What are Trees Good for

February 26, 2020

Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.

The UN’s 2006 Billion Tree Campaign was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement. When an executive in the United States told Professor Maathai their corporation was planning to plant a million trees, her response was: “That’s great, but what we really need is to plant a billion trees.” The campaign was carried out under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.

As of November 2019, 13 years since the campaign’s launch, its website The Trillion Tree Campaign registered over 13.6 billion trees planted across 193 countries.

China planted 2.8 billion of those trees, after already planting 63.2 billion before 2006. India was in 2nd place with 2.5 billion trees and Ethiopia was third with 1.7 billion. The United States, a distant 12th place, only planted 315 million.

While China has been planting trees for “the past 40 years, the Earth has lost a third of its arable land to erosion and degradation.” – National Geographic

You might ask, “What is arable land?” Arable land is any land capable of being plowed and used to grow crops. That means in the last 40 years, our planet has lost thirty-three percent of the land capable of growing the food we need to keep from starving and dying off.

National Geographic reports, “in 1978, the Chinese government implemented the Three-North Shelterbelt Project, a national ecological engineering effort that called for the planting of millions of trees along the 2,800-mile border of northern China’s encroaching desert, while increasing the world’s forest by 10 percent. Also known as the ‘Great Green Wall,’ the project’s end date isn’t until 2050; so far, more than 66 billion trees have been planted.” …

“Beyond the Great Green Wall, China has taken other measures against encroaching deserts. A series of laws starting in the early 2000s also targeted the problem, including efforts to return some farm and grazing lands to a more natural state of forests or grasslands.”

Since China’s Great Green Wall is being planted in an arid desert without enough water, Chinese engineers are planning to build a 1,000km tunnel, the longest in the world, to carry 10 – 15 billion tonnes of water each year from the Yarlung Tsangpo River to the Taklimakan Desert in the north.

“The proposed tunnel, which would drop down from the world’s highest plateau in multiple sections connected by waterfalls, would ‘turn Xinjiang into California”, one geotechnical engineer said.” – South China Morning Post

China currently leads the world in planting trees, photovoltaic solar power use, the most wind energy produced, the most hydroelectric power, and Lithium-Ion battery production. Ancient China also built The Great Wall (13,170 miles long) and the longest canal in the world.

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 fifty-six Recognized Ethnic Groups

February 19, 2020

By 1979, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had recognized 56 ethnic groups. The largest is the Han Chinese with 91.51-percent of the population. China’s population was 1.435 billion in November 2019. The largest, the Han numbered 1.313 billion. That left 122 million for the other 55 recognized ethnic groups.

The two minority groups in China the world hears about the most are the Tibetans (almost 6.3 million) and the Uyghurs with a bit more than 10 million. But what about the others 53? For instance, the largest minority group is the Zhuang people and most of them live in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Since most of the minorities do not have large populations, not all of the 55 minority groups have their own autonomous zone. There are five autonomous zones in China: in Guangxi (population 46 million), Inner Mongolia (24.7 million), Tibet (3 million), Xinjiang (almost 22 million), and Ningxia (almost 6.2 million).

The PRC also has programs to improve the quality of life in each autonomous zone. For instance, in 1950, the average lifespan of Tibetans was age 35.5. Today, life expectancy in Tibet is 68.2 years and still improving. That’s almost twice what it was when China’s long civil war finally came to an end.

China.org.cn reports, “In China regional autonomy for ethnic minorities is a basic policy adopted by the Chinese government in line with the actual conditions of China, and also an important part of the political system of China. Regional autonomy for ethnic minorities means that under the unified leadership of the state regional autonomy is practiced in areas where people of ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities; in these areas organs of self-government are established for the exercise of autonomy and for people of ethnic minorities to become masters of their own areas and manage the internal affairs of their own regions. …”

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reports, “The economy in five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang) and three multi-ethnic provinces (Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai) had made significant progress and people’s living standards continued to rise: the population living in poverty went down from 31 million in 2012 to 10 million, and the poverty rate dropped from 34 per cent to six per cent.” …

However, “NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Rapporteur for China, asked China to provide written information on the allegations of torture and on the intentions concerning the establishment of an independent mechanism for the investigation of allegations of torture and deaths in custody in Tibet and in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.” …

Meanwhile, the 30,875 reindeer herders of China’s small Ewenki ethnic minority in Northern China is struggling to keep their centuries-old traditions alive.

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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China’s Changing Misunderstood One-Child Policy

July 24, 2018

The BBC reported, The first day of 2016 was the end of China’s controversial (and often misunderstood), 40-year-old one-child policy. Although families will still require government-issued birth permits, or face the sanction of a forced abortion, couples in China can now request to have two children.

In 1979, the same year that China established diplomatic relations with the United States, China’s government imposed a one-child policy in an effort to curb population growth.

Why did China do that?

ONE, China has the largest population in the world, a population that has doubled since 1976 and is currently at 1.4 billion people and growing.

TWO, China has 119 million hectares of arable land compared to 156.4 million in India and 152.2 million in the United States. This helps explain why China was once known as the land of famines because China could not grow enough food to feed all of its people even when the population was 150 million in 1650.

For a comparison, even with all that crop land in India, 37.4 million hectares more than China, India Food Banking says, “Three thousand children in India die every day (EVERY DAY) from poor diet related illness.”

It’s obvious that China did not want that for their children or adults. Why allow children to be born so they can live in poverty and starve to death?

THREE, people cause pollution. The more people a developed country has, the more pollution they produce.

What happens when China becomes as developed as the United States? The answer: In 2015 the United States produced 4997.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. China produced 9040.74, but that country has 4.4 times the people. If the U.S. had that many people, America would be producing 19,990 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

In addition, there were and still are exceptions to China’s One-Child Policy. For instance, the one-child policy does not apply to the hundred million people in China that belong to one of the fifty-six recognized minorities or many of the Han Chinese living in rural China.

Since minorities in China are a small segment of the population, China’s government practices flexibility with the minority birth rate in order to keep minorities an important part of China’s culture.

A few examples: Tibetans may not have the freedom to live a feudal, nomadic, illiterate lifestyle of servitude that came with an average 35-year lifespan they once had under the Dalai Lama, but Tibetans may have as many children as they want.

This applies to all of China’s recognized minorities.

We often hear of the Uighur Muslims since this minority has an Islamic separatist movement in the northwest near Afghanistan where the US is still fighting a war against a similar insurgency, but the Uighurs are a minority in China, so the one-child policy also does not apply to them, and they are not the only Muslims.

The Hui are unique among the fifty-six officially recognized minorities of China in that Islam is their only unifying identity. They do not have a unique language as the other minorities do and often intermarry with Han Chinese.

In fact, many live outside the Hui autonomous region. Since the Hui are considered a minority, the one-child policy also does not apply to them.

The Chinese government said if it weren’t for the one-child policy, there would be about four-hundred million more mouths to feed and provide shelter for.

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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Climate Change and Development in Tibet Creates Lifestyle Challenges

July 17, 2018

In 1949, 99 percent of Tibetans were mostly illiterate serfs. Serfs have always been treated as an inferior element in society. As serfs, most Tibetans depended entirely upon the few landowners for survival. In this system of serfdom, peasants could be traded, punished without due process of law, and made to pay tribute to the lord with labor. When China occupied Tibet, all those serfs were freed just like they were throughout China.

Tibet is part of China. Rural Life in China reported, “A typical family of seven described by Business Week in 2000 lived in a four-room house, used 0.64 of an acre for growing rice, used 0.59 an acre for growing other crops and owned four pigs, one horse, and 20 ducks. Their expenditures were $546: $217 for food, $96 for transportation, $72 for fertilizer and pesticides, $48 for medicine, medical services, $36 for local taxes; $7 for road building and improvement; $4 for power station maintenance; $6 for education and culture and $60 for cloth and clothes.”

Did you notice there was no mention of rent or a mortgage payment? My mortgage payment in the United States is almost 38 percent of my income and a friend and his family of three pay more in rent for less space in the same area. But in urban China,, renting or owning a home is not free. Tibet is mostly a rural area of China.

“Since 2006, the Tibetan government has mandated that Tibetan farmers, herders, and nomads use government subsidies to build new homes closer to roads. New concrete homes with traditional Tibetan decorations dot the stark brown countryside. But the base government subsidy for building the new homes is usually $1,500 per household, far short of the total needed. Families have generally had to take out multiple times that amount in interest-free three-year loans from state banks as well as private loans from relatives or friends.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, July 24, 2010]”

Even the lives of Tibetan Nomads that makeup about a quarter of the population is changing. “Tibetan nomads have a lot in common with Mongolian nomads. Tibetan nomad culture is quickly disappearing as more Tibetans each year are being relocated off of the grasslands.”  But that might have more to do with climate change.

Nature.com reports, “A comprehensive environmental assessment of the Plateau of Tibet has found that the region is getting hotter, wetter and more polluted, threatening its fragile ecosystems and those who rely on them.

The plateau and its surrounding mountains cover 5 million square kilometers and hold the largest stock of ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic; the region is thus often referred to as the Third Pole. And like the actual poles, it is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, but rapid development is putting it doubly at risk and is also changing lifestyle choices.

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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Tibet Today

July 11, 2018

The population of the Tibetan Ethnic group is about six million and the majority live in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan. In the Tibetan areas of Southwest China, reforms were introduced between 1955 and 1957 in the farming areas. Feudal land ownership and all feudal privileges were abolished.  In September 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was officially established.

Twenty to forty thousand Tibetans live in Nepal and one hundred and twenty thousand live in India. More than three million people live in the Tibet Autonomous Region and 8%, about 248,000, are Han Chinese.

The Tibet Autonomous Region is located on the Tibetan Plateau, the highest region on earth. In northern Tibet, elevations reach an average of over 4,572 meters (15,000 ft). Mount Everest is located on Tibet’s border with Nepal.

Religious activities are protected by the government. Temples have been renovated and repaired. Buddhist statues, volumes of scriptures, ancient porcelain articles and other precious relics lost during the ten-year turmoil of the “Cultural Revolution” have been returned to the monasteries. Among them was a bronze statue of Sakyamuni brought to Tibet by Princess Brikuthi from Nepal in the 7th century. It is now kept in the Qoikang Monastery in Lhasa. An institute of Buddhist theology has been set up and preparations are being made to restore the scripture printing house. Tibet now has several thousand lamas, and the government sets no limit to the number of monks in the monasteries.

According to Lonely Planet, “Tibet offers fabulous monasteries, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likable peoples you will ever meet.”

Lonely Planet.com says, “For centuries, Tibet was cut off from the outside world by its remote location, extreme climate, and geographic environment. This far-flung region thwarted all but the boldest travelers and explorers — that is, until the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2006, which connected Tibet to the rest of China. …

“To protect passengers from high-altitude sickness, trains have an oxygen supply system that increases the oxygen in the cabin as the train ascends and cabins have private oxygen-dispensing outlets. The temperature in the train is regulated and pressurized and the windows are glazed with a UV coating to protect against the powerful high-altitude rays.”

CNN Travel reports, “Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University, says China has poured in huge sums of money to make the high-altitude region accessible for mass tourism.”

The UK’s Telegraph says, “According to Xinhua News Agency, Tibet received more than 20 million tourists for the first time in 2015, representing 190-per cent growth from five years ago. Tourism revenue reached 28.19 billion yuan (£3.42 billion) in the same year, equal to 27.5 percent of Tibet’s GDP.”


In this video, the CNN reporter says the rent could be high in a new Tibetan village, but rural Chinese seldom pay rent or make mortgage payments.

Twenty million tourists is more than six times the population of Tibet.

People.cn says, “Thanks to the improvement in medical services over the past six decades, average life expectancy in Tibet jumped from 35.5 to 67 years by the end of 2010, says a white paper issued by the Chinese government on Monday …

“Improvement has also been seen in education.

“The enrollment rate for school-age children was less than 2 percent and illiteracy rate was as high as 95 percent among the young and the middle-aged in 1951. …

“Sixty years later, the enrollment rate for primary school-age children of the Tibetan ethnic group has reached 99.2 percent and the illiteracy rate among the young and the middle-aged has fallen to 1.2 percent …”

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 long History with Tibet

July 10, 2018

On October 7, 1950, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded Tibet. The PLA quickly surrounded the outnumbered Tibetan forces, and on October 19, the five thousand Tibetan troops surrendered.

When you hear about China and Tibet, what are your first thoughts? I suspect most people in the United States and Europe only know about China’s alleged ‘brutal’ conquest of Tibet and think Tibetans lost their freedom. If that’s what they have been programed to think, they are wrong. If they think Tibet was never part of China before October 19, 1950, they are also wrong.

The October 1912 issue of National Geographic Magazine describes how the Imperial government in Beijing managed a difficult Tibet, and letters Sir Robert Hart wrote in the 19th century also mention Tibet as part of China.

China considered Tibet a vassal state or a tributary of the empire.  In fact, starting in the 13th century, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasty troops occupied Lhasa. There was a political governor and the Dali Lama, the religious leader of Tibet. Both were selected for their positions by the Emperor of China. When a Dali Lama died, the list of replacements was sent to the Emperor in Beijing and he selected the new Dali Lama.

In 1890, a Convention between Great Britain and China was signed that offers more evidence that China’s emperor considered Tibet part of his realm and Great Britain agreed. Tibet is mentioned twenty-nine times in that treaty.

Tibet has never had a Democracy and will probably never have one. The following quotes show you what Tibet was like before 1950.


One error mentioned in this video is that “many” Tibetans live outside of Tibet. Only 1-percent of Tibetans live outside of Tibet and they represent the landowners and ruling class that fled when China returned to Tibet in 1950.

The October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979, reported, “Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.

“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.”

Under theocratic Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and there were no elections.

It is a historical fact that a Tang Dynasty Emperor married his favorite daughter to Tibet’s king as a way to stop Tibetans from raiding into China, something that Tibetans had done for centuries. Tibetans were not always Buddhists. Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by a conquering Mongol king around the time of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty.

Then a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing.

Between 1913 and 1950, Tibet was ruled by a Dalai Lama and was an autocratic theocracy, not a democracy or a constitutional republic like the United States. In case you don’t know it, a theocracy is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god. In Tibet’s case, his holiness the Dalai Lama is considered a living “God-King”, and he isn’t a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim.

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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