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.

Fact of the day

Qufu
The town of Qufu, Shandong was the home of Confucius ( Kǒngfūzǐ ) and descendents now in the 83rd generation still live there. The size and grandeur of the buildings rival that of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
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Time in China

Current weather

fogBeijing weather
Fog
81 ° F / 27 ° C
Jul 19th 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.


Battle of Talas

During the Tang dynasty the extent of Chinese ruled territory spread west through Central Asia. The decisive battle at Talas in 751 with the Arab Abbasid Caliphate led to the defeat of Gao Xianzhi and the end of Chinese western expansion.
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Tue 20th Jun

Hong Kong 20 years on

The 1st July 2017 marks twenty years since the U.K. 'gave back' Hong Kong to China. Although Hong Kong is a Special Autonomous Region within China with another 30 years to go before China takes full control, many believe that Beijing is firmly in control. The attempts to install more local democracy have been brutally suppressed. Hong Kong remains a prosperous place despite fears that independence from Britain would put it at a severe disadvantage compared to other cities, especially Shanghai.

Another article from CNN uses declassified documents to the complex maneuverings for hand-over unfolded on both sides. Britain sought to find a way to continue to run Hong Kong as a colony but China blocked that proposal, seeking immediate return to full Chinese control. Legally the core part of the settlement had been signed away as a permanent possession, but the vast bulk of the wider area later had been leased from China and up for legal repossession.

Democracy remains a thorny issue. After a century of denying Hong Kong residents any real say in local government, the British under last Governor Patten started to introduce local elections. Young activists continue to try to resist control from Beijing but as long as Hong Kong remains prosperous there is little appetite for confrontation.

Hong Kong, park, modern housing
A pavilion located at Nan Liang Garden in Hong Kong

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All the tea in China

All the tea in China

Culture

Tea originates from China, it has been drunk there for thousands of years. Our description of tea covers the history, preparation, growing and appreciation of tea over the centuries.
Chinese Chess

Chinese Chess

Culture

Like most other things the Chinese invented their own version of the chess board game. There are strong reasons to suppose that the Chinese game Xiangqi or 'elephant game' is closer to the original form. The absence of a 'queen' piece and the strange rules for 'cannons' make this just as challenging a game as the version played in the West.

Imperious Dragons

With the dragon dance and the dragon boat festival the Chinese dragon is still a common sight in China. Considered well-intentioned and not evil the dragons that control the rains have been the most important animal in Chinese symbolism for thousands of years.
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Online Chinese Dictionary

Online Chinese Dictionary

Language

Have a word or character to look-up? Use our free and extensive online dictionary.
Chinese proverb

Proverb

Bú sǎ wǎng bù dé [bu sa da wang bu de da yu]
not cast large net not get large fish
Without casting a big net how can a big fish be caught
Need to think big if to succeed
Wed 17th May

Belt and Road Initiative

Spending a trillion dollars (yes $1,000 billion) is a serious investment. China’s big idea is to open up the country for much wider trade. The primary focus is to develop stronger links with Central Asian countries on the route of the old Silk Road. However the initiative seems all embracing as even New Zealand, hardly on the Silk Road is keen to be involved. The idea is for both an overland ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (China to Europe) and a ‘21st century Maritime Road’ (China through the Indian Ocean to Africa and then north to Egypt). This has been shortened to ‘One belt one road’ or ‘Belt and Road’ or just ‘OBOR’ for short.

It is hard to work out exactly what the initiative is all about, there seem to be several factors and motives. One is that President Trump has continued to threaten China with extra tariffs to protect U.S. jobs from cheap Chinese imports. If China can open up new markets for her exports she will not be as badly hit by any protectionist measures. The U.S. continues to have a huge balance of payments deficit with China, in March 2017 the U.S. exported $9.6bn but imported $34.2bn. China’s heavy dependence on sales into the U.S. is a problem that needed to be fixed. In 2015 China’s main trade partners were: United States $457bn, Hong Kong $273bn, Japan $152bn, Germany $97.4bn and South Korea $90.1bn. Shifting trade to new countries will strengthen and stabilize China’s economy.

Many analysts also point to the problems of over-capacity in China. Just looking at total imports and exports is too crude a measure, the real problem is that China’s growth rate has slowed and the excess capacity in building related industries (steel, cement, construction) need new markets. If China can kick-start economic development elsewhere in the world she solves two problems at once - over-capacity at home and opening up new markets abroad. The China Communications Construction Group has already agreed deals worth up $40 billion in contracts with ‘Belt and Road’ countries. Sinking so much money in loans that may never be repaid is quite a risk. Venezuela now owes China $65bn and is not in a position to repay. Analysts consider such a huge project will be impossible to manage effectively and huge amounts are likely to be misappropriated.

The initiative comes at a particularly opportune time for the U.K.. Always keen on free trade and instinctively anti-protectionist the U.K. has more to gain than most other countries. With difficult talks ahead on exit of the E.U. trading block the opening up of possible deals with China all over the world is very appealing. U.K. politicians have been very keen to promote the initiative and use its undoubted trading expertise to jointly open up new markets.

The initial proposals centered on the countries of central Asia - along the route of the old Silk Road out of China. The initiative is therefore a way of re-invigorating trading links that were active for a thousand years before trade moved to China’s southern ports. The vast bulk of Chinese development had been along the south and eastern coasts, the poorest inland provinces have been left well behind. Of particular importance is the troubled province of Xinjiang. Positioned on the fringes of China the province is more Central Asian than Chinese with a Muslim majority. With frequent terrorist attacks by separatists in the province, China struggles to keep tight control. Recently China has banned Muslim parents from giving their children Muslim names and is embarking on a system of DNA profiling of every citizen. With the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative deals with neighboring Central Asian states (Takjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) the increased economic activity should lessen instability in the region.

The key point is that China is changing from an inward to an outward-looking nation, no longer putting internal development as the top priority. With increased economic involvement comes political power too, and some hawkish observers see this as the first stage in the building of a new Chinese Empire.

silk road, Xian, sculpture
Statue commemorating the Silk Road, Xian

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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
Sanya, Hainan, beach
Beach scene at Sanya, Hainan. June 2012.
Image by Dounai 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