Spinning a Web – Part 1/2

August 16, 2011

Is Julia Lovell spinning a web to deceive about the First Opium War (1839 to 1842)?

ACN Newswire posted a press release recently announcing the pending publication of The Opium War by Julia Lovell (available September 2011).

Lovell’s reason for writing this book was to “see whether things really were as black and white as the Chinese textbooks seem to say it was.”

“Seem!” Doesn’t Lovell know what the Chinese textbooks say?

If you check to see who runs ACN Newswire, you will discover it is an associate company of Japan Corporation News K.K., which may mean nothing or everything when it comes to a nonfiction book that aims to make the Chinese look as guilty as the British regarding the Opium Wars.

Julia Lovell says, “It wasn’t a clear-cut story of innocent Chinese on the one hand, and the British invaders on the other.”


British author Julia Lovell talks about writing her book.

“But even if you look at the time, what’s going on during the time of the war itself, the Chinese are supplying the British, they are navigating for the British, they are spying for the British, for a fee of course, so there is an extraordinary pragmatism,” Lovell says in the ACN Newswire press release. “They don’t necessarily feel the loyalty to the idea of the Chinese imperial centre or the emperor or anything else, they will go with where the smart money is. And the British couldn’t have won the war without this assistance.”

There are two key phrases of Lovell’s proving her theory is more complicated than she makes it sound. The first phrase says, “for a fee of course” and the second, “They didn’t necessarily feel loyalty to the idea of the Chinese imperial center or the emperor or anything else…”

In fact, little is “clear-cut” about the Opium Wars. Since the Qing Dynasty was not ruled by the Han Chinese (which represents 90% of the population), but was ruled by a brutal Manchu minority, many Han Chinese probably felt little or no loyalty to the Qing emperor.

Continued on August 16, 2011 in Spinning a Web – 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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The Last Empress Dowager

December 14, 2010

The Last Empress of China ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, The Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, and her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young to rule China.

Technically, The Empress Dowanger Tzu Hsi (Cixi) wasn’t the last empress.

However, she was the last empress to rule China as a regent for her son then her nephew after her son died at 19.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, writes, “absurdly little was known about her life. The New York Times printed a long, error filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts have slandered the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women—a ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through prevision, corruption and intrigue.

This is how many still think of Tzu Hsi.

She has been accused of murdering her son then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, her son may have died of syphilis because it was rumored he preferred prostitutes to his virgin concubines.

Some rumors claim that Tzu Hsi had her nephew poisoned, but Yuan Shikai may also have poisoned him. There is no evidence to support either theory.

How did the Tzu Hsi earn such a bad reputation? It seems that she earned this reputation similar to how today’s China has been smeared in the Western media.

To understand how this came about, I will make a comparison to Jayson Blair, a young reporter for the New York Times that wrote more than 600 articles for the newspaper. During his short career with the New York Times, Blair committed repeated “acts of journalistic fraud”, including stealing material from other papers and inventing quotes.

Blair’s fraud was revealed in 2003 while he still worked for the newspaper. Source: BBC News 

However, Jayson Blair was not the first reporter to commit “acts of journalistic fraud”.

Edmund Backhouse did the same writing about the Tzu Hsi at the beginning of the 20th century, and his lies and deceit wouldn’t be discovered until Sterling Seagrave was researching Dragon Lady decades later.

Backhouse’s journalistic fraud served as the foundation for most history texts that have slandered Tzu Hsi.

To do Tzu Hsi justice and to discover the truth, one should read Seagrave’s Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China

To learn whom the real woman was we may want to consider what Robert Hart had to say about Hzu Hsi in his letters and journals.  Robert Hart arrived in China from Ireland in 1854. He returned to England in 1908.

For most of his stay in China, Hart was Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs and worked closely with the Imperial ministers and Manchu princes. Before returning to England, Hart met with the Dowager Empress in a private audience.

Hart referred to Tzu Hsi as “the Buddha” and later “the old Buddha” since she was a devout Buddhist and it is obvious that he thought of her with affection and admiration.

In fact, Hart, who is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization, at no time indicated in anything he wrote that Tzu Hsi was conspiratorial, sinister or manipulative. However, he did indicate that she was strong-willed and hot-tempered but she was clever and had ability.

Tzu Hsi died in 1908 a few weeks after Robert Hart left China. The Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911.

Discover more of The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911)

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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.

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The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) – Part 2/2

December 14, 2010

The Yongzheng Emperor ruled from 1722 to 1735. He was frugal like his father, the Kangxi Emperor.

Yongzheng created an effective government and used military force to preserve the dynasty’s position as his father had. Under his leadership, he continued the era of peace and prosperity by cracking down on corruption and waste while reforming the financial administration of the empire.

The Qianlong Emperor (birth/death 1711 – 1799) ruled China for much of the 18th century (1735 – 1796). He subdued about ten rebellions known as the “ten successful campaigns”, which drained the Qing Dynasty’s treasury. These rebellions stretched from 1747 to 1792.

However, when the Qianlong Emperor died, China was unified, at peace and strong. He was a brilliant military leader and expanded the empire further into Mongolia and Tibet.

During the rule of the Qianlong Emperor, Manchu and Chinese armies proved the Qing sovereignty over Burma and Nepal.

Chinese settlers in Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan and Taiwan dealt with rebellions of the aboriginal tribes that could only be subdued by military force. Muslim people also resisted the Qing regime in Gansu and Xinjiang.

During the 19th century, the two Opium Wars started by Britain and France weakened the Qing Dynasty.

Besides the Opium Wars, there was also the Taiping Rebellion, which lasted more than a decade and cost about 20 million lives.

In 1900, The so-called Boxer Rebellion (known as “I-ho Chuan” or the “Righteous and Harmonious Fists”) was originally started against the Manchu Qing Dynasty but the Qing government managed to redirect this rebellion against the foreigner invaders that had defeated China during the earlier Opium Wars.

This ended in a worse defeat after the foreign powers formed an alliance and marched on Beijing slaughtering the rebels.

The driving force behind the revolution of 1911 that ended the Qing Dynasty was Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

However, once the Qing Dynasty fell, warlords tore China apart and it would take years of struggle to reunify China under one government in 1949 after the Communist Party defeated the Nationalists, who fled to Taiwan with much of China’s imperial treasures and gold.

Return to The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) – 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.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The Power of Chinese Assimilation

July 9, 2010

Andrew Clark contributed a post to Politics Daily about China’s minorities and the autonomous regions they call home. As Andrew clearly pointed out, “Han Chinese make up 92 percent of the People’s Republic of China. The remaining 8 percent is made up of minority groups, mainly Tibetan, Zhuang, Uyghur, Mongolian, Miao, Manchu, and Hui (these are the major ethnic groups — China officially recognizes 55 minority populations).”

Clark concludes with, “It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government can successfully assimilate these groups, or if consistent suppression of uprisings can force social tranquility.”

The Chinese map has inflated and deflated for more than two-thousand years. Some of these minorities have been in China longer than others. The Mongolians Clark visited, like the Tibetans and the Uyghur, are three who haven’t been inside China as long since they were conquered by the Qing Dynasty (the Manchu minority), who ruled China from 1644 – 1911.

One other minority ruled China for a brief time and that was the Mongols as the Yuan Dynasty (1277 – 1367). Both the rulers of the Qing and the Yuan were assimilated into the Han culture while they ruled China. That’s was primarily because they were surrounded by Han Chinese in the capital.

Tibet broke from China in 1913 and stayed out until 1950 when Mao sent an army into Tibet, which has always been a difficult place for China to rule since sending armies there to enforce control was difficult. But today, a highway and a railroad make that journey easy. If those transportation routes are cut, there’s still air transportation. The travel distance between Tibet and  Beijing is shorter than it was a century ago.

Currently, China is adding about 40 thousand more kilometers of rail throughout China and building another grid of high-speed rail. This improved transportation system is also bringing about change and causing a Han migration that would have been unthinkable more than a century ago when most of China didn’t have electricity or roads.

For centuries, China ruled over these minorities without moving Han Chinese into their territories, but times have changed and the Han Chinese, like the Americans Europeans moving West, have been migrating into the autonomous regions for years, which may have more of an impact keeping these territories part of China than armies ever have. And if that doesn’t work, China still has the largest standing army in the world.

Clark also claimed, “the United States has seemingly countless ethnic and cultural minorities that are proud to call themselves American…”  While somewhat true, many of almost 2,500 American native tribes still  hold to their old ways and live on reservations proud to be Navaho or Sioux, Black Foot or Apache, maybe more so than being American.

If given a choice,  many of these North American tribes would jump at the chance to have their ancestral homes back. But the FBI keeps a tight watch over these American minorities, and the US Marines are always a phone call away. Then there is the fact that Alaska and Hawaii both have strong secessionist movements.

Discover more about Minorites in China

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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. 

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The Opium Wars in the 19th Century (1800s)

June 28, 2010

China began the 19th century confident of its superiority over the rest of the world.  China’s population numbered 400 million. The Qing (Manchu) Empire controlled the world’s biggest economy.  China enjoyed a favorable balance of trade with the West—receiving a huge amount of money for its silk, porcelain, and tea.

By 1800, the British consumed 10,000 tons of tea annually.  So much money poured into China, that one Chinese merchant became the richest man in the world, and all foreign business with was restricted to one city, Canton.

However, Britain had a product to reverse that balance of trade—opium. The British shipped opium into China and up its rivers to almost every part of China.  So many became addicted to the drug, the stability China was threatened.

Then in 1839, the Emperor acted to stop the opium trade. Lin, the man in charge, wrote to Queen Victoria asking for her help. Ignored by Great Britain, Lin resorted to confiscating the opium and destroying it, which led to the Opium Wars started by Britain and France, who respected nothing but force. China lost the war and was forced to pay for a war they did not want and did not start.

In the British parliament, William Gladstone criticized his government calling the Opium war a disgrace.

See Mao’s War Against Illegal Drugs

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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.


Four Equals One China—Minority China Continued (Part 6 of 7)

May 16, 2010

The Mongol minority and the Manchu both conquered and ruled China for a time. The Mongols were the Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367) and the Manchu were the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). China’s largest expansion took place under the Yuan and the Qing. The Yuan occupied Tibet followed by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1643) and then the Qing.

If you are one of the skeptics who believe Tibetan separatists whom claim China never ruled Tibet, I direct you to the October 1912 issue of “National Geographic Magazine” or “The I.G. In Peking, Letters of Robert Hart, Chinese Maritime Customs, 1868 – 1907” where Sir Robert Hart mentioned Tibet in more than fifty of his letters in two volumes published by Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-44320-9.

Since I wanted to see the original, I bought a copy of the October 1912 issue of National Geographic Magazine on e-bay, and it cost $20 plus shipping.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 7 or discover China’s 56 minorities

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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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Four Equals One China—Minority China (Part 5 of 7)

May 16, 2010

There are 56 ethnic Chinese minorities with about 100 million people among them. These minorities have their own languages and cultures. The majority, the Han Chinese, have seven languages. There is one written language in China.

Learning Mandarin and English are mandatory in the public schools. It is expected and mandatory that “all” students will spend 11 years in school.

Until the 11th, Five-Year Plan, urban schools were much better than China’s rural schools.  It’s too early to see the results yet. After all, it took more than three decades to achieve what China has already accomplished.

Uighurs in Xinjiang province

The two minorities best known outside China are the Tibetans (4.6 million) and the 8 million Uighurs in China’s northwest Xinjiang province. Few of the province’s Uighurs speak the national language of Mandarin. They are educated in their own tongue in Uighur schools, and they are treated in Uighur hospitals that they claim are sub-par.

The Uighurs have a history of insurrection with the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There were several rebellions during the 19th century that were put down ruthlessly by the Manchu.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 6

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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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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