Did a silkworm fall into a cup of tea more than 7,400 years ago: Part 2 of 2

January 4, 2018

Chinese trade with the Roman Empire started in the 1st century BC. Ships from the Roman Empire first sailed to India and bought silk, which became very popular in Rome. In fact, purple silk was worth its weight in gold.

JSTOR tells us in an article titled Greece & Rome that the Silk Trade between China and the Roman Empire took place between A. D. 90 – 130. The silk trade started earlier than that but, “Precisely how long ago the Chinese began to export their silk westward along the trade routes of Cantal Asia we do not know.”

Eventually the Roman merchants set up trading posts all the way to China and reached Canton; then traded in Chang-Cheou near today’s Shanghai.

Until 73 AD, the sea route was the only one open since the caravan routes along the Silk Road were closed at the time.

Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar (31 BC to 14 AD) earned credit for establishing trade between Rome and China.

In 166 AD, Roman travelers arrived at the Court of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 219 AD). These Romans met powerful representative of the Han Dynasty.

About the same time, Buddhist missionaries arrived in China by ship from India and introduced Buddhism to China.

Romans spent recklessly [does this sound familiar?]. Gold left Rome and flowed to the East at such a rate that the government had to restrict imports. After a long period of prosperity in Rome, the empire entered a serious economic crisis.

This overspending ended up bankrupting the Roman Empire and the Romans couldn’t maintain the hundreds of thousands of troops needed to protect their empire contributing to the collapse of the empire and ushering in the dark ages.


From the history of silk, we learn how much wealth [today’s billionaires] shapes governance.

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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Did a silk worm fall into a cup of tea more than 7,400 years ago: Part 1 of 2

January 3, 2018

I’ve often read about the Silk Road, but I was curious and wanted to know more about the history of silk.


Inside a Chinese silk factory

Silk has a long history in China. In 1984, silk fabric dating back more than five-thousand years was found in Henan Province.


Making cloth from a silkworm

According to legend, Lei Zu, the queen of China’s legendary Yellow Emperor, was drinking a cup of tea beneath a mulberry tree one day when a silkworm cocoon fell into her cup. Further investigation revealed that the unraveling fibers were light and tough, ripe for spinning.

And that is allegedly how China’s silk industry was born.


How silk is made

Then I learned that merchants from the Roman Empire sent ships by sea to China and traded directly with the Han Dynasty for silk. We’ll discover more about this in Part 2.

Continued in Part 2 on January 4, 2018

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Invasion of the Robots

December 13, 2017

Recode.net reported in May 2017, why manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S. – even as companies buy more robots. “In April, 12.4 million Americans worked in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up by about 25,000 jobs from a year prior, and almost a million from early 2010. But it’s still down by about one third, or more than six million jobs, from 1980. …

“Last year, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs came back to the United States than left, according to data compiled by the Reshoring Initiative, a firm that works to bring jobs back to the U.S. …

“Even though now both human jobs and robotic manufacturing are on the rise, in the end machines do take away jobs from humans. For every robot brought into the U.S. workforce between 1990 and 2007, six human jobs were lost,”

However, jobs coming back will not stop the popular political pass time in the United States to bash China for stealing jobs from US workers.

In addition, Smirking Chimp.com says, “The perception among some Americans is that immigrant labor and off shoring of jobs are the major causes of unemployment. Indeed, American corporations choose to utilize migrant labor and off shoring to India and China in order to pay out lower wages. Yet, studies have estimated that off shoring accounts for 10 percent of unemployment and would only affect two percent of employed Americans.”

Does that mean that 90% of jobs lost in America were to robots and computers and not to China or other countries with cheap labor?

No matter the facts reveal, it is a safe bet that if someone is out of work, it is easier to blame it on China or Japan or India or South Korea, or Bangladesh, for example, than on some machine probably made in America by another machine that caused the  lost job.

The New York Times even published this in December 2016: “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation.”

And it isn’t just the United States that firing humans and replacing them with robots. China is also doing it. Quartz Media reports, “It’s not just the US: Chinese factories are turning to automation as wages rise. … In 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics, factories in China bought 68,000 industrial robots, 20% more than the year before, and more than all European countries combined.”

Next time you hear someone curse China for stealing jobs from the United States, see if you can shut them up long enough to tell them what’s really happening. “It isn’t other countries that are stealing our jobs, Stupid, its robots.”

What will happen when there are no jobs left for humans because robots took them all?  Will the robots become the consumers of the products they produce?

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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How are women doing in China compared to the United States?

October 10, 2017

In 1949, Mao announced that women hold up half the sky. In one day they went from being the property of men to being equal. Sixty-eight years later, how are women doing in China?

China’s women make up 48.1 percent of the population, but Catalyst.org reports, “In 2016, only 17.5 percent of firms in China have women as top managers. … Less than one-quarter (24.2%) of all positions in China’s single-house parliament are held by women.”

When we isolate China and report these facts, China looks bad, doesn’t it?

But how does China compare to the United States when it comes to women reaching the top?

In the United Staets women make up 50.8 of the population.  American Progress.org says, “They are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” In addition, Rutgers.edu reports, “21 women (21%) serve in the United States Senate, and 84 women (19.3%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.”

Quartz.com tells us “No country comes even close to China in self-made female billionaires.” China has 56 self-made female billionaires; The United States only has 15. China has almost four times as many self-make female billionaires.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Growth of Fuel-Cell Power in China

September 6, 2017

China had developed the world’s first hydrogen-powered tram. IflScience says, “China is investing a substantial amount into green energy and was even a world leader in renewable energy production back in 2013. They generate more wind power than any other country in the world and their contributions accounted for almost 30% of all global investment in clean energy. Now, continuing with their push for clean energy developments, China has just announced the production of the world’s first hydrogen-powered tram.”

In 2001, we saw the beginning of the evolution of hydrogen fuel use in China when the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) announced it intends to make China globally competitive in the field of hydrogen technology.

Then in 2006, People.com reported, China opened its first hydrogen fueling station, which was operated in a joint venture with British Petroleum (BP). The Chinese partner, SinoHytec, is an enterprise linked to Tsinghua University—which is considered the MIT of China.

In addition, in 2006, three Daimler-Chrysler made fuel cell buses went into trial operation in Beijing and five vehicles made by Tsinghua University were tested.

In 2010, a fleet of more than 50 hydrogen fuel cell shuttle vehicles transported athletes and government officials at the Asian Games and Asian Para Games in Guangzhou City, China.

According to a report from Pike Research, more than 5,200 hydrogen-fueling stations will be operational worldwide by 2020, up from just 200 in 2010, and estimates the market for fuel-cell technology in the Asia-Pacific region will reach $6.7 billion in 2017. Japan, South Korea and China are quickly becoming leaders in the fuel cell industry through their investments in and adoption of the technology.

FuelCellCars.com reported Dec. 2016, “This plan will require China to build 300 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025 and 1,000 by 2030. In China, sales of so-called new energy vehicles—which includes hybrids, battery-electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles—are subsidized with attractive consumer incentives, as well as perks such as free parking and lower license fees.”

When China’s government decides to move, it moves fast, which is witnessed by China leading the world in solar and wind generated energy manufacturing. China also has about half the world’s hydroelectric power plants and is building safer Thorium and uranium pebble-bed reactors besides replacing old-coal burning power plants with new, modern facilities that reduce carbon emissions dramatically. I wrote about this in Doing Mankind a Favor.

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Worried about a Civil War and Thinking about Moving to another Country

August 16, 2017

The Nation asks Are We on the Verge of Another Civil War? David Armitage says, “The linguistic temperature of contemporary politics (in the United States) has risen so high that civil war outside the bounds of politics is increasingly conceivable—and that is quite concerning.”

Well, if you live in the United States and you’re worried about the end of Social Security, losing medical care, and that there might be a bloody civil war in the near future thanks to #FakePresident Donald Trump and his Republican Party supporters, all hope is not lost.

If the thought of a civil war in the United States worries you, find out if there is a job opportunity in China, and here’s why: the China Law Blog reported that Chinese workers have more job protection, if not higher pay, than most workers, in the United States.

The reason for that situation in China is the transition from state controlled to private owned businesses since 1978, when China implemented its open-door policy.   The Conversation.com reports, “The fact is, massive privatisation has been ongoing in China since the 1980s, involving millions of business enterprises. Currently around 70% of Chinese industrial output is now produced by non-state controlled business firms, and over 80% of the industrial workforce in China is now employed in the private sector.”

And before complaining about the low wages in China consider the cost of living there, because the cost of just about everything is higher in the United States. To discover the difference, click NUMBEO to compare the cost of living between China and the United States. For instance, consumer prices including rent in the United States are more than 82-percent higher than in China. And the pay can’t be that bad considering the explosive growth of China’s emerging middle class that helped General Motors (according to CNN Money) sell 10-million cars in one year for the first time in its century-plus history.”

The China Law Blog reports, “China’s employment law system is quite different from the U.S. The main difference is that the U.S. is an employment at will system, which means you can terminate employees at any time for pretty much any reason (and it’s getting worse). China’s system is the opposite. The Chinese system is a contract employment system. … An employee can only be terminated for cause and cause must be clearly proved. … This whole situation makes the employment relationship and the employment documents much more adversarial than is customary in the U.S.”

Of course, finding a job in China and moving there from the United States might not be as easy as it sounds.

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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To Get Around, take the Bullet Trains and Use the Subways in China

July 26, 2017

Believe me when I suggest avoiding driving or taking a taxi in Beijing unless it is midnight and the city is sort-of sleeping. Beijing is one of the worst cities in the world to drive in. This is probably true for most of China’s crowded cities.

To give you an idea of what I mean by crowded, New York City has a population of about 8.5 million and is ranked #1 in the United States with Los Angeles #2 with less than 4 million people. There are 160 cities in China with a population of over 1 million vs only 10 in the United States.

Here are China’s top five cities ranked by population.

Shanghai – 22 million

Beijing – 10 million

Guangzhou – 11 million

Tianjin – 11 million

Shenzhen – 10 million

I have been to Shanghai and Beijing several times between 1999 – 2008, and have been stuck in Beijing traffic breathing toxic fumes and watching the taxi’s meter adding numbers to the cost of the trip when we could have walked faster for free.

The other choice is Beijing’s subway system built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (and it’s still expanding), which I prefer using. It’s fast and efficient, but wear a money belt because it can become sardine-can crowded creating a perfect environment for pickpockets. I didn’t even wear my backpack on my back. I put it on my chest where I could keep an eye on it. To be fair, Smarter Travel.com warns us of the dangers of pickpockets in New York City. The same advice will help in any major city you visit.


This video was filmed in 2013 when only one subway line was open. Today, Xian has three subway lines with sixty-six stations and an average of 1.5 million people riding the subway daily. Last time I was in Xian in 2008, the subway system was still under construction.

Then there is China’s high-speed rail. It didn’t exist in 2008, and I haven’t been back to China since. Why fly when you can see China from a bullet train moving at 120 – 160 mph (or faster). The Economist reports, “Less than a decade ago China had yet to connect any of its cities by bullet train. Today, it has 20,000km (12,500 miles) of high-speed rail lines, more than the rest of the world combined. It is planning to lay another 15,000km by 2025.”


“China’s high speed trains make travelling the country easy and quick but there are certain things you should know that’ll make using the high speed trains in China a painless process!” – Learn how to ride high-speed rail in China from The Adventurer

Then Manufacturing.net asks, “Why is There No High-Speed Rail Network in America?”

Here is the simple answer. Since World War II, the U.S. has spent about $33-Trillion on its military budgets and fighting endless wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan causing millions to be killed and/or maimed. Without those wars, there would probably be no ISIS. Then there is the fact that since President Reagan in the 1980s, the focus in the United States has been on cutting taxes mostly for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. That has led to about $20 trillion in debt for the federal government. During this time, the U.S. has not kept its infrastructure up-to-date – improvements that would have provided millions of new jobs and benefited the American people.

If the United States had avoided starting so many wars and had a military budget equal to China (ranked #2 in the world), it would have saved about $32-Trillion since World War II. There would be no national debt and the U.S. might even have its own bullet trains speeding from coast to coast.

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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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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