Chinasage : All about China

About Chinasage

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

The name “Chinasage” came about 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.

China Sage News

We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are the latest couple of reports. For more stories visit news section.

Wed 20th Mar

Is it a sign of new-found confidence that at least one Chinese blogger has questioned the need to learn the English language?

For at least fifty years the learning of English has been seen as the passport to get that all important better job and get on in life. Early tourists were pestered by the locals honing their English language skills. Many English words like 'coffee' have made their way into the Chinese language.

In his post, Hua Qianfang says that studying the English language was “... a trash skill for most Chinese that wastes countless energy and money and has cost children their childhoods”.

The tables could now be starting to turn with businessmen keen to learn Chinese so they can aspire to land a deal in China without language difficulties. Learning written Chinese is known to be more of a struggle than other languages adding may be a year to achieve the same proficiency in writing. English has been a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum since the 1990s and must be a seen as quite a burden on the young if it is not to be of much use in life.

Although many disagree with the blogger Hua Qianfang, the fact that it is being discussed may mark an important change of direction. Just as English people are among the worst for knowledge of foreign languages it may be that Chinese people will return the compliment.

That judgment may be a bit harsh, the blogger makes it clear that it is technology that is making the vital difference. With modern natural language translation algorithms it is perfectly possible to get by with machine translation now - and this happens in real time. So the need to learn the language has dramatically decreased. Real-time translation is perfectly adequate for day-to-day business dealings but what will be lost is the appreciation of foreign languages and culture.

teaching english

Image by Mới Ngô from Pixabay

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Wed 13th Mar

Some businesses have come under criticism for only accepting electronic payments and not cash. China is leading in the adoption of payment by smartphone (583 million people). In Shenzhen, China's main technology and manufacturing hub, new technology is being tested to let customers pay by just posing in front of a screen. The camera will then use facial recognition to match to an individual and take payment.

It is being tested at the Futian station on Shenzhen's subway network as well as the local branch of KFC. In theory this will work for everyone including the elderly who still carry cash and have no smartphone.

However the state and local authorities are also trialing facial recognition to automatically identify people involved in minor infringements. In one case cameras will spot and identify people who cross the road with the pedestrian crossing sign on red (jay -walker). As these minor infringements end up reducing the overall 'good citizenship' score it is a strong encouragement. A low score makes getting a loan, a house or permits more difficult.

shanzhen, subway
Exit A of Lian Hua Cun Metro Station in Shenzhen. January 2019. Image by ??? available under a Creative Commons License

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Wed 6th Mar

After the probable extinction of the Yangzi river dolphin - the Baiji (鱀豚 Bái jì tún) the Chinese are keen to preserve its close relative the finless porpoise Jiāng tún - affectionately known as the ‘river pig’. This has involved the introduction of bans on fishing which has caused the many communities to suffer. Zhu Changhong is one such fisherman, he was forced at the beginning of 2019 to give up his fishing boat that had been in his family for generations. In 2000 the Tongling Freshwater Dolphins National Nature Reserve, Anhui was created which included the stretch of Yangzi/Yangtse river he used to fish. Since then the periods of fishing bans has been extended until it was applied to the whole year round. It is not just over fishing that is causing river dolphin population to plummet, increased river traffic and pollution have played their part too.

The Yangzi finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis) is a critically endangered species with only about a thousand individuals remaining, it is often called a river dolphin. Zhu Changhong has been give a new role to which he has adapted, he now patrols the river collecting trash and recording sightings of the porpoises. He collects 441 pounds [200 kgs] of rubbish each day from about 7 miles [12 kms] for which he is paid 600 yuan.

yanzi, dophin, finless porpoise
Neophocaena phocaenoides. Image by 냥이 available under a Creative Commons License

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China Sage Site updates

Here are the last few news updates about our web site. For older entries please visit our site news section.

Fri 15th Mar
Updated quizzes
We've started upgrading our popular quizzes. We have looked at the statistics and we've made some of the questions too hard! We've also trawled the web site for possible new questions and our haul is over 1,100 possible new questions. The first two general quizzes have been updated and more will follow in coming weeks.
Read more…
Fri 8th Mar
The height of World fashion - Chinoiserie

For over a century China set the fashion in Europe and America. In fabrics, ceramics, furniture, interior and garden design if you were a person of impeccable taste you would look to China for inspiration. King George IV of Britain, King Louis XV of France and George Washington of America were all fans of Chinoiserie. We've scoured through over a thousand pictures for good examples of the this worldwide style. At times it was a crude approximation and a strange mixture of cultural styles, while at others the Europeans achieved a realistic copy of the Oriental ideal. The Pagoda at Kew Gardens, London and the Brighton Pavilion provide fine examples of this fixation with all things from the East.

chinoiserie, chest of drawers, gilding
Chest on chest, view 2, unidentified maker, Dutch or Danish, c. 1700, spruce, alder, pear wood, white oak, with paint, gesso, gilding, and brass hardware - Albany Institute of History and Art. Image by Daderot available under a Creative Commons License
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View from kings peak in Wuyishan mountains , north west Fujian, China.
Image by Ariel Steiner available under a Creative Commons license


We use a consistent style for links within Chinasage. 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. We highlight any use of the older Wade Giles system. 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 further information about 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.


All the text on the Chinasage 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 200 podcasts totals 100 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.


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 2019