The Seven Wonders of China: Part 3/5

February 13, 2013

4. 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.

5.Mount Wudang

To the Chinese, Mt. Wudang is the first mountain under heaven. Ornate palaces may be found on the mountains 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 on February 14, 2013 in The Seven Wonders of China: Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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.

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China’s Translation Sensation

March 19, 2012

On March 14, I published a post about Premier Wen Jiabao’s farewell speech to China’s National People’s Congress before he steps down later this year and retires from political office.

China is a land of many spoken languages and one written language. In fact, Chinese movies often have subtitles flowing across the bottom of the screen in Mandarin for the hundreds of millions of Chinese that do not speak Mandarin but only read it. To understand how complex this mix of languages is, Mandarin by itself has more than 50 dialects and there are 56 different minority languages.

I suggest you see Wikipedia’s list of Chinese dialects and languages for a better understanding of how complex China is and how amazing it is that this nation has been a unified country for more than two millennia.

After Wen Jiaboa’s speech, I read the media translations in English from several sources and had no idea that in his speech he quoted original poetry dating back to one of ancient China’s greatest and earliest recognized poets, Ch’u Yu (343 – 289 BC). Since Wen’s speech, the micro-Blog debate and criticism in China have been intense, which demonstrates that in China, expressing an opinion is not forbidden.

How would Americans react if an American President gave his State of the Union address laced with quotes from Latin or Old English?

In Latin, The Lord’s Prayer starts, “PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.” In Old English, it starts with, “Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum…”

In China, the response to Wen Jiabao’s use of an ancient and dead Chinese language mostly focused on the translator, Miss Zhang Lu (in Chinese the last name comes first, which emphasized the importance of the family over the individual and demonstrates a major difference between the West and Asia).  Zhang majored in international law and graduated from China’s Institute of Diplomacy. She then became a translator for top ranking Chinese Communist Party officials.

Zhang was praised by many for translating Wen Jiabao’s “I’d not regret dying nine times,” to “For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I’d not regret dying a thousand times.”

I printed 14 pages of comments from a Chinese language micro Blog that was part of the national debate, which started with comments by Chinese professors from different universities in China including Fudan University, Tsinghua University and Shanghai’s Foreign Language Institute correcting and offering suggestions for Miss Zhang’s translation.


Sexy Beijing: Lost in Translation

I’m going to focus on one example of one of the ancient Chinese poems Wen Jiabao quoted when he said, “知我罪我,其惟春秋”, which in proper English translates into “History will judge what I have done.”

Miss Zhang’s translation said, “There are people who will appreciate what I have done but there are also people who will criticize me. Ultimately, history will have the final say.”

One professor’s suggested translation said, “What I have done may be appreciated and criticized by the people, yet ultimately history will give me a fair assessment (or judgment).”

In addition, here are several typical comments from the same micro Blog:

Comment A

What’s wrong with Premier Wen acting like he was competing in a poetry contest? He ought to earn credit for doing a good job managing the country, not to impress with his skill of reciting ancient Chinese poetry.

Comment B

It goes to show how difficult it is to be a leader of Chinese today. Wen should not be criticized for incorporating in his speech a couple of lines from ancient poems. Americans didn’t criticize their President W. Bush for saying things that didn’t make sense or made the wrong sense. Instead, they thought him cool and a “man of his-true-self”.

Comment C

For Heaven’s sake Wen represents the face of China. Americans don’t have trouble with Obama’s talent in speaking beautifully. Instead of ridiculing, they appreciated him.

Comment D

Oh, come on, don’t be so naive. Every question at Wen’s last press conference was pre-selected. Premier Wen must have communicated with his translator prior to show-time. He would never risk the young translator’s misunderstanding or misinterpreting his use of ancient poems.

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In conclusion, the alleged reason Premier Wen Jiabao used passages from ancient Chinese poems may have been to not only demonstrate the beauty of the Chinese language and his knowledge of it, but to infer that China does not need to bend to the rest of the world and do things as a foreign leader might do but as a Chinese leader.

In fact, it is Chinese tradition for scholars and government officials in China to quote ancient poetry and literature in speeches. In addition, the beauty of language is valued highly in China. The use of spoken and written language to many Chinese is not just getting a meaning or emotion across, it is also considered a form of art.

Meanwhile, in the West/America, we read an English translation of his speech, which is a translation of a translation and walk away thinking we know what one of China’s leaders meant, which brings me to a final question.

What happens when there is a mistake in translation during sensitive political negotiations between countries such as China and America?

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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.

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Americans doing Business in China – Part 3/16

February 23, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: According to Slate,, “The first Chinese eateries in America, known as ‘chow chows’, arrived in California in the mid-19th century to serve Cantonese laborers.”  In addition, NPR.org says, “There are about 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the US (today) — more than the number of McDonald’s and Taco Bells combined.”

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

How can you embrace an enemy of the USA?  More important–why would you?  If these questions have not been outright asked of me–they have been implied.  Why I chose to speak highly of China, and its people, is something that I do willingly and with pride.

I am not the Manchurian Candidate. I was never brainwashed during my visits there. I was not tortured or forced into my feelings in any way. Subliminal messages were not piped into my hotel room at night. I did not have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails. I was not drugged or impaired in any way unless it was done willingly by drinking too much of that fine Chinese beer.

Within my small circle of business contacts, experiences, and associations I would say it is Western business people who are trying to brain wash the Chinese. As I developed my business relationships, I have read of those that experienced failures mainly because Western companies tried to “Westernize” their Chinese business partners rather than adapting to their Chinese partners way of doing business.

Maybe it has been different for others who have done business within China but for me, personally, my successes came from letting the Chinese conduct business in “their way”, and I tried to educate my customers in their methods and ways. I won’t say it was not frustrating at times—in fact, it was frustrating most of the time.

However, in the end, it was what worked best for me while others failed. Honor and “saving face” are very important to the Chinese—I tried not to put any of my associates in a position that threatened either.

Again, just from my experience, I have to say that people from any part of the world can work together to achieve a common goal if all parties can be flexible and understanding. From my perspective, this is the true receipt for success among the world’s population.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 24, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 4 (a guest post) or return to Part 2

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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.

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Note: This guest post first appeared on February 14, 2010


Anna May Wong – the Woman that Died a Thousand Times

February 10, 2012

Almost half a century after her death, Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961) has not been forgotten.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go.

Between 1919 and 1961, she acted in 62 films. The Internet Movie Data Base says she was the “first Chinese-American movie star”.

To act, Anna had to play the roles she was given. The Western stereotype cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman that always fell for a Caucasian man. The dark side of achieving her dream of acting in movies was that Anna had to die so the characters she played got what they deserved.

Anna often joked that her tombstone should read, “Here lies the woman who died a thousand times.”

Until Chinese started to emigrate to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, they had never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior.

However, the discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism and hatred directed at African-Americans.

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans, which created a protected class, and since the Chinese—due to cultural differences often did not complain—they were left behind.

In many respects, this racism toward the Chinese still exists in the US today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing, which supports the old stereotype.

When Anna May Wong visited China in 1936, she had to abandon the trip to her parent’s ancestral village when a mob accused her of disgracing China.

After her return to Hollywood, she was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism, she lived in Europe for a few years.

Since U.S. law did not allow her to marry the Caucasian man she loved, and she was afraid that if she married a Chinese man he would force her to give up acting since Chinese culture judged actresses to be the same as prostitutes, she never married.

Anna May Wong smoked and drank too much. She died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Hungry Ghost Festival – The Chinese Halloween – Part 1/2

October 29, 2011

Halloween in America is celebrated the last day in October.

However, in China, the closest celebration to America’s Halloween is The Hungry Ghost Festival, which is celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month in August. For 2011, that was August 14. In 2012, it will be August 31.

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists from China and Taoists claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (see Stephen Teiser’s 1988 book, The Ghost Festival in Medieval China).

In America, most children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned and scriptures are chanted.

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia… It is believed by the Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then seek food.

By comparison, History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

Continued on October 30, 2011 in The Hungry Ghost Festival – The Chinese Halloween – Part 2

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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.

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