The Noise between China and Japan

April 12, 2017

Poor relations with Japan started as far back as 1840, when Japan joined the British, French and Americans during the Opium Wars to gain concessions to sell opium legally to the Chinese.

In 1843, under the agreement of the Nanjing Treaty, Shanghai became one of five treaty ports to be turned into a colonial city that would be under control of foreign countries—Great Britain, France, America and Japan.

Until 1871, most Japanese never had much contact with the Chinese. Then, getting to know the Chinese led to a Japanese opinion that the Chinese were ethnically inferior since they were different from the Japanese and most Japanese haven’t changed their minds to this day. It didn’t matter that China had been more powerful and technologically advanced for about 1,500 years up to the 15th century.

In 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops faced off in Korea, which ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.

In 1894, Japan and China fought their first war over Korea. Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries.

China was defeated in 1895 losing Korea as a tributary and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria.

Then in 1870, Japan annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had also been a tributary to China.

A Ryukyuan envoy even begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands should belong to Japan instead of China.

On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a war to conquer China. Over the next 8 years, Japan would occupy most of China.

Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities that happened during World War II that resulted in millions of Chinese deaths. The Chinese estimate that they lost about 15-20 million in World War II and most of those deaths were civilians. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops.

U.S. News & World Report says, “The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s yearly visits to a Tokyo shrine for war veterans has always played in China as a reminder of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.”

The argument between China and Japan over a group of uninhabited islands that both nations claim is a continuation of this history of poor relations.

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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Tibet’s Democracy that Never Was and Never Will Be

April 11, 2017

There are many misleading claims about Tibet. To understand what I mean, Google “Tibet’s Democracy in Exile,” but the historical facts support that Tibet has never been a republic and/or a democracy in its entire history.

One example of a misleading media report said, “Being a Tibetan in exile is a loss that manifests in many forms: the loss of homeland and natural rights fall within that.”

What were the natural rights that were lost?

Most Tibetans in exile (about one-percent of the total Tibetan population) gave up their rights and about ninety-nine percent of the population known as serfs that were often treated no better than slaves. The serfs were left behind as the one-percent who owned the land and held the wealth fled.

Before 1950, when Mao’s Red army reoccupied Tibet for China, there had been no democracy or republic in Tibet in its entire history.

The following quotes show us what Tibet was like before 1950.

“Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.

“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.”  – October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979.

Under theocratic Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and no one voted.

Between 1912, when those words appeared in National Geographic, and 1950, Tibet did not change. The only difference was that there was no Chinese governor in Tibet appointed by the Emperor and supported by Chinese troops.

If the majority of Tibetans want to have self-rule, there’s nothing wrong with supporting a separatist movement as long as you know all of the accurate historical facts.

After all, there are at least eight known and active separatist movements in the United States: for instance, the Alaska Independence Party; Hawaiian sovereignty movement; Lakotah Oyate; Puerto Rico Independence Party; League of the South; Texas Secession Movement; Second Vermont Republic, and the Cascadia Independence Movement.

In fact, Tibetans have about the same odds to be free from China as Hawaiians and the Lakota Sioux have of being free of the United States.

It is a historical fact that a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing. Between 1913 and 1950, Tibet was ruled by a Dalai Lama and was an autocratic theocracy, not a democracy. In case you don’t know, a theocracy is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god. In Tibet’s case, his holiness the Dalai Lama is often called a “God-King”.

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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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A Trip to China isn’t Complete until Hangzhou

April 5, 2017

If you ever visit China, plan to see this tourist attraction in Hangzhou. Before 1949, it was the home of a wealthy family but was first owned by Hu Xue-yan (1823-1885). There’s more to Hangzhou than this mansion, but it’s still worth seeing. Watch the 2nd video to discover more about the city.

Hu Xue-yan made his money in banking then expanded into pawn shops, import-export, real estate and made his biggest fortune as the founder of a Chinese herbal medicine company. After he died, his family lost the fortune and sold the house.

The house was built in 1872. After it was renovated in 2008, it was turned into a museum and tourist attraction.

When the Communists won China’s Civil War in 1949, the mansion (covering about two acres) was owned by another family that made its fortune first in the silk industry then banking.

During a visit to Hangzhou, for a few yuan, you will be able to tour most of the mansion and the gardens.

The Hu Xue-yan mansion is in a city with a population of more than eight million, but once inside its walls you have no sense of the crowded city outside. Once the owner was home and the gates closed at night, it was a world-of-tranquility apart from the city.

The city of Hangzhou is more than two-thousand years old and was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD) before Kublai Khan conquered all of China and founded the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD).

There is a famous Chinese saying:  “In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Su and Hang (Hangzhou – Paradise on Earth).

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 Lost Crew of “Tough Titi” made it home thanks to China

March 1, 2017

It’s ironic that during World War II, the United States fought alongside the Chinese, both the Nationalists and the Communists, against the Japanese until 1945. In fact, it was Mao’s Chinese Communist guerrilla troops who rescued some of Jimmy Doolittle’s B-25 crews when they crash landed in China after bombing Tokyo on April 18, 1942. The Chinese who helped save those American troops paid a horrible price. Click the link to discover how horrible.

Then a few years later Communist China and the United States became enemies fighting in North Korea until 1953, and China sent advisers to Vietnam to help fight the United States there (1955 to 1975).

To punish Communist China, the U.S. placed an embargo on China from 1949 to 1969. The Korean War ended in 1953 but the embargo didn’t end until 1969. The goal had been to disrupt, destabilize, and weaken China’s communist government by causing the people of China to suffer, and this “complete embargo” was one of the tools to achieve that goal. The embargo also helped set the stage for millions of Chinese to die of starvation during what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine.

When Nixon arrived in China in 1972, China and the U.S. became friends again.

Now President Donald Trump, the popular-vote loser by almost 3 million votes, is working overtime to turn China into an enemy of the U.S. again.

But in 1996, when the U.S. and China were trading partners and still friendly, Chinese farmers discovered a World War II American bomber’s wreckage and the remains of the ten-man crew on Little Cat Mountain (Mao’er Shan), Southern China’s highest peak.

The name of the B-24 bomber was Tough Titi.

These Americans were considered heroes to the Chinese, and the remains of the crew were returned to the United States for burial.

There’s a memorial stone near the crash site and Chinese tourists pay honor to these Americans by leaving flowers and other gifts.

To honor these American heroes further, the Chinese recovered some of the bomber’s parts and used them as a centerpiece for a museum in Xing’an, about a four-hour drive from the crash site.

Why is President Donald Trump going out of his way to make China an enemy of the United States while doing the opposite in Russia with the brutal Vladimir Putin?

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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Eating Out in China’s Oldest Capital

February 14, 2017

In 1999, in China’s oldest capital, our hotel was in sight of Xian’s city walls.  We had a view of the ancient battlements that were several hundred years old and sinking. At night, the walls and towers were outlined with white Christmas lights.

I ached to get up there and walk on those walls that were wide enough to drive cars on.  I’d have to wait more than nine years before that happened.

To get an idea of the history of this city, it helps to know that it was the capital longer than any other city in China, and was first called Chang’an before it became known as Xian.

Several dynasties ruled China from this city:

BC 221-206 – Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty
BC 206 – 9 AD – Han Dynasty
581-618 AD – Sui Dynasty
618-906 AD – Tang Dynasty
Timeline of Chinese History and Dynasties

Beijing wouldn’t become the capital of China until 1279 AD during the Yuan Dynasty when Kublai Khan was emperor.

On our second day in Xian, we walked from the hotel and through an opening in the ancient wall into the city to a Xian restaurant. I went in first and the hostess, who didn’t speak a word of English, handed me a menu written in English.

Anchee, dressed more like a Chinese peasant than an American, walked in after me, and she was handed a menu written in Chinese. Then she glanced over my shoulder at my menu before taking it out of my hands and giving it back to the hostess.

“We’ll use the Chinese menu,” she said. Anchee grew up in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and didn’t leave until she was 28.

The prices in Mandarin were less than half the English version.  A stunned look appeared on the hostesses face.  It was a Candid Camera moment, and it was all I could do not to laugh.

This doesn’t mean every restaurant in China does this. In fact, most don’t. The double menu caper was probably the idea of the owner of that specific restaurant in a city known for tourism due to the Terra Cotta warriors and the tomb of China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.

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China’s Great Wall

January 24, 2017

Like so much about China, The Great Wall is also the victim of myths that are not always true. Did you know that the history of the Great Wall of China started with fortifications built by various states during the Spring and Autumn (771 – 476 BC) and Warring States (475 – 221 BC) periods? But the best-known and best-preserved sections of The Great Wall was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming Dynasty, more than two thousand years later.

If you want to know more about The Great Wall plan a trip to China, or read Peter Hessler’s Country Driving. The first part of this book is about the months he spent driving the length of The Great Wall all the way to Tibet.

In the first 122 pages Peter Hessler rented a Chinese made Jeep Cherokee. In this section, I learned that the Wall was successful most of the time and not the failure historians have claimed it was.

Over a period of several thousand years, the wall failed a couple of times, but served its purpose and offered protection for 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 you will meet a few in his book along with a unique view of rural China.


The Great Wall of China – Unbelievable Secrets & Unknown Facts

The Wall failed when first Genghis and then Kublai Khan unified the Mongol tribes and invaded China in the 13th century, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took sixty years for the Mongols to conquer all of China and then they ruled the country for almost a century before the Han Chinese rose up and drove them out.

The sections of the Great Wall I’ve visited are an hour out of Beijing. The most popular site is at Badaling.  The second choice, Mutianyu, is more dramatic, because this portion of the Great Wall runs along the ridge of a mountain range and you have to hike up a steep slope to reach it or ride a ski lift to the top. Badaling starts in a fortress in a mountain pass, and the wall climbs the slopes from there.

great-wall-consruction-by-dynasty

Smithsonian Magazine reported, “Few cultural landmarks symbolize the sweep of a nation’s history more powerfully than The Great Wall of China. Constructed by a succession of imperial dynasties over more than 2,000 years, the network of barriers, towers and fortifications expanded over the centuries, defining and defending the outer limits of Chinese civilization. At the height of its importance during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), The Great Wall is believed to have extended some 4,000 miles, the distance from New York to Milan.

China’s Great Wall was not built by one country, king, or emperor. The wall was built in sections by the kings of several nations over a period of centuries. Those walls were eventually linked together by China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who brutally unified China through bloody conquest into one country with one written language, Mandarin, and many spoken languages.

Then there is the recent Great Wall film starring Matt Damon, a film that explores a mystery centered on the construction of the Great Wall of China. Of course it obvious this story is based on a fantasy. In the film’s trailer, I was hooked by, “What were they trying to keep out?”

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 Brief History of New Year Celebrations

December 28, 2016

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival dates back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox, a day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness, and this ushered in the beginning of a new year.

If the first recorded New Year’s celebration was in March, how did it move to January 1st?

The answer to that question may be found at History.com where we discover that Emperor Julius Cesar introduced the Julian calendar in 46 BC, and it closely resembled the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries use today. In addition, Cesar made January 1st the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Therefore, if you celebrate the New Year on January 1st, you are celebrating a pagan holiday. But all is not lost. Later, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian leaders in medieval Europe during the Dark Ages replaced January 1st as the first day of the year with days carrying more religious significance such as December 25, the anniversary of Jesus’s birth, and that lasted until Pope Gregory XIII (AD 1502 – 1585) reestablished January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582.


Countries that do NOT celebrate the New Year on the first of January

For China, the first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.  The Chinese New Year is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar, also known as the Spring Festival.

The Chinese New Year gained significance because of several myths and traditions. History.com reports the ancient Chinese calendar, on which the Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that it existed as early as the 14th century BC, during the Shang Dynasty.

Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities (gods) as well as ancestors. The Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories that have significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, and the Philippines.

In 2015, China witnessed 261 million people on the move to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, and they traveled by road, rail and air—all over a short period of time. The Chinese Lunar New Year for 2016 takes place on Monday, February 8, and it is a national holiday that runs from February 7 – 13. If you are curious and want to see what it looks like in China when all those people are on the road at the same time, the International Business Times has a great photo spread to scroll through.

When we visited China in 2008 during this incredibly crowded holiday for travelers, the Lunar New Year was on February 7, the Year of the Rat. In 2017 it will be the Year of the Rooster on January 28th. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle.

Back during the Year of the Rat in 2008, it was so crowded when we were traveling in China, that it felt as if we were swimming upriver through an ocean filled with people and no water.

For readers who haven’t been to China and want to visit one day, this may be your only chance to experience a taste of what it’s like to live in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. By the way, 261 million people is more than 80% of the population of the United States. Imagine the gridlock if that many Americans took to the roads and air all at the same time.

 
2015 Lunar New Year in Shanghai, China

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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