Chinasage : All about China

We hope China sage's information will be of use to everyone with an interest in the World's most important nation. We cover China's provinces, history, language and traditions. China sage remains under active development; please check back regularly to look at the revised and expanded information.

Events for 17th Oct

1919 Zhao Ziyang born 1919 (98 years ago)

Fact of the day

Qinghai
The province of Qinghai is named after the lake that stands on its eastern edge. It is the largest lake in China and is at a high altitude of 10,500 feet [3,200 meters]. Its name means blue-green lake. The salty waters of the lake (it has no outflow) is home to many birds.
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Time in China

Current weather

clearBeijing weather
Clear
50 ° F / 10 ° C
Oct 16th 2017 at 7:30pm UCT
Wunderground data source

We're building an exciting new information source all about China.

We found other sites about China were poorly structured, too detailed (such as Wikipedia) or just too old-fashioned. What we thought was needed was a carefully constructed set of pages with strict editorial control so that links and pages are consistent, up-to-date and easy to navigate without clutter.

Our first release included descriptions of each province that makes up China, this was followed by the dynasties that follow China's history and we are now adding all sorts of features on traditions and culture. We hope you find the site the best place to start your study of China. We plan to release further pages on news, key figures, cultural background and anything else we hope you will find relevant to understanding this vast country.

If you think you know about China, check out your knowledge with our Quiz section, all the answers to the questions are somewhere on the web site. Our source section has full reviews and descriptions of over a hundred books about China that have been used as reference material for these pages.

We chose the name “Chinasage” for the web site because this can be read as either “china sage” ( zhōng guó yīng míng) or “china's age” ( zhōng guó shí dài) , which promotes our new knowledge resource at a time when China has come of age in the World.


Tue 12th Sep

Mulberry bark money

Among the most influential inventions of the Chinese has been paper money. While the rest of the world was lugging around silver and gold China had made the break in the Tang dynasty around 800CE. In China the problem was that normal coinage was in standard bronze discs. The coins had a hole in the middle so they could be strung together in groups of 100. A string of cash was a heavy and inaccurate unit of currency (some traders would claim a 'complete' string which would only have 65 coins). How much better to carry around IOUs rather than cash? As long as the IOU was unequivocally signed by a reputable merchant it was just as valuable as thecoins it represented.

The problem of metal coins was particularly acute when the government forced Sichuan province to use iron coins. As soon as the government saw that the system of IOUs was working well they of course stepped in and made it a government monopoly.

At the same time counterfeiters threatened the new currency and for that reason in the reign of Kublai Khan (1279-1294) Marco Polo witnessed the use of money in the form of strips of black mulberry bark which was then marked with the red seal of the Emperor (only the Emperor was allowed to write in vermillion ink). The bark had to be specially processed and so the notes were hard to forge. An even rarer form of currency had been attempted much earlier in the Han dynasty (175 BCE) when Emperor Wudi introduced money made from pieces of hide from rare white stags.

As the issuing of paper money did not have to be backed by actual silver and gold the modern system was born where a government can just print money to get itself out of (or into!) financial difficulties.

money
A note for 1000 cash issued between 1368 and 1399. 34x22.5 cms. Printed in black on paper with red seal impressions for extra security. “By the time this note was issued, seal impressions and printing, once identical, had become as clearly distinguished as our postmark and postage stamp are today.” (Carter) Image by Chris55 available under a Creative Commons license

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The State of China Atlas

book cover Geographical information can be dull and hard to interpret, this heavily illustrated book brings the subject to life with many colorful graphs and diagrams. There have been a number of published editions to keep the information up-to-date. It covers all the main economic and geographic data as well as government organization and the legal system. A very useful way to see how China compares to other countries and how different are the regions that make up China.
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Dragon Boat

The Dragon boat festival commemorates Qu Yuan 343 - 278 BCE an incorruptible public official who drowned himself in defiance of widespread corruption. The festival has older roots as it is associated with the dragons that ruled the waters.
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Nixon visit

Richard Nixon, US President visited Mao Zedong in February 1972. The visit marked the end of a long period of isolation for China and hostility with the U.S.. John Adams wrote an opera about the visit called ‘Nixon in China ’.
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Symbols of China

book cover A lavishly illustrated book covering all aspects of China not just 'symbols': traditions, scenic sights, festivals, arts, legends and famous figures. The text descriptions are a little short but it does give a very good general overall coverage and the photographs and illustrations are very good.
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China Sage Site updates

Here are the last few updates made to the web site. For older entries please visit our site updates page.

Fri 12th May

For much of the last two thousand years China was by any standard the most advanced nation on Earth, and yet by the early twentieth China was classed as a third world country needing massive food aid to alleviate famine. The reason why China did not maintain a lead in science and technology has puzzled scholars; in particular it was Joseph Needham who posed his famous question ‘Science in general in China - Why did it not develop??. Many answers have been proposed but none of them seem to totally fit the bill.

Fri 17th Mar

We've been through all the web pages and updated the list of references. We continue to receive requests for citation and it is important that we clearly present all our sources. We found that some source references were missing and some mentioned that were not actually used by the text. All the source references are stored in a knowledge database - no notes or card references and so we can quickly trace back to the source of facts.

At the same time we have continued to improve the web site content as soon as new material is researched and added.

Mon 16th Jan

The story of the isolated community of Jews in China was a sensation in Europe and America of the late 19th century. At the former Chinese capital of Kaifeng a community had lived at peace with the local Chinese for one thousand years. They had built their synagogue in the Chinese style and held the sacred Torah. The community grew to about one thousand before coming to an end in the early 19th century.

Kaifeng, jews
Jews of K'ai-Fun-Foo (Kaifeng Subprefecture), China. A picture from the public domain en:Jewish Encyclopedia. Available under a Creative Commons License
Thu 22nd Dec 2016

As another year comes to close, we at Chinasage have been working hard on a new look for our web site. As more and more people use smartphones rather than desktops to access the web we have developed a solution that should be both faster and more attractive for all users.

We surveyed many leading web sites and looked at how they have solved the problem of providing information in an attractive manner. We decided that we wanted to promote other content on the web site rather than relying on users exploring the sire using old fashioned navigation bars, so we have littered many pages with little boxes advertising related content elsewhere. We hope you like the new design, if you experience any difficulties in using the it - it may not work well with your particular browser - please let us know so we can investigate.

emblem
Wed 19th Oct 2016

We've added a major new article on China's population. The number of people in China has been a major concern for many years. With 20% of the world's population, China governs more people than any government has ever done before. With the imposition of the much hated 'One Child Policy', the only policy of its kind ever enacted, the population projections show the total numbers leveling off in about ten years time before a gradual decline. The issue of population in China is not a new one, it has been the most populated country throughout much of the last two thousand years.

China population chart 1-2100
taijiquan, Hong Kong
Tai chi show in Kowloon Park, Hong Kong
Image by Jakub Halun available under a Creative Commons license

Conventions

We use a consistent style for links within the site. An internal link taking you to another page within our site is shown like this while a link to a page on any other web site is shown like this .

We use Chinese characters wherever appropriate. Most browsers should display both the characters and the pinyin correctly. Where the older Wade Giles system is still used we make sure this is highlighted. Except where stated all characters are the modern simplified form used in the People's Republic rather than the traditional ones (pre-1970s). To help you learn Chinese characters many of the very common characters are highlighted thus: hovering the mouse over the character pops up a box showing derivation and usage information for the character.

Dates are given using the BCE/CE (Before Common Era and in Common Era) year convention rather than BC/AD. If a date is not followed by BCE or CE it should be taken as CE.

China sage authorship

All the text on this web site is our own, we do not copy and paste from other web sites. We research each topic from a number of separate sources. The only exception to this are quotations and image credits. All text is our copyright and can not be used/copied without our permission. We are independent of any other company or government, the opinions expressed are our own. We do not receive funding from any external agency or organization.

Teacup Media (China History Podcast)

We are delighted to be able to promote links to Laszlo Montgomery's excellent Teacup Media series created over the last six years. Lazlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 25 years. This set of 175 podcasts totals almost 100 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.

Acknowledgments

We are extremely grateful to the many people who have put their photographs online for anyone to adapt and use. Without them our site would be very drab. If we are not using the image license correctly please let us know. Some pages use Javascript to create special effects such as our airport table and calendar. We are grateful to the original authors for providing their code to be used and adapted by anyone else. The online Chinese dictionary uses the definition from the CC-CEDICT project for which we are grateful for a generous free license.

Feel free to contact Chinasage to point out any errors, omissions or suggestions on how to improve this web site.

Copyright © Chinasage 2012 to 2017