Vestiges of China’s Early Empires

August 8, 2010

 David Frum writes about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum says, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum.  For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… Lewis offhandedly mentions at one point that there remains not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins,” which is wrong.

I recently wrote a three-part series about Han Dynasty tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which had not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber.  Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out mountain and made of rock, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived then.

In fact, I’ve toured the Ming tombs, seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai.  Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ and is still in use today.

In fact, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 with much of China’s imperial treasures.

Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.


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


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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Change Mandated by Heaven

April 15, 2010

To many Chinese, the Taiping and Boxer rebellions failed because they were not blessed by Heaven. After World War II, when Mao’s Communists defeated the Nationalists, who— protected by America—fled to Taiwan, a case could be made that it was the Mandate of Heaven that brought about this change since World War II caused many in China to lose their lives demonstrating the Kuomintang’s inability to protect the Chinese people.

Chang Kai Shek - Leader of the Kuomintang

When Mao died, the new chairman of China’s Communist Party, Hua Guofeng, ordered the arrest of the Gang of Four. Almost everyone connected to the Gang of Four, which included Mao’s wife, Jian Qing, became non-persons. Some went to prison and died like Mao’s wife. Others were pushed aside and ignored. Since millions died due to the Cultural Revolution, they had lost the Mandate to rule.

Deng Xiaoping repudiated the Cultural Revolution and in 1977 launched the ‘Beijing Spring’, leading to a market economy and China’s prosperity today. The suffering that occurred during much of Mao’s twenty-seven year rule was criticized openly making if official that Mao had lost the Mandate of Heaven. After all, more than thirty-million Chinese died horrible deaths due to the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

See Deng Xiaoping’s 20/20 Vision

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Heaven Grants the Right to Rule

April 15, 2010

The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles:

1. The right to rule is granted by Heaven
2. There is only one Heaven therefore, there can be only one ruler.
3. The right to rule is based on the ‘virtue’ of the ruler.
4. The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty

When the Ch’ing Dynasty fell in 1912, and the Nationalists stepped in, a claim could be made that this change occurred because The Mandate of Heaven made it so. After all, history tells us that the Manchu of the Ch’ing Dynasty were brutal rulers. In addition, during the nineteenth century, China suffered through droughts, famines and rebellions that cost millions their lives.

The principals from the Mandate of Heaven and Confucius’s Five Great Relationships must be on the minds of the members for China’s central government. That’s why, after Mao, China’s government revised the constitution and built-in term limits (two five-year terms) unlike the United States and other Western democracies. There is also an age limit in China set at sixty-seven. In China, we will not see deaf men nearing ninety falling asleep in their senate seats.

See Power Corrupts

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