What is happening in Hong Kong is a collision of cultures and Christianity may be the catalyst

January 22, 2020

World Population on Review reports, “93.6% of Hong Kong’s population consists of ethnic Chinese. Most are Taishanese, Chiu Chow, other Cantonese people, and Hakka. Most Han people in Hong Kong are from the Taishan and Guangzhou regions. Of the non-ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong, many are South Asians — including Indians, Nepalese, and Pakistanis — as well as Vietnamese refugees. There are also many Canadians, Britons, Americans, Koreans, and Japanese working in the city.”

With almost 7.5 million people in Hong Kong, Christians account for 11-percent of the city’s population and most of them are Protestant. The primary language of Hong Kong is not Mandarin. It is Cantonese, a minority language in China. The city’s culture is broadly Cantonese and not Han. With 1.4 billion people in China, Cantonese is spoken by around 60-million (0.04 percent of China’s population).

World Population on Review continues: “When the British forces formally took over Hong Kong in 1841, the population was 7,541. A century later, the figure officially stood at 1,600,000. This figure fell to 500,000 in 1945, following the Battle of Hong Kong. However, ever since then, the population has steadily increased culminating in its current figure.”

What World Population on Review doesn’t reveal is how the British took over Hong Kong. The British along with the French and other colonial European Empires invaded China and started two Opium Wars to force the Chinese Emperor to allow the British to sell opium to the Chinese people. The British Empire needed money to survive and the sale of opium was an important revenue stream. The British also forced China’s Emperor to give them Hong Kong.

The British Empire ruled Hong Kong for 156 years (1841 – 1997) but not as a republic or democracy. See The History of Democracy in Hong Kong is so Short it Never Happened.

[youube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCCku0_tVD4]

As for Macau, only 7.2 percent of its population is Christian, and the Portuguese who ruled the city for 400 years made little effort to convert the Chinese population to their way of thinking and to adopt Christianity as their religion.

ABC.net.au, explains, “Why Macau hasn’t been swept up by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests? … As Hong Kong grapples with its 12th consecutive week of protests, we take a look at why Macau has often been seen as a success story for the ‘one country, two systems’ framework and what it means for the future of the world’s largest gambling hub. … Macau has generally been seen as the better-behaved special administrative region (SAR) under Chinese rule because of its largely conservative society, and as such, has remained at an arm’s length from the protests in Hong Kong.”

“Macau people,” also, “often turn to mainland China for identification, interpretations, and solutions to their own problems. And while Hong Kong in 2003 expressed strong opposition to a national security law known as Article 23 — which prohibited “treason, secession, sedition” against the Central Government — the same law was passed in Macau.”

NPR.org also reveals, “A Surprising Tie That Binds Hong Kong’s Protest Leaders: Faith … Many of the leaders are Christian, and some cite faith as an inspiration.”

“National surveys conducted in the early 21st century estimated that some 80% of the population of China, which is more than a billion people, practice some kind of Chinese folk religion; 10–16% are Buddhists; 10% are Taoist; 2.53% are Christians; and 0.4% are Muslims.”

China: 2.53-percent are Christians

Macau: 7.2-percent are Christians

Hong Kong: 11-percent are Christians (about 825,000)

Mark Juergensmeyer argues that “despite its central tenets of love and peace, Christianity—like most traditions—has always had a violent side. The bloody history of the tradition has provided disturbing images and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups.” ꟷ Christianity and violence

To help understand China’s culture, read Looking at China through a Single Lens

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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Looking at China through a Cultural Lens – Part 2 of 2

January 15, 2020

What do Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism have in common?

Buddhism and Taoism are peaceful religions that use meditation for peace of mind and enlightenment. Taoism originated in China in the sixth century B.C. It is also believed that Buddhism originated in the sixth century B.C. but in India. Both Taoism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation, life after death, and both have similar end goals. The goal of Taoism is to have a balanced life while Confucianism focuses on creating and maintaining harmony in society and avoiding conflict.

For instance, if an individual or group threatens harmony for everyone else, China’s leaders throughout history have often imprisoned or executed those individuals or groups threatening the tranquility of the majority of people.

A Cup of Tea (Zen poem)
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
101 Zen Stories

Zen-like Taoism focuses on staying in the present without judging anything or anyone.

However, it isn’t easy for Christians, Jews, or Muslims to do the same thing. Instead, the members of these religions often judge just about everything and everyone leading to many wars and lost lives.

Wars in China have seldom if ever been started by people that practice the philosophies of Zen Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism.

Return to or start with Part 1

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

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Looking at China through a Cultural Lens – Part 1 of 2

January 8, 2020

“Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE) that contributed to the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China and became the official religion of the country under the Tang Dynasty. Taoism is therefore both a philosophy and a religion.”  ꟷ Ancient History Encyclopedia

“Unlike Buddhism (that originated in India and reached China to become popular), Taoism arose from the observations and beliefs of the Chinese people. The principles of Taoism impacted Chinese culture greatly because it came from the people and was a natural expression of the way the Chinese (working class) understood the universe.”


Buddhist Parable on the True Nature of Human Existence

Buddha Weekly says, “The Daoist tradition was already present in China when Buddhism first entered the country over the border from neighboring India around the 3rd Century BCE. The two religions (Taoism and Buddhism) came to heavily influence each other in China, and this Daoist influence on Buddhism — after the two started to interact with one another — helped shape history and philosophical belief in the region for centuries.”

“Taoism has been one of the most influential philosophies and religions during the past 2,500 years in China, and it affects every aspect of Chinese life, including leisure.” ꟷ World Leisure Journal

The BBC reports, “Zen Buddhism is a mixture of Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. It began in China, spread to Korea and Japan, and became very popular in the West from the mid 20th century. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language. … If you’re a westerner you may find it hard to shake off the intellectual and dualist ways of thinking that dominate western culture: this can make it difficult for westerners to come to Zen.”

Part 2 will be posted on January 15, 2020

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

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What Makes China Different

December 4, 2019

One major difference is that most Chinese have NOT been seriously influenced by the politics and religious beliefs of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The major influences of Chinese Culture come from Confucian and Taoist thought.

In fact, the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew thought that Western-style democracy is incompatible with Confucianism and that the latter constitutes a much more coherent ideological basis for a well-ordered Asian society than Western notions of individual liberty.

Confucianism and Taoism appeared in China almost nine hundred years before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. It would take another three centuries before Christianity and Islam reached China, more than twelve hundred years after the 5th century BC when Confucian and Taoist thought was introduced to China.

The Jews arrived much later. Most scholars agree that a Jewish community existed in Kaifeng, China since the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD), though some date their arrival to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), or earlier.

Buddhism arrived during the Han Dynasty, but by then China was already deeply Confucian and Taoist. Both have philosophies that focus on harmony and social order in society. Although Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism all mention harmony, too, the violence and wars caused by these religions have painted a wide bloody scar through history that continues today. You might be shocked to discover that Buddhists can be violent, too. If you are interested, I suggest you read A Short History of Violent Buddhism to learn more.

Confucius and many of his contemporaries were concerned about the state of turmoil, competition, and warfare between the feudal states. They sought philosophical and practical solutions to the problems of government — solutions that, they hoped, would lead to a restoration of unity and stability. – Columbia.edu

Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE) which contributed to the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China. Taoism focuses on the present – heaven and hell exist in how you connect to the present moment. On the other hand, Christianity teaches that heaven or hell happens after death.

Classroom.com says, “Taoism and Islam are very different in many ways. Religious Taoism is polytheistic, worshiping no single, omnipotent god, and instead venerating a pantheon of gods, many of whom have functional titles and roles. The Taoist classic text is the ‘Tao Te Ching.’ ‘Tao’ means, roughly, ‘the Way,’ and refers to both the ordering principle of the universe and to the gentle seeking of accommodation with it. … Islam says there is only one God, Allah.”

China like Singapore legally allows five religions, but only 200 million Chinese (14 percent of China’s population of 1.4 billion) practice Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

According to Religion in China – By the Numbers, there are 44 million Christians and 20 million Muslims in China today. Combined, Islam and Christianity represent less than five percent of China’s population compared to the United States with the largest Christian population in the world, about 75 percent of its 320 million people.

The most widespread religion in China is a combination of Buddhism, Chinese folklore, Taoism and Confucianism. It is estimated that 800,000,000 Chinese follow this tradition that retains traces of its ancestral Neolithic belief system including the veneration of the Sun, Moon, Earth, Heaven and various stars, as well as communication with animals. Folk religion in China has been practiced alongside Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism by Chinese people for thousands of years.

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

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China’s Respect for the Wisdom of Judaism

May 29, 2019

In most of East Asia, the perception of Jews as expert moneymakers does not have the religion-based antagonism that often accompanies the same stereotype elsewhere in the world. While both Christians and Muslims have persecuted Jews for religious reasons, China hasn’t done this.

In fact, South Korea and China respect what may be learned from the wisdom of Judaism.

“Close to 50 million people live in South Korea, and everyone learns about the Gemara (the Essence of the Talmud). ‘We tried to understand why the Jews are geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that it is because they study Talmud,’ said the Korean ambassador to Israel,” says Muqata

“In my country we also focus on family values.” The South Korean Ambassador continued. “The (Jewish) respect for adults, respect and appreciation for the elderly parallels the high esteem in my country for the elderly.”

Another significant issue is the respect for education. In the Jewish tradition, parents have a duty to teach their children and devote a lot of energy and attention to it.

For South Korean parents, their children’s education is also a top priority. How valuable is education to Jewish tradition? “Maimonides (1135 – 1204 C.E.) in his great code of Jewish law has an entire section devoted to teaching, teachers, students, and the concept of knowledge and education. The basic value is that teachers are to be respected and given honor.

“One should rise before one’s teacher, speak respectfully to one’s teacher, and treat one’s teacher with greater probity than even one’s parent.” The Talmud teaches. “Parents bring a child into this world but a teacher can bring a child into the World to Come” into a world of spirit, creativity, ideas and self-worth and ultimate immortality.

These ancient Jewish values have also found a home in China. Newsweek reported, “The apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts.”

Newsweek said, “Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.”

“The admiration for Judaism stems from a history that goes beyond business.” Newsweek continued. “About half of the dozen or so Westerners active in Mao Zedong’s China (1949 – 1976) were Jewish, and that also led to increased interest in Jewish culture among Chinese intellectuals,” said Xu Xin, professor of Jewish studies at Nanjing University.

Jewish Learning says, the “Although Talmud is largely about law, it should not be confused with either codes of law or with a commentary on the legal sections of the Torah . Due to its spare and laconic style, the Talmud is studied, not read.”

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

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