The flaw behind “Don’t Do as I Do – Do As I Say”

August 29, 2011

Dictionary.com explains this self-deprecating phrase, which means you are conscious of your own shortcomings, with, “Don’t imitate my behavior but obey my instructions.”

The reason I am writing this post is because of Faithful Monuments, a piece I read in the May 2011 Smithsonian Magazine, which has nothing to do with China.

However, there is a connection to China with the “Do As I Say” phrase.

In Smithsonian, Jamie Katz quotes Shirley Macagni, a 79-year-old retired dairy rancher and great-grandmother of seven, who is also an elder of the Salinan tribe that inhabited California’s Central Coast for thousands of years.

Macagni feels, “It is unfair to judge 18th century attitudes and actions by contemporary standards,” and says, “They (the Spanish) didn’t deliberately say they’re going to destroy people…”

Macagni is referring to the Spanish conquest that brought Western civilization and/or Spanish cultural values including the Church to the Americas forging an empire in blood for gold.

John Selden’s phrase, “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say,” may be applied, with some revisions, to China. “It is unfair to judge Chinese attitudes and actions by contemporary Western Standards.”

In fact, Western and American civilization may also be judged by the standards of other cultures such as China.

Consider that contemporary Western standards underwent a drastic metamorphosis starting with the Industrial Revolution. This change altered how parents raised children, resulted in child labor laws, the building of national education systems, the rise of labor unions, and the liberation of women, etc.

Then the West decided to import these new values to the rest of the world even if the rest of the world was not ready or did not want them.

Henry Kissinger touches on this Western/American behavior in On China, where he says, “American exceptionalism is cultural. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world.” In a CNN interview, he said, “So how to conduct ourselves in such a world – it’s a huge test for us… It’s a big challenge.”

In 1970, sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler published Future Shock and defined the term as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies and what happens when there is too much change in too short a period.

Toffler argued that these sort of drastic changes overwhelmed people leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”. He said, “The majority of social problems were symptoms of this future shock.”

When we take what Toffler says into account, we have an explanation for everything that has taken place in China over the last century since the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.  The shattering stress and disorientation of future shock (forced on China by the West) led to China’s Civil War and Mao’s Cultural Revolution, etc.

Of course, when an individual is culturally and historically illiterate, it may be difficult to face this challenge Kissinger talks of – especially when we consider what Chris Hedges writes in America the Illiterate.

Hedges says, “We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth.

“The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth,” which may explain why so many in America and the West suffer from Sinophobia, a hostility toward the Chinese, Chinese culture, history and/or government, and a stubborn unwillingness to listen to the facts/truth and attempt to understand them.

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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.

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.

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Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 2/2

August 8, 2011

Mao (born 1893) grew up during a period of madness in China. To learn more, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness, which shows the world he grew up in.

Then the Chinese Civil War lasted from 1926 to 1949 with a few years out to fight the horrors of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

The Long March alone was enough to cause PTSD in all 6,000 of its survivors from the more than 80,000 troops that started the year-long journey of retreat, battle, and severe suffering that was surrounded by death.

After Mao was China’s leader, there was an assassination attempt by one of his most trusted generals, Lin Biao, a man Mao had named as his successor after he died.  In addition, during China’s Civil WarChiang Kai-shek ordered more than one failed assassination attempt on Mao.

However, the threats and violence that shaped Mao’s life began before The Long March and before he was a leader in the Chinese Communist Party.

As a child, he grew up among farmers and peasants. In the 1920s, as an idealist and a sensitive poet, he believed in helping the worker and led several labor movements that were brutally subdued by the government. Once, he barely escaped with his life.

In 1930, Yang Kaihu, his wife at the time (Mao was married four times), was arrested and executed. In addition, Mao had two younger brothers and an adopted sister executed by Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT.

To judge Mao by today’s Politically Correct Western values is wrong, since he grew up in a world ruled by a completely different set of values that shaped him to be tough enough to survive and win. Anyone that survived and went on to rule China at that time would have been judged as brutal by today’s “Politically Correct” Western values.

The History of Humanitarianism shows us that this concept was born and nurtured in the West and developed slowly over centuries with the result that the individual was made more important than an entire population.

However, in China, the whole is still more important than one person is as it was during Mao’s time. If you were to click on the link to the History of Humanitarianism and read it, you would discover that China was not part of this movement while Mao lived. (Discover more about China’s Collective Culture)

PTSD as a war wound and a trauma was not recognized or treated until well after America’s Vietnam War.  Prior to its discovery, it was known as “shell shock” and wasn’t treated. The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the 1980s, and Mao died in 1976.

In fact, if Mao were alive today he would not be alone. In the United States, it is estimated that 7.8% of all Americans suffer from PTSD, and among that segment of the population, more than 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans have PTSD in addition to 1.7 million Vietnam veterans. The more combat a veteran was exposed to, the higher the risk.

Discover Mao Zedong, the Poet or start with Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1

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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.

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.


The Founding of China’s Republic – a Movie Review

May 4, 2011

The Founding of a Republic was produced to coincide with the 60th anniversary (in 2009) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) winning the Civil War in October 1949. I first saw this movie March 2011.

The film has the largest number of Chinese movie stars in one movie. Many of the top stars were invited to star as leads, supporting characters, or to appear in cameos, such as internationally well known Jackie Chan and Jet Li, whom appear briefly in the film.

The film covers the period between 1946 and October 1949 — well before the infamous failed Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which are the events most people in the West identify with Mao.

There is seldom any mention in the West of how Mao won the hearts and minds of the hundreds of millions of Chinese that supported the CCP, while distrusting and spurning the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT). This film (regardless of any propaganda that may exist) provides a glimpse of how Mao accomplished this feat.

The mild dose of propaganda that does appear in the film is nothing compared to the propagandized, anti-bourgeois PRC movies of the early 1950s or 60s.

It was because of how Mao won the Civil War (1926 to 1949 with a pause during a portion of World War II) that despite the deep collective scars left by the catastrophes of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, that he retains a strong measure of popular affection in China to this day.

In fact, many born in China prior to the 1980s still consider Mao to be China’s George Washington.

Directors Huang Jianxin and Han Sanping provide glimpses into the key moments during the final stages of the Chinese Civil War and the film was not just glorified propaganda since the Communists are given only one third of the screen time.

More time was given to people like Zhang Lan and Li Jishen, and key members of the China Democratic League. Until I watched this film, I only knew of the KMT and the CCP. I didn’t know there were other Chinese political parties involved.

In addition, Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-Kuo, who later guided Taiwan’s government to become a multi-party democracy (the first direct presidential election was held in 1996 eight years after Ching-Kuo’s death), are not demonized but are played as characters trapped between their responsibilities towards their country and pleasing political factions in the KMT.

The film suggests that the KMT lost because of the political agendas of these factions within the KMT, and not because of the power of the Communists, which was unexpected in a pro-Communist film.

After all, in war there are few if any saints and politics are more complex than most people ever know.

I urge everyone interested in modern Chinese history to see this film especially students in Chinese history classes and/or those majoring in East Asian studies. People that cannot understand Mandarin will be pleased that the movie has English subtitles.

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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’s Communist Revolution or Civil War

March 5, 2011

In Russia and Cuba, there were Communist Revolutions. In China, it was a Civil War. There is a difference.

Dictionary.com says a revolution is an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.

A civil war is a war between political factions or regions within the same country.

The United States of America fought a Revolution from 1775 to 1783. The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. Both fit the definitions.

PBS.org gets it wrong when it says, “Mao Zedong led China’s Communist revolution in the 1920s and 1930s.”

In fact, many Blogs and Websites get the facts wrong with it comes to China’s civil war. 

However, the PBS report clearly shows that in 1923, Sun Yat-sen, known as the father of China’s republic and the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), allied with the Communist Party (CCP) to strengthen the republic and take China back from the warlords.

Then in 1927, after Sun Yat-sen’s death in 1925, the KMT broke from the CCP shattering the alliance that Sun Yat-sen had formed.

Chiang Kai-shek, the new leader of the KMT, launched a brutal purge to kill all Communists in China.

The CCP had no choice but to fight or be exterminated by Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT. With the support of China’s peasants, the CCP won the civil war in 1949. The US backed the loser.

In fact, both the CCP and the KMT honor Sun Yat-sen as the father of the republic.

In mainland China, the Memorial Hall for Sun Yat-sen is in Guangzhou on the southern slope of Yuexiu Hill and was constructed between 1929 and 1931.

Another memorial hall dedicated to Sun Yat-sen is in Taipei and was completed on May 16, 1972.

So, why do so many call it China’s Communist Revolution when it was a civil war between the KMT and the CCP? Could they be confused?

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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.


The Lips Protecting China’s Teeth – Part 3/3

February 21, 2011

After reading parts one and two, I want you to wear China’s shoes for a moment.

If you were one of China’s leaders, ask yourself what you would think and do when one or more of the nations that challenged the sphere of influence China once dominated for two thousand years was hanging about as if it were a threat.

This foreign nation, the United States, which is more than six thousand miles from China, has troops based in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa and protects an enemy of yours in Taiwan, the Nationalist Chinese (KMT).

In 1949, under Mao, the KMT was defeated ending the Chinese Civil war of 1925 – 1949.

Before 1925, the founder of your republic, Sun Yat-sen, asked the United States for help to end the anarchy and chaos that was sweeping across China after the Qing Dynasty collapsed, but America refused as did the other major democracies. Then Sun Yat-sen turned to the Soviet Union, who said yes.

The Communist Party you belong to didn’t start the 1925 Civil War. It was started by the KMT’s leader Chiang Kai-shek, who then retreated to Taiwan taking China’s treasury and treasures with him leaving China broke.

Chiang Kai-shek was a brutal dictator that ruled Taiwan under martial law. He was protected by a country that took part in the Second Opium War against China and again in the 1900 invasion that brought an end to what the West calls the Boxer Rebellion.

Would you be suspicious? Would you want to have a strong, modern military to deter other nations from attacking China as China was attacked in the 16th, 19th and 20th centuries?

You may take China’s shoes off now.

The Chinese do not lack courage. Any “fool” that thinks the Chinese are unwilling to fight to preserve their culture and/or protect their country from foreign invaders need only study China’s history to see otherwise.

Wise men learn from history and do not repeat the same mistakes.

Return to The Lips Protecting China’s Teeth – Part 2

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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.


The Roots of Madness (viewed as single page)

January 28, 2010

I found this information from a 1967 documentary conceived and written by Theodore H. White to have half-truths about Imperial China. It is understandable that any American film from that era would be flawed since McCarthyism’s Red Scare took place in the US the decade before. Even today, Sinophobia infects almost half of America.

Author Theodore White lived in China for seven years and said that foreigners who lived in China during the crises often remembered it differently as if his opinions were correct and they were wrong.

The Roots of Madness unwittingly documents the lies and deceit that demonized the Empress Tsu Hsi when the narrator calls the empress evil. To discover the truth about the empress, I suggest reading Dragon Lady by Sterling Seagrave, who revealed the lies and deceit of Western journalists.

Nothing in China’s ancient culture could guide the Chinese to become part of the modern world.

Instead, China would experiment with different forms of government—a process that is still going on.

Although “China: The Roots of Madness” is a flawed production, there is enough accurate history to show why China is the way it is today.

British and American power controlled the wheels of industry in Shanghai, Nanking, Hankow and Chunking. In the steaming south, peasants, working like beasts, plant rice and speak languages most Chinese do not understand.

At the turn of the century, a three-year-old child was the emperor and the throne sat empty. On October 10, 1911, a riot took place that couldn’t be controlled.

Five weeks later, the Imperial government collapsed. The Qing Dynasty vanished and two-thousand years of Imperial tradition was gone.

The Chinese call this time the “Double Death”.

The British and Americans could not control what replaced the Qing Dynasty.

Students without weapons rioted in the streets.

Warlords that controlled armies divided China and the chaos and anarchy grew worse.

Life became so cheap, that death was like a bloody circus.

However, while the Chinese people suffered and starved, the foreigners live in luxury and controlled China’s industry while being protected by the Western military.

Chinese students demanded a revolt and Sun Yat-sen called on China to slay the dragon of Imperialism. He said China must start with nationalism, then democracy and finally socialism. The only country that offered to help was Soviet Russia.

Death claims Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925) after he has accepted support from Soviet Russia. Soon, General Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1975), with help from the Communists, consolidates power in southern China.

Chiang is known to Westerners as a fiery nationalist and revolutionary. He mobilizes an army under Sun Yat-sen’s flag and marches north with a few divisions.

Meanwhile, the warlords have gathered half-a-million troops to stop him. Outnumbered, Chiang sends an advance group of nationalists and communists to call the peasants and workers to join his army.

Among those peasants and workers is Mao Tsetung (1893 – 1976).

While moving north, Chiang’s army raids foreign concessions, burns foreign buildings and tears down foreign flags.

Leftist leaders of the Kuomintang distrust Chiang Kai-shek and some want to assassinate him but others disagree.

In Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek, now a dictator, strikes first on April 12, 1927. His troops kill anyone suspected of being a Communist.

In December, there is a Communist uprising in Canton. A battle rages for two days between the Communists and Kuomintang ending in the executions of most Communists, but Mao escapes and goes into hiding.

Chiang Kai-shek’s army is not ready when Japan invades Manchuria. He doesn’t have tanks, the artillery is old and the Chinese are learning about airplanes.

Meanwhile, the Communists that Chiang thought he had destroyed are back. Mao knew the peasants lived in horrible poverty. He promised land reforms and by 1932 has millions of supporters.

The language in this documentary describing Mao is not flattering.

Yes, when Mao ruled China, he was a dictator but that ended in 1976 when he died. Since then, China has had several presidents that the 1982 Chinese Constitution allows to lead China for two five-year terms and there is an impeachment clause.

However, Chiang Kai-shek was also a dictator. The only difference between Mao and Chiang is that Chiang converted to Christianity in 1929, and the West called him the president of China—not a dictator.  Chiang Kai-shek was never elected by the people of a democracy to rule China or Taiwan.

Instead, he ruled Taiwan under martial law until he died then his son became president without a popular vote by the people.

Instead of fighting Japan, Chiang’s army bombs villages that Mao controls killing tens of thousands of noncombatants. Mao takes his ninety thousand troops on the famous thousand-mile Long March.

A year later, only a few thousand remain. Mao calls for unity to fight Japan.

One of Chiang’s generals, Zhang Xueliang, forces the Nationalist dictator to sit down with the Communists where Chiang Kai-shek agrees to fight Japan. As soon as Chiang returns to his capital, he breaks the agreement and throws Zhang in prison.

Meanwhile, Mao’s troops in the hills of Yunnan grow their own food. His army, dressed in shabby clothing wearing straw sandals, doesn’t look like a fighting force. Mao says the people are the sea and guerrillas are like fish that swim in the sea. Within a year, Mao’s army grows to 200,000.

Chiang Kai-shek’s army loses battles and cities to the Japanese. To continue fighting, his government and army moves to the deep mountain city of Chongqing in Sichuan province.

In 1939, the Japanese start bombing Chongqing 24/7.

When asked about the Japanese threat, Chiang says that the Japanese are a disease of the skin, but the Communists are a disease of the heart.

Then on December 7, 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and America enters the war.

War supplies start to trickle to China through India and across the Himalayas to Chiang Kai-shek’s four-million-man army.

However, his government is corrupt, his troops are poorly fed and morale is low. In fact, the  peasants do not trust Chiang’s
troops or him.

Chiang Kai-shek is accepted as an equal among the West’s leaders while Mao works to keep up the moral of his Communist troops through political training—something Western leaders don’t understand and criticize.

Theodore H. White tells of an incident with Chiang Kai-shek’s troops when a Nationalist officer lies to peasants saying he belongs to Mao’s Communist army. When White asks why lie, he is told the peasants would not help if they knew the truth.

In fact, regardless of the suffering from Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, this loyalty never wavers.

Joseph Stilwell, the commanding US general in China, is not happy with Chiang since he is not fighting Japan.

Chiang says he needs his troops to fight the Communists.

In 1945, America invites representatives from Chiang’s government to take part in Japan’s surrender on the battleship Missouri but ignores the Communists under Mao.

An American ambassador urges Mao to join Chiang in a unified government. To bring this about, America offers Mao protection and there are face-to-face negotiations between Mao and Chiang.

During the negotiations, in secret, Chiang moves his troops to launch an assault on the Communists in Manchuria.

America urges Chiang to win the people by implementing Sun Yat-sen’s promised reforms.

Instead, Chiang’s war to destroy the Communists causes run-away inflation. Essential goods become too expensive. The people want peace, and Mao offers the peasants what they want—land.

In 1948, Mao attacks when his army leaves the caves and captures Manchuria

When Chiang Kai-shek’s northern army surrenders, modern American weapons and equipment falls to Mao’s troops.

Mao demands total surrender, but Chiang’s army boards ships for Taiwan taking China’s wealth and historical treasures.

In fear, western businessmen and missionaries flee China.

By 1967, when this documentary was produced, Mao had ruled China for 18 years and was still an inigma to most in the West. Nixon wouldn’t visit China for several more years.

Protected by America’s military and navy, Chiang was still in Taiwan serving as president for life (a dictator). He also had six-hundred thousand Kuomintang troops armed by the US, and the island people lived under martial law.

Theodore H. White says America does not understand Communist China. America could not predict the “Great Leap Forward” or the purges that followed.

White says the quality of life for the peasants had not improved (which is not true since the World Bank has reported that even under Mao the quality of life improved over what it had been), but they still had to work hard.

White’s documentary ends with words of fear for the world’s future because China has nuclear weapons.

There is no mention that America has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth a hundred times over and used two of them on Japan killing hundreds of thousands.

This revised post first appeared as an eight-part series starting June 8, 2010 at Roots of Madness – Part 1

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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.