The Chinese civilization that emerged 3500
years ago from the haze of prehistory was an already
highly developed Bronze Age culture at the middle of the
Yellow River at the edge of the North China Plain. Other
cultural centers may have been located in the upper
Yangtze Valley and closer to the sea north of
For most of its long history, China lived shielded
from other advanced civilizations. The Chinese therefore
came to see their country as the center of civilization
and culture - the Middle Kingdom (Zhongguo). Other
people were perceived as barbarians. Unaware of other
high cultures, the Chinese, like Europeans, thought they
were superior to the outside world.
Latest population statistics of China, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Two great philosophers, both active in the fifth
century BC, gave rise to different traditions that run
through China's culture from ancient to present:
Confucianism and Daoism.
Confucius, who spent most of his life teaching,
developed his philosophy during conversations with his
disciples. Part of Confucius' discussion with the
disciples has been gathered in Conversations with K,
which is considered to be the classic work of
Confucianism. In Confucius' doctrine, order, stability
and harmony are valued most of all. It is certain that
the subordinates are loyal to their superiors, that the
wife obeys the husband, the son his father, that the
younger obeys the older, and that all obey the emperor,
whose orders have the closest divine weight.
Confucianism attaches great importance to diligence,
virtue and strong family ties. Much of this heritage is
still alive in today's Chinese society.
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of China. Artists and albums are also included.
Daoism was created according to legend by the thinker
Lao Zi, the Old Master, who lived shortly before
Confucius. However, it is uncertain whether he has ever
existed. The doctrine rejects material endeavors,
discontents, and desires and commands man to withdraw
from the world's alarm. Daoism has inspired a popular
Chinese literary tradition, which has created poetic
The Song of Songs (Shijing) is a famous anthology
with poems, compiled in the 500s BC. The subsequent
dynasties have all left important imprints in Chinese
literature. But more well-known in the West are the
novels of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644): The Three
Kingdoms, Stories of the Swamplands, Golden Lotus and
the Great Literary Works of the Qing Dynasty The Dream
in the Red Pavilion.
A variety of sensational archaeological finds give
China a prominent place on the world map of culture. Qin
Emperor Shi Huangdi's (221–210 BC) underground giant
armies at Xian, with thousands of clay soldiers in
natural size, the Mingke emperors powerful tombs north
of Beijing and many other sights are reminiscent of the
country's magnificent past.
The paper, silk, porcelain, compass, seismograph and
gunpowder are just some of China's diverse contributions
to humanity. Paper began to be manufactured in China as
early as the twentieth century and only reached Europe
about a thousand years later.
The literature had a heyday in the 1920s and 1930s,
when many writers began to write in everyday spoken
language instead of old written language. But Mao
Zedong's 1942 directive that "all literature must serve
the purposes of the party" subsequently hampered the
authors. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976,
all art, literature and music that did not serve the
party and communism were banned.
Even after the beginning of reform policy in 1978,
ideological rigor has shifted with greater artistic
freedom. The new Chinese film has gained world fame
thanks to directors such as Zhang Yimou (The Red Field,
Ju Dou - Forbidden Love, The Red Lantern with Multiple
Movies) and Chen Kaige (Children's King, The Yellow
Earth with Multiple Films). Jia Zhang-kes movie Still
life on the dam building Three ravines (see Natural
Resources and Energy) won the 2006 Best Film Award at
the Venice Film Festival. In 2014, the thriller Black
Coal, thin ice won by director Diao Yinan the Golden
Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
In 2000, a Chinese was awarded the Nobel Prize for
Literature for the first time. Gao Xingjian, whose
best-known work is the novels The Mountain of the Andes
and The Bible of a Lonely Man, has lived in France since
1988 as a political refugee. In his home country, his
books are forbidden. In 2012, another Chinese, Mo Yan,
who is active in the country, received the award.
During the 1990s and 2000s, many female writers were
noted. Several of them were born in the 1960s and 1970s
and depict the young restless generation's wild life in
Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. Other
internationally recognized contemporary Chinese writers
include Yu Hua, Han Shaogong, Yang Lianke and Su Tong.
Nine residents of the village of Wukan are sentenced to two to ten years in
prison for disrupting public order. The convicts had participated in protests in
September against the arrest of the city's city councilor Lin Zulian (see
Laws must curb environmental degradation
The National People's Congress Executive Committee adopts a law that for the
first time bans environmental crimes. Fouling of air and water is covered with
fines. It is also prohibited to affect the environment with noise. However,
carbon dioxide emissions, one of the largest climate controls, are not covered
by the new law.
China captures underwater drones
The incident, which occurs on international waters of the South China Sea, is
one of the most serious military confrontations in several years. The US
Department of Defense requires the drone to be returned immediately. The drone
was reportedly used for scientific purposes. The parties subsequently reach an
agreement on a surrender.
Diplomatic concern after phone call
US President Donald Trump chooses to answer a phone call from Taiwan's
President Tsai. It violates US diplomatic practice since 1979, when the United
States established its "China policy," severed official relations with Taiwan
and severed ties with the People's Republic of China instead. China's Foreign
Minister Wang Yi first diminishes the importance of the telephone call by
calling it "a little trick" from Taiwan's president. Shortly thereafter,
however, China makes a written complaint to the US government. The White House
responds by assuring China that it does not intend to deviate from a China
Court disqualifies parliamentarians
The Hong Kong Supreme Court confirms that the two members of Youngspiration
may not take a seat in LegCo.
Demonstrations in Hong Kong
Tens of thousands of people are demonstrating to express their support for
Hong Kong being part of China and to distance themselves from those seeking
independence for the region.
Silent protest march in Hong Kong
A couple of thousand black-clad lawyers and activists demonstrate on the
streets of Hong Kong after Beijing, through a law interpretation, prevented two
Youngspiration independence activists from taking a seat in the LegCo
Beijing stops Hong Kong parliamentarians
After several weeks of controversy in connection with activists from the
newly formed party Youngspiration to be sworn into the LegCo Legislative
Assembly, the leadership in Beijing intervenes and stops two activists from
taking a seat in LegCo. Beijing decides, through a new interpretation of the
law, that members may not sit in Legco unless they have taken the oath when they
are sworn in as new parliamentarians correctly. The two activists from
Youngspiration had previously had their oaths annulled at a ceremony, when,
among other things, they had stated that Hong Kong was not part of China.
Uyghur professor receives human rights award
Ilham Tohti, who is serving a life sentence for "separatism" (see
October 2014), received the Martin Ennals Prize for his long work to
"create dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese."
President Xi is renamed
At the Communist Party Central Committee's four-day long meeting, the
President is designated as "the core of the Central Committee". Former leaders
Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong and Jiang Zemin have been given this title, but not Hu
Jintao. At the same time, the importance of a "collective leadership" is
emphasized by the party.
Car conductor sentenced to prison
Lin Zuluan's former village leader in Wukan is sentenced to three years in
prison for corruption. Lin was arrested in June and after his arrest several
demonstrations were held in Wukan. Lin was one of the leaders of the people's
uprising in Wukan 2011, when villagers protested against party camps' land
takeovers and managed to get the right to appoint their own leaders in local
elections (see also December 2011).
Activists become parliamentarians in Hong Kong
In the Legco election in Hong Kong, candidates are selected
from new parties, Demosisto and Youngspiration, which have their roots in the
so-called umbrella movement that organized the protests in 2014. However, as
before, the Council will still be dominated by Beijing-friendly members.
Leaders of Hong Kong protests receive community service
Two of the three student leaders (see 21/7) are sentenced to about one
hundred hours of community service, while the third is to spend three weeks in
China blocks UN resolution against North Korea
9th of August
In protest of South Korea's plans for a US missile defense,
Beijing chooses to oppose a Security Council resolution condemning the latest
trial of a missile in North Korea in early August.
Trials against human rights advocates
The government's hard line against human rights lawyers, which has continued
since the beginning of the year, continues. Attorney Zhou Shifeng, who, among
other things, defended well-known regime opponents, is sentenced to seven years
in prison for community outrage. Another lawyer, Wang Yu, is released after
publicly acknowledging that she conspired against the regime and dismissed an
international legal award for her human rights work. During the trial week in
Tianjin, another human rights activist is sentenced to seven years in prison for
threatening the Communist Party's rule while also punishing a Christian
Military commander gets life imprisonment
Guo Boxiong, a former member of the Politburo, was for a decade the Vice
President of the Central Military Commission, the military PLA's highest body.
City Council is accused of corruption
The popular Lin Zulian elected to the Wukan City Council after leading the
protests against the local party government where 2011 (see December
2011 and March-April 2012) is being prosecuted for
Three convicted for Hong Kong protests
Three leaders of the so-called umbrella movement in Hong Kong are found
guilty of illegally gathering people for demonstrations in Hong Kong during the
protests there in 2014 (see further Hong Kong) The penalty for young student
leaders is expected to come on August 15.
UN verdict goes against China
After four years of work, the UN Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague
announces its verdict in the Philippines-China conflict over China's claim of 85
percent of territorial waters in the area. The Court goes on the Philippines'
line and states that the Chinese claims "have no legal basis". Chinese President
Xi Jinping announces that China rejects the verdict and will not accept any
documents based on this decision. China also claims to have the right to set up
an air defense zone in the conflict area and announces that it is now launching
regular air surveillance there.
China criticizes South Korea's missile defense plans
The message from South Korea and the US that the US missile defense system
THAAD should be used in South Korea to protect against North Korean missiles is
met by fierce protests from Beijing. The use of this will increase regional
tensions and be seen as a threat to China's security interests
Incident with American fighter aircraft
An American aircraft carrying out maritime surveillance in the area around
the South China Sea is forced to make a strong maneuver to avoid a collision
with two Chinese fighter aircraft. The US plane is in international airspace,
according to the US Department of Defense.
Xi Jinping gets new title
Xi will henceforth be able to call himself the commander-in-chief of the
military command center for joint operations.
Criticism of overproduction of steel
The United States is criticizing China for producing too much steel that is
sold at under-prices on the world market. In the past, production has mainly
been used in the country, but the declining demand in China has led to steel
instead of exporting. One problem is that the Chinese steel giants are
subsidized by the state. The consequence has been that producers from other
countries are eliminated. Canada, the EU, the US, Japan and a few other
countries selling steel require that something be done about the problem.
G7 statement on the South China Sea criticized
Foreign ministers from the United States, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, the
United Kingdom and Japan write in a joint statement that they are concerned
about tensions in the East and South China Sea, where there are alleged
violations and provocations and construction on islands, including for military
purposes. Although China is not explicitly singled out, Beijing responds by
strongly criticizing the statement, which it believes is "inflating tensions in
the region", calling on the Japanese ambassador and envoys from the other
countries to receive the criticism.
Political relatives are designated as tax evaders
The Panama Papers, a survey conducted on tax evasion by investigative
journalists from several countries, shows that relatives of, among others, Xi
Jinping, former Prime Minister Li Peng, Bo Xilai and other well-known
politicians have moved money into bank accounts outside the country. They have
been assisted by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, who has worked in
China for over a decade. The news is censored by the authorities in China.
Trade is restricted with North Korea
Following the introduction of new UN sanctions against North Korea in March,
the government announces that it will ban imports of gold and rare minerals from
the country, as well as exports of oil and fuel related to the North Korean
nuclear weapons program.
Finansmagasin reports censorship
The well-known and respected journal Caixin must have published an article on
its English-language internet site stating that an article on freedom of
expression in which a delegate from the People's Consultative Conference
declared that members there should have the right to express themselves more
openly. Later, the article on censorship was also removed from the
Internal letters require Xi's departure
A well-known journalist, Jia Jia, with about 85,000 followers on social media
is reported to have been arrested by the police. The arrest is said to be linked
to a letter of widespread criticism of President Xi Jinping posted on the
Watching news site. The letter, which was immediately removed, urged Xi to
resign. Jia has not written the letter himself but is said to have warned
colleagues about the letter. Jia is released by the police after two weeks.
Another fifteen persons are reported to be interviewed by the authorities in
connection with the publication of the letter.
New five-year plan adopted
The National People's Congress ends its annual meeting approving a five-year
plan for economic development with the goal of having annual growth of between
6.5 and 7 percent by 2020. Among the priorities for the period are financial
market reforms, making state-owned enterprises more efficient and reduce debt.
Statistics on corruption
In 2015, around 200,000 officials should have received mild punishment for
corruption, while 80,000 were sentenced for more serious crimes.
Trial against Hong Kong activists
Three democracy activists who participated in the demonstrations in the fall
of 2014 are facing trial in Hong Kong on suspicion of breaking into the
government headquarters in connection with the student protests.
The governor of Sichuan resigns
Wei Hong is suspected of "serious disciplinary crimes" (often equivalent to
corruption), the Communist Party reports.
President Xi visits the Middle East
In the Saudi capital Riyadh, China and Saudi Arabia agree on a new so-called
strategic partnership. Among other things, the countries' oil companies sign
extensive cooperation agreements. During his tour, President Xi also visits Iran
New strike against human rights lawyers
Authorities continue to fight and try to intimidate lawyers defending human
rights activists and regime critics, a tactic that began in the summer of 2015.
One of the country's best-known lawyers, Wang Yu, who defended several human
rights activists, is arrested on January 14 accused of community outrage.
Another handful of human rights lawyers, who disappeared without a trace in the
summer of 2015, were formally prosecuted for community outrage at the beginning
of the month. A Swedish man, who leads an organization that assists legal aid to
vulnerable groups, is also reportedly being held in custody by Chinese
authorities (he will be released on January 26). In addition, there are five
bookstores in Hong Kong, of which one is a Swedish citizen. The missing are
linked to a bookstore that sells literature that is critical of the Beijing
regime. There are suspicions that Chinese security services are behind the
disappearances and that the mainland is thus violating Hong Kong's
self-determination. A few days later, one of the missing bookstores, the Swedish
citizen, appears in Chinese state television. He states that he voluntarily
sought out Chinese police because he was involved in a car accident several
years ago when a fellow passenger was killed. He must have received a
conditional two-year prison sentence after the car accident but then left China.