China’s fifty-six Recognized Ethnic Groups

February 19, 2020

By 1979, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had recognized 56 ethnic groups. The largest is the Han Chinese with 91.51-percent of the population. China’s population was 1.435 billion in November 2019. The largest, the Han numbered 1.313 billion. That left 122 million for the other 55 recognized ethnic groups.

The two minority groups in China the world hears about the most are the Tibetans (almost 6.3 million) and the Uyghurs with a bit more than 10 million. But what about the others 53? For instance, the largest minority group is the Zhuang people and most of them live in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Since most of the minorities do not have large populations, not all of the 55 minority groups have their own autonomous zone. There are five autonomous zones in China: in Guangxi (population 46 million), Inner Mongolia (24.7 million), Tibet (3 million), Xinjiang (almost 22 million), and Ningxia (almost 6.2 million).

The PRC also has programs to improve the quality of life in each autonomous zone. For instance, in 1950, the average lifespan of Tibetans was age 35.5. Today, life expectancy in Tibet is 68.2 years and still improving. That’s almost twice what it was when China’s long civil war finally came to an end.

China.org.cn reports, “In China regional autonomy for ethnic minorities is a basic policy adopted by the Chinese government in line with the actual conditions of China, and also an important part of the political system of China. Regional autonomy for ethnic minorities means that under the unified leadership of the state regional autonomy is practiced in areas where people of ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities; in these areas organs of self-government are established for the exercise of autonomy and for people of ethnic minorities to become masters of their own areas and manage the internal affairs of their own regions. …”

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reports, “The economy in five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang) and three multi-ethnic provinces (Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai) had made significant progress and people’s living standards continued to rise: the population living in poverty went down from 31 million in 2012 to 10 million, and the poverty rate dropped from 34 per cent to six per cent.” …

However, “NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Rapporteur for China, asked China to provide written information on the allegations of torture and on the intentions concerning the establishment of an independent mechanism for the investigation of allegations of torture and deaths in custody in Tibet and in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.” …

Meanwhile, the 30,875 reindeer herders of China’s small Ewenki ethnic minority in Northern China is struggling to keep their centuries-old traditions alive.

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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It takes Faith to believe in something Science cannot explain

February 12, 2020

It takes faith to believe in God because there is no hard evidence that He exists. Belief in astrology also takes faith. Berkeley.Edu’s Understanding Science reports, “Although astrologers seek to explain the natural world, they don’t usually attempt to critically evaluate whether those explanations are valid — and this is a key part of science.”

Astrology: East vs West

In the East, the Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle relates to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, and first appeared in the Zhan Guo period [5th century B.C.].

The Chinese zodiac was officially identified during the Han Dynasty [206 B.C.–9 A.D.]. “The zodiac was based on Chinese astrology and was used as a way to count years, months, days, and hours in the calendar. It was formed from two components: the Celestial Stem and the Terrestrial Branch. Each of the 12 animals stands for a year in a 12-year cycle, a day in a 12-day cycle, and for every two hours in a 24-hour day. These were used to name each year along with the animal signs, but now they mainly just use the dates.” – The Chinese Zodiac Washington.edu

My Chinese Zodiac Sign is the Rooster.

As a Rooster, it is alleged that I am “foresighted, ambitious, meticulous, and independent. The Rooster is the representative of confidence and intelligence. People who are born in the Years of the Rooster usually share lots of common personality traits such as being responsive, distinctive, smart, and earnest.”

In the West, the twelve astrological signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. These signs are based on the twelve 30° sectors of the ecliptic, starting at the vernal equinox (one of the intersections of the ecliptic with the celestial equator), also known as the First Point of Aries.

Alexander the Great [356 BC – 323 BC] is attributed with the spread of astrology to Egypt and India. He is known to have consulted astrologers and to have them counted among his entourage during his campaigns. Alexander is responsible for the cross-fertilization of Greek, Persian, Mesopotamian and Indian astrologies. He founded the city of Alexandria to become the ancient world’s center of learning and housed, among many things, the astrological knowledge of antiquity.

Popular astrology could be said to have had its beginnings in ancient Rome. The early Roman astrologers were commonly referred to as Chaldeans, as it was the Chaldeans coming into the Empire that promoted and practiced the art. Astrology immediately appealed to the general public and the priests and intellectuals alike. – Astrology House.com

Western astrology says I am a LEO.

It is alleged that “those born under the Western Zodiac sign of Leo have much to say about everything. Leos are strong, confident, and majestic. They are highly social individuals who are often heavily involved in pursuits that interest them.”

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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2020 is the Year of the Rat

February 5, 2020

China’s Lunar New Year officially started several days ago on January 24th and ended yesterday on February 4, 2020.

Webexhibs.org reports, “The beginnings of the Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century B.C.E. Legend has it that the Emperor Huangdi invented the calendar in 2637 B.C.E. The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon.”

But centuries passed before the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) modernized the calendar and made it official. The first lunar calendar used 10 months with 36 days each, as calculated through observation of the night sky. “It didn’t take long, however, for them to make the switch to a lunisolar 12-month calendar – a system they stuck to ever since.” – Military Time Chart.com

The Han Dynasty was one of the longest of China’s major dynasties. In terms of power and prestige, the Han Dynasty in the East rivaled its almost contemporary Roman Empire in the West.

SupChina.com says, “One of the greatest joys of celebrating the new lunar year is the feast on the eve of the holiday. In Chinese culture specifically, superstitions intertwine with food to bring about special dishes intended to bring good luck. Auspicious meanings are represented by a food’s appearance or pronunciation, and common homophones include words for prosperity, success, and family togetherness. …

“A whole fish is a staple for New Year celebrations in China and is intended to welcome prosperity for the entire year. …

“Dumplings represent wealth because of their close appearance to Chinese gold ingots, which are oval, boat-shaped hunks of gold used as currency in imperial China. …

“A whole chicken is usually served to represent family togetherness. …

“Spring rolls … are also a traditional food of the Lunar New Year. … Like dumplings, spring roll filling can be made based on personal preference. …

“Exceptionally long noodles … represent a long, long life. It’s customary to slurp down the noodle without chewing so that the strands aren’t severed. …

“The star dessert is glutinous rice cake … the word for cake sounds like the word for ‘tall,’ or ‘to grow,’ so eating glutinous rice on Lunar New Year symbolizes growth, whether it be in career, income, health, or even height. …

“Following the circular concept, certain round fruits are eaten during Lunar New Year to encourage family unity. Oranges and tangerines are especially popular because their golden color is believed to attract wealth … ”


But this year, the BBC reports that Beijing has canceled Chinese New Year celebrations in some provinces to control the spread of the dangerous new coronavirus.

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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Comparing Chinese Operas to Western Ones

January 29, 2020

San Francisco Opera.com reports that Western Opera was born in Italy more than 400 years ago during the Renaissance. Western Opera is a combination of vocal and orchestral music, drama, visual arts and dance. An opera, like a play, is a dramatic form of theatre that includes scenery, props, and costumes. However, in opera, the actors are trained singers who sing their lines instead of speaking them.

How about China’s opera?

“Since the time of the Tang Dynasty’s Emperor Xuonzong from 712 to 755—who created the first national opera troupe called the ‘Pear Garden’—Chinese opera has been one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country, but it actually started nearly a millennium before in the Yellow River Valley during the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BC).

“Now, more than a millennium after Xuanzong’s death, it is enjoyed by political leaders and commoners alike in many fascinating and innovative ways, and Chinese opera performers are still referred to as ‘Disciples of the Pear Garden,’ continuing to perform an astonishing 368 different forms of Chinese opera.” ꟷ Thought Co.

Not only is Chinese opera almost 1,900 years older than Western Opera, it is also culturally different.

For instance, China Highlights.com lists 7 differences: The first being “Western operas focus on powerful singing and emotional expression during the performances. The acting is self-explanatory, fluid, and life-like.

“In Beijing opera, as well as the more stylized singing, each performer’s actions are important ways to tell the story.

“The performance style is more of a rigid, symbolic visual show. For example, a performer will tie a horsewhip on their wrist and when they wave the horsewhip it means they are riding a horse.”


If you live in the United States, you do not have to travel to China to see a Chinese Opera.

“Chinese Opera, a product of Chinese tradition and innovation spanning many centuries, is at the core of traditional Chinese art. The Confucius Institute of Rutgers University (CIRU), since its establishment in 2007, has been committed to the preservation and promotion of this traditional Chinese art. For over a decade, CIRU has been hosting events and providing platforms to showcase the exquisiteness of Chinese opera. This documentary features several renowned Chinese Opera performers and their stories.” ꟷ Rutgers University

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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What is happening in Hong Kong is a collision of cultures and Christianity may be the catalyst

January 22, 2020

World Population on Review reports, “93.6% of Hong Kong’s population consists of ethnic Chinese. Most are Taishanese, Chiu Chow, other Cantonese people, and Hakka. Most Han people in Hong Kong are from the Taishan and Guangzhou regions. Of the non-ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong, many are South Asians — including Indians, Nepalese, and Pakistanis — as well as Vietnamese refugees. There are also many Canadians, Britons, Americans, Koreans, and Japanese working in the city.”

With almost 7.5 million people in Hong Kong, Christians account for 11-percent of the city’s population and most of them are Protestant. The primary language of Hong Kong is not Mandarin. It is Cantonese, a minority language in China. The city’s culture is broadly Cantonese and not Han. With 1.4 billion people in China, Cantonese is spoken by around 60-million (0.04 percent of China’s population).

World Population on Review continues: “When the British forces formally took over Hong Kong in 1841, the population was 7,541. A century later, the figure officially stood at 1,600,000. This figure fell to 500,000 in 1945, following the Battle of Hong Kong. However, ever since then, the population has steadily increased culminating in its current figure.”

What World Population on Review doesn’t reveal is how the British took over Hong Kong. The British along with the French and other colonial European Empires invaded China and started two Opium Wars to force the Chinese Emperor to allow the British to sell opium to the Chinese people. The British Empire needed money to survive and the sale of opium was an important revenue stream. The British also forced China’s Emperor to give them Hong Kong.

The British Empire ruled Hong Kong for 156 years (1841 – 1997) but not as a republic or democracy. See The History of Democracy in Hong Kong is so Short it Never Happened.

[youube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCCku0_tVD4]

As for Macau, only 7.2 percent of its population is Christian, and the Portuguese who ruled the city for 400 years made little effort to convert the Chinese population to their way of thinking and to adopt Christianity as their religion.

ABC.net.au, explains, “Why Macau hasn’t been swept up by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests? … As Hong Kong grapples with its 12th consecutive week of protests, we take a look at why Macau has often been seen as a success story for the ‘one country, two systems’ framework and what it means for the future of the world’s largest gambling hub. … Macau has generally been seen as the better-behaved special administrative region (SAR) under Chinese rule because of its largely conservative society, and as such, has remained at an arm’s length from the protests in Hong Kong.”

“Macau people,” also, “often turn to mainland China for identification, interpretations, and solutions to their own problems. And while Hong Kong in 2003 expressed strong opposition to a national security law known as Article 23 — which prohibited “treason, secession, sedition” against the Central Government — the same law was passed in Macau.”

NPR.org also reveals, “A Surprising Tie That Binds Hong Kong’s Protest Leaders: Faith … Many of the leaders are Christian, and some cite faith as an inspiration.”

“National surveys conducted in the early 21st century estimated that some 80% of the population of China, which is more than a billion people, practice some kind of Chinese folk religion; 10–16% are Buddhists; 10% are Taoist; 2.53% are Christians; and 0.4% are Muslims.”

China: 2.53-percent are Christians

Macau: 7.2-percent are Christians

Hong Kong: 11-percent are Christians (about 825,000)

Mark Juergensmeyer argues that “despite its central tenets of love and peace, Christianity—like most traditions—has always had a violent side. The bloody history of the tradition has provided disturbing images and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups.” ꟷ Christianity and violence

To help understand China’s culture, read Looking at China through a Single Lens

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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Looking at China through a Cultural Lens – Part 2 of 2

January 15, 2020

What do Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism have in common?

Buddhism and Taoism are peaceful religions that use meditation for peace of mind and enlightenment. Taoism originated in China in the sixth century B.C. It is also believed that Buddhism originated in the sixth century B.C. but in India. Both Taoism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation, life after death, and both have similar end goals. The goal of Taoism is to have a balanced life while Confucianism focuses on creating and maintaining harmony in society and avoiding conflict.

For instance, if an individual or group threatens harmony for everyone else, China’s leaders throughout history have often imprisoned or executed those individuals or groups threatening the tranquility of the majority of people.

A Cup of Tea (Zen poem)
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
101 Zen Stories

Zen-like Taoism focuses on staying in the present without judging anything or anyone.

However, it isn’t easy for Christians, Jews, or Muslims to do the same thing. Instead, the members of these religions often judge just about everything and everyone leading to many wars and lost lives.

Wars in China have seldom if ever been started by people that practice the philosophies of Zen Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism.

Return to or start with Part 1

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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Looking at China through a Cultural Lens – Part 1 of 2

January 8, 2020

“Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE) that contributed to the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China and became the official religion of the country under the Tang Dynasty. Taoism is therefore both a philosophy and a religion.”  ꟷ Ancient History Encyclopedia

“Unlike Buddhism (that originated in India and reached China to become popular), Taoism arose from the observations and beliefs of the Chinese people. The principles of Taoism impacted Chinese culture greatly because it came from the people and was a natural expression of the way the Chinese (working class) understood the universe.”


Buddhist Parable on the True Nature of Human Existence

Buddha Weekly says, “The Daoist tradition was already present in China when Buddhism first entered the country over the border from neighboring India around the 3rd Century BCE. The two religions (Taoism and Buddhism) came to heavily influence each other in China, and this Daoist influence on Buddhism — after the two started to interact with one another — helped shape history and philosophical belief in the region for centuries.”

“Taoism has been one of the most influential philosophies and religions during the past 2,500 years in China, and it affects every aspect of Chinese life, including leisure.” ꟷ World Leisure Journal

The BBC reports, “Zen Buddhism is a mixture of Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. It began in China, spread to Korea and Japan, and became very popular in the West from the mid 20th century. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language. … If you’re a westerner you may find it hard to shake off the intellectual and dualist ways of thinking that dominate western culture: this can make it difficult for westerners to come to Zen.”

Part 2 will be posted on January 15, 2020

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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