Chinasage : All about China

About Chinasage

We're building an exciting new information source all about China. We found other sites were poorly structured, too detailed (such as Wikipedia) or just too old-fashioned. What we thought was needed was a carefully constructed set of pages with strict editorial control so that links and pages are consistent, up-to-date and easy to navigate without clutter.

The name “Chinasage” came about because this can be read as either “china sage” ( zhōng guó yīng míng) or “china's age” ( zhōng guó shí dài) , which promotes our new knowledge resource at a time when China has come of age in the World.

China Sage News

We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are the latest couple of reports. For more stories visit news section.

Wed 11th Sep

Attitudes to teaching boys and girls differently are changing. There has been a strong historical tradition that girls are 'yin' while boys are 'yang' and so opposite ends of the passive through to assertive spectrum. A school in Chengdu, Sichuan is proposing to reinforce this age-old division against the worldwide trend. Some schools in the U.S. and U.K. are now going so far as imposing a unisex school uniform so that gender is no longer so obvious.

In the school boys are taught to build rockets while girls learn how to knit. The special course entitled 'Boys and girls are extremely different' has been popular among parents to combat the general gender-neutral treatment. Principal Fu Jin reported that the current situation “led to boys lacking enough space to grow heroically and girls lacking gentle and tranquil feminine examples to follow, so there is some gender dislocation.” The school has been widely criticized but there is a general trend back to age-old gender stereotypes.

In the early days of the People's Republic there was less gender discrimination. Mao proclaimed that 'Woman held up half the sky' and both men and women wore the same style of drab clothing. But not there is currently only woman (Sun Chunlan) who has reached the heights of the Communist Party Politburo. Of the Central Committee's 204 members only 10 are women. The Standing Committee of the Politburo (one rung higher) has never had a woman member. Elsewhere it is now common for rich businessmen to have several mistresses housed in their own flats.

shanghai, children
Copyright Richard Wingfield, October 2017.

Read more…
Wed 7th Aug

With tension all around us in the world it is comforting that Chinese people are still able to see the funny side. The comedy form becoming increasingly popular is stand-up comedy. Comedians are filling theaters with people seeking a community able to have a laugh together at themselves and the world. The popularity of the simple set up of a comedian and a microphone took root in the UK and US some years ago and some US comedians have succeeded in importing this new form of entertainment in China using Hong Kong as the initial test of popularity (including Jo Wong ). Just telling non-stop jokes has not been a Chinese tradition and in the early days Chinese comedians could only afford to do it part-time. Now theaters are packed out and tickets command high prices. Some were recruited at 'open mic' evenings when anyone could turn up and have a go.

Guangzhou and Beijing now have a number of small theaters dedicated to stand-up comedy. Let's hope they can help make everyone a little less stressed out!

comedy audience
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Thu 1st Aug

Fine vinegar has always been important in Chinese cuisine. It is far more complex than making a standard Western malt vinegar as like a fine wine different ingredients and processing give the vinegar unique and subtle flavors. Also like a fine wine vinegar is matured and a old vintages can command high prices. There are four main areas in China with renowned vinegars:

Zhenjiang black vinegar comes from Jiangsu province. It is made from rice, wheat, barley and peas. Different types of mold are used to produce the acid with some sweetness maintained.

Sichuan Baoning vinegar is produced further to the west and has its origin in the Ming dynasty. It is made from wheat bran with dozens of different herbs.

Fujian Yongchun red vinegar comes from the Eastern coast. The red color of the vinegar is imparted by a different kind of mold. The complex maturing process takes three years to complete.

Lastly Shanxi mature vinegar has the longest history - probably at least 2,500 years. It is produced from sorghum, barley and peas. No rice is used. It is matured in three and five year vintages. It is Shanxi vinegar that is in the news because the producers are making a lake of vinegar. The maturation process needs sunlight in summer and the winter cold so it needs to be exposed to the elements. The lake is part of a park created as a tourist attraction by the Shanxi Mature Vinegar Group Co Ltd. The lake is 886 feet [270 meters] long and up to 79 feet [24 meters] wide and can hold over 15,000 tons [13,607,775 kgs] of vinegar. It is said of Shanxi's citizens that they can't eat a meal without fine vinegar - it remains a passion in this northern province.

Because Chinese vinegar is made from herbs and some legumes it has a much more subtle flavor and is more nutritious. Many vinegars claim to be beneficial to health.

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China Sage Site updates

Here are the last few news updates about our web site. For older entries please visit our site news section.

Tue 3rd Sep
Sounds, the Future and the oldest Thesaurus
A mixed bag of updates to the web site has now been released. Looking ahead to the future new Chinese calendars for 2021 and 2022 have been added. These includes all the public and traditional holidays. While doing this work we found an error in the lunar month calculation for 2020 which has been corrected. Our three Mandarin Chinese lessons remain popular and we have added sound effects so you can here the words pronounced - very important when getting to grips with the Chinese tones. Some time ago we added a page on the Hanlin Academy but failed to mention an even older academic institution - the Taixue which was up and running 2,000 years ago. With now added a bit about it. On the same lines there is one ancient text, may be 2,400 years old that has a good claim to be by far the oldest Thesaurus, this is the ‘Er ya’, so we've added a bit about that.
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Thu 8th Aug
The Mongol Conquest of Asia

The big new page we've added attempts to summarize the Mongol conquest of China and Asia. Although Genghis khan is widely covered elsewhere we found very few maps that clearly show the expansion of the Mongol Empire and this made it hard to understand. We've also found some nice illustrations of the Mongol people and paintings of the Mongol conquest.

We've also added a new translation of the Thousand Character Classic ; Steles; Chinoiserie and the South China Sea. If there is a topic you would like us to cover then please let us know.

Mongol, Hingary, Qadan
The Mongols in Hungary 1241. Hungary. Ink and paint on pergament. King Bela on the flight from the Mongols. The Mongol leader might be Qadan, a son of Ogedei. Painted 1358. Image by Szechenyi National Library available under a Creative Commons License
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Qinghai, railway, mountains, snow
Qinghai-Tibet railway near mountains at Golmud, Qinghai


We use a consistent style for links within Chinasage. An internal link taking you to another page within our site is shown like this while a link to a page on any other web site is shown like this .

We use Chinese characters wherever appropriate. Most browsers should display both the characters and the pinyin correctly. We highlight any use of the older Wade Giles system. Except where stated all characters are the modern simplified form used in the People's Republic rather than the traditional ones (pre-1970s). To help you learn Chinese characters many of the very common characters are highlighted thus: hovering the mouse over the character pops up a box showing further information about the character.

Dates are given using the BCE/CE (Before Common Era and in Common Era) year convention rather than BC/AD. If a date is not followed by BCE or CE it should be taken as CE.


All the text on the Chinasage web site is our own, we do not copy and paste from other web sites. We research each topic from a number of separate sources. The only exception to this are quotations and image credits. All text is our copyright and can not be used/copied without our permission. We are independent of any other company or government, the opinions expressed are our own. We do not receive funding from any external agency or organization.

Teacup Media (China History Podcast)

We are delighted to be able to promote links to Laszlo Montgomery's excellent Teacup Media series created over the last six years. Lazlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 25 years. This set of 200 podcasts totals 100 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.


We are extremely grateful to the many people who have put their photographs online for anyone to adapt and use. Without them our site would be very drab. If we are not using the image license correctly please let us know. Some pages use Javascript to create special effects such as our airport table and calendar. We are grateful to the original authors for providing their code to be used and adapted by anyone else. The online Chinese dictionary uses the definition from the CC-CEDICT project for which we are grateful for a generous free license.

Feel free to contact Chinasage to point out any errors, omissions or suggestions on how to improve this web site.

Copyright © Chinasage 2012 to 2019