Will China rebuild its cities so they become people friendly?

June 12, 2019

Most cities were built to be friendly to cars and not people, but there is a growing movement to change that. The April 2019 issue of National Geographic Magazine (NGM) published “To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars

Countries across the world, including the United States and China, or starting to build and/or rebuild cities to turn them people friendly.

The first page of the 20-minute read NGM piece started with, “SHANGHAI, CHINA Near the center of this city of 24 million, China’s largest, the Yanan expressway crosses under the North-South Expressway. The country has gained half a billion city dwellers since 1990—and nearly 190 million cars. ‘It’s truly almost incomprehensible what happened in China,’ says American urban designer Peter Calthorpe, who has worked there extensively. With nearly 300 million more people expected in cities by 2030, Chinese planners say they’re changing course, prioritizing walkable streets and public transit over cars. …

Chinese planners say they’re changing course, prioritizing walkable streets and public transit over cars.

“The key test may come in Xiongan, a 680-square-mile stretch of swampy land, including a heavily polluted lake, about 65 miles southwest of Beijing. In April 2017 President Xi Jinping announced, again to general surprise, that he wanted to build a new city there. Ultimately it could house five million people and relieve congestion and pollution in Beijing.”

The guide for building these people-friendly cities is the Emerald Cities Rule book, and China is in the best position to build these cities.

“Emerald Cities: Planning for Smart and Green China,” published in 2017 lays out green building and sustainability practices for low-carbon city planning and construction in China and abroad. Emerald Cities proposes 10 principles to help set a new development direction for Chinese cities: from urban growth boundaries and transit-oriented development, to small blocks with accessible public space and car control, to green buildings and sustainable infrastructure at constructive detailed planning and community levels. The 10 principles aim to establish green, healthy and economic vibrant cities, while solving pollution and livability challenges faced by China’s cities. Emerald Cities was jointly published by China Sustainable Transportation Center and Glumac with support from Energy Foundation and Energy Innovation.”

What do U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration want to build? Trump wants to build a wall that will divide people and promote hate and segregation while he holds rallies across the U.S. promoting hate and segregation.

However, the U.S. also has the possibility offered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal that is similar to what Xi Jinping wants to do in China, so there is still hope for America to join China in making the world people friendly instead of focused on hate, segregation, and greed.

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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How do you Define Freedom: Part 2 of 2

April 25, 2019

Slavery in China vs India, the democracy next door.

The Wall Street Journal reported, Of the 167 countries surveyed, India has the highest number of people living in slavery–more than 18 million, or 1.4% of the population. The 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation said modern slavery comes in many forms, from domestic to sexual to bonded and child labor. China has only 3.4 million slaves or 0.24-percent of the population. India, a democracy, has more than five times the number of slaves that China has.

USA Today reports, “There are 40 million slaves worldwide, most are women and girls. A United Nations agency warns 40.3 million people across the globe were subject to some form of modern slavery in 2016. Among them, about 28.7 million — or 71% — were women or girls forced into sex, marriage or labor.”

Freedom to Travel to Other Countries

Then there is the freedom to travel to other countries, but you have to have enough money to afford to become a globe-trotting tourist. The Economist reports, “China’s decision to let its people travel abroad freely is changing the world. … for much of the 1980s, the number of trips abroad taken by Chinese citizens was in the tens of thousands a year, the current figure is well over 130-million annually.”

For a comparison to the world’s two largest democracies, The Times of India said, “In 2015, more than 20.4-million Indians had the money to visit other countries.”

How about the United States? The PointsGuy.com said, almost 67-million US citizens traveled outside the country in 2015.

Food Production
How do you feed 1.4 billion people using only 10-percent of your land?

National Geographic.com reveals, “Sweeping reforms starting in the late 1970s have transformed China from an isolated, centrally controlled economy into an increasingly market-oriented juggernaut. Agricultural and industrial modernization has fueled continuing migration to cities, rising incomes, and a growing appetite for a more westernized diet among China’s 1.4 billion people. … Economic and food-production reforms have helped China’s growing population double its supply of daily calories.”

When U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry, who was born a free man to a successful family, never lived in poverty and never starved said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” did he mean freedom of speech was more important than living in slavery, poverty, starving, and/or going without medical care?

Improving Education in China

“After Deng (Xiaoping) took over in China (in 1978) and initiated a series of market-oriented reforms that led to explosive economic growth, the nation set out to reach parity with the West in education at every level—a truly daunting goal, given the very high rates of illiteracy in China, the extent of the prior destruction of its education infrastructure and teaching force, and the depth of poverty in this very rural nation.”  China’s agenda to improve its educational system at every level does not mean replacing public schools with private sector corporate charter schools that profit a few individuals like what has been happening in the United States for the last few decades. Instead, China has worked hard to improve its public schools from kindergarten through college. – Not replace them with public funded corporate schools.

In fact, Statista reports, “During the school year of 2017/18, over 363-thousand Chinese students were studying in higher education institutions in the United States.”

If China’s leaders were afraid of their people learning how to think for themselves, why allow them the freedom to attend colleges and universities in the United States and Europe?

The leaders of the United States seem to have forgotten: “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson – 1820

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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How do you Define Freedom: Part 1 of 2

April 24, 2019

I do not think a country has to be a copycat of the United States to improve the quality of life and freedom of its citizens, and China is proving that I am right.

But first, let us ignore China’s limits on freedom of speech and focus on what has changed in China since 1949. The reason I want to ignore freedom-of-speech in China is because that one issue is arguably the major criticism by China haters in the United States who ignore everything else that has happened in China since 1949, except for the alleged 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident and Tibet.

Dramatic Improvements in Reducing Poverty

According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty as China’s poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 6.5-percent in 2012, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms. Compare that to the democracy next door to China, India. In 2012, the Indian government stated 22% of its population is below its official poverty limit. The World Bank, in 2011 based on 2005’s PPPs International Comparison Program, estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, and lived below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity.

Dramatic Improvements in Life Expectancy

When Mao and the CCP became that country’s government, the average lifespan in China in 1950 was 41. In 1976, when Mao died, life expectancy had climbed to about 64.5 years, and by 2018, the average lifespan had reached 76.4.

Meanwhile, Smithsonian Magazine.com reports, “U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row. On average, life expectancy across the globe is steadily ticking upward—but the same can’t be said for the United States.” Does anyone think Donald Trump will brag about that number while he is asking Congress to dramatically increase military spending while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Dramatic Increase in Population

In 1950, China’s population was almost 552-million. When Mao died in 1976, the population had reached more than 930-million in spite of the wild allegations of twenty-to-sixty million deaths caused by Mao’s Great Famine. How does a country lose that many people to a famine and increase its population by almost 400-million?

If you click on this China Today.com link, you will discover that since the CCP has ruled China, the death rate per thousand has never reached (20 per 1,000) what it was in 1949, the year Mao became China’s leader. Even during Mao’s Great Famine, the death rate per thousand did not reach that level. The closest it came to that rate was in 1960 when it reached 17.91 during the high point of China’s last famine.

Continued with Part 2 on April 25, 2019

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 Great Fire-Wall and China’s Social Media Giants

April 17, 2019

When you read that China’s government monitors and censors that country’s social media, you might think the Chinese Communist Party is dealing mostly with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. If that’s what you think, you would be mostly wrong.

China’s version of YouTube is YouKu Tudou that serves about 500-million users a month, half of YouTube’s reach. “YouTube says more than 1-billion unique visitors visit its site each month, but don’t forget, YouKu Tudou caters to a much smaller net of Chinese-speaking audiences only.”

However, few if any of YouTube’s billion visitors are in China since YouTube is banned/blocked in China along with popular websites such as Google, Gmail, and Facebook.  If you live in China and you want to use those sites, you have to find a way to bypass the internet blocking by the GFW by using a web proxy or VPN, but in spite of the ban, Alexa ranks YouTube as the 11th most visited website in China.

Twitter is also banned in China and if you have had your fill of the Twitter maniac in the U.S. White House, who can blame the CCP? Twitter’s equal in China is called Weibo.  Nearly 25-percent of China’s population uses Weibo, and they are free of Donald Trump’s Twitter trolling, endless lies, and rants. Recently Trump has been bullying and insulting John McCain, a man that’s been dead for months. With more than 1.4 billion people in China, that means Weibo has more than 354.6 million users.

“Weibo has evolved into an entertainment platform that encompasses the features of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, reddit and YouTube rolled into one,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Shelleen Shum said.

China’s Google is Baidu. Once a popular search engine, most services offered by Google China were blocked by the Great Firewall in the People’s Republic of China. In 2010, searching via all Google search sites, including Google Mobile, were moved from mainland China to Hong Kong.  Baidu remains focused on the local Chinese market while Google is global and continues to expand. While Google has long been the market leader in search in most countries, when it exited China, it was the runner-up. It held roughly 30% of the sector, with domestic rival Baidu capturing most of the remainder.

China’s Facebook is Tencent with almost one billion users mostly in China.  According to CNN Business, “This Chinese tech giant could soon be worth more than Facebook. … But it isn’t just social networking that has gotten investors excited about Tencent. The company has been expanding deeper into other areas including smartphone games, mobile payments and streaming music. All that has helped fuel record profits this year.”

Alibaba is China’s Amazon and India, Australia, and Singapore are becoming key battlegrounds for Amazon and Alibaba, says, cbinsights.com. According to a February 2018 SEC filing, Alibaba had 617 million monthly mobile users and 552 million active users on its China retail marketplaces, and Forbes says, “For Brands, Alibaba is The Gateway to China and Chinese Customers. … Amazon’s market cap is about 70% larger than Alibaba’s yet China’s e-commerce market alone is going to be larger than the rest of the world… by 2020, Asia is projected to account for 66% of global e-commerce sales with China accounting for 58%.”

“Alibaba has a more dominant e-commerce business than Amazon … though Amazon claims about 40-50% of all online US retail sales, Alibaba claims about 80% of all online Chinese retail sales.”

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 Makes China Different?

April 3, 2019

China is one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. In fact, while older civilizations around the world crashed, burned and vanished, every time a Chinese dynasty collapsed, China picked itself up, started a new dynasty and continued on. Some have argued that the Chinese Communist Party and its republic is just another dynasty with a twist.

Bloomberg even said, “This Chinese Dynasty Needs a Name. This Communist Party of China, it is frequently asserted, is a misnamed organization. That’s because, since the party began experimenting with private enterprise in the 1970s, it has shed much of the intellectual baggage associated with Marx, Lenin and that ilk.”

The Chinese culture features an abundance of values, unchanged over millennia. In spite of the influence from outside of China and numerous invasions, the Chinese culture preserved its unique identity.

Rebecca Graf points out 13 of the major cultural differences between China and the world.

Graf says, “These differences do not make either culture better or worse than the other one. It just shows their differences which has been created through centuries of history and development. China can trace its traditions and customs for thousands of years. America is still a small babe of a nation that has had very few traditions of its own but has become such a melting pot of cultures that there is almost no specific American culture that can be said is applied across the board. This makes both cultures unique and worthy of study and respect.”

Three of the 13 differences Graf mentions in her piece on Owlcation are: Respect for Elders, Humility, and Collectivism. She says, “The Chinese looks more at the group collective than at individualism. … A person from China is more prone to look at how their acts affect the whole instead of how it affects them personally. They are more willing to give up and sacrifice for the greater good. For the Chinese, each person fits into the greater body of the nation, so individual accomplishments are downplayed.”

To hold on to those unique differences, during the Ming Dynasty, China experienced isolationism motivated by a desire to prevent foreign influences from undermining Chinese values. Study.com reported, “After being ruled by Mongol emperors for almost 100 years, Ming society was obsessed with restoring a sense of absolute Chinese culture. Chinese arts rejected foreign influences, and the emperors restricted trade with foreign nations for much of the 14th and 15th centuries.”

However, the BBC reports, “In the 19th Century, European nations used military power to pry open China’s market. To earn hard currency from China, the British and Americans even smuggled opium into China and basically drugged its people.”

The result was two Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). When China lost those two wars that eventually led to the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901, another failed attempt by the Chinese people to rid China of foreign influence.

Even the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) was a result of foreign meddling in China’s affairs, and Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was another attempt to rid China of foreign influences that had been forced on the country starting in 1839 with the first Opium War.  In fact, it was under Mao that China ended illegal drug use in 24 hours. The People’s Liberation Army rounded up and executed about a million drug dealers and forced more than 20-million Chinese addicts into compulsory treatment with a warning that if they were caught using again, they would suffer the same fate the dealers did.

China stayed fairly drug free until Deng Xiaoping opened China to foreign trade again even with China’s existing strict laws concerning illegal drug use. Today, sentencing for drug trafficking could include capital punishment.  For example, the seizure of 50 grams or more of heroin or crystal methamphetamine might result in the use of the death penalty by the Chinese government.

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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GUANXI

March 13, 2019

The more China changes, the more it stays the same.

Just because China has a one-party political system that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), that doesn’t mean the government is not Chinese. In fact, the CCP maintains that despite the co-existence of private capitalists and entrepreneurs with public and collective enterprises, China is not a capitalist country because the party retains control over the direction of the country, maintaining its course of socialist development.

In China, Guanxi is a complex system of social networks and influential relationships which facilitate business and other dealings. Because Guanxi is built into social networks and influential relationships, it also runs deep through the CCP like threads through a complex interwoven, handmade tapestry.

Sir Robert Hart (1835 – 1911), the godfather of China’s modernization and the main character in my historical fiction novel, My Splendid Concubine, discovered the importance of Guanxi soon after he arrived in China and eventually went to work for China’s Emperor. Hart quickly learned that a ‘supreme value of loyalty glued together China’s structure of personal relationships.’

In addition, Robert Hart wrote in a letter in 1891, “These people (referring to the Chinese) never act too soon, and, so far, I have not known of their losing anything by being late. To glide naturally, easily and seasonably into the safe position sequence as circumstances make, is probably a sounder though less heroic policy for a state than to be forever experimenting …”

To translate, it takes time to develop Guanxi through relationships, friendships, and trust where everyone benefits. In China, one must prove they can be trusted before being accepted into a Guanxi social and/or business network.

There are several elements and layers to Guanxi. First, Guanxi is based on a Confucian hierarchy of familial relationships, long-term friendships, classmates, and schoolmates that no stranger, Chinese or foreign, will ever have access to.

Guanxi developed over millennia because China did not have a stable and effective legal system similar to the one that developed in western countries.

And thanks to the greed, insanity, and incompetence of President Donald Trump and the Libertarian movement in the United States, China will probably never become a capitalist kleptocracy like the U.S. is fast becoming. Guanxi will make sure that never happens in China, and corrupt individuals like Donald Trump will never understand how Guanxi works because of his inability to be honest and trust others. To Trump, he must always win and everyone else must lose.

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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