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 5th Jun

In a merger of the very old and very new it is now possible to download a computer model of a terracotta warrior and print it out with a 3-D printer. In a scheme to engage youngsters with the Chinese Qin dynasty a miniature plastic model complete with banner engraved with words of your choosing, can be yours for free. A number of different forms are available, the charioteer can be used as a pen holder for instance. It's a novel way to promote an interest in history and archeology.

There are currently no plans for life-size models to be made available.

Qin dynasty, Terracotta army
The famous terracotta warriors at the tomb of the first Qin Emperor Shihuangdi

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Wed 29th May

For thousands of years Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used very widely in China. The World Health Organization (special agency of the UN) has aroused some debate by publicly supporting TCM as a legitimate medicinal option by including a chapter on it in their global compendium.

Since the PRC was founded in 1949 China has supported both the Western system of medicine and the Traditional. Initially this was a necessity as funds could not support the rapid creation of a Western system of hospitals and medicines for 1,000 million people. Since then there has been a drift towards using both systems for different purposes. For injuries and infections Western treatments are sought while for long-term and minor ailments the traditional system is used. Another factor is cost, China does not have a free health service and so a cheap TCM treatment is attractive compared to a hospital visit. Many Chinese believe TCM can be a good preventive before a disease takes hold.

One of the main concerns about TCM is that quite a few remedies require parts of endangered animals. With increased prosperity these supposed cures for arthritis; impotence and so on have become increasingly sought after. However many ingredients are from common plants and fungi and do not give the same cause for concern as with tigers, pangolins, sea horses and other animals. Acupuncture and moxibustion are part of TCM and these do not require ingesting dubious ingredients.

The main criticism has always been that it has unproven efficacy; however some of the ingredients have been shown to have useful medical properties. The use of herbal medicine in Europe only came to an end in the early 20th century. Every village would have a herbalist with there own special potions. Here also some treatments were beneficial, many of no demonstrable effect (placebo) and a few were dangerously toxic. In China the government spent considerable effort in the 1970s and 80s to choose the ones that are beneficial and this is one reason why TCM has better credentials than remedies from elsewhere.

Dispensing traditional medicine prescriptions. Graham Street Market, Hong Kong. 2010 Image by deror_avi available under a Creative Commons license .

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Wed 22nd May

The impressive stonework of the Great Wall can not fail to impress visitors, but for a good proportion of its great length the wall is in a dilapidated state. In the dry region of the Gobi desert, rain is so infrequent that stone was not needed to protect the wall - it could be built up in layers of tamped earth.

In Ningxia province there used to be 936 miles [1,507 kms] but only 314 miles [506 kms] of Great Wall remaining. Restorer Yang Long is working slowly and carefully to restore the old tamped earth. After many experiments they have come up with a close modern alternative using the same old material and tools. Layers of earth are reinforced with layers of gravel and needle-grass. The soil is tamped by hand with iron or wooden hammers. It is a slow process, it takes Yang Long a whole year to restore just 875 yards [800 meters] of the wall. It is hoped the restored wall will be good for another two thousand years.

Ningxia, Great Wall, ruin
The ruins of the Great Wall, this section is a mud built wall that was erected during the rule of the Ming Dynasty, Ningxia. Part of the Great Wall awaiting restoration.

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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 24th May
New look web site

If only it was possible to sit back and say ‘the web site is done’. Every time we believe it is all up-to-date and working well, technology comes along and offers new possibilities and challenges. Over the last twenty years it was initially a question of adding more complex features because everyone was using desktops with increasingly faster connections. Then along came the mobile/smartphones and reversed all this - web sites had to quickly become both simple and fast. Finally with faster/higher resolution screens and 5G networks on smartphones there is a move to putting back in more complex features.

In this revision we have put in a new menu. Instead of a cluttered second level menu with lots of links we've moved them all onto a drop-down menu. We've also put direct search and contact facilities on each page - you don't need to swap pages anymore.

All this should make it more usable on mobiles but not be a problem for desktop users. If we've broken anything that you liked, please let us know. Your comments on the new look will be much appreciated.

Read more…
Tue 14th May
Chinese 19th century slave labor

Many people think that slavery was abolished in the 1820s. While it is true that the African slave trade dwindled rapidly the plantation owners turned to new sources of slaves. These were the 'coolies' from India and China that were normally tricked into signing a contract and were treated just as appallingly as the African slaves they replaced. Mercifully the Chinese coolie trade came to an end in the late 1870s after the intervention of the Chinese government. The tale of these lost million people is rarely told, particularly the Chinese laborers. We have added a page summarizing this ignoble trade and also the treatment of the many Chinese immigrants to California in the late 19th century when racial discrimination reached fever pitch.

coolie,  guyana
The picture on is a tolerably fair representation of a manager's house on its brick pillars. To the left, at the bottom of the picture, is a free Coolie driving his cattle. To the right a rural constable is seizing an unhappy pigtail to convey him to the lock-up, being absent, as we see, from the band just above him, with his arms unbound. This indicates that he is trying to avoid the restraints of his indenture, and for this he is liable to punishment. Above him, on the right of the picture, is a group of Chinese, and on the left of the steps a group of Coolies, represented with their arms bound, an emblem of indentureship. They always speak of themselves as bound when under indenture. At the foot of the steps, on either side, is a Chinaman and a Coolie, from whose breasts two drivers are drawing blood with a knife, the life fluid being caught by boys in the swizzle-glasses of the colony. A boy is carrying the glasses up the steps to the attorney and the manager, who sit on the left of the verandah, and who are obviously fattening at the expense of the bound people below them. A tatwife and children look out of the windows. 1871. Image by The Coolie - his rights and wrongs available under a Creative Commons License
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Forbidden City, lion, Beijing
Gilt bronze lion guarding the Forbidden City


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