The meaning of Democracy’s Freedoms and the Nature of the Western Media Beast – Part 3/5

July 11, 2012

A UCLA Political Scientist studied the media and discovered it was biased. “While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper’s news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.” Source: Media Bias is Real Finds UCLA Political Scientist

Then there is Murdock’s News Corp. Its television operations capture more viewers, more desirable demographics… than perhaps any other television group in the world and it is the world’s leading publisher of English-language newspapers, with operations in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the US. The Company publishes more than 175 different newspapers, employing approximately 15,000 people worldwide and printing more than 40 million papers a week.

Fox News, which is part of News Corp, has been accused of having a bias favoring the political right and the Republican Party. Fox News has publicly denied such charges, stating that the reporters in the newsroom provide separate, neutral reporting.

However, it’s well known that Fox News executives exert a degree of editorial control over the content of daily reporting. In the case of Fox News, some control comes from daily memos. For example: In December 2010, Media Matters for America released a leaked October 2009 e-mail between Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon and the network’s senior producers, which seemed to issue directives slanting Fox News’ coverage of President Obama’s health care reform efforts.

While it may be true that most Western media reporters are not pressured to slant the news they write, the reporters do not control the final content that appears in newspapers, or on radio and television. Editors and publishers may edit, add, cut and revise. In addition, the wording of a headline may be written to mislead and most headlines are written by an editor—not a reporter.

In fact, once, when I was a reporter, 90% of one story I wrote was cut to make room for an advertisement that came in at the last moment, which reveals that profit is more important than news.  Unknown to me, the cutting and revising was done by an editor under deadline pressure, and the balance in the piece vanished as facts were cut and/or moved around to fill the remaining space.

Breaking news or the death of someone rich and famous may also shorten other news stories or cause them to vanish so the public may never see them. The media beast is voracious and unpredictable. Its hunger for news runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and it never rests. In this rush to report the news, mistakes happen but there is more to the news than that as you shall discover.

Continued on July 12, 2012 in The meaning of Democracy’s Freedoms and the Nature of the Western Media Beast – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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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What do Shanghai’s IKEA and Cupid have in common?

June 19, 2012

IKEA seems to have been adopted by the Chinese. Back in November 2010, I wrote IKEA Sleepover in Beijing about IKEA’s Chinese fans that loved the place so much, it became a favorite spot to take a nap.

Recently, I discovered that IKEA in Shanghai is where retired, singles seek love while drinking free coffee.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the dating hot-spot for senior citizens who are out either looking for love or new friends, is none other than the Swedish furniture manufacturer.

Then in November 2011, NPR.org reported, “Twice a week, hundreds of Shanghai residents who have formed an informal lonely hearts club of sorts gather at the cafeteria of the Swedish furniture megastore for free coffee and conversation.

“The pensioners begin arriving around 1 in the afternoon and fill nearly 20 tables in the store cafeteria. They sit for hours drinking coffee, gossiping and subtly checking each other out.” If you click on NPR’s link above, you may listen to the story.

Global Post.com says, “Unlike bars or dance clubs, the atmosphere at IKEA is casual and non-threatening. It makes it easy for the seniors, who show up in groups of 70 to 700 people, to chat over a cup of coffee. And because IKEA serves free coffee to anybody carrying an IKEA Family membership card, some of the seniors don’t even have to pay for their cup. Zhou Hong works at IKEA as a card swiper, and she told The Wall Street Journal that on average, she hands out around 500 cups of coffee each time the seniors meet.”

However, IKEA isn’t the only one playing the role of a cupid in China. China’s postal service also plays cupid. Yahoo.com says, “Who would have thought that Beijing’s publicly run postal service would try to play cupid and save marriages from the “seven-year itch” (the critical point when, some say, a spouse’s eyes begin to wander)?”

But what about IKEA?  Is IKEA losing money giving away free coffee to help fill lonely hearts with caffeinated love?

According to the numbers, no.

In fact, IKEA is doing great. Three of its five largest stores are in China, and IKEA reported that in 2011, its net profits rose 10.3% to $3.85 billion with its biggest gains in Russia, China and Poland.

Maybe handing out free coffee to lonely seniors was a good idea.

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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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Macao Bringing in the Cash

June 12, 2012

In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau’s harbors and to carry out trade.  Then in 1557, they established a permanent settlement there. Moreover, this Western love affair for Macau has not ended. Analysts reported that total public revenue for January 2012 rose by 21.5% when compared to the same month in 2011, and it is all thanks to gambling tax revenue. Source: Calvin Ayre.com

Since Macau was returned to China in 1999, it has overtaken Las Vegas to become the world’s biggest gambling mecca. Since 1999, Macau, along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, and it is situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong.

The next building trend was to expand into a global entertainment and high-end shopping hub along with leisure activities leading to tourism with gambling leading the way.

However, gambling remains Macao’s main moneymaker. Almost every business depends on gambling to survive.

In addition to gambling and tourism, Macao includes some manufacturing, and the days of Chinese Triads having shooting wars for control of the streets have gone.

Instead, Macao has become a territory where Chinese democracy advocates may speak out without fear and become elected to Macao’s legislature.

The PRC has promised not to meddle in Macao’s politics. One thing is apparent— many in Macao want the economy to have diversity that does not depend on gambling alone. However, MGM Resorts International’s net profit doubled to HK$3.28 billion from HK$1.57 billion—boosted by strong growth in casino revenues, which tells us that gambling is still king in Macau. Source: The Wall Street Journal

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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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Note: This edited and revised post first appeared November 20, 2010


Americans doing Business in China – Part 10/16

March 1, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: The Wall Street Journal reported, “Beijing Brews Up Its Own Craft Beers… With the recent opening of Slow Boat Brewery in Beijing, the city’s number of American-style microbreweries officially doubled — to two. Mr. Jurinka and Slow Boat co-founder Daniel Hebert are looking to open a tap room and sell their beer directly to local bars and restaurants… The other brewpub in town is Great Leap Brewing, set in a classic hutong in Beijing’s Gulou neighborhood… Great Leap’s owner, Carl Setzer, has been living in China and Taiwan for eight years… U.S. microbrew beer exports to China hit a record in 2010, with sales reaching $546,000, five times the level just five years ago…”

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

As I write about my personal experiences in China, I again want to note that they are strictly that—my “personal” experiences. I am certain there are people, who have visited China who could contradict everything that I have, or will write. The products I imported perhaps did not lend themselves to the typical “Sweat Shop” stereotype in terms of the factories that produced them.

However, I never saw or visited any factory that, in my mind, would fit that definition.

If the factories were not what I would call “modern”—they were certainly clean. The employees (factory workers) wore uniforms at most places I visited. They seemed proficient in their work and the products produced, and for the most part, were without quality problems—certainly no different from products produced in other countries.

Most of the factories tended to be in Industrial Parks that were quite large. Usually, the factories were a “small city” into themselves. There was housing provided for the employees on the factory grounds along with areas for recreation. I don’t suppose there was another way of doing it, but I saw a lot of laundry hanging from outside the housing units plus commercial apartments buildings I saw throughout China.

Most factories had certifications that were either the same or similar to those held by US factories. I saw elaborate R&D sections in most of the factories I visited. The office space was usually as modern and pleasant as any I had visited in the US.

A ritual that I truly enjoyed was at every meeting when hot tea was served. Sometimes the owner or general manager had tea to make in their office and other times it was brought in. However, I can’t recall a meeting where tea was not offered.

Being a non-smoker, another ritual I did not enjoy was in almost every meeting I attending most of the parties present smoked. I heard a figure once that 85% of Chinese men smoked. I can attest that this is probably a good estimate. Once inside the office or meeting room, the smoke became quite thick and uncomfortable for me; however, I was their guest and felt I could put up with the discomfort in the course of conducting my business affairs.

I have fond memories of my factory visits and discussions. I think the fact that I came to China, and met with the factory personnel aided my business immensely versus doing business in name only.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued March 2, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 11 (a guest post) or return to Part 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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Note:  This guest post first appeared on March 5, 2010


The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 1/3

July 3, 2011

Recently an an expatriate American living in China sent me a link to a piece published in the  China Daily on June 3, 2011. The author was Amy Chua, who is known as the Tiger Mother.

What I read revealed (once more) that after decades of struggling to get rid of intolerance in America, that this ugly beast is very much alive in chat rooms, Internet Forums and Blogs.

As a noun, intolerance means an unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs. As an adjective, it means lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one’s own.

Terrorism is an example of intolerance as is racism.

The ugly face of intolerance appeared soon after an essay was published in the January 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal of Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.

A few days later, Amy Chua’s memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was released and a firestorm of intolerance spewing hate, ignorance and opinions expressed as facts appeared as if a volcano had erupted.

Then Amy Chua’s July 3 piece, The real hymn of the tiger mother (mentioned in the first paragraph) appeared in the China Daily.

Cartoon from China Daily

Chua wrote, “For a while, I was getting 500 emails a day. Some were vicious, but many others were extremely positive and inspiring.”

It has been reported that Amy Chua also received death threats.

The problem is that often what we read on Internet Forums and Blogs are opinions written as if they are the truth, which may influence a few that cannot see the difference to react violently since the Virtual World, without the filters used by the traditional media, quickly spreads hate and lies.

Lest we forget, this sort of intolerance where opinions are expressed as facts may have encouraged Jared Lee Loughner to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in the head, kill six (one of the dead was six years old) and wound thirteen.

“Ironically,” Chua wrote in the China Daily, “compared with many parents in China, I might not even be considered very strict. My husband is Jewish-American, and he always insisted that my daughters got a lot of fun and freedom.”

Interestingly,” Chua says, “when it comes to child rearing I think the East and the West have opposite problems. So perhaps what the Chinese can learn from my book is the opposite of what Westerners can.

“In general, I think Western parenting gives children too much freedom at too young an age. The average American child spends almost 70 percent more time watching television than attending school.”

Continued on July 4, 2011 in The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 2

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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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A Brief History of Parenting – Part 2/3

June 12, 2011

Amy Chua’s so-called Chinese parenting style, identified as mostly Authoritarian, is the “CLASSIC” no nonsense do as I say, not as I do parenting style that first developed during Victorian England in the 18th century. The other parenting methods did not materialize until the 20th century, so how Amy Chua raised her two daughters had been in practice for more than two centuries.

Amy Chua says, “I believed that raising my two daughters the same way my Chinese immigrant parents raised me was the right way and that I had nothing to learn from the laxer parenting I saw all around me.” Source: USA Today

Positive Parenting Ally.com (PPA) says, “I think we can see the early seeds of the authoritarian parenting style in the 18th century. At that point in time, parents in the Western world (particularly the British) began taking the first steps toward a mind shift and become more involved in their children’s upbringing.”

PPA also says, “The mind of an authoritarian parent likes order, neatness, routine and predictability.… Children of authoritarian parents tend to do well in school and are said to generally not engage in drinking or drug use. They know the consensus rules and follow them.”

Instead of calling this method of parenting authoritarian or Chinese, I’ve used the term Old-World, which fits and is an acceptable choice of parenting

Authoritarian parenting was a vast improvement over how children had been raised (or not raised) before the 18th century. Prior to the authoritarian parent, children were mostly treated as adults and faced severe punishments such as mutilation, slavery, servitude, torture, and death. In fact, the US has a long history of treating children this way. Source: Child Labor in U.S. History

It was in the 18th century that Western parents stopped seeing their child as a potential representation of dark and evil forces that had to be kept in check physically (harsh beatings etc.) and instead attempted controlling their minds, their feelings, and their needs.

Continued on June 13, 2011 in A Brief History of Parenting – Part 3 or return to Part One

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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.


A Brief History of Parenting – Part 1/3

June 11, 2011

The Chinese did not develop the parenting style Amy Chua described in her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In fact, the Chinese may have learned this method of parenting from the British, French, Germans, Russians, Portuguese and Americans since this method of parenting was first developed in the West in the 18th century.

The 19th century invasion of China by Western powers during The Opium Wars explains what happened, and it was a British citizen from Northern Ireland that may have introduced this style of parenting to the Chinese.

This man was Sir Robert Hart, known as the godfather of China’s modernization. It was Hart, the main character in The Concubine Saga that guided the Qing Dynasty to restructure China’s educational system to compete with the superior, Western style of education of the time.

If you recall, the  West was going through the Industrial Revolution then.

Recently, I discovered that the one-star critic’s reviews of Amy Chua memoir of raising children the Chinese way had gone too far when another anonymous reviewer calling itself Tiger Indeed left this one-star review, “There once was a nation that fully endorsed these principals (referring to Amy Chua’s parenting methods). It was called the Soviet Union. Enough said.”

This wasn’t a book review. It was an ignorant, opinionated condemnation of the way Amy Chua raised her children.

Digging further, I discovered that Tiger Indeed has only reviewed one book. I’m sure you guessed the title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Then I discovered Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist who’s pioneering work in the 1940s – 1960s identified the different methods of parenting.

Baumrind described Amy Chua’s parenting method but the way Chua raised her daughters wasn’t from one method as there is some crossover between Authoritarian and Authoritative.

Continued on June 12, 2011 in A Brief History of Parenting – Part 2

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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.