Browsing the archives for the china category.

China’s Language and US History

beijing, china, language

As China again rises to global prominence most Americans are unaware of the key role played by the Chinese in American history, especially with respect to the railroads and gold mines of California in the 1800s and on.   Today, San Francisco’s Chinatown remains one of the largest Chinese communities in the world outside of China and Taiwan.

In terms of language, China has two that remain of great significance.   The first is “Mandarin”.   Mandarin technically has many variations, often depending on the region, but the simplified language explanation is that “standard Mandarin” is the key language of China and the official language of the Government.   Although there are many variations of Mandarin throughout China, the standard form can be used by most Chinese.    Spoken by about a *billion* people, Mandarin is the most used language on earth.    In Taiwan a somewhat different form of Mandarin is used.  However Chinese and Taiwanese can communicate well using “standard Mandarin”

The second popular language in China is Cantonese, spoken mostly in the south of China around Hong Kong.   Many Cantonese speakers also speak Mandarin, though the opposite is not the case.    Although far fewer people in China speak Cantonese than Mandarin, Cantonese is a key dialect *outside of the country* because the majority of immigrants to other countries from China came from only two provinces in China, Fujian and Guangdong.

This is why the Chinese you’ll hear in San Francisco’s Chinatown will almost always be Cantonese.

More Mandarin detail at Wikipedia

More Cantonese detail at Wikipedia

Hong Kong History

china, hong kong, hong kong history, pictures

The Discover Hong Kong package tours Hong Kong Tourism website has a little history of the region – one of the world’s most important cities despite the fact that Hong Kong was nothing more than a bunch of fishing villages only 160 years ago. Unlike other key world commerce capitals like New York, Paris, London, Beijing, etc, Hong Kong is relatively new and also sprung into being largely as the result of trade – often illegal – between China and the sprawling British Empire. In fact Hong Kong was under British control and protection until 1997 when the islands became a semi autonomous regio of China.

Although I lost most of my pictures from a Hong Kong visit in April here are a few Hong Kong Pictures mixed in with my China set.

Shanghai McDonalds, China

china, mcdonalds, shanghai, Travel

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Heading to Shanghai for business or as part of your Bejing Olympics China touring? Sky West Magazine has a nice printable file with a very quick Shanghai introduction:

Surprisingly to me, the big cities in China were very accessible and pretty easy to navigate after a day of orientation. This is especially true for Shanghai and Hong Kong, which front waterways and have huge buildings that give you a great orientation feature.

This picture was on Nanjing Road, one of Shanghai’s popular shopping areas which intersects with the Bund on the river.

In Shanghai the “Bund” is the old district along the river, developed during British domination some 100 years ago. Across the water is the Pudong Area which is the hopping new business district, complete with several of the world’s tallest buildings such as the Jin Mao Building, Pearl Tower, and World Financial Center.

Peking Duck, Beijing

beijing, china, Peking Duck

Peking Duck, Beijing
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Peking was a Western description of Beijing. For most cities in China it is almost required form to use the Chinese naming system which is quite interesting as it often uses combination words that have a word for a compass direction and physical features like rivers and mountains:

Peking duck is the signature specialty of Beijing. The duck is carved carefully, some fat removed, then reassembled for serving. For a small extra charge the remaining parts are deep fried – bone and all – and served as a separate dish.

Forbidden City Guard, China

beijing, china, forbidden city, lion

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

An armored Lioness plays with her cub and guards one of the buildings in the Forbidden City, Beijing’s amazing historic palace grounds opposite Tiananmen Square. Many Dynasties lived, loved and died inside the massive walls of the city in the heart of Beijing. The last emperor lived here until he was deposed by the nationalists under Sun Yat Sen, the father of modern China. Fanciful bronze creatures like this lion with her mate on the opposite side of the stairway were common inside the palace grounds.

  • Online Highways Travel

    US History and Travel

    Airports Blog

    China Highlights Travel

  • RSS History on Twitter