The one minute summary on China
This is it: one minute to the best info on China. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting China, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China’s sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO’s successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in China
- Does my current phone work in China Tips to cell phone usage in China
- Local food you should try in China and No miss drinks in China
Now, cheers to the most China aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for China
The recorded history of Chinese civilization can be traced to the Yellow River valley, said to be the ‘cradle of Chinese civilization’. The Xia Dynasty was the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical chronicles, though to date, no concrete proof of its existence has been found. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence has shown that at the very least, an early bronze age Chinese civilization had developed by the period described. The Shang Dynasty, China’s first historically confirmed dynasty, and the Zhou Dynasty ruled across the Yellow River basin. The Zhou adopted a decentralized system of government, in which the feudal lords ruled over thier respective territories with a high degree of autonomy, even maintaining their own armies, while at the same time paying tribute to the king and recognizing him as the symbolic ruler of China.
It was also the longest ruling dynasty in Chinese history, lasting about 800 years. Despite this longevity, during the second half of the Zhou period, China descended into centuries of political turmoil, with the feudal lords of numerous small fiefdoms vying for power during the Spring and Autumn Period, and later stabilized into seven large states in the Warring States period. This tumultuous period gave birth to China’s greatest thinkers including Confucius, Mencius and Laozi, who made substantial contributions to Chinese thought and culture. Imperial China China was eventually unified in 221 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the ‘First Emperor’, and the Qin Dynasty instituted a centralized system of government for all of China, and standardized weights and measures, Chinese characters and currency in order to create unity. Until today, the ideal of a unified and strong centralized system is still strong in Chinese thought. However, due to despotic and harsh rule, the Qin dynasty lasted for only 15 years as the Han Dynasty took over in 206BC after a period of revolt.
With the invention of paper and extensive trade with the West along the Silk Road, along with relatively benevolent imperial rule, the Han was the first golden age of Chinese civilization. Ethnic Chinese consider themselves to be part of the ‘Han’ race till this day. The collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 CE led to a period of political turmoil and war known as the Three Kingdoms Period, which saw China split into the three separate states of Wei, Shu and Wu. Despite lasting for only about 60 years, it is a highly romanticised period of Chinese history. China was then briefly reunified under the Jin Dynasty, before descending into a period of division and anarchy once again.
The era of division culminated with the Sui which reunified China in 581. The Sui were famous for major public works projects, such as the engineering feat of the Grand Canal, which linked Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south. Certain sections of the canal are still navigable today.
Bankrupted by war and excess government spending, the Sui were supplanted by the Tang Dynasty, ushering in the second golden age of Chinese civilization, marked by a flowering of Chinese poetry, Buddhism and statecraft, and also saw the development of the Imperial Examination system which attempted to select court officials by ability rather than family background. Chinatowns overseas are often known as “Street of the Tang People” .
The collapse of the Tang Dynasty then saw China divided once again, until it was reunified by the Song Dynasty. The Song ruled over most of China for over 150 years before being driven south of the Huai river by the Jurchens, were they continued to rule as the Southern Song, and although militarily weak, attained a level of commercial and economic development unmatched until the West’s Industrial Revolution. The Yuan (Mongol) dynasty first defeated the Jurchens, then proceeded to conquer the Song in 1279, and ruled their vast Eurasian empire from modern-day Beijing.
After defeating the Mongols, the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) re-instituted rule by ethnic Han. The Ming period was noted for trade and exploration, with Zheng He’s numerous voyages to Southeast Asia, India and the Arab world. Initial contact with European traders meant China gradually reaped the fruits of the Colombian exchange, with silver pouring in by the galleon through trade with the Portuguese and Spanish. Famous buildings in Beijing, such as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, were built in this period.
The last dynasty of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1644-1911), saw the Chinese empire grow to its current size, incorporating the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet. The Qing dynasty fell into decay in its final years to become the ‘sick man of Asia’, where it was nibbled apart by Western powers. The Westerners established their own treaty ports in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin. China lost several territories to foreign powers; Hong Kong and Weihai were ceded to Britain, Taiwan and Liaodong were to Japan, parts of the North East including Dalian and parts of Outer Manchuria to Russia, while Qingdao was ceded to Germany. Shanghai was divided among China and eight different countries.
In addition, China lost control of its tributaties, with Vietnam being ceded to France, while Korea and the Ryukyu Islands were ceded to Japan. The Republic and WWII The two thousand-year old imperial system collapsed in 1911, where Sun Yat-Sen , Sn Zhngshn) founded the Republic of China. Central rule collapsed in 1916 after Yuan Shih-kai, the second president of the Republic and self-declared emperor, passed away; China descended into anarchy, with various self-serving warlords ruling over different regions of China.
In 1919, student protests in Beijing gave birth to the “May Fourth Movement, which espoused various reforms to Chinese society, such as the use of the vernacular in writing, as well as the development of science and democracy. The intellectual ferment of the May Fourth Movement gave birth to the reorganized Kuomintang (KMT) in 1919 and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the French Concession in Shanghai, 1921. After uniting much of eastern China under KMT rule in 1928, the CCP and the KMT turned on each other, with the CCP fleeing to Yan’an in Shaanxi in the epic Long March. During the period from 1922 to 1937, The eastern provinces of China grew economically under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT government, with marked economic expansion, industrialization and urbanization.
Shanghai became a truly cosmopolitan city, as one of the world’s busiest ports, and the most prosperous city in East Asia, home to millions of Chinese and 60,000 foreigners from all corners of the globe. However, underlying problems throughout the vast country side, particularly the more inland parts of the country, such as civil unrest, famines and warlord conflict, still remained. Japan established a puppet state under the name Manchukuo in Manchuria in 1931, and launched a full-scale invasion of China’s heartland in 1937. The Japanese initiated a brutal system of rule in Eastern China, culminating in the Nanjing Massacre of 1937. After fleeing west to Chongqing, the KMT realized the urgency of the situation signed a tenuous agreement with the CCP to form a second united front against the Japanese. With the defeat of Japan in 1945, the KMT and CCP armies maneuvered for positions in north China, setting the stage for the civil war in the years to come.
The civil war lasted from 1946 to 1949 and ended with the Kuomintang defeated and sent packing to Taiwan where they hoped to re-establish themselves and recapture the mainland some day. A Red China Mao Zedong officially declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on 1 Oct 1949.
The new Communist government implemented strong measures to restore law and order and revive industrial, agricultural and commercial institutions reeling from more than a decade of war. By 1955, China’s economy had returned to pre-war levels of output as factories, farms, labor unions, civil society and governance were brought under Party control. After an initial period closely hewing to the Soviet model of heavy industrialization and comprehensive central economic planning, China began to experiment with adapting Marxism to a largely agrarian society.
Massive social experiments such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign , the Great Leap Forward, intended to collectivize and industrialize China quickly, and the Cultural Revolution , aimed at changing everything by discipline, destruction of the “Four Olds,” and total dedication to Mao Zedong Thought, rocked China from 1957 to 1976. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are generally considered disastrous failures in China. During the Cultural Revolution in particular, China’s cultural heritage, including monuments, temples, historical artifacts, and works of literature sustained catastrophic damage at the hands of Red Guard factions. It was only due to the intervention of Zhou Enlai and the PLA that major sites, such as the Potala Palace, the Mogao Caves, and the Forbidden City escaped destruction during the Cultural Revolution.
Mao Zedong died in 1976, and in 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China’s paramount leader. Deng and his lieutenants gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision making. Economic output quadrupled by 2000 and continues to grow by 8-10% per year, but huge problems remain bouts of serious inflation, regional income inequality, human rights abuses, ethnic unrest, massive pollution, rural poverty and corruption. While the larger cities near the coast like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have grown to become rich and modern, many of the more inland and rural parts of the country remain poor and underdeveloped.
The former president and CCP General Secretary, Hu Jintao, has proclaimed a policy for a “Harmonious Society” which promises to restore balanced economic growth and channel investment and prosperity into China’s central and western provinces, which have been largely left behind in the post-1978 economic boom. In 2010, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy after the United States. China continues to develop economically at a breakneck speed, but what lies ahead for the Middle Kingdom is any body’s guess.
The one minute summary for China geography
Best places to see in China
China’s attractions are endless and you will never run out of things to see. Especially near the coastal areas, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next one is usually just a short train ride away. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover or someone who just wants to relax on a nice beach, China has it all from the majestic Forbidden City in Beijing, to the breathtaking scenery of Jiuzhaigou. Even if you live in China for many years, you’ll find that there’s always something new to discover in another part of the country. Perhaps unsurprising due to its sheer size and long history, China has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after Italy and Spain. Karst formations, Guilin Karst Scenery.
The gumdrop mountains and steeply sloping forested hills with bizarre rock formations favored by traditional Chinese artists are not creative fantasy. In fact, much of southern and southwestern China is covered in strangely eroded rock formations known as Karst. Karst is type of limestone formation named after an area in Slovenia. As limestone layers erode, the denser rock or pockets of different stone resist erosion forming peaks. Caves hollow out beneath the mountains which can collapse forming sinkholes and channels leading to underground rivers. At its most unusual Karst erodes to form mazes of pinnacles, arches and passageways.
The most famous example can be found in the Stone Forest near Kunming in Yunnan. Some of the most famous tourist areas in China feature spectacular karst landscapes Guilin and Yangshuo in Guangxi, and much of central and western Guizhou province. Sacred sites For sacred mountains, see the next section. Several sites in China have famous Buddhist art: Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province – more than 51,000 Buddhist carvings, dating back 1,500 years, in the recesses and caves of the Yangang Valley mountainsides Mogao Caves in Gansu province – art and manuscripts dating back to the 4th century Dazu Rock Carvings near Chongqing – dating from the 7-13th century Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang – 5-10th century
Mountains China is home to many sacred mountains. The Five Great Mountains , associated with Taoism: Mount Tai , Shandong Province (1,545 meters) Mount Hua , Shaanxi Province (2,054 meters) Mount Heng (Hunan), Hunan Province (1,290 meters) Mount Heng (Shanxi) , Shanxi Province (2,017 meters) Mount Song , Henan Province, where the famous Shaolin Temple is located (1,494 meters).
The Four Sacred Mountains , associated with Buddhism: Mount Emei , Sichuan Province (3,099 meters) Mount Jiuhua, Anhui Province (1,342 meters) Mount Putuo , Zhejiang Province (297 meters, an island) Mount Wutai , Shanxi Province (3,058 meters)
The three main sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism: Mount Kailash, Tibet (5,656 meters), also known as Gang Rinpoche in Tibetan, also one of Hinduism’s holiest mountains visited by many Hindu pilgrims Kawa Karpo Amnye Machen .
There are also several other well-known mountains. In China, many mountains have temples, even if they are not especially sacred sites: Mount Qingcheng , Sichuan Province Mount Longhu, Jiangxi Province Mount Lao , Shandong Province Mount Wuyi , Fujian Province, a major tourist/scenic site with many tea plantations Mount Everest, straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, world’s highest mountain Mount Huang (Yellow Mountain), in Anhui province, with scenery and temples Mount Wudang near Danjiangkou in Hubei, Taoist mecca, birthplace of taichi and Wudang kung fu Changbaishan/Paektusan (Chinese Korean), the most sacred mountain in the world to both ethnic Manchus and Koreans, located on the border with North Korea Revolutionary Pilgrimage Sites Shaoshan – First CCP Chairman and Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s hometown Jinggangshan – The first CCP rural base area after the 1927 crackdown by the KMT Ruijin – Seat of the China Soviet Republic from 1929 to 1934 Zunyi –