 90% of the people in China lived in severe poverty, more than 80% were illiterate, the average lifespan was 35, few people owned land, and the risk of death from famine had been an annual threat for more than two thousand years. In fact, most rural Chinese were treated as if they were beasts of burden and not humans.

Today, according to the CIA Factbook, about 6.1% of Chinese live in severe poverty (living on $400 or less annually), and they mostly live in remote, rugged, and difficult to reach areas of China.  The average  lifespan is now 75.4 years and Helen H. Wang writing for Forbes.com (February 2011) reported that China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in by 2026. In addition, no one has died of famine since 1959-1961.

I highly recommend Country Living for anyone that wants to learn more about today’s dramatically changing China from an unbiased and honest perspective.

Return to or start with Part 1

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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Being Chinese and Buying Made In China in the USA: Part 2 of 2

October 21, 2015

I’ve been in the Number One Shanghai department store off Nanjing road and seen Chinese consumers taking TV’s from the box to insure they work.

Recently, a friend who was visiting us from China was up early in the morning walking to the Apple Store, a thirty-minute walk from our house.

To buy an iPad or iPhone in America, she was willing to get up that early and wait in line for several hours until the store opened to buy this new Apple product. And she didn’t buy just one. Her coworkers and friends in China gave her enough money to buy several Apple products that were all assembled in China but sold in the U.S.

When I asked her why not buy the iPad at one of the official Apple Stores in Beijing or Shanghai, she said if you buy something in the U.S. even if it’s made in China, the buyer can be assured of the quality.

There is some truth to that. My father-in-law’s wife arrived several years ago with a new camera she bought in China, and it stopped working the first week she was here so she bought an expensive Sony at Costco and loved it because it worked just as promised and kept on working.

It would seem that Chinese manufacturers have a long way to go to earn the trust of the Chinese consumer.

Meanwhile, 109 million Chinese tourists left China in 2014 and many bought “Made in China” outside of China and spend more than any other foreign travelers at an average of $7,200 each visit to the U.S. They also buy “Made in the USA” and products made in other countries.

Don’t believe me? Well, Bloomberg.com reported recently that “they (Chinese tourists) are the most prolific spenders in the world.”

Don’t let this blow your mind, but last week I saw a busload of Chinese tourists shopping at the Costco closest to our house. It seems that even Costco is a tourist destination and Chinese tourists buy everything even filling up shopping carts with vitamins.

Next time you hear an ignorant American complaining about China stealing jobs from the U.S., tell them how many jobs they are generating in the U.S. and how much money they are spending here, and that the U.S. is now issuing more visas for Chinese citizens for longer periods of time.

Whitehouse.gov says, “In 2013, 1.8 million Chinese travelers visited the United States, contributing $21.1 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 109,000 American jobs.”  And it is estimated that by 2021, Chinese travelers to the U.S. will be supporting 440,000 U.S. jobs.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Return to or start with Part 1.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition], a historical fiction novel with a unique love story that is set in 19th century China. His latest book, a suspense thriller set in the world that Lloyd worked in as a maitre d’ in the early 1980s, is going on sale for $0.99, a savings of 75% below regular price.

99 cents Promotion Graphic OCT 2015

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Being Chinese and Buying Made In China in the USA: Part 1 of 2

October 20, 2015

Worldwatch Institute reported, “Chinese purchases of high-end items—including designer handbags, perfumes, and watches—will grow by 25 percent annually over the next four years, and that by 2015 China will be the world’s largest luxury brand consumer, with a 29 percent global share.”

In addition, CNN Money says that America is the new destination for rich Chinese shoppers. Why? “Renee Hartmann, of China Luxury Advisors, said luxury merchandise in the U.S. tends to be around 35% cheaper than in China.”

There is another reason why many Chinese tourists buy “Made in China” in other countries.

While my Chinese father-in-law and his wife were visiting in the U.S. I learned why Chinese buy here — quality.

If you read the China Law Blog, you may know that in China there are several levels of quality that do not exist in the U.S.  When buying anything in China, there is always a risk you might end up buying a fake or the real thing but of a lower quality. In fact, there is no way to tell what level of quality you are buying when in China.

That doesn’t mean “Made in China” is always of a poor quality. The language of the contract between the foreign buyer such as Apple and the Chinese manufacturer is important. If the contract between a U.S. corporation and a Chinese manufacturer specifics the quality, that’s what’s usually delivered to be shipped to the U.S. If the product is of a poor quality, then blame it on the contract the CEO of a U.S. corporation signed.

And most of the products Apple sells globally are assembled in China and many are manufactured there too (Apple has manufacturing facilities spread around the world but assembles most of its expensive electronic items such as the iPad in China).

Continued in Part 2 on October 21, 2015.

______________________________

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

Where to Buy

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China’s Gold Rush

August 8, 2013

The Imperial Color was yellow gold and the roofs of the Forbidden City were the same color. During imperial times, anyone wearing the imperial color, who did not belong to China’s ruling family, usually lost their heads.

Now, China is having a gold rush and holds more than a thousand tonnes of Gold as of June 2010, while gold demand from China’s middle class has grown 13 percent annually for the last five years.

As you can see from this Sky News video, Chinese are gobbling up gold as fast as they can regardless of the price.  To them, it is an investment and the Central Bank of China is quietly buying gold to build reserves. China is now the world’s largest producer of gold.

Frank Homes writing for Wall Street Pit, Global Market Insight, says China can’t get enough gold and state-controlled China National Gold Group signed an agreement with Kensington Mine in Alaska to buy more.

In fact, Pacific Money.com says, “China’s society is changing beyond all recognition. At the heart of the most sweeping social and economic transformation the world has seen is the rise of a powerful new largely middle-class population. In 2000, only 4% of China’s urban households were middle class; by 2012, that number skyrocketed to more than 66%.

Discover China’s Heart and Soul

_______________

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 Carbon Footprint Challenge

July 30, 2013

Bloomberg reported on China’s Datang Corp starting construction on a rooftop solar power plant in Jiangsu province as another step in China’s goals to cut carbon emssions. Plans are for this power plant to generate 6.2 gigawatt hours of power reducing the need for coal-powered generating plants.

This plant is not the only one under construction.  China is already the world’s leading producer of solar panels, and China is also building a 2,000-megawatt project in the Mongolian desert, which is planned for completion in 2019, and may be the largest solar power facility on the globe. Along with solar power, China plans to install 100 gigawatts of wind power by 2020. Source: World Changing

With the demand from China’s people to improve lifestyles, cutting back on carbon emissions is going to be a challenge as reported in China Juggles an Increase in Carbon Emissions and Renewable Energy Plans.

See Electricity is the Key

_______________

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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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

______________

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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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Country Driving in China with Peter Hessler – Part 2/2

May 29, 2012

In the first 122 pages of Country Driving, Peter Hessler sets out to drive the entire length of the Great Wall in a rented Chinese made Jeep Cherokee and he achieves his goal. In this section, I learned that the Wall was successful most of the time and not the failure historians claim it was. Yes, in several thousand years, the wall failed a few times but it served its purpose and did protect China’s heartland for centuries. Hessler says that there is no archaeologist in the world that has studied the history of the Great Wall but wrote there are amateur experts (we meet a few in this section along with a unique view of rural China) that have proven through historical research that the wall did work.

In Part II, Hessler takes us into a small village a few hours drive outside Beijing where he rents a house and becomes accepted by the insular-rural village community making friends and becoming involved personally with local families. The man that becomes his closest contact and friend in the village eventually joins the CCP (there are only about 80 million members in China) and then uses this to his advantage as he continues to improve the quality of his family’s lifestyle.

In Part III, Hessler travels to the city of Winzhou in Southern China where he spends time developing relationships with factory bosses and workers.  In this section, the Chinese people he meets are open and friendly. Hessler sees a side of China that few witness and it is obvious that the factory workers are not victims because of low pay and long hours of work but see this new life as an opportunity.


Peter Hessler discussing his novel “Oracle Bones”

When I finished Hessler’s memoir, I walked away feeling as if I had experienced an in-depth taste of the dramatic changes that have taken place in China since Mao’s death in 1976. Since China’s critics mostly focus on the negative, which is the corruption and/or authoritarian one-party system, and never admit the good that the CCP has accomplished, most people would not understand what I discovered.  To understand what I mean, one must compare China before 1949 with today by reading such books as those written by Hessler and his wife.

Before 1949, more than 90% of the people in China lived in severe poverty, more than 80% were illiterate, the average lifespan was 35, few people owned land, and the risk of death from famine had been an annual threat for more than two thousand years. In fact, most rural Chinese were treated as if they were beasts of burden and not human.

Today, about 13% live in severe poverty and those people mostly live in remote, rugged, difficult to reach areas of China.  The lifespan is now about 73 years and Helen H. Wang writing for Forbes.com (February 2011) reported that China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years (2026). In addition, no one has died of famine since 1959-1961.

I highly recommend Country Living for anyone that wants to learn more about today’s dramatically changing China from an unbiased perspective.

Return to Country Driving in China with Peter Hessler – 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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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