Monday, February 9, 2009

Celebrating the Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Festival,元宵节)

Yesterday is the Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Festival), the 15th day of the first lunar month. And the whole country is decked out for the celebration. And the exciting thing which made it special is that this year’s Lantern Festival witnessed the biggest and roundest moon for the past 52 festivals Monday night.

Lantern Festival is the first significant festival after Spring Festival, Having lots of meanings to Chinese people. Literally, we can know that the most important activity during the night of the event is watching lanterns. And because every household eats yuanxiao (a rice ball stuffed with different fillings, also called “tangyuan”) on that day, it is called Yuan Xiao Festival. Today, Lantern Festival is regarded as China's Valentine's Day, offering many youngers a good time to sharing with lovers.

For its rich and colorful activities, it is regarded as the most recreational among all the Chinese festivals and a festival for appreciating the bright full moon, and family reunion. Customs and Activities: With a history of over 2,000 years, various traditional customs and activities are held during Lantern Festival that appeal to people of different ages, including watching lanterns and fireworks, guessing lantern riddles, performing folk dances, and eating yuanxiao.

Watching Lanterns

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), Buddhism flourished in China. So in order to popularize Buddhism, one of the emperors gave an order to light lanterns in the imperial palace to worship and show respect for Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. During the Tang (618 - 907), Song (960 - 1279), Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties, lighting lanterns became a tradition for Chinese people.

Today, when the Lantern Festival comes, red lanterns can be seen in the street, in each house, and store. In the parks, lanterns of various shapes and types attract countless visitors. Visitors marvel that various lanterns so vividly demonstrate traditional Chinese folklore.

Guessing Lantern Riddles

Beginning from the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), guessing lantern riddles is regarded as an indispensable part of the Lantern Festival. The lantern exhibition organizers write all kinds of riddles on pieces of paper, and paste them on colorful lanterns to let visitors guess. If one has an answer to a riddle, he can pull the paper from the lantern to let organizers verify the answer. Gifts are presented to the people who get the right answers.

Because this intellectual activity is exciting, people from all walks of life enjoy it.

Folk Dances: Lion Dance, and Walking on Stilts

Derived from the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), the lion dance is an excellent traditional art that adds infinite fun to any celebration including the Lantern Festival. Two performing types have formed during its long development. In north China, the lion dance focuses on skills, and in the south the lion dance pays more attention to the animal resemblance. One actor manipulates a small lion made of quilts resembling a real one, and with two persons acting like a big lion, one manages the head part and the other, the rest. Under the guidance of a director, the lions sometimes jump, leap, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.

Because the acting is always amusing, spectators enjoy it very much. According to ancient custom, the lion is a symbol of boldness and strength that can protect people, so by performing the lion dance, everyone prays for an auspicious and happy life.

Walking on stilts, another folk art, traces its origins to the Spring and Autumn period (770BC - 476BC). Performers not only walk on stilts by binding them to their feet, but also do some breathtakingly difficult moves. As actors impersonate different characters like monks, clowns, and fishermen and perform vivid and humorous acts, the art amuses many people.

Eating Yuanxiao

Yuanxiao, also called tangyuan, is a dumpling ball made of sticky rice flour stuffed with different fillings. Eating yuanxiao has become an essential part of the festival. The methods for making Yuanxiao differ by region and fillings include sugar, rose petals, sesame, sweetened bean paste, and jujube paste. Some do not have fillings. Because tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed, and each has a unique taste, it is very popular. Yuanxiao is round in shape so it is endowed with the meaning of reunion, harmony and happiness. During the night of the festival, family members sit together to taste yuanxiao and appreciate the full moon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Top three romantic destinations in China

The Valentine’s Day is coming, what’s your plan? Maybe a travel with loved ones? There are many romantic destinations in China, here we recommend the top three romantic ones. They are Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province and Lijiang in Yunnan Province.

Zhuhai in Guangdong Province

During a recent competition among cities, Zhuhai was named by Chinese media as “China’s Most Romantic City.” Romance is nature’s gift to Zhuhai. Situated south of the Tropic of Cancer, with a sheltered location in South China with glorious sunshine, Zhuhai is a luxurious garden paradise where colorful flowers bloom all year.

The name Zhuhai means “pearl sea” and the city sits at the mouth of the Pearl River where the river and ocean meet. With a territory of more than 7,660 square kilometers, about 80 percent of which being ocean, Zhuhai has 146 islets, many with secluded beaches and unspoiled scenery.

The best-known romantic location in Zhuhai is Lover’s Road, which winds its way several kilometers along the coast between the mountains and the water at Xianglu Bay. It has broad pavement and gardens, quiet seating and picnic areas and wonderful views displaying the natural beauty of Zhuhai, It truly captures the romantic atmosphere of this young city. Here you will find couples young and old, strolling together enjoying happy moments.

After dining at one of Zhuhai’s popular restaurants or luxury hotels, couples can relax in stylish bars and cafes or dance the night away at one of Zhuhai’s top night spots. Wherever you go, you are sure to develop a love affair with this charming and energetic city, a feeling that is uniquely Zhuhai.

There are many seaside cities in China, but few are quite like Zhuhai. Walking through Zhuhai, you might wonder if this a city of gardens or a city in a garden. You can stroll through green parks and shady paths past colorful flowerbeds, or choose to take in the fresh air along well laid out boulevards by the water’s edge.

Zhuhai’s interesting past adds greatly to the atmosphere and appeal for visitors. People started populating the area more than 5,000 years ago. Near the Yamen River are ancient ruins from the Southern Song Dynasty dating back more than 1,700 years. Nearby Cuiheng Village, to the north in Zhongshan, is the birthplace of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of China’s democratic revolution in the early 20th century and sometimes known as the “Father of China.” Many other monuments, parks, museums and locations chart the history of the great events and changes of China’s great civilization, ancient and modern.

Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province

It is a famous tourist city. Although not big, it has a concentration of more than 40 scenic spots, which would take at least a week to visit. The 6-square-kilometer West Lake is the pride of this provincial capital city and most sites of interest are around it. Unlike the man-made lakes of other cities, West Lake is natural and its sights are delightful, no matter what the season. Scholars and poets have left a legacy of rhapsodic poetry and prose after visiting the lake, and some settled, or stayed on to live the life of a hermit.

Along with the beautiful scenery and places of interest, West Lake has many romantic tales. Classical stories include that of the love between a young man named Xu Xian and the “white snake,” an immortal whose earthly form was that of a beautiful woman, but who also took on the shape of a white snake if she drank wine. Their love was not tolerated by society and the white snake was eventually imprisoned under Leifeng Tower and Xu Xian’s family fragmented.

Modern Hangzhou inhabitants are very romantic and West Lake is now the place where young people go courting. At nightfall couples can be seen along the lakeshore, as on the Shanghai Bund.

The romantic nature of Hangzhou inhabitants has nurtured the quality of local artists. Hangzhou has produced numerous scholars and men of letters and the city is permeated with an artistic atmosphere.

Lijiang in Yunnan Province

It has a demure charm that is revealed in myriad forms: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the grey-tiled town of cobbled streets and thousand year-old bridges, the charm of the Naxi people and their customs and much more. Such qualities prompted UNESCO to include it on the World Heritage List and also inspired the best-selling novel, “Lost Horizons.”

Lijiang is the perfect place for couples and honeymooners as it oozes romance.

Young couples should visit Yufeng Buddhist monastery, famous for a 500-year-old camellia said to produce 10,000 blossoms every year. The camellia is actually two plants grafted together that supposedly represent a pair of lovers who were forbidden to marry and committed suicide rather than live apart. Today, Chinese couples believe that being photographed in front of the camellia will ensure that they will be together in the next life.

Hiking outside the city is one of the great highlights of any visit to this region. Some treks last only one hour and some take up to six hours or more but Lijiang’s trekking routes feature some of the most striking landscapes found in the world including the trek near Tiger Leaping Gorge and along the banks of the Jinsha River.

The highlight of any visit to Lijiang is spending time in the old quarter, Dayan Town. This is no exception for couples. This 800-year-old World Heritage site features ancient timber and earth houses with tiled roofs set on delightful canals. No cars are allowed in the narrow, winding streets, which are paved with large stones.

The idea is to get lost in Dayan’s quaint streets if you really want to discover the place. The old town attracts local artists and artisans and there is plenty of high quality jewelry, clothing, pottery, paintings and carving on sale. It’s quite pleasant sitting at an outdoor restaurant beside the canal eating a Naxi delicacy such as goat’s cheese sprinkled with sugar.

At night the old town takes on a different character. A popular activity for couples is to light a candlelit float and let it gently head downriver. Candles floating past on paper lotus flowers make dining alfresco beside the canals an enchanting experience.

The enchantment continues with a concert by the Naxi orchestra which plays classical Taoist music on traditional instruments. The average age of the musicians is 80.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What will Bird's Nest be after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Bird's Nest, also called National Stadium, played an important role in Beijing Olympic Games. The Opening and Closing ceremonies held here, its creative design, majestic appearance and the torch lighting impressed people around the world. Now the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was over, can you guess what will this spacious Bird's Nest be used for? Still holding sports games?

In fact, the utilization of Bird's Nest will be diverse, such as sports games, tourism, entertainment and shopping. Citic Group said in Beijing that within three to five years it will convert the National Stadium into an entertainment and shopping center, while seeking to hold more sports games and cultural performances.

In addition, an individual company was established by Citic Group, Beijing Urban Construction Group and Golden State Holding Group Corporation, which is to focus on the operation of the Bird's Nest business. According to the company, maintenance of the 250,000-square-meter National Stadium will annually cost 60 million yuan (US$8.82 million), making it particularly hard to make a profit.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Another shoe-throwing happened in Cambridge University---- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao dismisses shoe-throwing

Do you agree that one’s shoes are weapons?

In Dec 2008, An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a farewell conference in the country, nearly hitting his face. Recently, another shoe-throwing event happened again.

In 2 Feb, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao concluded his week-long official trip to Europe with an eventful day in Britain. As one of his last activities in Europe, Wen Jiabao visited Cambridge University in England where he delivered a speech stressing mutual understanding and cooperation.

During the speech, a man disrupted, throwing a shoe but missing. The shoe landed far from Wen Jiabao on the floor. Pausing for a few seconds, Wen Jiabao calmly told the audience that the incident would do nothing to hold back the friendship of the Chinese and British people and continued the speech. We Chinese were proud of the reaction of Premier Wen.

Then university officials quickly removed the protester from the auditorium arresting him later on suspicion of a public order offense. On its website, the chancellor of Cambridge University released a statement regretting the man's behavior saying the university is a place for considerate argument and debate, not for shoe-throwing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also voiced dissatisfaction over the incident.

I think there are better ways to express one's emotion than shoe-throwing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

London debut for treasures from Shanghai, with spectacular collections shown in Europe for the first time

While international communication becomes more and more common, it’s not surprised to see lots of interesting things from other places in one’s own country. Now, if you’re a lover of Chinese culture, and if you live in London, here I have a good news for you!!

After holding the exhibition "First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army" in 2007, British Museum made another collaboration with China recently. The Museum has celebrated the launch of “Shanghai Week” in London with the opening of "Treasures from Shanghai," a spectacular collection of 60 ancient Chinese jade and bronze masterpieces on show in Europe for the first time.

Shanghai Week lasts from 29 January to 7 February 2009. It includes many events, showcasing the heritage and culture of China's largest city as it prepares for the World Expo. The collections on show are from Shanghai Museum, which houses one of the world's greatest collections of Chinese art. Certainly capture everyone’s sight.

Chen Kelun, deputy director general of the Shanghai Museum, said the exhibition would provide "insights into the time-honored urban civilization and etiquette of China" and identify themselves with the theme of the World Expo to be held in Shanghai next year.

"This exhibition brings to London pieces of superlative quality rarely seen outside China itself," said the exhibition's guest curator Jessica Rawson. "The Neolithic jades on display are astonishing, particularly those that feature fine designs of strange human-like figures, birds and monsters with large teeth."

More info:

Shanghai Week is designed to commemorate the increasingly close relationship between Britain and China, and showcase the heritage and culture of Shanghai as it prepares for the World Expo. (World Expositions are platforms for exchanging innovative ideas and reviewing progress. They are also important for showcasing industrial, scientific and technological achievements. The first World Exposition was held in London in 1851 under the title Great Exhibition of Industries of All Nations.)

Other highlights include a seminar at the Victoria and Albert Museum entitled "From London to Shanghai: Inheritance and innovation - wisdom in urban development" and a photographic exhibition at City Hall - "Shanghai and Shanghai Exposition."

Meanwhile, Sarah Brightman, who sang at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, has been named Shanghai 2010 World Expo Promotion Ambassador in Britain.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cigarettes sent as gifts undermines China's anti-smoking programme

We all know that smoking is bad for health. But there is a special tradition in China. When festivals come, just like the Spring Festival, people buy cigarettes as presents for the elders and friends, despite knowing all the harms of smoking. Even in normal times, they give cigarettes when meeting new friends or visiting relatives, either to show friendliness or respect.

So the truth is, not only are the smokers exchanging cigarettes as gifts, nonsmokers are also fanning the flame by buying cigarettes for their friends and family and are unwittingly exposing themselves to second-hand smoke. This has greatly increased the difficulties of anti-smoking in China.

Experts on tobacco control call for more understanding and support. Just days ahead of the Spring Festival, the Ministry of Health(MOH), the World Health Organization, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention jointly launched a program to distribute 200,000 anti-smoking posters across the country.

"You have sent your friends both blessings and respiratory problems such as lung caner; you have sent your colleagues both respect and cardio vascular diseases such as heart disorders and stroke; you have sent your family love, care and death," a poster reads.

More info:

Every year, China incurrs a huge loss from smoking. A great part of the cost was paid for medical treatment to 23 major diseases caused by smoking. Another great loss was caused by delay of work, passive smoking, fires, environmental pollution and shortened life span.

Years ago, Chinese government had realized the problem of smoking, and took some actions on smoking control and anti-smoking activities. For example, cracking down on tobacco advertisements and punishing smoking in public places.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Toy Fair held in London

I believe that most of us have some favorite toys when we were a child, that maybe a doll, a toy car etc. Toys are certainly good fellows of children. From 28th to 31st January, 2009 Toy Fair runs at the ExCel exhibition center in London, where is a toy lovers playground. Over the three days, thousands of toys, games and hobbies will be showcased to more than nine thousand industry professionals.

From classic toys to the very latest fad there is something to suit every child and lots of adults too. And this year's most wanted toy is almost certainly going to be robotic, the cuddlier the better.

The fair is now in its 56th year. It gives manufacturers a chance to showcase the latest toys before they hit the stores. It’s said that the toy industry is worth four billion US dollars in the UK.

The market weathered a 2 percent fall in 2008, but Natasha Crookes of the British Toy and Hobby Association says the volume of sales actually increased by 7 percent and by 12 percent over the Christmas season. Fighting the economic downturn is child's play for toy giant, Lego. Despite an overall decline in the industry, the Danish toymaker celebrated a growth of over 50% in 2008. Taking part in the Toy Fair, Lego unveiled the second generation of Mindstorm models - a toy with robotic microchips built into the Lego bricks. The chips enable users to program a working robot as well as build a model.

The US based company Bossa Nova released its first robot-Prime8. The robot can be angry or happy and acts as a room guard by launching coconuts at intruders.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Car seats save young lives

Car accidents happened frequently in China, but also in other countries around the world. It’s said that car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for American children older than 1 year. Recently, a new research finds that placing infants and small children in age-appropriate car safety seats significantly reduces the odds that they will die if they are in a motor vehicle accident.

Babies reaped the most benefit from being placed in a car seat. Their odds of dying in a car crash dropped by three-quarters if they were in a safety restraint seat. But older children also saw significant benefits, with a mortality risk reduction of at least 60 percent.

"The findings from this study indicate that child restraints greatly reduce the risk of death among children 3 years and younger involved in severe traffic collisions," the authors of the study wrote.

"The higher effectiveness of safety seats among infants is likely due to their overall fragility," added study author Thomas Rice, a research epidemiologist at the Traffic Safety Center in the department of environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Results of the study appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

From a large initial sample of nearly 300,000 vehicles, the researchers chose 6,303 vehicles to study because of the availability of complete data on ages, positions of vehicle occupants and the type of restraints that were used (shoulder or lap seat belt, car seat, or none).

The odds of a baby under 1 year of age dying in a car accident drop by 73 percent if the infant was riding in a baby car seat. For children between 1 and 2, the odds of dying in a collision went down by 76 percent if they were properly restrained. For 2 to 3 year olds, the odds of a fatality in a car crash dropped by about 60 percent if the toddler was in a car seat.

Safety seats were found to be most effective in preventing fatalities in rollover accidents, rural environments and accidents involving light trucks.

In the older age group -- children age 2 to 3 years old -- seat belts were almost as effective as car safety seats in preventing fatalities.

But, say the experts, that doesn't mean it's OK for a 2-year-old to just wear a seat belt.

"Any restraint device helps to keep the child inside the vehicle, which decreases fatalities," said Barbara Gaines, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "So, with the older kids, a seat belt may keep them sort of in the car, but seat belts certainly won't prevent some of the other serious injuries we see."

She suggested:
Rear-facing infant seats for up to 1 year or so
Convertible seats for older, larger infants, until about age 3
Booster seats for 4- to 8-year-olds

"And, check the car seat for weight guidelines, because they're not identical for all seats," Gaines said. "When children graduate from booster seats, they still need to use the car's restraints. Teenagers are the ones least likely to be restrained."

From Shenzhen Daily.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

China's 1st limousine theme hotel opens in Shenzhen

OCT East, a popular tourist resort in Yantian District of Shenzhen, opened the first limousine theme hotel in China on Jan 1. At the same time it also opened a third theme park called Knight Valley.

The theme hotel, the outer walls of which are made of steel, resembles a limousine in shape and offers 159 well-designed rooms. There are also two real white limousines in front of the hotel, which are fully equipped with TV sets, kitchens, bars, beds and bathrooms.

The two limousines were manufactured in Germany with environmentally friendly aeronautic materials. There are four beds in each limousine for up to nine people, particularly suitable for two families, said Han Lu, a hotel employee.

Knight Valley overlooks the golden coastline of Eastern Shenzhen. In the valley, there are a Kwuan-yin statue on a lotus throne, Red Wine Town, forests, sunlight, open land and rivers. A number of entertainment facilities will open to the public during the Spring Festival that falls on Jan. 25.

The other two theme parks in OCT East include Tea Stream Valley and Wind Valley, which together with Knight Valley provide people an opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of the boomtown.
More info about OCT East

OCT East resort, a 3.5-billon-yuan investment supported by OCT group, is located at DaMeiSha, Shenzhen. Occupying about 9 square kilometers, OCT East, the national ecological resort featuring tourism culture, aims at providing visitors with an opportunity to escape from the bustle of city life and return to the nature.

Beautiful Stamp Series Celebrating Lunar New Year

Are you a stamp collector? Here we introduce a series of stamp celebrating the Lunar New Year of China. They are 12 beautifully engraved stamps of 12 animal symbols, standing for the 12 year’s Chinese Lunar Cycle.

The stamps are using paper-cut design, which is a traditional Chinese folk-art that goes back more than 2,000 years. The designer, Clarence Lee, is a Chinese-American illustrator. In 1992 he was selected to design the first Chinese lunar stamp, the "Year of the Rooster." Its phenomenal success led to a 12-year commission to create all the animal images in the lunar stamp series, one of the most popular series ever issued by the USPS (The United States Postal Service). His latest designs, is the shining re-creations of the 12 stamps in the solid silver and pure gold. It’s taken as the second series of the 12-year Celebrating Lunar New Year stamps.

More details:
The program of the stamps started in 1988, when the Organization of Chinese-Americans (OCA) proposed the idea of a postage stamp that would commemorate the important contribution of the Chinese people in America. Three years later, with support from members of Congress, nation-wide community groups, and Postmaster General Anthony Frank, the dream began to take form.

In 1992, renowned graphic designer Clarence Lee was selected to design one stamp depicting the Chinese lunar symbol for 1993, the "Year of the Rooster," to honor Chinese Americans. The overwhelming demand for the stamp made it one of the most successful issues in the history of the United States Postal Service. It struck a chord not only with Chinese and other Asian Americans, but also with the country as a whole and the world beyond. The result was the creation of a series of 12 stamps, one for each of the animals in the Chinese lunar cycle. Since 1993 one new stamp has been issued every Chinese New Year, taking 12 years to complete the series, and ending with the "Year of the Monkey".

When the first series expired in 2004, former OCA National President urged the USPS to continue the annual issuance in a new series. Now, it’s at the culmination of this important program that all 12 celebrated stamp designs have been re-created as engraved solid silver ingots, layered with 24-karat gold, thus preserving them forever in a magnificent collection that is destined to be handed down from one generation to the next as a treasured and visible symbol of an ancient culture and continuing tradition."

"The Lunar New Year stamp was an OCA initiative that made history for Chinese Americans sixteen years ago and the launch of the new series is certainly wonderful news,” said Claudine Cheng, former OCA National President, “We are delighted that history is being unfolded again and that we will continue to see the celebration of our cultural heritage being part of the United States Postal Service commemorative stamp program."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

China to subsidize use of energy-efficient vehicles/cars in public sector

In the past, the Chinese tend to use high –emission cars with high performance. But as people begin to be more concerned about the environment and the development of automobile industry, energy-efficient cars get attention too. Recently, China has adjust fuel oil tax to encourage the use of energy-efficient vehicles/cars. After that, a new program is also coming. According to the report of Xinhua Net, China is to promote the use of energy-efficient and new-energy vehicles in public sector in 13 cities.

According to a joint statement by the MOF (the Ministry of Finance) and the Ministry of Science and Technology, the central government will offer one-off subsidy for the purchase of mixed-power, electric and fuel-cell vehicles.

The statement said the subsidy will be decided by the gap between the prices of energy-efficient vehicles and automobiles powered by traditional fuel.

Aimed at facilitating the technology upgrading and structural optimization of the automobile industry, the program will be put into trial in public transport, taxi industry, postal and urban sanitary services in 13 cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Watching the 2009 CCTV spring festival gala

The arrival of a New Year is always a moment of celebration. And the CCTV Spring Festival Gala hold on the eve of the Lunar New Year, is an essential part of the holiday for many Chinese families. Since I was 20 years old, watching the Gala has been a traditional activity in my family. This year is the same.

The Gala began at 8:00 PM, with a title called "Reunion of the Chinese People" to echo the full year of big events in 2008. There are some highlights about the wonderful gala as following:

1. The gala features an assortment of hi-technology elements. Among them a high-tech screen wrapping around the stage and world-class audio and video facilities.

2. Heroes of the Shenzhou 7 mission along with Olympic gold medalists made special guest appearances at the gala.

3. The gala also features a special presentation in memory of the victims of last year's May 12th earthquake. Delegates from quake hit areas tell the audience about the current situation. And ethnic minority people from the quake hit province of Sichuan give a performance. By the word, their special costumes is very beautiful.
4. It’s the first time that farmer singers perform with the professionals on one stage. And they are very good, exceed people’s expectation.

The gala is gorgeous and there are many wonderful performances. If you want to take a watch of the full video, click the link

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chinese mainland pandas to meet Taiwan public on Lunar New Year

We all know that the giant panda is the national treasure of China, native to central-western and southwestern China (such as Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces). But people from all nations and areas are welcome to adopt pandas through naming them with an accompanying donation.

Now, there is another place where we can visit them. Next Monday, the two giant pandas given by the Chinese mainland to Taiwan will go on public display in Taipei zoo, after completing a month-long quarantine period.

The two giant pandas are an 4-year-old pair, named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (when linked, their names mean "reunion" in Chinese), weighed 106.8 kg and 107.2kg respectively. Quarantine staff had examined the pandas' temperatures daily since their arrival on Dec. 23. "They had also tested their excrement three times and urine twice, and found no parasites or other diseases," said zoo spokesman Jason S.C. Chin.

According to Taipei government, 500 orphans and children from poor families will be invited to see them on Jan. 24. And it’s estimated that the pandas will attract about 6 million visitors to the zoo annually, double the current number.

The Chinese mainland announced in May 2005 that it would give two giant pandas to Taiwan. Their departure was delayed for more than three years. The improved cross-Strait ties made their journey to Taiwan possible. And the public display will be a big news for people in Taiwan.

The second Disney Park in China may land in Shanghai

After the Disneyland Park Hong Kong opened in 2005, another city in China --- Shanghai, was eager to host Disney. Recently, the Disney company and the Shanghai Municipal Government drew up a joint application report which will be submitted to the Chinese Central Government for a formal approval.

The Disney headquarters and the Shanghai Municipal Government signed the document to draw the legal and financial framework for the construction of a theme park in Shanghai. According to the agreement signed, Disney will hold 43 percent of the stock shares, while the Shanghai municipal government-owned joint venture will hold 57 percent.

If the application is approved, Shanghai Disneyland will be listed among the ultra-large-scale ones, comparing to Disney projects around the world. The Disney theme park project is expected to cost 24.48 billion yuan and to cover an area of about 1.5 square kilometers. The project could bring in investment in the mainland stock market involving enterprises from a range of sectors such as real estate, film and television entertainment, publishing and printing, media networks, toy manufacturing, franchising, advertising and others.

But it may not be good news for Hong Kong Disneyland park, which will be certainly suffer from the project. For the park in Shanghai will draw visitors from Hong Kong park.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

what's Chinese react to Obama´s inauguration

In China, many people have been keeping a close watch as Obama prepares to take the presidential oath. With the US a key player on the world stage, a change in Washington may well affect the rest of the world.

Barack Obama's inauguration has become headline news around the world. Many Chinese are concerned about how he will tackle pressing issues in the first months of his presidency.

A Beijing resident said, "I will watch closely how Obama deals with the financial crisis. China will be a good partner to the US in solving the problem."

Others are interested in future China-US relations and the change Obama would bring to the US.

A Beijing resident said, "Obama is opening a new chapter by becoming the first black president in US history. I hope China-US relations will turn a new leaf too."

source from:

China launches nationwide campaign against fake banknote crimes

Have you ever seen fake banknote? Can you distinguish fake banknote? Here is the advise --- if you have and use Chinese banknote, keep an eye on the ball.

Recently, China launched a special campaign against fake banknote crimes after fake notes were found in more than 10 provinces and cities. The fake 100-yuan notes, most starting with serial number "HD90”, are so high-quality that some low-quality money detectors failed to catch them. The criminals are very tricky. They even split a true note into two parts and then adhered to fake ones. The nationwide campaign of "Action 09" aims at cracking down on crimes of producing, selling and spending fake notes, especially in 10 major provinces including Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang. The government ordered public security units to give priority to detecting fake money cases, finding out sources of fake money, rooting out producing dens and destroying transport network.

The government also encourage the public to inform on fake notes and gather case clues as many as possible. During the 10-month campaign, whoever reports dens producing fake money will be rewarded with 300,000 yuan (44,000 US dollars).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Top memories of China in 2008

2008, it’s not an easy year for all Chinese people. We enjoy the happiness that Beijing Olympic Games brought, also we suffer from the pain of the Wenchuan Earthquake. Today, let’s have a review of the big things happened in 2008.

1. Winter storm relief
Heavy snow -- the worst in 50 years -- hit southern, central and eastern areas of China in January,2008. The record snowfall has closed airports and expressways and shut down rail service. More than 77 of millions of people in 14 provinces are affected.

2. Wenchuan Earthquake
May 12th, 2008 is the day that people in China and around the world will never forget. A 8-magnitude earthquake devastated wide areas of Sichuan Province in China´s southwest. This is a rare and catastrophic natural disaster that has resulted in heavy loss of lives and properties.

Fortunately, we are strong enough. The whole country unite together to face the disaster, companies and individuals made lots of donation. Also, we got boundless Love and help from people around the world, which help us recover and rebuild out the area.

3. Beijing 2008 Olympic & Paralympic Games
On Aug. 8th, China´s 1.3 billion people open their arms and welcome the world! Under the banner of "One World, One Dream", Chinese People offered the world a spectacular festival of sport. The world is impressed by the wonderful Olympic opening and closing ceremony.

4. Shenzhou-7 Mission (China’s first space walk)
On September 25th, the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft was launched. It was China´s third spcae mission and the first to include a space walk. It also made China became the third country in the world to complete a spacewalk.

Chinese President Hu Jintao had said it was a small step from a Chinese astronaut, but a big step for the nation's scientific and technological innovation.

5. Three Direct Links Across Taiwan Straits
Dec. 15th, 2008 -- The Chinese mainland and Taiwan started direct air, sea transport and postal services. It’s the latest and important step to further improve the once strained ties between the two. Obviously, many people can benefit from these improvement.

6. 30 Years Anniversary of Reform & Opening Up
2008 marks China´s 30th anniversary of the Reform and Opening Up which was led by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. After the development of the last 30 years, the dramatic transformation has immersed in the country's growth, even in tiny details. Some changes of China may get people stunned. But we still have a long way to go.

7. Global Financial Crisis
We all know that global economy turndown in 2008, China also suffer a lot. Many people lose their jobs, companies are bankrupted. Chinese government has a big challenge in the economy development. China's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to drop to 8.4 percent this year from last year's 9.1 percent, but the country remains an engine for East Asia and even for global growth, according to a forecast report released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Friday in Beijing.

2008 is past and 2009 is a new start. No matter what happens, we have our faith and will do best to get better life. Wish the world peace and people around the world live a happy life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Decorations for Coming Spring Festival

People were busy in selecting decorations and goods to greet the Chinese traditional Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 26 this year. Decorations for the Coming Spring Festival are very beautiful and colorful, they are the expressions of Chinese culture.

1. An old style lantern:
2. Lanterns hanged on the tree

3.paper-cut decorations

4.paper-cut decorations

5. The local flower business heats up in the market as the Chinese traditional Spring Festival approaches.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Chinese Spring Festival is coming

Jan 26, it’s a big day for all Chinese people. That’s the traditional holiday --- the Spring Festival!

Held on the first day of each year of the lunar calendar and lasting for weeks, the spring festival is regarded by the Chinese people as the grandest and most important annual festival, similar to Christmas Day for Europeans and Americans. Originating during the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC), Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and colorful activities, and new hopes for health, treasure and good luck. People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their unique ways.

The spring festival is very interesting, people do a lot of preparations and colorful activities are held. Such as:

1. House decoration --- Nearly a week before the Spring Festival, every family does a thorough house cleaning. People often buy some Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate. The Chinese character 'Fu' is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cut pictures adorn windows. 'Fu' in Chinese means 'Good Luck' or 'Happiness', by pasting this character on the center of the door, people show great hope to be happy. Nowadays, people like to paste it backward, for this means 'Fu' has come. Paper-cut is a famous Chinese traditional craft. During Spring Festival, people paste favorite paper cuts on windows not only for decoration and appreciation but also for delivering hope.

2. Prepare food and clothes --- they purchase enough food, including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits, etc, for the festival period. People from different regions may prepare different food, such as jiaozi in north China and niangao (a kind of sticky rice cake) in the south are the indispensable foods. Also, new clothes must be bought, especially for children.

3. Spring Festival’s Eve --- On New Year's Eve, no matter where he is, every member will try his best to come back to enjoy the family reunion feast. Family members chat or watch special TV programs all night. To show respect for their ancestors, some families burn incense and prepare delicious food at home.

4. Setting Firecrackers and Fireworks --- Regarded as the most exciting event, especially to children during the festival, setting firecrackers means biding farewell to the past year and welcoming the New Year. Fireworks have been popular for over 2,000 years, and have become a festival essential. When the clock announces the New Year, numerous households set off fireworks at almost the same time, creating a thunderous sound. Various multicolored fireworks are also displayed by official organizations. Today fireworks have become an indispensable part of celebrating grand festivals, of marriage, even of opening a new shop.

5. Paying New Year Visits --- Paying New Year visits is a special way for people to express good wishes to each other. On the first day of Spring Festival, wearing their new clothes, people visit relatives and friends to extend New Year's greetings and invite them to visit. Next, people begin to visit their distant relatives. In cities and suburbs, colorful activities include Temple Fairs, Yangge dancing, and lion and dragon dancing.

The Spring Festival lasts until the Lantern Festival begins fifteen days later marking the end of the Chinese New Year. It is celebrated by Chinese people at home and abroad. Everyone immerses in the festive atmosphere, and exchanges wishes for a good harvest year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

xi'an series: 5 guesses on the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang

Recently, Guo Zhikun, a specialist in the history of the Qin (221 BC-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-220 AD) dynasties, gave a press conference in Xi'an. He disclosed his academic research results focusing on the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, making bold guesses about the mysterious tomb complex that fascinates the whole world.

Guess 1: How tall was the tomb mound?

According to Guo, the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang is actually composed of two parts: the tomb mound, a hillock above the tomb, and the underground palace, the chamber containing the emperor's coffin.

Most historical records indicate that the original tomb mound was 115 meters in height and 2,076 meters in girth. Exposed to the wind and sun for thousands of years, the mound has been greatly weathered down. The current girth is 1,390 meters, and the base of the mound covers an area of 120,750 square meters.

There has been a decades-long argument about why the mound's height dropped so sharply in recent years. Guo said that most people attributed it to the erosion from wind and rain and to manmade changes. However, another opinion has emerged recently. According to Duan Qingbo who leads the archaeological team at the mausoleum, the height of 115 meters recorded in most historical documents was just a figure copied down from the original blueprint. It is believed that the construction was left unfinished due to a nationwide uprising of peasants. After the emperor's corpse was placed in the chamber, the tomb mound project began. Later, about half of the laborers were transferred to the construction site of another palace building. When the peasant army approached the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, the second emperor of the dynasty, who had taken the throne from his dead father, hastily organized the remaining workers on the construction site to fight against the rebels. No more soil were added onto the hillock later.

Guess 2: How many gates does the underground palace have?

Opinions also differ on how many gates the underground palace contains. Some said there were two, one made of stone and the other of bronze. Others said that there were six, because Emperor Qin Shihuang had always considered the number "six" auspicious.

How many gates does the underground palace have then? After reading through piles of ancient documents, Guo Zhikun said that the exact number was recorded clearly in Records of the Historian, a great historical book written by Sima Qian. In it, the author wrote, "When the emperor died, he was placed in the underground palace. Then, the middle gate was closed and the outer gate was shut down. All workmen were entombed. No one escaped."

Guo explained that the emperor's coffin and all his burial articles were placed inside the middle gate. When the palace was shut down, workmen were busy working in it. Within seconds, however, they were entombed along with the emperor and became burial sacrifices themselves.

From Sima Qian's description, Guo inferred that the underground palace had three gates: an outer gate, a middle gate and an unmentioned inner gate. In addition, in Sima Qian's record, the middle gate was "closed", which meant it had two planks, and the outer gate was "shut down", which meant it slide down vertically. Guo believed the middle door was locked automatically once it was closed. It was designed deliberately to prevent any breakthrough from inside or any invasion from outside. Besides, Guo guessed the unmentioned inner gate had the same mechanism as the middle one and the three gates were located on a straight line.

Guess 3: How many treasures lie buried?

The tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang was filled with fine vessels, precious stones and other rarities according to Sima Qian's record. Liu Xiang, another famous scholar before Sima Qian, wrote in one of his passages, "Since antiquity, no one has ever been buried in such a luxurious manner as Emperor Qin Shihuang."

All the sketchy but intriguing words made us curious about the mysterious wealth buried in the magnificent underground palace. In Records of the Historian, one can find descriptions about a golden wild goose, pearls and jade. But what else lies down there?

In the late 1980s, a large bronze chariot equipped with life-size horses was unearthed outside the west wall of the underground palace of Emperor Qin Shihuang. These elaborately decorated burial articles fascinated the world about the treasures hidden in the emperor's tomb chamber.

"Emperor Qin Shihuang was fond of music. He must have all kinds of musical instruments buried with him," guessed Guo. Recently, a pit for sacrifices was found between the inner wall and outer wall of the tomb complex. Covering 600 square meters, the pit was 40 meters wide from east to west and 15 meters long from north to south. Most of the articles excavated were pottery figures of courtiers, musicians and acrobats. In recent years, a variety of traditional Chinese musical instruments, such as Bianzhong (bronze chimes), were unearthed. Guo felt confident that the underground palace must have a whole collection of musical instruments. Besides, Guo guessed that there might be many valuable ancient books in addition to treasures and jewels.

Guess 4: Does the automatic-shooting crossbows function well?

Ancient Chinese tended to bury treasures with them. Not surprisingly, tomb robbery was once rampant throughout the country. To prevent outside invasions, Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered a full range of precautions. It is said that besides poisonous mercury, booby traps with automatically ejected arrows were installed in the tomb chamber to deter would-be robbers. Anyone who dared to break in would certainly die a violent death.

However, all those alleged lethal weapons have been buried under earth for thousands of years. Would they still function adequately now? Most people believe that the crossbows would still shoot arrows if they are triggered. Guo also agreed so after he carefully studied ancient smelting technology recorded in historical books.

In a modern test, a coating of chromate was found on the surface of weapons excavated along with the terracotta warriors. This coating served to make bronze weapons rust-resistant. Thus, it is highly likely that the automatic crossbows may function well even after thousands of years.

Guo speculated that these crossbows were the first automatic burglar-proof devices in the world. "Craftsmen were ordered to fix up these crossbows in such a way so that any thief breaking in would be shot." He quoted a line in Records of the Historian to support his prediction.

Guess 5: Is the corpse of Emperor Qin Shihuang well preserved?

Although it is widely believed that the underground palace has not been disturbed in past years, some people hold the opinion that the emperor's body had putrefied.

According to historical records, the emperor died during an inspection tour. It was summer so the body couldn't be kept for long. In fact, records state that the body had started to stink even before it was carried back to the capital.

In one of his works, Guo pointed out that it is possible the emperor's corpse might be relatively well preserved. He had three reasons supporting his assumption. First, during the Qin era, it was common practice among aristocrats to put mercury in their tombs to prevent corpses from decaying. Second, when the emperor died, all prominent officials were accompanying him, along with an imperial doctor with superb medical skills who was summoned to his deathbed. Third, modern tests on the soil of the tomb mound show unusually high concentrations of mercury. Guo pointed out all these conditions indicate the possibility of preservation for his body.

Guo: All the guesses have to be testified by archeological finds.

At the press conference, Guo's new book, Guesses on the Underground Palace of Qin Mausoleum, was introduced to the public. "When I wrote this book, I consulted scores of famous archeologists via letters, E-mails or face-to-face communications. They all gave me tremendous help." Guo Zhikun said that his assumptions were based on the results of previous research. If they turn out to be correct, the credit should be given to all scholars engaged in this field.

As technology advances, maybe one day we can open the grand palace and discover all the answers to these questions.

Source from by Chen Xia

Friday, January 9, 2009

xi'an series: Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang----an unexcavated treasure house

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses we talked about in the last post was unparalleled and dazzled the world, but it’s only part of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, which is yet unexcavated. Located approximately 30 km outside of X'ian, the mausoleum remains a symbol of the infinite power and ego of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Qin Shihuang(259 BC - 210 BC) holds a central place in Chinese history for being the first emperor who united the country. He is also well known for his part in the construction of the spectacular Great Wall and his splendid terracotta army. To ensure his rule in the afterlife, the emperor commanded more than 720,000 conscripts to build him a grand mausoleum as luxurious as any of the palaces he had in mortal life. The mausoleum is even larger than the Great pyramid in Egypt.

Legend says that many large-scale alhambresque buildings housing numerous and precious treasures are buried inside the tomb. Since the grand mausoleum is not yet open for some reasons, details on the mausoleum remain mysterious. But the records of Sima Qian, a great historian who wrote in early Han dynasty, offered archeologists great insight on the mausoleum's construction. We learned from him that the tomb is huge. The coffin of Emperor Qin Shihuang was cast in bronze. Underground Palace was gem-studded replica of imperial housing above ground. Moreover, booby traps with automatic-shooting arrows were installed to deter would-be tomb robbers. Heaven and earth were represented in the central chamber of the tomb. Ceiling shaped into sun, moon and stars by inlaying pearls and gems symbolizes the sky and the ground was an accumulation point of rivers, lakes and seas, like Yellow River and Yangtze River, which stands for the earth. It is said that the underground palace was brightly lit by whale oil lamps for eternity.

The mausoleum unexcavated is worth studying, many experts work on it. Qin bricks and tiles, engraved with decorative patterns, are strew everywhere around the tomb. There are many satellite tombs built for accompanying Qin Shihuang. Ministers, princesses and princes, the famous and the not so famous were inhumed there. The burial pits for horses, rare birds and pottery figures were ever regarded as the sacrificial objects to the Emperor. Hence the remains from these tombs and pits are beneficial for archaeologists to make further research.

Although the tomb itself is a miracle and very elaborate, it’s considered to be a notorious crime scene according to historical records. Many laborers died of hardship during its construction, and all the workmen were entombed along with the emperor in order to keep their mouths shut. Also all the barren royal concubines accompanied Emperor Qinshihuang on his last journey.

We hope that one day, the entire mausoleum will be unearthed and displayed to the public.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

xi'an series: The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses---- the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'

In some movies, like the Mummy series, people call for the power of the dead army to fight for them. Do you believe that there is a real dead army in China, but they can’t be called for? Actually, they are not real people, but made from terracotta. Today, we will go to the topic.

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century, is undoubtedly a must see in Xi’an. Its grandeur and mystery really overwhelm people who pay a visit. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations symbolically guard the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang , the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (246-209B.C). It is cited as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' and was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages.

Who had built this great job? Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life, including the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. According to Records of the Historian written over 2,000 years ago by Sima Qian, the construction of the grand project involved 700,000 laborers and took 36 years to be completed. This great treasure remained unknown till 1974. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb. It caught the attention of archeologists immediately. They came to Xi’an in droves to study and to extend the digs. In 1975, to the protection of the discovery, the State Council authorized the building of a museum on the site. Now Xian and the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses have become landmarks on all travelers' itinerary.

The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back. No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No. 1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994.Archeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

Altogether over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits. Most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.

Monday, January 5, 2009

xi'an city: overview

Want to broaden the knowledge of Chinese civilization? There is a perfect place to for you, Xi’an(also Called Chang'an in ancient times). Enjoying equal fame with Athens, Cairo and Rome, Xi’an is one of the four ancient civilization capitals in the world. Also, it stands first on the six largest ancient capitals in China. Today we are going to explore this glamour place.

Having more than 3,100 years of history, Xi’an has been the capital of 13 dynasties in Chinese history, such as the Zhou, Qin, Han, the Sui, and Tang dynasties. It’s said that Xi’an is a living history book recording the great changes of the Chinese nation. It was not until the prosperous Tang Dynasty (618-907) that Xi'an became famous both at home and abroad as the largest and busiest international metropolis of that age in the world, being linked to many central Asian regions and Europe via the Silk Road, with thousands of foreign traders living the city.

The cultural and historical significance of Xi’an, as well as the abundant relics and sites, help Shaanxi enjoy the laudatory title of 'Natural History Museum'. Moving around this old city is like going through thousands of years back in time. There are so many must sees!! Here one can visit the sites once inhabited by its primitive people; admire the bronze wares manufactured in the Bronze Age; wander through the city ruins of the Qin, Han, Sui and Tang Dynasties; imagine for oneself the clamour of the old Oriental metropolis; explore the imperial tombs of the Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties, testimony to the pervasive power of the feudal ruling class; ramble in temples and pagoda courtyards, tracing vestiges of the Silk Road; and study stone inscriptions to appreciate Chinese calligraphy.

For example, the Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is praised as 'the eighth major miracle of the world', Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is listed on the World Heritage List, and the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) is the largest and most intact Ming Dynasty castle in the world. In the city, there is the 3,000 years old Banpo Village Remains from the Neolithic Age (approximately from 8000 BC to 5000 BC), and the Forest of Stone Steles that holds 3,000 stone steles of different periods from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Around Xi’an, the Famen Temple enjoys the reputation of being the 'forefather of pagodas and temples in Central Shaanxi,' because it holds the finger bones of Sakyamuni -- the founder of Buddhism.

But it’s not complete to consider Xi’an just as an ancient city. Being the capital of Shaanxi province, Xi’an is the most important city in northwest China. Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of interior China especially for the central and northwest regions, Xi'an has re-emerged as an important cultural, industrial and educational center of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China's space exploration program. Want to go shopping? Go to Kai Yuan Shopping Mall and Century Ginwa Shopping Mall, they are the biggest and most comprehensive shopping centers. Moreover, the four main streets are respectively Dong Dajie, Xi Dajie, Nan Dajie and Bei Dajie which are also the main commercial streets. Xiao Zhai, the busiest commercial area is in the southern part of the city. Shuyuan Men and the still under construction Luoma Shi are must-visit pedestrian streets in the city.

Another thing you could not miss is the food in Xi’an. Praised as 'the capital of table delicacies', Xi’an has been rich in the delicious Shaanxi snack, delicate Guangdong Cuisine, various kinds of fashionable foreign delicacies, and popular Sichuan Cuisine such as the hot pot. Among all the delicacies, the most famous and popular one is the Muslim Snack Street.

All in all, have fun in Xi’an, it will certainly surprise you in many aspects!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Do you use chopsticks while eating Chinese food?

While enjoying Chinese food for the first time, many foreigners may be confused by the distinctive facility - chopsticks! Getting used to fork and knife, it’s kind of hard to use this two simple sticks for foreigners. However, the use of chopsticks in this way is an art in itself and chopsticks have determined the way in which Chinese food is presented at table.

Chopsticks were developed about 5,000 years ago in China. In ancient times, chopsticks were called 'Zhu'. At that time, our ancestors liked to steam or boil food. It was difficult for them to use spoons to dip vegetables in the soup. So they cleverly invented 'Zhu' to nip food, thus it has become the most convenient tableware in their lives. Development of chopstick has experienced a long history. Early in Xia Dynasty (21st - 16th century BC), the shape of chopstick was still in development. Chopsticks only became two sticks of the same length in the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC). In the late Shang Dynasty, the tyrannical King Zhou ordered his craftsmen to make chopsticks from elephants' teeth, which was seen to be the most luxurious chopsticks in the early history of Chinese food culture.

Traditionally, chopsticks have been made from a variety of materials. Bamboo has been the most popular because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to split, resistant to heat, and has no perceptible odor or taste. Cedar, sandalwood, teak, pine, and bone have also been used. The wealthy, however, often had chopsticks made from jade, gold, bronze, brass, agate, coral, ivory, and silver. In fact, during dynastic times it was thought that silver chopsticks would turn black if they came into contact with poisoned food. It is now known that silver has no reaction to arsenic or cyanide, but if rotten eggs, onion, or garlic are used, the hydrogen sulfide they release might cause these chopsticks to change color.

The appearance of chopsticks said goodbye to those days when our Chinese ancestors had to use their hands to grab food, so they featured the coming of civilization to food culture. The invention of chopsticks has many scientific theories. The lever principle of mechanics was applied into practice. The point where two chopsticks crossed is the pivot of the lever.

The use of chopsticks has been a part of Chinese food culture. There are some taboos of using chopsticks that you must pay great attention to, or you may make mistakes and be laughed at. First, don't use chopsticks to hit the side of your bowl or plate to make a lot of noise, because Chinese people think only beggars would do this to beg food. Second, when you use chopsticks, don't stretch out your index finger, which would be regarded as a kind of accusation to others. Never use chopsticks to point at others. Third, it is thought to be an impolite behavior when you suck the end of a chopstick. People will think you lack family education. Fourth, don't use chopsticks to poke at every dish without knowing what your want. And last, don't insert chopsticks vertically into the food. Chinese people do this only when they burn incense to sacrifice the dead.

Nowadays, chopsticks serve many new functions besides tableware. For example, you can buy a pair of exquisite chopsticks as a gift to your friends and relatives. In Chinese, 'chopsticks' reads 'Kuaizi', which means to have sons soon, so a newly-married couple will be very happy to accept chopsticks as their wedding gift. Skillful craftsmen painted beautiful sceneries on chopsticks to make them like fine artworks. Many people love to collect these dainty chopsticks as their treasure.

Chopsticks are small but they are adored by many people in the world. An interesting experiment shows that many joints and muscles are being exercised when you use chopsticks. They certainly make you cleverer, don't they?

How to use chopsticks
First, you must hold the upper part and don't cross the chopsticks. Second, hold the chopsticks with your thumb, index finger, middle finger and third finger. One stick is against your third finger and the other leans on your middle finger. Third, when you pick the food, use your index finger and middle finger to control the chopsticks. Practice a lot and then you will find it is an easy job.