The Lovers Who Wanted to Save China’s Past

March 22, 2017

Smithsonian Magazine ran a piece on The Lovers of Shanxi. Lin Huiyn and Liang Sicheng are known today as the couple that wanted to save China’s ancient architectural treasures before they were lost forever. On the eve of World War II and Japan’s invasion of China, this married couple set out in the 1930s to search China and document the country’s architectural history.

Smithsonian said, “The couple would go on to make a string of extraordinary discoveries in the 1930s, documenting almost 2,000 exquisitely carved temples, pagodas and monasteries that were on the verge of being lost forever.”

Liang Sicheng is recognized as the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture”. Princeton University, awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1947, and wrote “a creative architect who has also been a teacher of architectural history, a pioneer in historical research and exploration in Chinese architecture and planning, and a leader in the restoration and preservation of the priceless monuments of his country.”

His wife was the first female architect in modern China. Her passion was the restoration of China’s cultural heritage sites.  She died in 1955 of tuberculosis, and soon after her death, her husband was denounced during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and Liang Sicheng died in 1972 before the Cultural Revolution ended. During the years after his first wife’s death, he witnessed the destruction of many of China’s architectural masterpieces.

But today, in China, this couple is remembered and honored for what they accomplished.

These two also visited one of the few surviving examples of ancient China’s architecture to see the massive four-mile-long wall built in 1370 AD that surrounds the city of Pingyao in Shanxi province. One reason this city’s ancient architecture survived the Mao era is because the city was too poor to tear everything down during the Cultural Revolution when Mao was attempting to erase history.

After Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping reversed Mao’s policies and opened China to the world, and over the years many of the damaged buildings were rebuilt.

I can only hope that something similar will happen in the United States once the malignant narcissist Donald Trump is gone.

Today the ancient city of Pengyao is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most buildings in the Old city are from the Ming and Qing dynasties. During the late Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the financial center of China.

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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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 5 of 5

March 18, 2017

Individuals in a collectivist culture tend to view themselves as members of groups (families, work units, tribes, nations), and usually considers the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of an individual.

Most Asian cultures, including China, tend to be collectivist.

Another example between individualism and collectivism is Piety (respect for elders). In the West, evidence suggests that the young are being spoiled to the point where many Western children are rude to elders expecting them to be invisible and silent, while in China that same behavior is often the reverse—at least it was before Western fast food and consumerism appeared in China.

In China, when there is a conflict of interest between individuals and the collective, individuals are expected to sacrifice their own benefits for the sake of the collective well-being.

On the other hand, an individualist culture is one in which people tend to view themselves as individuals and to emphasize the needs of the individual over the well being of the group. Source: Travel China Guide – a discussion about individualist and Collectivist Cultures

Are there exceptions?  Of course, but those exceptions seldom represent the average or the majority.

Return to Part 4 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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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 4 of 5

March 17, 2017

The Research Digest Blog asks, “Are children from collectivist cultures more likely to say it’s okay to lie for the group?”

The theory says that yes, they might say it’s okay to lie for your team than children from individualistic cultures, such as the US, which places more value on self-interest.

The surprising finding was that children from China actually found lying to protect one’s team less acceptable than children in the US did.

“This is not to suggest that Chinese children were acting in an individualistic manner,” the researchers said, “but rather that they were acting based on what they believed to be a more salient moral aspect of the situation.” Source: Research Digest Blog

Collective cooperation may explain why China has a long history of innovation.

After all, the Chinese invented the compass, paper, the printing press, gunpowder, the multistage rocket and much more.  Source: The Growing Gap Between the US and China

In addition, I read in the September/October 2012 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine that the Chinese are doing it again. for example: inventing a modular method to build energy-efficient skyscrapers —China plans to use this innovative method to built the world’s tallest building (220-stories) in ninety days compared to the current tallest building in Dubai that is 160 stories tall and took six years to build. Other innovations China is developing is the straddling bus in addition to safer, cleaner nuclear energy.

Continued on March 18 in Part 5 or go back to Part 3

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 aren’t we all the same? Part 3 of 5

March 16, 2017

When I wrote why China is studying Singapore, my goal was to show Westerners why China couldn’t model itself after an individualistic culture such as the United States, because copying the United States wouldn’t fit China’s culture.

Even Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – China’s Democratic Revolutionary, said any democracy in China would have to fit China’s culture saying, “An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom.”

Individualism promotes individual goals and encourages each person to express him or herself freely.  Each person is encouraged to be unique. Rules and laws attempt to ensure independence, choices, and freedom of speech. Relying or being dependent on others is often seen as shameful, and people are encouraged to do things on their own, to rely on themselves. Source: Psychology – Collectivist and Individualist Cultures

However, James Surowiecki says, “We once accused the Japanese of being copycats and now we turn on the Chinese. But the truth is that we have all become imitators. … In many situations, collective decisions are better than individual ones.” Source: Co-Society.com

Continued on March 17 in Part 4 or go back to Part 2

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 aren’t we all the same? Part 2 of 5

March 15, 2017

Even in individualist countries, we find collectivism at work. In business, the collective society is often seen in corporate structure.

New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki says, “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”

An example used by Surowiecki shows that “the TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 92 percent of the time, compared to ‘experts’ who guess only 65 percent correctly.” Source: Co-Society.com

What Surowiecki says explains why China’s top few-hundred officials use the “Red Machine”, an encrypted communication system, for making quick collective decisions.

In The Collective Will, I mentioned the author of a Wall Street Journal piece as an example of how most people in the West have trouble understanding what goes on in China.

Most Chinese understand their government’s  actions and decisions even if a Westerner from an individualist culture doesn’t.

Some Chinese may not like it. Others may not agree with it.

However, Westerners are not always happy with their governments. Just look at Donald Trump in the United States to understand what this means.

Continued on March 16 in Part 3 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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Why aren’t we all the same? Part 1 of 5

March 14, 2017

A few years ago, I debated another author on this site, and he rejected the scientific fact that there are different types of cultures on this planet. He said, ignoring all the studies on this topic, that there was no such thing as a collective or individualistic culture.

In this 5-part series, we will explore the differences between what it means to grow up in a collective versus an individualistic culture.


Sidney Rittenberg says China is a ‘we’ society while the West is a ‘me’ society.

China and America are not the same. China has a collective culture. The United States has an individualist culture.

I’ve discovered that some people from individualistic cultures don’t understand what a collective culture is, and some hate what they don’t understand. Even the Western media often shows its ignorance by how it reports events in China and by judging what happens in China as if it were an individualist culture.

It might surprise many in the West that China is not the only country with a collectivist culture.

Along with China, one list I saw had Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Scandinavia and Portugal on it.

For individualist cultures, there was Canada, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the United States.

In Chinese society, collectivism has a long tradition based on Confucianism, where being a community man or someone with a social personality is valued.

In a collective society such as China, each person is encouraged to conform to society, to do what is best for the group and to not openly express opinions or beliefs that go against it.

Group, family or rights for the common good are seen as more important than the rights of the individual. In a collective culture laws exist to promote stability, order, and obedience.

Working with others and cooperating is the norm.  Being uncooperative is often seen as shameful. For instance, Psychology Today reports how to sell online to individualist vs collectivist cultures.

Nathalie Nahai, writing for Psychology Today, says, “A very individualist country (such as the USA) will tend to form loose-knit social groups, and value autonomy, freedom and personal time. They tend to proactively seek out challenge, and are often motivated by extrinsic factors such as material success.

“In comparison, countries that score highly in collectivism (such as China) tend to develop large cohesive social networks, valuing loyalty, good physical conditions and intrinsic rewards as motivating factors.”

Psychologists have found that intrinsic rewards, an outcome that gives an individual personal satisfaction such as that derived from a job well done can be more powerful motivators than an external reward system such as an employee bonus program.

Continued on March 15 in Part 2

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 Unpredictable Killers Hiding Among Us

March 7, 2017

Nation Master ranks countries by the per capita murder rate. For every one million people, China had 10.1 murders in 2010 and was ranked #167 out of 193 countries. The United States was ranked #99 in 2010 with 40.01 murders per one-million population.

That tells us that we are about four times safer from being murdered in China than in the United States.  The #1 country for murders is Honduras where in 2011, more than 900 people were murdered for each one-million population.

Do you want to live in Honduras where the odds of being murdered are 90 times higher than China; 22 times higher than the U.S.?

How about the 98 countries with higher murder rates than the United States or the 166 countries ranked higher than China?

Let’s compare two news reports. One was in China and the other one took place in the U.S.  In both reports elementary school children were the targets.

From China, the BBC News reported, “A man with a knife has wounded 22 children – at least two of them seriously – and an adult at a primary school in central China. The attack happened at the gate of a school in Chenpeng village in Henan province. … Security at China’s schools has been increased in recent years following a spate of similar knife attacks in which nearly 20 children have been killed.”

So far, in China’s most recent grade school assault, no one has been reported with firearms, but in the United States, in a similar incident, the death toll was shocking.

Fox News reported, “At least 26 dead in shooting at Connecticut elementary school. … Authorities say at least 26 people, including 18 children, were killed Friday when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school.

“A law enforcement official said the shooter, who is dead, was from New Jersey and had ties to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Authorities recovered a Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, but it was unclear who killed the shooter, who wore black combat garb and a military vest.”

To understand why, I Googled “profile of mass murderers” and discovered that unlike serial killers mass murderers are hard to profile and are unpredictable.

Dr. Michael Stone told The Daily Beast, “Usually you’re dealing with an angry, dissatisfied person who has poor social skills or few friends, and then there is a trigger that sets them off.” … adding that 96.5 percent of mass murderers are male, and a majority aren’t clinically psychotic. Rather, they suffer from paranoia and often have acute behavioral or personality disorders.

When I checked the list of school massacres by rampage killers, 155 were listed as killed in the U.S. and 58 in China.

Infoplease.com lists the 100 worldwide mass and/or school shootings from 1996 to the present. There wasn’t one listed for China. If you click the link, you will discover that 79 of the 100 worldwide mass shootings took place in the United States.

If you are Donald Trump or a supporter of Donald Trump, before you blame immigrants for these shootings, click the Infoplease link in the previous paragraph first and discover who pulled the triggers. Always check the facts first before jumping to conclusions. If Donald Trump had done that when he publicly claimed that illegal immigrants were responsible for a terrorist attack in Sweden THAT NEVER HAPPENED, he wouldn’t have made a fool of himself again, and again, and again.

If the safety of your family and children was more important to you than Freedom of Speech and choice of religion, what country would you live in?

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times, because she was Chinese.

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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