A Short History of China: part 6 of 6

January 18, 2017

Mao Zedong walked a long and dangerous road on his way to leading China for 27 years starting in 1949 to 1976. His first step down that road was to survive the Civil War against the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, a brutal dictator for life that the United States supported. To escape defeat, Mao avoided combat as much as possible to retreating on an almost impossible march known as Mao’s Long March that’s considered one of the most significant military campaigns in the 20th century, and one of the most amazing physical feats ever attempted.

Surrounded by hostile armies, 87,000 Communist troops escaped and started a retreat that covered nearly 6,000 miles in one year.

In 1949, the Chinese Civil War ended and America’s ally for life Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan where he ruled as a brutal dictator until he died in 1976. For a peek into Chiang’s brutality, one example of many was his 2-28-1947 Massacre in Taiwan.

Meanwhile in China, Mao launched his Great Leap Forward that failed in the disaster of what’s still know as Mao’s Great Famine that I wrote about in Part 5.

Having failed, Mao stepped aside to let someone else run China. The large communes of the Great Leap Forward were abandoned and the peasants returned to their villages to farm the land,

Fearing the return of capitalism, Mao’s supporters printed a book with his slogans. Mao wanted to break the thinking and attitudes of old China. Through film, a propaganda campaign was launched so Mao could regain power, and in 1966, he launched the insanity of the Cultural Revolution.

Soon after Mao died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping ended the Cultural Revolution, led the revision of the Chinese Constitution to limit leaders to two 5-year terms so China would never have another Mao, a powerful dictator for life, and opened China to world trade, and in the last 40 years, thanks to Deng, China is not only responsible for ninety percent of the reduction in global poverty but also the growth of a U.S. style consumer middle class of about 300 million Chinese.

In fact, the Chinese middle class now leads the world in tourism, and sends more of their children to attend colleges in the United States, Canada, and Europe than any other country. More than 100 million Chinese freely leave China annually to visit, as tourists, other countries around the globe and then fly home.

One blight on China under Deng’s leadership was the alleged crushing of a student democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.  The truth is the protests that took place in Tiananmen Square didn’t start as a democracy movement, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not deny that there were deaths, but the CCP says the deaths took place several miles from Tiananmen Square due to a bloody confrontation between the People’s Liberation Army and violent protestors throwing Molotov cocktails. What is the truth about Tiananmen Square?

As this 6-part series ends, you might be thinking about what was missing. For instance the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canal, or China’s ancient irrigation system, the Treasure of Sichuan, built more than 2,200 years ago, the oldest and only surviving non-dam irrigation system in the word. The next two posts will be about the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal. Click the link in this paragraph to discover the Treasure of Sichuan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site admired by scientists from around the world.

Return to Part 5 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.

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A Short History of China: part 5 of 6

January 17, 2017

After a decline that started in the 16th century about the time Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macao, and 22 years later established a permeant settlement there, in 1912, China’s last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing, after more than 2,200 years of Imperial rule, collapsed followed by chaos, anarchy, and widespread suffering, and mass deaths.

Sun Yat-Sen attempted to form a republic in China but failed. Not long after his death, China was plunged into a Civil War in 1927 (with a short break to fight Japan during World War II) that raged between the Nationalists under a brutal dictator called Chiang Kai-shek, an American ally, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Zedong until 1949 when Mao’s CCP won.

The Rape of Nanking offers a brutal snapshot of what happened to China after Japan invaded in 1937.

In addition, David C. Schak reports, “Throughout most of Chinese history the majority of Chinese have lived in poverty. As the hundreds of famines that have killed millions of Chinese attest, Chinese poverty has often been absolute, i.e., lacking the very material resources needed to sustain life and maintain health.”

In 1949, the population of China was 562 million, and the average life expectancy was 36 years. In 1976 when Mao died, the population had reached 930 million and average life expectancy had increased to about 65 years.

But for his 27 years as the leader of China, the West had repeatedly blamed Mao for murdering 60 million of his own people by letting them starve to death during what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine of 1958 – 62. The CCP admits there was a famine but says that only about 3 million died. Henry Kissinger says it was closer to 20 million. Where did all of those estimates come from – 3 million, 20 million, and 60 million? From the same data that the CCP made available for the world.

What was happening in the West in the 1950s and 60s: The Cold War, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee and mass hysteria over the perceived threat posed to Capitalism by Communism. It was known as the era of The Red Scare. There was a war against the spread of Communism in Korea (1950 – 1953) that ended in a stalemate ,and then another war in Vietnam that the U.S. lost, because the government in Vietnam today is a Communist one, the same one the U.S. fought from 1955 to 1975.

Five U.S. Presidents fought the Vietnam War from Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 – 1961) to Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977). In between were Presidents John F. Kennedy (assassinated), Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon (resigned to avoid being impeached).

Few in the West know that America’s leaders refused to lift an embargo on China during what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine, and help feed those starving Chinese once Mao and the CCP discovered what was happening and asked for help from the world.

The only help came from Canada and France, two countries that broke ranks with the United States to help save lives in China.

To end Communism in China, America’s leaders were willing to let millions of Chinese starve to death, and then blame Mao even though China is known as the Land of Famines, because Imperial records for more than 2,000 years recorded that China has had droughts, floods, famines, and loss of life annually up to 1962 when under the leadership of the CCP, the Chinese haven’t suffered from one since, a first in Chinese history; a first most of the global media outside of China has not reported on.

Continued in Part 6 on January 18, 2017 or return to Part 5

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.

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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.

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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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline