Archive for January, 2011

The U.S. and China Have a Long History of Cooperation

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Now that Hu Jintao, the Chinese leader, has paid the US a visit, American people might like to know more about modern Chinese history, which would from the Last Kingdom (Manchurian Kingdom) to the present. 

A well-known American New York City businessman has said that China is an “enemy.”  My question to him is, “If America is already in over its head in Afghanistan, do you really want to take on China as an enemy, also?”

 My second question might be, “What does history show about the relations between China and the United States?”  Allow me to give you a quick review of the forces that have created the China that we think we know today:

In the early 1900’s, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who had studied in some of the best schools in Hawaii, and later maintained a straight 100 average in medical school in Hong Kong, led a revolutionary movement to overcome the Chinese monarchy (Last Kingdom/ Manchurian Kingdom/Qing Dynasty) and to replace it with a government inspired by the American Constitution. (Rather than the 3 branches of govenment as in the U.S., he set up 5 branches). Dr. Sun Yat-sen embraced many American cultural aspects  and set up the Republic of China in the early 1900’s

Unfortunately, the new government was unstable, and the military branch struggled to take control. Eventually Yung Sai Hoi, a warlord,  took over and turned the country back into a monarchy and set himself up as king. Dr. Sun Yet Sen’s forces overcame the monarchists and took control for a second time, and reestablished a constitutional government.

However, Sun Yat-sen became ill with a liver problem, and died  in 1925 at the age of 59. Power was given over to two leaders,  Chiang Kai Shek, the commander-in-chief of the military, and Hsu Sung Chi.

 Chiang Kai Shek  forced Hsu Sung Chi to step aside, and ended up taking complete control.  He called himself President, but in actuality he was a dictator.  He instituted a campaign in China to encourage the people to buy only products that were Chinese-made.  People became optimistic that prosperity would be coming to the country.

Chiang Kai Shek developed a strong military, and moved into the north of the country, where he tried to make a deal with the warlords to ally with him while still they kept sovereignty over their territory.   All of the internal unrest drew the attention of Japan. Japan at this time already controlled the northern part of China, including the Manchurian area.  Japan was concerned that China could become strong and prosperous enough to become a threat.  

  The Japanese decided that it was time to attack China while it was still very fragile. 

In 1938, the Japanese claimed that the Chinese had kidnapped some of their soldiers, and demanded that  they be returned.  Ultimately on July 7, 1938, the Japanese attacked China. 

During the war between China and Japan, one of the most notorious events was the Japanse attack on Nanking.  Over 300,000 civilians were gruesomely murdered.  The Japanese believed that if they could terrorize the Chinese enough they would surrender.  They believed that they would be able to wipe out China in 3 months because the country was so poor and lacking in weapons.

However, the Japanese brutality backfired, because the Chinese took up the call that “Every citizen is a soldier and every soldier is a citizen!”  That meant anybody and everybody in China was part of the fighting.

Even so, Chiang Kai Shek was forced to withdraw his forces to the southwest part of China.  Japan then occupied almost the entire remainder of the country, although they were fiercely opposed by the Chinese.  The Japanese realized that they never could totally defeat the Chinese, so they set up a puppet government of Chinese officials who were dominated by the Japanese.

 Wang Ching Wai, who was originally a colleague of Sun Yat-sen, was installed as the puppet governor. He accepted the position because he saw that the suffering of the  Chinese citizens was so extreme under the boots of the Japanese.  He hoped that the puppet government could create a buffer between the Chinese citizens and the Japanese, knowing full well that he would probably forever be branded a traitor.  Tragically, mainstream Chinese history has done exactly that. In fact, he was eventually assassinated, and his widow fled to Taiwan.

Meanwhile during the wartime, Mao Tse Tung was obstensibly fighting guerrilla warfare against the Japanse,  but actually he was developing his own military forces. 

By 1942, the Americans had come to China’s aid, by bringing in an Air Force unit known to history as the “Flying Tigers.”  The Flying Tigers were portrayed as “volunteers” from America, so as to avoid outright declaration of war with Japan.  With the continuing aid from Americans, China was able to go on the attack against the Japanese.  In fact, by continuing to engage the Japanese on mainland China, the Japanese forces were prevented from joining their countrymen  in the fight against the Americans in the Pacific Theater. The Chinese thereby prevented over a million Japanse forces from ever participating in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.   In effect, China assisted America in its war effort against the Japanese.

After World War II ended, a civil war broke out in China between Mao Tse Tung, a communist, and Chiang Kai Shek.  Chiang Kai Shek had new weapons he had received from the Americans and was able to suppress Mao Tse Tung.  Even though Mao Tse Tung was receiving support from Russia, he was completely outgunned and forced to withdraw.  Mao Tse Tung  put a spin on  his withdrawal by calling it  his “25,000-mile marching campaign.”  Peace talks esnsued and the fighting stopped.

Chiang Kai Shek then made the disatrous mistake of dissolving his military forces and sending them home with two silver coins and no job prospects. Most of the soldiers’ families had been killed and even their home towns obliterated  in the fighting with the Japanese.  Without family or even a home town to return to, it was a recipe for civil unrest.  Chiang Kai Shek  had made a monumental mistake.. 

Mao Tse Tung saw an opportunity to entice the now desperate soldiers, with the promise of “Whatever we have, we share.  We are all equals.”

To further weaken Chiang Kai Shek’s position, his government ( which was mostly inept relatives),  had become increasingly corrupt.  The people of China became disgusted and lost faith in his government.

 Mao Tse Tung saw the opportunity, and launched a propaganda campaign promising jobs and common sharing of resources  that convinced Chiang Kai Shek’s remaining soldiers to surrender.  The people had lost faith in the ability of the traditional ruling classes to manage the country, and were now psychologically receptive to a communistic ideology. They switched their support to Mao Tse Tung. 

Chiang Kai Shek asked for help from the United States. President Truman sent representatives to investigate, and they found that his government was corrupt beyond help.  Chiang Kai Shek lost U.S. support and lost the support of his own fellow citizens.  In 1948, he withdrew to Taiwan, and Mao Tse Tung took over China.

The Russians had been supporting Mao Tse Tung right from the start. In the 1960’s the Russians wanted more control of China.  Mao Tse Tung refused to allow Russian influence, and the Russians threatened to withdraw all their military and financial support. As a result, the economy of China completely collapsed.  The factories were unable to function without the Russian supplies and technology.

China was in its worst situation ever.  To cover up the dire circumstances, Mao Tse Tung  stirred up propaganda to create further revolution.    In 1972, President Nixon sent Henry Kissinger to open the door to a trade relationshipwith China.  The Americans saw an opportunity to get an ally against Russia during the Cold War.

Mao Tse Tung maintained control of China until his death in 1977.  History shows us that from the very early years of Mao Tse Tung’s military activities (ostensibly against the Japanese), until he died,  over 30,000,000 Chinese people have died under his leadership.

Deng Xiao Ping took control in 1978.  Originally, he had been part of Mao Tse Tung’s government committee.  He had studied in France as a young student, and was more open-minded about relationship with Western countries. In 1979, he was invited to the U.S. by Jimmy Carter. Deng Xiao Ping guided China to develop Western-based economic development policies.  As a result, China today is experiencing a “miracle turnaround.” 

As we look back over this brief summary, we see that China and America have a past that reflects mutual assistance.  China helped the U.S. by keeping a large number of Japanese engaged in fighting in China, so that they were unavailable to help their fellow Japanese in the Pacific Theater in their fight against the Americans. 

The United States helped China tremendously by bringing in the “Flying Tigers” to fight the Japanese, and later by encouraging Western-style technology, and then by investing in manufacturing operations in China.

In my opinion, Barak Obama made the right move in inviting China to a more friendly relationship with the United States. Both countries stand to continue to benefit by cooperation.

And both countries stand to lose if they choose confrontation.

As Ron Paul, congressman from Texas, advised recently, “Look to ourselves; don’t blame our situation on other people. Correct our own internal problems.”

Also, Henry Kissinger in a recent CNN interview said, “China is in transition right now.”

 Even  Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brezezinski, has shifted from taking a hard line against China to realizing that communication is the best tactic.

In my opinion, if America’s goal is to help the world become stable, and to help the whole world become prosperous, then we can achieve that goal by mutual cooperation with another global player.

Furthermore, I don’t think that communism will be a lasting system in China.  It is too divergent from the original Chinese culture itself.  As much as the communist leaders have tried to program the people with the slogans of Chairman Mao, the common people, even the most illiterate in the countryside, refer back to the teachings of Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Sun Tzu when making their important life decisions.


For fascinating insight into how an icon of Chinese culture, The Art of War, is pertinent to our economy right now, go to

Some Observations About the Shooting Tragedy in Tuscon

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The news media has been talking ceaselessly about the shooting in Tuscon, AZ. My condolences go out to the families and their loved ones for these senseless killings and injuries.

We “expect” that a military serviceman might be injured or killed doing his/her job. However, to a certain degree, public figures are also exposed to dangers from unbalanced people.  And it is appropriate that there be discussion of how those events might have been avoided.

I have always believed that the media should also give much more attention to those professionals who have lost promising young lives serving in our military.  When one of them is killed, I would like to see the media honoring that life as well. Yes, Sun Tzu said that the “general’s” duty is to serve the country and the leader, and to not seek personal aggrandizement or fame.  There are many soldiers who have died overseas that the public knows nothing of.  Perhaps their name and a picture may flash across the screen in a local news report.  In my opinion, when a soldier loses his life, that life should be acknowledged and honored and brought to public awareness. Displaying a name and a photo for 20 seconds does not come close to being appropriate.

In regard to the Tuscon shootings, mental illness has been cited as the “cause.”  What might have been done to have averted this?

 To solve a problem, the whole picture must be examined. Mental illness can be either a result of genetics or personality-damaging life circumstances. One must understand how the personality of the individual is structured: First, there are belief systems that are inculcated from birth and the society around the young individual.

In addition, the management of emotions is also learned from a person’s family, as well as friends, and the influence of  the entertainment media.

In the end, the behavior is the outcome of the balance (or lack thereof) of the belief systems and the emotions.  The behaviors,  are almost always evident to those in the community. 

It is commonly understoond that in the American culture, “stress” is a “normal” part of life.  At present, there is a basic understanding that stress causes health problems.  However, the overload of stress is not adequately respected in terms of its effect on mental balance, or even creating mental illness.  The number one stressor in America today is around the issue of finances, with issues relating to relationships running a close second. 

In the case of the young man in Tuscon, many people were aware that he was off-balance. He was dealing with both financial and relationship stresses.  Plus, he had apparently connected into some belief systems that were disempowering.  None of this was unknown to friends, family, and classmates. The community was not unaware.

 The fact is, however, he could not be picked up or put under restraining order, etc, unless there was a clear violation of a particular law. In general, there is nothing in place in our communities to effectively provide referral and services that are well-known to the general public, easily accessible, and provide contact in a timely manner. 

Another interesting observation about the tragedy is the coverage given to the minutia of Rep. Giffords’ recovery process.  Doctors seem surprised that it is going as well as it is.  I suggest that the reason that it is going so well is because she received immediate care from a well-prepared team of doctors in a top-notch facility.  Not only that, there is no prescribed path of recovery that fits every patient.  What we are seeing here is the result of immediate attention plus loving care.  The medical team is not “going by the book,” because they are tailoring the care to the specific person and situation. It is a beautiful model of appropriate medical care and support.

These shootings have brought up the usual discussions around gun control.  It is obvious by now that there must  be an effective means of nationwide screening  to prevent indiviuals with questionable backgrounds, (such as being rejected for the military, as in this case), from purchasing guns and ammunition.  Not to mention that certain types of guns are very questionable in the first place.

So, even if the discussion seems to be endless, it is probably serving a good purpose.  It is bringing to our awareness the need to make sure that our medical care is top-rate and accessible to everyone. 

It is certainly pointing out that community mental health resources require massive upgrading so that troubled individuals can get the help they need before any kind of tragedy happens. 

 And it most definitely is highlighting and underlining the need for serious revision of firearms purchase laws.

This event has given yet another opportunity to see the value of Sun Tzu’s admonition to  ”know ourselves” and “know the terrain.”

To learn more about the very pertinent teachings of Sun Tzu, purchase the book with his complete text accompanied by a clear, easy-to-read English translation.

Educational System and the Younger Generation

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Politicians and commentators often point their fingers at the educational system in the U.S.  As Americans say, “What’s their beef?”  They complain about the educational system, but they don’t offer any suggestions about how to improve the system.  As the Asians say, “They are cooking rice soup without the rice.”

I have not only been a teacher in my country, but I am a parent and now a grandparent of children who have been educated in this country. In my opinion, the American educational system meets world standards.  There is free high school education, free transportation, and free textbooks, not to mention physical education and cultural offerings such as music and band, etc.   Compare that to what is offered in any country in the world, and America is right at the top. 

The problem is not with the schools themselves.  The problem is with the political leaders who set up big budgets for the educational system, but do not budget for top-rate teachers.  In general, because teacher salaries are not commensurate with salaries for college-trained people in other fields, the top talent coming out of colleges is drawn off into the business world.  So while the local politicians may say that their districts spend a substantial amount of money on the schools, it does not necessarily tranlsate into putting the most knowledgeable and talented teachers in place in the classrooms.

There is data that has been in the educational research documents for decades that shows the correlation between good teachers and the quality of the college they attended and the grades they attained at that college.  To get these graduates, the school districts have to offer a highly competitive wage.  The communties themselves have to make a commitment relating to the allocation of funds—big showy sports programs, or top-of-the-line teaching talent?

One of the problems in American education is the continual redistricting. Instead of addressing the needs of individual schools, the deficits in one school may be “eliminated” by blending the students and teachers with another school that is higher performing.  The result is that schools are no longer part of the neighborhood, and the families in all neighborhoods involved tend to lose their emotional commitment to the school. 

Plus, the “new” school has to “rediscover the wheel” and come up with programs and plans to improve the performance of the newly-blended student body. 

Those parents who get fed up with the changes think that enrolling their children in private school will be the solution to the problem.  However, most families cannot afford the fees for private school. Many parents who have sacrificed financially to place their children in private school end up disappointed when the private school turns out to have had deficits that they did not anticipate.

The key to the issue is the parents. When schools are redistricted into larger, “factory model” schools, and the children are bussed out of the neighborhood, the emotional connection of the parents to the schools is lost.

The parents are deprived of the opportunity to be physically in the school, to visit in the classrooms, to help with school programs, to see the needs of the teachers, and let’s face it, to become aware of any educational deficits in the school program.

In these days of specialization, it is easy for the public to take the view that educators have been trained in four to six years of college to perform their jobs, there are supervisiors and coordinators in place to ensure that the instruction is appropriate, so why is it necessary for parents to “interfere” in an area that is not their expertise?  Some parents hold back for this reason, very often the parents whose children would most benefit from a strong relationship with school values.

The key for parents to keep in mind is that their child is the one directly affected by the day-to-day operation of the school. 

On the other side of the coin, only about one-third of the child’s day is spent in school.  The rest of the time the parent is directly responsible for providing the example of the value of education, and for providing stimulation for the child.  To use an American saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Our leaders are obligated to set examples of ethical principles and be role models of success within the political and educational systems.  The political leaders and educational leaders need to stop crying wolf that there is no money, when later it is revealed that funds were wasted and abused.  If people at the top lack a moral compass, how can there be motivation for our young people to strive to succeed academically?

As Sun Tzu said, we need to know ourselves and know our adversaries.

Parallels Between Fall of the Roman Empire and the Mongolian Empire

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Even though the Roman Empire and the Mongolian Empire were ascendant in different historical periods, there are similarities between the causes of their demise. Students of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War will easily perceive that the failure of these empires to follow the teachings of The Art of War is responsible for their fall.

Sun Tzu said that you must never over-stretch the military, you must win over the local people, you have to set up ethical governing bodies, and you have to treat POW’s well. Both of these empires failed to follow the principles.

In addition, the leadership at the very top of both empires was not unified. They both suffered from internal power struggles over the ultimate leadership of the empire.

Most Westerners know little about the rise and fall of the Mongolian Empire, so allow me to share a little history: During the Sung Dynasty in China, there was continual warfare between the “barbarians,” (the Kim), from the Northeast and the Chinese from the central part of China.

Meanwhile, there was ongoing warfare between a group from the northwest, the Ha, and the Chinese from the central part of China. Many of the beleagured people from the central parts of the country moved to a border area close to Mongolia to get away from the conflicts.  The highly educated and influential people were part of this group.

As a result, the Mongolian leader Ghengis Khan grew up with the Chinese, and grew to love and appreciate Chinese culture.  He also became familiar with the corruption and abusive acts of the  Chinese leaders. In other words, he came to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his Chinese neighbors.

Later on, when Ghengis Khan came into power over the Mongol people, he was able to spearhead infiltration into Chinese society and military because of his familiarity with it. It was a classic example of “know the enemy.”  He was perfectly equipped to set up double agents to learn all that he had to know about the Chinese government and military.  This enabled him to easily create an alliance with the Chinese and later used them to support his own campaigns against the warlike Kim people from the Northeast.

Once he had subdued the Kim people, Ghengis Khan turned his attention toward the Ha in the West, and again used his Chinese alliances to defeat the Ha.

When Ghengis Khan was finished with the Ha, he turned to the Chinese themselves and eventually took them over as well. He effectively destroyed the Sun Dynasty. The Chinese say that Ghengis Khan ” ’swallowed’  the Kim and destroyed the Sung Dynasty”. Ghenghis Khan then became the leader of the “Yuen [Mongolian] Empire.” 

Ghengis Khan then set out to convert his Mongolian people to the Chinese culture. The net result was that the Mongolian culture took second place to the Chinese culture, thereby eventually creating ultimate victory for the Chinese.

Ghengis Khan became so ambitious that he extended out militarily to the Middle East, Europe, and Russia.  Meanwhile, his government in China itself became corrupt and brutalized the dissidents within the country. This turned the people against his leadership.

By the time Ghengis Khan was killed in battle and his son took over, the people revolted against the Mongolian Empire and it was overturned. In China, “August 15″ is a famous revolution date. Festivals are still celebrated on this date.  Even today, people serve  “August Moon cakes” on August 15 to commemorate the secret communication via messages on slips of paper that were hidden in cakes that were served during the traditonal August Moon festival. The messages enabled the revolutionaries to coordinate their attack plans.

All the elements related to the rise of the Mongolian Empire reflect principles advocated by Sun Tzu, such as knowing the enemy, use of espionage, creation of fearful image, and initially, fair governance of the people.

By the same token, all the elements related to the fall of the Mongolian Empire reflect the points that Sun Tzu said to avoid: over-stretching the military, eventual brutality to the people, corruption and divisiveness in leadership, and finally such over-extension of terrirtoy that there no longer was a “Dao” of identity and purpose shared by both the people and the leaders.

What about the United States?  During World War II and afterward, the U.S. was perceived as an agent of positive help to others in the world. It became a Superpower.  Yet some of the governments that were assisted overseas became tainted by scandal and corruption,  for example, the Phillipines, Taiwan, and China.  In our news today we find reports of corruption in the governments of those countries that we wish to help the most.

And even within our country we see divisiveness in the central government and evidence of corruption in the financial sector. 

It would be wise to pay close attention to history, lest it be repeated.

A clear and easy-to-read translation of The Art of War, is included, along with the original Chinese text in The Art of War Applied to Wall Street. The book also contains assessements of some famous battles in modern history in terms of Sun Tuz’s principles.