What happened to Macao Four-Hundred-and-Forty-Two years later

August 15, 2018

In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau’s harbors and to carry out trade.  Then in 1557, they established a permanent settlement there.  In 1999, 442 years later, the same year China banned the Falun Gong religious cult, Macao was back.

Since Macau was returned to China in 1999, it has overtaken Las Vegas to become the world’s biggest gambling mecca. Since 1999, Macau, along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, and it is situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong.

The next building trend expanded Macao into a global entertainment and high-end shopping hub along with leisure activities, but that has not matched the success of gambling that remains Macau’s main money maker. In fact, almost every business depends on the gambling to survive.

However, the days of Chinese Triads having shooting wars on Macau’s streets are histroy. The Chinese Communist Party will not tolerate the violence and the People’s Liberation Army is much larger than any triad gang. If the CCP will ban the Falun Gong for illegally protesting in China, imagine what it would do to the triads.

Macao is not China even though it is technically part of the People’s Republic. The World History Blog provides a short history of the former Portuguese colony, which is a Special Administrative Region in China today but has more in common with the Principality of Monaco or Las Vegas.

Macao’s location was first settled by members of the South Sung Dynasty escaping invading Mongols in 1277. Centuries later, Portuguese traders built a staging port there, the oldest European settlement in the Far East.

The Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643) did not recognize that Macao belonged to Portugal and collected rent until 1849 when the Portuguese, taking advantage of China’s defeat during the first opium war with England and France, declared Macau’s independence from China.

Britannica reports the 1999 transfer agreement allowed Macao to govern itself with a one-house legislature and a legal system based on Portuguese law, not China’s legal system.

David Campion writes, “As in Havana and Las Vegas, the gambling economy in Macau was first built up and its rules enforced by clever and well-organized gangsters, here called Triads. Once a date was set for the departure of the Portuguese, the Triads fought amongst each other viciously for greater control over the territory before the PRC was due to come in and rain on their parade (which it didn’t, as it turned out).”

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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Dunhuang’s Silk Road Oasis

March 14, 2018

The June 2010 issue of National Geographic had a piece about the history of the Mogao caves near Dunhuang, a Silk Road oasis in northwestern China.

The Buddhist art found in almost 800 hand carved caves are considered among the world’s finest. There is nearly a half-million square feet of wall space decorated with these murals and more than 2,000 sculptures.

Between the fourth and 14th centuries AD over a thousand years of history was documented on scrolls, sculptures, and wall paintings revealing a multicultural world more vibrant than anyone imagined.

And contrary to popular belief and the Dalai Lama’s soft-spoken words of peace, Buddhism, like all large religious movements, has had a bloody and violent history. Some of the cave art at Dunhuang depicts the dark side of Buddhism.

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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Seven Amazing Places to Visit in China: 5 of 5

March 3, 2018

To protect the Shibaozhai temple (#6), the Chinese government had a six-hundred-foot high, thirty-three-foot thick dike built to protect it. Many river cruise boats dock at Shibaozhai for a few hours to allow passengers to tour the pavilion and temple.

Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City is the largest, ancient palace in the world and is one of the most visited tourist sites on the planet. This palace covers more than 7 million square feet in central Beijing next to Tiananmen Square. That is the size of eighty football fields and the palace is surrounded by a moat.

In the early fourteen hundreds, the emperor moved the capital of China to Beijing to establish better control over the country. It took a million laborers and artists fourteen years to build. The Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms—as close as a man can get to the palace of the gods, which is supposed to have ten-thousand rooms.

Before the Forbidden City became a tourist attraction, the penalty for sneaking inside was death usually by being beheaded. Once the empresses and concubines of the emperor moved into the Forbidden City, none were allowed to leave. Twenty-four emperors ruled China from inside the walls of this palace.

Return to Part 4 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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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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Seven Amazing Places to Visit in China: 4 of 5

March 2, 2018

Mount Wudang is home to eight palaces, seventy-two temples in caves, thirty-nine bridges, thirty-six nunneries, twelve pavilions, and two temples.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD), Mt. Wudang was known as a grand spectacle of all ages and is one of the best examples of ancient-religious architecture anywhere.

The Golden Hall, a temple built on Mt. Wudang in the 15th century is the largest copper building in China. The ninety-ton structure was plated in Gold in Beijing before being moved to the mountain.

Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Fortress)

Near the banks of China’s Yangtze River, a twelve story, five-hundred year-old Buddhist temple made of wood clings to a cliff without the support of a single nail. Before the temple was built, devout Buddhists climbed the cliff risking their lives to worship the Buddhist statutes on the mountain.  The temple was built to resist high winds and remedy this problem.

To protect and save the temple against rising water due to construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the Chinese government had a radical and ambitious solution.

Continued with Part 5 on March 3, 2018, or return to Part 3

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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Seven Amazing Places to Visit in China: 3 of 5

March 1, 2018

The Leshan Buddha

Everything about this Buddha is BIG. More than a thousand years old, it took almost a century to carve the Leshan Buddha from the solid rock cliff. The Buddha looks out over a river and legend says the rugged, unpredictable river sunk many boats drowning people until the Buddha was carved from the cliff.

It is thought that the rocks cut from the cliff while the Buddha was being constructed tumbled into the river and calmed the currents. However, today, air pollution as in acid rain from industry is threatening the Buddha. Maintaining the Buddha has become a challenge. About two million people visit each year.

Mount Wudang

To the Chinese, Mt. Wudang is the first mountain under heaven. Ornate palaces may be found on the mountain’s slopes. Temples, pavilions and bridges are all designed to harmonize with the landscape. This mountain is also the home of Wudang Kung Fu. A martial art that is still active today after seven hundred years. In Chinese terms, Wudang is a small town of 20,000 people that is a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity.

Continued with Part 4 on March 2, 2018, or return to Part 2

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.

Where to Buy

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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