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.

Wed 20th Jan

Chinese people have surprisingly few family names. One of the classics of Chinese literature is called the Hundred Family Names Bǎi jiā xìng which lists all the common ones from 1,500 years ago. It was one of the first set of characters that children would learn by heart. One colloquial way to refer to the Chinese people is as the Lǎo bǎi xìng ‘Venerable hundred surnames’ or just Bǎi xìng ‘Hundred names’. The term refers to the ‘ordinary working people’ not the government or rulers.

Some of the family names are used by millions of people. The most common one is ‘Wang’ which means ‘monarch, king, ruler’ and is shared by over 93 million people. However some families with only a few descendents have kept alive some very ancient names. This now causes a problem in the digital age because the character used for the family name are very rare and not in the standard fonts used by computers. So these families are being encouraged to change their name to a more common one. Because of China's huge population this affects a lot of people - about 60 million. The standard character set have now been extended from the basic 8,000 to 70,000 to accommodate many of these rare names but some people are still being left out. Their old written form is fine, it just can't be used digitally.

Wang Zhideng seal
The personal seal of Wang Zhideng

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Thu 14th Jan

A continuing archeological dig has pushed back the history of Chinese palaces by another 1,000 years. Not so long ago it was considered that a complex settled civilization in China only went back about 3,000 years. The latest discoveries at Shuanghuaishu in Henan province, it is just to the north of Zhengzhou near the Yellow River. The remains found are hard to spot as they are mainly made of rammed earth, any stones would have been taken away and used in later buildings. A courtyard covering 8,611 sq feet [800 sq meters] has been found from over 5,000 years ago. which would have been in front of a royal palace. These remains predate the Xia dynasty (c.2100 - 1600BCE) and even before the birth of the Yellow Emperor (born c. 2718BCE)

Shuanghuaishu Dig
Archeological dig at Shuanghuaishu, Zhengzhou, photo credit China Daily .

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Wed 6th Jan

The scales of the rare armored animal, the pangolin, are highly prized in China for their use in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The Chinese species is a scaly ant-eater (Manis pentadactyla) somewhat like the American armadillo. The Chinese government is taking strong action against illegal imports. The dried scales were once believed to be effective against fevers and nervous diseases. Yesterday 17 smugglers were sentenced to between 12 an 14 years in jail for trafficking 23 tons of scales into China worth a probable $28 million. The pangolin is very rare in China but a related species (Smutsia gigantea) is more common in West Africa from where these scales were illegally smuggled.

pangolin, wildlife
Photograph of a pangolin. From Lucile and William Mann's participation in the National Geographic Society-Smithsonian Institution Expedition to the Dutch East Indies, 1937. Image by Lucile and William Mann available under a Creative Commons License

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Wed 30th Dec 2020

The famous Shaolin Temple has now launched, jointly with Henan University, degree courses in Chinese Kung Fu. Bachelor, master and doctorate courses are available for international students. Many of the successful students will return home to teach Kung Fu at teaching centers. The Shaolin Quan Wushu technique dates back around 1,500 years. Kung fu Gōng fu can be translated as ‘fighting competition’ which describes the many competitive fights between the contending schools of martial art.

Henan, Shaolin , martial arts
Shaolin martial arts display Copyright © Dreamstime see image license

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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.

Tue 12th Jan
Chinese Gordon

The role of the British in 19th century China is normally seen as one of exploitation. In the case of General Gordon this does not seem quite accurate. Gordon worked as a mercenary for the Qing forces against the Taiping rebels and earned a lot of respect from Li Hongzhang and other Chinese leaders. His exploits earned him the name ‘Chinese Gordon’ in Britain long before he became the doomed hero of Khartoum fame.

general gordon
Major Gen. Chas. George Gordon engraved by J.J. Cade, New York. c.1900. Image by MS Hyde 76, Houghton Library, Harvard University available under a Creative Commons License
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Thu 12th Nov 2020
Kings Wen and Wu and the Duke of Zhou

This much admired trio of figures founded the Zhou dynasty back in around 1100BCE. Little is known from historical source, not surprising as it all happened over over 3,000 years ago. The great sage Confucius held them, particularly the Duke of Zhou, as paragons of wise and virtuous government. We've added a brief introduction to these early figures of the early development of Chinese civilization to the web site. Both King Wen and the Duke of Zhou are associated with the great Chinese classic the Yi Jing and the development of the eight trigrams.

king wen, zhou dynasty, ji chang
A portrait of King Wen made in the Ming dynasty. Available under a Creative Commons License
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Changbai, Jilin
Tianchi Lake in Changbai/Baekdu Mountains. October 2010.
Image by Sinopitt available under a Creative Commons license


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 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.


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 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.