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.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chinese cuisine----Cantonese cuisine

Cantonese cuisine (Guangdong cuisine or Yue Cai), has a great prestige among the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine. Of all the regional varieties of Chinese cuisine, it’s also the best known outside China, due to its palatability to Westerners and the great numbers of early emigrants from Guangdong Province. Most "Chinese restaurants" in Western countries serve authentic Cantonese cuisine and dishes based on it.

Coming from Guangdong Province in Southern China, Cantonese cuisine is reputed as China's finest cuisine. Featuring diverse and delicate in material, its material includes almost all edible food in addition to the staples of pork, beef and chicken - snakes, snails, insects, worms, chicken feet, duck tongues, ox genitals, and entrails, etc. There is a famous saying, "Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible".

The seasonings in Cantonese cuisine are varied and well coordinated. Sauces made from ingredients like ginger, garlic, onion, vinegar, and sugar are complemented to enhance flavors. Somewhat lighter than most regional Chinese cuisine, the Cantonese dishes are prepared carefully and exquisitely. With the basic cooking techniques such as roasting, stir-frying, sauteing, deep-frying, braising, stewing and steaming, they turn out to be fresh, crisp, tender, slippery and not salty with all flavors and tastes.

The basic cooking techniques include. Steaming and stir-frying are most frequently used to preserve the ingredients' natural flavors. Guangdong chefs also pay much attention to the artistic presentation of their dishes.

An emphasis on preserving the natural flavor of the food is the hallmark of Cantonese cuisine. As cooking time is short, the flavors and nutrition of the food are preserved. Fresh live seafood is a specialty in Cantonese cuisine. Many authentic restaurants maintain live seafood tanks. The Cantonese people are very finicky when it comes to the freshness of their food. Even the amount of time taken for a live, swimming fish to be placed on a plate is kept to a minimum.

Cantonese barbecuing methods are unsurpassed. Another unique Cantonese specialty is slow-cooked soup. Sometimes, Chinese herbal medicines are added to the pot. Dim sum is, without a doubt, a trademark food in Cantonese cuisine. It is usually consumed in the mornings and afternoons. The Cantonese are also very inventive, and happy to incorporate non-native ingredients in their cooking.

It’s a pity that traveling to China without enjoying this wonderful Cantonese cuisine. So explore and try the long Cantonese menu!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chinese cuisine----Shandong cuisine

As an important component of Chinese culinary art, Shandong cuisine is considered to be the most influential in Chinese cuisine, with majority of the culinary styles in China having developed from it.

Also called Shandongcai or Lucai in Chinese, It is derived from the coastal province of Shandong in eastern China. Shandong cuisine boasts a long history and far-reaching impact. Dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-221BC), Shangdong cuisine is representative of northern China's cooking and its technique has been widely absorbed in northeast China. The recipes are those that once delighted the royal court and were served to the emperor. Modern day schools of cuisine in North China, such as those of Beijing, Tianjin, and Northeast, are all branches of Shandong Cuisine. Also, the typical dishes in most North China households' meals are prepared in simplified Shandong methods.

Shandong is a large peninsula surrounded by the sea, with the Yellow River meandering through the center. As a result, seafood is a major component of Shandong cuisine. Shandong's most famous dish is the "sweet and sour carp". A truly authentic "sweet and sour carp" must come from the Yellow River.

Beyond the use of seafood, Shandong cuisine is famous for its wide selection of material and use of different cooking methods. The raw materials are mainly domestic animals and birds, seafood and vegetables. On another hand, Shandong is somewhat unique for its wide use of corn, a local cash crop that is not widely cultivated elsewhere. Unlike the sweet corn of North America, Shandong corn is chewy and starchy, often with a grassy aroma. It is often served simply as steamed or boiled cobs, or removed from the cob and lightly fried.

Condiments such as sauce paste, fistulous onion and garlic are freely used, so Shangdong dishes usually taste pungent. Possibly Shandong's greatest contribution to Chinese cuisine has been in the area of brewing vinegars. Hundreds of years of experience combined with unique local methods have led to Shandong's prominence as one of the premier regions for vinegar production in China. Unlike the lighter flavored, sharper vinegars popular in the southern regions, Shandong vinegar has a rich, complex flavor which, among some connisseurs, is considered fine enough to be enjoyed on its own merits.

Soups are given much emphasis in Shangdong dishes. Clear soup (or thin soup) features clear and fresh while milk soup (or creamy soup) looks thick and tastes strong, both of which are often choicely made to add freshness to the dishes. The dishes are mainly clear, fresh and fatty, perfect with Shandong's own famous beer, Qingdao Beer.

Shandong cuisine mainly consists of two major styles: Jiaodong style, This style encompasses dishes from Fushan, Qingdao, Yantai and surrounding regions. It is characterized by seafood cooking, with light tastes; and Jinan style: This style encompasses dishes from Jinan, dezhou, Tai'an and surrounding regions. It is famed for its soup and utilizing soups in its dishes. The typical menu can include many delicate dishes such as:

Braised abalone - smooth, delicate, fresh and savory

Sweet and Sour Carp - with crisp exterior and tender fish interior, a little sweet and sour. It’s one of the most famous dishes in Shandong cuisine. A truly authentic "sweet and sour carp" must come from the Yellow River.

Bree with a complex - clear, mild and fresh

Dezhou stewed chicken - known throughout the country; the chicken is so well cooked that the meat easily separates from the bone although the shape of the chicken is preserved.

'Eight Immortals Crossing Sea teasing Arhats' - This is a starter before a celebration feast. It is luxurious and traditionally uses as its eight main ingredients: fin, sea pumpkin, abalone, asparagus, prawns and ham. The stock is flavored with fish's swimming bladder and fish bones. These symbolize the eight immortals and the Arhats [Buddhist saints] are symbolized by the inclusion of chicken breast.

Chinese cuisine----Sichuan cuisine

Sichuan cuisine, another a hot style cuisine in China, is also called Chuan Cai. Originating in Sichuan Province of southwestern China, it is famed for bold flavors, particularly the spiciness resulting from liberal use of chilis and "numb" or "tingling" flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn. Just as we said in the former article, Sichuan cuisine, comparing to Hunan cuisine, lays great stress on its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning.

Sichuan food is famous for its many flavors, and almost every dish has its own unique taste. Actually, hot pepper, was introduced into China from South America only 200 to 300 years ago. Once it came to Sichuan, it became a favored food flavoring. Sichuan has high humidity and many rainy or overcast days. Hot pepper helps reduce internal dampness, so hot pepper was used frequently in dishes, and hot dishes became the norm in Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used, which is an indigenous plant producing peppercorns with a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy flavor. Also common are chili, ginger and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chili paste and yuxiang are also staple seasonings in Sichuan cuisine.

Common preparation techniques in Sichuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming, pickling, salting, drying, smoking and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Sichuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a very rich gravy.

There are many local variations of Sichuan cuisine within Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality. The four best known regional sub-styles are Chongqing style, Chengdu style, Zigong style, and Buddhist vegetarian style.Delicious dishes include:

Stir-fried Tofu with Minced Beef in Spicy Bean Sauce - A real feast of tender bean curd, minced beef, pepper and bean sauce. It is said that it was made by a pock-marked but ingenious woman, thus the name Ma Po Tofu (pock-marked woman's bean curd).

Lamp-shadow Beef - with larruping techniques, the beef is cut in very thin sheet. When a piece is carried, it looks like translucent paper, slippery and reddish. When put under the lamp or light, a red shadow will appear.

Gong Bao Ji Ding - This is a tender chicken dish, tender as the meat is quickly fried. Flavored with peanuts, this is tasty and very popular.

Lung Pieces by Couple - a quite popular in Chengdu. It got the name because the dish was ever sold be a couple and today it remains the original savor, tender meat, tingling and spicy.