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

July 26, 2017

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

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

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

Shanghai – 22 million

Beijing – 10 million

Guangzhou – 11 million

Tianjin – 11 million

Shenzhen – 10 million

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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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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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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China’s Great Wall

January 24, 2017

Like so much about China, The Great Wall is also the victim of myths that are not always true. Did you know that the history of the Great Wall of China started with fortifications built by various states during the Spring and Autumn (771 – 476 BC) and Warring States (475 – 221 BC) periods? But the best-known and best-preserved sections of The Great Wall was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming Dynasty, more than two thousand years later.

If you want to know more about The Great Wall plan a trip to China, or read Peter Hessler’s Country Driving. The first part of this book is about the months he spent driving the length of The Great Wall all the way to Tibet.

In the first 122 pages Peter Hessler rented a Chinese made Jeep Cherokee. In this section, I learned that the Wall was successful most of the time and not the failure historians have claimed it was.

Over a period of several thousand years, the wall failed a couple of times, but served its purpose and offered protection for China’s heartland for centuries. Hessler says that there is no archaeologist in the world that has studied the history of the Great Wall, but he wrote that there are amateur experts, and you will meet a few in his book along with a unique view of rural China.


The Great Wall of China – Unbelievable Secrets & Unknown Facts

The Wall failed when first Genghis and then Kublai Khan unified the Mongol tribes and invaded China in the 13th century, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took sixty years for the Mongols to conquer all of China and then they ruled the country for almost a century before the Han Chinese rose up and drove them out.

The sections of the Great Wall I’ve visited are an hour out of Beijing. The most popular site is at Badaling.  The second choice, Mutianyu, is more dramatic, because this portion of the Great Wall runs along the ridge of a mountain range and you have to hike up a steep slope to reach it or ride a ski lift to the top. Badaling starts in a fortress in a mountain pass, and the wall climbs the slopes from there.

great-wall-consruction-by-dynasty

Smithsonian Magazine reported, “Few cultural landmarks symbolize the sweep of a nation’s history more powerfully than The Great Wall of China. Constructed by a succession of imperial dynasties over more than 2,000 years, the network of barriers, towers and fortifications expanded over the centuries, defining and defending the outer limits of Chinese civilization. At the height of its importance during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), The Great Wall is believed to have extended some 4,000 miles, the distance from New York to Milan.

China’s Great Wall was not built by one country, king, or emperor. The wall was built in sections by the kings of several nations over a period of centuries. Those walls were eventually linked together by China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who brutally unified China through bloody conquest into one country with one written language, Mandarin, and many spoken languages.

Then there is the recent Great Wall film starring Matt Damon, a film that explores a mystery centered on the construction of the Great Wall of China. Of course it obvious this story is based on a fantasy. In the film’s trailer, I was hooked by, “What were they trying to keep out?”

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.

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Chiang Kai-shek, an American ally and a Brutal Dictator

November 25, 2014

Anyone 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. In fact, you might be interested to discover how much the United States has spent just from 1990 on Taiwan’s defense from the Congressional Research Service to learn how much the U.S. is willing to spend to support a brutal regime.

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.”

In another post about Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, enotes.com says, “From 1927 to 1949, Chiang’s troops used murder, torture and other brutal tactics to wipe out the communists.”

Then Scaruffi.com lists a century of genocides from 1900-2000 and Chiang Kai-shek was credited with the deaths of 30-thousand during popular uprising against his regime in Taiwan in 1947.

The Boston Examiner reported that several thousand protesters marched in Taipei on February 28, 1947 against the brutality—that took place the day before—but were met with bullets. Martial law was declared and even though things had settled down by the time the Nationalist soldiers arrived, the massacre began almost immediately.

East Asia posted an Austrian Perspective by Christian Schafferer, who said the infamous 1947 “2-28 Incident” resulted in ten-to-thirty thousand civilians killed and Taiwan’s governor executed.

In addition, 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 most powerful evidence comes from the monument in Taiwan to the incident, which says, “Within a few months, the number of deaths, injured and missing persons amounted to tens of thousands.  Keelung, Taipei, Chiayi and Kaohsiung suffered the highest number of casualties. It was called the February 28 Incident.”

Then from the Asia Times, “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.”

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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A Difference in Defensive Thinking

June 20, 2013

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Compare this to Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War. He 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 more than once and has been costly.  I did a bit of virtual sleuthing and the military budgets approved by the Congress between 1946 to 2009 have cost the American tax-payer about 23 trillion dollars. These figures do not include the wars since World War II.

In today’s dollars, the Korean War cost more than $340 billion; the Vietnam War cost $740 Billion.

To date, the cost of war in Iraq has cost more than $810 billion and Afghanistan $629 billion.


To compare, the US military has more firepower.

China intervened in the Korean War and sent hundreds-of-thousands of troops. To understand why the Chinese got involved, Mao said,”Vietnam is the gums to our teeth. What happens when the gums are gone?”

Between 1965 and 1970, over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam.

“Rather than worrying about this development, we should understand that Beijing’s maintenance of a large, modern military is driven by history.” Source: Huffington Post  “On 4 March 2010, Beijing announced China’s declared defense budget will only increase by 7.5% this year — the slowest rate in 20 years.”

In 2012, China defense spending increased by 11%—more than $100 Billion compared to $738 Billion for the US.

Discover When China’s generals laughed.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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The Dog that Turned on its Master

August 27, 2012

This morning while reading a few Blog Posts on China topics, I ran into another example of manipulating the facts to influence public opinion—we could call it a white lie but I believe it is much worse than that because one day telling such half truths may lead to a war that kills millions of people and does unimaginable destruction to human civilization.

The Buffalo Hair Gazette International, claiming to be a News and Video and Resource Portal (in the worst possible way), reported that the “Free Syria Army Stocks Up  with Weapons Captured (Thank You Russia and China For Supplies).”

Besides a photo of weapons and bombs, that was it.  What that headline says may be the truth, but what was your first impression? Did you think that Russia and China were supporting the Assad government in Syria?  How about America—did you feel that America was a role model in this area and believed that it would never do the same thing as a champion of democracy in the Middle East?

If you formed an opinion that America was the good guy and Russia and China were evil, then you have been mislead by another example of how the media in the West twists facts and manipulates public opinion.

For example, America and other Western democracies have praised Egypt’s recent democratic election, which saw an Islamic fundamentalist president voted into power. Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new civilian president, is the leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

What does this mean for the West?  Who knows? We may only guess.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but the current government of Iran was voted into power through democratic elections and yet Iran is considered one of America’s most dangerous enemies second only to al Qaeda and one day soon, we may be at war with Iran.

Again, correct me if I’m wrong, there is a reason why America’s Founding Fathers despised democracy—they believed it would lead to mob rule and eventually the end of the freedoms spelled out in the US Bill of Rights.

After all, doesn’t a democratically elected mob rule Iran?

Oh, I thought you should know that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is known as an enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, this Islamic fundamentalist political party has been suppressed for decades. His father, Hafiz al-Assad was ruthless with the Muslim Brotherhood too.

Sometimes it’s better to stay with the devil you know.

Anyway, back to Buffalo Hair Gazette International’s manipulation of public opinion by only telling some of the truth.

War is Business.com reported, “Between 1950 and 2009, American weapons merchants sold 47.6% of the weapons that ended up in Muslim countries. In 2009, that percent was 52.7%.”

In fact, if it weren’t for America, there would be no al Qaeda.  The US funded and trained al Qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and when the Soviets were defeated, al Qaeda turned on America.

Have you forgotten 9/11 yet?

The Economist also ran a piece on this topic. Click on the link and read what The Economist has to say. You will discover that between 2006 – 2010, Russia sold 23% of the global share of weapons while the US sold 30%.  In fact, if we add up four of the top five weapons merchants—the United States, Germany, France and Great Britain—the total is 52% of all global weapons sales. France even sells to China as does Russia.

When we look at a ranking of the World’s largest arms exporters, China ranks sixth place while the US is first place.

1. United States

2. Russia

3. Germany

4. France

5. United Kingdom

6. China
(In fact, China sold less than one eighth of the weapons US arms manufacturers in the private sector sold to other countries with the blessing of the U.S. government.) Source: Arms industry.Wiki.org

Then we have the clincher—a story reported by Foreign Policy Magazine that fills in the rest of the blanks ignored by the Buffalo Hair Gazette International.

Foreign Policy asks, “Why is the U.S. Selling Billions in Weapons to Autocrats?” — Published Saturday, June 23, 2012

An excerpt from Foreign Policy Magazine says, “The Export of American arms to countries around the world—even those actively repressing their own citizens—is booming.

“Every May and June, different branches of the State Department paint contrasting portraits of how Washington views dozens of strategically significant countries around the world, in seemingly rivalrous reports by its Human Rights and Political-Military Affairs bureaus.

“The former routinely criticizes other nations for a lack of fealty to democratic principles, citing abuses of the right to expression, assembly, speech, and political choice. The latter tallies the government’s latest successes in the export of American weaponry, often to the same countries criticized by the former.”

Discover What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Two Military Space Missions – one Chinese; one American – one transparent; one not

June 18, 2012

Shortly after the Chinese publicly announced to the world that it had succeeded with an ambitious space launch that includes time spent in a small space station, an unmanned US Air Force space plane landed in California.

The U.S. military space plane known as X-37 OTV is an unmanned robot plane (with what looks like three windows down the side). This military robot space plane just spent a super-secret fifteen months circling the earth in low orbit with a super-secret package aboard, which could be anything.

The X-37 was built by Boeing Government Space Systems.  It weighs 11,000 pounds, stands 9.5 feet tall and is just over 29 feet long.  This robot space plane was a NASA project before it was turned over to DARPA in 2004.  While NASA has seen its funds cut, the military has seen its funds increased dramatically (more than double what it was in 2001). The 2012 Department of Defense budget is $707.5 billion (oh, and interest incurred on debt from past wars runs between $109.1–$431.5 billion annually).

China’s 2012 defense budget, on the other hand, is US$106.4 billion with no interest incurred from past wars since China hasn’t fought any for decades.

In 2001, US Military Spending was  $307.8 billion; in 2002 – $328.7 billion; 2003  – $404.9 billion; 2004 -$455.9 billion; 2005 – $495.3 billion; 2006  – $535.9 billion; 2007 – $527.4 billion; 2008 – $494.4 billion; 2009 – $494.3 billion; 2010 – $712.0 billion, and 2011 – $658.7 billion.

Since the X-37 is now a military project, there is no way to discover exactly how much was spent unless someone at Boeing leaks the information.

How about the Chinese?  Well, their most recent space mission is no secret. The Chinese have often been criticized in the West for lack of transparency, but when the US spends years on a military space project wrapped in secrecy, the Western media does not complain about that lack of transparency.

On the other hand, I approve of both America’s X-37 space project and China building a space station. In addition, China plans to colonize the moon and visit Mars in the near future. Maybe this will motivate America to seriously get back into the space game. A little competition could be a good thing.

Meanwhile, Sebastien Blanc writing for AFP, reports, “This is China’s most ambitious space mission so far. It is longer and more complex than anything previously done,” said Morris Jones, an Australian space expert.

“It shows that China is serious about its long-term goals in space. …

“Beijing has long maintained that the rapid development of its space capabilities is peaceful in nature, and the white paper reiterated this, saying Beijing “opposes weaponisation or any arms race in outer space.”

“But concerns remain over China’s intentions.”

Is anyone questioning America’s intentions?

After all, what nation has the largest military budget in the world; what nation is waging several military conflicts around the globe; what nation has several hundred military bases spanning the globe; what nation has the largest prison population on the planet; what nation has more than half the world aircraft carriers (eleven with three under construction), while China only has one and it was picked up used from Russia; what nation has the largest global weapons industry ($37.8 billion in 2008– Italy is number two with $3.7 billion in sales) and what nation is the only nation on earth to have ever used nuclear weapons during a war—twice?

Double Standard?

Discover more at Growing Great Honor in One Lunar Leap

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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