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”.

About iLook China


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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China Joined the WTO in 2001

August 22, 2018

The BBC reported, “After 15 years of diplomatic struggle, China finally has become a fully-fledged member of the international trading system.”

China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 11, 2001. The admission of China to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations and required significant changes in China.

Many elements in China’s WTO accession agreement required improving the rule of law. When China joined the WTO, China agreed to ensure that its legal measures would be consistent with its WTO obligations and that led to China’s Rule of Law Reform.

China also made a substantial number of other WTO commitments related to the rule of law in areas of transparency, judicial review, uniform enforcement of laws, and nondiscriminatory treatment.

China reformed its judicial processes to ensure that they were compatible with its WTO commitments.

This transition from Chinese to western legalism hasn’t been as smooth as some critics wanted it to be, but it is happening, and it’s clear that in the last few decades China has made an effort to fit into the community of nations while retaining its own identity.

That might be explained by the differences between Chinese legalism and Western legalism primarily related to morality. Western legalism defends the rule-of-law but argues against the morality of law. In contrast, Chinese legalism, especially in the early Pre-Qin era, did not separate morality from law.

Chinese legalism was interpreted as the fidelity (loyalty) to the monarch in moral terms often as defined by Confucianism. In other words, morality in the United States and Europe is mostly based on the teachings of Christianity and many western philosophers while the morality of China is mostly based on Confucianism.

Understanding China’s history and the morality that’s part of its legal system is often ignored, especially by many ignorant Americans that judge China based on Western values and laws.

For instance, a conservative, born-again Christian, a former friend, once said to me that China needed a proper legal system. Since China already had a legal system, what did he mean?

I knew this individual for about sixty years, and I’m sure he meant that China should have a legal system like the U.S. or the U.K. After all, he claimed scripture guided his life and the Christian Bible has been around for centuries proving, to him, that it came from God. For this former friend’s approval, China had to bend its laws to fit Christian scripture.

However, the Chinese learned from Confucius while in the West we learned from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, the Old and New Testaments, and many other voices that influenced western thought. I wonder if too many voices often lead to confusion, and that might explain why the Chinese civilization has been more stable over the millennia than the west has.

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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China’s endless Crusade against Corrupt Government Officials

August 21, 2018

In 2000, a former deputy chairman of the National people’s Congress was executed for taking bribes. At the time, this was the highest communist official to be put to death since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

ABC News reported, Cheng Kejie (67), the former vice chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, was convicted of taking $5 million in bribes, and executed after the Supreme People’s Court approved his death sentence on Sept. 7, 2000. Cheng’s lover, Li Ping (in her 40s), was sentenced to life in prison. Li escaped the death penalty by cooperating with investigators, giving them details of Cheng’s crimes and helping to recover the booty.

Since economic reforms began in 1978, political corruption in China has grown significantly. The types of offenses vary, though usually, they involve trading bribes for political favors, such as local businesses trying to secure large government contracts or subordinates seeking promotions for higher office.

The South China Morning Post reports, “President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign was launched in 2012 targeting party, government, military, and state-owned company officials suspected of corruption.  The campaign has led to the investigation and prosecution of hundreds of officials across the country.”

In fact, “Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive has caught so many officials that Beijing’s elite prison is running out of cells. Overcrowding has prompted Qincheng prison – where former high-ranking officials are jailed – to pull the plug on Lunar New Year visits, source says.”

And XinhuaNet.com says, “Besides the crackdown on “tigers” and “flies,” the anti-graft watchdog has been busy hunting corrupt officials hiding out abroad.

“By the end of December, 3,866 fugitives had found themselves hunted down and captured from more than 90 countries, with more than 9.6 billion yuan (1.48 billion U.S. dollars) recovered by police, according to the CCDI.”

Brookings Institution China scholar Cheng Li, in an article entitled “Debunking Misconceptions about Xi Jinping’s Anti-corruption Campaign”, asserted that attributing ulterior motives to the campaign was not only wholly misleading but also unproductive. Li believes that not only has Xi’s campaign had the effect of truly curbing corrupt practices at all levels of government, it has also restored public confidence in the Communist Party’s mandate to rule, and has also returned massive ill-gotten gains back into state coffers which could be re-directed towards economic development.”

But corruption in China’s government is nothing new.  Stratfor.com tells us, “Too often, the dynastic cycle began with the central power’s vigorous gains over the vast country’s far-flung regions under the Mandate of Heaven (the belief in an emperor’s divine right to rule), which led to decades or centuries of unity and prosperity. Then, bureaucratic corruption began eroding the imperial court, manifesting in the slow and steady accumulation of power in the regions. … An unwillingness or inability to reform, the massiveness and uncontrollability of the country and various other factors — both internal and external — led to dynastic decline.”

It is obvious that Xi Jinping does not want history to repeat and end up with another government decline and collapse, at least while he is alive and in charge.

I think Donald Trump, if he is convicted of treason and corruption in the United States, should be relieved he is in a country where his replacement will probably pardon him and he won’t spend a day in prison or face execution.

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 Changing Misunderstood One-Child Policy

July 24, 2018

The BBC reported, The first day of 2016 was the end of China’s controversial (and often misunderstood), 40-year-old one-child policy. Although families will still require government-issued birth permits, or face the sanction of a forced abortion, couples in China can now request to have two children.

In 1979, the same year that China established diplomatic relations with the United States, China’s government imposed a one-child policy in an effort to curb population growth.

Why did China do that?

ONE, China has the largest population in the world, a population that has doubled since 1976 and is currently at 1.4 billion people and growing.

TWO, China has 119 million hectares of arable land compared to 156.4 million in India and 152.2 million in the United States. This helps explain why China was once known as the land of famines because China could not grow enough food to feed all of its people even when the population was 150 million in 1650.

For a comparison, even with all that crop land in India, 37.4 million hectares more than China, India Food Banking says, “Three thousand children in India die every day (EVERY DAY) from poor diet related illness.”

It’s obvious that China did not want that for their children or adults. Why allow children to be born so they can live in poverty and starve to death?

THREE, people cause pollution. The more people a developed country has, the more pollution they produce.

What happens when China becomes as developed as the United States? The answer: In 2015 the United States produced 4997.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. China produced 9040.74, but that country has 4.4 times the people. If the U.S. had that many people, America would be producing 19,990 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

In addition, there were and still are exceptions to China’s One-Child Policy. For instance, the one-child policy does not apply to the hundred million people in China that belong to one of the fifty-six recognized minorities or many of the Han Chinese living in rural China.

Since minorities in China are a small segment of the population, China’s government practices flexibility with the minority birth rate in order to keep minorities an important part of China’s culture.

A few examples: Tibetans may not have the freedom to live a feudal, nomadic, illiterate lifestyle of servitude that came with an average 35-year lifespan they once had under the Dalai Lama, but Tibetans may have as many children as they want.

This applies to all of China’s recognized minorities.

We often hear of the Uighur Muslims since this minority has an Islamic separatist movement in the northwest near Afghanistan where the US is still fighting a war against a similar insurgency, but the Uighurs are a minority in China, so the one-child policy also does not apply to them, and they are not the only Muslims.

The Hui are unique among the fifty-six officially recognized minorities of China in that Islam is their only unifying identity. They do not have a unique language as the other minorities do and often intermarry with Han Chinese.

In fact, many live outside the Hui autonomous region. Since the Hui are considered a minority, the one-child policy also does not apply to them.

The Chinese government said if it weren’t for the one-child policy, there would be about four-hundred million more mouths to feed and provide shelter for.

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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