Superior versus Civilized

September 17, 2010

In The American Spectator (11-25-09), George H. Wittman wrote China Wins saying, “The Chinese believe they are superior to the United States – and every other country.”

I admit that there may be some truth to Wittman’s opinion. 

However, he uses the wrong word.  The Chinese believe they are more civilized and there may be some truth in that too since most Westerners do not follow the teachings of Confucius, which after 2500 years is embedded in China’s DNA.

If you have read the Qianlong Emperor’s letter from 1793 to King George saying China needed nothing from the rest of the world, you might understand better.

“Should your vessels touch the shore, your merchants will assuredly never be permitted to land or to reside there, but will be subject to instant expulsion. In that event your barbarian merchants will have had a long journey for nothing.”

The key is the word “barbarian”.  When you call someone a barbarian, you are inferring that they are not civilized.

In fact, the Chinese did consider the rest of the world barbarians because Westerners did not behave properly according to the way most Chinese are taught.

A Difference of Opinion

Answer these questions correctly and you may understand why the Chinese might believe they are more civilized.

1. Who started two wars with China in the 19th century to even a trade imbalance by forcing the emperor to allow opium to be sold to his people?

2. When Sun Yat-sen asked for help from the Western democracies at a time when China was in chaos and anarchy while millions starved and died, what was the response?

3. Who invented gunpowder, paper, the printing press and the compass?

4. Who values gaining an education more than most cultures on the earth?

The final answer depends on your point of view. Many westerners may see abortion and the death sentence as a sign of barbarity even though most Chinese do not.

On the other hand, the Chinese tend to stay out of debt and save money while younger Chinese show respect for the elders.

See The Opium Wars

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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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Piety’s Flaw

August 3, 2010

I’ve heard that it was Confucianism that caused China to fall victim to Western Imperialism in the 19th century, and the reason Mao started the Cultural Revolution his last decade was to correct this imperfection.

However, I believe that the collective culture created in China by Emperor Han Wudi (156-87 BCE), considered one of the most influential emperors in Chinese history, is the reason that China’s civilization survived for thousands of years without suffering the fate of Europe after the Roman Empire collapsed.

Han Dynasty 100 BC

The problem is not from Confucianism but a flaw in the way an element of Confucianism has been interpreted over the centuries.  In fact, this flaw is buried so deep in the Chinese psyche that Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward and the tragic Cultural Revolution were not stopped because of it. 

There were powerful individuals in the Communist Party who did not agree with what Mao was doing but did not speak out when they could have. Some of those individuals even suffered during the Cultural Revolution but still kept silent due to the power of piety.

It wasn’t until after Mao’s death that those same people acted and Deng Xiaoping came to power stopping the madness of the Cultural Revolution.

To criticize an elder in China, even when that individual is power hungry, senile or maybe a bit crazy, is considered similar to Christian heresy during the Spanish Inquisition. Piety means elders must be treated with respect as if they can do no wrong. There must be a way to find a balance.

See China’s Capitalist Revolution

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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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Tiananmen Square Revisited

July 23, 2010

When I was writing and posting Part 8 for China’s Capitalist Revolution, there was a scene in that segment of the documentary of a student dressed in pajamas sitting in a chair.  This so-called student leader for the Tiananmen Square incident was rude, arrogant and demanding.

There was no sign of the piety I see everyday—that I have lived with and witnessed since I married into a Chinese family. My wife and her family lived in China during Mao’s time. They suffered through the same changes everyone else did but their respect for piety never changed.

I read the “What is the truth about Tiananmen Square?” post again.

Why did President H. W. Bush change ambassadors in the middle of the incident with a man who had once been an operative for the CIA working in Asia inserting agents into China? James Lilly wouldn’t have to meet with the students himself. He knew who the double agents in China were. He had to know.

“The protesters were not demanding Western style politics or an end to Communist Party rule as many in the West believe.  They wanted the government to listen to their opinions about   reforms and corruption.  The banners the protesters carried said, “We Support the Great Glorious Communist Party of China.” Source: China’s Capitalist Revolution, Part 7

It was the Western media and the rude, arrogant students, who turned the event into a democracy movement but only after Lilly was in the country or on his way. Did President Bush seize an opportunity?

In fact, it wasn’t until after that student treated his elders with disrespect, that Deng Xiaoping sent the troops in—a reaction to be expected in a country with a collective culture like China’s where practicing piety is the same as breathing.

What choice did he have?  After all, the students had demanded the negotiations be broadcast live on TV to the nation. Embarrassed in front of the country he ruled, Deng had no choice. It was a great loss of face for him and the government.  Loss of face is probably the leading cause of suicide in Asian countries like Japan and the two Koreas.

That student acted as if he was untouchable–that he had insurance. Maybe he did. He had taken a huge risk to gain face, and it turned into a tragedy.

Moreover, why has America’s media made such a big deal out of the Tiananmen Square incident where hundreds died and almost nothing about the slaughter conducted by (an American ally) Chiang Kai-shek’s troops in Taiwan where almost thirty thousand were murdered? See 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan

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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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Building Virtue

April 16, 2010

Regardless of the fact that the West calls the rulers of China Communists, it is clear that to the Chinese mind, the Mandate of Heaven shifted from Mao to Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping and their predecessors. It will be up to China’s future rulers not to lose that mandate.

Milk and Tea for Chairman Hua

It doesn’t matter if the words ‘The Mandate of Heaven’ are invoked or not. It is obvious that the ‘Five Great Relationships’, as taught by Confucius, and the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ are infused in the Chinese thought process. Most born in China do not take a class to learn what this means, as students have to do in America to learn what the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights mean. In China, one is raised with these philosophies in mind.

Piety, face, The Five Great Relationships, and the Mandate of Heaven are the foundation guide the behavior of the majority of Chinese.

The Western media and the political rulers of Western nations infer that Communism is evil because it is one party, (so-called) socialist political system, but most Chinese don’t see it that way.

To most Chinese, if the current rulers of China do their job and rule with the blessings of Heaven. The Western democratic political process is foreign to Chinese. To them, “Why change something that works? Leave it to Heaven.”

See The Mandate of Heaven http://wp.me/pN4pY-nc

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Respecting Cultural Differences Out-of-Focus

February 26, 2010

I read at Crooked Timber that three Google executives were convicted of violating Italy’s privacy laws. That taught me that China is not alone in having laws different from other countries that limit activity on the Internet.

When China censors the Internet, or hires mothers to go after on-line pornographers, the family centered culture drives those actions. Most of China’s arrests of dissidents and executions of criminals are also driven by the family centered culture influenced by Confucian, Taoist beliefs.

Confucious

A few years back, a Japanese citizen, wife and mother attempted suicide in the United States and killed her children in the attempt, but the mother was saved by bystanders. She tried to kill herself and her children, because she had lost face when it was discovered that her husband had an affair with another woman.

When the American legal system was going to try her for murder, the Japanese government protested and said her actions were driven by her culture. Respecting the differences between the two cultures, the United States allowed her to return to Japan.

If we really respect the differences between cultures, why does the Western media and American politicians go out of their way to treat China without respecting the cultural differences that explains why China’s government acts the way it does?

To understand China more, I recommend pietyface and heroes.

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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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Men’s “Face” – Part 3/4

February 18, 2010

Face is why the Chinese businessman will take great risks or take only a few risks and if given a chance may steal another person blind—that is if they believe they can get away with it.  If they are caught and it is against the law, that is a loss of face—one reason for suicide. Most Chinese men will wait until they are successful before they let others know. If they fail, it’s possible no one will hear about it beyond the family unit.

Face is why Chinese men often work twelve to sixteen hour days, seven days a week earning small but saving big. The Chinese will do without luxuries and save to pay for their child’s university education. Chinese women will work just as hard.

Regaining face may be one reason why Mao reoccupied Tibet for China in 1950. The other reason may have been tactical—to control the high ground like Israel controls the Golan Heights.  Having control over that plateau was one of the tactical reasons Britain convinced the Dalai Lama to declare freedom from China in 1912.

Some of China's Seventy Million Leaders

Face may be why China’s leaders get so angry over Taiwan. As long as Taiwan is out there and not ruled by the mainland, it may be seen as a loss of face. It’s why the Chinese want to walk on the moon and reach the other planets before anyone else. In China, “face” is universal to the entire population and different for each person.

Continued at Gambling for “Face” – Part 4 or discover The Power of Public Debate 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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look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click
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Guest Post—They All Look Alike

February 12, 2010

By Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption
Originally published at Speak Without Interruption on February 8, 2010

One of our US government officials reportedly made a comment with the word “retarded” in it.  There was also an attempt to make a joke using “Special Olympics” on a TV show in the past.  Why do people say the things they do?  Why have I said some of things I have said?  When I have made comments at the expense of others, I thought either it was funny or it made me feel important in some perverse way.  As I have gotten older, experience has taught me to think before I speak—at least a little more than I did in my younger years.  What someone says as a casual statement—or an attempt to make a joke—can offend others on a multitude of levels.

 There are a little over 1.3 billion people in China from the figures I have seen.  I have had people say to me, “With that many people, how do you tell them apart?  They all look alike.” 

 After having an association with specific Chinese people since 1998, I take great offense when someone says something like this to my face or within earshot.  To me, they do not all look alike.  They may all have similar physical features but I see each person I have met in my business dealings as a singular and unique individual just as I would feel about anyone I met throughout the world.  As you meet people—speak with them—get to know them, I think everyone has personal features, mannerisms, personalities that make them different from other people in the world.

 In terms of my feelings for China, and its people, it is only based on those who I have met personally.  As I view it, there are values that I have found all Chinese possess—the reverence of  family and respect for their elders.  I wish these values were more evident in the US. 

 With 1.3 billion people milling around China, how can they have these values when there are so many of them?  I once worked with a product that was to replace the toxic cleaner Nitric Acid.  In most instances, the shipping tanks in the ocean liners have to be cleaned out after they are emptied. 

 They send “Chinese People” into these tanks to spray them out.  One contact actually said, “There are so many Chinese that when one dies from being exposed to the Nitric Acid there are a million more to take their place.”  It was all I could do to keep my hands from going around his neck or punching his lights out — being older at the time, I felt he was not worth the hassle.

 I believe the respect for family—and elders—in China is not something just confined to my small group of acquaintances there.  I think this is something that is countrywide, and I feel this is a virtue beyond description.  During one of my visits, my friend and primary associate invited me to a party to honor his new young son. 

 We held this event in a large, private room within a very nice restaurant.  There were many people there, and as I have written regarding other situations, I was again the only non-Chinese in the room.  I felt completely at ease and extremely honored he would invite me to such an important “family event”.  The photo above shows me with my associate, his wife, his mother, and his new young son. I did, and still do, feel like part of their family.  To me they remain friends, family and associates, and they “certainly” do not all look alike to me!

See The First of All Virtues

If you want to read previous posts by Bob Grant, please see Love Affair