China, the source of high-tech products – for now

July 31, 2011

The June 2011 National Geographic Magazine (NGM) is sitting on my desk reminding me to write a post about THE SECRET (Chinese) INGREDIENTS OF (almost) EVERYTHING.

In fact, today, China supplies 97% of the world’s rare earth needs.

NGM’s Folger tells us, “Although China currently monopolizes rare earth mining, other countries have deposits too. China has 48 percent of the world’s reserves; the United States has 13 percent. Russia, Australia, and Canada have substantial deposits as well. Until the 1980s, the United States led the world in rare earth production …” Then China entered the competition and soon dominated the global market.

How important are these rare earth minerals to our modern high-tech world?

The U.S. military depends on these minerals for night vision goggles used in combat, and to help control Predator drones, and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

MRI medical scans need a rare earth mineral to work while hybrid cars would not exist without them and wind turbines used to generate an alternative source of energy requires hundreds of pounds of one rare earth element while compact fluorescent light bulbs use another rare earth to light up.  Even our smart phones, flat-screen televisions and sunglasses (to protect our eyes from UV light) use rare earths.

Folger reveals that there is currently a shortage of rare earths with global demand about 60,000 tons. However, China will only be exporting 24,000 tons this year, since its growing middle class demands the same high-tech toys that many Americans and Europeans take for granted.

To have a better idea of how this demand of rare earths will grow in China, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts China’s middle class will reach about 612 million Chinese by 2025 to become the world’s largest population of consumers. This will change ‘made in China‘ to ‘sold in China‘ possibly creating markets for luxury goods made in the USA.

Does this mean that soon Chinese may be complaining about US workers stealing jobs from China?

Meanwhile, other nations (such as the US) are rushing to develop rare earth metals until the US is capable of producing enough to supply the demand in America for high-tech gadgets.

Discover more from Keeping the Rare Earths in China

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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 that Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Goals for Going Green

July 18, 2011

Until recently, the United States was the largest consumer of energy in the world.

To put that in perspective, Americans make up only 5% of the world’s population and yet consumed 20% of the energy the last year the US was number one.

Now, China, with about 20% of the world’s population, consumes more energy than the US.

In 2010, China consumed 4,190,000,000-megawatt hours of electricity to serve 1.3 billion people, while in 2009, the US consumed 3,741,485,000-megawatt hours of electricity for 310,880,317 people. Source: Wikipedia’s List of countries by electric energy consumption

A better idea might be to compare India to China since these countries have similar sized populations. Nation Master’s energy consumption chart shows India in 6th place with 568,000,000-megawatt hours consumed, while China used more than 7 times that number.

China’s goal is to have a middle class equal to America, which may reach as high as 66% of households.

Do a little math and you soon discover how much energy China may have to produce to support a middle class of about 858 million people, which is 66% of 1.3 billion.

In fact, China may need to produce about 16 billion-megawatt hours of electricity to achieve that goal.

Along with those numbers comes another staggering headache — pollution and a potential environmental disaster of epic proportions.

However, China is struggling to deal with this challenge by going green.

The June 2011, National Geographic Magazine (NGM) asked this question — Can China Go Green? Then attempted to answer it.

NGM said, “No other country is investing so heavily in clean energy. But no other country burns as much coal to fuel its economy.”

One unidentified Beijing-based official said, “China seeks every drop of fuel—every kilowatt and every kilojoule it can get a hold of — for growth.”

“That Chinese consumer revolution has barely begun,” NGM said. “As of 2007, China had 22 cars for every 1,000 people, compared with 451 in the U.S.”

Discover more at China’s Middle Class Expanding, China’s Middle Class Defined, Copy Cat Middle Class in China and The Middle Class Bulge.

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

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Kung Fu Metamorphosis

May 22, 2011

Last June (2010), Tom Carter wrote five guest posts about Martial Arts in China, and the same month I wrote about a movie, The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chang.

I’ve never been to Wudang Mountain (at last not yet), which is well known for its deep-rooted tradition of wushu (martial arts).

Watching Jackie Chang and Jaden Smith climb that long, narrow stairway reminded me of mountains I’ve climbed that challenged my breath and made my heart pound.

Tom Carter’s guest posts came with a few of the photos that he shot while there.

However, in the March 2011 National Geographic Magazine (NGM), we read of the Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu and discover that as the world and China changes, so does this ancient world of Martial Arts that has been steeped in tradition for millennia.

In Tom Carter’s first guest post on this subject, he wrote, “Located atop the western peak of the sacred Song Shan Mountain in northern Henan province, 800 year-old Shaolin Si has been destroyed and rebuilt time and again, weathering attacks by emperors, warlords, cultural revolutions, and now its most reoccurring invaders – the modern tour group.”

It’s the modern tour group Carter mentions that challenges China’s Kung Fu.

NGM says the city of Dengfeng (population about 600,000), China’s kung fu capital, boasts some 60 martial arts schools and attracts about 50,000 students from all over China.


Shaolin Si

A time line in the NGM piece shows the oldest Chinese reference to martial arts was in the 11th century B.C., more than three thousand years ago, and in 2010, the Shaolin Temple was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One element of the philosophy behind Kung Fu was explained by a master, “In each boy, he looks for respectfulness and a willingness to ‘eat bitterness’, learning to welcome hardship, using it to discipline the will and forge character.”

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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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.


Gold from Dead Tibetan Caterpillars

May 26, 2010

In the May 2010 National Geographic, Mark Jenkins writes about Tibetan cowboys and Chinese-made motorcycles in his Tea Horse Road piece unwittingly revealing more about Tibetan life under Chinese rule.

The Tibetan cowboys, who once used horses, now use motorcycles to tend their flocks. On the way to 17,756-foot Nubgang Pass, Jenkins passes the black yak-hair tents of Tibetan nomads, and sees big Chinese trucks or Land Cruisers parked outside. He wonders how poor Tibetans can afford such luxuries. Aren’t they supposed to be suffering?

I think, “Maybe they are smuggling drugs into China from India”.  As I read on, I learn I’m wrong.

Photo by Tom Carter, author of China: Portrait of a People

On his way back from the pass, Jenkins discovers these Tibetan cowboys have found wealth in their high grasslands from parasite infected caterpillars called “Yartsa Gompo” in Tibet and “Chong Cao” in China.  These dead caterpillars sell to Chinese medicine shops throughout Asia for as much as 80 dollars a gram—more than the price for a gram of gold.

Why? The Chinese and Tibetans believe these dead caterpillars are a cure-all medicine that also acts as an aphrodisiac.

Discover more about Tibet on The Tea Horse Road

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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 Tea Horse Road

May 19, 2010

Most of us have heard of or read about the Silk Road from China to Europe. I’m sure that few have heard of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, which I first read about this morning in the May issue of National Geographic.

Legend says that tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.

But that isn’t what struck me the most about the piece. It’s the example that demonstrated why the peasants loved and possibly worshiped Mao Tse-Tung.

From May 2010 National Geographic, page 103

For more than a thousand years, men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea on their backs across the rugged mountains into Lhasa. Some froze to death in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed into the clouds.

This all ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket, whom the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.

To learn more about Tibet, visit Tibet – Inside China (part one of five)

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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.


Water – Two Countries Tell a Tale

April 19, 2010

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compares the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies stall due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims by Tibetan separatists and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron dictatorial fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

Tibetan Nomads

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

However, change is coming, and there is nothing Ba O can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is from global warming. The Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

Tibetan girl tending sheep

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line.  The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

What happens to life when there is no water?

See Dictatorship Defined

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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 Man Who Made China

March 8, 2010

Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Tamerlane, Mussolini, Stalin, Togo and all the rest of the great conquerors failed where Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s First Emperor, succeeded. National Geographic has a short film that is worth watching.

Qin Shi Huangdi, the man who made China

While history records this emperor as a cruel and brutal tyrant, he did several things that made sure China would stay unified.  First, he forced every nation he conquered to accept one written language. Anyone who protested was killed.  Today, more than twenty-two hundred years later, China still has one written language but many spoken languages. He also created one form of money and a code of laws that everyone had to obey.  Soon after the man who made China died, a rebellion swept the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 B.C.) away and the Han Dynasty replaced it (206 B.C. to 219 A.D.).

Qin Shi Huangdi may have been the only conqueror in history who did not allow those he defeated to retain their written language. Because of this, China has survived for more than two millennia—something no other civilization may claim.

Visit Xian and see Qin Shi Huangdi’s capital and/or The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China (Part 1 of 9)

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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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