Piracy is Culturally Acceptable

June 14, 2017

The more I learn about China, the more I realize that most of what happens in China has everything to do with cultural differences and little to do with the Chinese Communist Party. After all the more than 80-million members of the CCP are Chinese.

In 2008, Lisa Wang wrote a post for China Law and Practice.com of Searching for Liability: Online Copyright Infringement in China.

Lisa Wang said, “The digital copying of music, images, and video, and their distribution over the internet (in China) can provide hours of entertainment for the general public and multiple migraines for rights holders.”

Many in the West that read this may think infringement of copyright in China is done to make money by selling fake copies but, while somewhat true, that isn’t always the case.

The Economist reported how difficult it was to make a profit in the toughest recorded-music market in the world, which is China, because many chinse will not pay to download music from the Internet.

Instead, people in China download music free from a number of sites where other Chinese have made the music available. Despite government censorship, many Chinese download pirated videos and watch the latest movie releases and television shows from America.

Pirated American TV shows are so widespread in China, Wentworth Miller, who is best-known for his role in the Fox television show Prison Break, was mobbed by his fans when he visited China. However, Prison Break is not officially broadcast by Chinese television stations.

If China’s censors block a foreign TV show or movie, the Chinese may often watch pirated DVDs or go on-line to watch pirated versions for free.

I know an American expatriate living in China that watches the latest American movies for free a few days after they hit the theaters in America, and he streams them on-line.

The Chinese have a reputation for being frugal and saving money and this may be another way to achieve that goal by cooperatively helping each other read books and watch movies for free.

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 Differences between Chinese and Western Operas

June 13, 2017

JadeDragon.com says, “Chinese opera is uniquely different from Western opera – whether Mozart or Wagner. There are so many details: origins, storylines, costumes, facial painting, stage rituals and customs, character types, and so on, not to mention musical usage that makes Chinese opera a unique form.”

For instance, Peking Opera is a combination of several styles of Chinese opera. The metamorphosis started during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)  about two-hundred years ago.

Peking Opera focuses on historical events, legends about emperors, ministers, generals, geniuses, and great beauties.

Performances are a combination of singing, dialogue, pantomime and acrobatic fighting and dancing.

Today, Peking Opera is considered the highest expression of Chinese culture.

The origins of Peking Opera did not begin in Peking (Beijing).  The opera had its start in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei.

Experts say the opera was born in 1790 and was originally staged for the royal family and only then for the public.

There are thousands of these operas that cover the history and literature of China. Peking operas can be divided into two categories.

“Civil” operas focus on singing while “Martial” operas feature acrobatics and stunts.  Some are a combination of both.

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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Where did this Chinese musical instrument originate?

May 30, 2017

The yangqin, the Chinese Hammered Dulcimer, probably did not originate in China. It might have arrived from either Europe or Persia about five hundred years ago and was adapted to fit Chinese music.

One theory says that the yangqin came to China on the Silk Road. A second theory says it arrived with Portuguese traders in the 1500s.  A third theory says the instrument was developed in China without foreign influence from an ancient stringed instrument called a Zhu.

By Chinese standards, it is a young instrument and was first heard during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), and has been commonly used in Chinese Operas since then.

In fact, in Modern China, the yangqin is a major discipline in the College of Music.

The yangqin has over 100 strings that are struck with thin bamboo sticks that have rubber tips on one end.  When struck with the rubber end, a soft sound is heard.  When the strings are struck with the other end of the stick, without the rubber tip, a crisper sound is heard.

Around the world, there are many versions of the hammered dulcimer all designed and played in a similar fashion, but each country has its own distinct sound influenced by cultural differences.

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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Chickens and prostitutes are always correct.

May 24, 2017

Sir Robert Hart, (based on a real person) the main character in “My Splendid Concubine”, knew the importance of translating English into Chinese or Chinese into English. Translation errors can become insults that end in bad feelings that may cause a war. For that reason, when Hart worked for the Emperor of China as the Inspector-General of China’s Maritime Customs Service from 1863 to 1911, anyone he hired had to learn Chinese in classes that Hart had created. He wanted to make sure they learned how to speak and translate Chinese properly.

For instance, recently a middle school English teacher in China asked her students to translate Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Chinese advertisement “We do chicken right (中學老師把 KFC 肯德基店裏的廣告)”, and the teacher received twenty-eight different translated answers.

Please keep in mind that the word “chicken” also means “prostitute” in modern Chinese slang depending on context.

[We do chicken right!](烹雞專家)     發給學生練習翻譯,結果有以下答案:

Here is what the students wrote:

  1. 我們做雞是對的!It’s correct that we be prostitutes,
  2. 我們就是做雞的! We are cut out to be prostitutes.
  3. 我們有做雞的權利! We have the right to be prostitutes.
  4. 我們只做雞的右半邊! We want only be the right side of a chicken.
  5. 我們只作右邊的雞! We want to be chickens on the right side
  6. 我們可以做雞,對吧? We can choose to be prostitutes, right?
  7. 我們行使了雞的權利! We perform a chicken’s right.
  8. 我們主張雞權! We call for chicken’s rights.
  9. 我們還是做雞好! It’s better that we be prostitutes.
  10. 做雞有理! It makes sense to be prostitutes.
  11. 我們讓雞向右看齊! Let’s ask the chickens to look right.
  12. 我們只做正確的雞! We only want to be the correct chickens.
  13. 我們肯定是雞! We are prostitutes–no doubt.
  14. 只有我們可以做雞! We are the only one who could be prostitutes.
  15. 向右看!有雞! Look at your right, there are chickens.
  16. 我們要對雞好! We must be kind to chickens.
  17. 我們願意雞好! We wish chickens all our best.
  18. 我們的材料是正宗的雞肉! We use real chickens.
  19. 我們公正的做雞! We must feel justified to be prostitutes.
  20. 我們做雞正點耶∼∼ Time is right to prostitute.
  21. 我們只做正版的雞! We only want to be original prostitutes.
  22. 我們做雞做的很正確! To be prostitutes is to be correct.
  23. 我們正在做雞好不好? We’re making chickens – will that be okay?
  24. 我們一定要把雞打成右派!We must turn the chickens into rightists.
  25. 我們做的是右派的雞! We are right-winged prostitutes.
  26. 我們只做右撇子雞!     We are right-handed prostitutes.
  27. 我們做雞最專業!We are professional prostitutes.
  28. 我們叫雞有理!The chickens and prostitutes are always correct.

China is a tonal language. There are four tones for each written Chinese symbol.  Each tone has a different meaning. Say a word in the wrong tone, and you might end up insulting someone.

Words that are similar are called homophones – two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings.  The Chinese author Cao Xuegin who wrote Dream of the Red Chamber in the 18th century chose many of the names of his characters to be homophones with other words which hint at their qualities. For example, the name of the main family, “賈” (Jiǎ) puns with “假” meaning “fake” or “false” while the name of the other main family in the story, “甄” (Zhēn) puns with “眞” meaning “real” or “true”.

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 Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 2 of 2

May 17, 2017

My life didn’t start when I became eligible for Social Security and/or Medicare. In fact, I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.

I am a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. After the Marines I went to college on the GI Bill and spent close to a decade attending universities to earn an Associate-of-Science degree, a BA in journalism, and finally an MFA in writing. I even worked as a public school teacher for thirty of those years often working 60 – 100 hours a week sometimes arriving at the school where I taught as early as six in the morning.  In addition, in China teachers are respected; not abused.

Confucius ( BC 551 – 479) said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world. … He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers in the world.”

Both Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism stress the importance of paying proper respect to elders, especially parents and grandparents, and deceased ancestors are honored with various ceremonies and rituals.

Confucius said, “Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”

However, in the United States, it is obvious that we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists, and a malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, was recently elected president of the United States. Trump treats many with rudeness and he encourages and supports bullies and racism.

More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.

Only in this sense can one understand the tremendous virtue placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’ not only in China but also many other Asian countries.

I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect, but those lessons have served China well for centuries and is still a vital element of Chinese culture.

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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The Value of Virtue in Chinese Culture – Part 1 of 2

May 16, 2017

I was born in the United States, and when I was a child, youngsters were taught to be seen and not heard. It was expected that we treat our elders and teachers with respect.

After the birth of Disneyland, instant and unhealthy fast food thanks to McDonalds, the Internet, smart phones (I turned mine in for a dumb phone) and the iPod generation, a cultural cancer crept through much of the United States. That cultural cancer killed ‘respect’ for those who are older and for teachers.

In China, that respect, that virtue, is called piety, and piety is very much alive there and in most of East Asia in spite of an invasion of Christian missionaries due to the Opium Wars in the early 19th century, the Korean War (1950 – 1953), the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), and Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966  – 1976) .

In 1999, I married a Chinese woman who was born in Shanghai, China. She grew up during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. I learned that if you marry a Chinese woman, you marry her family and are expected to treat the family’s elders with respect. That’s when I learned first-hand the importance of filial piety in China.

In fact, when I visit China, my white hair is a symbol that earned me respect. In China, I have never heard, “Hey, old man,” but these are disrespectful words I’ve heard in the United States more than once.

For instance (from an actual event), “Hey, old man, you can’t stop us.” Those were the words I heard after dark one night during the summer of 2008 from a pack of kids taunting me as they raced in and out of our steep, hillside driveway on their bicycles. The reason I didn’t want them playing on our driveway was because if one of those children was injured, we could end up in court.

I called the police, and the next day walked the neighborhood door-to-door asking for support to stop the harassment that had gone on for two years during school holidays and the summer.

When I talked to the mother of one of those rude children, she challenged me. “What was your reason for not letting them play on your driveway?”

I’ve read ‘any damn fool can be a parent’, and that helped me think of something I heard too many times when I was a public school teacher (1975 – 2005).  That phrase is, “kids will be kids” and it is often accompanied with a shrug of dismissal by the parent/guardian, but I refuse to accept that excuse for rudeness and unruly behavior in children.

Continue with Part 2 on May 17, 2017

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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Ancient Chinese Bongs, Booms, Clangs, and Tinkles

May 10, 2017

In 1977, 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.) were.

The sixty-five chime bells weighed about 5 tons.

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, the bells were discovered.  These musical instruments were an important part of ritual and court music from ancient China. An American professor in New York City called these chimes the eighth wonder of the ancient world.

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

A project in 1979 duplicated four sets of these chimes. More than a hundred scientists and technicians were recruited.  In 1998, twenty years after the discovery of the original chimes, the project was completed, and one set was sent to Taiwan as a gift.

Discover The Return of Confucious to China

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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