http://www.chinasage.info/news.xml Here are some news stories we have found on other web sites that we think tell you much about what is going on in China. We avoid stories on politics and economics as these are now adequately covered on other news web sites. These News stories are available as a news-feed so you can receive notifications of these automatically in your browser. Click on the RSS button to add it to your browser or copy and paste the link.
With Chinese New Yea on Saturday 28th January (a Rooster year) the largest mass migration on Earth begins in earnest. The tradition of going back to your ancestral family home continues in China. It is estimated there will be 2.98 billion trips over the whole holiday period with many taking more than a week away with their families. It is not all that surprising that Hainan island is proving one of the hardest to reach destinations. Travel times can be over 33 hours as it has poor train connections and there is very high demand. It is the time of year for foreign tourists to stay away!
It is somewhat surprising that there are people who have seen so much change in China. Zhou Youguang was born in 1906 - and so lived through the last five years of Imperial China. After spending time in the U.S. he moved back to China when the People's Republic was founded in 1949. He was put in charge of developing the alphabetic phonetic spelling for the Chinese language - pinyin. This helped bring hundreds of millions of people into literacy. At one time pinyin was expected to replace the characters, but this has not happened - technology has knocked down the barriers for typing characters quickly and easily. Zhou went on to become an outspoken critic of the Communist Party particularly over Tiananmen Square and a promoter of people's democracy in China.
When Mr. Li set off 20,000 firecrackers to celebrate moving into his new, luxury house in Ziazing Zhejiang he was one of the first people to end up with a fine. Firecrackers have for centuries been used to celebrate festivals, birthdays and many other events. Concerns about air pollution and just as important noise pollution have led to some cities imposing bans. It will be interesting to see whether fines will be imposed on Chinese New Year which is now less than four weeks away.
As a considerable proportion of China is swathed in toxic smog planners are considering how to combat the problem. One proposed solution is to move people and businesses away from the suburbs of Beijing into outlying districts. The move would give people shorter commutes and lower the density of people in polluted areas. In the last 18 years energy consumption has doubled and the number of cars tripled (Oh for the Halcyon days of bicycles)! The long term plan is for Beijing's population to be capped at 23 million.
The foundations of a new major tourist attraction have been laid of an ambitious $1 billion project. The new Titanic is located far inland - on the Qijiang River, Sichuan. The builders are planning to honor the blockbuster film 'Titanic' ➚ rather than the original doomed maiden voyage of 1912. Some of the key rooms and cabins will be faithfully recreated but not all of them. It is due to be open for visitors by the end of 2017.
One of the disappointing facts about China has been the apparent race to be the number one country for cigarette smoking. The current statistic is that the each adult in China smokes an average of 6 cigarettes a day putting the country as number 9 - below Russia on a per capita basis but due to China's population that puts the country on top of the table for total tobacco consumption. That for the year 2009 amounts to 2,640,000,000,000 cigarettes (yes 2.64 trillion!). About 60% of men smoke but only 4% of women in China.
Government efforts to curb smoking have not been entirely successful. Restaurants and other enclosed places had a ban some years ago. Now (November 2016) the government is enacting legislation to ban smoking in most public places. A fine of 500 yuan can be imposed for smoking in public parks, near children and near historic monuments.
It is likely that the new law will be widely flouted until the ban is combined with public health campaign to convince the 300 million smokers to give up. Personally speaking I have become so sensitive to smoke that I find it unpleasant when wafted on the breeze from a hundred yards away, so traveling in China can be rather tricky.
China is celebrating another successful space mission today. Two astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong have docked and moved into the Tiangong-2 space laboratory. This puts China on schedule to contemplate a manned moon landing in the next four years. With President Obama hinting at a manned Mars mission by 2030 ➚ it could become a race between the U.S. and China to reach the planet first.
The famous Mogao Caves near Dunhuang, Gansu continue to deliver up their secrets. The 'Thousand Buddha Caves' were created over a period of a thousand years and then were lost in the desert sands. After discovery in the early 20th century they were plundered by Western collectors. Now the Chinese government zealous protects the site. The 735 caves stood on the edge of China in ancient days where a branch of the Silk Road to Central Asia turns south to India. Many travelers made offerings to Buddha for a safe journey.
In the last week the Dunhuang Academy has opened the caves to photographers. Photography is not normally allowed and so this is a rare opportunity. Even so the pictures taken are not permitted to be taken away - they are to be judged by experts and the best ones put on display.
Addiction to online gaming has become quite a problem amongst youngsters in China as elsewhere in the world. With China's strict controls on Internet access it is somewhat easier for controls to be imposed. So draft legislation has been proposed to limit access, shutting down connections at midnight and limiting sessions to three hours.
In other moves, children have been sent to tough 'boot camps' to try to cure them of the addiction. Experts believe the move from desktop computers to smartphones will produce a natural decline in this particular problem, but smartphone addiction may well become just as much of a problem.
The unearthing of two skeletons in a Roman cemetery in London raises many questions. The people are of definite Asian ancestry. Just finding the bones does not give many clues, they could be officials, migrants or even slaves. What it does show that Europe (even remote Roman Britain) had more extensive links 2,000 years ago with the Asian world than had been previously thought.
The world's largest radio telescope in Guizhou has now started operation. It is a huge fixed dish built into the natural contours of a crater carefully selected for its near perfect parabolic shape. The large size (500m diameter) gives it the highest sensitivity of any radio telescope in the world enabling it to peer back even further both in space and time. As well as probing distant galaxies it may also try pick up any radio signals sent from alien civilizations. It has been built at a cost of $180billion and represents a stride forward in Chinese study of the heavens that date back 5000 years.
The once famous landmark of ancient Nanjing has been re-built using modern materials. The original pagoda tower was built with white porcelain blocks in 1412 by order of Emperor Yongle before he moved the Ming dynasty capital to Beijing in1421. The Porcelain Tower ➚ stood for 450 years before its destruction during the Taiping Rebellion. The magnificent reconstruction was made possible by China's richest man's Wang Jianlin ➚ donation of about $150 million to the Nanjing city authority, the largest personal donation in China.
A super storm at the highest 'red' warning level is due to slam into the southern part of Taiwan and then mainland Fujian and Guangdong provinces. It is really the very heavy rainfall rather than the winds that is likely to be the biggest threat to life and property. It is considered the strongest storm in the world this year.
The word 'typhoon' is probably one of the few English words with a Chinese origin because the mandarin name is the very similar 台风 Tái fēng
The top rank of world leaders come to China this week. President Xi Jinping will be keen for the summit to leave its mark with decisions made, all too often G20 summits have ended with very little to show for them. Security at Hangzhou, Zhejiang has been heightened and industry scaled back to minimize air pollution. Travel for ordinary Chinese will be disrupted to allow the G20 with their vast entourages free movement. This will be one of the last top level gatherings for US President Obama but the first for UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Issues likely to be hard to agree on are China's claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea and the world economy for which China's future policy will be crucial.
Most civilizations have in their early history the story of a cataclysmic flood ➚. Many people have rather fancifully knitted these together events around the world into a single global event. It does seem weird that these floods, of which Noah's Biblical flood is the best known all occurred at roughly the same time - however this is really only a feature that recorded history and urban civilization began then. In the case of China the flood brought Yu the Great of the Xia dynasty to prominence. He is believed to have constructed flood defenses on the Yellow River that would help prevent future disasters. This legendary event has now been given support from archaeological discoveries. It is believed that an earthquake caused the Yellow River to be blocked and an immense flood formed as the waters found a new course. Finding any evidence of the Xia dynasty (2100-1600BCE) has proved elusive and these new finds are very promising. It is quite probably the Xia ruled a fairly small area along the Yellow River so finds are not widespread.
Some Chinese are furious that the Rio Olympic officials have got the Chinese national flag wrong. It is difficult to see how such a thing could happen these days. At first I could not see what the issue was, you really need to see both the correct and incorrect versions next to each other:
Still not see it? The difference is that the top one has the four little stars rotated so they seem to be orbiting the larger star while the second has them all that the same orientation.
The meaning of the flag is red stands the color of communism and the Han dynasty, while yellow is for the Yellow River as well as the traditional color of Han Chinese people. The large star symbolizes the Communist Party and the other four stars the important classes of people of China: working class; peasantry; petit bourgeoisie and patriotic capitalists. Note that other non-patriotic capitalists are excluded!
Heavy rain is not uncommon in central China at this time of year. However 2016 is turning out wetter than average. Over 300 people have already lost their lives and with a typhoon looking to hit in early August there may be further problems. It is heartening that the Three Gorges Dam is doing its job to regulate water flow on the Yangzi. Flood debris has had to be removed in recent days to stop it blocking the waters. Floods in China in the past have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives on both the Yellow and Yangzi rivers.
The Chinese history books have always portrayed the Shang dynasty (1600-1100BCE) as a brutal, feudal society. Recent analysis of remains at the capital of Shang China, Yin in Henan province have shown that some human remains originally considered those of slaves were of captives. Analysis of the bones proved they did not live in China but came from the Qiang kingdom to the west. The feudal nature of the Shang was of importance in the Marxist era, as Marxist theory had all societies moving from a feudal towards a socialist one.
Previous discoveries at Yin have included vast numbers of oracle bone fragments that have given invaluable insights into the early Chinese written script.
An annual event that attracts many photographers to the banks of the Yellow river is the opening of sluices at Xiaolangdi Dam, Henan for ten days in June/July. The operation clears out the huge amount of silt that builds up behind the dam. The rapids created are very powerful and make an impressive display.
China's space exploration is due to take a major new step at the weekend. The launch will transport into orbit parts for the new China space laboratory. The launch will be from the brand new launch center at Wenchang on Hainan Island.
The lavish new Disneyland at Shanghai is due to open on June 16th 2016 and has already clocked up over a million visitors. The more recent Disney film success 'Pirates of the Caribbean' is the star attraction while old favorites such as Peter Pan and Tron are also featured. It is one among many Shanghai attractions with 100 million people within easy reach it should prove more profitable than Disneyland Paris that continues to struggle.
In continuing moves to enhance understanding of China's long traditions, a new initiative has promoted 40 aphorisms (proverbs) as essential reading for government officials. Widespread ignorance of China's long history and poetry has started to worry the government, The Golden age of Chinese poetry is considered to be the Tang dynasty - one thousand years ago. The chosen set of aphorisms emphasize the Confucian virtues of respect for parents, integrity and loyalty.
This particular initiative has been mounted by the powerful but secretive Central Commission for Discipline Inspection ➚.
Cambridge University situated in the fens of eastern England has become very popular with Chinese tourists. One of the reasons is that one of China's most famous poets Xu Zhimo ➚ wrote a poem called 'Farewell to Cambridge' in 1928. He helped modernize Chinese poetry and his poetry is well known. In 2014 336,000 Chinese tourists came to visit Cambridge, UK. They are also drawn to the academic excellence of the University, with many of the brightest Chinese dreaming of coming here to study.
In 1997 IBM's computer programme Deep Blue beat the top chess champion. It has taken another 20 years for computers to beat humans at the Game of Go. This fiendishly complex ancient Chinese game (weiqi) is still very popular in Asia. It has far more possible moves than Chess and has kept scholar's mental agility in good form for hundreds of years. Google's AlphaGo has now beaten a current world champion Lee Se-Dol, in Seoul. The name 'go' comes from the Japanese name for the game.
The problem with wanting boys rather than girls has started to come home to roost. In 2014 for every 115 boys born in China there were only 100 girls. With so many men looking for women to marry the bride's family can set a high price. This latest report puts the going rate as 100,000 yuan ($15,000) payment for a bride. This high price reflects the fact that girls don't want to wed someone poor out in the countryside, they are all after a husband with a good, steady income, preferably in a big city.
As the frenetic rush is on for everyone to get home in time for the Spring Festival (New Year Festival) on 8th February more web sites are explaining the significance of the Year of the Monkey. This story looks at the story of the Monkey King - Wu Cheng'en's hero in the Journey to the West.
Hundreds of thousands have been caught up in the queues at railway stations and airports, particularly in Guangdong and elsewhere.
In a show of due deference to predecessors on this all important festival President Xi and senior colleagues have been to give good will messages to former Presidents Jiang Zemin (now aged 89) and Hu Jintao as well as other retired officials.
The year of the monkey is just ten days away. Chinese New Year will take place on 8th February with a full week of public holidays. Following the recent very cold weather that has reached right down into southernmost China the annual mass movement of people back to their family homes puts the whole Chinese transport system under great stress. A monkey year is one of the most auspicious in the cycle of twelve years with an emphasis on fun, irreverence and antics.
While the Eastern Atlantic coast of America is covered in huge amounts of snow, China and Eastern Asia are locked in a spell of record baking cold weather. As far south as Guangzhou sleet has been seen for the first time in 60 years. Northern China normally has severe frost in the north but it very rarely that far south. There is concern about the effect on crops that can not survive a frost. Inner Mongolia reported a record low of -52° F (-46.8°C) . The cold spell is not covering the whole northern hemisphere, London UK at a much higher latitude is experiencing a very mild spell with temperatures above 50° F (10° C).
One of the five sacred Buddhist mountains in China, Mount Wutai, northern Shanxi. It is the highest mountain in northern China at over 10,000 feet. The new airport, 40 miles away from the mountain, will allow an estimated 350,000 visitors to easily access the mountain's many shrines.
With everyone concerned about the smog in Beijing, people may have missed some good news stories about China's environment. Pollution in the Yangzi had become pretty bad but with tough measures on treatment of discharges it is now gradually improving. 90 percent of the river's waters are now at the standard for 'clean' water. It is too late though to save the Yangzi dolphin (Baiji) that used to live in its pristine waters.
The ancient city of Nanjing has some surprising visitor attractions hidden away. The amazing city wall is reasonably well known but the old railway terminus just over the Yangzi at Pukou is overlooked. The derelict station was used before the first bridges crossed the lower Yangzi and has a 1920s feel. The city has a modern art community, the 1865 Creative Park which supports local artists and designers.
The Eden project at St Austell, UK opened in 2001, has amazed 16 million visitors with its display of tropical life under its futuristic domes. Now the team there have won a £100 million bid to build a much larger version in China at Qingdao on the Shandong peninsular. It is hoped the project will do much to encourage an understanding of the environment and how to nurture it.
Youyou Tu of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences won the Nobel prize for her analysis of the many thousand of herbal medicines that form part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She came up with 640 possible compounds that could have medical benefits. Of particular interest is the anti-malaria drug derived from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) that has been used to help millions of people.
A high level and lengthy stay of President Xi Jinping and wife to the UK October 19th-23rd 2015. The President will be given full honors for a state visit: a 21 gun salute; a visit to Chequers ➚ with Prime Minister Cameron and a meeting three generations of the Royal Family are all included. The U.K. is very keen to increase trade with China and hope that this visit will improve relations. There is a lot of Chinese media interest in the lavish formal banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Some Chinese families are now putting their children into schools using traditional teaching methods. China is immensely proud of its education system and the examinations that date back two thousand years. The students as young as 4 learn the classic texts by heart at the Chengxian Guoxue Institute, including the Dizigui and San Zi Jing (three character classic). Parents hope that the old style learning techniques will give their students an advantage when starting on more modern material.
China has opened the world's longest glass suspension bridge in Hunan province, designed to scare the many visitors to the mountains. It spans a 590 feet [180 meters] deep valley and has been called 'Brave man's bridge' 豪汉桥 háo hàn qiáo.
Unfortunately just two weeks after opening cracks appeared in the glass, and it is currently closed for repairs!
Linzhang County in Hebei is mounting a new exhibition of Buddhist statues in October 2015. Northern China in the period up to 845CE was full of Buddhist monasteries, shrines and statues. The famous grottoes at Dunhuang; Longmen Caves and Yungang Caves are all in the north of China. This exhibition showcases recent finds from the period around 550CE.
The Cambridge University Library have released a digital image of the earliest known color printed book, the 'Ten Bamboo Studio collection of calligraphy and painting', 十竹斋与胡正言的出版事业, published in 1633 it contains exquisite paintings of birds and plants. Most of the paintings are followed by a poem.
No, this is not about the game played with bat and ball, this is about the even older sport of fighting crickets. The insects are trained to fight but are rarely hurt in the bouts. The male crickets are graded according to weight to ensure fair play and is in many ways similar to cock-fighting. The main town famous for cricket fighting Sidian, in Shandong province which makes considerable income from tourists visiting in July and August.
The remarkable story of the life of a British woman Yvonne Foley, who discovered her father was a Chinese ship engineer forcibly sent back to China at the end of World War 2 from Liverpool. It explores the opprobrium associated with mixed marriages at the time.
As part of the Alliance of nations against Germany and Japan in the second World War, China's role is hardly ever mentioned. This article recounts the pivotal conflict in Burma that drove back Japanese forces. In July 1945 China joined British troops engaged in jungle warfare in Burma . They then moved into Tengchong, Yunnan and dislodged the Japanese. Over 10,000 China Expeditionary Force (CEF) troops died in the encounter. People still visit the cemeteries to acknowledge their debt to the many who died in this little known theater of war.
The new all-Chinese animation picture 'Monkey King: The Hero is Back' has outdone 'Kung Fu Panda 2' at the box office. The Monkey King is loosely based on the famous tale 'Journey to the West' of how Buddhist texts were brought to China from India during the Tang dynasty. The film is relatively low budget ($10M) compared to Hollywood but makes up for lack of 3-D with compelling story-telling.
In an all too rare event, some relics dating back to the Spring and Autumn period robbed from tombs in Dabuzishan, Gansu in the 1990s have been handed back to China. The 32 gold ornaments ended up in France and after some bilateral negotiations they have now been returned. They will be put on display at the Gansu Provincial Museum.
While northern and central China are experiencing a heatwave, south-eastern China's coast has been battered by a major typhoon Chan-hom ➚. Temperatures up to 40° C have been recorded in the Beijing area. The end is in sight though, temperatures should drop by 10° C on Wednesday 15th.
Two young giant pandas have been sent to Changchun, Jilin Province. This is far further north than they are used to. Most pandas now live in warmer Sichuan province 1,500 miles away. The giant pandas are being supplied with heaters to keep them warm in the severe winters often experienced in Jilin. They are being housed close to another endangered species in China: the Siberian Tiger.
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