December 17, 2004

An Introduction to Chinese Mythology and Folklore

The writing of mythological tales began in the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-420), when various writers, influenced by the alchemist's ideas and Taoist and Buddhist superstitions, were interested in inventing stories about gods and ghosts. Some of them show their unusual imagination and master of the written language.
In the middle of the Tang Dynasty many well-known writers and poets began story writing. Their stories incorporate a wide range of subject matter and themes, reflecting various aspects of human nature, human relations and social life. In form they are not short notes like the tales produced before them, but well-structured stories with interesting plots and vivid characters, often several thousand words in length. Among them are many tales whose main characters are gods, ghosts, or foxes.
In Song Dynasty, mythical stories show strong influence of Tang fiction, but hardly attain the Tang level. Large portions of the seven thousand stories are about gods, deities, fairies, and ghosts.
In the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties that followed the best-known works of fiction were novels in the vernacular, such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Pilgrimage to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber.
In the early period of the Qing Dynasty there appeared an anthology of short mythical stories written in the classical style-- Strange Stories from Happiness Studio by Pu Songling.
As with other cultures, Chinese mythical stories are tangled with history. The history of the long period before recorded history began is partly based on legend, which is interlaced with mythology. Such ancient heroes and leaders as Fuxi, Shennong, Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor) and Yu are both historical figures according to legend and important characters in mythical stories.
As in other cultures - myths reflect creation, the importance of true love and balance, self-sacrifice, encourage good deeds and warn against sin, rebellion versus oppression.
All these features add up, to one prevailing characteristic, China's mythical stories, either those created by the common people or those written by later scholars, are full of human feelings. Gods, ghosts, foxes and spirits are commonly described as living things with human qualities and human feelings. The inventors of myths describe gods the way they describe man, or treat them as if they were human, and give them with human nature.
There are also stories that try to illustrate fatalism, recreation, and all sorts of feudal ethical principles. This is only natural, because literary works inevitably reflect the beliefs of the age in which they are produced.
In style and art of writing, both early and later mythical stories are excellent. Classical Chinese is extremely concise. A few hundred, even a few dozen words are enough to tell a story complete with dialogue and behavioral and psychological descriptions.

Posted by HuiLin at 6:11 AM | Comments (1)

Chinese Minority

American is called “The Melt Pot”. It tolerates and accepts all different kinds of races form all over the world, such as African, Asian, Spanish and European. Unlike American, Chinese have a unique physical appearance. Although there are 56 different minorities groups with different customs, culture and languages in China, they are converging into one unique nation, regularly. We communicate in Mandarin. We do not have race issues on different race of people, when we are little, our education system always taught us that minorities groups are important, also we are lucky to have them in our country, and they need to be respected. Therefore in China racism is not really a huge issue, most of the cases we treat other minorities just like everyone else.

Posted by HuiLin at 5:00 AM | Comments (1)

Class

Before 80s people are scared to have money or even show they are wealthy. In the old China everything is belongs to the party, no one own anything individually. Therefore classes in China are not significantly important in Chinese society. In late 80’s and 90’s people start to realize there are differences between people, someone is richer or someone do have more social power, but classes never really affect people that much, different classes normally live around the same area, people in different classes talk to each other in the same way. In China for people to change their class is not as hard as people in US, we have our own standards for classes, and our classsystem is totally different from U.S.

Posted by HuiLin at 4:59 AM | Comments (1)

Technology in China

Technology changed dramatically in China for the last 20 years. Chinese government is very open - minded about new technologies, we develop most of them ourselves at the same time. we spend huge mount of money to purchase from over seas, it doesn’t matter the technology is from US or Europe as long they are good for China to grow government is interest in it. At the same time lots of companies from overseas bring to China lots of update information and technology, which belongs to part of their investment in China. China also encourage people to study overseas, even though Chinese government realize China is losing more than two billion every year on fees for students study overseas, the government knows that the knowledge people bring back to China is priceless.

Posted by HuiLin at 4:56 AM | Comments (0)

Chinese Economy-Open Door Policy

Due to natural resource and the developing gap among areas, the average of income people in southeast part of China are higher than rest of the other provinces. The 1980s “Open Door” policy gives 10 cities a series of economic privileges to develop, along with the east coast line. The initial purpose of these policies is make southeast areas prosperous first, and then the other cities can learn the differences and make efforts on developing on their own. The policy is successful used during the last two decades. However, it also brought negativities. With the increasing job opportunities and living condition in these open places, thousands of people from nationwide are crowd into these cities for job hunting. The most remarkable phenomenon in Chinese cities under economic reform is the growth of the temporary population in large and medium-sized cities. There are two types of temporary population. The first type is temporary residents. Unlike permanent resident, whose households are registered in the city, temporary residents are mainly people who obtain permission to stay in a city for a fixed period of time. They are mainly contract workers working in factories or on construction sites. The other type is the transient or floating population. The transient population is normally not reported in city statistics but temporary residents are reported. The presence of the transient population is alarming in some of the large cities. They have increased the crime rate and overloaded transport, infrastructure, and housing in the city. As social facilities are based mainly on permanent residents, the existence of a temporary population also creates great pressure on social facilities, transport, and housing.

The open-door policy is an essential element of the economic reform process. It encourages foreign investment and promotes foreign trade. Foreign investment has provided capital, new technology, managerial skill, and training for labor to China. It has introduced modern managerial system, business practices and a legal framework for conducting business transactions. In addition it has provided competition in the domestic market, and competition has forced domestic enterprises to become more efficient. Foreign trade has enabled the low-cost and high-quality labor in China to produce goods to be sold at higher prices in the world market, thus increasing the compensation to Chinese labor. It has also enabled the import of technology and high-quality capital goods for use in production in China, as well as the import of high-quality consumer goods. The availability of high-quality capital goods improves productive efficiency. The availability of high-quality consumer goods not only increases consumer welfare directly; it also acts as an important competitive force in the Chinese consumer market that stimulates the improvement of the quality of domestically manufactured products.

China's entry into the WTO will make China's door even more open. Both foreign investment and foreign trade are expected to increase. Foreign firms will begin to penetrate China's financial and telecommunication sectors. Trade will increase in both directions and Chinese tariffs will be lowered and Chinese goods will have better access to world markets open to members of the WTO. Using foreign competition to stimulate the domestic economy is a major objective in seeking to join WTO, The Chinese government is well aware of the economic and social-political costs and benefits of joining WTO. While it is pursuing institutional reforms in state-owned enterprises and the banking and financial sectors, it is aware that the reforms and the accompanying globalization of the Chinese economy have to proceed in an appropriate speed. If foreign competition enters China too rapidly, adjustments by Chinese producers and enterprises may be too severe to be socially desirable. The harmful effects of foreign competition are monitored by putting into practice gradually the reduction of import tariffs and the admission of foreign competition in the financial and communication sectors.

Posted by HuiLin at 4:51 AM | Comments (2)

The Lin Family Shop-A Chinese Melodrama

In order to respond to The Girl of Golden West, I am going to introduce a Chinese melodrama film “The Lin Family Shop”: A Chinese Melodrama of Capitalist Existentialism.

The Lin Family Shop was a production of the Mainland Chinese film industry under the Maoist regime, which had long subjected the content and style of films to political rather than artistic imperatives. The source of the film was a 1932 novel by Mao Dun.
The story itself is set in 1931, against the backdrop of a nation-wide anti-Japanese boycott following Japan's invasion of Manchuria. It is the season leading to the Chinese New Year, a time when debts are paid and money is on everybody's minds. Mr. Lin (Xie Tian) is a local shopkeeper in a small town in Zhejiang Province, comes under pressure to pay a bribe to the local official so that he can continue to sell Japanese goods by concealing them under Chinese brand names. In order to raise funds to pay the bribe and to settle his own debts, Mr. Lin undercuts his fellow business competitors and misuses the funds entrusted to him by small investors seeking to earn interest on their savings, so that he could keep running his shop.

The theme of the movie is that of the corrupting influence of money on the small businessmen in China at the point in its history when the country was under the triple oppression of imperialism, feudalism and capitalism”. The story depicted a society where “the big fish eats the small fish, and the small fish eats the shrimps”. Under the Maoist regime, the movie was supposed to impart the message that the Communist Party had redeemed China from the triple oppression and that the country would no longer experience the same kind of widespread economic crisis that abate the old society.
The basis of the drama in The Lin Family Shop is that of a class conflict between the small and big businessmen, a conflict that portrayed unambiguously the moral decay of capitalism. The form and style of the film is certainly much more sophisticated than that of the 1930s melodramas. As critics addressing the theme of “existential crisis” is the kind of nationalism in the 1930s – but the existential crisis addressed in The Lin Family Shop is the crisis of the failure of capitalism in China.

Here is a link to the story:

http://www.chineseliterature.com.cn/modernliterature/lin/lin1.htm

Posted by HuiLin at 3:08 AM | Comments (1)

December 15, 2004

Comments

Dr. Jerz:

I was trying to respond to your blog in “Huamn Right and Freedom in China”. But I couldn’t post it on. So I put it the place where it can be seen.


I don't think our government over control people's life. The system of law and economy were not integrated. Now life in China is getting better and better. The majority people are farmers. The improvement of the standard living is the most important thing to them. Emerson believes that a man should not be what he is not. In China, due to different culture and background, the freedom comes with restriction. That's the reason why i came to the United States to study. I would like to learn advantages of its culture and how the system works for its society. I also believe that the only way that I can improve myself is to keep learning other’s accomplishments to complement my shortcomings, so that I can better know who i am and what i am going to be. I believe the same theory applies to a country. We are building a better a society for the people. But our situation is different. Socialism have launched in China for 55 years. We have jumped from a feudalism country to a socialism country without having capitalism period according to Max theory. It will take a long time for China to become one of the most developments in the world, but i have faith in China.

Posted by HuiLin at 9:20 PM | Comments (6)

The Dream of Red Chamber

The Dream of Red Chamber was written by a Chinese novelist, Tsao-Hsueh-chin in the 18th century. It is the theme of China’s fascinating and best-loved story. It is a Chinese ancient and modern first wonderful novel. Tsao Hsueh-chin depicts typical events and characteristic characters under typical circumstances, therefore, the decadence of the aristocrats in feudal society and the oppression of innocent and powerless young girls, boys, and slaves are vividly and classically presented. With such a broad social scene as the novel's background, Tsao Hsueh-chin describes with great care and precision a great number of vivid characters, both positive and negative, some primary and others secondary. Some characters, such as Pao-yu, Tai-yu, Hsi-feng , and Granny Liu have become popular characters for readers all over the world.
Tsao Hsueh-chin is very skillful in depicting characters that possess diverse individualities. For instance, Hsueh Pan and Hsueh Pao-chai are brother and sister, yet the former is a typical stupid dictator, while the latter is a standard feudal maiden. The author is also very successful in adopting various approaches to depict different characters according to their different social positions. He makes a point of reinforcing the main facets of the characters through multiple plots and from different angles, such as Pao-yu's love and sympathy for girls; Tai-yu's pride and aloofness, as well as her sentimental character; Pao-chai's hypocrisy, smoothness, and crookedness; Wang Hsi-feng 's wisdom and cruelty. All the features in their characters are described in remarkable, striking situations to leave unforgettable impressions on readers.
The novel gained much praise because of its artistic structure. But in order to fully present the rich and complicated social life, meet the demands of the development of characterization, and give out the purpose of exposing the conflicts and struggles within the Chia family, Tsao Hsueh-chin's novel gives special attention to the plot of the love story between Pao-yu and Tai-yu and to the waning prosperity, as well as the moral decline, of the Chia family. All the other characters and all of the many complicated events are related to these two main plot lines.

The novel was written in the 18th century, which was beyond the early 19th century. It is closely observed portraits of women, in particular, transformed the traditional Chinese novel and also challenged traditional gender norms.

The Chinese feudalism society is specially brutal to the woman. As we know, women were oppressed by the system rather than male. Under that system, women were dominated by male. Men outdo women. Women were treated as toys and tournaments.
Feminine liberty movements were inevitable of conflicting with men, though men were not the main object to struggle with.

Before the Dream of red Chamber, Chinese women have no respect and right in society. At that time, Tsao-Hsueh-chin was the only one who could see and appreciate women. He became the one that spoke out for women in his novel. Feminine tragedy had been played on the stage for hundreds of years in Chinese history. It was not occasional that Tsao was the first writer that pointed out it. He understood women and treated them with respects. He had a deep and insightful observation.

To be continue...

Posted by HuiLin at 7:09 AM | Comments (3)

Human Rights and Freedom in China

Mark Twain has been accused by some of being a "racist writer," whose writing is offensive to black readers, deserves no place on today's bookshelves. Huck Finn is a fantastic example of the racist style Mark Twain brings to the readers. "Miss Watson’s nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to magic with it." This depiction is a negative one because it portrays as ignorant. This common form of racism is why black people want this book banned. In today’s age, the ideas of racism have definitely changed. Slavery is no more, and even the use of such language as "nigger," is considered offensive. But, there are still remnants of racism today such as the KKK, but nothing as compared to those during the times of slavery. I believe Mark Twain was trying to depict not only how life was in those times, but also how bad it could turn. Even though Huck Finn is fictional, it deserves a spot next to the biography of Martin Luther King Jr.

America is called a “The Melt Pot”. It tolerates and accepts different cultures. People have freedom and rights to speak out their opinions about the social issues, along with sexism, racism, and classim. I came here to study because the United States is the most developed country in this world and its systems of law and economy are all very well designed.

The political and social reality in China is actually more complex than conveyed by press reports. It is true the government has periodically launched new policies against carefully selected targets, such as prominent rebel leaders attempting to form coalitions with disaffected workers in state-owned enterprises. However, there is an argument that the expansion of market forces is bound to increase civic and political liberty even in the political democratization, China's rapid economic development has significantly liberalized its political system.

Compared to U.S, China is a developing country, the system of law and economy is not integrated. Taking the side of the situation in China, the majority of China's population is farmers. The improvement of their standard of living is the most significant human rights protection. China has made rapid progress in its transition to a market economy since it began economic reforms in 1979. Unlike most developing and post-communist countries that experienced painful recessions during transition, China was able to restructure and liberalize its economy without a fall in output that made reform policies politically unpopular in those countries. Here is a research I found. On the eve of "Human Rights Day 2004," Liu Wenzhong, a professor at the Foreign Affairs College and executive council member of China Society for Human Rights Studies, said the media's sharp criticism demonstrates that the human rights protection awareness of Chinese citizens and media have been enhanced and the country's governmental affairs have become more transparent. Although progress has been made, China's human rights cause is still facing up to severe challenges.

Posted by HuiLin at 12:15 AM | Comments (3)

December 14, 2004

Yellow Wall-paper: From my perspective

I did some research about Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Like the woman in "Yellow-Wallpaper", Gilman suffered from severe depression after giving birth to her only child. She hated the confines of marriage and ended up leaving her husband. She disagreed with the constraints that society placed on women at that time. At that time, women’s social status is much lower than men. Her husband suggests that writing is dangerous to her health, but it is really only dangerous for him because it may lead to her being economically independent, and he might lose his control over her.
From a non-American viewpoint, I found that there are similarities between Chinese women and American women in terms of equality. Before 1949, China was still ruled by King Dynasty. Women were not allowed to step into society. Most of women were not educated at all. They were confined to stay inside of the house before marriage. After getting marriage, they were pretty much considered functioning as a child-maker and doing the housework. Even in some loyal families, women were not allowed to join the conversation with men. Women were viewed as a slut, if they had a conversation with strange men. Some of them may be considered as “Adultery”. After “Cultural Revolution” in 1976, with the feminist movement emerging, more and more women went to school to get education. They were attaining respects and acknowledgements by the society. Nowadays, in China, a company must have certain percentage of women employees bounded by law. Not only do they have the same equality as men in the workplace, but also they tend to be economically independent in the family.
However, that are still some men think that most of women were supposed to stay at home and do the cooking, cleaning, and raising of children. I would not say it is women’s duty to do the housework. I had a conversation with some international students in the dinning hall, the other day. It is common that women do the housework all the time in some countries. We agreed that there was a tendency in many countries, that women should so the cooking, cleaning, and raising child, and let men bring the bread home. Some people believe this kind of tendency followed by a tradition. But others think it is sexism, because the world is still in male’s dominance. Gender issue is a big social issue today. In Chinese culture, a woman metaphorically means water, which stand for tenderness and weakness. The society would accept a tender woman rather than a tough one as a man. Women are born to be cared by his husband and dependent on him. Once a woman is economically independent, a man would lose his control over his wife. But my age group is more educated than our parent generation. So we have a better understanding of what equality is. It will take a long time to trim down the problem. I think it is a good sign for us, because with more influence from developed nations, such as US, more and more people will be aware of this issue. It will conduct us to its solution.

Posted by HuiLin at 8:36 PM | Comments (3)