New Year’s Recap

January 1, 2011

There’s much about China that I did not know when we started this journey on January 28, 2010. 

We visited China’s early dynasties (the Xia, Shang and Zhou) before Qin Shi Huangdi became the first emperor and unified China.

Then we visited the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming and Qing Dynasties while learning of the chaos and anarchy between the dynasties.

We met Confucius and Wu Zetian, China’s only woman emperor during the Tang Dynasty.

We discovered China’s music, art and opera while meeting one of China’s national treasures, Mao Wei-Tao.

Learning about the 19th century Opium Wars started by the British and French opened my eyes to evils I had not known of.

What shocked me most was how the West forced China to allow Christian missionaries into China along with opium.

One reader challenged me in a comment saying that couldn’t be true then didn’t respond when I provided links to the evidence that missionaries and opium were included in the same treaty, which forced the emperor to accept against his will.

Then I sat spellbound as I joined Mao and the Communists on the Long March where more than 80,000 started out and about 6,000 survived — the only choice was to fight or die.

Along the way, I learned that Sun Yat-sen was the father of China’s republic and how Chiang Kai-shek started the Civil War in 1925 when he ordered his army to slaughter the Chinese Communists.

I didn’t know that the Communist and Nationalist Parties were the two political parties of China’s first republic and how it was the US supported Nationalists that fired the first shot that shattered Sun Yat-sen’s dream for China.

After the Communists won the Civil War in 1949, I saw the suffering and death from Mao’s mistakes during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that ended in 1976.

Then we learned how Deng Xiaoping saved China from the Revolutionary Maoists and launched the Capitalist Revolution, which led to the Tiananmen Square incident then China’s Sexual Revolution.

And there was my continued attempt to explain China’s Collective Culture. One comment basically said, “Yea, sure!” as if there were no such thing as cultural differences such as this.

We also were introduced to other Blogs about China such as the China Law Blog.

Of course, with more than a thousand posts in a year, what I have mentioned here is but a small part of the 2010 journey of 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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China’s Greatest Emperors

November 25, 2010

China’s longest lasting dynasties survived due to one or more great emperors.

After China was unified by Qin Shi Huangdi (221 – 207 BC), there were only five dynasties that survived for long periods — the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

Although China’s civilization survived, the country’s history is rampant with rebellions, palace coups, corruption among palace officials, and insurrections. Between the five longest dynasties, the country usually fell apart into warring states as it did after 1911.

The most successful emperors managed to stabilize the country while managing wisely as the Communist Party has done since 1976.

Emperor Han Wudi (ruled 141 – 87 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 219 A.D.) was fifteen when he first sat on the throne.

Wudi is considered one of the greatest emperors in China’s history. He expanded the borders, opened the early Silk Road, developed the economy, and established state monopolies on salt, liquor and rice.

After the Han Dynasty collapsed, China fell apart for almost 400 years before the Tang Dynasty was established (618 -906). The Tang Dynasty was blessed with several powerful emperors.

The first was Emperor Tang Taizong (ruled 627-649).

According to historical records, Wu Zetain, China’s only woman emperor also ruled wisely.

Emperor Tang Zuanzong , Zetain’s grandson, ruled longer than any Tang emperor and the dynasty prospered while he sat on the throne.

After the dynasty fell, there would be short period of about 60 years before the Sung Dynasty reestablished order and unified the country again.

The second emperor of the Sung Dynasty, Sung Taizong (ruled 976 – 997) unified China after defeating the Northern Han Dynasty. The third emperor, Sung Zhenzong (ruled 997-1022) also deserves credit for maintaining stability.

The Sung Dynasty then declined until a revival by Sung Ningzong (ruled 1194 – 1224) After he died, the dynasty limped along until Kublai Khan defeated the last emperor in 1279.

After conquering all of China, Kublai Khan founded the Mongol, Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367). Not long after Kublai died, the dynasty was swept away.

In 1368, a peasant rebellion defeated the Yuan Dynasty and drove the Mongols from China.

The Ming Dynasty (1271 – 1368) is known for rebuilding, strengthening and extending the Great Wall among a list of other accomplishments.

Historical records show that the rule of the third Ming Emperor, Ming Chengzu (ruled 1403 – 1424), was the most prosperous period.

After Chengzu, the dynasty would decline until 1567 when Emperor Ming Muzong reversed the decline.

His son, Emperor Ming Shenzong, also ruled wisely from 1573 to 1620.

After Shenzong’s death, the Ming Dynasty quickly declined and was replaced by the Qing Dynasty in 1644.

The Opium Wars started by England and France and the Taiping Rebellion led by a Christian convert in the 19th century would contribute to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

The Qing Dynasty was fortunate to have three powerful, consecutive emperors: Emperor Kangxi (1661 – 1722), Yongzhen (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796). For one-hundred-and-thirty-five years, China remained strong and prosperous.

After the corrupt Qing Dynasty was swept aside in 1911 by a rebellion led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, China fell apart and warlords fought to see who would rule China.

When Sun Yat-sen died, the republic he was building in southern China fell apart when Chiang Kai-shek broke the coalition that Sun Yat-sen had formed between the Nationalist and Communist Parties. Mao’s famous Long March shows how the Communists survived.

Then Japan invaded, and China would be engulfed in war and rebellion until 1945 when World War II ended. After World War II, the rebellion between the Nationalist and Communists ended in victory for the Communists in 1949.

This victory was made possible because the Communists were supported by China’s peasants that hated, despised and distrusted the Nationalist Party, which represented China’s ruling elite.

The Communists gained the support of the peasants by treating the peasants with respect and promising reforms that would end the suffering.

Then Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution extended the peasants suffering.

However, since the early 1980s, the Communist Party has been working to fulfill the promises made during the revolution, and the lifestyles of China’s peasants are slowly improving.

There are many impatient voices in the West and a few in China that are not happy with the speed of China’s reforms or how the Party has handled them.

In fact, China has modernized and improved lifestyles in China since the early 1980s at a pace that has never been seen before in recorded history.

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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.

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Long March Part 2 (4/4)

July 30, 2010

In 1949, Mao won China and Chiang Kai-shek, still supported by America, fled to Taiwan with the remnants of his KMT army.

Meanwhile, Mao’s six thousand survivors from the First Red Army ruled a country of a half-billion people. Most of the Communist government’s highest-ranking officials from the 1950s through the 70s were the survivors of the Long March.

In one year and one day, the First Red Army covered six-thousand miles, the distance between New York and San Francisco and back again.  They averaged about 24 miles a day, climbed 18 major mountain ranges and crossed 24 rivers.

The First Red Army wasn’t the only Communist army to make this march. Two other Red Armies followed and overcame the same obstacles to join Mao’s forces in Shaanxi Province.

Map of the Long March

Many outside China may think of Mao as a ruthless dictator, but there is no way anyone can deny what he achieved as the commander of the First Red Army during the Long March. He could not have done it without the loyalty of the people and his troops.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/3 or start with The Long March – Part 1/1

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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. 

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The Long March Part 2 (3/4)

July 29, 2010

Mao’s troops didn’t want to return through the grasslands and he issued orders to take the pass. The fighting was fierce and Mao’s Red Army took heavy losses.

Mao stopped the direct assaults and sent skilled climbers up one of the canyon’s walls.  From the high ground, they shot down at the Nationalist fortifications blocking the pass.

One volunteer wrapped his body in explosives, leaped from the cliff into the middle of the Nationalist fortifications, and blew himself up opening the pass.

Mao’s First Red Army finally reached desolate and rugged Shaanxi Province. The Long March was over, and Mao’s troops linked up with other Red Army elements that already had a base there.

Of the original 87,000 who started the Long March, fewer than 6,000 survived. These survivors would recruit and lead the new army.

The Long March turned Mao into a leader with a following from the common people throughout China.

Eventually, the Fourth Red army arrived, but two-thirds of this army had been killed in battles.

Chiang Kai-shek planned a new campaign to defeat Mao, but Chiang’s supporters and generals forced him to work with the Communists to fight the Japanese. This uneasy alliance would become a Civil War in 1945 when World War II ended.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/2 or go on to The Long March Part 2/4

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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 Long March Part 2 (2/4)

July 29, 2010

There is no drainage in the grasslands. As it rains, the water saturates the soil and turns it into a swamp.  Beneath the flowers and grass were hidden bogs that could swallow men and animals whole. 

The temperatures were slightly above freezing. Food became scarce and was rationed.

When there was no food, the troops boiled the grass and added a touch of salt. Everyone was weak. Those who collapsed were left to die, because the survivors were too weak to help.

They could only cry.

The Red Army lost more troops in the grasslands than from the Snowy Mountains.  A Nationalist army followed the Communists into the grasslands but turned back because of the difficulty and risks.

One reason the Nationalists turned back was that Chiang Kai-shek suffered from a lack of loyalty among his troops and generals. He even feared that one of his generals might kill him.

On the other hand, the loyalty of Mao’s troops was unquestioned. 

However, the general of the Fourth Red Army argued with Mao and the two armies split. 

Mao’s army was weak and still had hundreds of miles to go to reach safety. One obstacle remained—the dangerous Lazikou pass, which was also fortified by waiting Nationalist troops. Mao’s troops would have to fight to take the pass or return through the grasslands.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/1 or go on to The Long March Part 2/3

_________________________________

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 Long March – Part 1 (1/6)

July 24, 2010

Mao’s Long March is considered one of the most significant military campaigns of the 20th Century and one of the most amazing physical feats ever attempted.

Surrounded by hostile armies, 87,000 Communist troops escaped and walked nearly 6,000 miles in one year. It was a desperate retreat for Mao’s Communist Chinese Army from the Nationalist forces (the KMT) of General Chiang Kai-shek. The KMT had a huge advantage with a much larger military force big enough to surround their enemy, the Chinese Communists.

Many say The Long March was a brilliant military maneuver. Others claim it was a series of strategic blunders. However, most historians agree that what was accomplished was astounding. In this documentary, the survivors reveal what happened.

In the 1920s, eighty percent of the 450 million Chinese people were poor peasants who lived in the countryside. Over half owned no land and often worked for little more than food for an absentee landlord.

The difference between the Communists and Nationalists was vast. The Communists wanted to give the land to the peasants while the Nationalists wanted to maintain the old social order.

See The Roots of Madness, which came before The Long March, or go on to The Long March – Part 1/2

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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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China: The Roots of Madness – Part 4/8

June 10, 2010

In Part 4, Chiang Kai-shek’s army is not ready when Japan invades Manchuria. He doesn’t have tanks, the artillery is old and the Chinese are learning about airplanes.

Meanwhile, the Communists that Chiang thought he had destroyed are back. Mao knew the peasants lived in horrible poverty. He promised land reforms and by 1932 has millions of supporters.

The language describing Mao is not flattering. Yes, when Mao ruled China, he was a brutal dictator. However, Chiang Kai-shek was also a brutal dictator. But Chiang converted to Christian in 1929, and the West still refers to him as the president of China—not a dictator.

Instead of fighting Japan, Chiang’s army bombs villages that Mao controls killing tens of thousands of noncombatants. Mao takes his ninety thousand troops on the famous thousand-mile Long March. A year later, only a few thousand remain. Mao calls for unity to fight Japan.

One of Chiang’s generals, Zhang Xueliang, forces him to sit down with the Communists where Chiang Kai-shek agrees to fight Japan. As soon as Chiang returns to his capital, he breaks the agreement and throws Zhang in prison.

Continued in The Roots of Madness- Part 5 or return to Part 3

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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.

To subscribe to iLook China, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.