Partisan Fight and Two Dynasty Collapses in China’s History

Seeing the US’s partisan fight unfolding in front of everybody, I feel I need write a piece of history from China’s Song Dynasty (BC 960-1279) and Ming Dynasty (BC 1368-1644). During both dynasties later stage, both experienced severe partisan flight which accelerated the demise of both governments. Mongolia invaded and killed Song Dynasty and Manchu invaded and killed Ming Dynasty.

The parties in the fights both declared they were fighting for the best of the country’s interest. In reality, they were some kind of coups fighting for the establishment’s interest only ( There were definitely some positive outcomes from the fight without doubt). When the outside forces invaded and they still could not unite such that both of them were destroyed at the demise of the dynasty.

Partisan flight in China’s Song Dynasty (Year 960-1279)

The high echelons of the political scene during the Song dynasty left a notorious legacy of partisanship and strife among factions of state ministers. The careers of low-grade and middle-grade officials were largely secure; in the high ranks of the central administration, “reverses of fortune were to be feared,” as Sinologist historian Jacques Gernet put it.[97] The Chancellor Fan Zhongyan (989–1052) introduced a series of reforms between 1043 and 1045 that received heated backlash from the conservative element at court. Fan set out to erase corruption from the recruitment system by providing higher salaries for minor officials, in order to persuade them not to become corrupt and take bribes.[129] He also established sponsorship programs that would ensure officials were drafted on their merits, administrative skills, and moral character more than their etiquette and cultured appearance.[129] However, the conservatives at court did not want their career paths and comfortable positions jeopardized by new standards, so they rallied to successfully halt the reforms.[129]

Inspired by Fan, the later Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1086) implemented a series of reforms in 1069 upon his ascendance to office. Wang promulgated a community-based law enforcement and civil order known as the Baojia system. Wang Anshi attempted to diminish the importance of landholding and private wealth in favor of mutual-responsibility social groups that shared similar values and could be easily controlled by the government.[130] Just as scholar-officials owed their social prestige to their government degrees, Wang wanted to structure all of society as a mass of dependents loyal to the central government.[130] He used various means, including the prohibition of landlords offering loans to tenants; this role was assumed by the government.[130] Wang established local militias that could aid the official standing army and lessen the constrained state budget expenses for the military.[131] He set up low-cost loans for the benefit of rural farmers, whom he viewed as the backbone of the Song economy.[131] Since the land tax exacted from rural farmers filled the state treasury’s coffers, Wang implemented a reform to update the land-survey system so that more accurate assessments could be gathered.[131] Wang removed the mandatory poetry requirement in the civil service exams, on the grounds that many otherwise skilled and knowledgeable Confucian students were being denied entry into the administration.[131] Wang also established government monopolies for tea, salt, and wine production.[131] All of these programs received heavy criticism from conservative ministerial peers, who believed his reforms damaged local family wealth which provided the basis for the production of examination candidates, managers, merchants, landlords, and other essential members of society.[130] Historian Paul J. Smith writes that Wang’s reforms—the New Policies—represented the professional bureaucratic elite’s final attempt to bring the thriving economy under state control to remedy the lack of state resources in combating powerful enemies to the north—the Liao and Western Xia.[132]

Winston W. Lo argues that Wang’s obstinate behavior and inability to consider revision or annulment of his reforms stemmed from his conviction that he was a latter-day sage.[133] Confucian scholars of the Song believed that the ‘way’ (dao) embodied in the Five Classics was known by the ancient sages and was transmitted from one sage to another in an almost telepathic manner, but after it reached Mencius (c. 372–c. 289 BC) there was no one worthy of accepting the transference of the dao.[134] Some believed that the long dormant dao could be revived if one were truly a sage; Lo writes of Song Neo-Confucianists, “it is this self-image which explained their militant stand in relation to conventional ethics and scholarship.”[134] Wang defined his life mission as restoring the unity of dao, as he believed it had not departed from the world but had become fragmented by schools of Confucian thought, each one propagating only half-truths.[135] Lo asserts that Wang, believing that he was in possession of the dao, followed Yi Zhi and the Duke of Zhou‘s classic examples in resisting the wishes of selfish or foolish men by ignoring criticism and public opinion.[135] If unflinching certitude in his sagehood and faultless reforms was not enough, Wang sought potential allies and formed a coalition that became known as the New Policies Group, which in turn emboldened his known political rivals to band together in opposition to him.[136] Yet factional power struggles were not steeped in ideological discourse alone; cliques had formed naturally with shifting alliances of professional elite lineages and efforts to obtain a greater share of available offices for one’s immediate and extended kinship over vying competitors.[137] People such as Su Shi also opposed Wang’s faction on practical grounds; for example, Su’s critical poem hinting that Wang’s salt monopoly hindered effective salt distribution.[131]

Wang resigned in 1076 and his leaderless faction faced uncertainty with the death of its patron emperor in 1085. The political faction led by the historian and official Sima Guang (1019–1086) then took control of the central government, allied with the dowager empress who acted as regent over the young Emperor Zhezong of Song (r. 1085–1100). Wang’s new policies were completely reversed, including popular reforms like the tax substitution for corvée labor service.[131] When Emperor Zhezong came of age and replaced his grandmother as the state power, he favored Wang’s policies and once again instituted the reforms in 1093.[138][139] The reform party was favored during the reign of Huizong (r. 1100–1125) while conservatives were persecuted—especially during the chancellery of Cai Jing (1047–1126).[139] As each political faction gained advantage over the other, ministers of the opposing side were labeled “obstructionist” and were sent out of the capital to govern remote frontier regions of the empire. This form of political exile was not only politically damaging, but could also be physically threatening. Those who fell from favor could be sent to govern areas of the deep south where the deadly disease malaria was prevalent.[131]

Partisan flight in China’s Ming Dynasty (Year 1368-1644)

The Donglin movement (Chinese: 東林黨; pinyin: Dōnglíndǎng; Wade–Giles: Tung-lin-tang) was an ideological and philosophical movement of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties of China.

The movement was established in 1604, during the Wanli era of Ming, when Gu Xiancheng (1550–1612), a Grand Secretary, and Gao Panlong (高攀龍, 1562–1626), a scholar, restored the Donglin Academy in Wuxi with the financial backing of local gentry and officials.[1]

The motivation for restoring the Academy was concern about the state of the bureaucracy and its inability to bring about improvement. The movement represented a resort to moral Confucian traditions as a means of arriving at fresh moral evaluations.[2] Thereafter the Academy became a centre of dissent for public affairs in the late Ming and early Qing periods. Many supporters of Donglin were found in the bureaucracy and it became deeply involved in factional politics. The movement got momentum when the Donglin Academy in Wuxi was joined by the academies of the nearby Wujin and Yixing.[3]

Many of the academy’s creators were among the mandarins who a few years previously had forced the Wanli Emperor to appoint his first-born son, Zhu Changluo (the future Taichang Emperor) as the heir to the throne, even though the emperor himself would rather have the throne go to Zhu Changxun (the emperor’s son from his favorite concubine, Lady Zheng).[4]

During the reign of the Tianqi Emperor, Donglin opposition to the eunuch Wei Zhongxian resulted in the closure of the Academy in 1622 and the torture and execution of its head, Yang Lian, and five other members in 1624.[5] The accession of the Chongzhen Emperor restored the fortunes of the Donglin faction.[6] Later during Chongzhen’s reign, Donglin partisans found themselves opposed to the Grand Secretary Wen Tiren, eventually arranging his dismissal in 1637.

The Donglin movement represented growth of the literati influence on the political life in late Imperial China. In this, it was inherited by the Suzhou-centered Fushe movement (復社) before the fall the Ming dynasty, and by the Changzhou School of Thought during the Qing. China’s defeat in the Opium War (1839–42) served for revival of interest to the Donglin movement, as a prominent instance of literati solidarity.[7]

The arrogance from some media and some reporters

I attended a Committee of 100 panel where a 25 year (?) veteran, Washington Post Associate Editor and Columnist David Ignatius shared his perspective on reports covering China. Just shared several of his responses.

  1. When asked why Gordon Chang with no credibility(The author of The-Coming-Collapse-of-China, forever) can consistently gain top focus and prime coverage on the main media,  Mr. Ignatius first pretended that he never heard that Gordon Chang ( that is a lie, right?). Then after asked by the host whether there was a bias from the media, he murmured he did not know.
  2. Then the panel host George Koo asked David why so much negativity covered by US media on China, instead the 2017 C-100 survey found out that the US general public had a favorable view on China than what the reporters and media had?

Mr. Ignatius said he did not care about others point of view  and he just wanted to report what he was interested in and what he cared.  And that was he was taught about what a true journalism was. (literally the exact word of his answer)

I found an article on titled: “‘Fake News’ And How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story On Russian Hacking Of The Power Grid”,


Seeking Common Ground

I attended the C-100 (Committee of 100) Annual Conference 2017 as the next generation leader last week.  I know C-100 for a long time since it is often quoted both in US and China’s media for its great contribution to bridge US and China, especially during difficult times.  I strongly agree with C-100’s mission. However, I feel it is somewhat detached from the first generation Chinese immigration community.   The website is :

C-100 background:

The Committee of 100 is a membership organization of Chinese Americans dedicated to the spirit of excellence and achievement in America.

Current members include I.M. Pei, master architect; Yo-Yo Ma, renowned cellist; Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube; Leroy Chiao, NASA Astronaut; David Ho, AIDS researcher and 1996 Time Man of the Year; and Michelle Kwan, figure skating champion. Membership to the Committee of 100 is by invitation.

The Committee of 100 is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit headquartered in New York City, and has active regional chapters in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Beijing.

C-100 mission:

The Committee’s purpose is to provide leadership and act as a constructive force in the dual mission of:

  • Promoting the full participation of all Chinese Americans in American society and acting as a public policy resource for the Chinese-American community
  • Promoting constructive dialogue and relationships between the peoples and leaders of the United States and Greater China.

Here is the picture for the opening ceremony.

Please comment against more divide on race and ethnicity

Some friend shared “Revision of Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity: Proposals From Federal Interagency Working Group” with me. The link location is You can comment by clicking at the top right corner.

I can see more divide on race and ethnicity. Luckily they are not talking about culture yet. From my own experience and my participation on OneHoward group meeting several week ago, I definitely believe sometimes culture difference is larger than race or ethnicity difference. This more division will not create harmony everybody try to seek and dream.

We should boycott this kind of absurdity. This is in my mind: five groups– Native Americans, White Americans, Black Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans. Sure the best is just one group: Americans.

Take a look at the following proposals. I moved white American to the top just in case more divisions should be created, for example, Russian Americans, or Jewish Americans?

Their division on race and ethnicity are:

  1. For white Americans,  dividing into German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, and French.
  2. For native Americans, dividing into into Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village or Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government, and Nome Eskimo Community
  3. For Asian Americans,  dividing into Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and an “other Asian” category?
  4. For Black or African American, dividing into African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Somali.
  5. For Hispanic or Latino, dividing into separately Mexican or Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, and Colombian
  6. For Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders,  dividing into Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Tongan, Fijian, and Marshallese.

If following this trend, my wife and I will be classified into two race/ethnicity one day because we speak different dialects since we can always find ways to differentiate or discriminate people.

Where is the end? Look at another reference how California’s new law AB-1726. divide Asian Americans into 25 groups. See my original post:


US warmongers starting again

Shame on today’s New York Times headline: A ‘Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion’ in North Korea.

It seems in my short memory for any US presidents, they need start a new war.  I do not read Fox News at all and I believe they probably has been promoting this North Korean War for Trump for a while already.  Now even New York Times are starting the war mongering propaganda so early, partially because they deliberately want to push Trump into this non-winning war such that people can look at Trump presidency as a total joke as they predicted. Hey, come on, North Korea is so far away from USA. They have not invaded or bombed USA for the last 60 years. There is no comparison between Cuba missile crisis and North Korea at all.

If North Korea is really bad, they will fall by themselves eventually. If they dare strike, we have the capability to strive back and hard.  Furthermore, all the US media portraits NK leader really really bad. In realty, it is probably not so accurate. To rule a country like NK, cruelty and dictatorship are not enough and he certainly still benefits from the heritage from his father. One day those heritage will be lost and that is the moment his rule will collapse.  If US wants to destroy North Korea, they should be obligated to rebuild them and we see the failure in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.  One failure after another failure, and those shameless people still ask for another failure in North Korea.

For any presidents, senators, or congressmen, if they approve a war, at least, they should send their kids to the front line, fighting there, not cowardly sitting back in the air-conditional room defending democracy.  Or financially, they should donate their one-year salary to the war spending at least.

Interesting or not surprisingly, on the war effort, the democrats are joining Trump’s bandwagon.

Many ignorant people do not know basic facts at all. If North Korea just dump all their ammunition into South Korea which is just 50 miles away, the whole South Korea Capital Seoul will be destroyed and Korean peninsular history will be rewritten at the cost of North Korea’s disappearance. Unfortunately, South Korea is not on the decision table at all.

But who wins?

Volunteering and activism

I was nominated as Howard County Volunteer of The Year on Wednesday night. I really appreciate CA chair Andy Stack’s nomination and Jean Xu and Clarence Lam’s endorsement. Although I did not win the award, I was very excided to learn so many volunteers and their good heart and dedicated work to help our community.

I volunteer because I want to help and I want to change. It is easier to lead by example. I want to lead this new wave of Chinese Americans to volunteer and participate into the community in all aspects. As long as each of us contribute a little bit and continue to get involved, we will make a huge difference.

There are some differences and commonality between volunteer and activism.  One key common component is our passion for the cause we work for. In this new era with social media, everyone can be a leader and follower and advance the community’s common interests. The only difficulty is the indifference such that we get disconnected with the real world and dillusionally live in our small comfort houses.

I was shouted “Go back to China”

I was shouted “Go back to China”

 By Dr. Chao Wu, Clarksville,

On Monday, March 20th 2017, I submitted this article to Columbia Flier ( Howard County Times) for publication. Since it was not published by them in two weeks, I am sharing here now.

Recently, several incidents of Indian, Chinese, Sikh Americans being murdered occurred around country. It is a sad reality we are facing and it is challenging us to unite our diverse community.

As a Chinese immigrant, I have experienced racism first hand when I was studying at University of Maryland, College Park. One spring day in 2007, while I was riding my bike to school on Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, I was yelled at “go back to China” and more than ten school girls (little and not too little) threw stones at me. I was scared but brave enough at the time to shout back: “How do you know I am from China”?  That was my first encounter with blatant racism.  Later my friends and coworkers told me that I should never argue with them because they may have guns with them.

What did I do? I told my colleagues and friends about this incident, then quit riding to school. I studied hard and worked hard. Life moves on. I am now living in one of the best counties, raising a family and serving the community.

History will repeat itself unless we are vigilant. I am well read about the history of the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment camps. I also understand the difficulties that many new immigrants are facing because I am one of them.  At the same time, we should be careful not to call all accidents as racism which will negatively dilute the message and not help facilitate discussions. Issue based discussions are much easier to start and can actually result in something useful since people will fight to the death about religion and ideology.

Furthermore, we should not just pander history, which unfortunately is very complicated, and sometimes very cruel. Instead, we should focus on thinking forward – on how to provide better education, create more jobs, and how to build a harmonious community.