Mandarin Tweety in China



Despite the Chinese territory is vast, it's possible to cover long distances in two weeks. It is then imperative to travel by night train if you do not want to fly. Security is good and we manage to get some sleep so let's take the most of it.

As a matter of fact there is plenty to see and I had to pick out some destinations rather than others with the same interest. Beijing is of course a top destination but do you know the Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, who left to posterity an amazing army of life-size terracotta warriors ?... To know more about it, go to Xi'an. Do you also know that the giant panda, an endangered species, and WWF's emblem is the animal symbol of China. To learn more, go to Chengdu.

General information about "the Middle Kingdom"

Motto : none
Anthem : march of the volunteers

(source : http://www.flaggen-server.de/​main/main.php)

Symbol : The great wall

Symbol : the great wall

Flag :

Flag of China

The large star symbolizes the Chinese Communist Party who rules the nation.
The other stars represent the four major social classes : workers, peasants, the middle class (shopkeepers...) and "capitalist patriots" (cultured people. ..).
Red is the color symbol of the socialist revolution. It is also an important color in Chinese tradition as it represents the "Cosmos" and was associated with the emperor ("son" of Heaven) as well as the yellow which was THE color of the emperor.

Capital : Beijing
"the northern capital" (as opposed to Nankin, the previous capital, called the southern capital)
Landmark : the temple of Heaven and the forbidden city
Population : 1.34 billion people (2009)
the most populated country in the world
(17 million in Beijing, but the most populated town is Shanghai)
Area : 9,596,961 km2 (5,963,275 square miles)
Currency : Yuan also called Renminbi (which means people's money).
Religion :
The party advocates atheism (59 %) so only 5 religions are acknowledged for 100 million practising people (according to official statistics) :
  • Taoism, which is the most important with buddhism : 27 %
  • Buddhism : 6 %
  • Islam (originating from the silk road) : 2 %
  • Christianity (catholics and protestants) : 1 %
  • Confucianism (seen as a religion)
Important : the Chinese traditional religion, also called Chinese folk religion or Shenism, doesn't have an official status except the taoism school.
Political system : People's Republic (since 1949).
Official language : Mandarin (92%)
Note : there are 56 ethnic group each with its own language.
Time zone : UTC +8h
(from United Kingdom : + 7h in summer and + 8h in winter)
Architectural styles :
  • The roofs of the temples and palaces are mostly in ceramic yellow-orange with a curved end.
  • Chinese gardens are arranged to represent the world in miniature :
    • The brooks symbolize the rivers and the rocks symbolize the mountains.
    • The round shape doors evoke harmony and the decorations of the windows create a "living picture".
  • Paifang : it can be commemorative or used to delimit blocks.
  • Huabiao : ancient "pilar" used to display claims.
  • Miscellaneous depending on the region...
Folklore and traditions :
  • Chinese new year
  • Feast of lanterns (15 days after the new year) to celebrate the first full moon of the year, and other feasts and celebrations...
  • The traditional costums are hanfu and qipao (manchu costum only dating back 300 years ago).
  • The penjing is the creation of a miniature landscape in a pot (with a shrub, stones, water). The Japanese bonsai comes from Chinese penjing.
Culinary specialities :
  • Peking duck (eaten with wheat pancakes)
  • Spring rolls (with vegetables), not to be confused with the nem (from Vietnam) which is filled with meat.
  • Chinese raviolis (jiaozi)
  • Sesame pasta, rice
  • Others : chicken, sea food...
Drink :
  • Tea
  • Chinese beer
  • Strong alcohol (jiu) such as maotai or xishui (sorghum-based)
Miscellaneous :
  • The writing is composed of sinograms. (Note : the term ideogram is more general).
    Its transcription (from mandarin) in Latin script is called pinyin.
  • Chinese horoscope is based on 12 "animals" (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, ape, cock, dog and pig) as well as the 5 elements of the "Book of Documents" -4th century B.C.- (water, fire, wood, metal and earth).
  • Note : in Vietnam, the cat replaces the rabbit.
  • Many sanlunches (a kind of "three wheeled bicycle") and trishaw (same style as the sanlunche but with a pedicab purpose...). The latters have replaced the palanquins and are more and more motorized (autorickshaw). In many cities there are also a lot of electric scooters that can hardly be heard...
  • Qi is the "lifeblood", "the soul". It precedes the division of yin and yang. The center of gravity is thus the hub of all the qi: the center of energy...
  • Feng shui is a technique used to choose or arrange a place based on its "spiritual influence" (determined by the chi of the place).
  • Funeral tablets. At the burial, the name of the departed was written in a decorative hand on a tablet which then represented the soul of the deceased and was used to venerate them during ceremonies in their honor.
  • Silk art, jade, porcelain, cloisonne, engraving, paint wash...
  • And many others to find out with the next pages...