Jocelyn Eikenburg’s “Speaking of China”

June 28, 2011

Eikenburg says, ” ‘I love you’ is a meaningless phrase if you can’t ‘show me the love’.”

Since I write about China, I often discover other Blogs and Websites about China and in May, I discovered Jocelyn Eikenburg’s Blog, Speaking of China, and felt it was worth recommending and to show-case a taste of what she has to offer from her rare perspective of China and the Chinese.

If you are tired of reading criticisms of China and the Chinese in the Sinophobe dominated Western Media/Blogs, I suggest visiting Eikenburg’s Blog for a breath of honest air.

When I stumbled on Eikenburg’s Blog, I was researching how peer pressure among teens causes depression for one of my other Blogs, Crazy Normal, and discovered an interview with Jocelyn Eikenburg on My New Chinese Love, which you may also find interesting.

In fact, the interview ended with a WARNING: Her writing is a delicious blend of a highly personal China travelogue and a juicy romance novel that will leave you wanting more. Way too easy to get hooked – so if you’re easily addicted then *stay away*!

However, who is Jocelyn Eikenburg? Well, for starters, she lived in China more than six years and speaks Mandarin.

Writer and Chinese translator, Eikenburg is one of the most prominent voices on the web for Chinese men and Western women in love. Married to John, a Chinese national from Hangzhou, Jocelyn writes offbeat stories about Chinese culture, and advice about cross-cultural love, dating, marriage and family.

She’s lived and worked in Zhengzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. A Cleveland, Ohio native that resides in Idaho, Jocelyn is currently working on her memoir about love and marriage in China.

For a preview of her writing, I offer a glimpse from three of Eikenburg’s posts. Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Parents, Pressure and a Preemie Baby

“Welcome to the world of Chinese families, where the parents rule.” (Note: maybe the average American parent could learn something valuable  from this “Speaking of China” post.)

“Chinese have lived for thousands of years with the Confucian value of filial piety — showing respect for family elders and ancestors. The flip side to this is Chinese parents expect to have a lot of control over the lives of their children (and even, in many cases, grandchildren). One Chinese once described it to me like this: ‘Chinese parents think of their children as furniture’ — something they own, something they should be able to ‘move around’ as they please.”

Then there is the post where she writes On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands, and says, “When I’m in China, I tend to turn a lot of heads, especially in the countryside — and that’s not just because I’m a foreigner. It’s because I’m often seen holding hands with my Chinese husband.”

Then in Chinese Men are Sexy, she says, “In October, 1999, it was as if I’d finally met my long lost locker pinup guy in the flesh. A sullen, James Dean type in a black leather jacket with a perfect ass. The kind of guy that made clichés like “tall, dark and handsome” drip from your mouth.… He drove me so crazy, I spent weeks taking cold showers and long bicycle rides just to cool down.”

Discover the 2008 China Trip

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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.


Capturing a Vanishing China

June 23, 2011

I feel compelled to write about a one-star review that appeared recently of Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People.

In fact, as I write this post, Carter’s book has had 100 reviews. Eighty-eight earned five stars and eleven four-star reviews. There is only one one-star review.

My wife is Chinese and was born in Shanghai (discover the modern city) during Mao’s Great Leap Forward then was sent to a labor camp as a teen during The Cultural Revolution. When she first saw the photos in Tom Carter’s book, she said he is the first and only photojournalist to capture the heart and soul of China.

What she was talking about was the rural Chinese who have always been the invisible heart and soul of China. If it weren’t for those same rural Chinese, Mao and the Communist Party would have never won China’s Civil War.

What follows is the rambling, rant of a one star review written by someone calling him or herself Xuemin Lin.

Lin says, “Ignorance of all American who think that these photos show the reality China, you don’t know the truth. Tom Carter pictures can only show that poor farmers and rural areas. He ignoring the majority of China’s middle class and developed districts in urban life intentionally. We have a modern apartment and a beautiful new car and stylish clothes. Why Tom Carter just want to show the barefeet farmers and the minorities? His pictures make you believe we Chinese all are swarthy skin and the tooth is not good and make our homes in the mountains area. China’s economy has grown rapidly. The United States owes a debt to total billions of dollars to China. China will soon become a superpower in the world! Han people will lead Asia and then the world. So, do not believe that this book is shows the real China! Tom Carter in a planned way only want to show you the poor! I upload his video got from the Youku website so yourself can see his photos is not the good. Do not by this book I suggest!”

Lin claims that the majority of Chinese belong to the emerging middle class. Lin is wrong. China has a few decades to go until more than a billion people join the modern middle class lifestyle.

Even China’s leaders have admitted that China is not as developed as America or Europe and that China will never rival American super power status. The best China may attain is a regional military super power and a global economic super power.

To understand what I mean, you may want to read Amy Chua’s Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall.

It is a fact that China is modernizing at a pace never before seen in history and more than three hundred million Chinese now live in urban cities similar to Shanghai and Beijing and belongs to China’s middle class. However, that leaves about 1.2 billion people that have not yet joined that middle class and 800 million of those people still live as Carter shows us in his photos.

If China accomplishes its goal to modernize most of China and lift the majority of Chinese into the middle class, the world that Tom Carter captured with his photos will vanish. Our only reminder of that China will be his book.

What Lin’s one-star review really reveals is a shame among some Chinese that should not exist. China should be proud of its rural peasants because they have always been the backbone of China and those people deserve their moment in the sun or between the covers of China: Portrait of a People

When I visit China, I want to escape America for a few weeks but realize that I cannot escape the Golden Arches of McDonalds, or Starbucks, Pizza Hut and KFC, which is the worst thing China could adopt from America.  In addition, China has also inherited the obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer that come with this fast food, middle class, and motorcar culture invented in the West.


Some of America’s history captured in photos and song.

In addition, I’ve complained that China has no artist comparable to America’s Charles Russell or Bev Doolittle — great artists that captured the heart and soul of the America that existed before Europe and the industrial revolution arrived to fill the air with poison.

However, Tom Carter’s photos capture some of that world in China that will soon be lost. After China has paved over its past, without Tom Carter’s photos we would never know what that world was like.

Therefore, I ask the Xuemin Lins of China, “What is it you have against Tom Carter capturing what is fast disappearing as China becomes another middle class, smog choked clone of Los Angeles, London, Paris and New York?”

I prefer the China where people are practicing Tai Chi in the early morning fog.

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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.


Renewing Pride One Win at a Time

June 10, 2011

Recently a Chinese friend was proud to announce that Li Na won the French Open in Tennis on June 6.

Li Na is the first Chinese woman ever to win an Open Tennis women’s final title and become a world champion.

My friend watched it on a Chinese language cable news station the morning Li Na won, and said, “I bet the American media will not report this, and we won’t see it on the evening sports news.”  The Chinese news anchor said that all of China would have been watching the game even if they had to give up sleep.

However, my Chinese friend was wrong. I Googled “Li Na wins the French Open” and discovered that ESPN, Yahoo Sports, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Fox Sports, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, etc. had reported Li Na’s win. The comment my friend made reflects an attitude among many in China.

In fact, there may be a little truth to what the said. After I searched the first two pages of Google hits, I still hadn’t seen the New York Times and I’m not surprised. Over time, I have discovered that the New York Times along with The Economist in the UK seems to be particularly antagonistic toward mainland China in the way the news is reported about The Middle Kingdom.

The morning before Li Na won the French Open, I heard from the same Chinese language news source that Chinese military and police snipers had won four out of five events at the 10th Military and Police Sniper World Cup in Budapest. The Chinese snipers placed first in four of the five events winning four gold medals. Source: The Firearm Blog

For those that watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics, you may remember that although America won the most medals at 110, the Chinese were a close second at 100 and China won 51 gold medals to America’s 36.

What Li Na accomplished at the French Open and what the Chinese military and police snipers won is a sign that the Chinese are regaining confidence and rebuilding the pride that was lost after Western imperial powers won two Opium Wars, destroyed the emperor’s Summer Palace in 1860, the failure of the Boxer Rebellion by Chinese peasant in 1900, the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the anarchy that followed, the invasion by Japan during World War II, the loss of Taiwan to an American supported dictator, and the fact that the Western media won’t stop criticizing China over Tibet or let the world forget 1989 and what happened in Tiananmen Square.

What angers most Chinese is the Western media criticizing China over Tibet and Tiananmen Square based on falsehoods (you know—half lies).  Most Chinese know the whole truth but many Westerners don’t and do not care to know.

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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.


Modern Chinese Parents and Children – Part 2/3

May 30, 2011

Guest post from Hannah in China

In addition, modern Chinese are also having many new chances but this still won’t change the way most Chinese parents raise children, because China now has the “Gaokao”, which is the high school examination to get into a university or college.

Because of the competition, parents can’t afford or wouldn’t dare to let the child just play and have fun. Children don’t know what is best for them.

Parents must force them to study but spoil them at the same time. When the child gets the great score, that means everything to parents. The kids don’t have to do anything else in life but study. Therefore, the story is the boy went into a famous college but didn’t know how to peal the eggshell.

Note from Blog host: Another review from Amazon.UK supports what Hanna is saying. The reviewer wrote, “I know how appalling some of those things sound to many. Not me, since I am Chinese myself and I have been brought up that same way, if not more strict.…. However when I grow up (now 40), I see the vast difference of parenting among other people in different countries (I live in UK now with my English husband), and what repercussions it has on the kids when they grow up. I am glad I was brought up the way I was.”

Hanna says, “Chinese parenting is not about ‘feelings’, but it’s not to say that the parents do not care.”

The child has to finish the school homework to 10 pm at night five days a week. Then after school, the child goes to the special training to develop other skills such as piano. This is not about what the the child is interested but it’s what the parents decided based on what they believe is necessary. What we learn in China is that the children have to attend eight different hobbies classes. There’s no free time.

Continued on May 31, 2011 with Modern Chinese Parents and Children – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Discover Hannah’s review of Red Mansion, a Chinese TV series, or visit her Blogs at Hannah Travel Adventure (Chinese) or Hannah China Backpacker (English)

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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.


Modern Chinese Parents and Children – Part 1/3

May 29, 2011

A Guest post from Hannah in China

Before I start to talking about Chinese parents and children, first let us have a look of the currently pretty hot arguing book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which is a Chinese-American Yale law professor mom that wrote about how she was strict with her two daughters by making a lot of can’t doing rules, and she was acting like a wicked witch to push them to study.

I will not comment on which parenting method is better, Chinese or Western.

What I want to say is the book’s author Amy Chua’s way of parenting is typically Chinese though she is 4th-generation American.

Note from Blog host: Evidence of this may be found among reviews and comments on Amazon.UK. Rosie in the UK wrote, “I am Chinese now living in the UK and I admit I was outraged when I first read the WSJ excerpt of her (Amy Chua’s) book. My first thoughts were I can’t believe anyone would do something like that to their children. However, as I thought more about it and I guess living out here in the UK I’ve been so used to the numbing and dummying of our children’s perceived fragile self esteem and always making sure that their feelings and wants are met for fear of damaging them emotionally, I forgot that, hey, I was brought up pretty much the same way.”

Hanna says, “We Chinese have a long history of parents being strict with their children. From old days, the Ke Ju Kaoshi (official examination) was the only chance for people to change their fate and life.

“To achieve this, they must study really hard. We have an old saying about this “Shi Nian Han Chuang Ku Du Ri, Jin Chao Jin Bang Ti Ming Shi”, which means “Ten years of study at a cold window only for the day of passing the examination.”

“To study, students must be pushed even by using the stick.”

Continued on May 30, 2011 with Modern Chinese Parents and Children – Part 2

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Discover Hannah’s review of Red Mansion, a Chinese TV series, or visit her Blogs at Hannah Travel Adventure (Chinese) or Hannah China Backpacker (English)

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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.