However, the ROC has not made any formal moves to change the name, flag, or national anthem of the state to reflect a Taiwanese identity due to the lack of consensus within Taiwan, pressure from the United States and the fear of invasion or military action from the People's Republic of China against the island. The Republic of China during the DPP years did not actively pursue its claims on mainland China or Mongolia(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery). However, after having been elected as president, KMT's Ma Ying-jeou asserted that, constitutionally, mainland China is part of the Republic of China. The People's Republic of China claims to have succeeded the Republic of China as the sole legitimate governing authority of all of China, which, from the official viewpoint of the People's Republic of China, includes the island of Taiwan(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery).
Over the last 50 years, both the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China have used diplomatic and economic means to compete for recognition in the international arena. Because most international, intergovernmental organizations observe the One-China policy of the People's Republic of China, the PRC has been able to pressure organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery), to refuse to officially recognize the Republic of China. Due to the One-China policy, states around the world are pressured to refuse, or to cut off diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. As a result, 23 U.N. member states currently maintain official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, while the vast majority of U.N. member states maintain official diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery).
Territory and environment
Historical political divisions
Main article: History of the administrative divisions of China
Territories occupied by different dynasties as well as modern political states throughout the history of China.
Top-level political divisions of China have altered as administrations changed. Top levels included circuits and provinces. Below that, there have been prefectures, subprefectures, departments, commanderies, districts, and counties. Recent divisions also include prefecture-level cities, county-level cities, towns and townships(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
Most Chinese dynasties were based in the historical heartlands of China, known as China proper. Various dynasties also expanded into peripheral territories like Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Xinjiang, and Tibet. The Manchu-established Qing Dynasty and its successors, the ROC and the PRC, incorporated these territories into the Chinese empire.
Geography and climate(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery)
Main article: Geography of China
See also: Geography of the People's Republic of China
Composite satellite photo.
Terrace rice fields in Yunnan.
Snowy mountains in Diqing.
China ranges from mostly plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east. Principal rivers flow from west to east, including the Yangtze (central), the Yellow River (Huang He, north-central), and the Amur (northeast), and sometimes toward the south (including the Pearl River, Mekong (river), and Brahmaputra), with most Chinese rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery).
In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains. On the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, grasslands can be seen. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges. In the central-east are the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. Most of China's arable lands lie along these rivers(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery), and they were the centers of China's major ancient civilizations. Other major rivers include the Pearl River, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. Yunnan Province is considered a part of the Greater Mekong Subregion, which also includes Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Main geographic features and regions of China.
In the west, the north has a great alluvial plain, and the south has a vast calcareous tableland traversed by hill ranges of moderate elevation, and the Himalayas, containing Earth's highest point, Mount Everest(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery). The northwest also has high plateaus with more arid desert landscapes such as the Takla-Makan and the Gobi Desert, which has been expanding. During many dynasties, the southwestern border of China has been the high mountains and deep valleys of Yunnan, which separate modern China from Burma, Laos and Vietnam(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery).
The Paleozoic formations of China, excepting only the upper part of the Carboniferous system, are marine, while the Mesozoic and Tertiary deposits are estuarine and freshwater, or else of terrestrial origin. Groups of volcanic cones occur in the Great Plain of north China. In the Liaodong and Shandong Peninsulas, there are basaltic plateaus(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery).
The climate of China varies greatly. The northern zone (containing Beijing) has summer daytime temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celsius and winters of Arctic severity. The central zone (containing Shanghai) has a temperate continental climate with very hot summers and cold winters. The southern zone (containing Guangzhou) has a subtropical climate with very hot summers and mild winters(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery).
Due to a prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices, dust storms have become usual in the spring in China. Dust has blown to southern Mainland China and Taiwan, and has reached the West Coast of the United States. Water, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery).
Main article: Economic history of China
See also: Economy of the People's Republic of China, Economy of Taiwan, Economy of the Han Dynasty, Economy of the Song Dynasty, and Economy of the Ming Dynasty
China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest economy. However, in the later part of the Qing Dynasty, China's economic development began to slow and Europe's rapid development during and after the Industrial Revolution enabled it to surpass China(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery).
Many analysts assert that the modern People's Republic of China is one of the leading examples of state capitalism in the 21st century.
Main article: Culture of China
See also: Chinese law, Chinese philosophy, and Confucianism
Wang Yangming, a highly influential Neo-Confucian
A Chinese Opera (Beijing Opera) performance in Beijing of the historical character Yang Guifei.
Confucianism was the official philosophy throughout most of Imperial China's history, and mastery of Confucian texts was the primary criterion for entry into the imperial bureaucracy. China's traditional values were derived from various versions of Confucianism. A number of more authoritarian strains of thought have also been influential, such as Legalism(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery).
There was often conflict between the philosophies, e.g. the Song Dynasty Neo-Confucians believed Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians (not to be confused with Neo-Confucianism) have advocated that democratic ideals and human rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian values"(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery).
With the rise of European economic and military power beginning in the mid-19th century, non-Chinese systems of social and political organization gained adherents in China. Some of these would-be reformers totally rejected China's cultural legacy, while others sought to combine the strengths of Chinese and European cultures. In essence, the history of 20th-century China is one of experimentation with new systems of social(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery), political, and economic organization that would allow for the reintegration of the nation in the wake of dynastic collapse.
Arts, scholarship, and literature
Main article: Chinese art
See also: Chinese literature, Chinese painting, Chinese paper cutting, East Asian calligraphy, Chinese poetry, Cinema of China, and Music of China
Chinese calligraphy by Mi Fu, Song Dynasty, ca. 1100 CE
The qin, a traditional Chinese stringed musical instrument, favored by scholars and the nobility, as highlighted in the Book of Rites: "a gentleman does not part with his qin or se without good reason(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery)."
Calligraphy later became commercialized, and works by famous artists became prized possessions. Chinese literature has a long past; the earliest classic work in Chinese, the I Ching or "Book of Changes" dates to around 1000 BC. A flourishing of philosophy during the Warring States Period produced such noteworthy works as Confucius's Analects and Laozi's Tao Te Ching. (See also: the Chinese classics.) (SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery) Dynastic histories were often written, beginning with Sima Qian's seminal Records of the Grand Historian, which was written from 109 BC to 91 BC.
The Tang Dynasty witnessed a poetic flowering, while the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature were written during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Printmaking in the form of movable type was developed during the Song Dynasty. Academies of scholars sponsored by the empire were formed to comment on the classics in both printed and handwritten form. Royalty frequently participated in these discussions as well(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery).
The Song Dynasty was also a period of great scientific literature, and saw the creation of works such as Su Song's Xin Yixiang Fayao and Shen Kuo's Dream Pool Essays. There were also enormous works of historiography and large encyclopedias, such as Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian of 1084 AD or the Four Great Books of Song fully compiled and edited by the 11th century(SONY Vaio VGC-LB15 battery).
For centuries, religious and social advancement in China could be achieved through high performance on the imperial examinations. This led to the creation of a meritocracy, although success was available only to males who could afford test preparation. Imperial examinations required applicants to write essays and demonstrate mastery of the Confucian classics. Those who passed the highest level of the exam became elite scholar-officials known as jinshi, a highly esteemed socio-economic position(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/B battery).
Chinese philosophers, writers and poets were highly respected and played key roles in preserving and promoting the culture of the empire. Some classical scholars, however, were noted for their daring depictions of the lives of the common people, often to the displeasure of authorities.The Chinese invented numerous musical instruments, such as the zheng (zither with movable bridges), qin (bridgeless zither) (SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/P battery), sheng (free reed mouth organ), and xiao (vertical flute) and adopted and developed others such the erhu (alto fiddle or bowed lute) and pipa (pear-shaped plucked lute), many of which later spread throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia, particularly to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Main articles: Demographics of the People's Republic of China, Ethnic groups in Chinese history, and Ethnic minorities in China(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50B/W battery)
Ethnolinguistic map of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China
Hundreds of ethnic groups have existed in China throughout its history. The largest ethnic group in China by far is the Han. This group, however, is internally diverse and can be further divided into smaller ethnic groups that share similar traits(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ50DB/W battery).
Over the last three millennia, many previously distinct ethnic groups in China have been Sinicized into a Han identity, which over time dramatically expanded the size of the Han population. However, these assimilations were usually incomplete, and vestiges of indigenous language and culture still often remain in various regions of China. Because of this, many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and cultural traditions while still identifying as Han(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51B/P battery).
Several ethnicities have also dramatically shaped Han culture, e.g. the Manchurian clothing called the qipao became the new "Chinese" fashion after the 17th century, replacing earlier Han styles of clothing such as the Hanfu. The modern term Chinese nation (Zhonghua Minzu) is now used to describe a notion of a Chinese nationality that transcends ethnic divisions(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51B/R battery).
Main article: Languages of China
Most languages in China belong to the Sino-Tibetan languages family, spoken by 29 ethnicities. There are also several major linguistic groups within the Chinese language itself. The most spoken varieties are Mandarin (spoken by over 70% of the population), Wu, Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. Non-Sinitic languages spoken widely by ethnic minorities include Zhuang (Thai), Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Turkic), Hmong and Korean(SONY Vaio VGC-BJ51B/W battery).
Classical Chinese was the written standard in China for thousands of years, and allowed for written communication between speakers of various unintelligible languages and dialects in China. Written vernacular Chinese, or baihua, is the written standard based on the Mandarin dialect and first popularized in Ming Dynasty novels. It was adopted with significant modifications during the early 20th century as the national standard. Classical Chinese is still part of the high school curriculum and is thus intelligible to some degree to many Chinese(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ51DB/B battery).
Main article: Religion in China
The Round Mound Altar, the altar proper at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, where the Emperor communed with Heaven
Shang Dynasty bronze script character for tian (天), "Sky" or "Heaven."
The "official" orthodox faith system held by most dynasties of China since at least the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC) until the overthrow of the last dynasty (1911 AD) centered on the worship of Shangdi ("Supreme God") or "Heaven" as an omnipotent force. This faith system pre-dated the development of Confucianism and Taoism and the introduction of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/N battery).
It has features of monotheism in that Heaven is seen as an omnipotent entity, endowed with personality but no corporeal form. From the writings of Confucius, we find that Confucius himself believed that Heaven cannot be deceived, Heaven guides people's lives and maintains a personal relationship with them, and that Heaven gives tasks for people to fulfill to teach them righteousness (yi, 義) (SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/P battery). However, this faith system was not truly monotheistic since other lesser gods and spirits, which varied with locality, were also worshiped along with Shangdi. Still, variants such as Mohism approached high monotheism, teaching that the function of lesser gods and ancestral spirits is merely to carry out the will of Shangdi, which included observing "universal love" (jian'ai, 兼爱) and shunning fatalism(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52B/W battery).
Worship of Shangdi and Heaven in ancient China includes the erection of shrines, the last and greatest being the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the offering of prayers. The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Heaven, usually by slaughtering a bull as sacrifice. Although its popularity gradually diminished after the advent of Taoism and Buddhism, among other religions(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ52DB/B battery), its concepts remained in use throughout the pre-modern period and have been incorporated in later religions in China, including terminology used in Chinese Christianity.
Taoism is an indigenous religion of China and its beginnings are traditionally traced to the composition of Laozi's Tao Te Ching (The Book of Tao and Its Virtues) or to seminal works by Zhang Daoling. The philosophy of Taoism is centered on "the way"; an understanding of which can be likened to recognizing the true nature of the universe. Taoism in its unorganized form is also considered a folk religion of China(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ53B/W battery). More secular derivatives of Taoist ideas include feng shui, Sun Tzu's Art of War, and acupuncture.
A Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907) sculpture of the Buddha seated in meditation.
Buddhism in China was first introduced from Central Asia during the Han Dynasty and became very popular among Chinese of all walks of life, embraced particularly by commoners, and sponsored by emperors in certain dynasties. Mahayana (Dacheng, 大乘) is the predominant form of Buddhism practiced in China(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ54B/W battery), where it was largely Sinicized and later exported to Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Some subsets of Mahayana popular in China include Pure Land (Amidism) and Zen. Buddhism is the largest organized faith in China and the country has the most Buddhist adherents in the world. Many Chinese, however, identify themselves as both Taoist and Buddhist at the same time(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ90HS battery).
Ancestor worship is a major religious theme shared among all indigenous Chinese religions. Traditional Chinese culture, Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism all value filial piety, or a love and respect for one's parents and ancestors, as one of the most important virtues. Chinese people generally offer prayers and food for their ancestors, light incense and candles, and burn offerings of Joss paper(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ90S battery). These activities are typically conducted at the site of ancestral graves or tombs, at an ancestral temple, or at a household shrine.
The Huaisheng Mosque is one of the oldest Mosques in the world, built by Muhammad's uncle, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas
Islam in China dates to a mission in 651, 18 years after Muhammad's death. Muslims came to China for trade, dominating the import/export industry during the Song Dynasty. They became influential in government circles, including Zheng He, Lan Yu and Yeheidie'erding, who designed the Yuan Dynasty's capital, Khanbaliq. Nanjing became an important center of Islamic study. The Qing Dynasty waged war and genocide against Muslims in the Dungan revolt and Panthay Rebellion(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ91HS battery).
Judaism in China dates to as early as the 7th or 8th century AD. In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of Jews from Europe arrived in Shanghai and Hong Kong during those cities' periods of economic expansion, seeking refuge from the Holocaust. Shanghai was notable for its volume of Jewish refugees, as it was the only port in the world to accept them without an entry visa(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ91S battery).
Christianity in China has developed since at least the 7th century AD with the introduction of the Assyrian Church of the East. Christianity began to make significant inroads in China after the 16th century through Jesuit and later Protestant missionaries. The Taiping Rebellion was influenced to some degree by Christian teachings, and the Boxer Rebellion was in part a reaction against Christianity in China(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ92HS battery).
Sports and recreation
Dragon boat racing, a popular traditional Chinese sport.
For sports in the People's Republic of China, see Sport in the People's Republic of China, Sport in Hong Kong, and Sport in Macau.
For sports in the Republic of China, see Sport in Taiwan.
Many historians believe that football originated in China, where a form of the sport may have appeared around 1000 AD. Other popular sports include martial arts, table tennis, badminton, and more recently, golf. Basketball is now popular among young people in urban centers(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ92S battery).
There are also many traditional sports. Chinese dragon boat racing occurs during the Duanwu Festival. In Inner Mongolia, Mongolian-style wrestling and horse racing are popular. In Tibet, archery and equestrian sports are part of traditional festivals.
Physical fitness is highly regarded. It is common for the elderly to practice tai chi chuan and qigong in parks. Board games such as Chess, Go (Weiqi), and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) are also common and have organized formal competitions(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ94HS battery). The capital city of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, a major international sporting event.
Science and technology
History of science and
technology in China
People's Republic of China
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Further information: History of science and technology in China, List of Chinese inventions, and List of Chinese discoveries
Among the technological accomplishments of ancient China were paper (not papyrus) and papermaking, woodblock printing and movable type printing, the early lodestone and needle compass, gunpowder, toilet paper, early seismological detectors, matches, pound locks, the double-action piston pump(SONY Vaio VGC-LJ94S battery), blast furnace and cast iron, the iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, natural gas as fuel, the differential gear for the South Pointing Chariot, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere, the hydraulic-powered trip hammer, the mechanical chain drive, the mechanical belt drive, the raised-relief map, the propeller, the crossbow, the cannon, the rocket, the multistage rocket, etc(Sony VGN-NR11S/S Battery).
Chinese astronomers were among the first to record observations of a supernova. The work of the astronomer Shen Kuo (1031–95) alone was most impressive, as he theorized that the sun and moon were spherical, corrected the position of the pole star with his improved sighting tube, discovered the concept of true north, wrote of planetary motions such as retrogradation, and compared the orbital paths of the planets to points on the shape of a rotating willow leaf(Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery). With evidence for them, he also postulated geological theories for the processes of land formation in geomorphology and climate change in paleoclimatology.
Other important astronomers included Gan De, Shi Shen, Zhang Heng, Yi Xing, Zhang Sixun, Su Song and Guo Shoujing. Chinese mathematics evolved independently of Greek mathematics and is therefore of great interest in the history of mathematics. The Chinese were also keen on documenting all of their technological achievements, such as in the Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia written by Song Yingxing (1587–1666) (Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery).
China's science and technology had fallen behind that of Europe by the 17th century. Political, social and cultural reasons have been given for this, although recent historians focus more on economic causes, such as the high level equilibrium trap. Since the PRC's market reforms, China has become better connected to the global economy and is placing greater emphasis on science and technology(Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery).