David Frum writes about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum says, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum. For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… Lewis offhandedly mentions at one point that there remains not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins,” which is wrong.
I recently wrote a three-part series about Han Dynasty tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which had not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber. Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out mountain and made of rock, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived then.
In fact, I’ve toured the Ming tombs, seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai. Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ and is still in use today.
In fact, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 with much of China’s imperial treasures.
Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.
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.
An example of how hard the Chinese work stands in the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal. To understand the significance, we will look at the Suez and Panama Canals first as a comparison.
China’s Grand Canal
In the 19th century, the French built a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. About 20,000 ships use the canal each year. Source: History.com
The Panama Canal was started in 1881 by the French but ended a failure. The Americans finished the canal between 1904 – 1914. The canal was 51-miles long. Today, it handles over 12,000 ships a year. Source: The Panama Canal
When I was in grade school, we learned about the Panama Canal in glowing terms. I’m sure the French and British brag about the Suez Canal in their textbooks too.
Until my first trip to China in 1999, I had never heard of the Grand Canal, which is the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world at more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou south of Shanghai.
China’s Grand Canal
The construction started almost five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ and was completed centuries later. The canal is still in use today. To finish it, the Pound lock was invented in the 10th century during the Song Dynasty. There are 24 locks and about 60 bridges. Source: Wikipedia
The evidence shows that China is waking up sooner than Western countries did after their industrial revolutions. China now leads the world in hydroelectric power providing 20% of the country’s power. China has made it a priority to use hydroelectric power to reduce pollution in the future. Chine also plans to lead the world in solar cell and wind turbine production.
The Dabancheng Wind Farm – At 100 megawatts, China’s largest
China plans to relocate 15,000 citizens from an area poisoned by lead (due to manufacturing) that would cost the government 146 million dollars or one billion yuan.
In August 2009, two chemical factory officials were convicted of releasing carbolic acid into a river and they were sentenced to prison terms of 6 and 11 years. In the past, such acts usually resulted in little more than a fine. Recently, Chinese authorities made it clear that China is entering a new era in environmental enforcement.
In April 2009, China’s leaders announced a plan to turn the country into the leading producer of hybrid and all-electric cars in three years. In addition, subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered to taxi fleets and local government agencies in 13 Chinese cities for each hybrid or all-electric vehicle purchased. The state electricity grid has been ordered to set up electric car charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.
One goal is to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. Another is to close down polluting factories including the heaviest polluting coal power plants. The plan is to switch those plants from coal to natural gas something that is also being considered in the United States. China is also building nuclear power plants with plans for thirty in the next fifteen years.
Another goal is to increase the amount of land covered by forests from 28 percent to 30 percent over a five-year period. If you have traveled extensively in China recently, you may have witnessed this taking place. We have.
I am optimistic. Considering that the Chinese built the Great Wall and the Grand Canal more than two thousand years ago, I predict that the Chinese will do this too, but it will take time–maybe decades to reverse a trend started by the rest of the world hundreds of years before China became the world’s factory floor.
At the Copenhagen environmental conference, China sounded like the bad guy in the Western media—as usual. You may want to read this piece to find out more at Guardian.com.uk
Also, consider that the call to have China policed by the world to make sure they cut back on carbon emissions as they said they would was a slap saying, “We don’t trust you?” That’s a loss of face and embarrassing to the Chinese. If China made it public that they are going to cut back a certain amount of carbon emissions by a certain date and they do not, that will also be a loss of face. There’s a good chance that they will cut more than they pledged. Let’s wait and see.