Category Archives: China

My thoughts on China’s current culture and its future as a nation.

Forgetting all the wrongs

“To be WRONGED is nothing unless you continue… to REMEMBER it”

~ Confucius 

Confucius, illustrated in Myths & Legends of C...

We’ve all been wronged before to some extent. No matter how badly you’ve been hurt by someone, there is only one real method of erasing it from your life – forgetting about it. If you allow it to fester in your mind and eat away at the part of you that is strong and good, then you will become diseased by it and it will erode away at your soul. If something is bothering you about what somebody did or said to you and it is somehow destroying your life, then stop thinking about it. If whatever they did to you hasn’t hurt you physically, then don’t let that action get the better of you. If you want to move forward with your life and grow bolder from the experience, then forgive them and you’ll be able to go about your life all the wiser and emotionally stronger. Now that’s something you never want to forget.

How much is life worth?

Tenzin Gyatso gives a characteristic hands-rai...

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, said:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Live each day to its fullest and never be a slave to money or anything else that sacrifices friendships, health, love and life’s simple pleasures. These are the very things you will remember the most at the end of your life – NOT how much money you have or how popular you are. Live and love for today and in the moment!

Make a wish

Statue of Confucius at the Confucius Temple of...

Statue of Confucius in Shenyang, China

“What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”

~ Confucius

Zi gong (a disciple of Confucius) asked: “Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?”
The Master replied: “How about ‘shu’ [reciprocity]: never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?”

If you want to make a substantial improvement in your life, then start by doing more for yourself rather than asking others to do things for you. Don’t be a burden to others if you’re able to do something by yourself. You’d be surprised how much we ask of our family and friends. You’d also be surprised to know that doing more yourself will make you smarter, more confident and less dependent. Start today by doing more for yourself which will allow others to do more for themselves. Liberate others and yourself!

Take me higher and higher

A Tang Dynasty portrait of Confucius (by Wu Da...

Confucius (ChunQui Dynasty)

“The higher type of man clings to virtue, the lower type of man clings to material comfort.  The higher type of man cherishes justice, the lower type of man cherishes the hope of favors to be received.”

~ Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese Philosopher

If you want to know what defines some people from the masses, read the quote above from Confucius again. It’s easy to be like most people who seek to have as much stuff as possible and expect much to be given to them. The virtuous people aspire to be great by doing things for other people without any expectation or anything in return. The person in the mainstream of life will do their best to acquire as many material things as they can even at the cost of their dignity and/or at the cost of others, including friends. Don’t allow yourself to cling to a place in life where you feel you need stuff to be happy. Let go and cling to another place where you can find your true self by doing things you never thought possible. Get liberated and you’ll find enlightenment.

One minute fool

Study proverb

"We learn till we are old; and even while learning till we get old, there's still 30% left we can never learn while we're alive." Chinese Proverb

“He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever.”

~ Chinese proverb

To be a fool for only a minute is quite alright in order to learn something that you can take with you for a lifetime. To be a fool forever for something that you can never take with you is senseless and truly foolish. Never be afraid to ask a question no matter how easy or difficult it may seem to you. Remember, the only stupid question is the one that never gets asked. Because we can never learn everything there is to learn in life, you might as well ask as many questions as you can so that you can be the first one to do so. My question to you is: “When will you start asking more questions that you can benefit from for a lifetime?”

Wisdom is greater than intelligence

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”

~ Confucius

Wisdom comes alone through suffering.

~ Aeschylus 525-456 BC

Without a doubt, being smart and intelligent is important in life to maneuver your way out of danger and into comfort. But what’s more important than being smart and intelligent is knowing how and when to use them. Wisdom does this. Wisdom shows you how to use your knowledge and intelligence effectively and efficiently to acquire more of what you’re in need of. Accumulate more wisdom and you’ll gain more of what’s needed in life to succeed. Just remember that it is difficult to obtain wisdom – it requires much pain and solitude. Once you have acquired enough wisdom in your life, you will be able to bear most anything that you’re faced with.

Mistaken identity

“The sages do not consider that making no mistakes is a blessing. They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually make a new man of himself.”

~ Wang Yang-Ming (1472-1529) Chinese Philosopher

Making mistakes is a part of life but correcting them isn’t something we work hard enough at doing. A surefire way to improve yourself is to always be looking for ways to do things better than the way you did when you failed. Since we are not born with a life manual and instruction booklet, we must use our experiences to get us through life which sometimes have favorable outcomes and not so favorable outcomes. So, next time you make a mistake – big or small – carry on and virtue will come to you.

Let true tolerance be your teacher

“I believe with all my heart that civilization has produced nothing finer than a man or woman who thinks and practices true tolerance.”

~Frank Knox

If you really want to mature as a person both mentally and spiritually, then learn to accept the things you cannot change nor ever had to cope with before in your life. I’ve had to do these very things since I moved to China in 2006. Growing up a certain way your entire life isolates you from the how the rest of the world really is. During my 5 years in China, I have had to learn new cultural habits, accept things I detested all my life, and live among people who I never encountered before growing up in southern California. I can honestly say that in my attempt to become more tolerant, I have found my true identity through seeing both my core strengths and weaknesses revealed. The effect will live with me for the rest of my life and I believe it has made me a better man.

Give with all your heart

Read the story below and ask yourself, “What if everyone in this world had a heart so giving and caring as this man did?” Even if 10% of the people in the world were as loving as this man was, the world would be a much better place to live in. People like him should live forever in this world and should multiply like rabbits. It’s unfortunate though, this man will never win a Nobel Prize or will his life’s work be enshrined for all to see. Only popular, beautiful or wealthy people get that status. What makes people want to take more in life than they give?

Read the story here.

 

Zheng

Zheng Chengzhen was from Jinan, Shandong Province in eastern China. He "adopted" and cared for over 400 orphan children by selling his blood and digging through rubbish bins for plastic to sell at recycling centers. He died of pneumonia last week at age 63.

 

Wise advice

If your strength is small, don’t carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don’t give advice.

~ Chinese Proverb

Don’t try to do too much in life. If you’re not able to bear the burdens of your friends nor give them good advice, then offer them your emotional support, get them a gift, or do something nice for them. In life, it’s the small things that count the most.

A healthier you

Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds

By NICHOLAS WADE

The great waves of plague that twice devastated Europe and changed the course of history had their origins in China, a team of medical geneticists reported Sunday, as did a third plague outbreak that struck less harmfully in the 19th century.

And in separate research, a team of biologists reported conclusively this month that the causative agent of the most deadly plague, the Black Death, was the bacterium known as Yersinia pestis. This agent had always been the favored cause, but a vigorous minority of biologists and historians have argued the Black Death differed from modern cases of plague studied in India, and therefore must have had a different cause.

The Black Death began in Europe in 1347 and carried off an estimated 30 percent or more of the population of Europe. For centuries the epidemic continued to strike every 10 years or so, its last major outbreak being the Great Plague of London from 1665 to 1666. The disease is spread by rats and transmitted to people by fleas or, in some cases, directly by breathing.

One team of biologists, led by Barbara Bramanti of the Institut Pasteur in Paris and Stephanie Haensch of Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, analyzed ancient DNA and proteins from plague pits, the mass burial grounds across Europe in which the dead were interred. Writing in the journal PLoS Pathogens this month, they say their findings put beyond doubt that the Black Death was brought about by Yersinia pestis.

Dr. Bramanti’s team was able to distinguish two strains of the Black Death plague bacterium, which differ both from each other and from the three principal strains in the world today. They infer that medieval Europe must have been invaded by two different sources of Yersinia pestis. One strain reached the port of Marseilles on France’s southern coast in 1347, spread rapidly across France and by 1349 had reached Hereford, a busy English market town and pilgrimage center near the Welsh border.

The strain of bacterium analyzed from the bones and teeth of a Hereford plague pit dug in 1349 is identical to that from a plague pit of 1348 in southern France, suggesting a direct route of travel. But a plague pit in the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom has bacteria of a different strain, which the researchers infer arrived from Norway.

The Black Death is the middle of three great waves of plague that have hit in historical times. The first appeared in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, reaching his capital, Constantinople, on grain ships from Egypt. The Justinian plague, as historians call it, is thought to have killed perhaps half the population of Europe and to have eased the Arab takeover of Byzantine provinces in the Near East and Africa.

The third great wave of plague began in China’s Yunnan province in 1894, emerged in Hong Kong and then spread via shipping routes throughout the world. It reached the United States through a plague ship from Hong Kong that docked at Hawaii, where plague broke out in December 1899, and then San Francisco, whose plague epidemic began in March 1900.

The three plague waves have now been tied together in common family tree by a team of medical geneticists led by Mark Achtman of University College Cork in Ireland. By looking at genetic variations in living strains of Yersinia pestis, Dr. Achtman’s team has reconstructed a family tree of the bacterium. By counting the number of genetic changes, which clock up at a generally steady rate, they have dated the branch points of the tree, which enables the major branches to be correlated with historical events.

In the issue of Nature Genetics published online Sunday, they conclude that all three of the great waves of plague originated from China, where the root of their tree is situated. Plague would have reached Europe across the Silk Road, they say. An epidemic of plague that reached East Africa was probably spread by the voyages of the Chinese admiral Zheng He who led a fleet of 300 ships to Africa in 1409.

“What’s exciting is that we are able to reconstruct the historical routes of bacterial disease over centuries,” Dr. Achtman said.

Lester K. Little, an expert on the Justinian plague at Smith College, said in an interview from Bergamo, Italy, that the epidemic was first reported by the Byzantine historian Procopius in 541 A.D. from the ancient port of Pelusium, near Suez in Egypt. Historians had assumed it arrived there from the Red Sea or Africa, but the Chinese origin now suggested by the geneticists is possible, Dr. Little said.

The geneticists’ work is “immensely impressive,” Dr. Little said, and adds a third leg to the studies of plague by historians and by archaeologists.

The likely origin of the plague in China has nothing to do with its people or crowded cities, Dr. Achtman said. The bacterium has no interest in people, whom it slaughters by accident. Its natural hosts are various species of rodent such as marmots and voles, which are found throughout China.

This is very interesting to me. China is responsible for the death of many millions of westerners throughout the world since the 14th century. Chinese people obviously aren’t as susceptible to the same viruses as westerners are. I just wonder if one day a deadly virus originates in China that could not be controlled, similar to SARS. Try to live a cleaner life by eating better, drinking lots of clean water, and washing your hands often. Be sure and go to the hospital whenever you feel feverish or have any other sickness. Your health is the MOST important part of your life. Without it, you can’t enjoy life at all.

Room with (too much of) a view

Is this is the way public bathrooms are in China now? Not sure what is going on here – either the person in charge of the design likes looking at men urinate or the construction company had no idea what they were doing. Even two weeks after the restroom opened, no one can figure out a solution to end this embarrassment. One simple fix would be to install some roll-up shades that let the sunshine in but block the view from the outside. Inexpensive and fast.

Pictured is a public toilet on the first floor of the C1 building in a shopping mall of Jiefang Street in Hankou, Hubei Province that inexplicably was recently built with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow both users and passersby a complete look at one another.

A shopping mall employee said he was aware of the problem but “does not have time to deal with it.” The head of the property management office said he would tell the construction company to change the design, but offered no further specifics, only that the toilet has been in use for about 10 days.

Smile your way through life

A smile will gain you ten more years of life.
Chinese Proverb

Wear a smile on your face and see how it effects not only your life but the people around you. It takes fewer facial muscles to make a smile than it does to make a frown, so it’s easier to smile your way through life than it is to wear a sad face.

If you fall in life, get back up!

Failure lies not in falling down. Failure lies in not getting up.

– Chinese proverb

You always have the choice and chance to get back up after failing or falling in life. If you choose not to pick yourself up after a fall, then you will never succeed. If you don’t fall or fail in life, then you are not trying hard enough. Keep pushing on!

Pollution Problems

China has the distinction of having the worst air and water pollution in the world (see the dark red color on the map below). How will this effect China in the long-term remains entirely up to the Chinese government who is not chosen by the people of China. The fate of the 1.4 billion Chinese living in this part of world hinges on the actions of the Communist controlled party. If something isn’t done soon, the country could face a major catastrophe that is might not fully recover from. Are you doing what you can to help clean up China? Let’s hope for cleaner China in the future.

One man’s perspective on China’s cultural trend

Today is the first day Mid-Autumn Festival week. With the extra holiday traffic, drivers progressively ‘cheated’ on the traffic lights until there was gridlock that extended for miles.

I’m really not writing about traffic troubles. This is about a cultural orientation that affects all social behavior in the Far East. For all the talk about collectivist culture, the predominant public behavior is profoundly, and often illogically, self-absorbed. Collectivism is an imposed overlay in response to extreme individualism in the public arena.

Confucianism favors personal shame (face) over imposed law. Yet over the centuries, personal shame has proven to be a ‘short range’ social motivator, and not a ‘long range’ motivator. When China was essentially a country of small farming villages most of the population never ventured further than the next village, short range social forces served well.

However, it breaks down in the vast, impersonal society that is today’s China. The response has been to lay a collectivist doctrine over the whole society to compensate. It works to the extent that it can be enforced, and then it stops.

That’s the lesson I took from the traffic jam on Mid-Autumn Festival eve.

Confucius says…

“To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue…gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”

~ Confucius

I’ve always liked what the great Confucius taught. His teachings are very popular among many Westerners the world over. Great people who you share time with never go away, they get better over time.

America the beautiful; China the beautiful

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Some of the best words ever put together about the greatest country in the world. As a child, I remember having to repeat these words as I stood with all my classmates facing the American flag before we started each school day. I am very lucky to have been born in a great place in the world and to have lived a rich life in America which I am now doing in China, where I consider to be my second home country. Living in America made me a very proud person; living in China the past four years has humbled me. I am grateful for the experience of living and doing business in China. 

China’s School of “Hard Knocks”

As China tries to graduate from the world’s factory to a nation with a strong middle class, its peasants still aren’t ready to make the leap. According to official statistics, China’s urban-rural income gap reached 3.33:1 in 2009, the widest since 1978, if not before. And as the gap increases, poor peasants are becoming marginalized in higher education, closing off one of their best opportunities for advancement. 

China’s education system, where peasants can get a rudimentary education before populating thousands of factories along its eastern coast, suited it when the country sought to be the world’s sweatshop. At the same level of development in their history, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. had practically full enrollments in high school. By contrast, only 60 percent to 70 percent of China’s current high-school-age students are in high school. Yet factory jobs will continue to migrate to places like India. Wages in China will continue to rise. And as long as China finds no better way to educate its rural poor, it’s staring down a future with a 100 million-strong underclass.

One of the many differences between Asians and Westerners?

High Context Cultures (Asians) VS. Low Context Cultures (Westerners)

“High context cultures (Asian) are such cultures that emphasize nonverbal messages and view communication as a means to promote smooth, harmonious relationships; while low context cultures (Western) rely on elaborate verbal explanations and emphasize spoken words. High context cultures are characterized by social trust, personal relationships, goodwill, and slow and ritualistic negotiations; while, low context cultures put business first, value expertise and performance (as opposed to relationships), and negotiate as efficiently as possible. Consumers and suppliers may feel some resentment or suspicion toward a foreign enterprise, especially within high context cultures where no relationships exist; therefore acting like a block, local competitors have local advantages regarding business culture, relationships with local suppliers, and customer loyalty. This is why Asian guanxi meant more than a written contract some years ago; however, they have changed as more Western companies have infiltrated China’s borders.”

If you think about how much different Western and Asian cultures are based on the above statement, you realize how much men and women think differently from each just because of their inherent traits, adding the cultural differences between Asians and Westerners too, it’s a wonder that any relationship between a Chinese woman and a Western man can survive over the long term. It truly takes experience for relationships, trust, compatibility, attraction, devotion, tolerance and commitment. A warm feeling is not a good confirmation of love. Feelings change everyday depending on your mood, health, attitude and energy level. Love doesn’t change everyday – it stays the same, you just need to know how to attract it to you so that you can have it in your life. It’s always there waiting for you to take it. You must know where to find it and how to keep it once you have it. When you have found it, you will then only know what real love is. Until then, it’s just what we imagine in our minds.