Still in Use Today

August 21, 2019

Several years ago, I had a debate on this Blog with an individual who claimed the Chinese could not be innovative because they did not live in a democracy. Eventually, as I tore his opinion to shreds, the debate turned mean and he started to attack me with insults and threats like internet trolls often do.

For anyone that thinks the Chinese cannot be innovative unless they live in a democracy like the United States with its current repressive, mean President Donald Trump, who is not innovative, I want you to know a few things about China.

First, most of the world knows about China’s Great Wall (first built during the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 476 BC) and portions of that Great Wall, rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD) is still around for tourists to visit today.

China’s Grand Canal is not as well-known as the Great Wall, but that canal (started building in 486 BC) is the longest one in the world and it is still in use today. To make it work, the Chinese invented the Pound Lock in the 10th century more than a thousand years ago. The Pound Lock is a Chinese innovation and without it, there would be no Suez and Panama canals. The first Pound Lock built in the West was in the Netherlands in 1373 AD.

Did someone in the Netherlands reinvent the Pound Lock or was that innovation stolen from China?

What most of the world doesn’t know is that seventeen ancient irrigation sites in China have been inscribed as world Heritage Irrigation Structures, reports China Central Television.

One of those seventeen irrigation sites was built 2,275 years ago, and it is still in operation. The Dujiangyan irrigation system is located in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province and was built for irrigation and flood control. Even massive earthquakes have not destroyed it. Japanese troops in World War II were ordered to destroy it, but they couldn’t find it.

UNESCO says, “The Dujiangyan irrigation system, located in the western portion of the Chengdu flatlands at the junction between the Sichuan basin and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, is an ecological engineering feat originally constructed around 256 BC. Modified and enlarged during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, it uses natural topographic and hydrological features to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation, draining sediment, flood control, and flow control without the use of dams.”

Is there another country in the world that can match what China built more than two thousand years ago that is still in use today?

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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According to the Ancient Chinese, I was born as a Rooster

August 14, 2019

I was born in 1945 on August 14. Each Chinese zodiac animal has personality traits assigned to it by the ancient Chinese. Chinese people believe these traits will be embodied in people, according to their zodiac sign.

The Chinese Zodiac says as a Rooster, I am observant, hardworking, and courageous.

China’s ancient calendar is based on a twelve-year lunar cycle. At one time, the Chinese calendar was confusing and complex. Buddhists have been given credit for simplifying it by replacing a complex system of numerical symbols with the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

There are several Chinese calendars, which are still in use today. Each has its own purpose. Farmers in rural China use one. There’s even a Chinese gender calendar to help conceive a boy or girl.

In addition to the lunar, numerical, astronomical, gender and agricultural calendars, each day also has a name from one of twenty-eight constellations, with a ruling spirit for the day.

In charting the sky, the Chinese divided the heavens into 28 constellations located along the Equator and the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere), each named after a star in the vicinity.

Explorable.com says (see previous link), “Unlike other cultures charting the stars at this period, astrologers were separate from astronomers and their job was to interpret occurrences and omens portended in the sky. As the astronomers began to chart regular events, such as lunar eclipses, these were removed from the realm of astrologers, who Emperors consulted before every major decision.

“As a result, the Chinese developed an extensive system of the zodiac designed to help guide the life of people on Earth. Their version of the zodiac was called the ‘yellow path’, a reference to the sun traveling along the ecliptic. As is the case with Western astrology, the Chinese had twelve houses along the yellow path, although the names they gave were different.”

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese years are counted in a repeating twelve-year sequence, each year symbolized by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

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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Army Day in China

August 7, 2019

China and the United States both honor their military. The United States does this on Veterans Day (Monday, November 11) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 25). China celebrates its annual Army Day on August 1st.

Veterans Day in the United States is a federal holiday to honor military veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces.

History.com says, “Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.”

In the United States, federal employees get the day off for Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

China celebrates Army Day August 1st, and according to China HIGHLIGHTS.com, the men and women that are active-duty troops have half a day off. Although Army Day in China is a holiday, it is a working holiday and not an official day off.

Army Techology.com says, China Military Online estimated in 2015, that 53,000 women (less than 5 percent of the total number of troops) also serve in China’s Army. In the United States, according to the Defense Department, women now make up 20 percent of the Air Force, 19 percent of the Navy, 15 percent of the Army and almost 9 percent of the Marine Corps.

The Basics explained by Chinese American Family.com: The People’s Liberation Army was founded on August 1, 1927, in Nanchang during a rebellion against nationalist Kuomintang forces. They were known simply as the Red Army during the Chinese Civil War (April 1927 – May 1, 1950). The People’s Liberation Army assumed its role as the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Today, the People’s Liberation Army counts more than two million troops.

I think it is important to note that China’s Civil War started days after the Shanghai massacre of April 12, 1927 when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had his troops slaughter thousands of Communist Party members and union workers without warning followed by a full-scale purge (executions without trials) of Communists in all areas under the KMT’s military control. Before April 12, 1927, the Communist Party was one of the political parties that made up the fledgling Republic of China started by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

“You’re unlikely to see any public celebration of Army Day outside of China, except for perhaps a joint ceremony with a host country at a foreign embassy. Otherwise, this is a domestic state occasion marked by speeches and military demonstrations.”

AnydayGuide reports, “The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China established Red Army Day in 1933.”

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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Singapore’s Role in the Successful Birth of Modern China

July 10, 2019

Born in 1923, Lee Kuan Yew would become Singapore’s founding father. He was elected its 1st Prime Minister in 1959. After victory in seven elections, Lee stepped down in November 1990, making him the world’s longest-serving prime minister.

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore and Lee offered him advice on how to modernize China, and it wasn’t by following America’s example.


CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talks with Lee Kuan Yew about his life as prime minister of Singapore.

“I want everyone to be a homeowner,” Lee Kuan Yew told CNN’s Zakaria. “I want investments. Do I want to be like America? Yes, in its inventiveness and creativeness, but not like America’s inability to control its drought problem. No! Or the gun problem. No!”

Lee also said, “I believe that during the second half of the 21st century, America will have to share the top spot with China and also India, make space for them, too.”

When Lee is asked by Zakaria if India will have an advantage because it is a democracy and China is not, Lee replies, “Let me put it this way, if India was as well organized as China, it will go a different speed, but it is going at the speed it is because it is India.  It is not one nation. It is many nations. It has 320 different languages and 32 official languages.”

India cannot reach all of its people with one language like Beijing can.

The South China Morning Post reported in 2015, “Singapore’s founder (Lee Kuan Yew) was alone among world leaders in his belief China would emerge as a global power and his views proved prescient. … In his memoirs, Lee makes plain his admiration for the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping who led China’s opening up in 1978. Lee recalled his conversations with Deng, including one that year when Deng visited Singapore. …

“There was nothing that Singapore had done which China could not do, and do better,” Lee wrote. When Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese people to do better than Singapore, Lee knew he had taken up the challenge he had quietly tossed to Deng 14 years earlier.

Mothership reveals “Singapore was special because it represented the achievement of an estranged relative. Nowhere else outside China was there a country with ethnic Chinese in its majority.

“Lee Kuan Yew told (Deng) that if Singapore Chinese who were the descendants of poorly-educated coolies could make good, how much better mainland China could be if the right policies were adopted. …

“On the economic front, China studied Singapore’s developmental experience to glean lessons for itself. … Deng’s visit to Singapore in 1978 had left an indelible imprint on his mind. That year, some 400 delegations from China visited Singapore (to learn more). …”

In addition, “China’s decision to open up the Internet within China (based on how Singapore managed its internet), (by) … keeping the internal universe separate from the universe outside …. (led to) the vibrant (and controlled) cyberspace we now see in China.

“For many years, Singapore was an inspiration to China … Increasingly, however, Singapore has also much to learn from a China that is breaking new grounds in many fields.” Something that Lee Kuan Yew predicted in 1978 when he met with Deng Xiaoping.

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 Life of Dogs in China

July 3, 2019

Thought Co says, “Dogs are known the world over as man’s best friend. But in China, dogs are also eaten as food.”

While it is true that dogs are still food for some, most Chinese do not eat dog meat. In fact, ltl-school reveals, “the simple fact is most Chinese adore dogs just like many western households do. The practice of eating dog meat in China is actually much less common than most expats think. …  One thing we can say for sure, eating dog is NOT common practice in China and Chinese restaurantstofu and pretty much anything else is much more common.”

I’m a vegan and visited China several times starting in 1999 and my last trip was in 2008. Not once did I see dog meat offered on any menu, and I also did not see dogs in cages in the farmers’ markets I visited. I saw ducks and chickens in cages waiting to be bought and slaughtered, but there were no dogs or cats.

In fact, China is more vegan and vegetarian-friendly than in the United States.

GBTimes reports China’s love-hate history with dogs. “China began domesticating dogs thousands of years ago, producing many of the breeds that remain popular today. Over the centuries, however, the Chinese have also developed a complicated love-hate relationship with its canine population.” …

“In ancient China, the dog was one of the most honoured and cherished animals.”

Then during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, “Dogs were seen as a symbol of the bourgeois, therefore they were involved in the class struggle,” Marina Shafir explained. “There was a mass extirpation of dogs, and many of the original Chinese dog breeds almost became extinct.”

Then once Mao died along with his Cultural Revolution, dogs made a comeback, not as food but as an honored and cherished family member.

What is it like owning a dog in China today?

The Culture Trip answers that question. “Walk down any street in Shanghai or Beijing and you’re sure to see little brown poodles dressed more extravagantly than their owners, schnauzers with impressive beards, and shiba inus that look like they’ve been ripped straight from a meme. Little old ladies are more likely to be seen with a dog buggy than a baby buggy, and Uncle Ma is able to impress his friends with his samoyed, as if it were a Bulgari watch.” … “Dog ownership is on the rise. There are an estimated 100 million registered dogs in China, with the real number being likely even higher.”

In addition, the BBC reveals that Taiwan has banned the selling and eating of cats and dogs and that in mainland China, “The practice of eating cats and dogs has become less common as pet ownership rises, and new generations have different attitudes to eating domestic animals.”

If you are a hardcore meat eater, hate vegetables and tofu, and want to try out dog, “Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat,” but you better hurry because in 2016 there were large protests against this festival throughout China.

However, if eating dog and cat ends in China, never fear, because there is a better country to visit if you want to chow down on dog. South Korea, according to the BBC, has an estimated 17,000 dog farms, and then there is Thailand and Vietnam.

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 History of Democracy in Hong Kong is so Short it Never Happened

June 19, 2019

Recent Western headlines are shouting:

Hong Kong Protesters face a powerful enemy

Hong Kong Protest: ‘Nearly two million’ join demonstration

Huge Hong Kong protests continue after the government postpones controversial bill

Before I focus on the current protests in Hong Kong, first, a small history lesson.

China never willingly gave Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842. Instead, China lost Hong Kong during the Opium Wars, and later leased adjacent territories to the British under pressure in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War when the UK gained a perpetual lease over the Kowloon Peninsula that’s across the strait from Hong Kong Island.

This agreement was part of the Convention of Beijing that ended that war, a war started by England and France. In each case the British Empire, France, and sometimes the United States, were victorious and gained commercial privileges and legal and territorial concessions from China.

These conflicts over the opium trade was the start of the era of unequal treaties.

Then in 1898, the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking and “Britain was granted an additional 99-years of rule over the Hong Kong colony.”

Fast forward ninety-nine years and on December 19, 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and Britain agreed to return not only the New Territories but also Kowloon and Hong Kong itself when the lease term expired on July 1, 1997. China promised to implement One Country, Two Systems policy, so for fifty years, Hong Kong citizens could continue to practice capitalism and political freedoms forbidden on the mainland.

However, for most of its history under British rule, executive power in Hong Kong was concentrated in the hands of the colony governor, a position appointed by the British crown without any democratic input from Hong Kong citizens. The introduction of elected representatives determined by local elections was limited to the role of advisory councils, and that didn’t start until after the 1984 agreement by the British to hand Hong Kong over to China.

Today, since Hong Kong has never been a democracy, who fears being extradited to mainland China?

You might want to see the list of crimes in the new extradition law that so many Hong Kong citizens are mad about … or fear.

Number One: Murder or manslaughter, including criminal negligence causing death; culpable homicide; assault with intent to commit murder.

Click the previous link and discover the other thirty-six crimes. You might want to also read the nine that were removed like “offenses involving the unlawful use of computers” or “offenses against the law relating to environmental pollution or protection of public health”.

For hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens to be out in the streets protesting and holding thousands of printed signs that all look the same (really), there must be a lot of frauds and crooks in that city fearing they are going to lose their freedom to commit crimes.

Who paid for all those signs to be printed by the same company – the CIA?

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 Respect for the Wisdom of Judaism

May 29, 2019

In most of East Asia, the perception of Jews as expert moneymakers does not have the religion-based antagonism that often accompanies the same stereotype elsewhere in the world. While both Christians and Muslims have persecuted Jews for religious reasons, China hasn’t done this.

In fact, South Korea and China respect what may be learned from the wisdom of Judaism.

“Close to 50 million people live in South Korea, and everyone learns about the Gemara (the Essence of the Talmud). ‘We tried to understand why the Jews are geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that it is because they study Talmud,’ said the Korean ambassador to Israel,” says Muqata

“In my country we also focus on family values.” The South Korean Ambassador continued. “The (Jewish) respect for adults, respect and appreciation for the elderly parallels the high esteem in my country for the elderly.”

Another significant issue is the respect for education. In the Jewish tradition, parents have a duty to teach their children and devote a lot of energy and attention to it.

For South Korean parents, their children’s education is also a top priority. How valuable is education to Jewish tradition? “Maimonides (1135 – 1204 C.E.) in his great code of Jewish law has an entire section devoted to teaching, teachers, students, and the concept of knowledge and education. The basic value is that teachers are to be respected and given honor.

“One should rise before one’s teacher, speak respectfully to one’s teacher, and treat one’s teacher with greater probity than even one’s parent.” The Talmud teaches. “Parents bring a child into this world but a teacher can bring a child into the World to Come” into a world of spirit, creativity, ideas and self-worth and ultimate immortality.

These ancient Jewish values have also found a home in China. Newsweek reported, “The apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts.”

Newsweek said, “Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.”

“The admiration for Judaism stems from a history that goes beyond business.” Newsweek continued. “About half of the dozen or so Westerners active in Mao Zedong’s China (1949 – 1976) were Jewish, and that also led to increased interest in Jewish culture among Chinese intellectuals,” said Xu Xin, professor of Jewish studies at Nanjing University.

Jewish Learning says, the “Although Talmud is largely about law, it should not be confused with either codes of law or with a commentary on the legal sections of the Torah . Due to its spare and laconic style, the Talmud is studied, not read.”

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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