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.

Tibet, deer
Golden deer and dharma wheel at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet
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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