GUANXI

March 13, 2019

The more China changes, the more it stays the same.

Just because China has a one-party political system that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), that doesn’t mean the government is not Chinese. In fact, the CCP maintains that despite the co-existence of private capitalists and entrepreneurs with public and collective enterprises, China is not a capitalist country because the party retains control over the direction of the country, maintaining its course of socialist development.

In China, Guanxi is a complex system of social networks and influential relationships which facilitate business and other dealings. Because Guanxi is built into social networks and influential relationships, it also runs deep through the CCP like threads through a complex interwoven, handmade tapestry.

Sir Robert Hart (1835 – 1911), the godfather of China’s modernization and the main character in my historical fiction novel, My Splendid Concubine, discovered the importance of Guanxi soon after he arrived in China and eventually went to work for China’s Emperor. Hart quickly learned that a ‘supreme value of loyalty glued together China’s structure of personal relationships.’

In addition, Robert Hart wrote in a letter in 1891, “These people (referring to the Chinese) never act too soon, and, so far, I have not known of their losing anything by being late. To glide naturally, easily and seasonably into the safe position sequence as circumstances make, is probably a sounder though less heroic policy for a state than to be forever experimenting …”

To translate, it takes time to develop Guanxi through relationships, friendships, and trust where everyone benefits. In China, one must prove they can be trusted before being accepted into a Guanxi social and/or business network.

There are several elements and layers to Guanxi. First, Guanxi is based on a Confucian hierarchy of familial relationships, long-term friendships, classmates, and schoolmates that no stranger, Chinese or foreign, will ever have access to.

Guanxi developed over millennia because China did not have a stable and effective legal system similar to the one that developed in western countries.

And thanks to the greed, insanity, and incompetence of President Donald Trump and the Libertarian movement in the United States, China will probably never become a capitalist kleptocracy like the U.S. is fast becoming. Guanxi will make sure that never happens in China, and corrupt individuals like Donald Trump will never understand how Guanxi works because of his inability to be honest and trust others. To Trump, he must always win and everyone else must lose.

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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COLORS

March 3, 2019

Colors are important in Chinese culture and some colors come with lucky meanings. For instance the three main colors considered lucky in people’s daily lives as well as on special occasions are red, yellow, and green.

However, it isn’t that simple.

Allegravita.com reports, “While every world culture has its own unique symbolism and taboos, it’s fair to say that the ancient and very complex Chinese culture is the big daddy of cultural symbolism. Highly resonant symbolic memes run so old and deep that it’s impossible to summarize them into one blog post, or even a hundred posts.”

Associated with but ranked above brown, yellow signifies neutrality and good luck. Yellow is sometimes paired with red in place of gold. Yellow was the emperor’s color in Imperial China and is held as the symbolic color of the five legendary emperors of ancient China.

Nations Online says, “Historically, people actually worshipped the color yellow during the reign of the legendary Chinese sage king, a chief deity of Taoism, Huang Di or Huang Ti, better known as the Yellow Emperor. He is the emperor that is said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese people and is believed to have reigned around 2697 BC to 2598 BC.

“Huang Di was coined the name Yellow Emperor because his army tribe honoured the value of the ‘Yellow Earth’ which was the symbol of farming and the ‘Yellow River’ of the central land (China).”

Nations Online also lists the colors and what they mean. For instance, RED: “traditional bridal color, expansive, blooming, dynamic, enthusiastic, reaching upwards, good luck, celebration, happiness, joy, vitality, long life; red purple brings luck and fame, money, recognition, propriety, creativity, joy vs. over excitation.”

In the West, North America, and Europe, white is usually the traditional bridal color.

Today in China

“Yellow is still reserved for royalty. Clothing and objects that are yellow in color still resemble a higher social status. Although each dynasty designated each official rank with their own color, yellow is reserved for the emperor himself.

“The color yellow and its shades are also the main color of Buddhism; thus it represents being free from worldly cares.

“Red is still used for happiness and joy. In fact, after the Ming Dynasty, only the Emperor’s close relatives could have homes with red walls and yellow roof tiles. Peasants could only live in homes made with blue bricks and roof tiles. Today though, most houses are made of black tiles and white walls.

“Blue-green is still a symbol of spring when everything is filled with vigor and vitality. Therefore, someone that is hoping for longevity and harmony will decorate with blue-green colors.

“White is a symbol of the unknown and purity. The color white is used during the time of mourning, death, and during ghost festivals. Therefore Chinese people will wear white during a funeral or while summoning ghosts.

“Black is used as the symbol of winter and the westerly skies which behold the heavens. It is used for times of the unknown and for the winter months.”

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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Yes, China is a Republic

February 27, 2019

The first thing we should know is what a republic is, and the oldest known republic is the Netherlands (July 26, 1581).

The Urban Dictionary says a republic is “A system of government ran by elected officials. Not a rare system of government at all. Republic by definition does not imply a concern for human rights or an inclusive democratic system. It just means that a governing body (aristocracy, military, general population, etc.) elected a head of state.”

The Oxford English Dictionary that was first published in 1857 is considered by many the last word on words for over a century. The Oxford says a republic is, “A country that is governed by a president and politicians elected by the people and where there is no king or queen.”

By definition, that makes China a republic. China has its own Constitution, and there are more than 80-million members in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that vote for the country’s elected national leaders, and that includes China’s president. At the village level hundreds of millions of rural Chinese elect their village leaders, and the villagers do not have to be members of the CCP to vote.

China is not the only republic in East Asia.

South Korea started out as an autocratic state with limited political freedom (fancy words for a dictatorship) from 1948 to 1987. There was a military coup in 1961 and General Park ruled until he was assassinated in 1979.

In 1980, martial law was declared in South Korea after the army killed 200 during student demonstrations. Recently, South Korea’s constitutional court upheld a controversial military ban (censorship) on twenty-three books considered subversive. Source: Time

It wouldn’t be until 1986 that South Korea’s constitution was changed and in December 1987, Roh won the first direct presidential election since 1971. The first free parliamentary elections took place in 1988.

Another Asian Republic is Thailand. A Blog about Political Prisoners in Thailand claims that there is no freedom of speech. They claim what you feel or think can get you thrown in jail.

Thailand also passed a Computer Crimes act in 2007. The language in one section sounds similar to language in China’s Constitution that U.S. critics of China often complain about.

In May 2010, Reuters reported that Bangkok was being cleaned up after the worst riots in modern history. “At least 54 people were killed and more than 400 injured in the latest bout of violence which began on May 14. Almost 40 buildings in the city were set on fire and the tourism and retail sectors have been devastated.”

The 1997 Thai Constitution increased legal protections for women and persons with disabilities, but some inequities in the law remained and some protections were not enforced. Violence and societal discrimination against women are still problems. Societal discrimination against hill tribes and religious and ethnic minorities continues. There have been reports of forced labor and child labor. Trafficking in women and children, coerced prostitution and labor are still serious problems. ­­– U.S. Department of State

Then there is Singapore that is also a republic by definition. In fact, Singapore is considered a model republic respected around the world.

However, Human Rights Watch reports, “Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party’s hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison.”

Then there is the United States, a Constitutional Republic where people elect officials that are responsible to run the government according to the U.S. Constitution, a document that was designed by its original authors to be changed through an amendment process.

When the United States became a country on July 4, 1776, there were no political parties and the U.S. Constitution only allowed white men that owned poverty (about 10-percent of the free population in 1776) and were not Jewish to vote for the elected officials that ran a country that had a population of about 2.5 million people (about a half million were slaves). Over time, the U.S. evolved into a multi-party republic that now has almost 330-million people without any legal slaves.  Today, women and minorities are allowed to vote for the elected officials that run the country and its states.  But back in 1776, about two hundred thousand men could vote. The other 2.3 million could not vote and that included the half million slaves.

Fast forward to today: Southeast Asian Refugees Are the Latest Victims of Trump’s Deportation Crackdown. These refugees have been in the United States since the end of the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), because they fled to survive when the United States pulled its military out of Southeast Asia and left these people stranded after almost twenty years of warfare. If they had stayed, many if not all of these refugees risked execution or prison, because they were Christians and/or supported the United States during the Vietnam War.

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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Power Corrupts and Great Wealth buys that Power

February 20, 2019

In the United States, autocratic billionaires are destroying the country. For instance, since 1973, the Koch brothers have systematically and deliberately built a machine to subvert America’s Constitutional Republic. Charles and David Koch are not alone. They have at least 2,000 other wealthy allies that belong to an organization the Kochs launched in 1973. It is called ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit, private sector organization with one goal, to subvert the U.S. Constitution and strip the federal and state governments of their power.

But in China, the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to limit the power of that country’s billionaires. For instance, in 2013, The Atlantic asked, Why Do Chinese Billionaires Keep Ending Up in Prison?  The subtitle says, “In China, the rich get poorer.”

The Atlantic continues: “In the last fifteen years, China has produced greater overall wealth than any other country. The number of its billionaires has gone from a mere 15 to around 250 in just six years, but for a number of these people this vaulted status is short-lived. According to one study, 17 percent of those on the list end up squealing their way to court or end up in jail. If they’re lucky, those who are caught are investigated and jailed. Some are even executed.” …

“What accounts for the sharp rise and fall of China’s wealthiest? In a business environment in which personal connections and favors — referred to as guanxi in Chinese — predominate, many tycoons have amassed large fortunes without concern of rules and regulations. However, such a fast and loose atmosphere can cut both ways.”

That piece in The Atlantic appeared in 2013. Five years later according to Business Insider (December 27, 2018), China now has 373 billionaires, a 5% increase in billionaires since the previous year (2017) while the US, where billionaires run rampant spreading corruption with their great wealth, and seldom if ever end up in prison, there are 585 with an increase of 4% from the previous year.

Lord Acton, a member of Parliament in the UK (in office 1859 – 1865), wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super-add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”

While the United States is drowning in the corruption Lord Acton mentions, China is struggling to contain the abuse of that power.  For instance, the Los Angeles Times ran this piece in 2017: “Some of China’s richest and most powerful men have mysteriously vanished.”

If U.S. citizens Charles and David Koch had been Chinese citizens, they would have probably vanished a long time ago and the world would be better place without them.

Beware, China, great wealth can become a terminal cancer and it will eventually eat you too no matter how hard your leaders try to stop it.

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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Who Will Survive the Next Big Global Economic Crises

February 13, 2019

When the next global economic crises hits — not if, but when — how will China deal with it compared to the United States?

First, as of October 2018, the U.S. government owes China $1.138 trillion dollars.  That’s 29 percent of the $3.9 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries. The rest of the $21 trillion U.S. national debt is owned by either the American people or by the U.S. government itself. That is equivalent to about 47.6% of GDP.

On the other hand, the national debt of the People’s Republic of China is the total amount of money owed by the government and all state organizations and government branches of China. As of October 2018, it stands at approximately CN¥ 36 trillion (US$ 5.2 trillion),

In 2007, the United States federal government was only $9-trillion in debt. Today, it is $22.7 trillion in debt and with Trump cutting taxes and spending more; it is going to grow much bigger. The United States recorded a government debt equivalent to 105.40-percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017, and there is no end in sight.

After 2008, almost nine-million Americans lost their jobs, and there were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings issued during 2008, and that was just for that one year. That can’t happen in rural China and most of China’s factory workers have homes in rural China. When a job is lost in an urban city, the government gave the unemployed workers a free train ticket to go home to the countryside where the family home was not at risk of being taken away since there was no mortgage or property tax to worry about.

What happened in China after 2008 reveals how the Chinese will survive the next global financial disaster.

“The lack in demand from abroad meant factory closures, resulting in high job losses all over China. Guangzhou, a major manufacturing town, lost tens of thousands of workers in 2008, forcing citizens to return to their home in the countryside.”  Along with being forced to go home, most if not all of those Chinese citizens were allowed to retire early and collect Social Security. Younger workers were put to work in state owned factories and sent to work on infrastructure projects.

HROne says, “China’s Social Security System consists of 5 mandatory insurance schemes (pension fund, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance) + a housing fund (only applicable to Chinese employees).” … “An individual can receive a pension based on the amount accumulated in his/her individual fund after retirement.”

“In general, individuals need to pay at least 15-years of contributions prior to receiving a pension in China. Some industries have different retirement ages, but mainly men are 55 years old, women are 50 years old (blue-collar work), men are 60 years old, and women are 55 years old (white-collar work). The amount of retirement benefits depends on local regulations. Due to China’s population problems, these ages may soon change.”

The difference between the United States is China incorporates the characteristics of socialism, capitalism, and communism. China is not a pure communist or socialist or capitalist state. It is a hybrid and the CCP holds the reins of power.

As a socialist-capitalism country, all of China’s land is owned by the government. In urban China, the government leases homes and businesses but doesn’t sell the land. In most of if not all of rural China there is no mortgage or property tax, so losing your urban job and returning to your rural village home in the countryside doesn’t mean you are going to lose your home and become homeless. China also launched a $586 billion stimulus package designed to encourage more consumer spending and build new infrastructure putting people to work.

The United States is one of the most capitalistic countries in the world. Capitalism is an ideology where the means of production is controlled by private business. This means that wealthy, powerful individual citizens run the economy without government interfering in production or pricing.

What did the United States do in 2008?  President G. W. Bush, not President Obama, signed TARP’s 700-billion dollar bailout program. The initial purpose was to save the banks … not the people. The TARP program quickly turned around the banking industry but the U.S. didn’t do what China did to generate consumer spending and create infrastructure jobs. Yet infrastructure in the US is in horrible shape from its electric grid, its highway system, to its railroad network and bridges. G. W. Bush never intended the banks to pay the government back. When Obama became president, he changed that and most of that public money was paid back to the government.

While China used its government bailout money to help its people, the United States did nothing for its working-consumer class and more than a decade later many Americans are still struggling to survive financially.  When the next global economic crises hits, no one knows what will happen in the United States, because that depends on who is president at the time and what political party controls one or both Houses of Congress

For instance, instead of improving the social safety net in the United States, MarketWatch.com reports, “Why the latest warnings about cuts to Social Security and Medicare are a reason to worry.”

Here’s how bad: “Unless something’s done to shore up Social Security, monthly checks could get cut 23% by 2034.”

I think it’s a safe bet that China’s government will do something similar to what it did in and after 2008.

The United States will probably also do the same thing it did last time: bail out the banks and big corporations while continuing to keep cutting taxes for the wealthiest one-percent of Americans. As for the social safety net that’s supposed to be there for most U.S. citizens, who knows how it will weather another economic crises since it is already at risk.

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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Cradle to Grave – The Surveillance State: China vs the United States

February 6, 2019

It’s no secret that China monitors its citizens, internet activity, and battles pornography, and China is working to improve those methods to make them more effective and efficient.

But when it comes to the United States, what seems to be ignored is the fact that America is also a surveillance state.  The difference is in who is behind that surveillance. In China, it is the government. In the United States it is mostly private sector corporations that are owned and controlled by the 0.1-percent wealthiest citizens, or, to be more precise, the real Deep State that goes to extremes to manipulate the other 99.9 percent of US citizens to do what the autocratic billionaires in charge want them to think and do.

In China, there is no Deep State because the Chinese Communist Party with more than 80-million Party members spread across the country in every city and province rules the country as a team with a primary goal to hold on to power and increase the quality of every citizen’s lifestyle while insuring harmony.

Understanding what that harmony means to most Chinese helps explain one of the reasons for China’s surveillance state, but what is the reason behind America’s corporate surveillance state that monitors our lives and gathers data on every citizen that will follow us from cradle to grave?

In China, the state owned media is self-censored to the point that sometimes China’s president or a member of the Politburo, decisions are made through consensus, makes a phone call and requests that Xinhua covers an issue in more depth that has been ignored. In China, there is one unified message reported to the people and it is no secret that the people know the news is censored and can be misleading.


The U.S. is the only Western Country that doesn’t have a law that allows its citizens to know what information corporations have collected on them.

However, in the United States, the media is in bedlam and disarray. President Donald Trump repeatedly calls media reports he doesn’t like or disagrees with as “Fake News” while the media he supports and watches (since Trump has said more than once that he is proud he doesn’t read books), like Fox News, is spreading misinformation and lies to support a political agenda from one political and/or religious sect.

The reason behind China’s surveillance state is different. In China, the surveillance state keeps watch so it is almost impossible for an individual or group to sabotage the Party’s plans to continue to modernize China and improve the lifestyles of its citizens — even if the Chinese do not have the freedom to speak out on political issues and attempt to shake up the establishment.


In the United States people are products when it comes to information gathered without their knowledge and permission.

In the United States the media is in chaos, and that chaos is spreading throughout the country.

But China has already lived through more than a century of chaos until Deng Xiaoping ended the last element of that suffering, the  insanity of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. I think it is safe to say that the majority of Chinese citizens will support a surveillance state that focuses on promoting peace and harmony instead of insanity and chaos.

This blog post wouldn’t be balanced without mentioning that Actually, Most Countries Are Increasingly Spying on Their Citizens, the UN Says. “Today’s news shows that massive surveillance can no longer be said to be the realm of authoritarian regimes, and is part of an alarming trend worldwide,” reported Privacy International, a group that supports limits on surveillance.

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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China is the Misunderstood Dragon

January 30, 2019

If you want to make an attempt to understand China, I suggest starting with the differences between Chinese dragons vs. Western ones.

Kid World Citizen.org tells us, “(Chinese) Dragons symbolize importance, power and strength, represent all things male, and were the symbol of the Emperor of China (who was said to sit on the dragon throne). The imperial dragon is shown with 5 claws instead of the usual 4, to distinguish him from lesser beasts.”

Chinese “Dragons are essential in agricultural life, since they are seen to control the seasons and the weather.  Although they (Chinese dragons) have no wings, the fiery pearl sometimes displayed in their mouths gives them the power to fly to heaven.  The male air and weather dragons would bring rains and winds to help the harvest, while the female earth dragons would preserve the waters in rivers and underground wells.” …

If you are interested, there’s more about Chinese dragons at Kid World Citizens dot org (find the link above).

Compare what you have learned about China’s dragons to the West’s. The Vintage News.com says, “From ancient Greek myths to Game of Thrones, the legend of the dragon is one of the most enduring and romanticized throughout history. It has been traced back as far as 4000 BC and exists in all parts of the world.” …

In the West, dragons were generally treated as violent monsters that must be slain by heroes and saints. European dragons could have four legs, two legs, or none, and often had wings.

“In Asia, and especially China,” The Vintage News continues, “the view of these creatures was very different. … They breathed clouds and moved the seasons. The dragon was the symbol of the Chinese Emperor, and the Imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne. Known as the Dragon, the emperor ruled in harmony, and brought peace and prosperity to all. … Chinese dragons are depicted as being more serpent-like, with long, snaking bodies and usually had four legs. They are generally seen as wingless.”

There are also a few other differences to compare.

China is a collective culture vs Europe and North America that are individualistic cultures. It is possible that the reason China’s dragons are different is because of the influence of a collective culture.

Does that mean we can explain the evil and danger of Western dragons to the influence of individualistic thinking?

European and North American cultures are influenced mostly by Christianity, Judaism, and philosophers from ancient Greece and Renaissance Europe. Ancient Athens in Greece is among the first recorded and one of the most important democracies in ancient times; the word “democracy” ( Greek: δημοκρατία – “rule by the people”) was invented by Athenians in order to define their system of government, around 508 BC.

Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have never been a major political or religious influence in China.

Religious and/or philosophical influences in China come from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism have never been a major political or religious influence in Europe or North America.

Because of these differences, mainland China has never had a republic or democracy similar to Europe or North America.

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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