A close look at Inner Mongolia through “Wolf Totem”

June 17, 2014

Another way to learn about China is through Chinese literature and film. Jiang Rong is the pen name for Lu Jiamin, a Chinese citizen and author. Set during the Cultural Revolution, Wolf Totem describes the education of an intellectual living with nomadic herders in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

The publisher of Wolf Totem says this novel is an epic Chinese tale and that’s true. Wolf Totem taught me a lot about this almost extinct culture. I learned about the fascinating connection between wolves and Mongols and why this connection may have been the reason why Genghis Khan was so successful in his conquests.

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to learn more about the life of the Mongols and another perspective of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

However, the theme that runs through the novel of maintaining a balance with nature is a bit overdone. I got the message the first time the characters talked about it but then the topic comes up repeatedly—a bit too much but an insignificant criticism of a book worth reading

I won’t give away the ending, but don’t expect it to be happy. Most Chinese novels don’t end with happy endings.

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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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


It takes Great Effort to save what remains of China’s Great Wall

July 22, 2020

The Great Wall of China was built slowly over 1,800 years by more than one dynasty. Kid’s Connect.com says, “The construction of The Great wall started in the Spring and Autumn Period (BC 770 – 476) and went on until the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD)… Its building involved some 20 states and dynasties.”

The reason the Great Wall was built in the first place was to protect Chinese civilization from the primitive northern nomadic tribes like the Mongolians, and Manchus. Other invaders were the Huns during the Qin (BC 221 – 206) and Han Dynasties (BC 206 – 220 AD), the Turks in the Sui Dynasty (581 – 618 AD), the Khitan in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD), and the Tatar, Oirat, and Jurchen during the Ming Dynasty.

“Unfortunately, most of the Great Wall sections built before the Ming Dynasty have almost disappeared,” China Highlights reports, and only a few sections of the Ming Dynasty wall are still in good condition. The following video shows how challenging and dangerous it is to save just one small section of what remains of The Great Wall.

“As the Great Wall was built on mountains or across deserts, it was quite hard for the Chinese people to protect every inch of it, especially those parts of the Great Wall that were built in rural areas.

“Also, the earlier Great Wall sections were made with earth, lime, and even branches, which didn’t make it solid enough to withstand the yearly rains, storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.”

The Guardian reported in 2004 that “Only one-third of China’s Great Wall still stands as tourists take their toll. Two-thirds of the Great Wall of China has been destroyed by sightseers, developers, and erosion, Beijing’s state-run media reported yesterday a warning that the world heritage site is crumbling out of existence.”

It wasn’t until 2006, that the CCP enacted regulations to protect what was left of the wall. The most popular rebuilt sections of the Great Wall are at Badaling (7.5 miles), Mutianyu (1.5 miles), and Juyongguan (located in a mountain pass) where tourists will find 1,700 steps to climb to reach the top of the mountain from the west wall.

UNESCO says, “In 220 B.C., under Qin Shi Huang (China’s first Emperor), sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a united defense system against invasions from the north. Construction continued up to the Ming dynasty when the Great Wall became the world’s largest military structure. Its historic and strategic importance is matched only by its architectural significance.”

If all of the sections of The Great Wall were rebuilt, they would run for more than 13,000 miles. – History Answers

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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When it comes to World Heritage Sites, China and Italy are tied for First Place

June 17, 2020

When it comes to World Heritage Sites, China is tied with Italy for first place. Each country has 55 World Heritage Sites.  China has 14 natural and 37 cultural sites vs Italy’s five natural and 50 cultural.

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area, selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, which is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged to be important for the collective and preservative interests of humanity.

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already-classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.

The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.

The reason Italy and China are tied for 1st place is because Italy was home to the Roman Empire (27 BC to 1453 AD) and China to the Han (206 BC – 280 AD), Tang (618 – 907 AD), and Qing (1368 – 1644 AD) Dynasties.

National Interest.org says, “Contrary to the common perception of China being historically isolated and weak, many Chinese dynasties were very powerful and have had a profound impact on global history. … The Han Dynasty ruled China for a solid four centuries, from 206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E. Although the preceding Qin Dynasty unified China, it was the Han Dynasty that kept it together and developed the institutions that characterized most of Chinese history since. …

“After the Han Dynasty collapsed due to civil war, China entered a period of disunity until being reunited by the Sui Dynasty, which was subsequently succeeded by the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China from 618-907 C.E. The Tang Dynasty was one of China’s most cosmopolitan and urbane dynasties, opening China up to a period of foreign influences. The Tang Dynasty was also likely China’s largest and most powerful dynasty in history and is considered the golden age of imperial China.”

The Qing Dynasty was China’s last and one of its greatest from 1644 to 1911. The National Interest explains why, “The Qing were the first Chinese state to effectively control regions like Tibet, Xinjiang, Manchuria, and Mongolia, peripheral regions that were inhabited by people that had always harassed China.”

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’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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Why is China automating jobs?

May 1, 2019

China seriously started to replace human workers with robots back in 2015.  The Japan Times helped explain why. “SHANGHAI – These are difficult days to be a factory owner in China. Workers are increasingly scarce, wages are rising, and strikes are breaking out with regularity. Factories in Southeast Asia are now beating China at its own game, attracting investors with the promise of even cheaper labor for low-value assembly work. What’s a factory owner to do?”

Yes, China is running out of enough human workers to continue producing the quantity of products the country has been exporting to the world, and with the rise of China’s American style middle class, many workers are demanding more pay and better jobs that fit their consumer lifestyles.

In 2018, the WITS reported, “China had a total export of 2,263,370,504.30 in thousands of US$ and total imports of 1,843,792,938.80 in thousands of US$ leading to a positive trade balance of 419,577,565.51 in thousands of US$.”

To keep up this favorable trade balance, China must remain competitive and to continue to improve the quality of life for its people, the country needs this positive cash flow.

How does a country continue to compete in a situation like this? Well, China does what the United States started doing back in the 1970s, you automate as many manufacturing jobs as possible. After all, unless you believe Donald Trump’s lie during the 2016 presidential debates that America “doesn’t make anything anymore”, the United States is the “2nd largest maker of things” in the world and according to the Global Manufacturing Scorecard turned out $1.867 trillion in goods in 2017.

Marketplace.org tells us, “What worries China’s manufacturers more than tariffs? Labor Shortages” … “According to Chinese government statistics, the country’s workforce peaked in 2011 at 941 million and has been on the decline since. The latest figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that the working population is 916 million [about 150 million work in China’s manufacturing sector].

“The working age population decreased by 25 million from 2012 to 2017. That is equivalent to the entire population of Australia disappearing from the workforce,” said Yao Meixiong, the deputy head of the Center for Population Census for neighboring Fujian Province.

After all, China does not trade only with the United States. It trades with the world, but China still has the lowest average robot density in Asia. For instance, in South Korea, in 2017 there were 710 robots for every 10,000 workers in manufacturing vs 97 per 10,000 in China while The Robot Report tells us that the United States ranks 7th in the world for robot density at 200 robots per 10,000 workers.

Just so you will know: USTR.gov reports, “U.S. goods and services trade with China totaled an estimated $710.4 billion in 2017. Exports were $187.5 billion; imports were $522.9 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $335.4 billion in 2017.”

Forgive me, but I have to ask this question: Are robots in China stealing jobs from robots in the United States, and will Trump’s fake propaganda machine known as Fox News use that as a headline one day?

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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