To Get Around, take the Bullet Trains and Use the Subways in China

July 26, 2017

Believe me when I suggest avoiding driving or taking a taxi in Beijing unless it is midnight and the city is sort-of sleeping. Beijing is one of the worst cities in the world to drive in. This is probably true for most of China’s crowded cities.

To give you an idea of what I mean by crowded, New York City has a population of about 8.5 million and is ranked #1 in the United States with Los Angeles #2 with less than 4 million people. There are 160 cities in China with a population of over 1 million vs only 10 in the United States.

Here are China’s top five cities ranked by population.

Shanghai – 22 million

Beijing – 10 million

Guangzhou – 11 million

Tianjin – 11 million

Shenzhen – 10 million

I have been to Shanghai and Beijing several times between 1999 – 2008, and have been stuck in Beijing traffic breathing toxic fumes and watching the taxi’s meter adding numbers to the cost of the trip when we could have walked faster for free.

The other choice is Beijing’s subway system built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (and it’s still expanding), which I prefer using. It’s fast and efficient, but wear a money belt because it can become sardine-can crowded creating a perfect environment for pickpockets. I didn’t even wear my backpack on my back. I put it on my chest where I could keep an eye on it. To be fair, Smarter Travel.com warns us of the dangers of pickpockets in New York City. The same advice will help in any major city you visit.


This video was filmed in 2013 when only one subway line was open. Today, Xian has three subway lines with sixty-six stations and an average of 1.5 million people riding the subway daily. Last time I was in Xian in 2008, the subway system was still under construction.

Then there is China’s high-speed rail. It didn’t exist in 2008, and I haven’t been back to China since. Why fly when you can see China from a bullet train moving at 120 – 160 mph (or faster). The Economist reports, “Less than a decade ago China had yet to connect any of its cities by bullet train. Today, it has 20,000km (12,500 miles) of high-speed rail lines, more than the rest of the world combined. It is planning to lay another 15,000km by 2025.”


“China’s high speed trains make travelling the country easy and quick but there are certain things you should know that’ll make using the high speed trains in China a painless process!” – Learn how to ride high-speed rail in China from The Adventurer

Then Manufacturing.net asks, “Why is There No High-Speed Rail Network in America?”

Here is the simple answer. Since World War II, the U.S. has spent about $33-Trillion on its military budgets and fighting endless wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan causing millions to be killed and/or maimed. Without those wars, there would probably be no ISIS. Then there is the fact that since President Reagan in the 1980s, the focus in the United States has been on cutting taxes mostly for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. That has led to about $20 trillion in debt for the federal government. During this time, the U.S. has not kept its infrastructure up-to-date – improvements that would have provided millions of new jobs and benefited the American people.

If the United States had avoided starting so many wars and had a military budget equal to China (ranked #2 in the world), it would have saved about $32-Trillion since World War II. There would be no national debt and the U.S. might even have its own bullet trains speeding from coast to coast.

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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With High Stakes Tests Comes Cheating

July 4, 2017

I guess I’m naïve, stupid, or something else. During the nine years I attended colleges and universities to earn my BA in journalism and MFA in writing, I did my own work. It didn’t occur to me that I could pay someone else to do it for me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I didn’t have the money to pay to cheat.

And when I read, “Rampant cheating hurts China’s research ambitions” (from Yahoo news), I was disappointed at the lack of balance. There was no mention that cheating is a global problem. But cheating on exams didn’t start in Communist China. For instance, the South China Morning Post reported about a tiny book that was used for centuries by Chinese students to cheat on civil service exams.

I taught journalism and was an adviser for an award winning high-school newspaper for several years, and the student reporters learned to write balanced pieces, even for the opinion page. I said that both sides of an issue should be heard even if the balance isn’t perfect and one side is not politically correct.

Since Yahoo is or was an American company (I read recently that Yahoo was sold to another company), I’m going to start with cheating in America to correct this imbalance. It’s worth noting that since student test results are being used and abused in America’s k-12 public schools to rank teachers and schools and then fire or close them, the odds are that someone who was once honest will cheat to survive. Imagine punishing a child’s teacher for the results of a test the child took. This is insanity, and it is a crime. No other country in the world, even China, uses student tests to rank-and-fire teachers and close public schools.

Lawyers.com reports, “In a 2005 research study, 75 percent of (U.S.) students admitted to cheating in school; 90 percent admitted to copying another student’s test paper or homework. A 2009 study of 2,000 middle and high school students showed 35 percent of them used cell phones to cheat and 52 percent used the internet to cheat.”

But Chinese and U.S. students aren’t the only ones that cheat. The Conversation.com says, “Students at a medical college in Thailand have been caught using spy cameras linked to smartwatches to cheat during exams. They used wireless spycams in eyeglasses to capture exam questions, transmit them to associates elsewhere and receive responses through linked smartwatches.”

CBS News reported that Indian parents scale school walls to help students cheat on exams.

In addition, there was this about cheating in the UK. The Telegraph says, “Invisible ink revealed as the latest university exam scam.”

News24 reports “Cheating students on the rise … Johannesburg (South Africa) – A survey has found that universities are battling a rising tide of cheating by students who brazenly take the easy route to a qualification, reports the Sunday Times.”

And just to make a point, I decided to include South America. Peru This Week.com says,”Imposters arrested for cheating on teachers’ exams in Peru.”  All I did was Google the same question, “Cheating on school exams (name of country)” and changed the name of the country each time.

Discover The Return of Confucious

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 Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 2 of 2

June 28, 2017

The segment of Al Jazeeera’s report on Maggie Gu’s “Romance Chinese Style” starts with the sound of violins at a wedding banquet.

The narrator says, “Chinese weddings today combine east and west both in customs and in costumes. However, the all-important wedding banquet must start before twelve to avoid bad luck.”

China is learning about love and romance. However, it is also discovering the agony of divorce since in the last two decades the divorce rate in China has taken flight but is still far from the divorce rate in the US.

Divorce has become so common, that it led to a popular, award winning TV drama “Chinese-Style Divorce”, which is the story of a woman losing her husband due to jealousy. This program struck a chord with millions of Chinese viewers.

The producer/director of Chinese-Style Divorce went through a divorce the year before he started filming. Many in the production crew were also divorced.

Lost love in China has also created opportunities in a new divorce industry leading to lawyers that specialize in divorce.

The Economist also reported that Divorce is on the rise in China.

While Chinese laws have made divorce much easier, Chinese culture is still having a difficult time adjusting to the shock that comes with divorce.

Today, marriage in China is more than just sticking it out through hard times. These days young couples want harmony, happiness, and romance, which means when marriage becomes painful and/or boring there is no hesitation to get a divorce.

But there are still differences between Chinese and marriages in the United States. In China, many expect their new mate to show respect and support for parents.

Chinese parents may also become involved in playing cupid for their children.


A matchmaking party for Chinese female millionaires who don’t have time to find love on their own.

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 Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 1 of 2

June 27, 2017

It isn’t easy finding love in China. I’m not talking about sex. This is about love. While sex might be an element of falling in love, it isn’t love. And yes, there are individuals who think of love as a sexual desire.

For instance, high paid white-collar jobs in China are demanding and leave little time for romance, but with western style romance novels and romantic movies leading the way, searching for “love” however one defines it, is becoming common.

Although China’s open economy has made many people rich, “love” is still a difficult word to say since most Asians are more reserved than westerners.

“Romance Chinese Style” is a film by first-time director Maggie Gu that takes a close look at the romance industry in China that is helping to overcome this shortage of time and abundance of shyness.

Al Jazeera English reported on Maggie Gu’s film and looked at on-line dating, blind dates, double dates, and speed dating that is popular in China.

Since China opened its doors to the world, it has become a country in the fast lane, and in 2007, China’s first speed dating club opened.

Speed dating originated in the United States, but the concept reached China where for a small fee, to save time, speed dating takes place over the Internet.

This Internet speed dating service allows busy members of China’s growing middle class to meet potential mates, and since many Chinese find it difficult to express what they feel, there are classes available where wealthy professionals can discover how to express themselves in the language of romance.


A Love Market in China

Part 2 will post on June 28, 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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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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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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There are more Men than Women in China and Money Counts

April 19, 2017

China Has Too Many Bachelors reports, “Forty-one million bachelors do not have women to marry. If nothing is done to change this trend, by 2020 there will be 55-million extra men in China.”

Since there is a growing shortage of women in China, men have to compete.  The winner is usually the one who earns the most. Danwei (Chinese media) posted a letter from a university student who was attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes, but he has nothing to offer and is ready to give up before asking her out for a first date.

Danwei says, “There’s a different kind of meat market in China. Female mate shoppers check out not only a man’s looks, humor and signs that he’ll treat her well. They also look for a bit of beef, as in where’s-the-beef. That means a man’s potential to earn money.”

Even if a girl likes a guy, the parents are going to get involved at some point to make sure the man earns enough to provide for their daughter. If the parents are against the marriage, for any reason, the odds are it will not take place even if the man has money.

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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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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