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.

Where to Buy

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

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

Advertisements

What Type of Government does China have?

February 15, 2017

By definition, as you will learn from this post, 21st century China is not a socialist and/or Communist country, even though it is still labeled as one. It is also not a capitalist country.

Socialism is a system where there is no private property and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. But in 2014 Bloomberg reported that private companies are driving China’s growth. Only 25-percent of China’s industrial output came from state-owned enterprises in 2014.

Communism is a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. When Mao died in 1976, China moved away from this political theory by ending Mao’s Cultural Revolution and arresting the Gang of Four, who planned to lead China and continue the Cultural Revolution’s class war forever.

Then there is capitalism that is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Since about 25-percent of China’s industry is still state-owned, China clearly isn’t a capitalist system like the United States is.  The evidence for this was on display soon after the 2007–08 global financial crises created by U.S. Banks and Wall Street greed that caused millions of Chinese to lose their jobs in private sector manufacturing.

That’s when China’s government stepped in.

The Global Economic Crises and Unemployment in China reports, “The state provided subsidies and basic entitlements to urban workers and their families in an effort to maintain social and political stability within the subsystem … the government has poured billions of dollars into public works designated for road and rail transportation improvements. These projects have created many jobs for migrant labor.”

What else do we know about today’s China?

China has one political party with 85-million voting members; it’s one of the largest political parties in the world. — Britannica.com

More than 600-million rural Chinese vote in village elections. New Politics reports, “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.”

China has its own Constitution from 1982 that includes Amendments.  For instance, the president of China is limited to two 5-year terms and can be impeached.

There is also a mandatory retirement age that comes with a pension.

However, every year, China’s president is listed as one of the world’s dictators by elements of the U.S. media, but under China’s Constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers. This doesn’t fit the definition of a dictator who holds absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control and who is not responsible to the people or their elected representatives.

How are China’s representatives elected?  About.com reports, “China’s representative elections begin with a direct vote of the people in local and village elections operated by local election committees. In cities, the local elections are broken down by residential area or work units. Citizens 18 and older vote for their village and local people’s congresses, and those congresses, in turn, elect the representatives to provincial people’s congresses.

“The provincial congresses in China’s 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four municipalities directly ruled by the Central Government, special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and armed forces then elect the roughly 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“The National People’s Congress is empowered to elect China’s president, premier, vice president, and Chair of the Central Military Commission as well as the president of the Supreme People’s Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.”

Let’s look at how the United States elects its president.  Political Parties that are private sector organizations allow party members to vote in state primaries. These primaries are not public elections because most of them only allow registered party members to vote.

Donald Trump, for instance, only won a little more than 14-million votes from registered Republicans to end up representing the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 2016, and this is in a country that has more than 200-million registered voters. Hillary Clinton had more than 16.8 million votes from the Democratic primaries.

The winners (Trump and Clinton) moved on to campaign in the national election that is held and monitored by the public sector in each state.  In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote 303 to 235, but he lost the popular vote 62,979,879 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 65,844,954.

Does this seem strange?  Is there any other republic in the world where the winner loses the popular vote?

Last, a republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

After reading this post, what type of government do you think China has?

  1. a dictatorship
  2. a socialist state
  3. a communist state
  4. a capitalist state
  5. a republic
  6. A hybrid capitalist-socialist republic
  7. None of the above

 

1a-242-what-most-reviewers-are-saying-jan-16-2017GE

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, we must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel, the property of men to be bought and sold for any reason as they had for thousands of years, and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms.

And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States with its 538 electors]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — not Christianity, Islam or Judaism — and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 


The World’s Largest Political Party is in China

May 11, 2016

In late 2015, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had almost 88 million members, a figure greater than the population of Germany and 217 other countries. In fact, out of 233 countries listed by worldometers, only 15 had populations greater then the CCP’s membership.

The South China Morning Post report said, “Membership is coveted and can bring benefits in terms of connections in business and academia as well as the prestige associated with being part of the country’s ruling class.”

For a comparison to the United States, there are four major political parties that rule America: 46.6-million are registered Democrats, 33.5-million are Republicans, and 65.5 million are independents, that do not belong to any political party (because they are so disgusted with extremists and corruption).

The Libertarian Party has 411,250 members with 143 members holding elected offices in the U.S. but this party has more political power than its size because of support from the Koch brothers and several other American billionaires (click the link to learn how devious they are). The Green Party, the smallest of the four with 134 elected Greens across the U.S., has 250,000 registered voters.

How does a Chinese citizen become a member of the CCP?

One source for CCP members may come from the Communist Youth League of China that has 89-million members. China’s Youth League, although overseen by the CCP, is a separate organization. The two are not necessarily one and the same, and not all Youth League members go on to join the CCP.

The China Daily says, “It (the Youth League) is a school where a large number of people learn about socialism with Chinese characteristics and about communism through practice. It is the Party’s assistant and reserve force.”

However, “Many of today’s party members are culled from the top ranks of high schools and colleges: top students are invited to join the party, and it is the sort of invitation that can’t be refused. Others can be nominated by friends who are party members, or apply on their own initiative if they have the support of other party members. During the past two decades, the ranks of the party have been expanded to include businessmen (who were previously not allowed to join) as well as more ethnic minorities, who currently account for 7 per cent of party members.” – Beyond Bricks

There are also factions within the CCP—just like the United States—that have different political opinions and agendas that balance each other. Political theorists have identified two groups within the Communist Party, a structure that has been called “one party, two factions”. The first is the “elitist coalition” or Shanghai clique which is composed mainly of officials who have risen from the more prosperous provinces. The second is the populist coalition, the core of which are the tuanpai, or the Youth League faction which consists mainly of officials who have risen from the rural interior, through the Communist Youth League.

Within his “one party, two factions” model, Li Cheng has noted that one should avoid labeling these two groupings with simplistic ideological labels, and that these two groupings do not act in a zero-sum, winner take all fashion. Neither group has the ability or will to dominate the other completely.

Then there is a study from the China Quarterly that explains why we find so many of China’s wealthy as members/supporters of the CCP.

“This article presents original survey data from 1999 and 2005 to evaluate the Communist Party’s strategy towards the private sector. The CCP is increasingly integrating itself with the private sector both by co-opting entrepreneurs into the Party and encouraging current Party members to go into business. It has opened the political system to private entrepreneurs, but still screens which ones are allowed to play political roles. Because of their close personal and professional ties, and because of their shared interests in promoting economic growth, China’s capitalist and communist officials share similar viewpoints on a range of political, economic and social issues. Rather than promote democratic governance, China’s capitalists have a stake in preserving the political system that has allowed them to prosper, and they are among the Party’s most important bases of support.” — The China Quarterly, 192, December 2007, pp.827-854

In addition, the President of China, who is limited to two, five-year terms, does not hold total dictatorial power and cannot be labeled a dictator. In fact, Bloomberg reports that China’s president has far less power than the President of the U.S. For a better understanding of who holds power in China and how that power works, I suggest clicking the Bloomberg link in this paragraph.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Powerless Victims of Eminent Domain and Civil Forfeiture

May 3, 2016

Gillian Wong of the Associated Press reported on a lone, rural Chinese farmer that resisted selling his house to the local government so a new road could be completed.  The photo shows a house sitting in the middle of an almost finished road with pavement surrounding it.

If that had been in the United States, the house would have been gone long before the road was built—something Wong failed to mention is that this sort of thing happens in the U.S. all the time, and it seriously started during the decades when the roads and highways spread across the U.S. like spider webs.

In fact, local US governments do not need to wait for the owner of a house to agree to sell. It can force the owner to sell and then use the police/marshals to move him or her out using force if necessary.

I still remember reading about one incident in The Los Angeles Times that happened in Southern California during the craze to build freeways there.

The home owner was a combat veteran from World War II, Korea or Vietnam (I do not remember which war).  This vet refused to move out of his house even after the local government forced him to sell it.  He claimed he wasn’t being paid what he had invested in the house in improvements.

This American vet filled sandbags and stacked them against the walls of his house; he stocked up on canned foods, bullets, rifles and a gas mask along with a bullet-proof vest. No one was going to take his house away from him.

A swat team had to be called in, tear gas was used and the swat team broke into his house and swarmed him before he could shoot anyone. Then off to jail and court he went to be judged by a jury of his peers. I never did find out what the outcome of that trial was.

In the US, as states, cities and towns expand and improve roadways, sewer and power lines, communications and other system, local governments often secure or acquire access to private owned land. Without the government’s power to do so, the size and capability or public infrastructure would become inadequate to serve the needs of society (the people) and often in the U.S. the estimated value of a property does not match, because the government uses a different method to determine value not based on what the owner spent on the property but based on the average value of other properties that recently sold in the same community.  To the government, the value of the property is an estimated value. To the owner, it may be every penny he or she invested in the property.  – Find Law.com

In the U.S., this has been called legalized theft, and has been debated for decades. The law is called Eminent Domain, and it gives a government the power to buy private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says: “Government power to take private property for public use without the owner’s consent. Constitutional provisions in most countries, including the U.S. (in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution), require the payment of just compensation to the owner. As a power peculiar to sovereign authority and coupled with a duty to pay compensation, the concept was developed by such 17th-century natural-law jurists as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf.”

After all, they happen all the time and are often ignored by the American media because they are so common. If you doubt what I say, watch the three-part PBS program embedded in this post. In addition, U.S. citizens are now becoming frequent victims of Civil Forfeiture. If you are a citizen in a country with Civil Forfeiture laws similar to those in the U.S., you probably don’t want to watch the following video and risk losing sleep.

My question is why was this incident in China was worthy of media attention in the U.S., and I wonder if China’s media ever reports on similar incidents in America?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Sun Yat-sen’s Republic in China: Part 4 of 4

April 15, 2016

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, Sun’s concept of a republic would have been very different from what we think today.

In addition, members of the U.S. Senate were not elected to office by the popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provided for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun were aware of the details of America’s political history and its limitation by the time he left Hawaii at the age of 17 in 1883, the republic he wanted for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including women. How many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in the early 20th century if only Han Chinese men that owned property were eligible?

In addition, by 1903, when Sun Yat-sen returned to Hawaii looking for support for his dream of a future republic and/or democracy in China, Hawaii was no longer a republic but was a territory of the United States, and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic Sun Yat-sen might have wanted for China may possibly have included at least one House as a National Congress with its members appointed by the elected legislatures of each province, and women would have been excluded from voting and possibly considered the property of men as women were in the United States at the same time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic where the citizens elected China’s leader with a popular vote of the people since Hawaii’s Constitution of 1864 charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king, who was King Kalākaua—the one forced to sign the 1887 Constitution four years after the young Sun Yat-sen had returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and today, it is easier to accept that the Chinese Communist Party’s 1982 Constitution created a government in China closer—and maybe even better—than what Sun Yat-sen might have wanted for China.

In fact, in a Sun Yat-sen republic, children in China might still be considered the property of parents as they were in the United States until the 1938 Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Before 1938, parents in the U.S. had the legal right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

“Prior to the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, both adults and young children often worked brutally long hours only to earn starvation wages.” – Economic Policy Institute

Did you know that in 1900 forty percent of Americans lived in poverty and only 7% of children graduated from high school with 3% of adult Americans graduating from college?

In addition, writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is “the delegation of the government (in a republic) to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.

When James Madison wrote this, the number of US citizens allowed to vote in federal elections was limited to white property owners—not counting Jews—that represented about 10% of the population of the U.S. in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to Part 3 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Sun Yat-sen’s Republic in China: Part 3 of 4

April 14, 2016

Hawaii was not a democracy modeled after today’s United States when Sun Yat-sen lived there from age 13 to 17 [1879 – 1883].

In fact, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii, it was a kingdom ruled by a king and was a Constitutional Monarchy similar to but not the same as Great Britain.

It wouldn’t be until 1887, that the Hawaiian King Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii—four years after Sun Yat-sen had returned to China—that stripped the king of any authority he had turning him into a figurehead.

In addition, there was a property qualification in 1887’s Hawaiian Constitution for voting rights similar to what the Founding Fathers wrote into the U.S. Constitution in 1776, and resident whites in Hawaii, who owned property, since Asians were not allowed to own property or could not afford to buy it, were the only ones allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the American Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 excluded skilled and unskilled Chinese from entering the United States for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. In the U.S. at this time, many Chinese were relentlessly beaten or murdered just because of their race.

Therefore, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii as a Chinese teenager, it was not a republic or a democracy and he was a second-class person barred from entering the United States.

The structure of the political system in the United States was also dramatically different from the one America has today.

In 1790, the Constitution explicitly says that only “free white” immigrants could become naturalized citizens.

In 1848, Mexican-Americans were granted U.S. Citizenship but not voting rights.

In 1856, voting rights were expanded to all white men and not just property owners.

In 1868, four years after the end of the American Civil War, former slaves were granted citizenship, however only African-American men were allowed to be citizens and the right to vote was left up to each state.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed saying the right to vote could not be denied by the federal or state governments based on race (this still did not include women), but some states restricted the right to vote based on voting taxes and literacy tests.

In 1876, the US Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens and could not vote.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred people of Chinese ancestry from naturalizing to become U.S. citizens.

In 1920, the right to vote was extended to women with the 19th Amendment. – U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

What do you think Sun Yat-sen learned from these facts about the U.S. republic and democracy?

Continued on April 15, 2016 with Part 4 or return to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline