Mao as a Complicated Man

August 2, 2016

Mao was fifty-six when he became China’s leader and seventy-two at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. But who was Mao for the other fifty-five years before he ruled China?

Many outside of China only think of Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) as a brutal dictator, but he was more than that.

For instance, as a child, his father was a stern disciplinarian who beat him and his three siblings often, and Mao became an avid reader.

And while commanding the Red Army during The Long March (1934-1935), he was a man respected by China’s peasants. Then there was Mao’s move away from Communist Russia after Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, when Mao said to Nixon, “Our common old friend, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, doesn’t approve of this.”

In 1935, Mao’s poem, “The Long March”, reveals an awareness of the sacrifice and the willingness to suffer to accomplish great things.

The Red Army fears not the trials of the March,
Holding light ten thousand crags and torrents.
The Five Ridges wind like gentle ripples
And the majestic Wumeng roll by, globules of clay.
Warm the steep cliffs lapped by the waters of Golden Sand,
Cold the iron chains spanning the Tatu River.
Minshan’s thousand li of snow joyously crossed,
The three Armies march on, each face glowing.

Mao was a complex man, and it wasn’t until after the failure of the The Great Leap Forward (1958 – 1961) that the fatal attraction and power of leadership corrupted him leading to the horrors of The Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), that Mao’s many critics outside of China use to define him.

Anyone who follows all of Mao’s life instead of relying on his last decade would understand that he cared deeply about the common people while punishing the landowners and wealthy, who abused the people he cared about.  On the other hand, his foe, Chiang Kai-shek, supported the landowners and wealthy while crushing the peasants and workers, but few outside of China condemn this brutal dictator who was a U.S. ally.

Mao Zedong Poems reveals what Mao might have been thinking about as President Johnson increased America’s involvement in Vietnam. Was Mao also warning us of what he was about to do in 1966, when he launched The Cultural Revolution?

Two Birds: A Dialogue (1965)

The roc wings fanwise,
Soaring ninety thousand li
And rousing a raging cyclone.
The blue sky on his back, he looks down
To survey Man’s world with its towns and cities.
Gunfire licks the heavens,
Shells pit the earth.
A sparrow in his bush is scared stiff..
“This is one hell of a mess!
O I want to flit and fly away.”
“Where, may I ask?”
The sparrow replies,
“To a jewelled palace in elfland’s hills.
Don’t you know a triple pact was signed
Under the bright autumn moon two years ago?
There’ll be plenty to eat,
Potatoes piping hot,
Beef-filled goulash.”
“Stop your windy nonsense!
Look, the world is being turned upside down.”

Through Mao’s poetry, we learn more about the man beyond the demonized stereotype created in the media outside of China.

And Do the Chinese People Currently Consider Mao Zedong to Be Evil or a Hero. In Forbes, Kaiser Kuo writes, “If I were forced to say there’s a dominant view of Mao among mainlanders, it would be that Mao was ‘good’ up until the very early 1950s — before the Anti-Rightist Campaign got into full swing, and before he set China on a course toward collectivization. Whether or not these beliefs can be supported by fact, it’s widely believed among Chinese that Mao led the Communist Party and its Red Army in effective resistance against the Japanese invaders; that they represented a morally superior vision over that offered by the Guomindang (the Nationalist Party) — a vision that championed egalitarianism, feminism, anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism, nationalism; and that they allowed China to ‘stand up’ after a century of abject humiliation beginning with the Opium War. After 1949, land redistribution and the Marriage Law (which was, by any measure, a very progressive piece of legislation) won them plaudits too.”

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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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A History Lesson from Mao on How to Win the War on Drugs in 24 Hours

June 8, 2016

From The Opium Monopoly by Ellen N. La Motte, we learn how opium addiction became an epidemic in China. Although The Chinese knew about opium for more than a thousand years, it wasn’t until the Portuguese arrived in the 18th century that the Chinese used it as a drug by smoking it. Merchants from Britain, France, Portugal, America and other nations became the drug cartels that plagued China into the 20th century.

In 1729, the emperor issued the first anti-opium edict, but the supply of opium flooding China went from 220 chests in 1729 to 70,000 in 1858.

It is estimated that before 1950, as many as 20 million Chinese were drug addicts. To solve this problem, Mao had the People’s Liberation Army execute the drug dealers and forced millions of addicts into compulsory treatment in a twenty-four hour period. — How Maoist Revolution Wiped Out Drug Addiction in China

Opium growers, who did not want to comply, fled into the Golden Triangle Region of Southeast Asia where many of Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist troops had gone to escape defeat. Those generals also did business with the CIA, and American soldiers in Vietnam became the new customers. It is estimated that at least 20% of the almost nine million American troops that served in Vietnam became addicted.

China remained free of drugs until Deng Xiaoping declared, “Getting Rich is Glorious” and opened China to world trade. In 2003, it was estimated that China had four million regular drug users—even with China’s strict laws concerning illegal drug use.

And in America, where human rights are king and fear of Communism by Capitalists is supreme, drug users and sellers often end up in prison costing taxpayers an average of $47,000 annually explaining why America has more people serving time in prisons than any other country on the planet; that price tag is more than $90-billion a year. Where are the protests and the accusations? Instead, the U.S. has a presidential candidate, a billionaire called Donald who wants to build the Great Wall of Trump between the United States and Mexico.

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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Predictions about China 50 Years ago that are True Today

June 7, 2016

Pearl S. Buck appeared on the Merv Griffin Show in 1966 and made a few predictions. That’s when Buck said China will be what we make it to be. She meant that the United States will either make China its enemy or its friend. Buck said the Chinese are marvelous friends and frightful enemies. If this is true, why are so many Americans and the US media demonizing China instead of cultivating friendship?

The Chinese have a marvelous sense of humor, Buck said. The Asian people are very human.

Buck said China will moderate and modernize in time. She saw Communism arrive in China in 1921, and said it was an impractical, impossible scheme of life. She was right. China has changed and is now a hybrid, socialist-capitalist country with a market economy and an authoritarian, one-party government, a political party with more than 80-million members compared to 46.6 million registered Democrats and 33.5 million registered Republicans in the United States.

In fact, there isn’t much difference between China and the United States when it comes to politics. “If one studies the Chinese leadership long enough and carefully enough, one will come to recognize that China’s decision-makers are by no means a monolithic group of elites who share the same views, values and visions. But instead, I believe that two factions coexist in the Chinese leadership. Members of these two factions often contrast sharply in terms of their personal backgrounds, professional expertise, and political careers. These two factions compete against each other for power, influence and policy initiatives.” – One Party, Two Factions: Chinese Bipartisanship in the Making

During her career as an author, Buck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the novel The Good Earth in 1932 and the Nobel Prize for literature in 1938.

Only seven American authors have been awarded both the Pulitzer and the Nobel: Sinclair Lewis; Eugene O’Neill; Pearl S. Buck; William Faulkner; Ernest Hemingway; John Steinbeck; Saul Bellow, and Toni Morrison—five men and two women.

Pearl S. Buck was born in America (1892 – 1973), and at the age of three months went to China. Except for attending college in the United States 1911 – 1914, she lived in China until she was forty

Meet Pearl S. Buck in the following mini-documentary that runs 2:14 minutes.

“She was a builder of bridges between China and the rest of the world,” says Edgar Walsh of his mother, Pearl S. Buck.

In this mini-documentary, Walsh describes how his mother was “ideally positioned to write about China.” Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set.

Pearl S. Buck’s page on Amazon

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.

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

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What was Mao doing in Broadway’s Metropolitan Opera House?

May 17, 2016

I arrived early at the local library to attend a lecture called the Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, but first I stopped by the library’s used bookstore and found a three-dollar DVD of Hao Jiang Tian’s From Mao to the Met. My wife said she had been looking for that DVD, and she invited her sister and father to join us and watch it.

Funded by the Committee of 100, this one-man show features Metropolitan Opera basso Hao Jiang Tian weaving song and story into a compelling tale of growing up in China under Chairman Mao, based on his autobiography (with co-author Lois B. Morris) “Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met“.

What I enjoyed most about the one-man show was that Tian never condemned Mao, the CCP or China for his bitter-sweet journey.

Instead, this fantastic opera singer says it was fate that led him from Mao to the Met. When you stop to think about it, fate is the river-of-life known later as history—the current that carries all of us through life often without much say in what is happening to us.

As a child, Tian hated his piano lessons. Then with the arrival of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Tian said, “So one happiest day came when I heard an announcement from the loudspeakers: My piano teacher was arrested as a counterrevolutionary. And then I was so happy. And so immediately I ran to the courtyard, screaming and jumping with joy.”

Thirty years later, Tian returned to Beijing and visited his piano teacher, who said, “Well, that was a crazy period, and it was so hard to figure out who was right and who was wrong.”

In his one man show, Tian performs songs of the Cultural Revolution, American standards such as “Some Enchanted Evening”, Irish song “Danny Boy” and operatic arias from his favorite roles; Tian tells the story of the music – and the woman – that changed his life.

NPR reports, “For more than 20 years, the basso voice of Hao Jiang Tian has filled major American opera houses. As one of the few Chinese stars in opera, his life story is as remarkable as his work. … Tian is one of the few opera singers to emerge from China.” –  NPR.org

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.

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

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The World’s Largest Political Party is in China

May 11, 2016

In late 2015, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had almost 88 million members, a figure greater than the population of Germany and 217 other countries. In fact, out of 233 countries listed by worldometers, only 15 had populations greater then the CCP’s membership.

The South China Morning Post report said, “Membership is coveted and can bring benefits in terms of connections in business and academia as well as the prestige associated with being part of the country’s ruling class.”

For a comparison to the United States, there are four major political parties that rule America: 46.6-million are registered Democrats, 33.5-million are Republicans, and 65.5 million are independents, that do not belong to any political party (because they are so disgusted with extremists and corruption).

The Libertarian Party has 411,250 members with 143 members holding elected offices in the U.S. but this party has more political power than its size because of support from the Koch brothers and several other American billionaires (click the link to learn how devious they are). The Green Party, the smallest of the four with 134 elected Greens across the U.S., has 250,000 registered voters.

How does a Chinese citizen become a member of the CCP?

One source for CCP members may come from the Communist Youth League of China that has 89-million members. China’s Youth League, although overseen by the CCP, is a separate organization. The two are not necessarily one and the same, and not all Youth League members go on to join the CCP.

The China Daily says, “It (the Youth League) is a school where a large number of people learn about socialism with Chinese characteristics and about communism through practice. It is the Party’s assistant and reserve force.”

However, “Many of today’s party members are culled from the top ranks of high schools and colleges: top students are invited to join the party, and it is the sort of invitation that can’t be refused. Others can be nominated by friends who are party members, or apply on their own initiative if they have the support of other party members. During the past two decades, the ranks of the party have been expanded to include businessmen (who were previously not allowed to join) as well as more ethnic minorities, who currently account for 7 per cent of party members.” – Beyond Bricks

There are also factions within the CCP—just like the United States—that have different political opinions and agendas that balance each other. Political theorists have identified two groups within the Communist Party, a structure that has been called “one party, two factions”. The first is the “elitist coalition” or Shanghai clique which is composed mainly of officials who have risen from the more prosperous provinces. The second is the populist coalition, the core of which are the tuanpai, or the Youth League faction which consists mainly of officials who have risen from the rural interior, through the Communist Youth League.

Within his “one party, two factions” model, Li Cheng has noted that one should avoid labeling these two groupings with simplistic ideological labels, and that these two groupings do not act in a zero-sum, winner take all fashion. Neither group has the ability or will to dominate the other completely.

Then there is a study from the China Quarterly that explains why we find so many of China’s wealthy as members/supporters of the CCP.

“This article presents original survey data from 1999 and 2005 to evaluate the Communist Party’s strategy towards the private sector. The CCP is increasingly integrating itself with the private sector both by co-opting entrepreneurs into the Party and encouraging current Party members to go into business. It has opened the political system to private entrepreneurs, but still screens which ones are allowed to play political roles. Because of their close personal and professional ties, and because of their shared interests in promoting economic growth, China’s capitalist and communist officials share similar viewpoints on a range of political, economic and social issues. Rather than promote democratic governance, China’s capitalists have a stake in preserving the political system that has allowed them to prosper, and they are among the Party’s most important bases of support.” — The China Quarterly, 192, December 2007, pp.827-854

In addition, the President of China, who is limited to two, five-year terms, does not hold total dictatorial power and cannot be labeled a dictator. In fact, Bloomberg reports that China’s president has far less power than the President of the U.S. For a better understanding of who holds power in China and how that power works, I suggest clicking the Bloomberg link in this paragraph.

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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Does water reveal how a country takes care of its citizens – China versus India

February 3, 2016

This post explores which country is doing a better job of supplying water to its people—China or India.  When you finish reading and watching the two videos, you decide which country you would rather live in if you had to make a choice between them.

Is freedom of expression and of religion more important than water—what would be your answer if you had to make a choice?

The choices of world religions are many. According to Religious Tolerance.org, “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.”

One of the most common complains outside China is that its citizens do not have the abstract freedom of expression and all of those religions to choose from, because China only offers seven approved religions to choose from and freedom of public political expression is severely limited.

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compared the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies fail to act due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims of Tibetan separatists—the 1% that lives in voluntary exile in India—and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

But no matter what Ba O wants, change is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is coming from global warming. Because of drought, the Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited in one of these resettlement villages had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, by comparison, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line. The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

Here are a few other factors that reveal how a country treats its citizens.

China – Population 1.357 billion (2013) with one political party

  • 27.24% or 369.6 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 3.6% or 48.8 million
  • life expectancy = 75 today. It was 35 in 1949.
  • According to worldhunger.org, “Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China.”
  • Transparency.org ranks China #27 on the bribe payers index.

The Bribe Payers Index ranks the world’s wealthiest and most economically influential countries according to the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad, and the United States is ranked #10.

India – Population 1.252 billion (2013) with six national political parties and 49 state parties

  • 58.1% or 727.4 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 27.9% or 338 million
  • life expectancy = 66 today. It was 36 in 1949.
  • According to bhookh.com, “Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.”
  • Transparency.org list ranks India #19 on its bribe payers index.

Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is credited with saying “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

What happens to the pursuit of life, liberty, freedom of expression—the right to publicly complain about the government but nothing changes anyway—and the exploration of spiritual beliefs when there isn’t enough food to eat or safe water to drink?

______________________________

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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What is the Real Cause of Most Riots?

December 9, 2015

When the Western media reports that a riot happened in China don’t mistake this unrest as a demand for a Western style democracy as the media did when the Tiananmen Square protests took place in 1989. Just because a few young people were captured on camera in China saying they want a democracy doesn’t mean the majority of Chinese do.

For example, CNN reported a June 10, 2011 riot in Xintang located in southern China.  Witnesses and media reports said local officials beat up a pregnant migrant worker and her husband, pushing the woman to the ground. Mass protests ensued, quickly spiraling to violent clashes with government forces that spread to other parts of Xintang, a city of 400,000 residents, almost half of them migrant workers.

The result was the arrest of 19 men, which included nine teenagers.

If you read the CNN report, you’ll discover that a slowdown in economic growth (caused by the 2008 global financial crises, which started in the U.S. due to greed and lax laws) in China caused social tensions between rural versus urban, ethnic minority against majority, and haves versus have-nots, which caused several riots in different areas of China.

The same thing happened in 1947 when General (and dictator) Chiang Kai-shek ordered his army to quell a riot in Taiwan. The result was the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan where 30,000 civilians were killed by the military.

The reasons for riots around the world seldom have to do with a demand for a Western style democracy. Even in the Middle East where there have been riots and calls for democracy, according to the Western media, most of the people involved don’t know what a democracy is or how to set one up. They just want some form of social justice.

In 1992, in Los Angeles, there was the Rodney King riot caused by ethnic strife, which ended with about $1 billion in property damages in addition to 53 people killed and thousands injured. The U.S. Marines and Army had to be called in to regain control and there were shootings between the military and civilians.

In Oakland, California there were several riots caused by the 2009 killing of an unarmed black man that took place at a BART station.  Hundreds took to the streets to protest while looters broke into stores and set cars on fire.

In 2001, England had riots in three cities due to tensions in the South Asian Islamic community. It was estimated that the riot in Bradford, England involved about a thousand youths and eventually it took a thousand police to end it.

A 2011, a riot in Vancouver erupted after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup.  After the game, many teenagers went on a rampage attempting to shatter windows and loot stores.  When one man tried to stop them, he was jumped by no fewer than 15 people, who beat and kicked him until he was left a bloodied heap on the ground.

Wikipedia lists many of the reasons for riots, which may stem from the unlawful use of force by a group of police against civilians, prison riots, race riots, religious riots, student riots, urban riots, sports riots, and food/bread riots that have taken place all over the world no matter what form of government a country has.

However, when the Western media reports about riots in China, it’s almost always mentioned that China’s central government is challenged to prevent widespread grievances from taking place as if riots in China are different than riots in other countries.

According to the history of riots, this challenge of an unruly civilian population is a problem all governments eventually face and the job of governments the world over is to end the killing and damage as soon as possible by whatever means to restore order.

______________________________

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

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