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Don Tow's Website http://www.dontow.com Thu, 01 Jun 2017 13:44:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Site Overview http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/home/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/home/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 08:00:04 +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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How to Understand Japan’s Intransigent Policy Toward Her WWII Atrocities? http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/how-to-understand-japans-intransigent-policy-toward-her-wwii-atrocities/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/how-to-understand-japans-intransigent-policy-toward-her-wwii-atrocities/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 07:00:10 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4650 More than 70 years have elapsed since the end of WWII during which the Japanese military committed massive and inhumane atrocities all over Asia, especially in China.  These atrocities included the Nanking Massacre, Comfort Women (CW, or sexual slavery), Biological and Chemical Warfare (BCW), Vivisection on live people (including American POWs), and Slave Labor.

Yet the Japanese government still has not formally acknowledged, apologized, and compensated for these inhumane acts.  And whenever the Japanese government issued some sort of acknowledgement, invariably, a short time afterward it was followed by one or more statements stating the opposite.  Also, many years ago when Japan tried to set up a fund to provide funding to former Korean CWs, it was mostly rejected by the Korean CWs because it was a private entity and was not a government entity and did not come with an official Japanese government apology.

Instead, many Japanese leaders have on many occasions made statements that the atrocities did not exist, over exaggerated, or fabricated by the Chinese or the Koreans.  Many Japanese leaders, including her Prime Ministers, have paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class A convicted and executed WWII war criminals are enshrined; this is analogous to the German Chancellor paying tribute at a memorial for Adolf Hitler.  Furthermore, starting about 35 years ago, Japan has been revising her history textbooks about WWII history, including trying a few years ago to change American history textbooks on WWII history.

Why?  Various reasons have been offered, including the following.  Japan was really trying to defend herself when the West was trying to cut off her oil supply.  Admitting to such massive and horrific atrocities is too much of an attack on the Japanese character and losing too much face.  Admitting to errors and defeats is contrary to the bushido spirit, or a Samurai way of life.  These atrocities were just consequences of war and were understandable.  The Japanese soldiers were just following the orders of their Emperor, who was considered to be God and could do no wrong.

In this essay, I like to offer another explanation which not only can explain the question posed in this essay’s title, but also can provide a clearer understanding of several aspects of world geopolitics.

Proposed ApproachIn order to understand the Japanese government’s position toward her WWII atrocities, we need to consider what has been the policy of the U.S. toward China from the time that it appeared that the Communist Party would win the civil war in China back in the second half of the 1940s to today.  For the last 70 years, the U.S. policy toward China basically has been a policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China, as we have already discussed in the article “U.S.-China Relationship Can Use Another Anson Burlingame” posted in the December 2016 release of this website.  We summarize the main points of that article:

  • In spite of completely inhumane repeated use of biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and in violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 (which Japan had signed) that prohibited the use of biological and chemical weapons in international armed conflicts, none of the political leaders or top scientists and medical doctors who were responsible for the world’s largest biological and chemical weapon research center and factory (Japan’s Unit 731 in Harbin, China) was prosecuted for war crimes.  Instead, the U.S. government signed a secret agreement with Japan not to prosecute any of these war criminals in exchange for their knowledge and data on BCW. [1]
  • 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. [2][3]  If the Emperor of Japan did not do anything wrong, then Japan does not have to apologize for its massive atrocities during WWII.
  • The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty was supposed to be the official treaty ending WWII with Japan.  China was the country that suffered the most damage from Japan, yet the U.S. who orchestrated that peace treaty did not invite China [either the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the Republic of China (ROC)] to attend, although over 50 other countries were invited.  Unlike the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, and the Japanese Surrender Treaty of September 2, 1945, which all declared that Japan should surrender back to China all those territories, such as Taiwan, that Japan seized from China, 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, thus planting the seed of controversy.
  • 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.  In other words, U.S. showed itself willing to go to war with China with no moral or legal justification.
  • In their book The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet, copyright 2002, Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison described in detail how the CIA encouraged Tibet’s revolt against China and eventually came to control its fledgling resistance movement, including setting up training camps in the Colorado Rockies, clandestine operations in the Himalayas, securing the Dalai Lama’s safe passage to India, subsequent initiation of one of the most remote covert campaigns of the Cold War, and continued providing all kinds of financial, intelligence, propaganda, and military support to the exiled Dalai Lama. [4]
  • U.S. government leaders and her media have frequently accused China of engaging in cyber espionage.  However, information disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about four years ago clearly indicated that the U.S., perhaps together with Russia, has been the world’s number one cyber spying government, collecting phone, computer, and other personal and private information from both friends and foes, including top government leaders of U.S.’s closest allies and ordinary American citizens.
  • 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. [5]
  • 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 announced by the U.S. several years ago is really just an intensified continuation of her long policy to surround, isolate, and weaken China.

ImplicationsThere are several implications that we can draw from this long U.S. foreign policy for  China during roughly the last 70 years:

  • Not only that the U.S. has consistently adopted an antagonistic policy toward China, she has also tried very hard in many ways to weaken China
  • After the end of WWII, U.S. basically controlled how Japan would reconstruct herself and has great influence on the directions of Japan
  • On several occasions, U.S. always chose a policy that would benefit Japan at the expense of China
  • For these 70 years, U.S. has always wanted Japan to serve as her front-line pawn to surround, isolate, and weaken China
  • U.S. never applied any significant pressure on Japan to acknowledge and apologize for the great atrocities Japan inflicted all over Asia during WWII, including performing vivisection on American POWs [6] and the Bataan Death March [7].

Therefore, we can conclude that a major reason that Japan has not acknowledged or apologized for her massive and inhumane atrocities that she inflicted all over Asia is very much related to the U.S.’ long-standing foreign policy toward China to surround, isolate, and weaken China.  Instead of pressing Japan to acknowledge and apologize for her WWII crimes, U.S. has cultivated Japan to serve as the U.S.’s front-line pawn against China.

In the Best Interests of the U.S. and the American People?  During the 70+ 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 with most of Asia and Europe and northeastern part of Africa and the related Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China is growing economically stronger, and more connected with the global economy.

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, bridges and underwater tunnels connecting territories separated by water. 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 for the U.S.

Instead of adopting a Tonya Harding-like foreign policy to unfairly attack her main competitor, 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.  The world, especially the American people, must persuade the U.S. government to discontinue her antagonistic policy toward China, and should seek a win-win-win situation, win for the U.S., win for China, and win for other countries and for world-peace.

———————————-

[1] See, e.g.:  Factories Of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-Up, by Sheldon H. Harris, Routledge, 1994. ISBN-10:1568656556.  A Plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan’s Biological Warfare Program, by Daniel Barenblatt, HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-093387-6.  Article by American medical historian Dr. Martin Furmanski in the book Blood-Weeping Accusations:  Records of Anthrax Victims, by Li Xiaofang, 2005.

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

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

[4] Kenneth Conboy is a former policy analyst and deputy director at the Heritage Foundation, and the late James Morrison was a thirty-year Army veteran and the last training officer for the CIA-sponsored Unity project.

[5] 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.

[6] “Japanese Medical School Museum Exhibits Vivisection Display on American POWs.”  For the full article, see The Japan Time News, 04-04-2015.

[7] See, e.g., Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account, by William E. Dyess, Bison Books, 2002. ISBN-10:0803266332, and Courage on Bataan and Beyond: Memories of an American POW who was a slave of the Japanese during WWII for 3 1/2 years, by Abel Ortega, AuthorHouse, 2005. ISBN-10:1420863843

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A New Study on Effectiveness of Taiji to Relieve Neck Pain http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/a-new-study-on-effectiveness-of-taiji-to-relieve-neck-pain/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/a-new-study-on-effectiveness-of-taiji-to-relieve-neck-pain/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 06:00:59 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4767 For the treatment of chronic nonspecific neck pain, an international (Germany, Australia, China, and U.S.) research team recently found that doing Taiji (another spelling is Tai Chi) is just as effective as doing neck exercise therapy, and significantly more effective than not doing anything at all.  Their finding was published in the September 2016 issue of The Journal of Pain. [1][2]  This essay provides a brief summary of their research finding.

Research Method This field test research project was conducted between September 2014 and March 2015 in the Department of Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Essen, Germany.  The project divided the test group into three subgroups: (1) a Taiji Group, (2) a conventional Neck Exercise Therapy Group, and (3) a No Treatment Group.  The average age of the 114 chosen participants was 49.5, and the group consisted of 91 women and 23 men.  The participants were randomly assigned to the three groups.  Over a period of 12 weeks, Group 1 and Group 2 each met once per week for 75-90 minutes.  For each session, Group 1 started with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises, followed by about 45 minutes of practicing the Yang Style 13 Form (depending on how the forms are counted, it is also sometimes called the Yang Style 16 Form), and ended with 5-10 minutes of relaxation exercises.  Similarly Group 2 also started with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises and ended with 5-10 minutes of relaxation exercises, and sandwiched in-between about 45 minutes of neck therapy exercises similar to those taught in rehabilitation program containing exercises and education for a healthy neck.  Group 1 was also supposed to practice at home at least 15 minutes of Taiji each day.  Group 2 was also supposed to practice at home at least 15 minutes of the neck exercises each day.  Group 3 did not practice or had treatment because it was a No Treatment Group.

Research FindingThe project measured various results at the end of 12 weeks.  The primary measurement was “pain on movement” (POM) when participants were asked to flex, extend, laterally flex, and laterally rotate their necks to the left and right.  The evoked pain was measured on a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS) for each direction.  An average POM score was then calculated from these data for each participant.  A measurement of the physical limitation from their neck pain was the Neck Disability Index (NDI) that was a 10-item questionnaire that determines how participants see their neck pain affects their daily activities.  There was also a measurement of the health-related physical and mental quality of life using the Short Form 36 Health Survey Questionnaire.  In addition, there was also a psychological well-being measurement on stress resistance, ability to enjoy, vitality, and inner peace using the Questionnaire on the Assessment of Physical Well-being.

The results show that at the end of 12 weeks there were statistically meaningful improvements in all four measurements for the Taiji Group, and of course basically no improvements for the No Treatment Group.  Similarly, there were statistically meaningful improvements in all four measurements for the Neck Exercise Therapy Group.  No significant difference was found between the Taiji Group and the Neck Exercise Therapy Group.  This means that doing Taiji can be an alternative to doing Neck Exercise Therapy for the treatment of chronic nonspecific neck pain.  The project also did some measurements at the end of 24 weeks, even though organized treatments were carried out for only 12 weeks.  The results at 24 weeks still showed improvements of the Taiji Group and the Neck Exercise Therapy Group over the No Treatment Group.

Final CommentsThe Taiji exercises performed by the participants in this project were just a simple set of normal Taiji exercises.  They were not selected to be specific for treating neck pains.  This means that the same kinds of Taiji exercises that have been found to be useful to treat many kinds of health ailments [3] are also useful for treating neck pains.  More importantly, it shows that the basic ingredients of Taiji, its soft and slow movements coupled with breathing and relaxation techniques, can provide general health improvements that can also improve many specific ailments. [4]

________________________

[1] The abstract of the article:  “The Effects of Tai Chi and Neck Exercises in the Treatment of Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain:  A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

[2] For the full article, see The Journal of Pain, Vol. 17, No 9 (September), 2016; pp1013-1027.

[3] “Health Benefits of Taiji”, January 2010.  “A Comprehensive of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi”, December 2010.  “Effectiveness of Taiji Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis”, September 2016.

[4] “Why Taiji Is Beneficial to Health”, September 2012.

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Highlights and Photos from the Global Alliance Biennial Conference in Shanghai-October 21-23, 2016 http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/highlights-and-photos-from-the-global-alliance-biennial-conference-in-shanghai-october-21-23-2016/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/06/highlights-and-photos-from-the-global-alliance-biennial-conference-in-shanghai-october-21-23-2016/#respond Thu, 01 Jun 2017 05:00:34 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4652 The “Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (GA) had its most recent biennial conference on October 21-23, 2016 in Shanghai.  It was hosted by Professor Su Zhiliang (蘇智良), the Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University.  It was well attended by about 150 participants from more than half a dozen countries.  The theme of the conference was “Memory of War and Peace of Mankind.” The two-day conference was preceded by a half-day of museum visit and a large group dinner, and followed by several days of visits to several historically meaningful localities around the Jiangsu Province.  The main highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the first Comfort Women Memorial in China on October 22, 2016 on the campus of Shanghai Normal University.

This essay briefly summarizes some of the highlights of the conference and shows some of the photos taken at the conference.

A major issue of “Memory of War and Peace of Mankind” is a proper treatment of the issue of “Comfort Women” (CW) or “Sexual Slavery” that was so widespread during WWII in Asia.  That was probably the most important focus of the conference.  Present at the conference were several key people in this world-wide campaign to correct the injustices done more than 70 years ago:

  • Former CW Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea and Chen Liancun (陈连村) of China.  A third former comfort woman Estelita B. Dy of the Philippines was scheduled to attend, but at the last moment ill health kept her from attending.
  • Retired California (CA) judges Lillian Sing and Julie Tang, Co-Chairs of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC) in San Francisco
  • Phyllis Kim, Executive Director of the Korean American Forum of California (KAFC) and leader of the Glendale (CA) CW Memorial
  • Professor Su Zhiliang (苏智良), Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University and one of the world’s foremost authorities on the CW issue
  • Shi Young (史雷永), who originated the idea of adding a Chinese CW, in addition to the Korean CW, for the CW Memorial in Seoul, and Pan Yiqun (潘毅群) who was the sculptor of the Chinese CW.  They were also the people behind the first Chinese CW Memorial in China that was unveiled at this conference
  • The Japanese wife-husband team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe, the performers of the skit “The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)”
  • Kang Jian (康健) , who for more than 20 years has been the lead Chinese attorney for Chinese CW and other WWII atrocity victims
  • Allen Ho, President of GA and organizer of this Conference
  • Plus many other leaders in this movement from around the world

We heard from first-hand experience how the Japanese government funded and fought hard to sabotage the erection of CW memorials in San Francisco and Glendale, such as how the Japanese government tried to fight this battle through the American justice system, including in the Glendate case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Count, but failed at each step.  We learned from Professor Su that the often quoted number of 200,000 CW did not include a lot of the CW in China.  If the Chinese CW were properly included, the number of CW worldwide was about 400,000.

Here are some photos.  Click on a photo to get a larger photo.

Former Comfort Woman (CW) Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea

Former CW Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) of Korea and Chen Liancun (陈連村) of China

Former CW Chen Liancun (陈连村) of China

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea and Chen Liancun of China, with Professor Chen Lifei of Shanghai Normal University in the back

Former CW Chen Liancun of China looking at photo of herself in the Chinese ‘Comfort Women’ History Museum

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea

Map of CW stations in Asia during WWII

Former CW Chen Liancun of China pointing at photo of herself in the Chinese ‘Comfort Women’ History Museum

Former CW Chen Liancun of China with Julie Tang and Lillian Sing

Former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea with Julie Tang and Phyllis Kim

Former CW Chen Liancun of China with Don Tow. On left is Chinese activist lawyer Kang Jian (康健)

The first CW Memorial in China was unveilled on October 22, 2016 on the campus of Shanghai Normal University.  Participating in the unveiling ceremony were former CW Lee Yong Soo of Korea and Chen Liancun of China, Memorial originator Shi Young (史雷永) and Chinese sculptor Pan Yiqun (潘毅群).  Here are some photos of the CW Memorial.

New CW Memorial Before Unveiling

First CW Memorial in China Ready To Be Unveiled

First CW Memorial In China

New CW Memorial in Shanghai

Memorial Chinese Sculptor Pan Yiqun (潘毅群) and Originator Shi Young (史雷永) with Model of Memorial

Two Young CW and an Empty Chair

Young Korean CW

Young Chinese CW

Third Candidate: Young Dutch CW

There were several other meaningful programs spread over the two days, as seen from the program (click on photo to get a larger-size).

Conference Program

We will give only two examples.  One are the reports from one of China’s foremost germ warfare researchers Wang Xuan (王选) and her colleagues, including Japanese colleagues and several young Chinese members of her team.  Among their projects are discovering a Japanese diary by a high-level officer who worked on germ warfare for the Japanese leadership, setting up the first approved Non Profit Organization (NPO) in China as an NPO consisting of atrocity victims, and plans to speak in front of Japanese legislature and American Congress, and finding additional specific data such as how many people suffered what, where, and when.  Another is an one-hour skit “The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)” performed by the Japanese wife-husband team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe.  The skit is based on the recollections of the painful experiences of CWs that the performers have interviewed with. It was gratifying to see that there were several justice-loving Japanese who made presentations at the conference, refuting the claim that seeking justice for WWII atrocities was Japan bashing.

There was also a session on slave laborers chaired by Lawyer Kang Jian and Professor Guan Jianqiang (管建强).  But due to a delayed schedule that caused this session to be simultaneous with the GA Planning Meeting, I missed that session.

A few more photos:

Professor Su Zhiliang, who was the host for the conference and the Director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at Shanghai Normal University

Wang Xuan (王选, on the far right) and her Young Team of Researchers on Germ Warfare

“The Eyes Hold the Truth (眼见为证)” Skit Performed by the Japanese Wife-Husband Team, Kazuko Yukoi and Yoshiji Watanahe

GA President Allen Ho and Prof. Su Zhiliang Presenting Certificate to Kazuku Yokoi and Yoshiji Watanahe

Former Chinese CW Chen Liancun and her helper, with Don Tow, Kazuku Yokoi, and Cathy Tsang in back row. Cathy has been a strong supporter of many projects in the U.S. and China for many years.

China’s Foremost Lawyer Representing Chinese WWII Atrocity Victims – Kang Jian (康健)

The GA Conference brought together many people and organizations from around the world who have been working on the campaign to make known to the world the many massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese military committed all over Asia, with the objective to provide justice and closure to this part of history and to keep this type of history from repeating itself anywhere else on earth.

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One Belt One Road Initiative: Its Meaning and Significance* http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/one-belt-one-road-initiative-its-meaning-and-significance/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/one-belt-one-road-initiative-its-meaning-and-significance/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:00:28 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4486 The “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative first announced to the world in the fall of 2013 by President Xi Jinping of China is an extremely ambitious and far-reaching initiative that is not easy to achieve, but has significant potential impacts improving the social and economic structure of a major part of the world around Asia, Europe, and northeastern parts of Africa, where more than half of the world’s population lives.  It could also have significant implications for political stability and peace in that region, as well as for the whole world.  The OBOR initiative proposes to improve the transportation infrastructure among the countries in Asia, Europe, and northeast Africa so that it can give rise to closer and larger economic, social,  cultural, and political ties among these countries and people.  This is a win-win initiative that should benefit not only the more than 50% of the world’s population who are living in that region, but should also contribute to political stability and peace in the whole world.

Many articles have been written about the OBOR initiative in the last 3+ years.  For example, in the October 13, 2015 issue of China-US Focus, He Yafei, former Vice Minister of China’s State Council Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs, wrote an article “Connecting the World Through ‘Belt & Road’.” in which he discussed global economic development and international geopolitical conflicts.  He also showed the following map of OBOR, where the solid line is the land transportation infrastructure and the dotted line is the sea transportation infrastructure.

Example OBOR Map

Example OBOR Map (click on map to enlarge map)

In this essay, we provide a simple analogy to understand the meaning and significance of OBOR.  The analogy is applicable to an important part of the OBOR initiative, although not the whole.

 I.  Analogy:  The analogy to OBOR is to look at the impacts on a metropolitan area from a good, comprehensive subway system.  To be concrete, we will discuss two examples:  Hong Kong and Beijing.

A.  Hong Kong’s Subway System:  The Hong Kong (HK) subway system MTR (Mass Transit Railway) was put into operation in 1979, and has continued to expand during almost four decades.  It provides comprehensive, rapid transportation connecting almost all parts of HK.  It allows one to go from one place to another normally in a matter of tens of minutes, although reaching certain locations may still require connections by small buses.  The subway trains start from early in the morning and operate until late at night; the trains are frequent, fast, clean, safe, and affordable.

What is the significance of HK’s MTR?

  • It means that one can live basically in any part of HK and work in any other part of HK, because one can usually get there in less than one hour.  Conversely, if one is an employer, the potential employees can come from any part of HK.
  • It means that one can shop not only in the stores near where one  lives, but in almost any store in HK.  Conversely, if one is a shop/business owner, one’s customers and employees can come from all parts of HK.
  • It means that one can visit relatives and friends throughout HK.  One doesn’t have to wait till the weekend or have vacation days to make such visits.
  • If one is involved in an activity, e.g., a non-profit organization or a club or a sport, one can meet with other members of that activity from many parts of HK, and not limit to only other members who live nearby.
  • If one wants to further one’s skills (whether it is a professional skill or a sports skill), one can take courses or undergo training in any part of HK.  Conversely, if one is a teacher of such skills, one’s students can come from all parts of HK.
  • If one wants to attend an event, e.g., a concert, movie, or lecture, one can attend that event even if it is held in the opposite end of HK.  Conversely, if one is en event organizer, one can publicize to potential attendees all over HK.

What this means is that from the perspective of work, home, business, recreation, social, etc., HK is basically completely interconnected.  It is no longer a collection of many small localities, where one’s major circle of interactions is within a small locality.  This has tremendous positive consequences in increasing and improving economic drivers, social interactions, recreation and cultural activities, etc.

I lived in HK before the introduction of the HK subway and I have visited HK many times after its installation, I can personally attest to the tremendous increase in the vitality of HK due to the shrinking time and ease of inter-connectivity from the improved transportation infrastructure provided by the HK subway system.

Of course, HK is not the first such example.  For a long time, Paris’s Metro system has been an example for other countries to follow.  I lived in Paris for almost one year in 1977-1978.  At that time, almost without exception no matter where one lives in the large city of Paris, one is always within one-third of a mile from a metro station.  Their trains were also frequent, fast, convenient, clean, safe, and affordable.  That was one of the major contributing factors making Paris an envy of the world.

B.  Beijing’s Subway System Beijing has had a subway for many years.  However, its subway system really did not expand and become more comprehensive until the turn of the 21st century.  I first visited Beijing in the middle 1970s.  At that time, the Beijing subway system was very small (only a few lines) and was not a major transportation system used by the majority of people living in Beijing.  I also lived in Beijing from late 1997 to spring 1999.  Although the Beijing subway system already expanded quite a bit in those 20+ years from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s, it was still not very comprehensive.  Map 1 shows the Beijing subway system in 1997.

Beijing Subway System - 1997

Beijing Subway System – 1997 (click on photo to enlarge photo)

However, since then, the Beijing subway system has really expanded (especially in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics) and has continued to expand, so that it can now be considered as a comprehensive subway system.  Map 2 shows the current Beijing subway system, including some minor planned expansions to 2021.

Current Beijing Subway System

Current Beijing Subway System (click on photo to enlarge photo)

Last time I visited Beijing was in the summer of 2015. then the Beijing subway system can already be considered as a comprehensive system covering all of Beijing.  However, it is still not nearly as comprehensive as Paris; there are many places in Beijing that you may be about one mile from the nearest subway station, but it is comprehensive enough so that the benefits discussed in the HK case (such as improving economics, social interactions, recreation and cultural activities, etc.) can also be realized in Beijing, keeping in mind that Beijing is a much larger city geographically than HK.

II.  OBOR InitiativeKeeping the above analogy in mind, let us now discuss the OBOR initiative which is to improve the transportation infrastructure connecting the various countries in Asia, Europe, and northeast Africa.  One is the land transportation infrastructure (known as the One Belt), mostly via high speed trains.  The other is the sea transportation infrastructure (known as the Maritime Silk Road), via trans-ocean ships.  This is of course a much more ambitious and difficult objective than building a comprehensive metropolitan subway system, because it crosses national boundaries, and involves many different races, cultures, religions, languages, economic and political systems.   However, precisely because of the latter, the potential impacts of the OBOR initiative in terms of regional prosperity, political stability and peace are even more significant.  The potential impact on international political stability and peace goes beyond tha analogy to a metropolitan subway system   We will first discuss the economic and social benefits, and then the political benefits.

A.  Economic and Social BenefitsThere are many economic and social benefits; here are a few examples:

  • The countries in the whole Asia-Europe and also parts of Africa will be convenient trading partners with each other.  One can buy and sell resources and products from a much larger base.  The improved transportation infrastructure by land or sea will significantly shorten the time and cost of transportation as compared to before.
  • For towns and cities near national boundaries, people may cross national boundaries to work and live.  For example, workers and entrepreneurs may work and live in a nearby country during the week, and go back home during the weekend to be with the family, because transportation via high speed trains will take only a few hours to cover hundreds of miles.
  • For locations farther away from national boundaries, people may still cross national boundaries to work and live.  Instead of returning home every week, these workers and entrepreneurs may return home to be with the family only on a monthly basis; transportation by high speed trains should be more affordable and significantly less expensive than by planes.
  • The OBOR transportation infrastructure that crosses national boundaries should lead to increased economic activities in various countries when they expand/improve their internal transportation infrastructure to connect to some of the key centers of OBOR.  For example, the One Belt high speed train will most likely go across the central part of Asia-Europe between East and West.  Russia can connect North-South one or more major towns in the Trans-Siberian Railway to a major stop of one of the One Belt train stations.  This can be repeated in more than one location on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and thus significantly improve the productivity and use of the vast and sparsely populated Siberia.  Similarly, towns/cities near a major port of the Maritime Silk Road can connect their internal transportation infrastructure to one of these ports.
  • If one needs to acquire a skill, be it a work skill or a language skill, it will be much more convenient, effective, and economical to cross national boundaries to acquire that skill.

B.  Political BenefitsAs mentioned before, because OBOR crosses national boundaries and involves people from different countries of different races, cultures, religions, languages, economic and political systems, it is not easy to make it work.  However, precisely because different countries can reap great economic and social benefits from the OBOR initiative, it provides great incentives for the different countries to collaborate to overcome these obstacles.  People from different countries will have to work together, they will need to have a better understanding of the different cultures and languages.  They will have to consider people as human beings, and not Chinese, Russian, Indian, Turks, Saudi Arabian, French, German, etc., or Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc.  They will also have to resolve issues such as tariffs, currencies, and standards (e.g., different railroad gauges).  To share in the prosperity offered by OBOR, the participants will need to work collaboratively and peacefully with each other.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of the OBOR initiative is this increased understanding and tolerance of people of different backgrounds and the recognition of the need to collaborate peacefully with each other, in order to achieve the win-win objective.

III.  Summary:  The OBOR initiative is a major initiative that could give rise to tremendous benefits to countries in Asia, Europe, and northeast Africa.  By expanding and improving the land and sea transportation infrastructure, it can provide many economic and social benefits to all the countries participating in the initiative.  It is a very challenging initiative and not an easy initiative to accomplish because it cuts across national boundaries, races, cultures, religions, languages, economic and political systems.  However, in order to achieve the potential economic and social benefits, there is motivation for all participants to work together collaboratively and in peace to overcome these challenges to result in a win-win situation.  That should lead to prosperity and peace not only in the OBOR region, but perhaps all over the world.  This is then the most significant benefit of the OBOR initiative.

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*A shorter version of this article has been published in the 3/27/2017 issue of China-US Focus: http://www.chinausfocus.com/finance-economy/one-belt-one-road-initiative-its-meaning-and-significance.  The Chinese version can be found at:  http://cn.chinausfocus.com/finance-economy/20170327/14056.html.

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Why Meditation Is An Important Part of Taiji and Qigong http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/why-meditation-is-an-important-part-of-taiji-and-qigong/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/why-meditation-is-an-important-part-of-taiji-and-qigong/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:00:00 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4516 Introduction:  In an earlier article “Meditation: An Often Neglected Component of Taiji Practice”, it stated that there are three major components of Taiji practice:  Forms, Push Hands, and Meditation.  Essentially all Taiji practitioners practice Forms, and those who are interested in Taiji as a martial art most likely would also practice or have practiced Push Hands.  The article gave several reasons why many Taiji practitioners may have never practiced Meditation, even though it is an important component of Taiji practice and Taiji is often known as Moving Meditation.  That article also mentioned that Meditation is a set of techniques that focus on getting the body and mind to relax and into a deeper level of “quietness.”  In that introductory Meditation article, it wrote “initially, while doing Meditation, the practitioner can breath naturally, i.e., breathe normally.  With experience, more sophisticated breathing techniques could be incorporated.”

This current article discusses some of the more sophisticated breathing techniques in Meditation that make Meditation an important part of Taiji from both the health and martial arts perspectives.

Qigong:  In another earlier article “What Is Qigong?”, we discuss that Qigong is a set of stretching, breathing, and meditation exercises that is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Qigong is something that advanced Taiji practitioners should practice to get as much benefits out of Taiji from both the health and martial arts perspectives.  TCM believes that good health and illnesses are very much related to the proper level and circulation of Qi within the body. with Qi being some sort of bio-electric energy, or life force.  Even though currently there is not a universal scientific definition of Qi that is generally accepted by scientists, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Qi doesn’t exist.  To the many people in this world who have practiced Qigong for an extended period and on a regular basis, Qi is as real to them as their breath, their heartbeat, their conscious mind.  They can feel Qi in their body.  They can guide Qi to circulate to different parts of their body.  They can feel sensations in their body, e.g., tingling sensations in their fingers, when they are practicing Qigong.  We now discuss why the more sophisticated breathing techniques used in Meditation can make your body healthier and stronger.

Purpose of Meditation:  The purpose of Meditation is to relax your body and mind as much as possible, and at the same time increase the intake and circulation of oxygen throughout the whole body. Meditation can be done standing up, sitting down, or lying down.  A key component of Meditation is the breathing technique.  Normally when we breathe, we use “Upper Chest Breathing,” i.e, we expand and contract our upper chest to get the oxygen into our lungs. When we do Meditation, we use “Lower Abdominal Breathing,” also called “Diaphragmatic Breathing”, i.e., we move our diaphragm up and down and expand and contract our lower abdomen.  There are also two types of Lower Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing.  One is called “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing” or “Natural Diaphragmatic Breathing,” and the other is called “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” or “Reverse Diaphragmatic Breathing.”

Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing:  We will first discuss the first type, “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing” or “Natural Diaphragmatic Breathing.”  With this method, when we inhale, the diaphragm moves downward and the lower abdomen (or tummy) expands outward both toward the front of the body and the back of the body.  When we exhale, the diaphragm moves upward and the lower abdomen contracts both in the front and in the back.  There are two advantages of Lower Abdominal Breathing over the usual Upper Chest Breathing.  One advantage is that with the diaphragm moving downward when we inhale, we expand the upper chest area or the lungs, so that more oxygen can be taken in.  With the diaphragm moving upward when we exhale, it helps to push the carbon dioxide out of the lungs. The second advantage is that with the diaphragm moving up and down and the lower abdomen expanding and contracting, it is like massaging the internal organs that reside in the abdomen.  This is similar to exercising our internal organs when we are breathing in and breathing out.  Just like exercising our muscles and limbs can strengthen them, exercising our internal organs can also strengthen them.

In Meditation, we also try to relax our body and mind, so that we can engage in slower and deeper breaths.  When we slow down and take deeper breaths, we can intake more oxygen and facilitate the circulation of the oxygen, and the blood that carries the oxygen, into various parts of the body.  This means that we are bringing more nutrients into various parts of our body, thus making our body healthier and stronger.  In addition, when our body and mind are relaxed, various bodily functions can also work more efficiently, again making our body healthier and stronger.

This is why long distance runners, singers such as opera singers, and stage performers also practice “Diaphragmatic Breathing” in order to relax and to intake more oxygen, lower the heart rate, sing a longer note, project a stronger voice in a large auditorium.  Because of its health benefits. many yoga exercises also teach and practice “Diaphragmatic Breathing.”

As we mentioned earlier, it is very important to relax not only the body, but also the mind.  This is not easy to achieve especially when our modern life is often multi-faceted.  So it is very easy for the mind to wander, and think about all the tasks that you need to finish on that day or all the problems related to school, work, or family that you need to solve.  When that happens, don’t get upset, just acknowledge it and come back to focus on your breathing and relaxation.  One way to keep your mind from wandering off is to repeat a mantra, i.e., choose a simple word (like peace, harmony, love, hope, relax) and repeat that word over and over.  Once or twice during your meditation, you may want to identify a certain part of your body and ask yourself whether you can relax that part of your body even more.  After you finish with one part of the body, just go on to the parts of your body.

The practice of Meditation can improve the ability to relax your body and mind and the ability to breathe more deeply and more slowly so that you can take in more oxygen and improve its circulation throughout the body, and at the same time exercise your internal organs inside your lower abdomen.  This is why Meditation can make your body healthier and stronger.

Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing:  We now discuss the second type, “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” or “Reverse Diaphragmatic Breathing.”  Although not as widely practiced as the “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing,” the “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” is another breathing method that is used by a lot of people, especially by more advanced martial arts practitioners.  With this method, when you inhale, the diaphragm is still lowered, and when you exhale, the diaphragm is still raised.  However, the movement of the lower abdomen is just the opposite of the movement in the “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing.”  When you inhale, the lower abdomen contracts from both the front and the back of the abdomen.  When you exhale, the lower abdomen expands from both the front and the back of the abdomen. Although it may seem to be unusual to contract the abdomen when inhaling, and expand the abdomen when exhaling, it is not, because this is consistent with what you do when you blow up a balloon.  When you are blowing up a balloon, you are exhaling and the front of your abdomen expands outward. [1]  Similarly, when you push a big, heavy object, you take a deep breath and exhale and push, you will find that your abdomen is expanding outward.  In martial arts, when you are attacking an opponent, it is like pushing an object, and therefore you exhale and expand your abdomen, i.e., Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing.  Thus, “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” is often used by advanced martial artists.  “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing” is sometimes known as ‘Buddhist Breathing,” and “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” is sometimes known as “Taoist Breathing.”

SummaryThe essence of Meditation is (1) to relax the body and mind, (2) to increase the intake of oxygen and enhance the circulation of oxygen (and blood) throughout the body, and at the same time (3) to massage the internal organs inside your abdomen.  It achieves this by using “Lower Abdominal Breathing.”  Because all three functions mentioned in the previous sentence can make your body healthier and stronger, Meditation is a very important component of Taiji and Qigong.  There are two types of “Lower Abdominal Breathing.”  “Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing” is more commonly used, and the “Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing” is used often by advanced martial artists.

I want to end this article with the following quote “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

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[1] This is an exercise we can all do.  Place one hand on your abdomen and blow out air as though you are blowing up a balloon, you will find that your lower abdomen is expanding and pushing your hand outward.

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Evangelical Christians, the Ten Commandments, and 2016 Presidential Election http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/evangelical-christians-the-ten-commandments-and-2016-presidential-election/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/03/evangelical-christians-the-ten-commandments-and-2016-presidential-election/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:00:58 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4537 Introduction:  The results of the recently completed presidential election in the U.S. showed that it was an extremely close election won by Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton.  Trump won the electoral vote by 306 versus 232, but Clinton won the popular vote 48.5% versus 46.4%, or 65,853,516 votes versus 62,984,825.  In the exit polls, there was one statistic that stood out:  The white evangelical Christians voted 81% vs 16% in favor of Trump over Clinton. [1]  Ideally we would like to know the exit polls for various sub-segments of the evangelical Christians, but there were no sub-segment breakdowns.  However,  we do know from pre-election polls that evangelicals of color (about 2 out 5 of all evangelicals) have just the opposite preference, i.e., significantly more in favor of Clinton.

Since Christians should believe in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, assessing Trump and Clinton as a person (expressed position and behavior) relative to the Ten Commandments should give some guidance on how Christians should vote.  This essay discusses such an assessment and addresses the question whether white evangelical Christians should have voted so overwhelmingly for Trump.

Summary of Assessment of Trump and Clinton With Respect to the Ten CommandmentsTo provide an assessment with respect to each of the Ten Commandments, we take into consideration Trump’s or Clinton’s expressed opinion and his/her behavior (as elaborated in the next section).  For certain Commandments, in particular, for Commandments 1, 2, 3, and 5, there is “not enough information” (NEI) to make a decision on whether Trump or Clinton follows that Commandment more closely.  In those situations, in the table below we designate in the second column (Assessment of Trump) and the third column (Assessment of Clinton) with NEI, and in the fourth column (Who Follows the Commandment More Closely) with ND (no decision).  Our assessment with respect to Trump and Clinton is summarized in the table below.

Commandment Assessment of Trump Assessment of Clinton Who Follows the Commandment More Closely
1.    Shall have no other gods before me NEI NEI ND
2.    Shall not make idols NEI NEI ND
3.    Shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain NEI NEI ND
4.    Remember the Sabbath Less regular church attendance than Clinton More regular church attendance than Trump Clinton
5.    Honor your father and your mother NEI NEI ND
6.    Shall not murder No, in the sense of abortion Yes, in the sense of abortion Trump
7.    Shall not commit adultery Yes, and many more using definition of Matthew 5:28 No Clinton
8.    Shall not steal More (including cheating) Less Clinton
9.    Shall not bear false witness against your neighbor More, in terms of lying Less, in terms of lying Clinton
10. Shall not covet Often Much less often Clinton
LGBTQ Rights For For ND
NEI=Not Enough Information ND=No Decision

 

Besides the Ten Commandments, in the above table we also included the category “LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) Rights” because it is usually an important issue for Christians and often may be lumped  as part of Commandment 7 “Shall not commit adultery.”

Sometimes, Trump or Clinton’s position might have changed over time.  In that situation, we use their position in the few months before the election from the time of the Republican or Democratic National Convention to just before election day.  In the next section, we provide more details on Trump or Clinton’s expressed position.  When a person says one thing and does another thing, i.e., when there is an inconsistency between what a person says and what a person does over time, we use the person’s behavior over time to be the determining factor, because it is easy for an election candidate to say something just to get the voters’ votes even if he/she doesn’t really believe in it.  In the next section, we also provide more details on Trump or Clinton’s behavior to help us make our assessment.

 

More Detailed AssessmentAs already mentioned, there is not enough information on the expressed opinion and behavior over time of Trump or Clinton on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Commandments, and therefore we conclude that it is “No Decision” on “Who Follows the Commandment More Closely.”  We now discuss each of the other six Commandments.

4th Commandment “Remember the Sabbath”:  Both Trump and Clinton claim that they are Christians, and indeed both of them were brought up in Christian families and attended church on a more-or-less regular basis when they were growing up.  However, as adults and especially in the last few years, relatively speaking, Clinton has observed the Sabbath significantly more than Trump.  In summer 2015, Trump told reporters that he attended services at the Marble Collegiate College Church in Manhattan, a famous church where Dr. Norman Vincent Peals was the pastor from 1932 to 1984 and the author of the best-selling book The Power of Positive Thinking.  Shortly after Trump’s remark, that church released a statement to CNN saying that Trump was not an active member of the church.  Furthermore, also in summer 2015 at an event organized by socially conservative Christian organizations, Trump said that he had never asked God for forgiveness.  Later he also said that “he does not have much to apologize for, …, I like to be good.  I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness.  And I am good.  I don’t do a lot of things that are bad.  I try to do nothing that is bad.”  Therefore, for the 4th Commandment, we put down Clinton in the column “Who Follows the Commandment More Closely.”

6th Commandment “Shall not murder”:  Neither Trump or Clinton has actually murdered anyone.  But on the issue of abortion, they do express different opinions, with Trump saying no, and Clinton saying yes.  Trump, however, in 1999 told NBC that he was “very pro-choice.”  He might have held this position to as late as 2011, when he announced that he was “pro-life.”  Furthermore, as in many other issues, it is often not clear that Trump really knew what his position was and would offer conflicting positions within days of each other.  This happened on the abortion issue and he/his team expressed five positions, often inconsistent with each other, within the three days between March 30, 2016 and April 1, 2016.

  • March 30, 2016, 2:30 PM:  Trump said in an interview with MSNBC that women who receive abortions once the procedure is illegal will face punishment.  The men who are involved will not.
  • March 30, 2016, 3:30 PM:  Before the interview was aired by MSNBC, a spokesperson for Trump released a statement changing what Trump had told the interviewer.
  • March 30, 2016, 5 PM:   Trump’s campaign released the following statement “If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal court upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”  Note:  This position is in line with the pro-life movement.
  • April 1, 2016, 6:30 PM:  CBS released an excerpt from an interview with Trump when he said “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.  I would’ve preferred states’ rights.  I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states.  But right now, the laws are set … At this moment, the laws are set.  And I think we have to leave it that way.”  Note:  This statement is not in line with the pro-life movement.  As a matter of fact, The pro-life group’s Susan B. Anthony List replied that “Trump had ‘disqualified himself as the GOP nominee’ if this were his position.”
  • April 1, 2016, 9 PM:  Before the program was aired by CBS, the Trump campaign re-frames what Trump said “Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now – until he is president.  Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn.  There is nothing new or different here.”

Since once conception has occurred, a life has been created even if that life cannot sustain himself/herself outside of the mother’s womb, abortion can be considered as murdering that life.  Ignoring Trump’s position switch before 2011 and his often contradictory remarks on abortion and whether he really knows what his position is, we give Trump the decision on this Commandment.

7th Commandment “Shall not commit adultery”:  There is no indication of adultery committed by Hillary Clinton.  On the other hand, Trump carried on a very public affair with Marla Maples, his eventual second wife, while still married to his first wife Ivana Trump.   Furthermore, if we reference Matthew 5:28:  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” then Trump has committed adultery numerous times.  Just look at the recorded remarks he made in 2005 in an interview with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood.  Only the cleaner excerpt is included here “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”  The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.”  On the other hand, there is no evidence of anything anywhere close to this involving Hillary Clinton.  So on this Commandment, the decision clearly goes to Clinton.

8th Commandment “Shall not steal”:  Although there might not be clear-cut proof that Trump stole from someone, there are a lot of cases that indicate that Trump cheated on many people.   When you cheat people out of money, that is essentially stealing money from these people.  We will mention only a few examples.  The first one is that Trump refused to pay many of his workers and contractors.  Trump would often respond that they did shoddy work, and so he didn’t have to pay these people.  However, when there are hundreds of such cases, it is extremely unlikely that all of these allegations were false.  In some cases, even the lawyers Trump hired to defend him have sued him for failing to pay their fees.  Another example is the Trump University where many of the students have filed lawsuits that Trump University was a scam and that they were not taught the skills that were advertised, and in November 2016, Trump agreed to settle a series of such lawsuits for $25 million payment. Another example is that Trump’s companies have declared bankruptcy four times in his career. [2]  However, it seems that in each case, he was able to arrange to sell off his share to the company or its investors, so that it is these other people who bore more or most of the financial loss so that he never had to declare personal bankruptcy.  Many other examples of Trump’s cheating can be found here.

What about Clinton?  Since retiring as Secretary of State in 2013, Clinton has made millions giving speeches, usually at around $200,000 per speech, with many speeches giving to financial companies.  There doesn’t seem to be copies of these speeches making them widely available, an indication that perhaps the speeches were not that valuable to a larger audience.  So it seems that the reason that these companies are willing to pay so much is to buy influence with Clinton.  In a sense then, this is like stealing money from these companies, and ultimately essentially from the public.

Therefore, both Trump and Clinton are assessed as violating this Commandment.  Because Trump’s violations are in so many fronts and more frequent, we give Clinton the decision on this Commandment.

9th Commandment “Shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”:  This is equivalent to who tells the most lies.  Actually, many of the examples we discussed for the previous Commandment “Shall not steal” are also examples of lying.

In addition to the ones already discussed for the previous Commandment, here we give two more examples involving Trump.  One example is when the Trump Foundation donates money to some one or organization, there have been instances that the money actually came from someone else or some other organization, and Trump has also used some of the Trump Foundation money to settle his own legal disputes.   Another example is that Trump is lying when he says that the reason he cannot release his income tax returns is because they are under audit.  This is completely false, because an income tax return that is under audit is also allowed to be released.  Furthermore, tax returns that are older than seven years can no longer be audited, but Trump hasn’t released his tax returns for many years.

What about Clinton?  Clinton has also lied with respect to her private email server.  In particular, there were some classified information contained in some of her emails via her private email server.  Although the government’s investigation of this issue is probably not completely over yet, the FBI on November 6, 2016, two days before the election, concluded that Clinton shouldn’t be charged.

Therefore, with respect to this Commandment about lying, because of the frequency and range of occurrence with respect to Trump, we also give Clinton the decision on this Commandment.

10th Commandment “Shall Not Covet”:  The word “covet” means the desire to possess or have something, such as someone’s money or someone’s wife or husband.  As previously discussed with respect to the 7th Commandment “Shall not commit adultery,” especially following the definition of Matthew 5:28, Trump has on so many occasions coveted other people’s wives or girlfriends.  So the decision on this Commandment clearly goes to Clinton.

As mentioned previously, we also added an additional item “LGBTQ” rights, because it is an important issue for Christians and sometimes is lumped together with the 7th Commandment on adultery.  On this issue of LGBTQ rights, unlike the evangelical Christian establishment, both Trump and Clinton are for it.  Therefore, on this issue we decided that there is no decision.

ConclusionOf the Ten Commandments, there is no decision on four of them.  On five of the Commandments, the decision goes to Clinton, while on only one Commandment, the decision goes to Trump.  It is clear then that based on the Ten Commandments, evangelical Christian voters should vote clearly for Clinton.  This was obviously not the case for white evangelical Christians who voted five-to-one in favor of Trump.

White evangelical Christians (like other voters) took into consideration other issues, e.g., affirmative action, amount of government regulation, global warming/climate change, gun control, healthcare, homeland security, immigration, war on terrorism, welfare, etc.  For an easy to understand classification of the views of conservatives and liberals relative to 20 issues, see the article “Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs.”  The views of white evangelical Christians usually are more aligned with the views of conservatives rather than the views of liberals, i.e., conservatives support Trump much more significantly than liberals.

Evangelical Christians, however, are supposed to be Christians.  They should place a lot of importance on the views of the presidential candidate on the Bible’s Ten Commandments.  In other words, they should place more weight on issues related to the Ten Commandments than on other issues.  Therefore, from that perspective, when white evangelical Christians voted at the 2016 presidential election. did they really behave like Christians?

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[1] Catholics are not included as part of evangelical Christians.  The exit polls showed that white Catholics voted 60% to 37% in favor of Trump over Clinton, as compared to white evangelical Christians voted 81% to 16% in favor of Trump over Clinton.

[2] Note that National Review is a conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley.

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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]

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* 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.

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[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.

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[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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