China’s Film Industry Expanding around the World

December 12, 2017

Early this year, Time Magazine reported How China Is Remaking the Global Film Industry. “Chinese companies have snapped up Hollywood studios, theaters and production companies. Last year Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese real estate and entertainment conglomerate, announced it was buying Legendary Entertainment studio — producer of blockbusters like Jurassic World — for $3.5 billion …”

For instance, The Great Wall, starring William Dafoe, Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal and produced by China’s Zhang Yimou cost $150 million to make, but only made about $45 million in the United States while raking in more than $289 million outside of the U.S.  The money for this film came from China.  I saw the film, and I enjoyed it. If you know about China’s Great Wall, imagine what it must have been like when it was still being used long before it became a tourist attraction. This film gives us an idea of what that must have been like even if the film was based on fiction.


There are more videos on YouTube with other segments from the film.

It also appears that the Chinese government has done some forgiving.  RealFilmCareer.com reports, “Zhang Zhao fled China for the U.S. soon after the crushing of the 1989 student democracy movement. But Mr. Zhang returned to China in 1998, and now he’s the man with the money: As head of Enlight Pictures, a unit of Enlight Media and one of the new film companies aspiring to tell Chinese stories to a rapidly expanding domestic audience, he has plans for an initial slate of 40 movies, and no problem with financing.”

Then there is Huayi Brothers Media, which the May issue of “The Hollywood Reporter” says raised $160 million in an IPO on the Zhenzhen stock exchange.  The Huayi brothers have already released over 50 films, most of them huge box office hits in China.

“Five years ago,” Wang Zhongjun said, “we hoped (the Hollywood studios) could bring us support and investments. Now we’re helping them,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. In 2016, China’s box office total was $6.58 billion.

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

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

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Sipping Tea in China

December 6, 2017

The Chinese invented tea.  Then thousands of years later, the British stole the secrets of tea making, and you can read about that theft in For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.

However, whenever I’m in Shanghai, I enjoy visiting this shopping area. Go early; it gets crowded.

The Huxinting Teahouse has been around for a long time, and the last time this pavilion was restored was in 1784.  Then it was turned into the tea house in 1855.

The area in Shanghai around the Huxinting Teahouse is a good place to shop. Hint, do not pay asking prices. Be willing to bargain.  Start low and meet in the middle. Don’t be too cheap either, because the business you are buying from has to earn enough money to survive too.

And if you want to read my review of “For All the Tea in China”, click the link in this sentence.

To learn more about Shanghai, also click and read:
Shanghai
Shanghai’s History & Culture
Shanghai Huangpu River Tour
Eating Gourmet in Shanghai
Chinese Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

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

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Where have so many parents gone?

December 5, 2017

American Jobs Alliance.com reports, “China’s economic miracle is having a less than miraculous effect on nearly 60 million children growing up in the countryside with their absentee parents stuck at work in the big cities. …

“According to a 2010 survey by the All-China Women’s Federation, 80 percent of Chinese children being reared by non-parents are being raised by grandparents with a little over 4 million left to their own devices.”

In rural China, it is predicted that by 2025 another 243 million will migrate. The benefit for these rural to urban migrants is increased income, access to education and a higher standard of living.

However, many parents do not have  the money to take their children with them.

Rural Life in China says, “Researchers estimate that … nearly a quarter of the nation’s children and almost a third of its rural children are growing up without one or both of their parents, who have migrated in search of work.”

In the US, we call these children Latchkey Kids. In fact, Jareb Collins at Associated Content says as many as 77 percent of American youth are Latchkey Kids. If accurate, that adds up to more than 57 million American children.

In addition, in 2009, there were about 18.1 million children in the United States living in single-mother families. Source: prb.org

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Homosexuals and Transsexuals don’t have it easy in China

November 29, 2017

A Guest Post by Richard Burger of The Peking Duck

Like homosexuals, transsexuals, too, have a difficult time in China. The first male-to-female transsexual surgery was performed in 1983 at the Third Hospital of Beijing Medical University. But most transsexuals are turned down for the operation, and the number of those who undergo surgery is estimated at one thousand although more than three thousand apply each year.

Applicants must undergo a battery of tests and psychiatric evaluations and prove they have wanted the operation for at least five years. Explaining their situation to parents and family is next to impossible, and that further dissuades many transsexuals from applying. Those who go ahead with the sex change usually leave their hometowns to avoid discrimination.

The price, which can range from 57,000 yuan to 76,000 yuan ($9,000 to $12,000), is another deterrent.

China has the medical facilities to easily perform both male-to-female and female-to-male operations, but the problem is one of ideology.

Like homosexuality, transsexualism is viewed by many as a form of spiritual pollution imported from the West. There is a profound lack of understanding about transsexualism and, subsequently, a lot of discrimination.

One notable example of a transsexual who has been accepted by the Chinese people is the world-famous Jin Xing, born as a male to ethnic Korean parents in 1967 in the industrial city of Shenyang.

A talented dancer, at the age of nine Jin joined the People’s Liberation Army’s dance troupe and rose up the ranks to become a colonel.

However, from an early age Jin had felt she was a woman.

After ten years of traveling around the world performing and teaching dance, she underwent a sex-change operation in 1996 at the age of 29. She now lives in Shanghai with her German husband and works as a choreographer and dance trainer.

Jin was brought to front pages around the world in the fall of 2011 when she was dropped as a judge of a Chinese reality TV show because she was transgendered. She spoke out to the Chinese media, condemning the prejudice of local officials in Zhejiang province who insisted she be thrown off the show.

She is one of China’s most renowned celebrities and is credited with giving a face to transsexualism and helping raise public acceptance of a person’s right to undergo a sex change.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China’s sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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There is a Sexual Revolution Taking Place in China.

November 28, 2017

A review of “Behind the Red Door” by Richard Burger
Review by Tom Carter

Among the many misimpressions westerners tend to have of China, sex as some kind of taboo topic here seems to be the most common, if not clichéd.  Forgetting for a moment that, owing to a population of 1.3 billion, somebody must be doing it, what most of us don’t seem to know is that, at several points throughout the millennia, China has been a society of extreme sexual openness.

And now, according to author Richard Burger’s new book Behind the Red Door, the Chinese are once again on the verge of a sexual revolution.

Best known for his knives-out commentary on The Peking Duck, one of China’s longest-running expat blogs, Burger takes a similar approach to surveying the subject of sex among the Sinae, leaving no explicit ivory carving unexamined, no raunchy ancient poetry unrecited, and, ahem, no miniskirt unturned.

Opening (metaphorically and literally) with an introduction about hymen restoration surgery, Burger delves dàndàn-deep into the olden days of Daoism, those prurient practitioners of free love who encouraged multiple sex partners as the ultimate co-joining of Yin and Yang.  Promiscuity, along with prostitution, flourished during the Tang Dynasty – recognized as China’s cultural zenith – which Burger’s research surmises is no mere coincidence.


In this video, “The sexual revolution in China is underway, but not without its contradictions. The ‘sexless China’ over three decades ago is long gone, but gays still enter sham marriages, some women have hymen restorations before their weddings, and some men have a second ‘wife’ or a mistress. In an interview with Xinhua, Richard Burger, author of ‘Behind the Red Door: Sex in China,’ explains the ongoing Chinese sexual revolution.”

Enter the Yuan Dynasty, and its conservative customs of Confucianism, whereby sex became regarded only “for the purpose of producing heirs.”  As much as we love to hate him, Mao Zedong is credited as single-handedly wiping out all those nasty neo-Confucius doctrines, including eliminating foot binding, forbidding spousal abuse, allowing divorce, banning prostitution (except, of course, for Party parties), and encouraging women to work.  But in typical fashion, laws were taken too far; within 20 years, China under Mao became a wholly androgynous state.

We then transition from China’s red past into the pink-lit present, whence prostitution is just a karaoke bar away, yet possession of pornography is punishable by imprisonment – despite the fact that millions of single Chinese men (called bare branches) will never have wives or even girlfriends due to gross gender imbalance.

Burger laudably also tackles the sex trade from a female’s perspective, including an interview with a housewife-turned-hair-salon hostess who, ironically, finds greater success with foreigners than with her own sex-starved albeit ageist countrymen.

Western dating practices among hip, urban Chinese are duly contrasted with traditional courtship conventions, though, when it comes down to settling down, Burger points out that the Chinese are still generally resistant to the idea that marriage can be based on love.  This topic naturally segues into the all-but-acceptable custom of kept women (little third), as well as homowives, those tens of millions of straight women trapped in passionless unions with closeted gay men out of filial piety.

Behind the Red Door concludes by stressing that while the Chinese remain a sexually open society at heart, contradictive policies (enforced by dubious statistics) designed to discard human desire are written into law yet seldom enforced, simply because “sexual contentment is seen as an important pacifier to keep society stable and harmonious.”

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Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2-years across the 33-provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in  China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

This guest post by Tom Carter first appeared in China in City Weekend Magazine. Reblogged with permission of Tom Carter. Behind the Red Door was published by Earnshaw Books.

Tom Carter is married to a Chinese citizen, and he lives and works in China.


Eating Turkey in China

November 22, 2017

Turkey is a big bird most Chinese seldom eat. However, eating duck and chicken is common. Duck is even considered a delicacy. In fact, the Unvegan says, “No trip to Beijing is complete without eating some Peking Duck.”

The Virtual Tourist said, “It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions.”

Most Americans do not celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) and most Chinese do not celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Canadians also celebrate, but earlier in October than when it is celebrated in the U.S.

CBS News.com reported, “America is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of turkeys. As a nation we’re also the largest consumers of turkey …” and “China is the second-largest market for U.S. turkey exports, reportedly buying more than $70.5 million in turkey meat in 2012.”

If you are visiting China during Thanksgiving, you have a choice between Peking Duck, which is easier to find, and turkey.

Go China says, “Just head to your local international grocery store (Jenny Lu’s in Beijing … Cityshop in Shanghai) and stock up on all the fixings: frozen Butterball turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie makings. But you better do it fast, there tends to be a run on these items so if you’re shopping on the last Thursday in November, you’ll be out of luck.”

In fact, if you are visiting Shanghai, the Shanghai City Guide helps you find where to buy your favorite food. There are even Walmarts in China (if they sell turkey), and The Beijinger.com tells us where to get stuffed on turkey for Thanksgiving.

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Erhu is Unique to China and it complements the Spoken Language

November 21, 2017

CGTN.com says, “The  erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, more specifically a spike fiddle, which may also be called a ‘southern fiddle’ and sometimes known in the Western world as the ‘Chinese violin’ or a ‘Chinese two-stringed fiddle’. It is used as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. It is the most popular of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China. A very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock, jazz, etc.”

And once you recognize the sound of an erhu, it can usually be readily picked out from other musical instruments, because that sound is unique.

The history of the erhu spans more than a thousand years. The first erhu was heard during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD).

Since the traditional Chinese character for “erhu” indicates it has two strings, the erhu has probably changed little over the centuries.

The Han ethnic group makes up about 92% of the population of China, and Han folk music, in a sense, is similar to Mandarin in that it is made by sliding from higher tones to lower tones, or lower to higher, or a combination of both.

Han folk music is also similar to poetry with slow soothing tempos that express feelings that connects with the audience or whoever is playing the piece. Even the way a moment of silence is delivered changes the meaning behind the music.

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

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.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline