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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Seventy-five percent of the world’s indigenous people live in China

May 15, 2019

If this post focused only on the United States, the topic would be about that country’s Native Americans and how the European invaders took away their land, slaughtered them, and forced the few survivors on reservations monitored by the FBI today. For a time, Native American children were forcebably taken from their families and sent to religious boarding schools. “As part of this federal push for assimilation, boarding schools forbid Native American children from using their own languages and names, as well as from practicing their religion and culture. They were given new Anglo-American names, clothes, and haircuts, and told they must abandon their way of life because it was inferior to white people’s.”

Back to China where 91.5-percent of the population of 1,418,984,771 is Han Chinese, and its native minority population represents about 8.5-percent of the total or more than 120.5 million compared to 5.2 million native Americans in the U.S. Please take note that recognized native minorities in China are equal to 36.7-percent of the total U.S. population of 327-million.

The World Bank defines the word “indigenous” as people recognized in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural, linguistic or historical distinctiveness from other populations that are often politically dominant.

When the U.S. media criticizes China for allegedly cracking down on China’s Uyghur Muslim minority in northwest China, there is seldom any mention of the other recognized indigenous groups in China. The World Bank says, “The research found that in every country studied, Indigenous peoples are poorer. The Indigenous poverty headcount (the percent of the population living below the poverty line) is much larger than for the non-indigenous population, and the poverty gap (the distance from the poverty line) is far larger than the national average.” In fact, in the United States Indian Youth.org reports, “Many American Indian communities are impoverished, with some tribes reporting unemployment as high as 85%.”

Travel China Guide.com says, “As a large united multi-national state, China is composed of 56 ethnic groups. … Although they make up only a small proportion of the overall Chinese population, the … minority ethnic groups are distributed extensively throughout different regions of China.”

One of the 56-ethnic monitories lives primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, where they are one of the officially-recognized ethnic groups. The Uyghur indigenous population represents about 0.8 percent of the country’s total population.

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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Magic

March 27, 2019

Magic is not exclusive to any culture or race, but in China, “the art of magic has (more than) a two-thousand-year-old history,” gbtimes.com says. “Traditional Chinese magic was developed by peasants in the northern part of the country where harsh conditions and the need to survive influenced the development of skills like street acrobatics and magic tricks in order to bring in extra money.”

In addition, China Underground.com reports, “In Chinese folklore, especially in the South, … Gu magic was used to manipulate the will of others, partners, to make people ill and not least cause death. According to Chinese folklore, a Gu spirit was able to transform into different animals: snakes, worms, earthworms, frogs, dogs or pigs. … The name Gu has ancient origins dating back to the oracle inscriptions of the Shang Dynasty (fourteenth century BC).”


In “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” Jet Li stars as a sorcerer monk in an epic special effects fantasy film based on a Chinese legend. This complete film runs more than an hour and a half.

Encylopedia.com tells us, “Magic and mantic arts are endemic in Chinese life and prominent in the religions of China, both in popular religion and in Buddhism and Daoism.”

Practicing magic in China was also risky. Ancient Origins.net says, “The rules of the time (during the Han Dynasty) declared the use of magic as a capital offense. It was especially unforgivable amongst the nobility, including the royal family.” … “Black magic was well known in Ancient China, but research related to this topic is still full of gaps. It is known, however, that one of the most famous methods for practicing magic was ‘magic mirrors’”. As M. V. Berry explained.

It seems that black magic also cast its spell over Chinese movie audiences in 1975, starting a few months before Mao died in 1976. “Between the late 70s and early 80s,” Den of Geek.com says, “Chinese black magic movies were pumped out en masse, feeding audiences their fill of evil sorcery and twisted moralizing. The formula usually featured some poor schmuck enlisting a dark wizard to help them achieve something (more often than not, something sexual)”

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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Yes, China is a Republic

February 27, 2019

The first thing we should know is what a republic is, and the oldest known republic is the Netherlands (July 26, 1581).

The Urban Dictionary says a republic is “A system of government ran by elected officials. Not a rare system of government at all. Republic by definition does not imply a concern for human rights or an inclusive democratic system. It just means that a governing body (aristocracy, military, general population, etc.) elected a head of state.”

The Oxford English Dictionary that was first published in 1857 is considered by many the last word on words for over a century. The Oxford says a republic is, “A country that is governed by a president and politicians elected by the people and where there is no king or queen.”

By definition, that makes China a republic. China has its own Constitution, and there are more than 80-million members in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that vote for the country’s elected national leaders, and that includes China’s president. At the village level hundreds of millions of rural Chinese elect their village leaders, and the villagers do not have to be members of the CCP to vote.

China is not the only republic in East Asia.

South Korea started out as an autocratic state with limited political freedom (fancy words for a dictatorship) from 1948 to 1987. There was a military coup in 1961 and General Park ruled until he was assassinated in 1979.

In 1980, martial law was declared in South Korea after the army killed 200 during student demonstrations. Recently, South Korea’s constitutional court upheld a controversial military ban (censorship) on twenty-three books considered subversive. Source: Time

It wouldn’t be until 1986 that South Korea’s constitution was changed and in December 1987, Roh won the first direct presidential election since 1971. The first free parliamentary elections took place in 1988.

Another Asian Republic is Thailand. A Blog about Political Prisoners in Thailand claims that there is no freedom of speech. They claim what you feel or think can get you thrown in jail.

Thailand also passed a Computer Crimes act in 2007. The language in one section sounds similar to language in China’s Constitution that U.S. critics of China often complain about.

In May 2010, Reuters reported that Bangkok was being cleaned up after the worst riots in modern history. “At least 54 people were killed and more than 400 injured in the latest bout of violence which began on May 14. Almost 40 buildings in the city were set on fire and the tourism and retail sectors have been devastated.”

The 1997 Thai Constitution increased legal protections for women and persons with disabilities, but some inequities in the law remained and some protections were not enforced. Violence and societal discrimination against women are still problems. Societal discrimination against hill tribes and religious and ethnic minorities continues. There have been reports of forced labor and child labor. Trafficking in women and children, coerced prostitution and labor are still serious problems. ­­– U.S. Department of State

Then there is Singapore that is also a republic by definition. In fact, Singapore is considered a model republic respected around the world.

However, Human Rights Watch reports, “Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party’s hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison.”

Then there is the United States, a Constitutional Republic where people elect officials that are responsible to run the government according to the U.S. Constitution, a document that was designed by its original authors to be changed through an amendment process.

When the United States became a country on July 4, 1776, there were no political parties and the U.S. Constitution only allowed white men that owned poverty (about 10-percent of the free population in 1776) and were not Jewish to vote for the elected officials that ran a country that had a population of about 2.5 million people (about a half million were slaves). Over time, the U.S. evolved into a multi-party republic that now has almost 330-million people without any legal slaves.  Today, women and minorities are allowed to vote for the elected officials that run the country and its states.  But back in 1776, about two hundred thousand men could vote. The other 2.3 million could not vote and that included the half million slaves.

Fast forward to today: Southeast Asian Refugees Are the Latest Victims of Trump’s Deportation Crackdown. These refugees have been in the United States since the end of the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), because they fled to survive when the United States pulled its military out of Southeast Asia and left these people stranded after almost twenty years of warfare. If they had stayed, many if not all of these refugees risked execution or prison, because they were Christians and/or supported the United States during the Vietnam War.

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 is the Misunderstood Dragon

January 30, 2019

If you want to make an attempt to understand China, I suggest starting with the differences between Chinese dragons vs. Western ones.

Kid World Citizen.org tells us, “(Chinese) Dragons symbolize importance, power and strength, represent all things male, and were the symbol of the Emperor of China (who was said to sit on the dragon throne). The imperial dragon is shown with 5 claws instead of the usual 4, to distinguish him from lesser beasts.”

Chinese “Dragons are essential in agricultural life, since they are seen to control the seasons and the weather.  Although they (Chinese dragons) have no wings, the fiery pearl sometimes displayed in their mouths gives them the power to fly to heaven.  The male air and weather dragons would bring rains and winds to help the harvest, while the female earth dragons would preserve the waters in rivers and underground wells.” …

If you are interested, there’s more about Chinese dragons at Kid World Citizens dot org (find the link above).

Compare what you have learned about China’s dragons to the West’s. The Vintage News.com says, “From ancient Greek myths to Game of Thrones, the legend of the dragon is one of the most enduring and romanticized throughout history. It has been traced back as far as 4000 BC and exists in all parts of the world.” …

In the West, dragons were generally treated as violent monsters that must be slain by heroes and saints. European dragons could have four legs, two legs, or none, and often had wings.

“In Asia, and especially China,” The Vintage News continues, “the view of these creatures was very different. … They breathed clouds and moved the seasons. The dragon was the symbol of the Chinese Emperor, and the Imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne. Known as the Dragon, the emperor ruled in harmony, and brought peace and prosperity to all. … Chinese dragons are depicted as being more serpent-like, with long, snaking bodies and usually had four legs. They are generally seen as wingless.”

There are also a few other differences to compare.

China is a collective culture vs Europe and North America that are individualistic cultures. It is possible that the reason China’s dragons are different is because of the influence of a collective culture.

Does that mean we can explain the evil and danger of Western dragons to the influence of individualistic thinking?

European and North American cultures are influenced mostly by Christianity, Judaism, and philosophers from ancient Greece and Renaissance Europe. Ancient Athens in Greece is among the first recorded and one of the most important democracies in ancient times; the word “democracy” ( Greek: δημοκρατία – “rule by the people”) was invented by Athenians in order to define their system of government, around 508 BC.

Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have never been a major political or religious influence in China.

Religious and/or philosophical influences in China come from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism have never been a major political or religious influence in Europe or North America.

Because of these differences, mainland China has never had a republic or democracy similar to Europe or North America.

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 ancient Chinese concept of Hell after death

January 23, 2019

The Chinese have Dante beat. Dante only wrote about 9 circles of hell. The Chinese have eighteen levels. It makes sense in a gruesome way when you realize the Chinese also came up with a very slow and painful death by a thousand cuts, and then there’s the Chinese water torture. Where do you think the West came up for  waterboarding?

China Underground.com says, “Diyu, the Traditional Chinese Hell, based on Buddhism concept of Naraka, is an underground maze with various levels and chambers, where souls are taken after death to atone for the sins they committed when they were alive.”

Buddhism originated in India and when it arrived in China, it brought eighteen levels of hell with it. Over time, this belief spread across China.

Taoism, Buddhism, and traditional Chinese folk religions think that the souls of the dead must experience several tests before reaching the gates of hell, where demons demand money to enter, which might explain why many Chinese burn paper money at funerals to make sure beloved family members have enough for the journey through hell.

There are eighteen levels on this journey, and each level comes with a method to test for evil.

For criminals, the souls are heavy and the trip is long and painful. Chinese almanacs graphically illustrated the punishments while good souls were light and made the journey quickly.

Today, these beliefs are probably more alive in remote areas of rural China than urban areas where Mao’s Cultural Revolution had more of an impact getting rid of ancient beliefs.

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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