Cyber Warfare is Evolving and China is taking the Soft approach while Russia follows the Hard path

September 18, 2018

The Washington Post reported, “Our research shows that nations such as the United States and Israel prefer to infiltrate enemy networks and precisely target and attack key military and government systems.” …

“China also primarily hacks other nations’ systems for military and industrial espionage purposes.”

Former President Obama said, “Every country in the world, large and small, engages in intelligence gathering.”

Russia, however, “stands out from other nations in uniquely using cyber methods to distort, gaslight and alter the views of the target population. Other authoritarian states use cyber methods to rig their own elections. But Russia remains rare among great powers in its targets and methods.” …

“U.S. intelligence services have concluded that Russia is conducting political warfare to alter the hearts and minds in its rival power’s population. That’s a far cry from what any other nations are attempting.”

Even China isn’t doing what Russia is doing to manipulate democratic elections and brainwash a rival country’s people unless we count “Crazy Rich Asians” a film financed by a US-based Asian film investment group Ivanhoe Pictures that partnered with Nina Jacobson to product the film that became #1 at the U.S. box office in August, 2018.

However there is a vast difference between Russia deliberately invading a democracy’s election system and programing voters to not vote and/or vote and elect liars, frauds and criminals like Donald Trump and what the Chinese are doing through major films to change the perception of China and its people from a negative bias to a positive one.

The Economist reports, “China is spending billions to make the world love it.”

“The (Chinese Communist) party borrowed the idea of soft power from an American academic, Joseph Nye, who coined the term in 1990. Mr. Nye argued that hard power alone was not enough to wield influence in the world. It had to come from ‘the soft power of attraction’, too. China was acutely conscious that it lacked it.”

Meanwhile, Russia under Putin continues to use a virtual sledge hammer in an attempt to end democratic freedoms.

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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The Ming Dynasty’s Star-Crossed Lovers

June 5, 2018

China’s Romeo and Juliet, “The Peony Pavilion”, was a play written by Tang Xianzu and was first performed in 1598, forty-six years before the end of the Ming Dynasty.

Someone might assume that Xianzu borrowed from Shakespeare’s play, but that would be a wrong assumption because in the 16th century there was no internet, no television, no radio, no telephones, no TV, and it took months to sail from England to China. Communication and the sharing of ideas happened at a snail’s pace.

It was clearly a coincidence that Tang Xianzu came up with the idea of China’s Romeo and Juliet a few months after Shakespeare wrote his first version.

In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica reports that “Romeo and Juliet” had a bumpy start.  “Romeo and Juliet, the play by William Shakespeare, was written about 1594–96 and first published in an unauthorized quarto in 1597. An authorized quarto appeared in 1599.” Two years after “The Peony Pavilion” (first) appeared on stage in China.

In addition, the star-crossed lovers that appear in the “The Peony Pavilion” also tragically die for love, but their plight is described in a much more mournful tone than Shakespeare’s version.

You might also be surprised to learn that Shakespeare is popular in China since his work is taught in most Chinese universities both in English and in Chinese.

Enid Tsui writes, “It’s had its ups and downs but, 400 years after William Shakespeare’s death, China’s affinity with The Bard is as strong as ever.”

However, The People’s Republic of Shakespeare, Adventures in Chinese Research says that many of the Romeo and Juliets performed in China are either parodies or rewrites where one of the lovers survives in the end because too many Chinese have experienced too much sadness in their lives thanks to Japan’s brutal invasion of China during World War II and China’s long bloody Civil War followed by the suffering caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

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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The Art and Poetry of the Tang Dynasty

March 28, 2018

Stone Telling.com tells us, “Of the approximately 2,200 Tang poets, many were women, including China’s only female emperor, Empress Wu Zetian, but the works of female poets overall were not popular until the mid-to-late Tang Period (mid-700s A.D. to 907 A.D.), several generations after Empress Wu’s reign. At this time, women enjoyed more freedom than women of the following dynasties, especially those who were educated and of the upper class.”

One of Wu Zetian’s poems was about an imperial visit to a park.

Tomorrow morning I will make an outing to Shanglin Park,
With urgent haste I inform the spring:
Flowers must open their petals overnight,
Don’t wait for the morning wind to blow!

Song Zhi-wen, another Tang Dynasty poet, was found guilty of accepting bribes. In one of his poems he revealed that he had good reason to fear returning home from exile because when he did, he was executed.

Crossing the Han River
Song Zhi-wen (656 – 712 A.D.)

No news, no letters – all winter, all spring —
Beyond the mountains.
With every homeward step more timid still
I dare not even inquire of passerby.

Another example of Tang Dynasty poetry is The View in Spring by Du Fu (712 – 770 A.D.).

A kingdom smashed, its hills and rivers still here,
Spring in the city, plants and trees grow deep.
Moved by the moment, flowers splash with tears,
Alarmed at parting, birds startle the heart.
War’s beacon fires have gone on three months,
Letters from home are worth thousands in gold.
Fingers run through white hair until it thins,
Cap-pins will almost no longer hold.

(Owen, Stephen, trans. An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996, p. 420. )

The next poem is one of many that Yuan Zhen (779 – 831 A.D.) wrote for his dead wife, who he married when he was poor. She did not live long enough to share his fame and fortune.

In former years, we chatted carelessly of death and what it means
to die.
Since then, it’s passed before my very eyes.
I’ve given almost all your clothes away
But cannot bear to move your sewing things.
Remembering your past attachments, I’ve been kind to maids you
loved.
I’ve met your soul in dreams and ordered sutras sung.
Certainly, I know this sorrow comes to all
But to poor and lowly couples, everything life brings is sad.

The art of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) explored new possibilities in materials and styles. For instance, Tang Tri-colored Pottery thrived in the Tang Dynasty over 1300 years ago. Its glaze mainly features the three colors of yellow, green and white, but “tri-color” does not only refer to these three colors but many others.

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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Dunhuang’s Silk Road Oasis

March 14, 2018

The June 2010 issue of National Geographic had a piece about the history of the Mogao caves near Dunhuang, a Silk Road oasis in northwestern China.

The Buddhist art found in almost 800 hand carved caves are considered among the world’s finest. There is nearly a half-million square feet of wall space decorated with these murals and more than 2,000 sculptures.

Between the fourth and 14th centuries AD over a thousand years of history was documented on scrolls, sculptures, and wall paintings revealing a multicultural world more vibrant than anyone imagined.

And contrary to popular belief and the Dalai Lama’s soft-spoken words of peace, Buddhism, like all large religious movements, has had a bloody and violent history. Some of the cave art at Dunhuang depicts the dark side of Buddhism.

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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The Ancient Bells of Marquis Yi

February 7, 2018

In 1977, a discovery was made in China—a complete set of chime bells were unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi, who lived during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC). These chimes were older than the Qin Dynasty’s famous Terra Cotta warriors (221 to 206 B.C.).

When the chimes were discovered in Hubei Province, a plot of land was being leveled to build a factory. The Red Army officer in charge of the work had an interest in archeology.

The officer discovered that the workers were selling the ancient bronze and iron artifacts they were digging up. He convinced local authorities there might be an ancient tomb buried below the site.

When the tomb was unearthed, a set of chime bells was discovered.  These musical instruments were an important part of ritual and court music in ancient times. An American professor in New York City even called these chimes the eighth wonder of the ancient world.

The sixty-five chime bells weighed about 5 tons.

No other set of chimes like this had been discovered in China before and this set was in excellent condition.

A project was launched in 1979 to duplicate four sets of these chimes. More than a 100 scientists and technicians were recruited.  In 1998, twenty years after the discovery, the project was completed. One of the sets was sent to Taiwan as a gift.

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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Several thousand years ago in China there was Music

January 2, 2018

The first few weeks of 2018 will focus on China’s long history starting with the earliest known musical instrument found in China.

Music in China is traditionally associated with ritual observances and government affairs.

In 1999, Chinese archeologists unearthed what is believed to be the oldest known playable instrument, a seven-holed flute fashioned about 9,000 years ago from the hollow wing bone of a large bird.

To establish the age of the flute, a U.S. chemist at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory analyzed data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site. “The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments.”

The 9,000-year-old flutes were “exquisitely-crafted” from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane.

In The Book of Songs, an ancient collection of Chinese poetry from the 11th to the 7th century BC, the three-hole Yue is the most frequently mentioned wind instrument, but by the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD), the Yue had all but vanished.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi,
the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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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