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The Sakyamuni Buddha, by Song painter Zhang Shengwen, c. AD 1181–1186; although Buddhism was in decline and under attack by Neo-Confucian critics in the Song era, it nonetheless remained one of the major religious ideologies in China.
Chinese society during the Song dynasty (960–1279) was marked by political and legal reforms, a philosophical revival of Confucianism, and the development of cities beyond administrative purposes into centres of industry and of maritime and river commerce. The rural population were mostly farmers, with some hunters, fishermen, and workers in the imperial mines and salt marshes. Conversely, shopkeepers, artisans, city guards, entertainers, laborers, and wealthy merchants lived in the county and provincial centres along with the Chinese gentry—a small, elite community of educated scholars and scholar-officials.
As landholders and examination-drafted degree holders, the gentry considered themselves the leaders of society; gaining their cooperation and resources was essential for the county or provincial bureaucrat overburdened with official duties. In many ways, scholar-officials of the Song period differed from the more aristocratic officials of the Tang dynasty (618–907). Civil service examinations became the primary means of appointment to an official post as competitors for offices dramatically increased. Frequent disagreements amongst ministers of state on ideological and policy issues led to political strife and the proliferation of factions, giving entry for a multitude of families into the civil service. (Full article...)
The July 2009 Ürümqi riots were a series of violent riots over several days that broke out on 5 July 2009 in Ürümqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), in northwestern China. The first day's rioting, which involved at least 1,000 Uyghurs, began as a protest, but escalated into violent attacks that mainly targeted Han people. A total of 197 people died, most of whom were Han people or non-Muslim minorities, with 1,721 others injured and many vehicles and buildings destroyed. Many Uyghurs disappeared during wide-scale police sweeps in the days following the riots; Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented 43 cases and said figures for real disappearances were likely to be much higher.
Rioting began following the Shaoguan incident, where false accusations of rape of a Han woman by Uyghur men led to a brawl between ethnic Han and Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, resulting in the deaths of two Uyghurs who were both from Xinjiang. The Chinese central government alleges that the riots themselves were planned from abroad by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and its leader Rebiya Kadeer, while Kadeer denies fomenting the violence in her fight for Uyghur "self-determination". (Full article...)
The Ming dynasty considered Tibet to be part of Western Regions or "foreign barbarians". The exact nature of their relations is under dispute by modern scholars. Analysis of the relationship is further complicated by modern political conflicts and the application of Westphalian sovereignty to a time when the concept did not exist. The Historical Status of China's Tibet, a book published by the People's Republic of China, asserts that the Ming dynasty had unquestioned sovereignty over Tibet by pointing to the Ming court's issuing of various titles to Tibetan leaders, Tibetans' full acceptance of the titles, and a renewal process for successors of these titles that involved traveling to the Ming capital. Scholars in China also argue that Tibet has been an integral part of China since the 13th century and so it was a part of the Ming Empire. However, most scholars outside China, such as Turrell V. Wylie, Melvin C. Goldstein, and Helmut Hoffman, say that the relationship was one of suzerainty, Ming titles were only nominal, Tibet remained an independent region outside Ming control, and it simply paid tribute until the Jiajing Emperor, who ceased relations with Tibet.
Some scholars note that Tibetan leaders during the Ming frequently engaged in civil war and conducted their own foreign diplomacy with neighboring states such as Nepal. Some scholars underscore the commercial aspect of the Ming–Tibetan relationship, noting the Ming dynasty's shortage of horses for warfare and thus the importance of the horse trade with Tibet. Others argue that the significant religious nature of the relationship of the Ming court with Tibetan lamas is underrepresented in modern scholarship. (Full article...)
Felice Beato (1832 – 29 January 1909), also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial body of photojournalism. He influenced other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting. (Full article...)
In his Dream Pool Essays or Dream Torrent Essays (夢溪筆談; Mengxi Bitan) of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187). Shen discovered the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the pole star and true north". This was the decisive step in human history to make compasses more useful for navigation, and may have been a concept unknown in Europe for another four hundred years (evidence of German sundials made circa 1450 show markings similar to Chinese geomancers' compasses in regard to declination). (Full article...)
Lactarius indigo, commonly known as the indigo milk cap, indigo milky, the indigo (or blue) lactarius, or the blue milk mushroom, is a species of agaric fungus in the family Russulaceae. It is a widely distributed species, growing naturally in eastern North America, East Asia, and Central America; it has also been reported in southern France. L. indigo grows on the ground in both deciduous and coniferous forests, where it forms mycorrhizal associations with a broad range of trees. The fruit body color ranges from dark blue in fresh specimens to pale blue-gray in older ones. The milk, or latex, that oozes when the mushroom tissue is cut or broken — a feature common to all members of the genus Lactarius — is also indigo blue, but slowly turns green upon exposure to air. The cap has a diameter of 5–15 cm (2–6 in), and the stem is 2–8 cm (0.8–3 in) tall and 1–2.5 cm (0.4–1.0 in) thick. It is an edible mushroom, and is sold in rural markets in China, Guatemala, and Mexico. In Honduras, the mushroom is called a chora, and is generally eaten with egg; generally as a side dish for a bigger meal. (Full article...)
Yao, who was born in Shanghai, started playing for the Sharks as a teenager, and played on their senior team for five years in the CBA, winning a championship in his final year. After negotiating with the CBA and the Sharks to secure his release, Yao was selected by the Rockets as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft. He reached the NBA playoffs four times, and the Rockets won the first-round series in the 2009 postseason, their first playoff series victory since 1997. In July 2011, Yao announced his retirement from professional basketball because of a series of foot and ankle injuries which forced him to miss 250 games in his last six seasons. In eight seasons with the Rockets, Yao ranks sixth among franchise leaders in total points and total rebounds, and second in total blocks. (Full article...)
The modern Chinese varieties make frequent use of what are called classifiers or measure words. One use of classifiers is when a noun is qualified by a numeral or demonstrative. In the Chinese equivalent of a phrase such as "three books" or "that person", it is normally necessary to insert an appropriate classifier between the numeral/demonstrative and the noun. For example, in Standard Mandarin, the first of these phrases would be 三本书sān běn shū, where sān means "three", shū means "books", and běn is the required classifier. When a noun stands alone without any determiner, no classifier is needed. There are also various other uses of classifiers: for example, when placed after a noun rather than before it, or when repeated, a classifier signifies a plural or indefinite quantity.
The terms "classifier" and "measure word" are frequently used interchangeably (as equivalent to the Chinese term 量词 (量詞) liàngcí, which literally means "measure word"). Sometimes, however, the two are distinguished, with classifier denoting a particle without any particular meaning of its own, as in the example above, and measure word denoting a word for a particular quantity or measurement of something, such as "drop", "cupful", or "liter". The latter type also includes certain words denoting lengths of time, units of currency, etc. These two types are alternatively called count-classifier and mass-classifier, since the first type can only meaningfully be used with count nouns, while the second is used particularly with mass nouns. However, the grammatical behavior of words of the two types is largely identical. (Full article...)
Jin dynasty (blue) and Song dynasty (orange) in 1141
The Jin–Song Wars were a series of conflicts between the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty (1115–1234) and the Han-led Song dynasty (960–1279). In 1115, Jurchen tribes rebelled against their overlords, the Khitan-led Liao dynasty (916–1125), and declared the formation of the Jin. Allying with the Song against their common enemy the Liao dynasty, the Jin promised to cede to the Song the Sixteen Prefectures that had fallen under Liao control since 938. The Song agreed but the Jin's quick defeat of the Liao combined with Song military failures made the Jin reluctant to cede territory. After a series of negotiations that embittered both sides, the Jurchens attacked the Song in 1125, dispatching one army to Taiyuan and the other to Bianjing (modern Kaifeng), the Song capital.
Surprised by news of an invasion, Song general Tong Guan retreated from Taiyuan, which was besieged and later captured. As the second Jin army approached the capital, Song emperor Huizong abdicated and fled south. Qinzong, his eldest son, was enthroned. The Jin dynasty laid siege to Kaifeng in 1126, but Qinzong negotiated their retreat from the capital by agreeing to a large annual indemnity. Qinzong reneged on the deal and ordered Song forces to defend the prefectures instead of fortifying the capital. The Jin resumed war and again besieged Kaifeng in 1127. They captured Qinzong, many members of the imperial family and high officials of the Song imperial court in an event known as the Jingkang Incident. This separated north and south China between Jin and Song. Remnants of the Song imperial family retreated to southern China and, after brief stays in several temporary capitals, eventually relocated to Lin'an (modern Hangzhou). The retreat divided the dynasty into two distinct periods, Northern Song and Southern Song. (Full article...)
According to Chinese state media, a group of seven people had travelled to Beijing from Henan province, and five set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square. In the Chinese press, the event was used as proof of the dangers of Falun Gong, and was used to legitimise the government's campaign against the group. (Full article...)
Originally announced in 2005, the film marked Benny Chan's third collaboration with Jackie Chan, following Who Am I? and New Police Story. It was produced with a budget of HK$16.8 million and filming took place in Hong Kong between December 2005 and January 2006. Rob-B-Hood is the first film in over 30 years in which Jackie Chan plays as a thief. (Full article...)
Phallus indusiatus, commonly called the bamboo mushrooms, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady, is a fungus in the family Phallaceae, or stinkhorns. It has a cosmopolitan distribution in tropical areas, and is found in southern Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia, where it grows in woodlands and gardens in rich soil and well-rotted woody material. The fruit body of the fungus is characterised by a conical to bell-shaped cap on a stalk and a delicate lacy "skirt", or indusium, that hangs from beneath the cap and reaches nearly to the ground. First described scientifically in 1798 by French botanist Étienne Pierre Ventenat, the species has often been referred to a separate genus Dictyophora along with other Phallus species featuring an indusium. P. indusiatus can be distinguished from other similar species by differences in distribution, size, color, and indusium length.
Wong Liu Tsong (January 3, 1905 – February 3, 1961), known professionally as Anna May Wong, was an American actress, considered the first Chinese-American film star in Hollywood, as well as the first Chinese-American actress to gain international recognition. Her varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage, and radio.
Born in Los Angeles to first-generation Taishanese Chinese-American parents, Wong became infatuated with films and began acting in films at an early age. During the silent film era, she acted in The Toll of the Sea (1922), one of the first films made in color, and in Douglas Fairbanks' The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Wong became a fashion icon and had achieved international stardom in 1924. Wong had been one of the first to embrace the flapper look. In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York voted her the "world's best dressed woman." In the 1920s and 1930s, Wong was acclaimed as one of the top fashion icons. (Full article...)
Engravings on a cliff-side mark one widely accepted site of Chibi, near modern Chibi City, Hubei. The engravings are at least 1000 years old.
The allied victory at Red Cliffs ensured the survival of Liu Bei and Sun Quan, gave them control of the Yangtze, and provided a line of defence that was the basis for the later creation of the two southern states of Shu Han and Eastern Wu. According to Norwich University, this was the largest naval battle in history in terms of the numbers involved. Descriptions of the battle differ widely and the site of the battle is fiercely debated. Although its location remains uncertain, most academic conjectures place it on the south bank of the Yangtze River, southwest of present-day Wuhan and northeast of Baqiu (present-day Yueyang, Hunan). (Full article...)
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Sanzō Nosaka (野坂 参三, Nosaka Sanzō, March 30, 1892 – November 14, 1993) was a Japanese writer, editor, labor organizer, communist agent, politician, and university professor and the founder of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). He was the son of a wealthy Japanese merchant, and attended the prestigious Keio University. While in university, Nosaka became interested in social movements, and joined a moderate labor organization after graduation, working as a research staff member, and as a writer and editor of the organization's magazine. He traveled to Britain in 1919 to study political economy, where he deepened his studies of Marxism and became a confirmed communist. Nosaka was a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, but his activity within British communist circles led to him being deported from Britain in 1921.
After leaving Britain, Nosaka traveled through the Soviet Union (USSR). He returned to Japan in 1922, where he co-founded the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). Nosaka became a labor organizer, but was arrested twice by the Japanese government for his activities. After being released from prison a second time, Nosaka secretly returned to the USSR in 1931, where he became an agent of the Comintern. He traveled to the West Coast of the United States, where he worked as a spy from 1934 to 1938. (Full article...)
In 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organising a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit, Chen was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, with a formal arrest in June 2006. On August 24, 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic." He was released from prison in 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remained under house arrest or "soft detention" at his home in Dongshigu Village. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance in February 2011. (Full article...)
The production of silk originated in NeolithicChina within the Yangshao culture (4th millennium BCE). Though it would later reach other places in the world, the art of silk production remained confined to China until the Silk Road opened at 114 BC, though China maintained its virtual monopoly over silk production for another thousand years. The use of silk within China was not confined to clothing alone, and silk was used for a number of applications, such as writing. Within clothing, the color of silk worn also held social importance, and formed an important guide of social class during the Tang dynasty.
Silk was cultivated to Japan at least before AD, and, by 552 AD, the Byzantine Empire managed to obtain silkworm eggs and were able to begin silkworm cultivation; the Arabs also began to manufacture silk at the same time. As a result of the spread of sericulture, Chinese silk exports became less important, although they still maintained dominance over the luxury silk market. The Crusades brought silk production to Western Europe, in particular to many Italian states, which saw an economic boom exporting silk to the rest of Europe. Developments in manufacturing technique also began to take place during the Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries) in Europe, with devices such as the spinning wheel first appearing at this time. During the 16th century, France joined Italy in developing a successful silk trade, though the efforts of most other nations to develop a silk industry of their own were unsuccessful. (Full article...)
Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It covers an area of 29,274 square kilometres (11,303 sq mi) of rugged and sparsely populated terrain. Its urban center is Lhasa, with around 300,000 residents, which mostly corresponds with the administrative Chengguan District, while its suburbs extend into Doilungdêqên District and Dagzê District. The consolidated prefecture-level city contains additional five, mostly rural, counties.
The city boundaries roughly correspond to the basin of the Lhasa River, a major tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. It lies on the Lhasa terrane, the last unit of crust to accrete to the Eurasian plate before the continent of India collided with Asia about 50 million years ago and pushed up the Himalayas. The terrain is high, contains a complex pattern of faults and is tectonically active. The temperature is generally warm in summer and rises above freezing on sunny days in winter. Most of the rain falls in summer. The upland areas and northern grasslands are used for grazing yaks, sheep and goats, while the river valleys support agriculture with crops such as barley, wheat and vegetables. Wildlife is not abundant, but includes the rare snow leopard and black-necked crane. Mining has caused some environmental problems. (Full article...)
The 'divine fire flying crow' (shen huo fei ya), an aerodynamic winged rocket bomb from the Huolongjing
The Huolongjing (traditional Chinese: 火龍經; simplified Chinese: 火龙经; pinyin: Huǒ Lóng Jīng; Wade-Giles: Huo Lung Ching; rendered in English as Fire Drake Manual or Fire Dragon Manual), also known as Huoqitu (“Firearm Illustrations”), is a Chinese military treatise compiled and edited by Jiao Yu and Liu Bowen of the early Ming dynasty (1368–1683) during the 14th-century. The Huolongjing is primarily based on the text known as Huolong Shenqi Tufa (Illustrations of Divine Fire Dragon Engines), which no longer exists. (Full article...)
In creating The Blue Lotus, Hergé exhibited a newfound emphasis on accuracy and documentation in his portrayal of foreign societies. He was heavily influenced by his close friend Zhang Chongren, a Chinese student studying in Belgium, and the work both satirises common European misconceptions about China as well as criticising the actions of the Japanese invaders. The Blue Lotus was a commercial success in Belgium and was soon serialised in France and Switzerland, while news of the book led to the Chinese political leader Chiang Kai-shek inviting Hergé to visit China itself. Hergé continued The Adventures of Tintin with The Broken Ear, while the series itself became a defining part of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition. In 1946, The Blue Lotus was partially re-drawn and coloured by the cartoonist and his team of assistants; during this process a number of minor plot elements were changed. The adventure introduces the recurring characters J.M. Dawson and Chang Chong-Chen. The story was adapted for a 1991 episode of the Ellipse/Nelvana animated series The Adventures of Tintin. Critical analysis of the story has been positive, with various commentators considering it to be one of Hergé's finest works. (Full article...)
The Esing Bakery incident, also known as the Ah Lum affair, was a food contamination scandal in the early history of British Hong Kong. On 15 January 1857, during the Second Opium War, several hundred European residents were poisoned non-lethally by arsenic, found in bread produced by a Chinese-owned store, the Esing Bakery. The proprietor of the bakery, Cheong Ah-lum, was accused of plotting the poisoning but was acquitted in a trial by jury. Nonetheless, Cheong was successfully sued for damages and was banished from the colony. The true responsibility for the incident and its intention—whether it was an individual act of terrorism, commercial sabotage, a war crime orchestrated by the Qing government, or purely accidental—both remain a matter of debate.
In Britain, the incident became a political issue during the 1857 general election, helping to mobilise support for the war and the incumbent Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. In Hong Kong, it sowed panic and insecurity among the local colonists, highlighting the precariousness of imperial rule in the colony. The incident contributed to growing tensions between Hong Kong's European and Chinese residents, as well as within the European community itself. The scale and potential consequences of the poisoning make it an unprecedented event in the history of the British Empire, the colonists believing at the time that its success could have wiped out their community. (Full article...)
The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, also known as the Chosin Reservoir Campaign or the Battle of Lake Changjin (Korean: 장진호 전투; Hanja: 長津湖戰鬪; RR: Jangjinho jeontu; MR: Changjinho chŏnt'u), was an important battle in the Korean War. The name "Chosin" is derived from the Japanese pronunciation "Chōshin", instead of the Korean pronunciation.
The battle took place about a month after the People's Republic of China entered the conflict and sent the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 9th Army to infiltrate the northeastern part of North Korea. On 27 November 1950, the Chinese force surprised the US X Corps commanded by Major General Edward Almond in the Chosin Reservoir area. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed. Between 27 November and 13 December, 30,000 United Nations Command troops (later nicknamed "The Chosin Few") under the field command of Major General Oliver P. Smith were encircled and attacked by about 120,000 Chinese troops under the command of Song Shilun, who had been ordered by Mao Zedong to destroy the UN forces. The UN forces were nevertheless able to break out of the encirclement and withdraw to the port of Hungnam. Both sides suffered heavy casualties, especially the Chinese, with both battle casualties and non-battle casualties caused by the frigid weather. The withdrawal of the US Eighth Army from northwest Korea in the aftermath of the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River and the evacuation of the X Corps from the port of Hungnam in northeast Korea marked the complete withdrawal of UN troops from North Korea. (Full article...)
Chen was abandoned as an infant, and then lost both foster parents during early childhood. Before becoming a film director, Chen worked mainly in drama. His patriotic play Put Down Your Whip was highly influential and performed countless times during the Japanese invasion of China. During the war he also made a famous staging of the play Qu Yuan, and wrote one of the first Chinese books on film theory. (Full article...)
Huang Na (Chinese: 黄娜) (26 September 1996 – 10 October 2004) was an eight-year-old Chinese national residing in Pasir Panjang, Singapore, who disappeared on 10 October 2004. Her mother, the police and the community conducted a three-week-long nationwide search for her. After her body was found, many Singaporeans attended her wake and funeral, giving bai jin (contributions towards funeral expenses) and gifts. In a high-profile 14-day trial, Malaysian-born Took Leng How (卓良豪; Zhuó Liángháo), a vegetable packer at the wholesale centre, was found guilty of murdering her and hanged after an appeal and a request for presidential clemency failed. (Full article...)
The victory strengthened Tang control of the Western Regions, now modern Xinjiang, and brought the regions formerly ruled by the Khaganate into the Tang empire. Puppet qaghans, the Turkic title for ruler, and military garrisons were installed to administer the newly acquired territories. The Tang dynasty achieved its maximum territorial extent as its western borders reached the eastern frontier of the Umayyad Caliphate. Later on, Turkic revolts ended Tang hegemony beyond the Pamir Mountains in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan, but a Tang military presence remained in Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin. Central Asia absorbed cultural influences from the conflict. Turkic culture and language spread into Central Asia, as did artistic and political influences from the Tang dynasty. Many of the Tang generals and soldiers stationed in the region were ethnically Turkic, and the prevalence of Indo-European languages in Central Asia declined with acceleration of Turkic migration. The Turks, Tibetans, and the Tang competed for control over Central Asia for the next few centuries. (Full article...)
Image 3Gilin with the head and scaly body of a dragon, tail of a lion and cloven hoofs like a deer. Its body enveloped in sacred flames. Detail from Entrance of General Zu Dashou Tomb (Ming Tomb). (from Chinese culture)
Image 18Photo showing serving chopsticks (gongkuai) on the far right, personal chopsticks (putongkuai) in the middle, and a spoon. Serving chopsticks are usually more ornate than the personal ones. (from Chinese culture)
Image 19Map showing the expansion of Han dynasty in the 2nd century BC (from History of China)
The President of the Republic of China is the head of state of the Republic of China (ROC).
The Constitution names the president as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces (formerly known as the National Revolutionary Army). The president is responsible for conducting foreign relations, such as concluding treaties, declaring war, and making peace. The president must promulgate all laws and has no right to veto. Other powers of the president include granting amnesty, pardon or clemency, declaring martial law, and conferring honors and decorations.