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 news stories, for more visit our news page.

Thu 15th Oct

China is continuing to successfully launch satellites at an increasing pace. The Mars probe Tainwen-1 Tiān wén was successfully launched back in July. It will reach the Red planet in February and will aim to land a roving probe on the surface soon after.

Meanwhile on the far side of the Moon the lander and rover of the Chang'e-4 probe are still working fine. Its rover, Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2 Yù tù is still delivering useful data after over 22 months of operation.

The latest set of rocket launches have been to put more monitoring satellites in Earth orbit. The Gaofen-13 satellite launched on the 12th October will monitor the skies in visible as well as infra-red wavelengths at a high resolution ( Gāo fēn means high resolution or high score). As well as giving vital geographic information (growth of crops etc.) it also acts as military defense as it can detect stealth fighter airplanes invisible to radar.

With the end of high tech. co-operation with the U.S. China is building an independent space program. It is now also building a network for global positioning ( Běi dǒu-3 series) so it is no longer reliant on the U.S. controlled GPS system of satellites.

Guofen launch,satellite
Image credit: Xinhua Agency
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Thu 1st Oct

There is good cause for double celebration today because the Mid Autumn festival and National day fall on the same day - the next time this will happen is 2031.

The Autumn Moon Festival takes place at full moon in the 8th lunar month (15th day), it marks the end of harvest. Lanterns are lit and round moon cakes are cooked and consumed in large numbers - these usually are filled with soybean paste, lotus seeds and egg yolk and covered in pastry. As there is a tradition that a rabbit lived on the moon, rabbits are a popular image. Another tradition is to layout peaches, melon or grapes in a circle of thirteen as there are 13 lunar months in a year. It celebrates Chang'e, the goddess of the moon, and particularly the romance with the archer god Houyi. Traditionally, spirits of the dead came forth to feast on the fruits of summer harvest. People would climb hills and mountains to watch the rising of the full moon.

National day marks the founding of the Peoples' Republic on 1st October 1949. There are often three days of public holiday for it normally, and so accounting for the weekend this year the combined celebrations last until 7th October - a whole week's holiday.

Moon festival, food, cake
Moon cake for the Mid Autumn (Moon) Festival

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Wed 23rd Sep

The largest palace complex in the world marks its 600th birthday this year. The Forbidden City (as only the privileged few had any access) took 14 years to build at great expense. The Ming dynasty Emperor Yongle had decided in 1406 hat he must move his capital further north towards the still troubled northern frontier. The Forbidden City is the largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. 200,000 worked on the immense project including thousands of families who were forcibly uprooted and moved from the former capital of Nanjing, 600 miles away, to build the new capital. The buildings have only a few levels as they are built of wood making them less prone to damage by earthquake. The use of wood has required a continuous cycle of renovation over the intervening centuries. The Forbidden City remained in use up to the forced removal of Emperor Puyi in 1924.

The modern center of Chinese government has not moved far from the Forbidden City - the government buildings of the People's Republic are located immediately to its west at Zhongnanhai. Although completed in 1420, it was officially inaugurated on Chinese New Year 1421 so we can expect many more stories about it before February 12th 1421.

Ming dynasty, Forbidden City, view, Beijing
View of the Forbidden City, Beijing from the peak of Jingshan Hill

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Thu 17th Sep

All nations are looking at ways to make our cities greener, but the experience in Chengdu might give pause for thought.

The vertical style urban jungle has been used on a large scale in the Qiyi City Forest Garden, Chengdu, Sichuan. The eight apartment blocks were built in 2018 and all 826 of them were quickly snapped up when put on the market.

Urban forest,Chengdu
Image credit: European Pressphoto Agency

However the development has hit an unforeseen problem. The new green spaces on every balcony have found insect tenants too, and so the few residents have to fight a battle with clouds of mosquitoes. The planners forgot that jungles are not only full of lush vegetation but a whole range of insect life that is not quite so welcome.

Only ten families have so far braved the insect menace to take up permanent residence.

Another threat that seems inevitable is that over time the plants will become both large and old. So branches and whole plants are at increasing risk of tumbling down from a great height.

You can also watch a short video about this story here.

Video not visible
Vertical urben forest

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Chinasage Site updates

We continue to improve the web site as you can see on these descriptions of updates and upgrades, for older entries please visit our site news page.

Thu 1st Oct
The first British Embassy to China

The conflict between the UK and China in the mid 19th century had its origin in the failed embassies sent by Britain to negotiate trade deals. The Chinese were not interested in British goods and Britain refused to acknowledge China as a superior nation.

Unlike all other European nations Macartney refused to perform the full obeisance (kowtow) before the Emperor. The Chinese were affronted and the British were sent packing. It was a clash of civilizations and national pride that led ultimately to the destruction of the Old Summer Palace, Beijing 65 years later.

We've add a comprehensive description to the web site of this historic confrontation of which lessons are still being learned.

Macartney, embassy, kowtow
William Alexander's drawing of the reception of the Macartney embassy to China. Young Thomas Staunton (kneeling not kowtowing) receives a gift from the Emperor. Image by William Alexander available under a Creative Commons License
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Thu 24th Sep
The Chinese Leonardo da Vinci

A full 500 years before Leonardo da Vinci worked on various ingenious inventions and developed new theories, Shen Kuo had produced a similar range of ground-breaking discoveries. The contributions of China to scientific discovery is little known so we have added a short summary of the life of this great polymath from the early Song dynasty. Had his ideas been followed up in succeeding generations world history would look very different.

shen kua, song dynasty, scientist
Shen Kuo. A prominent scientist and astronomer of the Song Dynasty. Image by Hans A. Rosbach available under a Creative Commons License
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Guangdong, Shenzhen, skyscraper, modern housing
Shenzhen, skyline at twilight, Guangdong

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 ten years. Laszlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 30 years. The set of 250 podcasts totals 130 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. Sound files kindly provided by shtooka.net under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.

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