Donald Trump’s Revival of Racism in the U.S. reminds me of the Chinese woman who died a thousand times

November 28, 2018

Until Chinese started to immigrate to the United States in the mid-19th century, they never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior. At the time, the discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism directed at African-Americans.

The Chinese-American woman I’m thinking of was Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961), and the American brand of racism that hatched the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers also had a negative impact on the life of this woman.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go to the show. Eventually, she gained some success in film as an actress. Between 1919 and 1961, she acted in 62 films. The Internet Movie Data Base says she was the “first Chinese-American movie star”.

However, to act, Anna had to play the roles she was given. Because she was Chinese, the American racist stereotype always cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman that only fell for Caucasian men. The price she paid to act in movies meant Anna had to die so the characters she played got what they deserved.

Anna often joked that her tombstone should read, “Here lies the woman who died a thousand times.”

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti-racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans. Since the Chinese, due to cultural differences, often did not complain, they were left behind.

In many respects, this racism toward the Chinese still exists in the U.S. today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing. How often have you been reminded of the alleged Tiananmen Square Massacre or the millions Mao allegedly murdered during the Great Famine and have never heard that China in the last thirty years is responsible for 90-percent of the world’s reduction in poverty?

Anna was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism that murdered her dreams, she lived in Europe for a few years before returning to the racist U.S.

Since the law in the United States at the time did not allow her to marry the Caucasian man she loved, and she was afraid that if she married a Chinese man he would force her to give up acting since Chinese culture judged actresses to be the same as prostitutes, she never got married or had children.

Anna May Wong died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56. For her contribution to the film industry, Anna May Wong received a star at 1708 Vine Street on the inauguration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

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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A form of Restricted Democracy still exists in China at the Village Level

November 7, 2018

This may come as a surprise to many outside of China, but China is not a totalitarian country with an all-powerful dictator.  Simply put, China has an autocratic government that operates as a limited republic with a Constitution that fits China at this time, and individual freedom takes a distant back seat to harmony and improving the quality of life for the majority of Chinese.


China’s Approach to Social Harmony

New Politics says, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement. The Village Committee and Village Leader are entrusted with managing the public affairs of the village. This includes managing any collective enterprises including land (the use of which is most frequently subcontracted out to villagers), building and repairing roads, maintaining public security, administering family planning issues, and helping the village to develop economically, socially, and environmentally.”

The Organic Law of Village Committees in rural China was enacted 1987 and implemented in 1988, allowing for direct election of village chiefs instead of being appointed by the township government.

In the beginning, these rural village elections might have been an experiment to see if this type of democracy worked in China, but with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., any chance of China becoming more democratic probably died a necessary death.

One thing China doesn’t want to see happen is to lose all the gains erased by a president like Donald Trump who is allegedly illegally dismantling every progressive gain the United States made since 1900 and attempting to influence and control the federal judicial system through the U.S. Department of Justice.

In China, the Local People’s Congress at each administrative level, other than the village level in rural areas, hold direct elections, and elects candidates for executive positions at that level of government.

Governors, mayors, and heads of counties, districts, townships and towns are in turn elected by the respective local People’s Congresses Presidents of people’s courts and chief procurators of people’s procuratorates are elected by the respective local People’s Congresses above the county level. The President and the State Council are elected by the National People’s Congress, which is made of 2,987 delegates.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has almost 90-million voting members, and 22.3-million are women. This makes the CCP the largest political party in the world.

Although the CCP controls the government because it holds the majority of votes, and decisions in China are made by consensus, China is not a pure one-party state. There are approved independent parties that belong to the United Front. For instance, in 2012-2013, eight hundred and thirty members of the 2,987 in National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China were members of the independents that belong to the United Front.

Under the CCP, what are two major examples that China has accomplished since Mao died in 1976?

In 2017, The World Bank reported, “The world as a whole has made impressive strides on poverty reduction. Since 1990 in fact, nearly 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty, which means that the number of people living on 1 dollar and 90 cents per day, or less, has reduced dramatically. …

“In China alone, nearly 800 million people (from the global 1.1 billion) have escaped poverty since the 1980s.”

In the last fifteen years, China reached 27,000 km (17,000 mi) in total length, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail (HSR) tracks in commercial service. The HSR building boom continues with the HSR network set to reach 38,000 km (24,000 mi) in 2025.

Why doesn’t the United States, a country being torn apart by Partisanship and Donald Trump, have high-speed bullet trains like Europe and China?


Partisanship does not affect China’s autocratic republic. In China, there is no faction with the power to block the decisions of the majority like the elected Freedom Caucus in the United States made up of about three dozen tea-party people.

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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Halloween vs China’s Hungry Ghost Festival

October 31, 2018

The closest celebration in China to Halloween is The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month. For 2018, the Hungry Ghost Festival started on August 25th.

Similar to Latin America’s Day of the Dead, The Ghost Festival, also known as The Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm and/or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists and Taoists in China claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (The Ghost Festival in Medieval China by Stephen Teiser).

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia.” It is believed by many Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who want food.

History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in what’s known today as Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

In America, children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China, for those who celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival, the opposite takes place: food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned, and scriptures are chanted.

I stopped celebrating Halloween decades ago. As a teacher I was what all that candy was doing to my students the day after when they returned to school on a sugar high followed by a sugar low. At first, I handed out small boxes of very sweet organic raisons until a mother told me I was cheap.

If you are a parent of young children, here is why you should not celebrate Halloween with them. The Guardian.com reported, “Sugar is behind global explosion in type 2 diabetes, study finds. Researchers say link between consumption of sugar and diabetes is independent from obesity.”

In addition, the National Institutes of Health says, “Rates of new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing among youth in the United States, according to a report …”

And if you don’t want to believe sugar is responisible, here’s what Stanford Medicine has to say, “Researchers examined data on sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. They found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”

Think about it: if you want to celebrate Halloween, replace it with China’s Hungry Ghost Festival and skip the candy.

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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Competition vs Harmony

October 3, 2018

China is a collective culture vs. Europe and North America with cultures based on individualism, and understanding Confucianism helps explain how China’s collective culture works.

Religion

China has never been dominated by one religion like Christianity dominates Europe and all of the Americas or Islam dominates the Middle East and most of North Africa.

Philosophy

In China, Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE). His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. Over time, Confucianism replaced Chinese Legalism.

Chinese Buddhism entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism’s arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

In Europe and the Americas, there is Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, John Lock, et al.  In the West, instead of one major philosopher, there are many. Western Philosophy refers to philosophical thinking beginning with Ancient Greece and Rome, extending through central and Western Europe and, since Columbus, the Americas.

The Basics of Philosophy says, “Very broadly speaking, according to some commentators, Western society strives to find and prove ‘the truth’, while Eastern society accepts the truth as given and is more interested in finding the balance.”

Westerners put more emphasis on individual rights while Easterners focus on social responsibility.

Individualism vs. Collectivism

China is a collective culture vs the west that is based on individualism, and this difference might explain why China was the wealthiest, most technologically advanced civilization on the planet for about 1,500 years up until the 16th century.

Objectivism 101 explains, “Collectivism … sees the group as the important element, and individuals are just members of the group. The group has its own values somehow different from those of the individual members. The group thinks its own thoughts. Instead of judging the group as a bunch of individuals interacting, it judges the group as a whole, and views the individuals as just members of the group.”

In individualism each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices and are not guided by the collective, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it’s as individuals.

Collectivism views the group as the primary entity and most if not all individuals are expected to conform. Harmony is considered the foundation of a collective culture while divisiveness is the foundation of individuality.

But first, China Mike says, “To understand the Chinese mind, you need to start with Confucius (552-479BC). Arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, Confucius and his teachings continue to exert a deep influence on society even in modern China today. … Confucianism is a complex system of social and political ethics based on filial piety, kinship, loyalty and righteousness. His teachings cover a wide range—from how a ‘true gentleman’ should behave in his daily life (down to how he eats with proper decorum) to how a ruler should govern (with a benevolent concern for the well-being of his subjects).”

Note: When I started iLookChina in January 2010, I set a goal to write and publish three blog posts a day until I reached 1,000 posts, and then I slowed down. More than seven years later, iLookChina has now published 2,355 posts with more than one-million words. That’s why I have decided to slow down some more. Starting today, I will be posting once a week on Wednesdays. To the more than twenty-thousand amazing people that follow iLookChina, thank you.

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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In 2012, China achieved a Milestone

September 19, 2018

In 1950, soon after the Chinese Communist Party and its military won the long Civil War (1927 – 1950), almost 500 million Chinese lived in rural areas with 70 million (12 percent of total population) living in urban areas. The UN estimated that by 2030, 875 million people will live in China’s cities.

The Telegraph reported, “China’s urban population now exceeds the number of rural dwellers for first time in its history, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday.

“Just over 680 million now live in cities – 51.27 percent of China’s entire population of nearly 1.35 billion.

“Most have moved during two decades of boom in search of economic opportunities, and the historic mass migration from fields to office and apartment blocks ends the country’s centuries-long agrarian status.” …

“With 75 per cent of Chinese expected to be living in cities within 20 years, the demand for more transport, energy, water and other vital infrastructure is set to test resources and city planners.”

For a comparison, in 1940, 11 percent of the population of the United States lived in urban (cities) areas. It wouldn’t be until 1920, that the urban population in the U.S. reached 51 percent to outnumber the rural population.

The rural to urban shift in population took China sixty-two years to achieve vs eighty years for the United States.

How do people travel in China vs the United States?

The first railroad to enter commercial service in China was the Woosung Railway, a 9 ¼ mi (14 km) railway from Shanghai to Woosung (modern Shanghai’s Baoshan District) which opened in 1876.

As of 2015, China had 121,000 km (75,186 mi) of railways, the second longest network in the world, including 19,000 kilometres (11,806 miles) of high-speed rail (HSR), the longest HSR network in the world.

In the US, The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first passenger and freight line in 1827 and this signaled the beginning of railroad construction.

Today, the U.S. had 163,562 miles of active railroads, but Forbes asks, “Why Doesn’t The United States Have High-Speed Bullet Trains Like Europe And Asia?”

In 2017, the United States had 5,136 public airports (statista) compared to China’s 229 (statista).

China’s railways are among the busiest in the world.  In 2014, railways in China delivered 2.357 billion passenger trips. The U.S. has about 31-million railroad passenger miles a year.

How about air passengers in China vs the United States? The answer is 551.56-million in 2017 for China compared to 988,234,460 in the U.S (bts.gov).

What method of long distance travel is more efficient?

The World Bank says, “When it comes to realistically traveling 350 miles, your most efficient choices,  in the following order … are to travel by bus, train, or (you guessed it) airplane.

Small Business Trends offers more details: “Trains can use 50% less fuel per passenger than planes for the same trips, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Bus travel is an even eco-friendlier alternative, emitting even less carbon dioxide than trains on short and long trips, according to the EPA.”

No wonder the United States pollutes more per person than China.

The Union of Concerned Scientists report that the United States produces 15.53 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person annually. China produces 6.50 metric tons per person.

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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What might happen to Donald Trump if he was a Chinese citizen?

September 11, 2018

On July 16, 2013, Business Insider reported, Twenty-two Chinese People Were Handed The Death Sentence For White Collar Crime.” … About 4,000 people a year are executed annually in the country, according to human rights organization Dui Hua. And a number of those executed are white collar criminals.”

In the United States, The Christian Science Monitor asked, “How much jail time do white-collar criminals deserve?” For an answer, I turned to Grand Jury Target.com to discover, “the average sentence imposed in fraud cases in fiscal year 2015 was 27 months.”

In China, a convicted white-collar criminal might be executed but in the U.S. the average sentence for fraud (a white collar crime) was 27 months.

What about government officials in China?

Time.com reports, This Is How Much Money You Can Take in Bribes Before the Chinese Authorities Execute You: How much is an errant Chinese official’s life worth? Three million renminbi, or $463,000, according to a statement released on April 18 by Chinese judicial authorities. The legal clarification makes the death penalty applicable to anyone who either embezzles, or accepts bribes of, that sum or more.”

If Donald Trump is eventually found guilty of laundering money for the Russian mob, accepting bribes, cheating on his taxes, fraud, bribing others that know about his crimes to silence them, and maybe even murder, he’s lucky he doesn’t live in China. There’s a big difference between spending 27-months in prison in the U.S. or being executed in China for the same alleged crime or crimes.

If you are curious, you might want to read Trump’s Dirty Money.

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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Crazy Rich Asians – a Review

August 28, 2018

I saw “Crazy Rich Asians” on Wednesday, August 15, the day the film was released, near where I live, a few days before the film earned the #1 rank at the box office for its first weekend. The following Sunday I went to see another film and there was a long line waiting to see “Crazy Rich Asians”.

Opening Weekend: $26,510.140
(#1 rank, 3,384 theaters, $7,834 average)
Box Office Mojo

Crazy Rich Asians” is the 2nd film I’ve seen that I think reveals what goes on inside an overseas Chinese family. I haven’t read the books (a trilogy) the film was based on, but I plan to. The first book in the trilogy came out in 2013.

The first book and film was Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club”.

Both books and films reveal the inner workings of overseas Chinese families.

Chinese American New Yorker Rachel Chu flies to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick Young, to attend his best friend’s wedding in Singapore where she runs into his Singapore Chinese family that’s split over accepting or rejecting Rachel. The elder and ruling members of the family do not approve of Nick’s girlfriend while some of the younger members of the family accept her without reservation as long as the elders don’t know they support Rachel.

In Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club” (Hardcover 1989) we are introduced to a tiger mother, who grew up and immigrated to the U.S. from China, and her rebellious American Chinese daughter. In 2009, I married into a Chinese family with an immigrant mother and American Chinese daughter.  I married the mother who is Anchee Min. The marriage survived for sixteen years and we are still friends. I think that qualifies me as a reliable witness to the inner working of an oversees Chinese family.

Although the film for “Crazy Rich Asians” focuses on the fact that Nick Young’s super wealthy and powerful Shanghai Chinese family thinks of themselves as “Chinese”, the fact is they are also overseas Chinese just like Rachel is, because most if not all Chinese in China think of everyone that is Chinese living outside of China as overseas Chinese.  Maybe Singapore Chinese are considered less overseas since they live closer to China than Rachel from New York.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, do not stereotype Chinese. Not all Chinese think and act the same as the family in “Joy Luck Club” or “Crazy Rich Asians”.  Not all Chinese are rich or are tiger parents. Another book I recommend is the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. But again, Chua is overseas Chinese born in the United States to immigrant parents. “Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future.”

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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