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 13th Feb

With China in the middle of the Chinese New Year it seems appropriate to report a good news story. In this case it has worldwide benefit, not just to Chinese people.

China has been busy planting trees for decades and the effect is on such a vast scale that it is visible from space. A NASA satellite has found increased vegetation worldwide 2,000,000 sq miles [5,179,976 sq kms] and about 25% of this is in China. The total area added is similar to the size of the Amazon rain forest and so this is very significant change. An early push for reforestation was to help prevent flooding in the Yellow River basin. Intensive farming in the north had removed all the trees that stabilized the friable loess soil. In flash floods the soil easily liquifies and creates dangerous thick mud that easily blocks river channels. Tree planting began back in the 1970s and now heavy rain does not cause as big a problem. Shelter belts have also been planted to try to hold back the sands of the Gobi desert that are often deposited in Beijing in summer.

A good proportion of the greening seen by the NASA satellite is not due to trees but from other vegetation - including crops. Much of this effect was seen in India, this is due to increased plant growth from the use of fertilizers and pesticides. In China it is mainly from forests rather than agriculture. This is partly because in China people continue to move from rural farming into the burgeoning cities. Small scale agriculture has become increasingly uneconomic and plots of land are reverting to patches of woodland.

Although this greening is to be welcomed it is unfortunately not sufficient to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change significantly, but every little helps. The government is on target to achieve its aim of 23% forest coverage by 2020 -by comparison the UK, widely considered a green and pleasant land, has only 13% forest coverage. March 12th each year is designated the official tree planting day where everyone is encouraged to go out and plant a tree. This was instituted in 1981 and is now showing great benefits.

bamboo, forest
Looking up in a bamboo forest

Read more…
Wed 6th Feb

It is little known that for China it was the trade across the Pacific in the 16th and 17th centuries that really opened up international trade and not the Portuguese at Macau. When the pope divided the world between the Spanish and Portuguese the line drawn had wide repercussions. Portugal could trade from Europe via the Cape of Good Hope to the Spice Islands and China while Spain had the control of trade to Mexico ('New Spain') and then over the Pacific to East Asia. The discovery of huge amounts of silver in Mexico and Peru gave the Spanish something with which to buy Chinese luxury goods. The Spanish dollar 'pieces of eight' became the common currency and it was on this coin that the American dollar was based (and later the Hong Kong dollar). Many of the luxury items from China that arrived in Mexico were carried over to the eastern coast and from thence by sea to Europe. It was a very lucrative trade and only ended when Mexico gained independence and the opium trade began. The trade is less well known because the main port was not on the Chinese mainland but at Manilla in the Philippines where a thriving Chinese colony rapidly expanded.

This page on SCMP gives a huge amount of interesting information about this trade route, including the details of how the mighty galleons were built.

spain, boat, galleon, trade, sea
Spanish galleon firing its cannons at other ships. Cornelis Verbeecq, c. 1590. National Gallery of Art, Washington. D.C. Available under a Creative Commons License

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Wed 30th Jan

The Chinese appetite for the sweet and sticky Durian fruit is causing a few issues.

In four years the price has tripled to over $22 a kilo. The tropical fruit is mainly grown in Thailand and Malaysia and the much higher profits are driving farmers to clear ancient, unspoilt forests to expand their orchards. The most sought after variety is Musang King and farmers can make nine times the profit from growing it than producing palm oil. The environmental damage from forest clearance has poisoned the rivers and driven out indigenous tribes. The forest used to be home to wildlife and many rare medicinal plants. The Orang Asli tribe are particularly badly hit and are now trying to block further encroachment. It seems that some pressure from the central Malaysian government may be slowing down the dash to grow more Durian fruit trees.

Durian fruit
Read more…

China Sage Site updates

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

Fri 8th Feb
Further updates
While scanning through the pages during January 2019 we spotted a number of layout/coding issues on many of the web pages. We've now gone through and put most of these right. If you spot any further problems please use the contact form to let us know.
Read more…
Thu 24th Jan
Quizzes fixed
We discovered a bug that would cause some quizzes to occasionally not function at all and also cause some to mark the given answer incorrectly. This should now be fixed. If you still see any problems let us know.
Read more…
Laozi, philosopher
Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou, Fujian. Image by Tom@HK available under a Creative Commons license .

Conventions

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.

Authorship

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.

Acknowledgments

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