Comparing China to the World through History

September 18, 2019

During the Han Dynasty, China had a population of some sixty million people, about one-fourth of the world’s population at the time, and the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) marked the beginning of China becoming the wealthiest and most innovative country on the planet. The first video shows the history of the world from the rise of civilization to the present day.

In that video, keep an eye on China and remember that all but two of China’s dynasties were ruled by the Han Chinese regardless of the name of the dynasty. The two dynasties that were not ruled by the Han were the Yuan (Mongols) and the Qing (Manchus). The beginning of China’s decline started with the Ming Dynasty that was established by a nationalist, isolationist, religious cult (similar to the Donald Trump administration in the United States today), and the decline accelerated near the end of the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century.


Pay attention and you will discover that Tibet was ruled by China’s Qing Dynasty in the early 18th century.

In 1793, even though China had been in decline for two-to-three hundred years, it was still the wealthiest country on the planet as the second video reveals.


Top 20 Country GDP (PPP) History & Projection (1800-2040)

China’s Emperor Qianlong’s letter to King George III of the British Empire reveals how powerful China still was. “The following is one sentence from the response given by Chinese Emperor Qianlong (b. 1711, d. 1799) to King George III of Great Britain (b. 1738, d. 1820) following the first British envoy to China, known as the Macartney Embassy.”

One line from Qianlong’s letter read: “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.” – China.org.cn

After “Macartney left Beijing, Qianlong issued many documents outlining the need to strengthen the military defense and guard against surprise attacks by Britain. Qianlong issued orders to closely guard the coastal ports. One of the main points Qianlong made was that Britain was demanding that China assign some areas near Zhoushan or Guangzhou for them to set up trading bases to make it easier for them to trade. ‘We must not only observe the coastlines carefully but also prepare a military defense, especially in Zhoushan and Macao. We must prepare our soldiers in advance to avoid Britain capturing (our land).’ This shows that Qianlong was aware of the potential threat Britain posed and could help explain his actions in rejecting British advances.”

There is a 16th-century idiom that says: “If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.” In his letter, Qianlong refused to give the British Empire the inch King George III had demanded. Soon after that happened, the European colonial empires and even the United States took that first inch by force.

The second video compares the GDP (PPP) of the top twenty countries starting in 1800, a century before China lost 1st place as the world’s wealthiest and most innovative country on the planet.

If you watch the dates in the second video you will see that China’s decline as the wealthiest country on the planet started during the Opium Wars in the early 19th century. These wars were started by the British and French colonial empires just like Emperor Qianlong had feared, and many of America’s oldest and wealthiest families made their fortunes selling opium to the Chinese.

China did not lose 1st place until 1890 after the French Empire defeated the Qing Dynasty in the Sino-French War (1884-1885) followed by another defeat in 1895 in the First Sino-Japanese War. The final nail in China’s Imperial coffin was the Eight-Nation Alliance (including the United States) that defeated the Boxer rebels and Qing Forces in 1901.

One-hundred-and twenty-three years later in 2013, China regained 1st place and now has the largest GDP (PPP) on the planet with the United States in second place.

“The Gross Domestic Product measures the value of economic activity within a country. Strictly defined, GDP is the sum of the market values, or prices, of all final goods and services produced in an economy during a period of time.”

In addition, over the last few decades, China’s navy has rapidly expanded. As of 2018, the Chinese Navy consists of over 300 ships, making it larger than the 287 vessels comprising the deployable battle force of the United States Navy.

Do you think China will let itself become a victim again, and since the birth of Jesus Christ, how many years has China had the largest GDP (PPP) on the planet?

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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September 13th is Mid-Autumn Day

September 11, 2019

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is similar to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Families and friends in China get together and celebrate a bountiful harvest by coming together to eat, drink, and be happy.

Around the world, Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate this festival. For instance, in San Francisco, not far from where I live, the Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival took place on September 7 – 8, 2019.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, it is customary to have Moon-Watching parties, and offerings are still made to the Moon.

Also known as the “Full Moon Festival,” the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month and takes place when the moon’s orbit is at its lowest angle to the horizon, making the moon appear brighter and larger than any other time of the year.

One historical event linked to this festival is the Moon Cake Uprising.

Near the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), many Chinese wanted to take back their country from the invading Mongols. Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the resistance forces. However, it was not easy to organize the different factions spread across the country so the rebels hid notes with details about the rebellion in mooncakes and sent them to the different factions on Mid-Autumn Day. Since then, eating moon cakes have been a Chinese custom during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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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Say Hello to “The Farewell”

September 4, 2019

If you marry someone that grew up in China, the odds favor that you will also be married to a Chinese family. When I married Anchee in 1999, I got a lot more than a wife. In China, I also was accepted by her family, her friends, and I started to learn about the country of her birth, its long history, and its culture, and I haven’t stopped learning. The only thing I haven’t learned is Mandarin, a tonal language where what sounds like one word can be four words depending on the tone. I’m not tone deaf. I enjoy listening to music, but I cannot tell the difference between the sounds needed to pronounce four different words that sound like they are one word.

I saw “The Farewell” alone on a Monday morning in an almost empty theater with two other people that sat higher up in what I call the bleachers. The film offered more than the drama of a Chinese family that discovers their beloved grandmother in China has a short time to live. Throughout the film, the Chinese family and their friends, and even the Japanese bride hide the doctor’s verdict from the grandmother.

To keep this secret, her two sons that haven’t been to China with their families for twenty-five years, use the excuse of a sudden engagement to bring family and friends together for this unexpected wedding before grandmother dies. One son lives in the United States, and his brother lives in Japan where his son has a Japanese girlfriend, the bride to be.

The lead character is Billi. She was six when her mother and father moved to the United States. When we first meet Billi, she is in her twenties and living alone in a postage-stamp-sized apartment in New York City.  She can’t pay her rent, won’t ask her parents for financial help, and doesn’t want to move back home.

Billi played by Awkwafina, an actor that was born in New York City in 1988 as Nora Lum, grew up Chinese in the United States helping her understand the differences between the two cultures.

What I think made this film worth watching was witnessing Billi’s American individualism in conflict with China’s collective culture, until she remembers or learns, when in China, do as the Chinese do.  By the way, the grandmother lives in an older building. Many residential buildings in China’s cities are newer looking and more modern than what I saw in this film unless the story took place before the 21st century.

Too bad, so many Americans are not interested in learning about other cultures. “The Farewell” opened July 12, 2019, and its total domestic lifetime gross to date is about $12.8 million. More Americans should see films like this one instead of cartoons like “Monsters, Inc.” that grossed almost $600 million.

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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Rice and its History

August 28, 2019

When you think of rice, do you think of China? If not, you should. China is the world’s largest producer of rice with 208-million metric tons in 2017, and the crop makes up a little less than half of the country’s total grain output.

Ricepedia.org reports, “Based on archeological evidence, rice was believed to have first been domesticated in the region of the Yangtze River Valley in China.” Then “In the late 3rd millennium BC, there was a rapid expansion of rice cultivation into mainland Southeast Asia and westwards across India and Nepal.”

Fast forward ten-to-eleven thousand years from the domestication of rice in China to 2017, and Statista reported, that almost 496-million metric tons of husked rice were produced in the last harvest year worldwide, and China’s share was almost 42-percent of the global total.

When we compare rice to wheat production, “the global amount of wheat produced came to about 755-million metric tons in crop year 2016-2017.”

World Atlas.com says, China is (also) the largest producer of wheat in the world. “China produces more wheat than any other country, followed by India, Russia, and the United States.”

How difficult is it to grow rice? “All rice cultivation is highly labour intensive. Rice is generally grown as a wetland crop in fields flooded to supply water during the growing season. Transplanting seedlings requires many hours of labor, as does harvesting. Mechanization of rice cultivation is only minimally advanced. Rice cultivation also demands more of other inputs, such as fertilizer, than most other crops.”

When comparing the benefits of rice to wheat, “A study published … by a group of psychologists in the journal Science finds that China’s noodle-slurping northerners are more individualistic, show more ‘analytic thought’ and divorce more frequently. By contrast, the authors write, rice-eating southerners show more hallmarks traditionally associated with East Asian culture, including more ‘holistic thought’ and lower divorce rates. The reason? Cultivating rice, the authors say, is a lot harder.”

How important is rice when it comes to feeding the world? Thought Co.com tells us: “Today, rice feeds more than half the world’s population and accounts for 20-percent of the world’s total calorie intake.”

Next time you eat a bowl of rice, you might want to thank the Chinese for domesticating it for the world?

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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Still in Use Today

August 21, 2019

Several years ago, I had a debate on this Blog with an individual who claimed the Chinese could not be innovative because they did not live in a democracy. Eventually, as I tore his opinion to shreds, the debate turned mean and he started to attack me with insults and threats like internet trolls often do.

For anyone that thinks the Chinese cannot be innovative unless they live in a democracy like the United States with its current repressive, mean President Donald Trump, who is not innovative, I want you to know a few things about China.

First, most of the world knows about China’s Great Wall (first built during the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 476 BC) and portions of that Great Wall, rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD) is still around for tourists to visit today.

China’s Grand Canal is not as well-known as the Great Wall, but that canal (started building in 486 BC) is the longest one in the world and it is still in use today. To make it work, the Chinese invented the Pound Lock in the 10th century more than a thousand years ago. The Pound Lock is a Chinese innovation and without it, there would be no Suez and Panama canals. The first Pound Lock built in the West was in the Netherlands in 1373 AD.

Did someone in the Netherlands reinvent the Pound Lock or was that innovation stolen from China?

What most of the world doesn’t know is that seventeen ancient irrigation sites in China have been inscribed as world Heritage Irrigation Structures, reports China Central Television.

One of those seventeen irrigation sites was built 2,275 years ago, and it is still in operation. The Dujiangyan irrigation system is located in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province and was built for irrigation and flood control. Even massive earthquakes have not destroyed it. Japanese troops in World War II were ordered to destroy it, but they couldn’t find it.

UNESCO says, “The Dujiangyan irrigation system, located in the western portion of the Chengdu flatlands at the junction between the Sichuan basin and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, is an ecological engineering feat originally constructed around 256 BC. Modified and enlarged during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, it uses natural topographic and hydrological features to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation, draining sediment, flood control, and flow control without the use of dams.”

Is there another country in the world that can match what China built more than two thousand years ago that is still in use today?

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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According to the Ancient Chinese, I was born as a Rooster

August 14, 2019

I was born in 1945 on August 14. Each Chinese zodiac animal has personality traits assigned to it by the ancient Chinese. Chinese people believe these traits will be embodied in people, according to their zodiac sign.

The Chinese Zodiac says as a Rooster, I am observant, hardworking, and courageous.

China’s ancient calendar is based on a twelve-year lunar cycle. At one time, the Chinese calendar was confusing and complex. Buddhists have been given credit for simplifying it by replacing a complex system of numerical symbols with the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

There are several Chinese calendars, which are still in use today. Each has its own purpose. Farmers in rural China use one. There’s even a Chinese gender calendar to help conceive a boy or girl.

In addition to the lunar, numerical, astronomical, gender and agricultural calendars, each day also has a name from one of twenty-eight constellations, with a ruling spirit for the day.

In charting the sky, the Chinese divided the heavens into 28 constellations located along the Equator and the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere), each named after a star in the vicinity.

Explorable.com says (see previous link), “Unlike other cultures charting the stars at this period, astrologers were separate from astronomers and their job was to interpret occurrences and omens portended in the sky. As the astronomers began to chart regular events, such as lunar eclipses, these were removed from the realm of astrologers, who Emperors consulted before every major decision.

“As a result, the Chinese developed an extensive system of the zodiac designed to help guide the life of people on Earth. Their version of the zodiac was called the ‘yellow path’, a reference to the sun traveling along the ecliptic. As is the case with Western astrology, the Chinese had twelve houses along the yellow path, although the names they gave were different.”

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese years are counted in a repeating twelve-year sequence, each year symbolized by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

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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Army Day in China

August 7, 2019

China and the United States both honor their military. The United States does this on Veterans Day (Monday, November 11) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 25). China celebrates its annual Army Day on August 1st.

Veterans Day in the United States is a federal holiday to honor military veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces.

History.com says, “Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.”

In the United States, federal employees get the day off for Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

China celebrates Army Day August 1st, and according to China HIGHLIGHTS.com, the men and women that are active-duty troops have half a day off. Although Army Day in China is a holiday, it is a working holiday and not an official day off.

Army Techology.com says, China Military Online estimated in 2015, that 53,000 women (less than 5 percent of the total number of troops) also serve in China’s Army. In the United States, according to the Defense Department, women now make up 20 percent of the Air Force, 19 percent of the Navy, 15 percent of the Army and almost 9 percent of the Marine Corps.

The Basics explained by Chinese American Family.com: The People’s Liberation Army was founded on August 1, 1927, in Nanchang during a rebellion against nationalist Kuomintang forces. They were known simply as the Red Army during the Chinese Civil War (April 1927 – May 1, 1950). The People’s Liberation Army assumed its role as the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Today, the People’s Liberation Army counts more than two million troops.

I think it is important to note that China’s Civil War started days after the Shanghai massacre of April 12, 1927 when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had his troops slaughter thousands of Communist Party members and union workers without warning followed by a full-scale purge (executions without trials) of Communists in all areas under the KMT’s military control. Before April 12, 1927, the Communist Party was one of the political parties that made up the fledgling Republic of China started by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

“You’re unlikely to see any public celebration of Army Day outside of China, except for perhaps a joint ceremony with a host country at a foreign embassy. Otherwise, this is a domestic state occasion marked by speeches and military demonstrations.”

AnydayGuide reports, “The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China established Red Army Day in 1933.”

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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