China’s History with the Night Sky: Part 2 of 2

August 9, 2017

The Milky Way Maid’s Weblog says, the (ancient) Chinese focused on the constellations creating one of the earliest star maps ever found. “The Chinese are believed to have made the first observation of the legendary Halley’s comet in 240 BC.” In the West, In 1705, an astronomer named Edmond Halley discovered that the comet appears every 75 to 76 years, and the comet was named after him, not the Chinese who observed it before Christ was born.

Chinese astronomers gave distinctive names to familiar Western constellations. For example, the Big Dipper was called The Plow. The North Star was Bei Ji. Another constellation was called the Winnowing Basket.

However, the Chinese were not alone in mapping the heavens.

Ancient cultures in the West studied the skies too. The “Nebra Sky Disc”, discovered in Europe, was dated to about 1,600 BC.

National Geographic reports the Nebra Sky Disc is the oldest depiction of the night sky in history, and its a hundred years older than the oldest images found in ancient Egypt. The Nebra Sky Disc may be the first representation of the universe in human history.

In addition, China.org reports that 4,000 years ago, the oldest astronomical instrument known to man was invented. It was merely a bamboo pole planted in the ground so that the movement of the sun could be observed from the direction and length of the shadow of the pole. “From the 16th century BC to the end of the 19th century AD, almost every dynasty appointed officials charged with the sole task of observing and recording the changes in the heavens. Such observations and records have left a rich astronomical legacy. …

“While Western astronomers of the Renaissance period were still arguing in 1615 who was the first to discover sunspots, Chinese astronomers had already accumulated a large amount of records on sunspots. Now it is known that the earliest records of sunspots were made in 28 BC by Chinese astronomers during the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Western Han Dynasty.”

Return to or Start with Part 1.

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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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Should the Chinese Communist Party be concerned about the Mandate of Heaven?

July 19, 2017

Due to the Mandate of Heaven, many of China’s people see rebellion as a birthright under the right circumstances. The Mandate of Heaven has been traced back to 1753 B.C. or earlier.

With the Mandate of Heaven, the right to rule from divine legitimization to one based on ‘evenhanded’ rule was born. Whenever a dynasty fell, the reason offered by China’s wise men was the loss of the moral right to rule given by Heaven alone, because, for a good government, Heaven sends down all blessings, but on the evildoer, Heaven sends down all miseries.

However, China’s leaders, like leaders all over the world, were free to rule unjustly and could harm the people they ruled but the thinking was that their rule would come to a swift end as Heaven passed its mandate to another family or group. It’s thought that Heaven blessed the authority of a just ruler, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate. In addition, severe floods or famines might be considered evidence of divine repeal of the Mandate of Heaven.

As long as the ruling family or political party rules fairly and justly, the majority of Chinese people will see no need to call for change or rebel.

What is the closest thinking to the Mandate of Heaven in the West? Here’s my choice for the United States. Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”?

Since I started this post with a question, I’ll end with one. Should the 45th President of the United States be concerned about the Mandate of Heaven and Thomas Jefferson’s advice? Please let me know what you think in the comment section.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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 Supreme Art of War is to subdue the Enemy without Fighting

July 11, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Compare what this American President said to China’s Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War (recommended reading at West Point) more than 500-years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

I’m not sure that America speaks all that softly and that stick has been around the world several times in too many countries and using that stick as a huge club has been costly.  I did a bit of internet sleuthing and the military budgets approved by the Congress from 1946 to 2009 cost the American tax-payer about 23-Trillion dollars, and that’s not counting the years from 2009 – 2017. These figures also do not include the cost of wars since World War II.

In today’s dollars:

  • the Korean War cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $340 billion
  • the Vietnam War cost $740 Billion
  • By 2013, the cost of war in Iraq had cost more than $2 Trillion, and that was four years ago
  • And, also in 2013, Afghanistan has cost between $4 – $6 Trillion

China intervened in the Korean War and sent hundreds-of-thousands of troops to fight with North Korea against the United States and NATO. To understand why the Chinese got involved, Mao said,”Vietnam (and Korea) is the gums to our teeth. What happens when the gums are gone?” At the time, China was surrounded by Communist-hating enemies except for the USSR.

In addition, between 1965 and 1970, over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam.

The Guardian reports China increased its defense spending by 7-8 percent in 2016 to about $150 billion vs. almost $600 billion for the United States.

Based on Sun Tzu’s “subdue the enemy without fighting”, how is the United States doing compared to
China?

The United States had a stalemate in Korea (and North Korea is a much larger hostile threat today to world peace than it was back in the 1950s), lost in Vietnam, and can’t seem to win or end the wars the U.S. started in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to China that fought a brief war in Vietnam in 1979 a few years after the U.S. left and then pulled out a few weeks later, and fought an earlier war with India in 1962 that also lasted a few weeks, and once China’s objectives were met, that war ended.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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.

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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 Historical Influence

May 9, 2017

China was a regional superpower in East Asia for about two-thousand years starting with the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C. How did China influence those countries?


China’s Sphere of Influence Japan, Korea, Vietnam AP World History

From Global Security.org we learn “During the T’ang (Thang) dynasty China (in the 7th to the 9th century AD) the two peoples of China and the Philippines already had relatively close relations and material as well as cultural exchanges.”

The Chinese exchanged silk, porcelain, colored glass, beads and iron ware for hemp cloth, tortoise shells, pearls and yellow wax of the Filipinos.

The Chinese became the dominant traders in the 12th and 13th centuries during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 AD). The shift in the commerce between China and Southeast Asia saw Butuan send a tribute mission to the Sung emperor.

Ethnic Chinese sailed around the Philippine Islands from the 9th century onward and frequently interacted with the local Filipinos. Some datus, rajahs, and lakans (indigenous rulers) in the Philippines were themselves a product of the intermarriage between the Chinese merchant-settlers and the local Filipinos

There is a significant number of Thai-Chinese in Thailand. Fourteen percent of Thais may have Chinese origins. Significant intermixing has taken place such that there are few pure ethnic Chinese, and those of partially mixed Chinese ancestry account for as much as a third to a half of the Thai population.

In Vietnam,  approximately 1 million ethnic Chinese, constitute one of Vietnam’s largest minority groups.

Cambodia has more than 152,000 citizens who are Chinese.

Laotian Chinese number about 185,000. Most Laotian Chinese are descendants of older generations who moved down from the Southern China provinces starting in the 19th century.

Chinese Singaporeans make up 76.2% of that country’s citizens – approximately three out of four Singaporeans – making them the largest ethnic group in Singapore.

In Malaysia more than 23-percent of the population is Malaysian Chinese forming the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world, after Thailand. Within Malaysia, they represent the second largest ethnic group after the ethnic Malay majority.

Culturally, most Malaysian Chinese have maintained their Chinese heritage including their various dialects, although the descendants of the earliest Chinese migrants who arrived from the 15th to 17th century have assimilated aspects of the Malay culture and they form a distinct subethnic group known as the Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya.

There has been a recognizable community of Chinese people in Korea since the 1880s. Most early migrants came from China’s Shandong province. It’s estimated that about 780,000 live in South Korea today with another 10,000 in North Korea.

According to the latest population census in 2010, there are 2.8 million ethnic Chinese living in Indonesia, accounting for 1.2% of the total population. Observers say this number is much higher because many Indonesians are still reluctant to admit they are of Chinese descent, fearing discrimination.

Even Japan has its share of Chinese. In 1990, there were about 150,000 Chinese living in Japan. Today, that number is more than 700,000.

In Myanmar (Burma), 2.5-percent of the population is Chinese. Due to deposits of jade,  Chinese merchants have been involved in mining and trade there for more than two thousand years. In fact, during the Qing Dynasty, there were four major invasions (1765-1769) of Burma by China’s Manchu emperors. In 1784, the long struggle between Burma and China ended and regular trade started up again.


Overseas Chinese Make Their Mark

In November 1885, Sir Robert Hart favored a proposal that China, as Burma’s overlord, stand aside and allow the British Empire to pursue her own course there provided that Britain allow Burma to continue her decennial tribute (once every ten years) missions to China.

Instead, the British Empire made Burma a province of India in 1886.

Since independence from the British Empire, Burma/Myanmar has generally been impartial to world affairs but was one of the first countries to recognize Israel and the People’s Republic of China.

Territories such as the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and countries like North Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam and others along China’s long borders were considered vassal states by some Chinese dynasties, and to maintain cordial relations and keep the peace, these vassal states often sent lavish gifts and delegations to China’s emperors on a regular schedule.

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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 much did it cost for the U.S. to support a brutal dictator?

April 25, 2017

Just about everyone in the United States who reads and/or listens to the news has probably heard of Mao’s brutality and the alleged brutality of the Chinese Communist Party, but what about Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT, an ally of the United States during and after World War II.

But since 1949, China is responsible for 90-percent of the reduction in global poverty. At the same time the United States was supporting a brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Taiwan that didn’t become a democracy until 1996.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History reports, “Taiwan was the home of one of the Cold War ‘friendly dictatorships’: illiberal governments with which Washington partnered because they were anti-communist. Taiwan’s political system allowed only the KMT to rule and maintained a permanent state of martial law, with severe constraints on civil and political liberties and harsh punishment of dissidents. Until the 1990s the KMT government, like the CCP, had a Leninist party structure originally designed by Soviet advisors.”

The Taipei Times published a piece on the front page of the paper on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, and said, Former dictator Chiang Kai-shek was a murderer, and President Chen Shui-bian said Taiwan’s former authoritarian regime and its leaders were responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians slain in 1947.

On a site that lists the death tolls for the major wars and atrocities of the twentieth century, Chiang Kai-shek was given credit for 10,214,000 democides from 1921 to 1948.

Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.”

Scaruffi.com credits Chiang Kai-shek with the deaths of 30-thousand people during a popular uprising against his regime in Taiwan in 1947.

The next day, several thousand protesters marched in Taipei on February 28, 1947 against the brutality that took place the day before, but they were met with bullets, and martial law was declared.

I discovered a book on the topic, Representing Atrocity in Taiwan, The 2.28 Incident and the White Terror by Sylvia Li-Chun, who is the Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame.

The Asia Times also reported, “They slaughtered civilians at random to terrorize the Taiwanese into submission, and carried out a targeted campaign to wipe out the Taiwanese elite—local leaders and intellectuals who represented the biggest threat to KMT rule. To this date, the numbers killed are uncertain, but historians estimate 30,000.”

The reason for all this was the confrontation between capitalism and communism worldwide. The thinking was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” even if that friend is a monster, a tyrant who is equal to or worse than the targeted enemy.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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 Noise between China and Japan

April 12, 2017

Poor relations with Japan started as far back as 1840, when Japan joined the British, French and Americans during the Opium Wars to gain concessions to sell opium legally to the Chinese.

In 1843, under the agreement of the Nanjing Treaty, Shanghai became one of five treaty ports to be turned into a colonial city that would be under control of foreign countries—Great Britain, France, America and Japan.

Until 1871, most Japanese never had much contact with the Chinese. Then, getting to know the Chinese led to a Japanese opinion that the Chinese were ethnically inferior since they were different from the Japanese and most Japanese haven’t changed their minds to this day. It didn’t matter that China had been more powerful and technologically advanced for about 1,500 years up to the 15th century.

In 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops faced off in Korea, which ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.

In 1894, Japan and China fought their first war over Korea. Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries.

China was defeated in 1895 losing Korea as a tributary and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria.

Then in 1870, Japan annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had also been a tributary to China.

A Ryukyuan envoy even begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands should belong to Japan instead of China.

On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a war to conquer China. Over the next 8 years, Japan would occupy most of China.

Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities that happened during World War II that resulted in millions of Chinese deaths. The Chinese estimate that they lost about 15-20 million in World War II and most of those deaths were civilians. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops.

U.S. News & World Report says, “The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s yearly visits to a Tokyo shrine for war veterans has always played in China as a reminder of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.”

The argument between China and Japan over a group of uninhabited islands that both nations claim is a continuation of this history of poor relations.

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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