Chinese characters by radical

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.

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Here we list some commonly used Chinese characters. Most of the entries for these characters give an audio link so you can hear how it should be pronounced (in the Beijing dialect), the entries also list common usage, proverbs and names as well as the constituent parts that make up the character. For some of the ancient 'pictogram' characters we describe the likely origin of the character or radical. To help with pronunciation we list common characters with the same tone (homophones) and the ones with different tones.

The traditional way to find the meaning of a character in a Chinese-English dictionary is to look it up by order of pinyin sound - as in our character index. If you only have the written character and do not know how it is pronounced you have to use another method. First you analyze the character and work out its component parts. One of these parts - usually the left part is the radical. You then need to know how many strokes are used to write the radical part. Having looked up the radical in the index by stroke count you look through to find the character. If this does not work it could be that the radical is not to the left but may be at the top or more rarely bottom or right. Another problem may be working out the number of strokes, for example it may come as a surprise that a box is made of three strokes, a newcomer may have suspected four or one but three seems arbitrary until you start studying Chinese calligraphy- then it becomes clear that the strokes are related to ease and structure of writing the character.

Here is a list of common radicals used to index Chinese characters. We have not currently included all 214, only some of the most common ones. A radical is a component part of a character and is usually to the top or left of the 'main' character. The radical can indicate either meaning or pronunciation. Dictionaries use their own scheme for radicals, we are the following the one used in Wiktionary , these include some radicals only used in traditional characters but it is convenient to use an index that covers both simplified and traditional forms. Click on a link for more information about the radical. If you know the radical then common characters that use that radical are listed in the description for the character.

One stroke

1 One; 2 Line; 3 Dot; 4 丿 'slash'; 5 Hidden; 6 'vertical hook';

Two strokes

7 Two; 8 Head; 9 Person; 9 Person (radical); 10 Legs; 11 To enter; 12 Eight; 13 Covering box; 14 Cover; 15 Ice; 16 How many; 17 Open box; 18 Knife (radical); 19 Strength; 20 Wrap; 21 Spoon; 22 Basket; 23 Box; bag; 24 Ten; 25 Divination; 26 Seal (of document); 27 Cliff; 28 Private; 29 Also; 149 Words; 163 Place; 170 'left ear';

Three strokes

30 Mouth; 31 Proud; 32 Earth; 34 Walk slowly; 36 Sunset; 37 Big; 38 Female; 39 Child; 40 Roof; 41 Unit of length; 44 Corpse; 46 Mountain; 47 River; 48 Work; 49 Snake; 50 Scarf; 51 Do; 53 广 Vast; 54 'long stride'; 55 Two hands; 56 Catch; 57 Bow; 58 Snout; 59 Bristle; 60 Step; 61 Heart; 85 Water; 94 Dog; 120 Silk; 140 Grass; 162 Walking; 169 Entrance; 184 Food; 187 Horse;

Four strokes

61 Heart; 62 Spear; 63 Door; 66 Rap; 67 Script; 68 Unit of weight; 69 Axe; 70 Square; 71 Not to have; 72 Sun; 73 To speak; 75 Wood; 76 Yawn; 77 To stop; 78 Bad; 79 Spear; 82 Hair; 83 Clan name; 84 Gas; 85 Water; 86 Fire (as radical); 87 Claw; 88 Father; 91 Thin piece; 93 Ox; 96 Jade; 113 Spirit; 125 Old; 130 Meat; 154 Shell; 159 Vehicle; 168 Long;

Five strokes

98 Tile; 99 Pleasant; 101 To use; 102 Field; 106 Bright; 108 Dish; 109 Eye; 111 Arrow; 112 Rock; 113 To show; 115 Grain; 116 Cave; 117 Stand; 122 Net; 145 Clothes; 167 Metal; 196 Bird;

Six strokes

118 Bamboo; 119 Rice; 123 Sheep; 126 As well as; 128 Ear; 132 From; 133 To arrive; 135 Tongue; 137 Boat; 138 Stubborn; 141 Tiger; 142 Insect; 144 Permitted; 146 西 West; 181 Page;

Seven strokes

150 Valley; 152 Pig; 156 Walk; 157 Foot; 158 Body; 160 Hard; 164 Wine vessel; 166 Inside;

Eight strokes

172 Short-tailed bird; 173 Rain; 174 Green; 175 To not be; 195 Fish;

Nine strokes

138 Eat; 177 Animal hide; 180 Sound; 194 Ghost;

Ten strokes

189 Tall;

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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Dictionary of some Chinese Characters by radical', last updated 8 Dec 2016, Web,

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