Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World” – Part 1/12

November 27, 2011

Note from Blog’s host: In this discussion, Parfitt has agreed to ask me five questions and I will ask him five. After each answer, a response and then a final word will be allowed. Since each question, answer, response and final word may run 600 to a thousand words, this discussion of China and its culture will be a twelve-part series.

At times during this debate, the reader may sense that ‘Responses’ and ‘Final Words’ are clipped and often incomplete. That may be due to the fact that Parfitt and Lofthouse agreed to limit the number of words for each answer to 350 and 150 words for each ‘response’ in addition to another 150 for the ‘final word’.

In that case, readers may weigh in with comments that may request either Parfitt and/or Lofthouse to respond further. However, comments that insult and are deemed vulgar will not appear and will be “censored“.

Post 12 concludes this discussion with two 500 word ‘Closing Statements’. Each author selected the embedded videos that support his position/opinions.

Part 1 introduces the two authors showing the different paths each took to gain an understanding and education of China’s history, people and culture.


Troy Parfitt is the author of Notes from the Other China – Adventures in Asia and Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas— From Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Troy has a background in American history and Canadian political science, as well as accreditation in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

Troy lived and taught ESL in Seoul, South Korea for nearly two years and in Taipei, Taiwan for more than ten. It was in Taipei where Troy became interested in Sinology. He currently resides in Canada and is a writing consultant at a Canadian university.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of The Concubine Saga — In early 1999, he was introduced to China’s history and culture through the woman he would marry a few months later. That education has continued for more than a decade.

His wife was born in Shanghai and grew up during Mao’s Great Leap Forward and then the Cultural Revolution where she spent three years in a labor camp along with tens of millions of mainland Chinese youth to be educated in Mao’s attempt to erase the old culture and make China stronger to recover and survive the Western invasion of Asia. One of Mao’s first moves was to liberate women and elevate them to be equal to men when he famously announced that women held up half of the sky.

Since 1999, Lloyd has traveled extensively in mainland China with his wife as his tutor. In fact, he and his wife have a flat in one of the suburbs of Shanghai. He also spent about a decade learning about China through Robert Hart’s journals and letters (1835- 1911).

Hart is known as the godfather of China’s modernization. The Concubine Sage is the fictional story of Robert Hart’s early years in China and of his real-life love story with a Chinese woman, his concubine Ayaou. Lloyd’s reference library of China fills several shelves in his home office and he has written more than a half-million words about China for this Blog.

Continued on November 28, 2011 in Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” – Part 2

See Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 1


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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Capturing a Vanishing China

June 23, 2011

I feel compelled to write about a one-star review that appeared recently of Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People.

In fact, as I write this post, Carter’s book has had 100 reviews. Eighty-eight earned five stars and eleven four-star reviews. There is only one one-star review.

My wife is Chinese and was born in Shanghai (discover the modern city) during Mao’s Great Leap Forward then was sent to a labor camp as a teen during The Cultural Revolution. When she first saw the photos in Tom Carter’s book, she said he is the first and only photojournalist to capture the heart and soul of China.

What she was talking about was the rural Chinese who have always been the invisible heart and soul of China. If it weren’t for those same rural Chinese, Mao and the Communist Party would have never won China’s Civil War.

What follows is the rambling, rant of a one star review written by someone calling him or herself Xuemin Lin.

Lin says, “Ignorance of all American who think that these photos show the reality China, you don’t know the truth. Tom Carter pictures can only show that poor farmers and rural areas. He ignoring the majority of China’s middle class and developed districts in urban life intentionally. We have a modern apartment and a beautiful new car and stylish clothes. Why Tom Carter just want to show the barefeet farmers and the minorities? His pictures make you believe we Chinese all are swarthy skin and the tooth is not good and make our homes in the mountains area. China’s economy has grown rapidly. The United States owes a debt to total billions of dollars to China. China will soon become a superpower in the world! Han people will lead Asia and then the world. So, do not believe that this book is shows the real China! Tom Carter in a planned way only want to show you the poor! I upload his video got from the Youku website so yourself can see his photos is not the good. Do not by this book I suggest!”

Lin claims that the majority of Chinese belong to the emerging middle class. Lin is wrong. China has a few decades to go until more than a billion people join the modern middle class lifestyle.

Even China’s leaders have admitted that China is not as developed as America or Europe and that China will never rival American super power status. The best China may attain is a regional military super power and a global economic super power.

To understand what I mean, you may want to read Amy Chua’s Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall.

It is a fact that China is modernizing at a pace never before seen in history and more than three hundred million Chinese now live in urban cities similar to Shanghai and Beijing and belongs to China’s middle class. However, that leaves about 1.2 billion people that have not yet joined that middle class and 800 million of those people still live as Carter shows us in his photos.

If China accomplishes its goal to modernize most of China and lift the majority of Chinese into the middle class, the world that Tom Carter captured with his photos will vanish. Our only reminder of that China will be his book.

What Lin’s one-star review really reveals is a shame among some Chinese that should not exist. China should be proud of its rural peasants because they have always been the backbone of China and those people deserve their moment in the sun or between the covers of China: Portrait of a People

When I visit China, I want to escape America for a few weeks but realize that I cannot escape the Golden Arches of McDonalds, or Starbucks, Pizza Hut and KFC, which is the worst thing China could adopt from America.  In addition, China has also inherited the obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer that come with this fast food, middle class, and motorcar culture invented in the West.

Some of America’s history captured in photos and song.

In addition, I’ve complained that China has no artist comparable to America’s Charles Russell or Bev Doolittle — great artists that captured the heart and soul of the America that existed before Europe and the industrial revolution arrived to fill the air with poison.

However, Tom Carter’s photos capture some of that world in China that will soon be lost. After China has paved over its past, without Tom Carter’s photos we would never know what that world was like.

Therefore, I ask the Xuemin Lins of China, “What is it you have against Tom Carter capturing what is fast disappearing as China becomes another middle class, smog choked clone of Los Angeles, London, Paris and New York?”

I prefer the China where people are practicing Tai Chi in the early morning fog.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

Daughter of Xanadu – Part 4/4

April 20, 2011

A review (guest post) by Tom Carter of Daughter of Xanadu by
Dori Jones Yang

By story’s conclusion, Messer Polo, who witnessed and wrote about the Mongols’ real-life battle against the Burmese in his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, has elevated “Emmajin the Brave” into the living legend she wanted to be, though she now regrets it.

“These men needed a hero, but I no longer needed to be one.” She resigns her sword and rank, and departs with Polo back to Europe as the Khan’s emissary of peace, leaving the literary door wide open for a sequel.

Dori Jones Yang, who also penned the best-selling Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, is a skilled historian.

In researching Daughter of Xanadu, Yang, fluent in Putonghua, traveled all the way to the ruins of Xanadu in remote Inner Mongolia, which this itinerant backpacker can personally attest is no easy journey.

The short chapters and brief sentences, edited with razor precision for a younger audience, along with a helpful glossary for ESL students, make reading Daughter of Xanadu a breeze, though adults will admittedly want to beg this book back afterwards from their tweens.

Return to Daughter of Xanadu – Part 3 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page


Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of China: Portrait of a People (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), a 600-page China photography book, which may be found at Amazon.com.

Discover more “Guest Posts” from Tom Carter with Is Hong Kong Any Place for a Poor American?

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

When it comes to Parenting, One Size Does Not Fit All – Part 4/5

April 10, 2011

In China and Asia, the average parent is the polar opposite of the average American parent. That’s why they are often called Tiger Parents.

However, Chinese/Asian parents will not all be the same. Though most would fit the description of a Tiger Parent as opposed to the average American parent more concerned with self-esteem and the child having daily fun, the average Chinese/Asian parent sets standards that do not take into account self-esteem or having fun, but those standards would vary from parent to parent.

Most urban parents in China would have higher standards than most rural parents. The higher the status and success of the parent, the better chance the standards would be higher for the child too, which explains why Amy Chua’s expectations for her daughters are set so high (Amy Chua is the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.)

After all, Amy Chua is a Yale professor and the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Chua’s father also teaches or taught at the University of Berkeley in California as a math professor.

In China, most mothers identify who they are by the success of their children in school and later in life.

By contrast, American SAP parents may act as if their children were from another planet and a member of a fragile species until the child turns 18, becomes an adult, and reverts to being a member of the human species.

To be continued in Part 5, April 11, 2011 at 12:00 PST, or return to Part 3


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

China Bookworms

November 9, 2010

There are hundreds of thousands of expatriates in China. They come from all over the globe, as the Middle Kingdom is becoming the center of the world again.

Alexandra Pearson, one of those expatriates, originated from the south coast of England, and she has lived in Beijing for about 16 years.

Pearson is the daughter of a British diplomat and first lived in Beijing in 1982. She speaks fluent Mandarin and has traveled extensively in China.

In fact, Pearson earned a degree in Chinese at the University of Westminster then returned to Beijing in 1992 to study at the Central Conservatory of Music.

However, in 2004, she opened The Bookworm in Beijing—a bookstore, lending library, literary venue and restaurant. Today, there are locations in Beijing, Chengdu and Suzhou.

In 2006, Pearson gained a business partner in Peter Goff, an Irish journalist and another expatriate. He opened the Chengdu and Suzhou Bookworms. In recent years, there have also been literary festivals organized by The Bookworms in all three cities.

Discover more about China from another expatriate with Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.