中国与中国文化china and chinese culture (References and Links at the End)



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中国与中国文化CHINA and CHINESE CULTURE

(References and Links at the End)



1. Population: 1.3 billion (2001)

People: Majority – “Han” (94% on the Chinese Mainland, 97% on Taiwan – so Taiwan is “more Chinese” than the Mainland)

Other 55 minorities, mostly in southwest and northwest China
2. Language: Chinese – written and spoken

Written Chinese: Chinese characters (Han Zi) have been used since between Shang and Zhou dynasty 16th-11th century B.C.

Spoken Chinese:


  • Mandarin is the biggest group; eight others (dialects) like Cantonese (spoken in Guangdong/Canton and Hong Kong), Fujianese (or “Hokkieness”, spoken in Fujian/Hokkien and Taiwan), etc., most of which spoken in southern China. Each major dialect in turn has smaller “branches” that deviate a little bit from one another

  • The Chinese dialects have almost the same grammar, with differences in pronunciations. Therefore, Cantonese is NOT another language from Mandarin, nor is Fujianese/”Hokkienese” – they are only dialects or variations in pronunciations in the big group of Chinese.


3. Land: 9.6 million sq km (3.7 million sq mi)

    • 3rd largest in the world (following Russia and Canada)

    • about the same shape as the U.S.

      • Beijing is about where Philadelphia is

      • Shanghai – about at the coast of N. Carolina

      • Hong Kong – about Houston

      • Taiwan – about south Florida

      • My hometown Xiamen – about north Florida (100 miles to Taiwan)

    • wide variation of climates and terrene


4. Economy:
2003 GDP - 11.69 trillion Yuan (about $1.4 trillion), sixth largest in the world (following US, Japan, Germany, France, and UK)

GDP growth rate 2003 – 9.1%

GDP per capita – about $1050.

GDP per capita using “purchasing power parity” – about $4,500-5,000


Total import/export - $600 billion
Total manufacturing GDP: 5.36 trillion Yuan ($650 billion), among which 1.94 trillion Yuan ($234 billion) were from state-owned companies (about 36%). Therefore, China’s major sector of economy – manufacturing – is only about 1/3 owned by the government, a far cry from nearly 90% 20 years ago. Private companies and foreign-invested companies now account for nearly 2/3 of the outputs of the country’s manufacturing industries.
5. Number of Internet users: 79.5 million (December 2003), the second largest in the world (only after the United States). The number of broadband users: 17.4 million.

Chronology of Chinese Dynasties (partial; only showing major ones)
Xia (Hsia): 2070 – 1600 B.C.

Shang: 1600 – 1046 B.C.

Zhou (Chou): 1046 – 256 B.C. (West Zhou: 1046-771 B.C.; East Zhou: 771-256 B.C.)

- the time of Lao-Tze, Confucius (in India, Buddha was born in about this time?)



Qin (Ch’in): 221-207 B.C.

  • reunited China after some 500 years of separations and wars

  • unified the written language, the measurement systems (length, weight, highway width)

  • began to build the Great Walls to defend against northern nomads

Han: 206 B.C. – A.D. 220

  • This is one of the strongest dynasties

  • Chinese culture began to influence neighboring countries: Korea, Japan, Vietnam…

  • The namesake of the Chinese majority - “Han” people

Jin (Chin): 265-316

Sui: 590-617 (reunited China after some 200 years of separations of smaller dynasties)

Tang: 618-907

  • this is one of the strongest dynasties

  • Han and Tang dynasties had their cultural center in Chang-An (today’s Xi’an)

  • Japanese architecture is largely Tang style

  • The last Han Chinese dynasty having expansions – the Chinese has not been expansionist for over 1,300 years

Song (Sung): 960-1279

  • very developed – agriculture, literature, arts (silk, porcelain, etc), but weak militarily

  • international trades boomed; merchants came even from Arab

Yuan (Mongol): 1280-1367

  • established by the Mongolians (grandsons of Genghis Khan);

  • militarily strong: territories once included central Asia and part of Europe

  • did not assimilate with the Chinese majority – “Han” people;

  • short-lived

  • Marco Polo visited China

Ming: 1368-1644

  • Cheng Ho’s seven voyages (1405-1433), reaching as far as the eastern coast of Africa (some scholars believe his fleet even reached America – there is a book entitled “142x (I forgot the number): The Year the Chinese Discovered America”)

  • built most of Great Walls as seen today

Qing (Ch’ing): 1644-1911

  • the last empire in Chinese history (established by the Manchu – a minority in NE China) [ the pattern of Chinese territory increase: “expansion by BEING conquerED” – assimilating the conquerors with Chinese culture]

  • defeated by UK, France, Russia, Japan, Germany/Austria, Spain, Holland, and almost all other western powers during the colonial expansion of the latter

中华民国Republic of China (ROC): 1912-1949 in mainland China (capital: Nanjing/“Nanking”), 1949-present in Taiwan 台湾(provisional capital: Taipei), China

[colors of the national flag are used here to help differentiation: red-white-blue]



  • Kuo-Min-Tang (“KMT”, the Nationalist Party) overthrew the last dynasty and established the first republic in Asia

  • WWII ally fighting the Japanese Royal Army 1937-1945;

  • Cofounder of the United Nations (with USA, UK, USSR, and France);

  • defeated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and moved to Taiwan province in 1949

中华人民共和国People’s Republic of China (PRC): 1949-present

[colors of the national flag are used here to help differentiation: red and gold]



  • ruling the Chinese mainland since the Communist defeated KMT in 1949

  • was once Soviet-style central-planning state but began capitalist marketization since 1978 (now private or non-state-owned companies account for over half of the companies and the GDP of the country, and over 2/3 of the annual growth of the country)

  • calling for “peaceful reunification” with ROC on Taiwan



The Taiwan Issue


  • Taiwan was inhabited by Chinese since at least 200 AD, and was OFFICIALLY a Chinese island (ruled by various Chinese coastal counties in today’s Fujian and Zhejiang provinces) since Song Dynasty (960-1279). 97% of residents on the Island are Han Chinese.

  • Qing (1644-1911) established Taiwan Province. Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895 after Qing’s defeat by Japan.

  • After WWII, Taiwan was returned to China, but soon was separated from the Mainland because of the existence of two governments – ROC (“nationalist”) in Taiwan province and PRC (“communist”) on the Mainland

  • During 1950s-1960s, both ROC and PRC tried to reunite China by using force (ROC tried to take the Chinese mainland back by force and PRC tried to take Taiwan province back by force)

  • Since 1972, China and U.S. became allies against the Soviet Union, and the U.S. switched its formal diplomatic recognition from ROC (on Taiwan) to PRC (on the Mainland) (January 1, 1979 – i.e., before that date, the U.S. recognized ROC as the legitimate government representing the whole China – Mainland and Taiwan, and after that date the U.S. recognized PRC as the legitimate government representing the whole China)

  • Since 1979, both sides were seeking “peaceful reunification” (ROC lost U.S. support to retake Mainland by force, and PRC was encouraged by the U.S. to resolve the reunification peacefully rather than by force)

  • KMT (“Kuo-Min-Tang” – the “Nationalist Party”) lost the election in ROC in 2000. The new government (led by the “Democratic Progress Party – DPP”) is deviating from the goal of seeking reunification. In fact, the DPP has been going in the direction of even severing cultural connections with China and denouncing cultural identity as being Chinese

  • Most Chinese hope an eventual peaceful reunification of the Mainland and Taiwan, under democracy and rule of law

    • Reunification without democracy is not the solution;

    • Taiwan independence is unacceptable.

    • The only correct road for all Chinese – on Mainland and on Taiwan - is:

      • maintaining status quo while

      • actively increase exchange and mutual understanding, and

      • vigorously pursuit political reform in Mainland China to establish a full democracy, so

      • the Chinese Taiwan and Mainland can eventually REUNITE in DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM, and CHINESE CULTURE



Important Cultural Traditions/Teachings





  1. Ren: benevolence, kindheartedness, humanity

Shu: forbearance, forgiveness

  1. Zhong: loyal, honest

Xiao: filial piety

  1. Xin: keeping promise, trustworthiness

Yi: righteousness, sense of justice, personal loyalty

  1. Lian: right and clean

Chi: sense of shame (feel shame if do wrong things)

  1. Li: courtesy, order, rite, ceremony

Zhi: wisdom, intelligence

  1. 中庸Zhong Yong: “middle and common” - not radical, moderate, not holding too tight on things

和为贵He Wei Gui: “harmony is the most precious thing”
儒家Confucianism:
Ji (self) Suo (‘s) Bu (no) Yu (desire), Wu (not) Shi (impose) Yu (onto) Ren (others): Do not do to others what you do not want to be done on you (Do not treat others the way you don’t want to be treated)
“To be patient and gentle, ready to teach, returning not evil for evil,” … “Wherefore the man with true strength of moral character is one who is gentle, yet firm.”
道家Taoism:
Wa (low) Ze (then) Ying (full): To be empty is to be full

Duo (many) Ze (then) Huo (confused): To have plenty is to be perplexed
Zi (self) Xian (show) Zhe (he who) Bu (not) Ming (clear): He who shows himself is not luminous

Zi (self) Shi (right, justify) Zhe (he who) Bu (not) Zhang (prominent): He who justifies himself is not prominent
Zhi (know) Ren (other) Zhe (he who) Zhi (wit), Zi (self) Zhi (know) Zhe Ming (wise, wisdom): He who knows others has intelligence; while he who knows himself has true wisdom

Sheng (win) Ren Zhe You (has) Li (power), Zi Sheng Zhe Qiang (strength): He who overcomes others has power; while he who overcomes himself has true strength
Some links and references


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