The Chinese Work Ethic

May 30, 2010

At the turn of the century, Jack London visited China (1904-05) and saw how hard the Chinese worked. He surmised that Westerners, living in ignorant bliss, had no understanding of Asian cultures and were far too confident of their superiority to realize that their days of world power were severely numbered. He urged that Westerners make concerted efforts to meet with Japanese and Chinese to understand each other better as equals. Source: History News Network

Jack London with his wife

In fact, I’ve met highly educated Chinese who came to the US and couldn’t get jobs in their field of study. Did they give up and lay around complaining how unfair life was?  No. They became handy men or worked in construction for far less than what a Latino, illegal immigrant worker earns. These same Chinese, with strong family values, also save money to send their children to college.

Sir Robert Hart, who lived and worked in China (1854 – 1908) and is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization said the same thing Jack London would say decades later. In the 1880s, he predicted that within a century China would be a super power again.

Sir Robert Hart in China

The Chinese work ethic is also reflected in Article 42 of the PRC’s Constitution.

“Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right as well as the duty to work. Using various channels, the state creates conditions for employment, strengthens labour protection, improves working conditions and, on the basis of expanded production, increases remuneration for work and social benefits. Work is the glorious duty of every able-bodied citizen. All working people in state enterprises and in urban and rural economic collectives should perform their tasks with an attitude consonant with their status as masters of the country. The state promotes socialist labour emulation, and commends and rewards model and advanced workers. The state encourages citizens to take part in voluntary labour. The state provides necessary vocational training to citizens before they are employed.”

Who built the Great Wall of China?
Who built China’s Grand Canal?
Who built the first emperor’s tomb and all those Terra Cotta Warriors?
Who took a country in 1950 that produced 0.005 kilowatts of electricity and built more than a hundred modern cities in less than three decades with plans to build 400 more—something historians say has never happened in the recorded history of humanity?
Whom has the only viable space program left on the earth with plans to go to the moon and beyond?
Who built America’s Western Railroads during the 19th century?

To learn more see All About Balance


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. 

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Super Power Dawn

March 29, 2010

Alan Caruba writes about Super Power China at “Speak Without Interruption”. “As the sun begins to set on an America whose dollar set the standard and whose capacity for manufacturing was unchallenged, a new superpower is emerging and it is China.”

Two notable individuals from history predicted more than a century ago what is taking place in China—the first was a young Irishman from Belfast who arrived in China in 1854 and left in 1908.  His name was Robert Hart and to historians, he’s known as the Godfather of China’s modernization.

Hart wrote near the end of the 19th century that in a hundred years China would be a superpower again. Jack London, who visited China and wrote about it, made the same prediction.

The way the government has decentralized power in China is not new. Imperial China did the same. The Emperor appointed the governors to the provinces based on who earned the highest scores in the Imperial exams and they ruled like kings. 

As for a market economy, China may have invented this on a national scale more than a millennia ago proving that it doesn’t take a democracy or republic to prosper.

If you spend time in China, you will discover that the Chinese are born entrepreneurs, who find ways to get around government restrictions to make money. Sadly, this has led to the pollution in China today—something the central government is struggling to deal with as they transition to green power.

As for long term planning, consider that the top men in China’s government are engineers or scientists compared to America’s leaders who are mostly lawyers. After Mao, China implemented term and age limits for government positions, something America does not have.


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 Fast Track Growth

February 13, 2010

Here’s more evidence that Robert Hart and Jack London were right when they predicted that China would be a super power again. These two Western men spent time in China, got to know the culture and realized the potential of the Chinese people.

Bullet trains, something the United States doesn’t have due to the national debt and partisanship between political parties more interested in who packs the pork barrel than running the country efficiently, have raced into China providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of Chinese and a faster, fuel efficient way to get around.

With the Lunar New Year and more Chinese traveling home than the population of Russia, another, fast, energy efficient means of public transportation was needed.  When the economy collapsed under President George W. Bush due to real estate, banks and Wall Street greed, the Democrats and Republican’s started pointing fingers at each other and throwing more debt around.

In China, where debt does not rule and the savings rate is 40%, instead of arguing and tossing blame about, the Chinese started working. Is this evidence that one political party is more efficient than two?

My thanks to Ian Carter for bringing the Chinese bullet trains to my attention–visit his Blog to “see” more of China, or discover why China is Studying Singapore


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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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