China News

Guangxi, Liuhou, gateway
Liuhou Park, Guangxi was constructed in 1906 to commemorate the scholar Liu Zongyuan of the Tang Dynasty

update 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.

Tue 19th Sep

Many see China as an authoritarian society with the government firmly in control. Sometimes a news story comes along that shows that the government does not always get its own way. In Shanghai a 'nailhouse' has just been demolished that has stood in the way of a main road for fourteen years. A 'nailhouse' is a house where the owners have held out against developers usually in the hope for a better offer of compensation. There are a number of them spread over China. In this particular case the three story house was in the middle of an arterial four lane road in Songjiang district, Shanghai. The family eventually accepted relocation to a new flat, perhaps the noise got too much in the end. It is unclear whether they were given a better deal than they were initially offered.

Nailhouse,Shanghai [Image by Cao Lei for China Daily]
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Tue 12th Sep

Among the most influential inventions of the Chinese has been paper money. While the rest of the world was lugging around silver and gold China had made the break in the Tang dynasty around 800CE. In China the problem was that normal coinage was in standard bronze discs. The coins had a hole in the middle so they could be strung together in groups of 100. A string of cash was a heavy and inaccurate unit of currency (some traders would claim a 'complete' string which would only have 65 coins). How much better to carry around IOUs rather than cash? As long as the IOU was unequivocally signed by a reputable merchant it was just as valuable as thecoins it represented.

The problem of metal coins was particularly acute when the government forced Sichuan province to use iron coins. As soon as the government saw that the system of IOUs was working well they of course stepped in and made it a government monopoly.

At the same time counterfeiters threatened the new currency and for that reason in the reign of Kublai Khan (1279-1294) Marco Polo witnessed the use of money in the form of strips of black mulberry bark which was then marked with the red seal of the Emperor (only the Emperor was allowed to write in vermillion ink). The bark had to be specially processed and so the notes were hard to forge. An even rarer form of currency had been attempted much earlier in the Han dynasty (175 BCE) when Emperor Wudi introduced money made from pieces of hide from rare white stags.

As the issuing of paper money did not have to be backed by actual silver and gold the modern system was born where a government can just print money to get itself out of (or into!) financial difficulties.

A note for 1000 cash issued between 1368 and 1399. 34x22.5 cms. Printed in black on paper with red seal impressions for extra security. “By the time this note was issued, seal impressions and printing, once identical, had become as clearly distinguished as our postmark and postage stamp are today.” (Carter) Image by Chris55 available under a Creative Commons license

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Mon 4th Sep

The shadow of the Second World War still looms in China. A new generation are discovering the danger and hardship of many under the Japanese Occupation (1937-45). A new low budget film ‘Twenty two’ has proved a box office hit. It documents the lives of the 22 remaining victims of the ‘comfort women’ used by the Japanese. Japan remains in denial about the execution/torture/rape that was inflicted on many Chinese people. Around 400,000 were used as sex slaves and many died as a result.

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Wed 30th Aug

Arguably Guizhou's most famous export is Maotai liquor. It's a potent distilled spirit made from fermented sorghum and often used for toasts at banquets for visiting dignitaries. It's also very expensive.

Now the central government has put on a ban for Guizhou local government employees from taking a lunchtime tipple. Not just maotai but all alcoholic drinks are banned - unless special dispensation is given. It's part of a government initiative to improve efficiency in local government. It's no longer going to be acceptable to doze through the afternoon in a semi-drunken stupor!

maotai, liquor, alcohol, guizhou
Moutai bottle. Image by Javierpetrucci available under a Creative Commons License

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Thu 24th Aug

We are familiar with China's rapid building program. Huge new tower blocks appearing almost overnight with little apparent city planning.

Yet a long running campaign to remove a chimney that has scarred the Beijing skyline for 40 years is about to bear fruit as the eyesore is soon due to be demolished. It is its proximity to ancient buildings in central Beijing that has fueled the continued moves to get it removed. It is close to the Tianning Pagoda built in the 12th century.

It all goes to show that there remains some respect for old culture, it is not all disappearing under bulldozers to make way for shiny new buildings. However another government policy does come into play that may also explain the success of the campaign. The Beijing authorities are very keen to move all polluting heavy industry and their chimneys away from the center of the city to improve air quality rather than worry about the aesthetics of the skyline.

Beijing, modern housing, Summer Palace
Panoramic view of Beijing skyline, including the Summer Palace

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Thu 3rd Aug

The shadow of the past continues to complicate the often fractious relations between the two most populated countries India and China. The current dispute is over a new highway being built in the 'Chinese' portion of land in the area bordering Nepal, Bhutan and India. The land borders were drawn up by the British and negotiated with the then Republican government in China not the current People's Republic and that is one of the problems; the Chinese perspective is that they never agreed to the line of the current border.

India, it is claimed moved up to 400 armed border forces 100m into Chinese territory at Doklam to obstruct a new road. Latest news suggests India has withdrawn many of these forces but tensions persist.

The current troop movements bring to mind the brief and little known Sino-Indian War in 1962 which had 2,000 casualties. The border dispute was over different territories along the border and China won that war. It all suggests that poor relations between China and India persist, China has always chosen Pakistan as its preferred ally in the region.

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Thu 27th Jul

As Shanghai swelters with a sustained heatwave, Shaanxi north of China has been subject to extreme flooding. The pandas at Shanghai zoo have struggled with temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) and gone into a state of stupor. China has always been subject to extremes of climate: heat, drought, flood and cold and although there has been huge investment in infrastructure, the country struggles to cope at this time of year.

To alleviate drought, China is busy constructing ambitious water transit pathways which will bring vast amounts from the wet south to the dry north. There are three routes. One is in mountainous Qinghai where it will bring waters of the Yangzi to the headwaters of the Yellow river. The second from the Han river in Hubei north to Beijing and the third follows the route of the old Grand Canal. In total 44.8 billion cubic meters of water per year will be diverted. The project is not expected to be completed before 2050.

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Tue 20th Jun

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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Fri 9th Jun

Like most industrialized countries, China has its problems with waste. A new report reveals that rules requiring waste to be separated out for potential recycling for 17 years. As a vast and rapidly growing city Beijing generates a huge amount of waste, much of which goes to landfill. Beijing is now using incinerators to relieve pressures on a dwindling number of holes in the ground to fill with garbage. New initiatives are starting to enable much more rubbish to be sorted and potentially recycled.

The story is very much in line with environmental initiatives in China, the government continues to talk about the importance of preserving the environment but the implementation is, putting it diplomatically, rather patchy. A recent story in the Guardian gives a distressing tale of how water quality regulations have been widely ignored. In 2015 85% of the water in Shanghai's rivers was undrinkable and 56% was unfit for any purpose. Clearly a lot needs to be done so that the regulations start being more widely obeyed.

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Wed 17th May

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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Thu 4th May

In this article in China Daily the role of Confucian temples is examined. Should the remaining temples be run to draw in tourists or return to be places where Confucian doctrine is studied? Under Mao Zedong, most Confucian temples were torn down and the monks and officials dismissed. Confucius was held up as the epitome of all that was backward and out-dated. Gradually, since about 1990 Confucius has come back into prominence. The Chinese government supports the many Confucius Institutes springing up all over the world to promote Chinese culture and education. He is now seen as an ancient father figure representing the distinctive Chinese culture and philosophy.

A report on the status of the remaining 546 Confucian sites highlights the difficulties in maintaining them. The province of Hunan has the most Confucian academies including Yuelu that has been going for over a thousand years. With massive redevelopment of towns and cities all over China the temple sites are coming under increasing pressure from development.

There are Confucian sites outside China: Vietnam, Japan and Korea and many Asian tourists come to visit the Chinese temples. Of particular interest is the vast temple complex at Confucius' birthplace Qufu which is still inhabited by his descendents.

Qufu, temple, Confucius, Shandong
Lingxing Gate of Qufu Confucian Temple, Qufu, Shandong. January 2009.
Image by Sean Shih available under a Creative Commons license

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Thu 6th Apr

Following up on the previous Giant Panda story the official Chinese news story has announced the formation of huge 10,476 sq miles [27,134 sq kms] nature reserve on the borders of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi making it three times bigger than the U.S.'s Yellowstone Park. The aim is for the wild pandas to be given a contiguous area so they can move freely. But to make this happy outcome possible, 170,000 people need to be relocated. Such a project would be unthinkable elsewhere but with people still keen to move from rural communities to urban centers so this may be a popular move.

Giant Panda, wildlife
Pandas at Beijing Zoo. October 2012. Photo by Keith Roper , available under a Creative Commons license .

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Tue 28th Mar

China has for for many years had strict residence laws. If you want to live in the big cities you have to apply for a permit. An enterprising Shanghai property agent has made use of a loophole that is surely soon to be closed. You can get a residency permit if you marry someone with a permit and then get divorced. A man, we only know by family name Wang, has used this trick four times to sell property to women who would not otherwise be allowed to stay in the city. The woman were willing to pay about $9,000 for the residence permit.

Shanghai, nightscape, cityscape, skyscraper
Shanghai at night

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Wed 15th Mar

Giant Pandas can live to a good age. Shu Lan has spent much of her 23 years in Chengdu. She spent the period 1996-9 in Lanzhou, Gansu and she went back there a year ago. However the climate and zoo conditions at Lanzhou zoo have not suited an elderly panda and she is now going back to Sichuan. Although North-Western Sichuan is the main center for pandas in China they are also known in Henan, Southernmost Gansu and Shaanxi. They can tolerate cold conditions of high mountains and live on a diet of bamboo. It is suggested that the bamboo and housing provided for Shu Lan in Lanzhou was of poor quality.

In the early days of looking after pandas (1930s) they did not survive well in zoos, many that were sent to foreign zoos died soon after arrival. Even though the captive breeding programme for pandas is going well there are still only 1,864 living in the wild and 375 in zoos scattered around China and the world.

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Tue 7th Mar

Any recent visitor to China will have come away astonished by the pace of change. Huge, new buildings pop-up everywhere. The government has a strategy of planned construction of whole new urban centers. While the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) of Deng Xiaoping's era have prospered there is now more than example of how this strategy has failed to deliver. Ordos has been widely featured as a modern ghost town because a local boom from coal mining did not take place. Other developments within Tianjin, Kunming cities and at Yingkou, Liaoning have also failed to find take-up by companies. The government strategy seems to be moving from designating new cities to develop to following industrial development - only putting new urban cities where there is a demonstrable need for them.

Guangdong, Shenzhen, skyscraper, modern housing
Shenzhen, skyline at twilight, Guangdong

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Tue 21st Feb

An impressive tomb of Zeng Tianjue dating to the reign of Emperor Qianlong has been discovered in Yuechi county, Sichuan to the east of Chengdu. The Emperor wrote a memorial to the achievements and integrity of the county magistrate. Deng Xiaoping's birthplace is not far away.

Zeng Tianjue
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Wed 15th Feb

All too often the news is full of stories of shady dealing in China, so it was refreshing to learn that honesty can still be found and that it is appreciated. A 17 year old student accidentally scratched the side of a car and damaged a wing mirror. Instead of disappearing at a rate of knots, he chose to write a letter of apology and enclosed all the loose change he had. When the driver returned to discover the damage he called the police. However, after reading the note and seeing the small change he decided that honesty should be rewarded and the driver plans to give the student money towards completing his studies.

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Wed 8th Feb

The traditional New Year or Spring Festival comes to a formal end at the Lantern Festival on Saturday 11th February, although most Chinese people will now have drifted back to work after the extended holiday break.

While a boom time for many it is proving harder for some traditional craft artists. In the attached story, Fang Zhida from Suzhou laments the decrease in interest in the Taohuawu form of intricate woodblock prints. An accomplished artist at 83 with nearly 70 years of experience in the art, he is worried that there are very few remaining practitioners left. Each print requires a series of woodblocks to be carved, one for each color, and then the print created with each color in turn. The large, elaborate woodblocks can take a whole year to design and create.

craft, art, woodblock
Folk Arts. Available under a Creative Commons License

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Sat 21st Jan
year of rooster

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!

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Sat 14th Jan

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.

pinyin and characters
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Tue 3rd Jan

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.

Traditional red firecrackers

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Thu 22nd Dec 2016

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.

city smog
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Fri 2nd Dec 2016

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.

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Tue 22nd Nov 2016

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.

smoking, cigarettes

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Wed 19th Oct 2016

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.

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Wed 12th Oct 2016

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.

Gansu, Dunhuang, Buddhism
The Mogao Caves with magnificent Buddhist paintings and sculpture at Dunhuang, Gansu

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Fri 7th Oct 2016
Pokemon player

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.

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Thu 29th Sep 2016

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.

Roman Walls at Silchester
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Tue 27th Sep 2016

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.

distant galaxy
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Mon 19th Sep 2016

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.

New Porcelain tower
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Wed 14th Sep 2016

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 Tái fēng

city storm
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Fri 2nd Sep 2016

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.

Zhejiang, Hangzhou , West Lake, lake, pagoda
Autumn view of West Lake and Pagoda at Hangzhou, Zhejiang

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Tue 23rd Aug 2016

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.

Yellow river, waterfall, river
Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River

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Mon 8th Aug 2016

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:

chinese flag

chinese flag

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!

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Fri 29th Jul 2016

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.

Shaanxi, waterfall, Yellow river
The Hukou Waterfall, the largest waterfall on the Yellow River, on the border between Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces

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Thu 21st Jul 2016

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.

Shang dynasty, tomb, Lady Hao, Henan
Tomb of Lady Fu Hao, Yinxu, Henan, China. Available under a Creative Commons License

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Thu 30th Jun 2016

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.

Yellow river, waterfall, river
Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River

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Thu 23rd Jun 2016

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.

china, space launch, rocket launch, long march
The launch of Long March 3B Rocket, Xichang Satellite Center, China. 1997 or 1998. Image by AAxanderr available under a Creative Commons License

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Wed 1st Jun 2016

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.

Shanghai, nightscape, cityscape, skyscraper
Shanghai at night

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Mon 16th May 2016
A new record high price of 207 million yuan (over $30 million) has been set for a thousand year old piece of calligraphy attributed to Zeng Gong (1019-83) Ancient Chinese texts have become a collectors' items in recent years with a rapid increase in value. It was bought by Wang Zhongjun a rich businessman who works for a leading Shanghai entertainment company.
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Tue 19th Apr 2016

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 .

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Thu 24th Mar 2016

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.


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Fri 11th Mar 2016

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.

game , go
Traditional board game of 'go'

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Thu 25th Feb 2016

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.

Beijing, family, people, children
A family in a park

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Fri 5th Feb 2016

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.

monkey,year of monkey
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Fri 29th Jan 2016

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.

monkey plate
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Mon 25th Jan 2016

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).

Heilongjiang, snow
Heavy snow at Shuangfeng forest farm, Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang

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Fri 25th Dec 2015

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.

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Tue 8th Dec 2015

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.

Yangzi River, river
The upper Yangzi valley in Yunnan

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Mon 16th Nov 2015

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.

Ming dynasty, Nanjing, wall, Jiangsu
Zhonghua Gate on the Nanjing city wall built in the Ming dynasty

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Shanxi, Mount Wutai, temple
Longquan temple Buddhist gate on Mount Wutai, Shanxi
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