The Chinese Lion Dog and the Flea

My Shih Tzu, Chan, has had a problem with fleas recently. Being a dog of Chinese descent, I wanted to give traditional Chinese medicine a try, so I began to look into the different options for treatment.

Shih Tzu means “Lion Dog” in Chinese because they were bred to look like lions. In fact they feature in a lot of ancient Chinese art, like the porcelain statue of a Shih Tzu that my mother keeps on her mantle piece. It’s not quite my cup of tea but I have to admit the quality of the craftsmanship is exceptional.

Dogs and Fleas

It came as a bit of a shock to me when I noticed the first flea on Chan’s body. I always thought of myself as a very diligent pet owner, always keeping up to date with his worming and flea prevention treatments.

But when I saw the flea crawling around on his stomach I realized I’d been too complacent by giving him regular baths and thinking that would take care of any fleas that might be lurking.

If you want to keep the fleas at bay you need to use some proper control methods as prevention.

Natural Dog Flea Treatment

I had experimented with various natural Chinese Medicine treatments in the past for a number of ailments on my dogs, but came to realise that they were of limited use in the treatment of fleas.

Garlic is usually quoted as the best Chinese Medicine treatment for fleas. It does seem to help with, “digestive accumulations”, but against fleas it seems to have almost no effect whatsoever.

Lavender is a good deodorant for a smelly animal and can help to soothe stressed pets, but its use as an insect repellent is vastly exaggerated if you ask me. It did nothing to reduce the flea infestation that Chan was suffering from.

Somebody had mentioned tea tree oil to me in the past, too. This had no effect on the number of fleas present on my itchy pooch but did seem to soothe the irritation caused by the bites somewhat.

Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs

After a lot of searching around and asking for advice from the vet, I ended up using a spot on treatment called Frontline for Dogs, which had the problem under control very quickly indeed.

I also used a flea shampoo but my vet has since told me that there was really no need because the Frontline was more than enough to see the fleas off.

I also had to vacuum the whole house, paying special attention to the areas where my dog sleeps. This was to suck up any stray fleas that might have been waiting to re-infest poor Chan after the initial treatment. I also washed his bedding; some people said I should have treated the patio area out back as well but I thought that was overkill and I haven’t noticed any re-infestation problems.

I continue to use regular treatments of Front line each month and Chan’s itches have become a thing of the past.

So, if your pet gets unwanted guests setting up home in his coat, you know what to do. Get hold of some Front line and say goodbye to the little horrors.

If it works on Chinese fleas, it’s bound to work on fleas where you are.

Rebranding China

The People’s Republic of China has kept its name but the unelected government has been busy changing China’s image in the world. It doesn’t make economic sense to be regarded as a hard-line Communist country keen to demonstrate the fairness of a workers’ paradise, and keen to agitate a world revolution.

The cult of personality that surrounded Mao Tse Tung and to a lesser extent Deng Shao Ping has gone. Instead the leadership of the country changes hands every few years. Not democratically, of course, but the illusion of a popular choice and accountability is fostered by this policy. The leaders no longer wear utilitarian worker’s suits; rather they don smart suits and ties.

The ideologues controlling the policy of the country have been replaced by technocrats who are more focused on the bottom line than on following the dictates of Marxism, Stalinism or Maoism. Officially, there is very little mention of communism.

Now there is private ownership. Even foreigners can buy land in China. There is a stock market that is partly opened to the world. The currency is still artificially pegged but this is advantageous in keeping the Yuan cheap enough to keep the all-important exporting sector going.

Not only are the people of China allowed more freedom of movement within China but they are also issued passports. If you go to Khao Lak, Koh Samui, London, Tokyo, Los Angles, Rio de Janeiro and many other places in the world you might be surprised at how many Chinese tourists and business men you will see. While the rest of the world feels the pinch from the 2008 financial meltdown, China has been largely unaffected.

The 1 child policy is still in place, with notable exceptions for a few ethnic minorities and for Han Chinese colonizing Tibet. However, the official line has softened. The posters focus on the benefits of the small family rather than threatening fines, eviction etc. (See Guardian 27th Feb. 2012).

The poster boy of the revolution used to be Lei Feng. He was a soldier who tirelessly worked for the revolution, for the party and for his fellow comrades, Mao famously said, “Learn from Lei Feng.” The new images of Lei Feng show him with a floppy haircut looking far from the man of stone he used to be portrayed as.

While at home economic reforms have been hailed as a form of liberalism, and the creation of a thriving middle class as a good thing, foreign policy has never been more aggressive. The Chinese are stepping up their actions in their claims for disputed waters with Japan and Korea. Recently Chinese fishing boats in a military fashion clashed with Korean coast guards resulting in one Korean official being bludgeoned to death. The Chinese have broken an agreement with Japan and started searching for oil on the very edge of their territorial waters.

The Beijing Olympics saw China exert the full extent of its political power to get people arrested all over Europe who protested China’s occupation of Tibet.

In Taiwan there is a large move away from the independence stance of Chen Shui Bian to the pro-China Ma Ying Jeou.

All over the developing world China are buying friends and natural resources. They are the only country with the funds to do so. America is weakened and distracted by two foolish wars that are simultaneously winding down in what looks like defeat. America needs China’s money as well, and has no stomach to sling mud at its new superpower rival. After all, China has rebranded itself and the old fear of communism just doesn’t seem to work when it comes to China. Besides, compared to North Korea, China seems like a model

Expecting Gold

Chinese newspaper Global Times confidently claimed on the verge of the opening of the Rio 2016 Olympics that Chinese would get 30 to 36 medals. It is now day 12 and China have 17 golds while Team GB have 19 golds.

Since 1984 when China made their Olympic debut they have amassed over 200 golds and have never finished below the UK in the medal rankings. They might still pip Team GB to second place but now it looks impossible to make the 30 gold mark. The humiliation of falling so short and possibly not even making second place is something Chinese media has been trying to manage.

One approach has been to recycle the common Olympic mantra that it is the taking part that matters; showing spirit. State media CCTV has run lengthy stories about r Ygor Coelho de Oliveira from Brazil and Ethiopian swimmer Robel Kiros Habte who have become crowd favourites despite being very much off medal winning form.

This approach might be in line with Olympic rhetoric but does not sit easily with the nationalistic fervour that the state has been fomenting for over a decade. This generation of Chinese have invested a lot in the notion of Chinese superiority in terms of sport, culture and economics. They cannot be so philosophical as to believe that the taking part is enough. They are baying for success, and when it is not forthcoming they turn to spite. On Twitter Chinese people have been blaming judges for poor decisions. They are even blaming Rio. How a city is responsible for China underperforming is unclear.

It is not just the poor medal count, it is also the fact that Great Britain with a population tiny compared to China is beating them that really hurts. Being beaten by a capitalist country who kept Hong Kong for over a century is hard to swallow for those used to seeing the continual triumph of the Chinese communist party, the continual upward swing of prosperity and economic might.

People in China need to un-brainwash themselves if that is possible. The achievements of Chinese athletes are theirs and theirs alone; it reflects their ability and prowess, not the might of a nation.

What the diminishing medal return demonstrates is the rocky transition China is undergoing from state sponsored sports training to private training. The same dip was experienced by Russia and in particular East Germany. While communism’s record for helping relieve poverty and inequality can be questioned, the ideology’s success in nurturing sport talent for propaganda purposes cannot be doubted.

The New Gateway to South East Asia

Over recent years there has been a softening of travel regulations in South East Asia. This has come at a similar time to a reversal on the former ban of travel overseas by citizens of the People’s Republic of China. There has been a drive on China’s part to form stronger economic ties with South East Asia. It is a region with strategic significance for China.

The first thing that should be noted is that China has a border with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The Chinese authorities have been very keen on securing their borders and reclaiming any land in dispute. They don’t have any land disputes with South East Asian countries.

Moreover, these countries unlike India don’t pose any real economic, cultural or ideological threat to China. Myanmar is controlled by the army with a window-dressing form of democracy. Thailand is currently under military rule and in an unofficial civil war for control with the establishment and army lined up against a populist party funded by the shady figure of Thaksin Shinawatra. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos remain communist but no longer isolationist.

In short China feels at home in the political climate of South East Asia. No government in South East Asia is much interested in a liberal agenda and unlikely to complain about China as long as it keeps to its borders.

And so it has. Instead China has been making massive inroads to improve travel infrastructure in the region. In the south western province of Xishuangbanna there has been massive forest clearance and the creation of roads to Laos and Myanmar.

In parallel with this road building, China has been keen to invest in South East Asian countries and has been keen to partner up on train line improvements to get the flow of consumer goods from China into South East Asian markets and at the same time bring out the valuable natural resources in the region, primarily rare hardwoods and timber.

It will take a while before Cambodian trains and Vietnamese trains are properly connected to Thailand. However, these 3 countries have plenty of track and rolling stock. Myanmar also has rail assets. Laos less so but is not starting from scratch. The obvious goal is to have a large circular train circuit that goes from Bangkok to Siam Reap in Cambodia and then travels on to Ho Chi Minh City before heading north up the Vietnamese coast to Yunnan province in China. The railway would also have routes going East-West going from Vietnam into Laos and then into both Thailand and Myanmar.

There has already been an explosion of Chinese tourism in Thailand. There is no reason why this cannot be further expanded by rail links. Moreover, as Chinese tourists become braver it is likely that they will want to explore farther afield than simply Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand. They will want to go to Angkor Wat, to Luang Prabang, to Mandalay, to Saigon, to the forests in the north and the islands in the south.

China doesn’t belong to the ASEAN grouping but it sees the 4.4 million square miles that this area represents as being a gold mine of natural resources and a great place to flex financial muscle and to gain strategic assets and debts. This is the area with which China is keen to connect.