About iLook China

March 10, 2012 marked a milestone for iLookChina — we reached 1,500 posts and decided to slow down. We now post two or more days a week instead of daily. Regular weekly posts will appear on Tuesday and Wednesday (starting October 1, 2013).  Thank you!


There are many misconceptions about China, and the Western media often does not get it right at least in the way they interpret why something happens the way it does in China. Judging China from Western standards and beliefs is wrong. Since China is changing at a fast pace, judging today’s China based on its history before 1976 is also wrong.

My goal is to write a Blog where people outside China may discover China and understand it better.

If you run into an advertisement, I make no money from them.  Since I haven’t paid the annual fee to block ads from this Blog, WordPress places a few on this site and I have nothing to do with them.  Eventually, I’ll convince myself to pay the blocking fee to get rid of them.

I am seldom critical of China since many in the West are so good at that.

It seems that racists, China’s critics (Tibetans and members of Falun Gong and the biased supporters of both groups), Sinophobes (according to my research about 35 to 50% of Americans) and out-of-date ignorant people dominate the major Western media and the Blogosphere.

It does not help that each time there is an election in the so-called free and democratic USA that politicians crawl out of the termite infested woodwork and use China as a scapegoat to gain votes from the same people that are either China’s enemies or are ignorant of and fear/hate China.

In fact, the media has been a willing pawn of political parties since the presidential election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800.

In addition, George Washington wrote a letter to the American people as his farewell address. In that letter, he warned the nation about the dangers of political parties to the government and the country as a whole.

While Washington accepted the fact that it was natural for people to organize and operate within groups like political parties, he also argued that every government has recognized political parties as an enemy and has sought to repress them because of their tendency to seek more power than other groups and take revenge on political opponents.

Over the years, while still attending public schools, our daughter reported several times that her history teachers, when talking about China, were often wrong and their views were outdated.  When she raised her hand and told what she knew of today’s China, the teachers and the students would not accept what she had to say.

To those Americans that have never visited or studied China, our daughter was wrong.

In fact, our daughter did not learn of China by reading iLook China or from books.  Although she was born in Chicago, USA, she has been to China every year since her birth to visit her grandparents and has usually stayed all summer. Many times, she returned to China during the December winter break. She has also traveled extensively throughout China.

You see, family, to the Chinese is extremely important—more so than most non-Chinese Americans could imagine.

Living in China and speaking the language (without an accent) gave our daughter an education and a different perspective of China than the popular but often wrong view held by most Americans that have no knowledge of China but the standard gloomy stereotype of a despotic government ruling over an oppressed, depressed population, which is 99.9% wrong once you get to know the “real” China.

However, I have discovered a few media outlets that report unbiased news and information of China such as Al Jazeera English and Foreign Policy Magazine, and I sometimes rely on them for the posts I write. I also rely on first-hand experience of having visited China and traveled extensively there. It also helps to know a few expatriates that live in China, such as Tom Carter, the author of China: Portrait of a People—Tom and I met after we read each other’s books.

I do not claim to be an expert on China, but why should I let that stop me from sharing what I do know?

In this Blog, I will be writing posts about China’s history, art, music, operas, individuals, and current events with editorial comments sometimes included.

Many will focus on current events and China’s five thousand year history.

When I read someone else who is offering an unbalanced, one-sided criticism of China and I disagree, I will write posts that provide a different view to offer a balance.

I’m sure that this will encourage a few Americans to get angry with me, since I will achieve this balance with “ugly” examples from the U.S.  Since I launched iLook China, I have been called “stupid”,  “Pro China” and a “Panda Lover”.  Those are a few of the polite terms.

In fact, since I was born in the U.S., I will take advantage of my “First Amendment, freedom of expression” rights. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me or pointing out something that may be wrong as long as he or she knows what he or she is talking about and offers a well balanced argument and the response isn’t all emotion.

Some Americans, who only believe in his or her freedom of expression, may feel I’m a traitor.

However, how could I be a traitor since the US is not at war with China and China is America’s largest trading partner and has helped keep America economically viable by buying more than a trillion dollars in US debt to keep the US government floating.

Instead of being America’s enemy, China has been our friend even after having its hand of friendship bitten many times. Of course, China’s government must consider its national interest as the US does, and this may lead to decisions that Americans may not like.

Who is Lloyd Lofthouse? Well, he lives in the belly of a Chinese family, and he earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. Later, he earned an MFA in writing.

While working days as an English teacher (taught 5th grade to 12th from 1975 – 2005) at a high school (1989 – 2005) in California, he enjoyed a second job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub (1980-1982).

He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China.

Lloyd has traveled to China often since his first trip in 1999. He has also spent more than a decade researching China, and his first two novels are about China.

Lloyd’s first novel, My Splendid Concubine [now in its 3rd edition combining both the prequel and sequel in one book] earned honorable mentions in fiction from the 2008 London Book Festival, 2009 San Francisco Book Festival and the 2009 Hollywood Book Festival.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00035]

– book cover for 3rd edition –

His second novel, Our Hart, (the sequel) won honorable mentions in fiction at the 2009 Nashville Book Festival, the 2009 London Book Festival the 2009 DIY Book Festival, the 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival, and was a Finalist of the National Best Books 2010 Awards in Historical Fiction.

His short story, A Night at the Well of Purity, was named as a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

He also writes two other Blogs. Crazy Normal, the Classroom Expose is about teaching in America’s public schools, the US public education system, the politics of education in the US, and parenting, etc. The Soulful Veteran is a Blog about the Vietnam War, combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

74 Responses to About iLook China

  1. hocdyckdyck says:

    Your study and writing appears to have propulsion for China, perhaps partly or wholly due to your marriage I presume. It must be endlessly interesting as you said, marrying into a culture.

    I think about economics driving society everywhere and throughout history. But, I guess I’ve got a secret (silly) wish that somehow that would change.

    In business and with a deeper look into product/service consumption and value I see that at least we in the USA are short-term minded. So, value is not prime issue… only the appearance of value. So although shallow thinking, immediate price seems to dominate.

    So along comes China, the low price leaders. I know its simplifying but this is primarily due to dirt cheap labor. And what does it mean dirt cheap labor? Like most places in the world there is no shortage of business people to take advantage of ‘common’ people to the extent possible. That way someone gets rich and others may get raped, but all is fair in this game.

    My quandary is, must we suffer the tides of immorality or Social Irresponsibility through the cycles of developing countries to 2nd and 1st world countries, and then the distinctions get reset to start over again due to currency and other differences that cover disparity and immoral corporate and government pandering.

    I bring this us in relation to China because their products are not trustworthy or safe. And its more than a little scary because their products (and profits) are so prolific and intertwined in our economy.

    • It is true that products assembled or manufactured in China have a reputation to be untrustworthy. However, I suggest you read the “China Law Blog” to discover that the contract between American manufactures and Chinese factories are often the real culprit.


      Product safety and quality did not become an issue until the Industrial Revolution in England, then Europe and then the United States. Eventually in the 1960s, the US federal government started to enact laws that required products to meet certain levels of quality and durability. Prior to that, the age-old law of “Buyer Beware” held sway and the consumer bought proven products he or she could trust.

      China hasn’t gone through that product evolution yet and still operates the way most of the world operated prior to the 1960s and China isn’t alone. Most countries still live by the “Buyer Beware” creed.

      However, in America since the 1960s, we have become spoiled. Have you heard of Planned Obsolescence? GM is famous for this where they engineered parts to fail after a certain amount of use so the consumer has to replace them, which generates profits for GM and the dealers where the repairs are made. Most planned failures happen after warrantees end. Some experts have said this is one of the reasons GM went bankrupt and has been losing market share since the Japanese entered the global car market. Which car has the best reputation for quality? Honda

      After all, Apple computer is known for its reliability and product quality over Microsoft and its competitors yet almost all of Apple’s products are either manufactured or assembled in China. I read once, that more than 60% of the computers sold in America are manufactured/assembled in China and that means Sony, HP, etc.

      As for, “Your study and writing appears to have propulsion for China, perhaps partly or wholly due to your marriage I presume. It must be endlessly interesting as you said, marrying into a culture.”

      Prior to 1999, I knew about as much as the majority of Americans do about China, which is next to nothing. Then my wife mentioned Robert Hart, which started me on the journey that discovered the real China. My wife has had little to do with that discovery since then. True, we have traveled to China many times but most of what I know is because of the research I did while writing “The Concubine Saga” and the curiosity that created to learn more. It didn’t take long to discover that much of what I had believed of China was wrong.

      My political and media generated image of China prior to 1999 was wrong and it didn’t take long to see that after arriving in China the first time. What I expected, was not what I discovered.

      In fact, when a product made in China is found to be flawed in some way, the US media focuses on those few products the same they do when a passenger aircraft crashes and flying is one of the safest ways to go. How many people die each year from aircraft crashes compared to cars yet many people have no qualms to leap in a car and drive somewhere but many worry when they fly?

  2. I just found your blog. An amazing amount of information, and it’s great to see an intelligent voice writing about America’s relationship with China.

    I don’t know if you are interested, but the San Francisco Guzheng Music Society is hosting a concert on May 1, and they’ll be bringing in from Shanghai a young virtuoso named Liu Le. If you’re interested in interviewing Liu Le or attending the event, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the Society’s music director, Weishan Liu.

    More information.

    • John,

      Thank you. I would be interested if I could film a portion of the event and post it on YouTube and my Blog along with a few single photos.

      Lloyd Lofthouse

      • Do you speak Mandarin, by any chance?

      • No. My wife, who is Chinese does, but she will be out of state on business May 1.

      • Well, if you’re interested in an interview with one or two of the artists before the event, they can get a translator. Obviously, their interest is in having people write about the event before it takes place. If that’s something you have the time and interest to do, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with them directly. They would be happy to comp you a ticket to the event and let you videotape several of the pieces — with copyright acknowledgement, of course.

        Anyway, let me know if you’re interested. If not, no problem.



      • John,

        Thank you for the offer. On closer examination, I discovered that I do not have the time to become a field reporter.

        However, this Blog does accept well-written “Guest Posts” with videos (I’ve used YouTube primarily to find videos appropriate to a post) that I may embed with the post. The best word count would be between 200 and 500 words. If a video is not available, I will use still-shots (photos)

        In this case, I feel a “feature” piece that focuses on the history of the artist and the reason he or she is coming to the states to perform would work best. Of course, I reserve the right to edit and or reject a submission if I feel it is not approriate to the mission statement described on the About page of this Blog.

        If you read any of the guest posts that I have provided links to, you will see that the author gets credit for the work and links are provided to the Author’s Website and/or Blog or link of choice such as another media piece on the subject or an Amazon.com page.

        Here are links to a few of the guest posts I have published.






  3. Trying to decide if I should let my 17 year old take a guided tour to China and stumbled across your blog. Would love your thoughts…


    • A guided tour would be a good idea for a first and even a second trip to China. Often the price is better than traveling alone as we have discovered.

      Our daughter toured Europe three times and has been to China sometimes twice a year since she was a few years old.

      A neighbor’s son earned his PhD in the science of alternative energy and spent several months in China working with Chinese scientists. And our daughter’s boyfriend is about to graduate from Stanford and he majored in the same field and visited China on an internship. He said China is far ahead of the US in developing alternative energy sources.

      We also know a few American expatriots that have lived and worked in China for years. One teaches English. There are many jobs available in China for certified English teachers since learning English is mandatory in China’s public schools.

      Disney has been successful at opening private schools in China that teach English and has a waiting list for families that want their children to attend.

      Exposure to other cultures is always a good idea. I imagine the tour would be 7 to 14 days and visit the popular tourist attractions, which is also an introduction to China’s ancient civilization such as the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Forbidden City. If you have never been to China before, your seventeen year old will discover that China does not match the average foreign opinion of China or what the Western media often writes of it.

      Although there is never a guarantee of total safety while visiting foreign countries, the US has a higher violent crime rate than China. One thing to say for an authoritarian government such as China’s Party is that, for the most part, China is safe compared too many countries. However, one should practice common sense and lean toward safe decisions when deciding to go off on his or her own if the tour allows time to explore as individuals.

      I’ve been to China nine or ten times ( losing track) and have felt safer in China than the country of my birth–the US. I’ve never been on a guided tour but we are thinking about it now.

  4. Just subscribing to your blog, Lloyd.

  5. wai guo ren says:

    “When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.”

    Is that ever true! I am married (11+ years) to a Chinese woman from mainland China. We live in the Bay Area, and we go visit her family every year. (I went once on my own prior to meeting her.)

    I have now been to China twelve times. First time in 1990, so lots of changes since then.

    I enjoy your Blog. History plus current affairs, very interesting and worth reading. Keep up the good work.

  6. Thank you so much for differentiating the three Journey to the West books! I’ve tried three times to find a translation of the monk’s travels and all I ever find are Monkey King tales. I’d begun to think that perhaps the Monkey King tales were some sort of fictionalized account of the monk’s journal. LOL This helps!

  7. […] About iLook China   […]

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