The Forbidden City’s Link to Tibet Revealed–by accident maybe?

February 25, 2013

Since the Western media is often critical of China and exaggerates events in Tibet to make China look bad, I was surprised while reading The Last Secrets of the Forbidden Citiy Head to the U.S. by Auston Ramzy.

I was surprised that evidence like this slipped past the Western media censors—sorry, it is politically incorrect to say that there are media censors in America. In the US, the censors are called editors.

The Time Magazine piece Ramzy wrote was about an exhibit traveling to the United States with treasures from the Forbidden City that have not been seen since 1924.

Ramzy wrote, “Many of the 18th century objects that will be displayed are symbols of the emperor’s devout Buddhism. They include a hanging panel filed with niches that hold intricate figurines of Buddhas, deities and historical teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist sect to which [Emperor] Qianlong belonged.” See Buddhism in China

I didn’t know the powerful Qianlong Emperor followed the teachings of Buddhists from Tibet. There are four Buddhist sects in Tibet. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the four, the Yellow Hat sect.

Why would the Qianlong Emperor belong to a Tibetan sect of Buddhism if Tibet were not considered part of China at the time? There is even evidence that Tibetan Buddhist monks traveled to the capital of China to serve the emperors.

This is evidence that proves China considered Tibet a vassal state or tributary.  In fact, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty troops are known to have occupied Lhasa over the centuries.

I’ve written about primary evidence from the October 1912 National Geographic Magazine that described how the Imperial government in Beijing managed a difficult Tibet, and I’ve mentioned letters Sir Robert Hart wrote in the 19th century that also mention Tibet as part of China.

In 1890, a Convention between Great Britain and China was signed that offers more evidence that China considered Tibet part of its realm and Great Britain agreed.

Yes, Tibet did declare freedom from China in 1913 soon after the Qing Dynasty collapsed and China fell into chaos and anarchy while warlords fought over the spoils. Why did Tibet do this? Because the British Empire convinced Tibet to break from China.

Then in 1950, after World War II and the end of the rebellion between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and Chinese Communists, Mao Red Army invaded Tibet and reoccupied what the Chinese considered a breakaway province as mainland China still considers Taiwan.


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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Learning from the Qianlong Emperor at the Met

March 12, 2011

I’ve written of the Qianlong Emperor before. He was one of China’s greatest rulers. During the 18th century, this devout Buddhist was a contemporary of France’s Louis XV, Catherine the Great of Russia and George Washington in America. At the time, he ruled the most powerful, wealthiest country on earth.

In the Qianlong Emperor and Google, I wrote if Google had read what the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1796) wrote in his famous letter to King George the III in 1793 — when China was strong enough to resist external influence — it might understand why China reacted the way it did when Google refused to censor its search engine.

In fact, the Chinese make decisions based on a cultural foundation that many in the West do not understand.

However, we may learn much of China if we pay attention to its history. Although China has changed a lot as it modernizes, the Confucian, Buddhist, Taoist foundation that makes the Chinese unique still exists.

In The Economist’s February 5 issue, Paradise on earth, we learn more of the Chinese and how they honor their ancestors.

The Economist says, “Unwilling to challenge the record of the longest-serving Chinese monarch (his beloved grandfather, the Kangxi emperor) who ruled for 61 years, Qianlong vowed to remain no more than six decades on the throne.”  The Qianlong Emperor kept his word and retired several years before his death.

The Economist’s piece was about The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City, which is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until May 1.  It said, “This exhibition may be the only chance to have a good look at its treasures.”

The Met Museum of Art curator Mike Hearn (in the embedded YouTube video) says, “This exhibition’s real purpose is to teach us more about what is great about China and what we can understand about China. We will then be able to use (this knowledge) in our lives…politically as well as culturally…to recognize both China’s greatness and its potential as a partner.”

Discover China’s Greatest Emperors


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 Qing Dynasty’s Banner Armies

February 14, 2011

I have a book on the elite troops of China’s Qing Dynasty, and used The Manchu Way for research (along with lots of other work) while writing My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. I spent from 1999 to late 2007 researching, writing, revising, editing and rewriting the manuscript.

I wanted 19th century China to come alive and be another character in Hart’s Concubine Saga.

Mark C. Elliott wrote The Manchu Way. I was attending a NCIBA Trade Show in Oakland, California several years ago and met Elliott.  When I expressed interest in the book due to my project, he gave me a copy.

History Today said of Elliott’s book, “This is a wide-ranging and innovative book. Furthermore, it is written in a lively, accessible style… Overall, it is undoubtedly a scholarly achievement of the highest order.”

I was fortunate to have this resource while writing of Robert Hart’s early years in China. In fact, Hart was the only foreigner the emperor trusted and Hart worked for Qing Dynasty for most of his life.

The Qianlong emperor (pronounced “chien-lung”) was the fourth monarch of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) who reigned from 1736 to 1795.

The four-minute video starts by saying that during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor there were several rebellions in Sichuan province.

The Qing banner armies fought wars against the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, Evenks and Mongols. Unsuccessful costly wars were also fought with Vietnam and Myanmar.

Although millions of square miles or kilometers were brought into the empire, the strain on China’s treasury and military due to casualties and deaths resulted in a military decline.

This decline contributed to China’s weakness a few decades later when the British Empire and France invaded China to force the Qing Dynasty to allow opium to be sold to the Chinese people and give missionaries total freedom to convert the population to Christianity, which caused more wars and tens of millions of deaths during the 19th century.

The Qing army was divided into eight banners. Each banner had its own color scheme, which was reflected in their clothing, armor and flags. There were eight Manchu banners, eight Mongolian banners and eventually eight Han Chinese banner armies for twenty-four armies. In 1648, there were between 1.3 and 2.44 million people in the Chinese, Manchu and Mongol Banner armies.  By 1720, the numbers were estimated at between 2.6 and 4.9 million.

China has a history of maintaining large armies for more than two thousand years mostly for defense.

Discover China’s Greatest Emperors


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 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


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.

Returning Lost Honor

November 22, 2010

I’ve been reading the news of the Qing Dynasty vase that sold for $85.9 million recently. That vase may have belonged to the Qianlong Emperor, who ruled China from 1735 to 1795.

Blogs and the Western media are gushing about the auction price as if that were all that counts.

The New York Times said, “The vase’s price exceeded the record for Chinese antiquities set just last month in Hong Kong, when another Qianlong vase sold for $34.2 million.”

Posh Stuff Online says the (bidding) at Bainbridge’s auction was a battle among Asians.

Instead of focusing on the price, we should understand the reason why Chinese buyers would spend so much for a piece of China’s history with an imperial seal on it.


One theory says that the vase may have been among the treasures looted by British troops when they sacked (and destroyed) the imperial palaces in Beijing during the second Opium War, from 1856 to 1860.

I think the theft of the 85.9 million dollar vase is a fact.

There is no other way to explain how an imperial vase from the Qianlong Emperor ended in England.

The Opium Wars, which started in 1839, were the beginning of a long dark period in China’s history that would not end until after 1976 when stability returned and China started rebuilding.

A once proud and powerful culture that has survived from the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C. to 1839 (nineteen dynasties) was brought low and the Chinese were treated by the West as if they were second class savages to be indoctrinated (another word for brainwashed) into Western, Christian ways.

No, it wasn’t about the money. Whoever won the vases at those two auctions has returned some honor to a modern China discovering how to stand tall and proud again.

Why did the winning bidders do it? Because they can.


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.