Risking all for the myth of Gold Mountain

Poverty causes people to take risks in an effort to improve the quality of life, and China still has millions of poor people, but not by U.S. standards where many who live in poverty often drive cars and have TVs but still don’t have enough to buy food or pay rent.

However, contrary to a belief caused by malicious rumors in the West, the Communist Party is not responsible for causing poverty in China and has been working hard since the early 1980s to end it.

The Guardian.co.uk says, “The report, by authors from the China Institute for Reform and Development and other think tanks, describes the nation’s (China) progress over the past 30 years of reform as a miracle in the history of poverty reduction.”

It wasn’t always this way. For instance, in 1949, most of the Chinese still lived in an environment similar to Europe’s middle ages, and even today, to escape poverty, some Chinese will immigrate illegally to the US, and the reason so many do this is because there is a myth in China that America and/or Canada are “Gold Mountain”.

There is also a documentary called Golden Venture about the US immigration crises, but “The first major waves of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. after hearing of the “Golden Mountain” or “Gum Sana” during California’s Gold Rush in 1848.”

What these desperate Chinese didn’t know is that The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality in the United States reports: “The official poverty rate increased from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2012 (more than 47 million total), and the child poverty rate increased from 18 percent in 2007 to 21.8 percent in 2012 (more than 16 million).”

What does the United Nations say of China? “Both national and international indicators show that China has already achieved the goal of halving the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015 set by the UN as one of eight Millennium Development Goals.  Remaining poverty is however becoming increasingly difficult to address, as the rural poor are now concentrated in remote regions with difficult natural conditions.”

In addition, Global Issues says, “China also accounts for nearly all the world’s reduction in poverty. Excluding China, (global) poverty fell only by around 10%” while poverty increased in the United States.


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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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8 Responses to Risking all for the myth of Gold Mountain

  1. Russell says:

    It’s shocking what people will do to reach the United States. They must be really desperate.

  2. jamison says:

    The risks immigrants took coming to the United States. Conditions in the countries they came from must have been horrible.

    • You’re right. Conditions in the countries most immigrants come from were and are bad enough to cause people to risk their lives to go to the unknown bolstered by myths and rumors of opportunity and wealth. My wife is a perfect example. She left China a few years after Mao’s Cultural Revolution and death and struggled to make in in the United States. It wasn’t easy, but she succeeded, and today she is an international, award winning, bestselling novelist of eight books. Her last book was “The Cooked Seed” and it is a memoir that reveals her story as an immigrant in the United States.


  3. There was a board game in the 1970s called “Who can rule China?” The “board” was a canvas map of old China and everyone played a role, from peasants (rice or silk), to various officials, right up to the Emperor. Each role came with a complete book describing your personality, value system, responsibilities. The hardest role was Emperor. You had to raise enough taxes to do public works (build temples and palaces), cultivate land, drain swamps, etc. But if the taxes were too high, various players would revolt and depose you.

    We played it a few times. My first husband was born in Shanghai and had a lifelong interest in China. What the game basically taught was that you couldn’t do it all. Too many people, too many natural catastrophes, not enough good land to cultivate. I was always glad I wasn’t Emperor.

    Poverty in China is a very old song. Poverty has a pretty good foothold right here in these United States too. Maybe it’s time to stop pointing fingers and start looking in mirrors.

    • I suspect they keep all the mirrors covered in the White House and Congress—that is unless they spend hours in front of a mirror admiring themselves instead.

      I can hear them now: “What a handsome and powerful devil I am. Just look at me in that mirror.” Then Arne Duncan stands a little taller and struts out of his private government bathroom to conquer the world of public education and bring it low.

      When I was in high school, I belonged to a group that played strategy gamed published by a company called Avalon Hill. Some of them were very complicated.

  4. Al Hodges says:

    Poverty, that magical ticket to all sorts of benefits. What is poverty? Certainly not the dictionary version.

    In 2000, I moved from Florida to California after selling my home. According to the U.S. government, being unemployed, and only income from social security, I was living in poverty. My only assets were a condominium in San Diego with a beautiful view, a new Toyota Prius (that I am still driving 13 years later), my own airplane that I recently quit flying due to declining health after 59 years of flying, and a fair amount of money in the bank. But by U.S. statistical classification, I am living in poverty.

    Those DC desk bound “experts” never lived in the U.S. when the only food in the house “was a can of milk for a year old baby,” me in 1930.

    M. Hodges

    • You bring up an interesting point. Instead of basing poverty on measurable annual income through the IRS and/or Social Security—or the fact that a family was eligible for food stamps—poverty should be based on net/gross worth. When I was still teaching, I saw the parents of children, who were on free/reduced breakfast, towing a boat that I couldn’t afford with a truck I couldn’t afford full of ski equipment and off-road bikes that I also couldn’t afford. And the few times I visited the homes of children who supposedly lived in poverty, the TV was almost always much bigger than the one I could afford and they had the most expensive video game equipment too—something that I as a parent refused to buy because I felt it was more important for our child to work for an education and read books instead of playing games.

      But then, maybe that stuff was bought off the back of a truck for a five finger discount.

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