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Don Tow's Website http://www.dontow.com Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.8 Site Overview http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/home/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/home/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2016 09:00:04 +0000 http://dontow.com/wordpress/?p=366 The www.dontow.com is the website of Don M. Tow. It contains articles in three topical categories (or pages): Political/Social Commentary, Taiji, and Other Topics.  Currently, a new release of this website is published usually every three months.  The website also has a fourth category “Soccer” about the soccer book that I published in 2006.

Any article in a particular category can be accessed via the corresponding category on the menu bar at the top of the page.  Any article in a particular release can be accessed via the corresponding release on the right sidebar.

This website began in October 2006, and the website has been redesigned twice, once in October 2008, and the second time in November 2009.

We welcome comments from readers.  Readers can directly submit their comments at the end of any article.

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U.S.-China Relationship Can Use Another Anson Burlingame* http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/u-s-china-relationship-can-use-another-anson-burlingame/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/u-s-china-relationship-can-use-another-anson-burlingame/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2016 08:00:54 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4444 Who Was Anson Burlingame?  Anson Burlingame, a name of which most people have probably never heard, was a unique diplomat. He was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the U.S.’ Ambassador to China [1] in 1861-1867. Then, China appointed him as China’s Ambassador [2] to All the Treaty Powers, including the U.S., in 1867-1870, when on a mission to Russia he caught pneumonia and died at the early age of 49 in St. Petersburg.

Mark Twain wrote the following obituary for Burlingame: “In real greatness, ability, grandeur of character, and achievement, Anson Burlingame stood head and shoulders above all the Americans of to-day, save one or two…He was a good man, and a very great man. America lost a son, and all the world a servant, when he died.”

The middle of the 19th century was a period where China was forced to sign many unequal treaties with various foreign powers, including the U.S. China was essentially partitioned so that she did not even have sovereignty over her own country. China became weaker physically, militarily, and economically. Many of her citizens were addicted to opium initially brought in and sold by Britain, but unknown to most Americans, many Americans were also directly involved and enriched themselves greatly from the opium trade with China. [3]  These unequal treaties caused the Chinese people to have strong sentiments against the foreign powers. Burlingame, as the U.S. Ambassador to China, saw that this kind of foreign policy was not just immoral and unjust, but had the foresight to realize that, in the long run; this kind of foreign policy was not in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people. If this continued, sooner or later the Chinese people would rise up and throw out all the foreign powers. Then, the U.S would be shut off from a huge market for American products and access to the vast Chinese natural resources and cheap labor.

Burlingame began making changes in the U.S. foreign policy starting with allowing Chinese citizens to be witnesses in the American courts in China. Taking the cue from the American domestic abolitionist movement of 1860s promoting the “equality of men,” he worked with Secretary of State William H. Seward to change the American foreign policy toward China to be based on the “equality of nations.” China sensed that Burlingame was a man of integrity and wisdom and had the vision to see what, in the long term, was in the best interests of the U.S. and China. So, China offered Burlingame the job of China’s Ambassador to All the Treaty Powers, including the U.S. Realizing that this is an opportunity to alter the relationship between the U.S. and China that would benefit both nations, Burlingame set aside his personal goal of running for higher office in the U.S. and accepted the position.

Burlingame Treaty of 1868It was not an easy task to persuade the U.S. Senate to change a foreign policy of unequal treaties to a foreign policy based on the equality of nations. Using all his oratorical skills and working closely with Secretary of State Seward, Burlingame was successful in persuading the U.S. Senate to ratify what came to be known as the Burlingame Treaty, which President Andrew Johnson signed in 1868. This treaty was based on equality of nations and provided reciprocity on various foreign relationships between the U.S. and China.

Such a treaty would have established a solid foundation for selling American products in China, accessing China’s vast natural resources, and utilizing China’s cheap labor, and would have resulted in a win-win situation for both countries. Unfortunately, Burlingame died in February 1870 while on a mission to Russia. Most of the treaty was never implemented. Furthermore, with the assassination of President Lincoln and the stall of the reconstruction movement, the Burlingame Treaty was basically repealed in the following decade. The U.S. continued her imperialistic attitude toward China based on military might, and extremely anti-Chinese discriminatory laws were passed in the U.S., with the most noteworthy being the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which is the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry based on a specific nationality. This act remained in effect until 1943 when the U.S. and China were allies during WWII.

America’s Foreign Policy Toward China Since the Late 1940sLet’s look at American foreign policy toward China since WWII. Ever since the late 1940s when it appeared that the Chinese Communists would win the civil war in China, the U.S. has adopted a China policy that is not based on equality of nations but rather a policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China.

The first policy was the decision not to prosecute Emperor Hirohito, even though he was a hands-on emperor who was fully aware of and approved what Japan did during the war. [4][5]  If the Emperor of Japan did not do anything wrong, then Japan does not have to apologize for its massive atrocities during WWII, which Japan still has not, even though 71 years have passed since the end of WWII.

After the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949, U.S. did not recognize PRC for 30 years. U.S. orchestrated the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that was the official treaty ending WWII with Japan. China, the country that suffered the most damage from Japan, was not (neither the PRC or Republic of China) invited to attend, although over 50 other countries were invited. This treaty only stated that Japan should relinquish former Chinese territories such as Taiwan, but did not explicitly say that they should be returned to China. This intentional twisting of history by the U.S. to the detriment of China has since been repeated on several occasions by U.S. senior government officials that the agreement was that Japan would give up their jurisdiction over Taiwan, Penghu, and other territories, but the receiving country of these territories was not specified. For example, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, co-author of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, said in 1955 “the treaty ceded Taiwan to no one; that Japan merely renounced sovereignty over Taiwan, and that America cannot, therefore, admit that the disposition of Taiwan is merely an internal problem of China.”  Therefore, as early as 1951, it was already fairly clear about the imperialistic intention of the U.S. toward China and their planting the seed to ally with Japan to isolate and weaken China.

On December 25, 1953, the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (also known as Okinawa Prefecture) issued, with no legal grounds whatsoever, Civil Administration Proclamation No. 27 and unilaterally included the Diaoyu Islands as part of the Ryukyu Islands whose administrative rights would be handed over to Japan in 1972. Although on many occasions the U.S. would state that it does not take a position regarding the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, the U.S. would also claim that these islands are covered under the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. This complicity of the U.S. helped to create a dispute which should not have existed in the first place. In other words, U.S. showed itself willing to go to war with China with no moral or legal justification.

Regarding the South China Sea dispute, American mass media and speeches of American political leaders constantly criticize China for violating international laws as specified under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, studying the facts about this issue will lead to the conclusion that, yes, there is an abuse of power, but the country doing the abuse is the U.S., not China. [6]  The U.S. has accused China of military aggression and creating instabilities in the world, but it is the U.S. that has military bases all around China, and has military alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. The U.S.’s huge 7th Fleet is patrolling the waters all around China with 60-70 ships and submarines, 200 to 300 aircrafts, and about 40,000 sailors and marines.

The so-called pivot to Asia by the U.S. is really just an intensified continuation of her long policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China.

Is the American Foreign Policy Toward China in the Best Interests of the U.S. and the American People?  During the 65+ years of the U.S.’s surround/isolate/weaken foreign policy toward China, China might have been surrounded and often isolated, but she is definitely not getting weaker nor isolated. Based on the number of countries showing interest in China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative to interconnect China and most of Asia and Europe and the related Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China is growing economically stronger, and more connected with the global economy.

Of course, every country’s first priority is for the welfare of their country. I have no quarrel with that. I do, however, wonder if U.S. foreign policy toward China is in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people over the long term.

Allying so closely will Japan could result in irreparable damage to the U.S.’ claim as an advocate of justice and human rights, since Japan has not admitted and apologized for the massive and inhumane atrocities that she inflicted all over Asia during WWII.

Through various mutual-defense treaties, the U.S. is ready to go to war with China over disputes that the U.S. has no legal or moral reasons to be involved. A war with China would be an extremely costly and protracted war, perhaps involving nuclear weapons. There will be no winners in a nuclear war in the 21st century between the world’s top two economies.

While competing with China, instead of adopting an uncalled-for antagonistic attitude, the U.S. should work together with China to solve many of the world’s critical problems, such as fighting against terrorism, environmental protection, world hunger, and world peace. At the same time, the U.S. can join China and other countries to improve inter-country, inter-continent infrastructure, e.g., transportation via high-speed trains. Working together on these projects not only is beneficial to the world, but U.S. companies and workers would also share in the benefits of working on these huge, cutting-edge, and profitable projects, which could lead to vast economic opportunities that these projects might open up.

Instead of adopting a Tonya Harding-like foreign policy to unfairly attack her main Olympics ice skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan, the U.S. should focus its energy to look within herself to improve her country’s competitiveness as a whole, which should bring vast economic benefits to the American people.

In the long run, the current U.S. policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China is not in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people. U.S. should pursue a win-win-win strategy: Win for the U.S., win for China, and win for world peace.

With the recent change of political leadership in the U.S., it is an opportune time for the Trump administration to take a fresh look at the U.S.’s foreign policy toward China.   Since President-Elect Trump’s selection as the U.S. Ambassador to China, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, has a long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, it could lead to warmer relationship with China. On the other hand, Trump has always been a severe critic of China. Will he heighten the U.S.’s policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China, or will he, perhaps after some twists and turns, realize that the best interests of the U.S. and the American people will be served by a policy that is based on equality of nations. We just have to wait to see which path that policy will turn out.

Like Anson Burlingame’s vision, a 21st century U.S. policy toward China must also be based on equality of nations. It must be based on understanding history and culture and that different countries with different historical and cultural backgrounds may do things differently. Treating other countries as equal will lead to long-term friendships, cooperation, and win-win for everyone.

Which American leaders will stand up head and shoulders above the others? The U.S. and the American people, as well as the rest of the world, will benefit from such leadership. Using Mark Twain’s words, who will become this great man, a son of America, and a servant of the world? [7]


* A slightly shorter version of this article of the same title is published in December 20, 2016 of China-US Focus:  English version:  http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/us-china-relationship-can-use-another-anson-burlingame.  Chinese version:  http://cn.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/20161219/11328.html

[1] His official title was “Minister to Qing Empire,” but it is equivalent to today’s “Ambassador to China.”

[2] His official title was “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,” but it is equivalent to today’s “Ambassador.”

[3] Among them were Warren Delano (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s maternal grandfather), Caleb Cushing, Francis Blackwell Forbes (Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry’s great-grandfather), John Murray Forbes, John Cleve Green, Abiel Abbot Low, Thomas H. Perkins, and Samuel Russell.  This group of people, all made their huge fortunes from the opium trade with China, then invested their fortunes in various industries, such as railroads, mines, manufacturing, technology, real estates, that helped to transform the U.S. in the second half of the 19th century.  They also contributed greatly to the financial support of various Ivy League universities.    For more information, see James Bradley, The China Mirage:  The Hidden History of American Disaster in China, Little Brown and Company, 2015.

[4] Herbert P. Nix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; 2001.

[5] David Bergamini, Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, William Morrow, 1971.  I thank Adam Jonas Horowitz for informing me about David Bergamini and his 1971 book.

[6] For background information and a discussion of this issue, see Don M. Tow, “South China Sea Dispute:  Abuse of World Power,” China-US Focus, September 15, 2016:  http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/south-china-sea-dispute-abuse-of-world-power.

[7] More information on Anson Burlingame can be found in the following two articles in my website:

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Sensory Awareness and Taiji http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/sensory-awareness-and-taiji/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/sensory-awareness-and-taiji/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2016 07:00:24 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4394 Sensory Awareness is a field of health science that emphasizes that awareness of our sensory perceptions can contribute positively to our physical and mental health, as well as a positive outlook on life and a more caring attitude toward others and the society as a whole.  Sensory Awareness sharpens our senses to provide a more heightened connection of our senses to ourselves and everything else around us.  Sensory Awareness can also facilitate our body’s inherent healing ability.

Sensory Awareness is also known as mindfulness or part of the human potential movement.  The emergence of Sensory Awareness in the U.S. is usually credited to Charlotte Selver (1901-2003), originally a German music teacher who studied with Elsa Gindler of Berlin, and then emigrated to New York in 1938.  Beginning in the late 1950s to early 1960s, she started to teach what later became known as Sensory Awareness at the New School for Social Research in New York and the Esalen Institute in California.  She and  other leading intellectuals of that period (e.g., Erich Fromm, Alan Watts, Fritz and Laura Perls, Shunryu Suzuki, and many others) helped to establish and grow the human potential movement that is now often part of the portfolio of physical therapy and psychotherapy treatment options.

At the suggestion of a relative that Sensory Awareness could be beneficial to my Taiji practice, I participated at the “Sensory Awareness:  Meditation in Action” Workshop at the Garrison Institute in NY October 7-9, 2016. [1]  In this article I would like to share my thoughts on some of the relationships between Taiji and Sensory Awareness.

In the October workshop, one of the instructors told us that we should be constantly asking ourselves questions such as “how do I feel?” and “how do I feel with respect to the environment?”  Asking and answering these questions would heighten our senses and keep us more in touch with our perceptions, and lead us to take proper actions.

Let me elaborate with the following example.  When I get up in the morning, as soon as I get out of bed, I should ask “how do I feel?  If my answer is that I feel a chill in the air, then I would put on a sweater or sweatshirt and put on socks to keep me warm and from catching a cold.  Later when I go outside to pick up the newspaper on the driveway, I should ask “how do I feel with respect to the environment?”  If my answer is that the outside temperature is cold and there may be frost on the driveway, then I would walk slowly and carefully and pay special attention to the spots I am stepping on, to avoid slipping on an icy spot on the driveway.  Shortly after I come back into the house, I begin to hear a small hissing sound from the water kettle I am boiling water to make coffee.  So I turn off the stove (or the electric water kettle) to avoid possible water boiling over from the kettle and damaging the nearby counter top or floor.  By raising my awareness of my senses, I am more in tune with my environment, and I will take appropriate actions to keep me healthy and my house save from accidents.  The above examples may be trivial and my reactions may be automatic.  That is true, but it may be due to the fact that I have already previously encountered these examples many times.  So I don’t even have to ask myself these questions and then answer these questions.  But that is the point.  Even when I am facing new situations that I have not encountered before, my sensing and response should be second nature and automatic.  In other words, my sensory awareness should always be on, and it should already become part of me.

Now let me apply the above lessons to practicing Taiji.  When I am doing a Taiji form set, very often I have to move one foot forward (to be specific, let’s say the left foot).  If I step forward with the left foot and put it along the line right in front of my right foot, I should ask myself how do I feel?  My answer is I will be in an unstable position, because as soon as my center of gravity is outside of that line between my two feet, I will fall.  I should also ask myself how do I feel with respect to the environment?  In this case, the environment is my opponent from a martial arts perspective.  I know that my opponent will recognize that I am in an unstable position, and he will attack my instability.  Therefore, when I step forward, I should place my left foot forward  but about one shoulder-width to the left of my right foot.  Then I will be in a stable position, and I will not be vulnerable to an attack on my unstable position by my opponent.  This is the reason why one of the fundamental principles of Taiji is almost never place your two feet with one foot right in front of the other foot.

Let’s consider another Taiji example.  Suppose I am engaged in a “push hands” competition with my opponent.  If my hands and body (especially the hand that is in touch with my opponent’s hand) are tense, I ask myself how do I feel?  My answer is that I cannot easily sense my opponent’s intention or his next movement.  If I ask how does my opponent feel , my answer is that my opponent can easily detect my intention or my next movement.  If I don’t know my opponent and my opponent knows me, then I have already lost half the battle.   Therefore, I should relax my hands and body (especially the hand that is in touch with my opponent’s hand), then I can more easily detect my opponent’s intention or next movement, and my opponent cannot easily detect my intention or next movement.  This leads to the most fundamental principle of Taiji that the body and mind must be relax.  It is this relaxation that makes Taiji a good health exercise from the health perspective and a good martial art from the martial arts perspective.  For an experienced Taiji practitioner, proper placement and relaxation of various parts of the body become second nature and automatic, and do not require asking and answering various questions.

There are other relationships between Taiji and Sensory Awareness.  Breathing and awareness of breathing are very important in Sensory Awareness.  In Taiji, paying attention to and integrating breathing to Taiji movements are also very important from both the health perspective and the martial arts perspective.  In Sensory Awareness, meditation is an important method to increase  perception and facilitate the body’s internal healing.  Taiji is also known as “Moving Meditation.”  So meditation, which is an integral part of Qigong, is an exercise that all advanced Taiji practitioners should practice.  Meditation is an important method to increase internal strength and increase circulation of Qi (the internal life force in Qigong) and decrease the blockage of Qi, both are vital to good health according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

With respect to Sensory Awareness, the fundamental principle of asking and answering questions regarding your feelings about yourself and your environment is similar with respect to Taiji to asking and answering questions about proper placement and relaxation of various parts of the body.  In either case, for a beginner, this may require some conscious effort, but for an experienced practitioner, it should become second nature and automatic.


[1] More information about Sensory Awareness can be found in the Sensory Awareness Foundation Newsletter:  www.sensoryawareness.org.

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An Inspirational, Crucial Battle in Shanghai in 1937: The Battle of 800 Heroes http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/an-inspirational-crucial-battle-in-shanghai-in-1937-the-battle-of-800-heroes/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/12/an-inspirational-crucial-battle-in-shanghai-in-1937-the-battle-of-800-heroes/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2016 06:00:12 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4418 A famous battle in Shanghai at the boundary of the International Concession Area in front of the world’s mass media that lasted five days (October 26-31, 1937) inspired the whole Chinese nation in a dark hour in Chinese modern history.  That is known as the “Defense of the Sihang Warehouse (四行仓库),” or “The Battle of 800 Heroes,” and sometimes referred to as “China’s Alamo.”

Japan invaded China on September 18, 1931 and started the Second Sino-Japanese War that lasted until the end of WWII in 1945.  However, massive wide-scale military battles did not begin until the July 7, 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident when Japan crossed the Marco Polo Bridge and invaded Beijing.  Shortly after that, Japan’s forces descended on Shanghai   Although Japan at that time openly proclaimed that they would conquer all of China in three months.  But it took them more than three months (August 13, 1937-November 26, 1937) just to conquer Shanghai.  The Battle of Shanghai showed Japan and the world that the Chinese people would not give up easily and would resist Japan’s aggression with their hearts and souls.

After about two months of the Battle of Shanghai, The Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek realized that they would eventually lose in a head-on battle with Japan in Shanghai, and would cause a huge number of casualty of the Nationalist forces. So he decided to retreat most of his forces to the western rural areas of Shanghai and eventually even further west to Chongqing (formerly known as Chungking) which became China’s capital during the rest of the war. To give time for the hundreds of thousands of Nationalist troops to retreat, they put a small number of troops in a large strongly fortified building that the Japanese troops would have to pass to chase after the retreating Nationalist forces. Chiang Kai-shek thought that if the Japanese advance could be stalled until an early November 1937 meeting of the Nine Nation Foreign Powers, then perhaps these foreign powers would criticize Japan for her aggression and perhaps even provide some assistance to the Chinese.

The large strongly fortified building was the Sihang Warehouse located right on the north side of the Suzhou River. This was a large (over 1,800 square meters) six-story building that served as the warehouse for four large Chinese banks, and had thick reinforced concrete walls. On the south side of the Suzhou River was the International Concession Area where large number of citizens of Great Britain, France, Germany, U.S., Russia, and other Western powers reside. Because it was so near the International Concession Area, the Japanese forces did not dare to use artillery fire from their naval ships docked at Shanghai or drop bombs from their bombers to destroy the Sihang Warehouse, for fear that a misfire could anger the Western powers and cause them to join in the war against Japan. So it was an ideal choice for its purpose. Since its purpose was only to slow down the advance of the Japanese troops and it appeared to be a suicidal mission, the Nationalist government put only a few hundred troops in the warehouse, because it could not afford to lose more troops. The number of troops was only about 420 or battalion size from the 88th Division, but it was publicized to the world as 800 in order to make Japan think that there was a stronger defense. This defense of the Sihang Warehouse became known as the Battle of the 800 Heroes.

Below is a photo of the Sihang Warehouse taken on July 10, 2015 (clicking on the photo can enlarge the photo).  The holes were the results of cannon attacks by Japanese troops during the five-day battle October 26-November 1, 1937.

Now the Shanghai Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial: Cannon holes were kept as reminder of the fierce battles in 1937.

Now the Shanghai Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial: Cannon holes were kept as reminder of the fierce battles in 1937.

The commander of the Sihang Warehouse defense was Lietenant Colonel Xie Jinyuan (謝晉元), who actually volunteered for this mission. Faced with the Japanese forces numbered more than 200,000, Xie knew that this was a dangerous and most likely a suicidal mission, so he had already written his “farewell” letter to his wife. In a meeting with all his troops, while explaining to them the importance of their mission and rallying their morale, he also instructed them to each write a farewell letter to their family. Since many of the regular army members were already killed during the previous two months of the Battle of Shanghai, many of the 400+ defenders were young new recruits from the nearby area. A lot of them were 15, 16, or 17 year old who were not highly educated, and had never written a letter before, and sometimes didn’t even know how to write. Xie instructed the older or more educated soldiers to help the young or less educated soldiers to write their farewell letters. It was a highly emotional meeting where many tears were shed, but also created close bonds among the soldiers.

Although many of the defenders were young and inexperienced, they fought with all their might and heart. They successfully fought back every attempt by the Japanese troops to attack the warehouse, while suffering only small casualty. The following incident illustrates the bravery of these young soldiers. A large number of Japanese soldiers under the cover of large metal plates over them were trying to dig and insert dynamite under a wall of the building, upon seeing that their bullets couldn’t penetrate the metal plates, a young 21 year old soldier, Chen Shusheng (陈树生), tied a dozen hand grenades to his body and jumped out of the building and exploded the grenades among the Japanese soldiers, sacrificing himself but keeping the wall from being destroyed.

Because the Sihang Warehouse was located just across the river from the International Concession Area, it was closely watched by the Chinese and Western people and media. During the day, hundreds or even thousands of people would line the streets across the Suzhou River to observe the actions. The Chinese observers would cheer whenever the Chinese defenders had any success. At night, truckloads of supplies, donated by Chinese citizens, would be delivered to the defenders. Under the cover of darkness at night on the evening of October 28, 1937, Yang Huimin (杨惠敏), a young Chinese 22 year-old girl scout, delivered a Republic of China flag and other things to the Chinese defenders. [1]  On the morning of October 29, 1937, 30,000 Chinese citizens across the river cheered wildly when they saw the Chinese flag flying on top of the Sihang Warehouse. The defense of the Sihang Warehouse became a symbol of the Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion, and boosted morale all over China, as well as overseas. There was wide coverage of the defense of the Sihang Warehouse by the international media. As a matter of fact, the November 8, 1937 issue of Time Magazine had an article on the defense of the Sihang Warehouse. [2]

After about five days of fierce battle and losing about 200 Japanese soldiers while the Chinese side lost only about 10 soldiers, the Japanese realized that it would take many more days to subdue the defenders at the warehouse while losing many more Japanese soldiers.  The foreigners in the International Concession Area also didn’t want the battle to be so close to them.  So the foreign powers, with concurrence from Japan, submitted a petition to the Chinese Nationalist Government to stop the fighting for “humanitarian concerns.” To Chiang Kai-shek, the battle was already won as most of the Chinese troops in Shanghai had already retreated and successfully redeployed to defend more favorable positions, and this battle had already caught the attention of the Western world. So he agreed for the defending Chinese soldiers to retreat.  An agreement was reached with the Western powers and Japan for the Chinese defending troops to retreat to the foreign concessions and then rejoin the Chinese 88th Division.  However, later Japan reneged on the agreement, and threatened Britain with invasion to their concession area if the Chinese troops were allowed to rejoin the 88th Division.   So British troops seized all the weapons of the Chinese soldiers and placed them under arrest.  They were detained by the British for more than three years until after the Pearl Harbor attack. During their detainment, many Chinese citizens and groups visited them, gave them performances, and even taught them foreign languages, mathematics, and other subjects.

When Great Britain and the U.S. declared war on Japan after the Pearl Harbor attack and Japan’s invasion of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaya, the Japanese forces occupied the foreign concessions in Shanghai and captured the Chinese soldiers.  Then the Chinese soldiers were shipped off to various places to do hard labor.  Thirty six of them were sent to Papua New Guinea to do hard labor, and in 1945 when the war went against Japan, they overpowered their captors and took them prisoners instead.

While Xie and the Chinese defenders were still detained by the British, Japan offered Xie to free his troops if they all disarm and left Shanghai as refugees, not as soldiers.  Xie did not agree to these terms.   After rejecting several offers from Wang Jingwei’s government, a Chinese puppet, collaborative government of Japan after the Nationalists retreated to Chongqing, Xie was assassinated on April 24, 1941 by four members of his own troops, who were bribed by Wang Jingwei.  All four attackers were immediately captured. Xie died as a national hero.  More than 100,000 people turned up for his funeral, and he was posthumously made a brigadier general of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army.

The Defense of the Sihang Warehouse has since been revered as the Battle of 800 Heroes.  It is also sometimes referred to as “China’s Alamo.”  Unlike the Alamo, the Chinese defenders did not all died.  As a matter of fact, most of them survived.  This Battle of 800 Heroes became a rallying cry all over China, as well as among oversea Chinese to build up support and raise morale and confidence that China will ultimately defeat Japan in this Second Sino-Japanese War.


[1] Sometimes one may read articles that state that she delivered the flag by swimming across the Suzhou River.  Most likely that was an exaggeration, and she might have delivered the flag through another method, perhaps through a not-well-known back door or hole on one of the rear walls of the Sihang Warehouse.

[2] When the New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (NJ-ALPHA) visited Sihang Warehouse in Shanghai as part of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour in July 2015, the Sihang Warehouse was just being converted to a museum.  Since it was not quite finished and it was raining hard, we stayed inside our bus parked in front of the museum and heard an excellent talk by Mr. Zhang Zhong (张众), Vice Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs of Zhabei District in Shanghai.  He told us about the Time Magazine article, and wondered whether we can help them get a copy.  Upon returning home, one of the teachers participating in our tour found a copy for sale at e-bay.  NJ-ALPHA purchased this copy and has given it to Mr. Zhang, and it will be displayed in the Sihang Warehouse Museum. I want to thank Mr. Zhang for giving us such an excellent talk, which became the basis of this article. I also want to thank Mr. Wu Zukang (吴祖康) for helping us to arrange this visit.


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South China Sea Dispute: Abuse of World Power* http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/south-china-sea-dispute-abuse-of-world-power/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/south-china-sea-dispute-abuse-of-world-power/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 07:00:09 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4319 In the last two-three months a recurring major news item is the dispute over the South China Sea and the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal (AT) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).  If you read the reports from American mass media and the comments from American political leaders, the impression that you get is that China has violated international laws as specified under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that China is bullying her smaller neighbors and is posing a military threat to the world.

Is that really consistent with the truth?  This article provides the background information to understand this issue and to reach a decision.  The decision shows that yes there is an abuse of power, but the country doing the abuse is not China.

What Is the Dispute?  In the South China Sea (see map), there are two main sets of islands, the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands, as well as a few other islands (for simplicity, in the rest of this article, reference to Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands will include these other islands).

 South China Sea Islands: Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands

South China Sea Islands:  Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands

Both consist of many small islands and reefs, and especially for the Spratly Islands, the various features are claimed by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam.

What Is UNCLOS?  UNCLOS stands for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It is defined by a 200-page international agreement under the UN that became effective in 1994.  It defines terms such as territorial waters, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelves, as well as specifying the privileges of their owners.  For example, in Part II (Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone), Section 2 (Limits of the Territorial Sea), Article 15 (Delimitation of the territorial sea between States with opposite or adjacent coasts), after defining the delimitation lines, it states “The above provision does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances to delimit the territorial seas of the two States in a way which is at variance therewith).  In other words, historical rights are key to determining territorial sovereignty, which is a critical point, and will be discussed more later in this article.

UNCLOS also specifies the procedure to follow in the instance of disputes.  In Part XV (Settlement of Disputes), Section 2 (Compulsory Procedures Entailing Binding Decisions), Article 287 (Choice of Procedures), UNCLOS provides three procedures for settlement of disputes:

  1. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), an independent judicial body established by UNCLOS in Hamburg, Germany
  2. The International Court of Justice (ICJ),  the principal judicial organ of the UN established in The Hague, Netherlands [1]
  3. An arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII (Arbitration), which is the default procedure of dispute settlement if the parties have not agreed to a procedure

There is also a 4th procedure for certain special categories which are not relevant for our discussion.

Arbitral Tribunal (AT) and Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA):  Article 5 (Procedure) of Annex VII states “Unless the parties to the dispute otherwise agree, the arbitral tribunal shall determine its own procedure.”   The arbitral tribunal (AT) usually hires the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which provides administrative services (e.g., linguistic, research, other support services) for hire.   PCA is not a court in the conventional understanding of that term but an administrative organization with the object of having permanent and readily available means to provide administrative services.  It is also located in The Hague, Netherlands, but it is not the International Court of Justice (ICA), which some media articles and political leaders purposely mixed up. [1]  It is also not the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which again some media articles and political leaders purposely mixed up.

Article 298 (Optional exceptions to applicability of Section 2) states that “a State may, without prejudice to the obligations arising under Section 1 (General Provisions) of Part XV, declare in writing that it does not accept any one or more of the procedures provided for in Section 2 with respect to one or more of the following categories of disputes.” The categories listed include Article 15 (the delimitation of the territorial sea between States with opposite or adjacent coasts).  That is exactly what China did.  From the very beginning, China declared in writing that it would not participate and not abide by the decision of this arbitral tribunal because this dispute involves territorial sovereignty/historical rights, which cannot be properly taken into account by the arbitral tribunal.

China claims sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands dating back at least several hundred years, and Chinese fishermen have also been fishing around these islands for also hundreds of years.  These islands have been marked as part of China in various maps.  In 1946 after WWII ended and Japan returned Taiwan to China, China sent four military ships, accompanied by an American naval ship, to Taiping Island (the largest island of the Spratly Islands, also known as Itu Aba Island) and several other islands in the South China Sea to take back the control of these islands from Japan (note:  islands such as Taiping Island is under the jurisdiction of China’s Taiwan Province).  Even textbooks approved by the Indonesian government in the 1940s and 1950s recognized these islands as belonging to China.  In 1956, North Vietnam had also declared that the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands are historically Chinese territory.

The arbitral tribunal has five arbitrators.  One was recommended by the Philippines.  One would be recommended by China.  Since China chose not to participate, the other four were chosen by Judge Shunji Yanai of Japan, who was the then president of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).  Judge Yanai was once the advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his plan to amend the Japanese Peace Constitution to allow Japan to engage in non-defensive military operations overseas.

China’s position has always been that it is willing to engage in bi-lateral discussion with each country to negotiate an agreeable settlement and to resolve the dispute.

What China did is completely consistent with UNCLOS and is perfectly legal, but you would not get that  impression based on what you read from the American mass media and what you hear from American political leaders.

The arbitral tribunal and the PCA declared that all of the islands in the Paracels or the Spratly are rocks, and not islands that can sustain human habitation or economic life of their own and therefore cannot claim any exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.  What is the truth?  Taiping Island is 0.9 mile in length and 1/4 mile in width with an area of 110 acres, and since December 2007 also contained an airport.  It has fresh water, can grow vegetables, can support livestock, as well as the habitation of people permanently living there.  It even has a hospital.  This detailed information was made known again to the world on January 28, 2016, when Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, the then President of Taiwan, visited Taiping Island.  The obviously false conclusion of the AT/PCA leads one to question the sincerity and truthfulness of the whole process.

What Is the Motive of this Whole Initiative?   So what was the motive behind this initiative by the Philippines?  Countries like Philippines and Vietnam of course would like to grab as much territories from China as possible.  Especially with the U.S. urging them on and supporting them with military, political, and financial help, they figure they have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.  In spite of the fact that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over any part of the Paracel Islands or the Spratly Islands and despite the claim that the U.S. does not take a position in this dispute, the U.S. is sending many of its warships, including aircraft carriers and fighter jets into the South China Sea.  The U.S. is also conducting joint military operation practices with countries such as Philippines, Japan, and Australia, all while openly criticizing the legal actions of land reclamation of islands under China’s sovereignty.

Similar land reclamation activities have also been done by Vietnam and the Philippines.  The U.S. has also complained about China setting up an oil exploration rig near one of her islands, but the U.S. has never said anything negative about similar, earlier, and larger-scale actions by Vietnam who has been extracting oil from various oil rigs and making millions of dollars every year.  Since the large majority of China’s activities are on real islands or on islands/reefs/rocks that are not submerged under water all the time, and not on reefs/rocks that are submerged under water at high tide, the criticisms related to UNCLOS is really not applicable.  The U.S. criticisms of China’s activities often purposely do not distinguish the two types of activities, thus making many false accusations.

The U.S. has accused China of building up its military strength, despite its own presence of military bases all around China, e.g., in Okinawa and other parts of Japan, in South Korea, in Guam, and in the Philippines. The U.S. also has military troops in many other parts of Asia. The U.S.’s huge 7th Fleet is patrolling the waters all around China, with 60 to 70 ships and submarines, 200 to 300 airplanes, approximately 40,000 sailors and marines, has participated in 80 maritime exercises and conducted 192 port visits throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region just in 2013. The U.S. also has military alliances with several countries around China, in particular, the U.S. has mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.  Since the U.S. often uses its military muscles for its own purposes around the world, why shouldn’t China be allowed to increase its military strength for the purpose of national defense.

More than 70 years have elapsed since the end of WWII, Japan still has not acknowledged and apologized for massive and inhumane atrocities against China and other Asian countries during WWII, while Japanese leaders still visit the Yasukuni Shrine that honors 14 Class-A convicted and executed Japanese war criminals.  Where is the U.S.’s conscience and sense of justice?

Concluding Remarks:   The U.S. has raised the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, yet this has never been an issue and there is no indication that it will become an issue, unless military conflicts erupt in the South China Sea.  Yes, that is possible, but the instigator of such military conflicts in the South China Sea is none other than the U.S.

Since China is now the U.S.’s main economic competitor, instead of looking within to figure out ways to improve and become even more competitive, the U.S. has been adopting a policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China.  Instead of looking for ways to co-exist peacefully and work together with other countries to try to solve the world’s many pressing problems, such as environmental protection, nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, fight against terrorism, improving world infrastructures for the 21st century, world hunger, and world peace, the U.S. is creating unnecessary conflicts with China and destabilizing peace in Asia, as well as the whole world.

It is also important to point out that the U.S. never signed UNCLOS, in spite of trying to use UNCLOS to criticize China.

That is why studying what has been happening in the South China Sea is a good case study of the abuse of world power by the U.S.


*This article has been published on September 15, 2016 in China-US Focus.  For the English version:  http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/south-china-sea-dispute-abuse-of-world-power/.  For the Chinese version:  http://cn.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/20160915/8681.html.

[1] It is important to note that the arbitral tribunal decision is not related to any decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as explained in the ICJ’s website (http://www.icj-cij.org/homepage/):  “The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wishes to draw the attention of the media and the public to the fact that the Award in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China) was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The relevant information can be found on the PCA’s website (www.pca-cpa.org). The ICJ, which is a totally distinct institution, has had no involvement in the above mentioned case and, for that reason, there is no information about it on the ICJ’s website.

Latest decisions


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Effectiveness of Taiji Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/effectiveness-of-taiji-versus-physical-therapy-for-knee-osteoarthritis/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/effectiveness-of-taiji-versus-physical-therapy-for-knee-osteoarthritis/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:00:04 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4354 A recent medical study showed that practicing Taiji is equally effective versus doing physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis. [1][2]  Knee osteoarthritis, commonly known as wear-and-tear arthritis of the knee, is a condition in which the natural cushioning between joints in the knee — cartilage — wears away. When this happens, the bones of the knee joints rub more closely against one another with less of the shock-absorbing benefits of cartilage, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased ability to move.  More than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas. Women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.

With respect to osteoarthritis, reference 1 states that “Currently there is no effective medical treatments.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis but often fail to relieve symptoms and may cause serious adverse effects.  Physical therapy, a globally recommended element of the standard care regimen for knee osteoarthritis produces moderate benefits for pain and physical functioning, but data on psychological well being and durability effects are limited.”

Previous studies of Taiji already showed promise that it can reduce pain and improve physical and psychological health for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and knee osteoarthritis. The current study compares a group practicing Taiji and another group undergoing physical therapy.  The results show that both approaches produced beneficial effects in treating knee osteoarthritis, but the Taiji group had significanly greater improvements in depression and the physical component of quality of life (i.e., overall health improvement).

Methodology:   Recruited participants have knee osteoarthritis and were randomly assigned to either the Taiji Group or the Physical Therapy Group.  The Taiji Group practices 2 times per week for 60-minute sessions for 12 weeks, or a total of 120 minutes per week [3].  The Physical Therapy Group does physical therapy 2 times per week for 30-minute sessions for 6 weeks [4], and is followed by 6 weeks of rigorously monitored home exercise consisting of 30-minute sessions 4 times per week, or a total of 120 minutes per week. During the first 6 weeks, the Physical Therapy participants were also encouraged to perform exercises at home [5]. The study actually extended beyond 12 weeks to 52 weeks; more on the extended benefits will be reported later in this article.

There were 204 participants.  The mean age was 60 years, 70% were women.  The racial/ethnic composition was diverse with 53% white.  All the participants were verified to suffer knee osteoarthritis from the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) standardized test.  For example, on a scale of 0-500 for the WOMAC pain subscale score, the average score for the Taiji Group was 254.8, and for the Physical Therapy Group was 252.9.  Higher score means more pain.

Results:   WOMAC standardized tests were administered before the beginning and after the end of the 12-week supervised exercise period.  The improvements for both groups were significant from various indices, observations, and participants’ own feeling.  For example, the average WOMAC pain subscale score for the Taiji Group was reduced from 254.8 to 87.59, and for the Physical Therapy Group was reduced from 252.9 to 109.89   The improvements for both groups were significant, but differences in the two groups relative to the WOMAC pain subscale score is not that significant.

To gauge the longer-term effectiveness of the treatments, the study also asked the participants to continue their exercises for another 40 weeks, or a total of 52 weeks.  For the Taiji Group, they were asked to practice Taiji at home for at least 20 minutes per day, with the aid of provided homework materials.  For the Physical Therapy Group, they were asked to continue their physical therapy exercises at home for 30 minutes, 4 times per week.  WOMAC tests were also done at the end of 24 weeks and 52 weeks.  The study results showed that the health benefits of both groups lasted for the longer periods.  For example, the average WOMAC pain scale score for the Taiji Group was 96.2 at 24 weeks and 116 at 52 weeks, still substantially lower than the original baseline score of 254.8.  Similarly, the average WOMAC pain scale score for the Physical Therapy Group was 128.6 at 24 weeks and 131.9 at 52 weeks, still substantially lower than the original baseline score of 252.9.

The study showed that in terms of physical health around the knee such as pain level, treatment with Taiji practice or physical therapy exercises showed similar improvements, and the difference between the two methods of treatment was not statistically significant.  However, in terms of depression, there was a difference.  The study used the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) score to assess depression, with the score ranging from 0 to 63, the higher the score the more severe is the depression. [6]  The average BDI-II score for the Taiji Group was 7.8 for the original baseline score and 5.6 at 12 weeks, a statistically significant reduction.  But for the Physical Therapy Group, the average BDI-II score was 7.5 for the original baseline score and 8.0 at 12 weeks, an actual increase but probably statistically not significant.  For the longer periods.  For the Taiji Group, the average BDI-II score was 6.1 at 24 weeks, and 6.7 at 52 weeks, still significant reduction.  For the Physical Therapy Group, the average BDI-II score was 7.7 at 24 weeks, and 7.5 at 52 weeks, meaning essentially no change in this depression index.

The study had 3 Taiji teachers, and the study showed that the results were independent of the particular Taiji teacher.  Therefore, the positive results are more due to the basic Taiji principles and exercises, and not due so much to a particular instructor.  Relative to Taiji, physical therapy exercises are more standardized, so this should not be a major concern for physical therapy treatment

SummaryThis study shows that doing Taiji exercises can provide comparable improvements as compared to Physical Therapy exercises in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis in terms of the physical health related to the knee.  There are significant improvements for both methods, and the improvements remain for longer periods (up to 52 weeks in this study) if the exercises are continued.  However, doing Taiji exercises has a positive impact in terms of depression that may result from knee osteoarthritis, whereas doing physical therapy exercises does not seem to help with depression that may result from knee osteoarthritis.

This probably suggests that the exercises from Taiji and Physical Therapy both improve the physical parts of various muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, blood circulation, etc. related to the knee, but the involvement of the mind and the meditative aspects of Taiji may be contributing to the mental health of the practitioner that could lead to a reduction in depression.  Besides depression, the study also stated that the Taiji Group had significantly greater improvements in the physical component of quality of life, i.e., overall health.  My interpretation of this statement is that Taiji can improve the body toward certain ailment, e.g., knee osteoarthritis, but it can also improve the body toward other ailments, and the improvement is both physical and mental, i.e., improvement in overall health, or quality of life.

[1] C. Wang, et. al., Comparative Effectiveness of Tai Chi Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis:  A Randomized Trial, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2016; 165(2):77-86

[2] A short summary of this study can be found in the article “Study Shows Tai Chi and Physical Therapy Were Equally Helpful for Knee Osteoarthritis”:  https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/tai-chi-knee-osteoarthritis_2016.

[3] The Taiji participants were also instructed to practice Taiji at home for at least 20 minutes per day, but the article did not say how much did the Taiji participants actually practice at home during those 12 weeks.  The Taiji style that was used in this study is the Yang style.

[4] During the first 6 weeks, the Physical Therapy participants’ sessions totaled only 60 minutes per week versus the 120 minutes per week of the Taiji participants, but during those 60 minutes the Physical Therapy participants were worked on by physical therapists, whereas the Taiji participants were doing Taiji exercises on their own although under the guidance of a Taiji instructor.  So the difference in total time may not be that significant.

[5]  The Physical Therapy participants were also encouraged  to perform exercises at home during those first 6 weeks, but the article did not say how much did the Physical Therapy participants actually practice at home during those 6 weeks.

[6] The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI, BDI-1A, BDI-II) is one of the most widely used psychometric tests for measuring the severity of depression.  See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beck_Depression_Inventory.

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Reminiscence from My 55th High School Class Reunion http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/reminiscence-from-my-55th-high-school-class-reunion/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/09/reminiscence-from-my-55th-high-school-class-reunion/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 05:00:36 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4367 On September 10, 2016 I attended my high school’s 55th Class Reunion in Placerville, California.  Many of these friends I haven’t seen since the 50th Class Reunion in 2011, and some I haven’t seen since our graduation 55 years ago in 1961.  In this article I like to share some of my reminiscences from attending this 55th Class Reunion.

Some Background History: I was born in China during WWII and lived in a rural village Taishan, Guangdong Province in Southern China for the first years of my life.  After WWII ended, in 1945 my family moved back to Guangzhou (also known as Canton), the major city in Guangdong Province.  Then in May 1949 my family moved to nearby Hong Kong just before the Chinese Communists took control of Southern China. To increase the education opportunities of their five children, my parents decided in 1955 to immigrate to the U.S.  We settled in Placerville, a small town of less than 4,000 people between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.  Placerville is less than 10 miles from Coloma where gold was discovered in 1849 and started the gold rush to the West, and is known as Hangtown for its hanging tree during the wild west.  The reason we settled in Placerville was because just a few weeks before we left Hong Kong, my father received a job offer from his 1926 Brown University freshman dormitory roommate Mr. Harold S. Prescott, Senior, who had a small civil engineering firm in Placerville.  Although they were in the same college for only one year [1] and were separated for about 28 years from 1927 to 1955, they kept in touch with each other via annual exchange of Christmas cards.  This was one of several “coincident” events that had major impacts in my life.

First Experiences and Impressions As a Teenager in the U.S.:  My first impression of my fellow students from 7th grade onward and our family’s friends was that the American people, especially the ones we met in small rural towns like Placerville, were extremely friendly and willing to help others, an impression that remains true during the next 60+years.  On the other hand, it was not so easy to establish deep, close friendship.

Our American friends were also very handy, and could do all kinds of repairs on their homes or cars.  This was probably a reflection and a tradition from the frontier days when Americans had to rely on themselves as they moved westward and settled in new towns.

Another early impression was that my school classmates would spend quickly whatever money they received, e.g., if they received from their parents on Friday evening a weekly allowance of 50 cents, a dollar, or two dollars, most likely all of it would have been spent by Saturday evening, e.g., after spending 25 cents on the Saturday movie matinee ticket, they would spend the rest buying refreshments.  They didn’t have a habit of saving it for the rest of the week or for hard times in the future.  Apparently they did not experience as many difficult times as we had experienced growing up in war-torn China.  For example, they did not experience their country being occupied and their homes and lives being completely uprooted by wars.  This impression also remains true during my college years and adult life.

Personally I did not experience discrimination during my high school years, although I experienced it later in college and in the work place.  But I did observe discrimination starting during my junior year in high school when the first black students enrolled in our high school.  When they were walking in the corridors, some white students would just walk by and knock their books from their hands.  There wasn’t much they could do except to absorb and ignore the offensive acts, because complaining to the school office would result in at most just a minor warning to the offenders.  It was unlikely that the school would take any serious reprimand action unless the discriminating acts resulted in serious bodily harms.  Recall that this was the period around 1959-61, just at the beginning of the American civil rights movement,  when the American society still thought that Black Americans were second class citizens and could be treated as such.  It was quite surprising and shocking to me to observe such wanton acts of discrimination.

American youths also grew up much faster than Chinese youths.  On the average, their interest in alcohol, dating and sex starts at least four years earlier than Chinese youths.  This starts in high schools, and often in middle schools, instead of starting in college.

More Experiences and ObservationsWhen I was a senior, a friend and I were helpers staffing the entrance table at one of our high school dances.  My friend would sneak inside his winter coat several cans of beer.  When no one was watching, he would take an illegal sip from one of his beer cans.  I didn’t think he did it because he really liked the beer.  It was probably the satisfaction and the macho image from doing something that was prohibited.  Having come from a traditional Chinese family and society, I was surprised that many American youths would just ignore family, school, and society’s rules.  This brings to a more serious issue that I think this is not just a youth problem, but also a problem of the adults.  If the adults do not drink excessively, indulge in casual sex, and take drugs, then similar types of problems for the youths will be diminished significantly.  Take for example, the drug issue, which became a serious issue starting in the 1960s.  If the demand from the adults is reduced significantly, then the number of youths who copy the adults will be reduced significantly.  If the demand is reduced, then drug trafficking issue will be reduced significantly.

Excessive beer drinking was another phenomenon I observed when I worked as a surveyor at the U.S. Forest Service during summer jobs after my high school graduation and after my college freshman year.  Our job was to do surveying to prepare for constructing new logging roads in the El Dorado National Forest east of Placerville.  Our surveying crews (totaling 10-15 young men) would go out on Monday morning, live in trailers at campsites near our work locations, and return home on Friday afternoon.  Often after dinner, many of these surveyors would drink many cans of beer until they fell asleep drunk.  The next morning, we would see many of their sleeping bags hanging outside on the drying ropes, because they urinated in their sleeping bags during sleep.  Again, it was a cultural shock to see many young men would engage in such seemingly frivolous, time-wasting, and unhealthy acts.

One summer while I was working in the Forest Service, one of the summer workers was an Iranian foreign student, and he was often discriminated against.  His colleagues would make fun of him by calling him names like “camel jockey” and doing nasty things such as putting a snake in his sleeping bag.  Again, at that time it seemed normal and acceptable for these young men to be doing such nasty things to other human beings, and there wasn’t anything that this Iranian student could do except to roll with the punches.

One of my observations in high school was that respect is the key to excellence.  It seems that we placed much more emphasis on being a good athlete than a good student.  If you were a good athlete, your school newspapers and local newspapers would write articles about you, and your fellow students would know about you, respect you, and perhaps even envy you.  But if you were a good student, it is unlikely that you will be written up in your school newspapers and local newspapers, except perhaps at graduation when you win some prestigious swards or scholarships.  Such environment would entice many more youths to work on their athletic skills than on their academic skills.  For example, in our grade there was a brilliant student who was extremely good and creative with technology, especially with high tech gadgets.  But there was no reporting of his fantastic knowledge and skills; there was no outpouring of respect or admiration for him; the other students did not envy him or want to be like him.  In his adult life, he became a very good and successful high technology consultant  The title of my high school valedictorian address was “Respect:  Key to Excellence,’ which is just as applicable today 55 years later considering the huge salaries of professional athletes.

American DreamThe U.S. is a country of immigrants.  For a hundred or more years, people from all over the world immigrated to the U.S. to seek a better future for themselves and their children.  If you are willing to study and work hard, you will be successful.  That is known as the American Dream.  Many immigrants succeeded, including my brothers, my sisters, and myself.  What were the reasons for this successful achievement of the American dream?  People usually point to the American democratic political system in which the people elect the leaders, there are checks and balances between the three branches of government so that no single person or organization can gain the power of a dictator, freedom of speech and freedom of the press so that opposing voices are not silenced.  All of these are valid and contributed to the success of the American Dream.  However, I believe that there were several features unique to the U.S. situation which may no longer be available which makes it questionable whether the American Dream can still be achieved on a large scale.

First, the U.S. was a vast country with very few people and large natural resources.  In 1776, the U.S. population was 2.5 million; today it is 323 million.  The U.S. still has vast natural resources, but now imports 94% of Gallium, 81% of Cobalt, 81% of titanium, 56% of Chromium, 44% of Silicon, 43% of nickel, etc.  The U.S. was bordered on the north and the south by two relatively new countries also with a vast land of their own and a small native population.   Now, due to the relative difference in economic strength, millions of Mexico’s citizens have crossed the border illegally into the U.S.  For almost 200 years until WWII, the U.S. was able to live relatively peacefully without worrying too much about the threat of foreign invasion.  Thus, it could focus its resources and energy internally to develop the country.  But today with long-distance fighter jets and intercontinental ballistic missiles, including those from submarines, military threats can come from far away; the protection provided by the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are no longer so meaningful.   Furthermore, terrorists can easily cause massive damage from inside.

All along, the U.S. has always had many internal problems and weaknesses.  For example, from the very beginning of the U.S. Constitution, all humans were not considered to be equal; a black slave was counted as 3/5 of a white person in determining the number of seats that a state would have in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The U.S. government essentially engaged in ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans, robbing their land. displacing them to other territories, and often killing them.  Even though President Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that legally freed the slaves, it took about another 100 years with the civil rights movement that began in the 1950s before the Black people gained substantial equality.  There was always disparity in the distribution of wealth in the U.S., although more so in certain periods.  But when the economy was expanding and you are getting more, it didn’t seem as important that other people are getting much more than you.  Corruption also always existed.  You could buy your influence with government officials in the old days as you can today.  Again, if your economic situation was improving, you sort of look with a blind eye.  The prime motive for a company is to maximize profit, so sometimes you employ or tolerate tactics that could maximize the profit for your company but that may be unethical, unfair, and could even be not beneficial for the larger community.  Again if your economic situation was improving as a whole, you again sort of look with a blind eye.

As discussed earlier, we believe that an important contributing reason for the U.S. being able to offer the American Dream is because of its unique geographical or natural environment that isolated and protected the country while offering the country with plenty of land, natural resources, and a very small native population.  This allowed the U.S. to continue to absorb more people and continue to expand.  In other words, for the first 200 years of its existence, the U.S. was in a continuing expanding economy.  With all the above advantages, it was able to develop into a rich and powerful country.  Furthermore, compared with most other countries, it suffered relatively minor damages from WWII.  This enabled it to develop into the richest and most powerful country in the world after WWII.  Then for another 25-50 years before many other countries developed into credible economic competitors (e.g., first Germany and Japan, and then Korea, India and China), the U.S. was able to reap great economic advantages all over the world.  When the best and the brightest from other countries come, settle, and work in this country, the U.S. benefits even more.  That is like the top basketball players in other countries all come to play in the NBA, thus making the NBA far superior to any other country’s professional basketball league.  However, in the last 20-30 years, the U.S. has essentially fully expanded, so its economy has transformed from a continuing expanding economy into a zero-sum economy.  In a zero-sum economy, the benefit of the larger entity must be taken into account.  Adopting a greed and self-centric approach may benefit one part in the short term, but not the whole and in the long term not even that part.  Thus, in the future in order for the U.S. to compete successfully and for the American Dream to continue, it cannot do business as usual.  It must operate very efficiently and creatively.  All its parts must work together and synergistically, but not against each other.  It must reinvent itself. [2]

SummarySeeing many old friends recently at my 55th High School Class Reunion in Placerville, California brought back many old memories.  It allowed me to reminiscence on the 61 years since I immigrated to this country as a 13 year old.  I found that:

  • The American people are friendly, easily offering a helping hand, but at the same time not so easy to establish deep and close friendship
  • The American people are very good with their hands to repair and build
  • They have a tendency to spend their money quickly, and don’t like to save for a rainy day
  • At an earlier age, the American young people put much emphasize on alcohol, dating, sex, and drugs.  But this is really not just a youth problem, its source or origin is really an adult problem.  If the adults reduce these problems, then the young people will follow and their problems will be reduced.
  • Discriminations against blacks, other minorities, and people from other cultures are prevalent, although not necessarily more prevalent than in other countries
  • There is a misalignment of priorities, with sports on the highest pedestal, and academic excellence far below.
  • The American Dream has been real for many decades, but there are unique geographical and natural features of the U.S. environment that helped to fulfill the American Dream.  However, starting about 20-30 years ago, that environment may no longer exist due to various changes in the past 200 years.  This makes it difficult for the American Dream to continue on a large scale unless the U.S. government and the American people are willing to honestly and carefully examine themselves and reinvent themselves.


[1] My father transferred to MIT after his freshman year.

[2] For a more detailed discussion of “Can the American Dream Be Continued?”, see http://www.dontow.com/2010/01/can-the-american-dream-be-continued/.

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“Torn Memories of Nanking” – A Must Read http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/torn-memories-of-nanking-a-must-read/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/torn-memories-of-nanking-a-must-read/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 07:00:24 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4257 As we approach the 80th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking and the time when all the perpetrators and survivors of the Rape of Nanking have passed away, the immense value of recording the testimonies of these perpetrators and survivors cannot be overestimated.  Not only that they are needed for historical accuracy, but they provide a cornerstone to build true friendship and peace between China and Japan, as well as for the rest of the world, a cornerstone for perhaps the very survival of humankind.

Faced with conflicting information about the Nanking Massacre when she was a youth and a young adult, Tamaki Matsuoka, a Japanese elementary school history teacher, spent almost 30 years of her adult life, trying to find out just exactly what happened in Nanking, China during the short period of about six weeks to two months during the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938.  Enduring a long, difficult, challenging, and dangerous journey, she exhibited courage, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice to achieve her objective.  Among other accomplishments, she interviewed over 250 former Japanese soldiers who participated in the Nanking Massacre and over 300  Chinese survivors of the Nanking Massacre.  Through these testimonies, she has presented an undeniable case for the existence of the Nanking Massacre as one of the most horrific atrocities in the history of humankind.

A summary of her life-long project has just been published in the English book Torn Memories of Nanking [1], which should be a must-read book for everyone.

How Did This Project Begin and Carried Out?  Tamaki Matsuoka was born in Japan in 1947.  When she was growing up in Osaka, Japan, and even when she was a young adult working as an elementary school history teacher, she heard and read all kinds of different comments and reports about what happened in Nanking during the Nanking Massacre at the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938.  Were a lot of Chinese, including women and children, massacred?  Were a lot of Chinese women and girls raped and then killed?  Were there a lot of looting, burning, and horrible executions?  With what happen just a natural consequence of war?  Was the so-called Nanking Massacre fabricated and exaggerated by the Chinese?

Starting around 1988 or a little earlier, she decided to try to find the answers to those questions.  An ambitious and formidable task even for a person working full-time on that project.  But Tamaki had to earn a living working full-time as an elementary school teacher, and also together with her husband raising a family with two sons.  She was able to work on this project only during the summers, school holidays, or weekends.  Initially she only had herself to work on this project, and she had to pay for any incurred  expenses (e.g., travel expenses between Japan and China).  Furthermore, she endured a lot of criticisms and attacks from the Japanese right wing.

Nevertheless, during these 30 years, through her dedication and commitment, Tamaki courageously faced and overcame all these obstacles.  Even after establishing some initial contacts with former Japanese WWII veterans after posting an announcement in Japanese newspapers, she had to overcome significant cultural and political reluctance to talk about this sensitive subject.  Again it took months or even years of building friendship with these veterans and gaining their trusts in the importance of the project that the veterans were willing to open up and discuss these long-held memories which they had not discussed with anyone else (including their immediate family members) for over half a century.  Similarly, she had to overcome significant reluctance for the survivors to revisit the long suppressed terrifying dark memories of the past, including cultural reluctance to discuss being raped, and political reluctance to discuss atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers when at times the Chinese government was trying to establish friendlier relationship with the Japanese government.

By comparing notes of the perpetrators and victims, Tamaki matched up records and compiled testimonies of the mass slaughter, rape, arson, destruction, plunder and other unimaginable violence committed to the Nanking residents including women, elderly and children.  Her work produced numerous presentations, research articles, films and several books, including winning the “Japan Congress of Journalists Prize” in 2003.  Thanks to her and others, the true picture of Nanking Massacre is gradually being revealed to the world with irrefutable evidence.

What Happened During the Nanking Massacre?  The Second Sino-Japanese War started on September 18, 1931 when Japan invaded and took control of Manchuria, the northeastern part of China.  But massive military battles between Japan and China did not erupt until after July 7, 1937 when Japan crossed the Marco Polo Bridge and invaded Beijing (the Marco Polo Bridge Incident). The Japanese Imperial Army engaged a long, hard-fought battle lasting more than three months and took control of Shanghai near the end of November 1937.  Then it was relatively easy for Japan to march into and took control of Nanking, the then-capital of China, on December 13, 1937, since most of the Chinese Nationalist army was already retreating westward, eventually to Chongqing, which became the war-time capital of China.

The best way to get a good sense of the Nanking Massacre is from interview statements that Tamaki recorded from Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers.  Here is a small sampling from her recently published English book.

  • Qiu Xiuying (7 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “There were lots of bodies lying around Yijiang Gate.  Even the area inside the gate itself was piled high with bodies.  A mass grave had been dug near the gate and bodies thrown in willy-nilly.  It was a truly horrific sight, with bodies piled up all the way to the grass along the edges of the hole.  Inside the gate, bodies were piled up to a height of more than one metre and there were more bodies lying in front of the gates and along the city walls.  There were more bodies at Zhongshan Wharf.  It was so terrifying that I couldn’t look at the bodies, but I recall that most of them were wearing civilian clothing rather than military uniforms.  There were even naked corpses.  Just like the bodies at the city gate, some were bound up and others were naked.  It was truly terrifying.”
  • Deguchi Gonjiro (23 year-old Japanese soldier):  “The day that Nanjing [2] fell, there were mountains of dead bodies piled up outside the walls of the city.  I felt something soft beneath my feet.  Lighting a match to see what I was stepping on, I realized that the entire surface under my feet was like a carpet of dead bodies.  There were dead bodies everywhere.  I don’t know which unit was responsible, but they had all been killed by bayonets.  There were women and children, but no soldiers.”
  • Yang Mingzhen (7 years old Chinese female survivor):  “Japanese soldiers came back again that afternoon while my mother and I were lying on the kitchen floor.  My father was so weak that he was just lying there.  A Japanese soldier came up to my father, opened his eyes with his fingers and thrust a knife into his mouth.  Then he came up to my mother and pulled her trousers down.  As he wiped the soot from my mother’s face, she bit his hand.  Livid, the Japanese soldier hit my mother’s face again and again and then raped her.  After that, he started taunting her, twisting the barrel of his gun around inside her vagina.  The other Japanese soldier pulled my trousers down and started taunting me, prizing open my still-firm vagina with his fingers.  At any rate, they were prepubescent genitals, the genitals of a six or sever-year-old.  I screamed out in pain.  The Japanese soldier forcibly raped me.  He was a beast.  The two of them took turns raping my mother and I.  Blood flowed in torrents, and it was so painful that I couldn’t even walk afterwards.  My genitals became swollen and continued to bleed.  Urine would dribble out uncontrollably and flow into my wounds, causing unbearable pain.  I still suffer incontinence to this day and am unable to urinate normally.  Even now, I still have to use diapers.  My parents were killed.”
  • Teramoto Juhei (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  In the case of girls who were virgins, they would start frothing at the mouth and pass out as three or five men hold them down.  I did it as well, and nothing good came of it.  Soldiers from all over Japan did this kind of thing all the time.  It’s just a case of whether they admit to having done so or not.”
  • Matsumura Yoshiharu (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “We would head out in pairs or groups of three.  We would kidnap any girls that we came across.  It was girl chohatsu (commandeering).  Once our squad captured girls, of course we would rape them.  Many times, when people said they were going out for chohatsu, what they meant was that they were going out to look for girls to kidnap.”
  • Yang Shaorong (25 year-old Chinese male survivor):  “The Japanese practice was to make each group of three (prisoners) advance toward the river and then shoot them.  As the bodies steadily started to pile up, Japanese soldiers would then douse the bodies in gasoline and set them alight.  Gradually, my turn approached.  Since we knew that we were going to die in any case, our group moved forward on its own.  As gunfire rang out and the people in front of us were killed, we fell forward on our own accord.  However, although we had avoided being shot, we were worried about being burnt alive if we remained where we had fallen.  As my hands were bound, I used all of the strength in my legs to crawl to the edge of the Yangtze River, a short distance at a time.  Thinking that I could avoid being burnt to death by entering the river, I slowly submerged myself in the water.  Under my feet and above my head, there were bodies everywhere.  My stomach was touching the shore and there were bodies above my head, so I was able to avoid being discovered.  Finally, my fear of being burnt alive faded away.”
  • Sawamura Jiro (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “They (Chinese prisoners) were all made to run along the pier and they were all shot and killed from behind, while we told each other, ‘what an awful thing we are doing.’  The Chinese that had been shot jumped (or fell) into the river, so there was no need to clean up afterwards either.  The river would carry them away.”
  • Tanaka Jiro (29 year-old Japanese soldier):  “We dragged all of them (Chinese prisoners) out of the freight train hangar and made them sit down facing the shore.  They sat down in knee-deep mud.  When the command was given, they were sprayed with bullets at point blank range from machine guns that had been hidden in nearby trenches.  They fell down, one by one, like dominoes.  Blood-soaked, smoking pieces of flesh and clothing flew up into the air.  Light machine guns that had been set up on the wharf took care of the several dozen or so of them who had jumped into the river.  The muddy waters were soaked red with blood.  What a miserable scene!  Will such a wretched scene ever be seen again in this world?”
  • Tokuda Ichitaro (23 year-old Japanese soldier):  At Xiaguan (the district in Nanking that is next to the Yangtze River), I saw a large number of bodies floating on the Yangtze River.  Corpses were continuously being tossed into the river until the water was full of them.  While transporting the corpses, we noticed that there were so many corpses on the road that automobiles could not drive through.  Basically, it was a road made of dead bodies.”

How and Why It Happened?  How could humans use such atrocious treatments toward other humans?  Although a complete explanation may not be found from the interview statements, they do mention many of the reasons.

  • Teramoto Juhei (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “We used to look down on the Chinese, calling them chanko.”
  • Zhang Xiuying (23 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “The Japanese didn’t consider the Chinese as human beings.”
  • Teramoto Juhei (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “Even though they were aware of the fact that soldiers were going out and grabbing girls as they pleased, the officers tacitly provided their consent by remaining silent.  As men, we couldn’t stand it – not being able to sleep with a woman for six months or a year.”
  • Matsumura Yoshiharu (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “Even though we were the victors, we were actually extremely cruel.  Back then, we did not think of the Chinese as human.  When you enter another country and perform such acts of cruelty, it is a war of invasion.”
  • Suzuki Rikio (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “We received the order, ‘Shoot’ from our platoon commander, but I think that the order (to kill any Chinese) came from our division commander.”   “Thinking at the time that it was normal for those who had been defeated at war to be treated in this way, that it couldn’t be helped.”
  • Wang Jinfu (10 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “The Japanese killed us like insects.”
  • Itsuki Makio (22 year-old Japanese soldier):  “At that time, the Japanese thought of themselves as superior and did not treat the Chinese as human beings.” … “I heard that our company commander had issued an order saying, ‘Once you’re in Nanjing, robbery, rape, and murder are allowed.'”

What Is Its Significance for the Future?  More than 70 years have elapsed since the end of WWII and close to 80 years have elapsed since the Nanking Massacre, yet Japan still has not officially acknowledged and apologized for the massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese Imperial Army inflicted all over Asia.  Yes, some parts of the Japanese government have on a few occasions voiced their regret over those past actions, but invariably, those announcements were negated by subsequent announcements by the Japanese government.  In addition, no such announcement has ever come from her National Diet, the highest organ of state power in Japan.  Furthermore, the actions of the Japanese government are far from being consistent with such acknowledgment and apology.  For example, Japan’s prime ministers have paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 convicted and executed Japanese WWII Class A War Criminals are enshrined, and Japan for many years has revised her textbooks so that generations of their students would know nothing about this part of history.

China and Japan are the second and third largest economic powers in the world.  True friendship between China and Japan are crucial for establishing peace in Asia, as well as in the world.  However, if such important part of history is denied, then there could not be true friendship and peace between China and Japan.

That is why Tamaki’s work is so important.  Her reconstruction and correlation of the testimonies of former Japanese soldiers who were stationed in Nanking and Chinese survivors of the Nanking Massacre have established irrefutable evidence on the existence and scale of the Nanking Massacre.  Here are examples of their testimonies:

  • Yang Mingzhen (7 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “In addition to the damage I suffered personally, I also witnessed many other Chinese being killed by Japanese soldiers.  There were dead bodies all over town.  Japanese soldiers would rape any woman they caught sight of, kill any man they found.  What on earth makes them think they can say that the Nanking Massacre never happened!”
  • Deguchi Gonjiro (23 year-old Japanese soldier):  “What the newspapers often refer to as the ‘Nanjing Massacre’ is an indisputible fact, and people who deny this are lying.”
  • Teramoto Juhei (24 year-old Japanese soldier):  “The Nanking Massacre happened.  I saw it with my own eyes.”
  • Zhang Xiuying (23 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “I saw those things with my own eyes.  On no account am I telling lies.  I hear that there are people and politicians in Japan who say that the Nanking Massacre is a fabrication, but I [honestly] suffered these kinds of horrendous experiences, even having my daughter burnt to death.  I am still enduring hardship in my daily life.  I have a crooked finger as a result of the stabbing and I still can’t raise my arm, even sixty or more years later, after that beating with the rifle butt.  How can Japanese people still say that the Nanjing Massacre is a fabrication?”
  • Zhang Xiuhong (11 year-old Chinese female survivor):  “We are all brothers, whether Japanese or Chinese.  Please don’t do bad things like the Japanese Army did before.  Japan and China want to cooperate in a spirit of friendship.  I want young people [in each country] to come together, to study, to work, and to build peaceful nations.  Please don’t do anything bad.”
  • Mitani Sho (18 year-old Japanese soldier):  “Until now, I had no opportunity to tell my story.  After sixty years, I can finally give my testimony.  I am extremely grateful.  As a Japanese, I often reflect deeply on this episode.  Today, however, many Japanese deny that the Nanjing Massacre or military sexual slavery took place.  What kind of people are they?  These people are trying to find an excuse to slowly change the interpretation of the Japanese constitution.  Today, they are establishing a large military, and completely revamping the armed forces.  In addition, they are trying to place the Japanese Army under U.S. command as an allied army that is prepared to fight American wars.  Under a new security treaty and guidelines, Japan would be automatically pulled into any wars that the U.S. started.  If such a situation were to arise, it is possible that events like the Nanjing Massacre could happen again.  If we do not clearly state the historical truth and admit to this truth, we will not be able to establish a peaceful world for ourselves and our families.”

I want to end this article with a February 23, 2015 quote from Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito “It is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge.”


[1] Torn Memories of Nanking, by Tamaki Matsuoka, ALPHA Education, 2016, ISBN 978-0-9920550-I-1 (paperback).  Parts of this English book, plus other material, have previously been published in several other books in Japanese and Chinese by Tamaki Matsuoka.

[2] Nanjing is just another spelling of Nanking.

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Several Examples of Qigong Self Massage Exercises http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/several-examples-of-qigong-self-massage-exercises/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/several-examples-of-qigong-self-massage-exercises/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 06:00:51 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4297 In the previous March 2016 Release of my website, the article “What Is Qigong?” provides a classification structure of four components of Qigong exercises:

  • Lower Abdominal Breathing (also called Dan Tian Breathing)
  • Collecting Qi, Dispelling Qi, or Focusing Qi
  • Circulating Qi (Standing or Moving Meditation)
  • Self-Healing Exercises and Other Integrated Qigong Sets

We also gave a few examples of the fourth category “Self-Healing Exercises and Other Integrated Qigong Sets,” such as Paida Therapy (拍打自愈法), Tuina Massage Exercises (推拿), and Eight Silk Brocade (八段錦).  This article describes several examples of Tuina Massage Exercises.

There is a very large number of Tuina Massage Exercises (also known as Qigong Self Massage Exercises or just self massage exercises).  We selected half a dozen self massage exercises to describe in this article.

Face WashingThis helps to stimulate Qi movement on your face and to stimulate the skin layers of your face to result in a more robust-looking face.

  • First rub your hands together several times to warm up your hands.
  • Then put your hands over your face, and gently rub your hands over your face.

Scalp MassageThis helps to stimulate the acupuncture points and Qi meridians (or channels) in the head area, including the vital area of your brain to give rise to a clearer mind and better memory.

  • First rub your hands together several times to warm up your hands.
  • Then use your finger tips to rub gently over the top part of your head from the front to the back of your head.
  • Similarly, use your finger tips to rub gently over the top/side part of your head from the front to the back part of your head.
  • Use your finger tips to rub gently over the side part of your head from the front to the back.
  • Curl your finger tips and tap the back of your head with your finger tips, or alternatively, put the index finger over the middle finger on the back of your head and snap the index finger to hit the back of your head.

Ear MassageMassaging your ears can give rise to calm and focus, and energize your mind and relax your body.  This is very important since all the energy points of your body are also represented on your ears.

  • Separate your hands into two parts:  One part with the thumb and the index finger, and the other part with the middle and the other two fingers, with a separation between the 2-finger part and the 3-finger part.
  • Place your hand on your ear with the ear between the 2-finger part and the 3-finger part, with the 3-finger part on the front and the 2-finger part on the back.  Slide your fingers up and down the ears.
  • Use your middle finger and massage from the bottom front of the ear all the way to the top of the ear and then down the back of your ears. Can repeat by going the reverse direction.
  • Use your middle finger to massage 3 acupressure points on the ear:  in front on top of the ear, slightly down the ear to the next soft spot, and then down slightly more to the next soft spot.
  • Use your thumb and index finger to pull/massage your ear lobe from the top to the bottom and back to the top.  The right ear is connected to the left part of the brain, and the left ear is connected to the right part of the brain.  So you are giving both parts of your brain a workout.
  • Use your middle finger to press gently on the inside parts of your ear.
  • Use your thumb and index finger to do ear rolling, i.e., use those fingers to grab a part of the ear and roll it back, starting from the top of the ear to the bottom of the ear. This helps to increase your focus, creativity, and attention.
  • Friction coupling:  Rub your hands to warm them.  Then use your warm palms to cover your ears and close your eyes.  After about 30-60 seconds, open your eyes and rub your ears with your palms.
  • Ear pulling:  Use your thumb and index finger to pull the ear working from the top of the ear to the bottom of the ear lobe.  This helps to release your tension.

Eye Massage:  This can keep your eye sight from deteriorating and even can improve it.

  • Rub your hands to warm them up, and then place your warm palms over your eyes.
  • Place your thumbs on the eye sockets right next to the nose, and apply pressure and massage around that spot, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Place your index finger on just slightly below the same spot, and massage around that spot, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Place your index and middle fingers right next to the lower part of your nose.  This determines the correct position, then remove the middle finger and use the index finger to massage around that pressure point, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Apply your thumbs on the temples.  Curl your index fingers and use them like windshield wipers to rub against the eyebrows above the eyes and then do the same thing below the eyes.

Sinus Massage:  This can help relieve sinus congestion.

  • Put your thumb or index finger at the inside tip of your eyebrow just below the bone.  Apply pressure on it and hold it.
  • Move your finger to around the middle of and just slightly above your eyebrow, and apply pressure there.
  • Move your finger to the outside tip of your eyebrow to the small indentation (or soft spot) there (not as far as the temple), and apply pressure there or press and move in a (clockwise or counterclockwise) circular direction.
  • Then move your finger to the top of your nostril where the cheek bone meets the nasal bone, and apply pressure there.
  • Move your finger down slightly to the bottom of your nostril and just above the teeth bones, and apply pressure there.
  • Move your finger out to the side to the middle of your cheek bone and apply pressure there.

Cosmetic Improvement Massage:  This can help prevent or even get rid of wrinkles or sacks.

  • Tighten lips:  Hold the left palm in front of Dan Tian with palm facing up, and use the index finger and middle finger of the right hand to slide and rub gently across your lips.  Do this multiple times.  Then switch positions of hands.  This stimulates the Qi meridians around the teeth/lips, and can tighten lip muscles.
  • Tighten chin:  Hold the left palm in front of Dan Tian with palm facing up, and bring the right hand up to just below the chin and bring the right thumb and right index finger up and brush against the left chin.  Then move the right hand slowly across to the right chin while bringing the right thumb and right index finger up and brushing again the chin, eventually ending at the right chin.  Then do the same thing except moving from the right to the left.  Finally, switch positions of hands.  This stimulates the chin and can tighten the chin muscles.

For each of the above exercises, there is flexibility on the length of the exercises.  One possibility is to do it for about one-to-two minutes for each side (when there are two sides) and for each part of the exercise.  A subset of such exercises are good exercises to do as part of the warm-up exercises for a Taiji class.




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U.S.-Japan Partnership: Partnership for What? http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/u-s-japan-partnership-partnership-for-what/ http://www.dontow.com/2016/06/u-s-japan-partnership-partnership-for-what/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 05:00:25 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4280 The U.S. was founded 240 years ago based on freedom and democracy.  It is supposed to serve as a beacon of hope for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.  However, if we examine the U.S.-Japan relationship since the end of WWII, especially that relationship in recent years, we can only come to the conclusion that the U.S.-Japan partnership is not a partnership that Americans should be proud of.  As a matter of fact, it is the opposite of that beacon of hope for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.  This article discusses the reason for that conclusion.

The U.S.-Japan relationship must be discussed in terms of what happened during WWII and also with respect to their relationships with China.  During WWII, or more generally speaking during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945). Japan committed massive and inhumane atrocities in China, as well as in other parts of Asia.  These atrocities include the Nanking Massacre, sex slaves (euphemistically called comfort women by Japan), biological and chemical warfare (including vivisections of live civilians and prisoners of war), and slave labor.  These atrocities have already been covered in other articles in this website and will not be repeated here.  Yet in spite of some of the most horrendous atrocities committed in human history, Japan still has not officially acknowledged and apologized. [1]

What does that have to do with the U.S.?  Let’s examine some of the major U.S. policy decisions with respect to Japan and China during the past 70+ years since the end of WWII.

  • During the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials), none of the top leaders, scientists, or doctors who were involved in Japan’s massive biological and chemical warfare (e.g., Unit 731 in Harbin) was prosecuted as war criminals.  As a matter of fact, amnesty for these war criminals was exchanged for receiving their data, knowledge, and cooperation (including employing some of them in U.S. military laboratories).  This has been documented in several books and articles, including those by American medical historians such as Dr. Martin Furmanski. [2]
  • Emperor Hirohito was not prosecuted as a war criminal, even though the Emperor of Japan was a hands-on emperor.  If the Emperor did not do anything wrong, why should Japan apologize for what they did during WWII?
  • After the Chinese Communists won the civil war in China, the post-1949 policy of the U.S. toward China has been consistently (with the possible exception of the short period around the Nixon visit to China in 1972) a policy of isolation, surrounding, and weakening of China, including not recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for almost 30 years.
  • Neither the PRC or the Republic of China (ROC) was invited to participate in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, even though more than 50 countries were invited and even though China was one of the victorious countries and the country that suffered the most casualties and atrocities under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII.  This treaty was orchestrated and controlled by the U.S. and formally ended WWII in Asia.   One of the results of this treaty is that Japan is required to give up territories, such as Taiwan, that she had seized earlier from China, but it did not say that Taiwan should be returned to China, as was so stated in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, and the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender. [3]
  • On December 25, 1953, the U.S. made a unilateral decision to include the Diao Yu Islands (also called the Senkaku Islands by the Japanese) as part of the territory of Ryukyu Islands (or the Okinawa Prefecture) whose administrative rights would be transferred to Japan in 1972. [3,4]
  • Besides keeping Taiwan from being unified with the rest of China, the U.S. also interfered in the internal affairs of China through its direct involvement in the armed Tibetan revolt in 1959. [5]
  • Although the U.S. was significantly involved in shaping post-war Japan, yet it did not do much as Japan continued not acknowledging and apologizing for the massive atrocities she committed in Asia during WWII, even to the extent of major revision starting in the early 1980s of their history textbooks with respect to WWII.  More recently, the Japanese government even tried to revise U.S. history textbooks. [6]
  • Japanese political leaders, including her prime ministers, have on many occasions paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 convicted and executed Japanese WWII Class A War Criminals are enshrined.  This is analogous to the German chancellor paying tribute at a memorial for Adolf Hitler.
  • Recently, Japan’s Abe government, although facing strong opposition within Japan, is trying hard to revise her constitution that forbids Japan to use her military forces other than to defend her own country.  This raises grave concern about the revival of Japanese militarism, especially in light of her refusal to acknowledge and apologize for their massive atrocities committed during WWII.
  • In the past couple of years, the U.S. is constantly accusing China of doing illegal activities in the islands in the South China Sea, whereas China has more overwhelmingly significant historical and legal claims to these islands than any other country.  Furthermore, what China has been doing in the islands she controls are similar to what other countries, such as Vietnam and Philippines have been doing for many years in the islands under their control. [7]  Yet, you don’t hear of any complaints from the U.S. about the actions of Vietnam and Philippines.
  • It is an indisputable fact that U.S. is militarily surrounding China.  It has military bases in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and Guam.  It also has military troops in many other parts of Asia.  The U.S.’s huge 7th Fleet is patrolling the waters all around China, with 60 to 70 ships and submarines, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, and just in 2013 participated in 80 maritime exercises and conducted 192 port visits throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. also has military alliances with several countries around China, in particular, the U.S. has mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Yet, the U.S. has been accusing China of building up her military strength! Recall how the U.S. reacted when USSR put nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.   That resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost led to a major or even world war.

Yes, China has become the world’s second largest economy, and it has become a major competitor to the U.S. in terms of trade, financial matters, as well as political influences.  When an established champion athlete faces stiff competition from a new emerging challenger, the established athlete will look within himself and his team to examine carefully every aspect of his and his team’s training and physical and mental preparation in order to improve the athlete’s performance.  The established champion athlete and his team do not go outside of the rules of competition to damage the competitor’s physical body or to sabotage the competitor team’s ability to train or to compete.  Similarly, now that the U.S. is facing stiff competition from China as the world’s number one economy, she should look within herself for ways to improve the U.S. as a whole, instead of trying to sabotage China. Yet, what the U.S. is doing in response to the challenge from China is to adopt what I call the Tonya Harding-like foreign policy. [8]

With the shaping, control, and influence of post-WWII Japan, the U.S. if it had pressed Japan to acknowledge and apologize for her WWII atrocities, Japan surely would have done it.  Yet, the U.S. has not pressed Japan and doesn’t seem to have any intention of doing so; that is because the U.S. wants to use Japan, as well as other countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, to serve as her front-line pawns in her policy to isolate, surround, and weaken China.  This is really the essence of the so-called “pivot to Asia” policy.  This is why we say that the U.S. is far from the country intended by the founding fathers to be a beacon for people who want to seek justice and to right past wrongs.

Summary:  China and Japan are the two largest economic powers in Asia, as well as the world’s second and third largest economy.  To have peace in Asia, there must be peace between China and Japan.  Without peace in Asia, there cannot be world peace.  The U.S. is choosing a foreign policy that could easily lead to war with China, in a war that has no moral or legal basis, except to weaken China.  This is the 21st century; there will be no winners in a war between the two most important powers in the world.  There will be only losers.  Instead of sabotaging China’s growth, the U.S. should look within herself to reinvent herself to become an even better competitor, and at the same time look for ways to work with China and other countries to solve the world’s many pressing problems, such as environmental protection, nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, fight against terrorism, world hunger, and world peace.  There are also important and huge international infrastructure projects that the U.S., China, and other countries can collaborate on that are also economically rewarding.  In other words, instead of adopting a Tonya Harding-like foreign policy where there would not be any winners but only losers, the U.S. should adopt a policy that can result in a win-win-win situation for the U.S., her competitors, and world peace.

Americans must realize that the current U.S. policy with respect to Japan and China is not in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people.  It is also counter to the admirable principles of the American founding fathers.



[1] Some parts of the Japanese government have on a few occasions voiced their regret over those past actions, but invariably, those announcements were negated by subsequent announcements by the Japanese government.  In addition, no such announcement has ever come from both Houses of Japan’s National Diet, the highest organ of state power in Japan.  Furthermore, the actions of the Japanese government are far from being consistent with such acknowledgment and apology.  For example, Japan’s prime ministers have paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 convicted and executed Japanese WWII Class A war criminals are enshrined, and Japan for many years has revised her textbooks so that generations of their students would know nothing about this part of history.

[2] Quote of Dr. Martin Furmanski, an American medical historian:  “In a disgraceful agreement with the Japanese biological weapons war criminals, the U.S. offered immunity from war crimes prosecution in exchange for the scientific data the Japanese had collected from murdering Chinese citizens, as well as citizens of other countries, both in their laboratories and in field applications.  The official U.S. and Japanese policy became one of denying the existence of the Japanese biological weapons program.”  This quote came from Dr. Furmanski’s article “An Investigation of the Afflicted Area of Anthrax and Glanders Attacks by Japanese Aggressors” in the book Blood-Weeping Accusations:  Records of Anthrax Victims, by Li Xiaofang, 2005.

[3] See, e.g., “Inconsistent Foreign Policy May Drag U.S. Into Another War,” http://www.dontow.com/2012/09/inconsistent-foreign-policy-may-drag-u-s-into-another-war/.

[4] See, e.g., “U.S. Must Abandon Its ‘Forgotten Holocaust’ Foreign Policy,” http://www.dontow.com/2014/03/u-s-must-abandon-its-forgotten-holocaust-foreign-policy/.

[5] See, e.g., “Some Thoughts on Tibet,” http://www.dontow.com/2008/04/some-thoughts-on-tibet/, and the book The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet, by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, University Press of Kansas, 2002.

[6] See, e.g., “Japanese historians seek revision of U.S. textbook over ‘comfort women’ depiction,” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/18/national/history/japanese-historians-seek-revision-of-u-s-textbook-over-comfort-women-depiction/#.V2cRVTUXgcM.

[7] See, e.g., “Some Thoughts on the South China Sea Dispute,” http://www.dontow.com/2015/12/some-thoughts-on-south-china-sea-dispute/.

[8] See “United States’ Tonya Harding-like Foreign Policy.” http://www.dontow.com/2015/06/united-states-tonya-harding-like-foreign-policy/.

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