Americans doing Business in China – Part 7/16

February 27, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: Bloomberg Businessweek says, “Amway salespeople started selling door to door in China in 1995… Their eventual collapse sparked riots. Beijing felt uneasy for another reason: Direct selling seemed custom made to spread religious beliefs or political dissent. The government banned all direct sales companies, including Amway, in 1998. Amway hung on, opening actual stores to show its commitment to the market. Executives made numberless trips to Beijing before the government relented in late 2006 and let Amway agents sell directly to consumers again.”


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

This guest post from Bob Grant had several photos. If you want to see them, I suggest you click on the Originally Published link and visit Speak Without Interruption. I will add two photos here that I took on my last trip, And yes, Bob, I also wish I had taken pictures every time I have visited China since 1999. I took my first pictures in 2008. Digital makes it easy.

Bob Grant wrote, During my trips to China, I wish I had taken more photos of the places I passed, to and from the factories I visited. In lieu of those photos, I am going to mix some that I found on the Internet with those that I took.

The one phenomenon that I experienced was the contradictions in times as I passed through the cities and into the countryside and back again. As I have mentioned in earlier postings, I have been traveling to China since 1998. My time spent there was mainly for business purposes—I rarely took time for sightseeing.

However, it was the “everyday” sights that interested me the most—not the so called tourist spots of which China has many. I would pass from new building construction to old crumbling buildings in a matter of blocks. I would drive by places in the countryside where it appeared to me that people were living the same way they had for millions of years. We would drive from beautiful multi-lane highways to rutted brick and dirt roads in a matter of miles. Workers were sweeping the freeways and other roads with large straw brooms. Everywhere I looked, I could see new and old in a single setting—a large high rise apartment building next to agricultural areas where people were working the land by hand and animals.

Our office was in Bao’an, which is a suburb, if you will, of Shenzhen which is in southern China across from Hong Kong. Here is a photo of the view from our office. Shenzhen has around 14 million people—according to the sources I checked—and it was nothing but swampland almost 30 years ago when it was designated China’s first economic zone.

The construction that goes on in this and other larger cities is unbelievable.

However, we visited one factory in what I would call the countryside where the owner was enticed to build a new factory because of the inexpensive cost of the land—somewhere around $4 per acre as I recall as the government wanted to build up business in this rural area.

This factory was in an extremely picturesque location and from the owner’s balcony, I took a photo of an older boat going down the river. It reminded me of how the setting (or view) must have been centuries ago. China has a tremendous amount of history associated with their country—I could see it, in many ways, as I looked out the vehicle window passing to and from our meetings during my numerous visits in country.

I certainly found China to be a country in transition—but as a visitor—I hope they never modernize their country to the extent that it is no longer a Contradiction of Times.

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

Continued February 28, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 8 (a guest post) or return to Part 6


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 March 1, 2010

Chinese Women in Science & Business

February 14, 2012

Business says, “Women now hold 34 percent of senior management roles in China, excluding Hong Kong, up from 31 percent in 2009, according to a 2011 Grant Thornton International Business Report, a survey of global companies.”

Tianjin Women’s Business Incubator (China)

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.” Half of the 14 billionaires on Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s richest self-made women are from mainland China… Backing them up are legions of qualified and ambitious women who, increasingly, are the engines powering China’s economic juggernaut.”

However, in the Western media, I often read or hear about sex slaves and prostitution in China, which is an example of Yellow Journalism at its worst. Seldom do we hear about China’s women in business and the sciences.

Professor Vivian Wing-Way Yam from China – 2011 Laureate for Asia and Pacific

What we should hear about from the Western media but often do not are stories about women like Dr. Zhang Yanxuan, an innovative scientist, who started a successful business in China to destroy mites that eat food crops. With twenty-seven years of scientific knowledge and government support, she raises predatory mites, a biologically safe method to kill the mites that eat crops. Her products are also being exported to other countries.

RSC Council member Professor Helen Fielding introduces leading Indian and Chinese scientists who talk about their inspiration and give advice to women starting out in science

China is currently the world’s leading pesticide user allowing chemical companies to make hefty profits while poisoning the environment and the people. However, Dr. Yanxuan’s predatory mites may replace pesticides as China’s government is becoming greener in their thinking.


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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Tom Carter’s Review of Chris Thrall’s “Eating Smoke”

December 14, 2011

Don’ Do The Drug!
A review of Chris Thrall’sEating Smoke
By Tom Carter

What just might be the funniest if not first autobiography ever penned by a drug-addicted foreigner in China, Chris Thrall’s “Eating Smoke” contains more spiritual pollution than all of the titles on the Communist Party’s banned books list combined.

In a country whose history was irrevocably altered for the worst by the scourge of foreign-imported opium throughout the nineteenth century, it is no wonder that today’s China has one of the world’s least-tolerant anti-drug laws – including executions for traffickers. Basically, buying or selling drugs in China is a really stupid idea.

Enter Chris: “I’m not a stupid guy, just an average guy who does stupid things”.

Thrall, a 25 year-old Royal Marine who hastily quits the service to pursue a business venture in 1990’s-era Hong Kong, a city “where situations can only get worse,” just to find himself broke, homeless and fulfilling his own ominous prophecy.

Recalling the commando’s motto of “cheerfulness under adversity,” Thrall tries to make the best of his lowly situation by spending his time dancing in discos or hanging out in the notorious Chungking Mansions, “the world’s all-time greatest doshouse.”

The immigrant ghetto of Kowloon is not, however, the best influence on Thrall, who befriends all the wrong people, including a hebephile drug dealer from Ghana and a Filipina working girl, and soon succumbs to that favorite of Chungking pastimes–drugs.

To fund his new crystal meth habit, our detritivorous narrator forages the South China city-by-the-sea like a bottom-feeder for any job that will hire a white face.

From cubicle fixture to phone-book scams, English teacher to nightclub DJ, businessman to bouncer, Thrall manages to get fired from every gig dumb enough to hire a spun-out “chi sun gweilo” (crazy foreigner in Cantonese) who doesn’t sleep for 9 days at a time and tends to forget his own surname.

By the time Thrall reaches his last-resort of a job–as a doorman at a bar operated by the 14K, the largest Triad (Chinese crime family) in the world–he has been reduced to a hyper-paranoid shadow of his former self on the verge of drug psychosis.

“I would listen to the radio phone-ins, suspicious of the Cantonese conversation and wondering if people were calling in to report my movements,” he says during one of his many speed-soaked conspiracy theories.

What ensues is a hilarious amphetamine-paced cautionary tale of what NOT to do when addicted to drugs in Wan Chai gangland, “where the Dai Lo’s rule is law, pride is everything and life means nothing.”

Chris Thrall’s true story evokes Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram” and Alex Garland’s “The Beach,” both of which have been licensed to Hollywood, as “Eating Smoke” is sure to follow.

Also by Tom Carter Eating Smoke — a question and answer with author, Chris Thrall in addition to Harlequin Romance Invades China


Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2 years across the 33 provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in  China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

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Mao’s ‘alleged’ Guilt in the Land of Famines – Part 4/8

November 14, 2011

Amazon reviewer W Y Lu of Hong Kong said, there is absolutely no evidence the atrocities Dikotter mentions were ordered from the top. In fact, quite the opposite – they were often uncovered, even by Dikotter’s own admission, by investigatory teams sent out by the central authorities (Note — and later by members of Mao’s personal bodyguard sent to verify the claims of starvation Mao was hearing from Party members, which he doubted at first.)

Lu says, the fact is, even using Dikotter’s figures (grossly inflated as they are), China’s mortality during the Great Leap Forward (GLF) was in fact slightly lower than that of India’s at the end of British rule – just 9 years earlier.

“The calculation is very simple,” Lu says. ‘Excess’ deaths are calculated by counting all the deaths that happen in one year, and subtracting them from a mortality the researcher assumes would have been the case had the GLF not happened. ”

Dikotter adopts a ‘normal’ crude mortality in China of 10 per 1000 people annually. He then counts deaths above this number as the excess deaths caused by the GLF.

facts about extreme poverty and hunger

Lu then points out that Dikotter also increased (inflated) the mortality numbers by 50% to allow for under-reporting and came up with an average annual mortality of around 27.3 per 1000 during the GLF.

However, Lu then says, “A crude mortality of 27.3 per 1000 in the late 50s & early 60s was in fact quite typical for developing countries. ”

Lu then points out that India and Indonesia’s mortality rates were 23 and 24 per 1000 respectively, and China’s mortality in 1949, just 8 years before the Great Leap Forward was 38 per 1000 (Source: China’s Changing Population by Judith Banister).

In her book, Banister mentions evidence that a famine did take place in China at this time and that the famine reduced fertility rates but says the fertility rate rebounded at least one year earlier than would be expected on the basis of grain production statistics, which can only be explained if supply and distribution of food improved considerably during 1961 as the government imported grain (from Canada and Australia—both allies of the US that broke ranks with the complete American embargo of China) and tried to ensure minimum supplies in famine areas.

Continued on November 15, 2011 in Mao’s ‘alleged’ Guilt in the Land of Famines – Part 5 or return to Part 3

View as Single Page

Recommended reading on this topic for those who seek the unblemished truth: From the Monthly Review, Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball

From Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor


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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Eating Smoke — a question and answer with the author, Chris Thrall – Part 5/5

October 20, 2011

Guest-Post by Tom Carter
Interview with Chris Thrall, author of Eating Smoke continued…

CARTER: Let’s talk about the publishing of Eating Smoke, because I’m sure there are dozens of expats across Asia reading this who feel that they, too, have exciting stories which deserve a place on bookshelves, yet are unsure of how to go about getting published.

So once Blacksmith Books expressed an interest in your proposal what kind of writing process did you embark on to complete the book?

THRALL: After six months of writing, when Blacksmith Books contacted me, I had pretty much the first draft written – 230,000 words at the time. The problem was I’d never studied English above high school level, so I spent a year referring to books, websites and online forums, teaching myself proper punctuation (not what we were taught at school!), grammar, and the art of self-editing.

CARTER: What kind of final editing was done to Eating Smoke? Were there any major changes to it and, overall, was it a hostile or pleasant experience?  I ask because editors and authors don’t usually see eye-to-eye.

THRALL: According to Blacksmith’s editor, the manuscript was structurally sound. I’d pretty much worked out for myself what did and did not need to be in there.

Any anecdote not taking the story forward or adding to the understanding of a character or situation, I took out.

As far as the end result is concerned, it was great to see the manuscript polished, with some incorrectly used words amended, some over-ripe humor taken out, and some excess sentences deleted. That’s not to say it wasn’t a stressful experience at the time.

Editors are good at spotting mistakes and cutting out excess lines. But that can leave un-poetic passages that don’t flow well on the page. My editor and publisher were completely accommodating, allowing me to rewrite any amendments myself in my own writing style – or understanding when I insisted that certain lines were left in the book, for continuity, or sentimental reasons because the story is true-life.

Chris Thrall

CARTER: The literary landscape is changing, some say deteriorating.

Where once New York publishers actually sought out quality literature that would last through the ages (John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck), today they only seem interested in boardroom-created-blockbusters like “Twilight” or throwaway celebrity memoires.

To add insult to injury, newspapers like the “New York Times” are notoriously anti-POD (Print on Demand) and will only review Big 6-published books despite the recent sales surge of self-published titles.

What’s your advice, then, for aspiring authors who lack literary connections but feel that their book is too good for CreateSpace?

THRALL: If you truly believe you have a story that will be of interest to many people, think carefully about sending your manuscript to a busy executive in a publishing house that probably has fifty other manuscripts land on their desk everyday and no time to read them.

Instead, consider hiring (or find) an agent that has some influence with the big players or simply send your first chapter to an author in a similar genre. Authors tend to be very kind and approachable people – as I found out, Tom! – and having been through the process themselves, they know what a publisher is looking for. If they like what they read then there’s a good chance they’ll recommend you.

Writers want other writers to have success. In addition, you’ll get pointers if your writing is lacking in any area. I’m currently writing a free e-book that will be available to download soon from to guide people through the process of writing a memoir and getting it published.

CARTER: What’s next for Chris Thrall? Tales from your time with the Corps of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines? Or perhaps some fiction?

THRALL: Not sure. You’ll have to ask the readers of Eating Smoke that question!

Return to Eating Smoke – Part 4, start with Part 1, or or if you have the time and do not want to wait for the five-part series to finish posting, click View as Single Page.

Chris Thrall was born in the UK. At eighteen, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos. Following active service in the Northern Ireland Conflict and training in Arctic warfare and survival, he earned his parachutist’s ‘wings’ and went on to serve as part of a high-security detachment onboard an aircraft carrier. In 1995, Chris moved to Hong Kong to oversee the Asia-Pacific expansion of a successful network-marketing operation he’d built, part-time, while serving in the Forces. Less than a year later, he was homeless, hooked on crystal methamphetamine and working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest triad crime family, as a doorman in Wanchai’s infamous red-light district. Eating Smoke, a humorous yet deeply moving first book, is his account of what happened.


Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, which may be found on

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