China sage : Updates

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Fri 12th May

For much of the last two thousand years China was by any standard the most advanced nation on Earth, and yet by the early twentieth China was classed as a third world country needing massive food aid to alleviate famine. The reason why China did not maintain a lead in science and technology has puzzled scholars; in particular it was Joseph Needham who posed his famous question ‘Science in general in China - Why did it not develop??. Many answers have been proposed but none of them seem to totally fit the bill.

Fri 17th Mar

We've been through all the web pages and updated the list of references. We continue to receive requests for citation and it is important that we clearly present all our sources. We found that some source references were missing and some mentioned that were not actually used by the text. All the source references are stored in a knowledge database - no notes or card references and so we can quickly trace back to the source of facts.

At the same time we have continued to improve the web site content as soon as new material is researched and added.

Mon 16th Jan

The story of the isolated community of Jews in China was a sensation in Europe and America of the late 19th century. At the former Chinese capital of Kaifeng a community had lived at peace with the local Chinese for one thousand years. They had built their synagogue in the Chinese style and held the sacred Torah. The community grew to about one thousand before coming to an end in the early 19th century.

Kaifeng, jews
Jews of K'ai-Fun-Foo (Kaifeng Subprefecture), China. A picture from the public domain en:Jewish Encyclopedia. Available under a Creative Commons License
Thu 22nd Dec 2016

As another year comes to close, we at Chinasage have been working hard on a new look for our web site. As more and more people use smartphones rather than desktops to access the web we have developed a solution that should be both faster and more attractive for all users.

We surveyed many leading web sites and looked at how they have solved the problem of providing information in an attractive manner. We decided that we wanted to promote other content on the web site rather than relying on users exploring the sire using old fashioned navigation bars, so we have littered many pages with little boxes advertising related content elsewhere. We hope you like the new design, if you experience any difficulties in using the it - it may not work well with your particular browser - please let us know so we can investigate.

Wed 19th Oct 2016

We've added a major new article on China's population. The number of people in China has been a major concern for many years. With 20% of the world's population, China governs more people than any government has ever done before. With the imposition of the much hated 'One Child Policy', the only policy of its kind ever enacted, the population projections show the total numbers leveling off in about ten years time before a gradual decline. The issue of population in China is not a new one, it has been the most populated country throughout much of the last two thousand years.

China population chart 1-2100
Thu 22nd Sep 2016

The amazing discovery of the 'oracle bones' in the early twentieth century started to change the way Westerners thought about Chinese heritage. For here at the ancient capital of Shang dynasty China was a treasure trove of ancient writings. Not only did they prove that China had an independent written language way back in the Bronze Age but also that the ancient historical journals were proven amazingly accurate. The position of China as an ancient and continuous civilization was at last confirmed by even the most skeptical of Western historians. And it all started with one man's trip to pick up some medicine.

oracle bone, shang dynasty, early writing
Pieces of oracle bone engraved with early Chinese writing. Shang dynasty. Collection of Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University. Donated by H. L. Dudley Buxton, 1923. Image by BabelStone available under a Creative Commons License
Mon 19th Sep 2016
podcast motif

We have scattered throughout the site links to audio Teacup Media/China History Podcasts by Laszlo Montgomery. Laszlo has produced over a hundred excellent podcasts of half an hour to an hour on all aspects of Chinese History.

Wed 14th Sep 2016

More updates and corrections to our quick guide to the most common Chinese characters. We have added more characters and updated others. The main character index is now indexed by first letter of the pinyin. Thanks to Wikimedia Creative Commons, many of the individual entries now have animated graphics showing the order in which the strokes to make each character are made.

Here is the one for the character for yellow 'huang'

yellow character,huang
Mon 22nd Aug 2016

The study of the written Chinese language - the characters - is a really fascinating subject. Each stroke that is made has some meaning. Most of the frequently used characters are very old and tell a story. They are made up of a 'radical' part and a part that either contributes to the meaning or hints as to pronunciation. We have started with over 600 characters and hope to soon build up the number of entries - you need a couple of thousand to read a newspaper. We provide a much fuller range of characters in our free online dictionary.

Chinese character,star,xing
Mon 18th Jul 2016
A visitor kindly pointed out that some of our pinyin had the tone marks over the incorrect vowel. If there are several vowels in sequence the rule for placement is rather odd (as in the case of 'xiao'). The rule is that the tone mark always goes over the 'a' or 'e' if there is one in the sequence, In all other cases (except one) it goes over the last vowel, so in 'ui' it goes over the 'i'. However there is one special case, for the combination 'ou' it goes over the 'o' not the 'u'. We hope we have corrected the offending instances.
Wed 18th May 2016

We have performed another scan of every single page on the web site and made a few corrections here and there. More cross-links to related topics have been added and the quality of the text improved. One or two embarrassing mistakes were found which have now been corrected.

Fri 22nd Apr 2016

As much of this web site covers history and traditions it could be considered to be stuck in the past. We made the decision not to cover current affairs in China as we are not journalists and all we would be able to do was re-publish information produced elsewhere. However we felt it important to put down our general feelings about the direction that China is taking because so much is rooted in traditions and history and also we believe much that is written about China's future is misinformed.

Gansu, Lanzhou, modern housing
Lanzhou city skyline, Gansu
Fri 15th Apr 2016

Now that a quarter of 2016 has gone it was time to think ahead to Chinese New Year for 2017. When preparing the calendar for the full year 2017 we spotted that there had been a problem with the handling of the double sixth leap month in 2017. There was also an error affecting some 2018 entries too. Hopefully all the festival dates are now correct and nothing more needs to be done for another year. In adding the public holidays for 2018 we noted that the government is easing back from whole weeks of public holiday, making holiday on two of the days at the discretion of the employers.

Fri 1st Apr 2016

When reviewing the Chinasage web site we discovered that although 'Emperor' is mentioned all over the place within our history pages, there was nowhere that we set out what an Emperor does and how the Imperial system operated in overview. So we have added a page that sets out to explain the Imperial name, 'son of heaven', empress, dragons, eunuchs and all the related terms that usually get mentioned in passing.

Emperor Xuangde, eunuch, Ming dynasty
Ming Emperor Xuande with his imperial eunuchs. 1425-35. Image by unknown court artist available under a Creative Commons license
Wed 23rd Mar 2016

We've put in some page updates after reading quite a few more books about China. We've also listed some of the many messages of praise that visitors have kindly sent us over the last three years. Thank you!

Tue 8th Mar 2016

We've beefed up our description of the ancient classics of Chinese literature whose origins go back well beyond 2,500 years ago.

Mon 29th Feb 2016

We've added a short description of Mohism, the religion founded by Mozi. It is a refreshingly positive philosophy based on universal love and friendship. It has a message close to Christianity and yet it pre-dates it by 400 years.

“When all the people of the world love one another, then the strong will not over-power the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the wealthy will not despise the poor, the honored will not disdain the humble, the cunning will not deceive the simple.”

Tue 9th Feb 2016
Qiao Renjie, Maccartney embassy
William Alexander's portrait of the official Qiao Renjie who accompanied the 1794 British embassy.

The impressive civil administration of dynastic China was a model that other countries sought to emulate. Open appointment on scholastic merit allowed a job as an official to become most family's dream. Read how the system evolved over two thousand years and how to quickly determine an official's position in the complex hierarchy.

Fri 15th Jan 2016

We have been keeping busy on extending the web site. We have added a large index of objects that may have a hidden meaning in Chinese art work of all kinds: painting, embroidery, porcelain and film. Symbols such as bats, bees, butterflies, birds are all covered. We provide a full list of 173 entries many with illustrations split into categories and with an index by association.

Wed 21st Oct 2015

Only five months since the last full site review we have undertaken another scan. This is in preparation for producing a new edition of our book. This scan found very little that was wrong just a host of many typos. (the full site text is over 100,000 words) and some rephrasing to increase clarity.

Yellow River, Lanzhou, Gansu
Lanzhou with Yellow River seen from seen from Tianshui Road Bridge Photo by RThiele , available under a Creative Commons license .
Tue 6th Oct 2015
We use a knowledge database to maintain the sources used for the content of the China Sage web site. From the database we can easily generate the source references that appear at the bottom of our pages. To help users find out more about the books we use, we have added a page with over a hundred book reviews. The reviews include a star rating, categories and full information about the book, including a link to an online bookstore (if available). With so many books about China we hope this proves a useful resource.
Mon 24th Aug 2015

The ‘treaty ports’ of China 1840-1945 demonstrate the rapacious interest of foreign powers in opening up China for trade. The first treaty ports, including Shanghai and Hong Kong were opened after China's defeat in the First Opium War. The numbers grew to about a hundred by about 1900. Numbers began to fall at the start of the Republican era.

china, empires, foreign enclaves
Newer version of THE SITUATION IN THE FAR EAST (局图). Its author (Tse Tsan-tai, 1872-1939) depicted the western powers encroaching on China at the end of the nineteenth century in symbolic form. At the left "to be clear at a glance" (), at the right, "self-evident" (). The bear representing Russia is intruding from the north, the bulldog head with a lion body representing the United Kingdom is in south China, with its tail around the Shantung peninsula (Wehai english colony was the seat of the British bulldog in the first version of the cartoon), the frog (representation by english of french, "the froggies", french themselves use Gallic rooster instead), is in southeast Asia, with an inscription "Fashoda", in reference to Fashoda Incident opposing Britain and France in Africa. The frog has the Hainan Island in its right hand, in reference to Guangzhouwan, and part of the Sichuan in its left hand. The bald eagle representing the United States is approaching from the Philippines (the U.S. had already invaded the Philippines at this time). On the eagle is written "Blood is thicker than water", a reference to U.S. Navy Commodore Josiah Tattnall's saying in 1859. The symbolic Sun behind Japan spreads its rays across Korea onto China, while Japan fishes for Taiwan. Qing Amban is on Tibet and chinese teacher on Mongolia and Xinjiang with turco-mongol man. Some other European countries, following Prussia and some other countries, are waiting to invade China at the bottom of the map. 1900. Image by 缵泰 available under a Creative Commons License
Mon 10th Aug 2015

The tumultuous years of China 1860-1949 is reflected in the history of the development of the railways. Once again it was the foreign powers that took advantage of a weak Chinese government to build the railways and use them as a weapon for further exploitation.

Beijing, steam train, Zhengyangmen
Postcard of train at Zhengyang, Beijing. c. 1901-1912 Image by Unknown available under a Creative Commons License
Mon 3rd Aug 2015
We've been through all the pages of the web site yet again; fine tuning the layout, the text and the illustrations. We have started adding cross-links to related information so it it easier to locate other pages that overlap in content. The quizzes have been given a new look, and you can now publish your quiz results on Facebook.
Mon 20th Jul 2015

Having completed a book on the Long March, I decided to greatly expand the description on the Chinasage web site. It is a fascinating tale, and came very close to disaster on a number of occasions. What could have been a heroic failure turned out to shape the politics of China for the next sixty years.

Mon 13th Jul 2015

We have made a full scan of the text making some relatively minor corrections and re-organization. We have introduced more sub-headings to make it easier to find relevant sections in the text. Also, we have changed the quizzes so you get a summary of all the questions and answers at the end. Single quiz questions are now scattered over the site and these will change regularly.

Wed 9th Apr 2014
With some trepidation we've added a page on the traditional attitudes to women over the centuries. This topic is a little sensitive because Confucian doctrine was so heavily weighted towards men. It is all a bit strange to those unfamiliar with this topic seen from modern enlightened eyes. We also cover traditional marriages and widowhood as well as the much misunderstood term 'concubine'. At the same time we have released quite a few of the less well-known traditional festivals including such things as the 'Clothes Drying Day'. They are now marked on our calendar page.
Mon 24th Mar 2014
Another pair of rather different pages have been added to the site. Throughout Chinese Imperial history the role of the court eunuchs has been significant. Such a possibility now seems very strange but the practise of deliberate castration was not restricted to China it was used in Arabia and of course to maintain the vocal talents of castrati. Contrasting to this is a brief page about the Cantonese language, spoken differently to Mandarin and yet amazingly written down in the same way.
Wed 12th Mar 2014
As a background activity we've been enhancing our pages on the early history of China, we have now got as far as the Tang dynasty. A new section on the 100 Schools of Thought has been added. Our main addition just released is a broad survey page of food in China, with reference to all the main regional cuisines including Chuan; Cantonese; Min; Su and Tianjin.
Thu 20th Feb 2014
We have added a page on money covering the 3,000 years of Chinese coinage and also the first paper money in the world. This somewhat dents the prestige of sterling as the world's oldest living currency as it has only been going 1,500 years. A few mini articles have been added on diverse topics: the kowtow; the ‘gang of four’ and the xixia kingdom all expanding our coverage of all things Chinese.
Thu 6th Feb 2014
Although substance ought to be more importance than looks, we have spent time fine tuning the appearance of the web site. Over the two years since the site was founded, pages were developed with their own individual style so it was time to review the whole site to enforce consistency. We have added page numbers to the reference material for the articles, we thought this would give confidence that specific pasages of books had been referred to when writing the article. Many of the history pages have been updated with information from new sources.
Tue 14th Jan 2014
If you would like daily information about China our new diary feature may be of interest to you. It provides a daily fact about China (historical or traditional not political), a list of upcoming Chinese festivals, a daily proverb and the current weather at Beijing.
Mon 23rd Dec 2013
We already offer a list of information about each Chinese province and all the major airports. We decided to add the information we have all on major Chinese cities. The map lets you click on the map or the table to select a city. This lets you quickly find where a Chinese city is located. Also we dynamically update the distance to all the other cities in miles when you select a city. This shows for example that Beijing is 666 miles from Shanghai - as the crow flies. The largest distance between cities is between Kashgar in far western Xinjiang and Jixi in Heilongjiang at 2,780 miles.
Wed 18th Dec 2013
A number of minor changes and fixes over the web site. Also preparing for next year already, with new Chinese calendar for 2014, the Chinese New Year on 31st Jan 2014 which summons in the year of the horse (wooden).
Mon 2nd Dec 2013
It is alarming how quickly errors creep into the pages. This release of the web site content fixes a number of the worst spelling and grammar errors. All the external links have been checked, and even though some were last checked six months ago a fair proportion have had to be updated. Quite a few extra links to external sources have been added there are now about 700 such links.
Mon 11th Nov 2013
The Chinese developed their own system of weights and measures. Over the centuries a few strange units were introduced just as in the Imperial British system. The page includes calculators to inter-convert between the Chinese units and the Metric and Imperial units. You can also use it to convert to/from Imperial and Metric e.g. pints to litres or kilometers to miles etc.
Tue 5th Nov 2013
To help with getting to grips with Chinese characters we have added information popups for many of the most common characters in Chinese. The popup will show information on the derivation and origin of the character as well as phrases, cities, proverbs and other names that use the character. We hope you find the information useful, it seemed better to add it as a popup when you hover over a character rather than needing you to go to another page. This new feature is available for most of the pages on the web site.
Mon 28th Oct 2013
Added a page all about rice in China and also a further language lesson to add some more basic words and phrases.
Fri 4th Oct 2013
A number of small topics added covering such things as the Battle of Yamen; Treaty of Nerchinsk; Lao Zi and Mencius
Mon 23rd Sep 2013
Added a page describing the traditional game of Chinese Chess (xiangqi). It is another example of where Chinese traditions have taken a slightly different route to the 'West'.
Tue 10th Sep 2013
We have added a couple of new quizzes, so there are now seven in all. The new ones are 'hard' quizzes on history and general knowledge about all things Chinese.
Wed 4th Sep 2013
A new section within the language portion of the web site has been dedicated to Chinese Proverbs. Over 600 of the more common proverbs have been trawled from a variety of sources and divided into 17 categories. A Chinese proverb for any occasion.
Fri 26th Jul 2013
Another scan through the text of all the pages on the site. Mainly corrections to grammar and spelling. Some factual errors removed. We had for instance Emperor Puyi married to a Japanese princess, this was in fact his brother Pu Jie.
Tue 9th Jul 2013
China has changed so much in recent years that maps do need a regular update. The growth of the motorway network in China has been incredible. For many 'developed' countries it is hard to spot any changes over 30 years, not so in modern China. Thousands of miles of new road are built every month. Mostly the new motorway follow the route of old trunk roads with bye-passes for all the towns and cities. Names have also changed, as corrections to spelling gradually get added to the base maps. If you spot a problem with a map let us know so we can correct it.
Thu 20th Jun 2013
Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the best known cultural traditions and it was high time we added a page giving a detailed overview. We've also added a biography of the Tang poet Bai Juyi and a page on the use of kites in China.
Fri 7th Jun 2013
Added a page introducing Traditional Chinese Music and also a section on the influential modern writer Lu Xun. We have had problems with the hosting of the web site. We decided to move to a new hosting company and Lithium Hosting was chosen. This proved a very bad choice, after continual concerns over performance the site was down for 26 hours. No compensation was given despite a headline 99.7% guarantee on service which they managed to somehow wriggle out of. Avoid Lithium Hosting if you can. If you look at their web site you will see that they have removed any mention of this serious service outage, blog and tweets were deleted as if the event never happened! We moved to a new host Hostgator last week and so far this has worked out fine.
Sat 27th Apr 2013
We have added five quizzes about China: geography; history; language and general. Each has fifteen questions to test your knowledge of China.
Fri 12th Apr 2013
Moved pages between sections and created new 'Modern History' top level section with section on Korean War. The 'Features' have been renamed 'Culture'. A bug in the display of provinces and airport sortable tables has been fixed. New material on Mount Everest added to Tibet page. Added pictures to all province description pages. New geography sub-section added with new Geography page on mountain ranges and basins making up China. Top level navigation bar style updated.
Fri 5th Apr 2013
Added new page on the Imperial examinations for the Civil Service and split off the description of Wade-Giles to its own page.
Thu 28th Mar 2013
Updated the history index page and all dynasty pages so that they have a summary list of chief events and dates. This feature is still under development. The history index pops up the list when the mouse is hovered over the dynasty list.
China motif
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Chinasage is a new web resource, started in 2012, pages will be added, enhanced and re-formatted regularly. Please check back soon for updated information about China.

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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Chinasage updates', last updated 22 Nov 2016, Web,

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