A huge East Asian country, when people mention "Asia", the first country to pop up in your head, if not Japan, is probably going to be China (Chinese: 中国, Zhongguo), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC) (Chinese: 中华人民共和国, Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo). This has become so common that for some people, China is synonymous with Asia, much to the annoyance of everyone who isn't ignorant. As the most populated country in the world and third largest in area after Russia and Canada, and with an economy on the rise daily, the People's Republic of China is a country well worth understanding better, partly to avoid the many stereotypes of the country and the Chinese people over the years.
China is one of the world's oldest civilizations having been one of only six to have formed independently (meaning not having an already-established civilization give them the idea of civilization creation), one of only five to have developed a writing system independently (the only one still in use today!), and has the longest continuous history of any country in the world. The main "centers" of Chinese civilization in modern Sinology are considered to be the Yellow River, Liao River, and Yangtze River. This is in contrast to the old theory that Chinese civilization began solely at the Yellow River and radiated outwards although the Yellow River region would remain by far the most important area in Chinese history. Even today there is a genetic cline in China — Northern Han Chinese have highly uniform paternal and maternal lines, being a fairly genetically homogeneous group that formed about 3000 years ago while Southern Han Chinese have uniform paternal lines like the Northern Han and the Northern Han are indeed the greatest contributors to the Southern Han gene pool but they have more diverse maternal lines that increase in diversity the further south one travels.
Chinese civilization began in what is today northern China along the banks of the Yellow River where early Sinitic-speaking agricultural tribes from the Yangshao culture called the Hua formed a confederacy with Liao River nomadic pastoral tribes called the Xia from the Hongshan culture. The two river cultures had interacted with each other extensively before some of the Xia made a migration to the Yellow River and merged with the Hua. Collectively these people became known as the Huaxia. Chinese culture was more strongly influenced by the Hua with their language, silk production, millet agriculture, and potterymaking but with the religious practises of the Xia thus early Chinese religion was shamanistic. Shamanism would lose popularity in mainstream Chinese religion but the grand religious ceremonies and rituals of the Xia such as dragon worship and feng shui would remain.
The Huaxia underwent extensive cultural and technological advancements largely due to the unpredictability of the Yellow River which they depended on. The Huaxia began to conquer surrounding territories which allowed for their expansion. The absorption of the Yangtze River civilization to their south gave Chinese civilization the knowledge of rice agriculture and navies. The Yangtze civilizations were populated by what the Huaxia called the Baiyue people. The Baiyue heavily influenced each other and shared cultural practises but they were a highly diverse collection of people who were ancestral to or related to Southern Han Chinese people, Southern Chinese ethnic minorities, many modern-day Southeast Asians, and perhaps the Yayoi people of Japan. There were also Tibeto-Burman people to the west in Gansu and Sichuan who despite being distantly related to the Hua people through their Sino-Tibetan ancestry — had very distinctive cultures from the Huaxia and the Baiyue. The most famous of these was the Sanxingdui of Sichuan, most experts believe the ancestors of the ancient Sanxingdui people were the Di and Qiang peoples who were originally nomads but learned to use bronze working technology and made a lot of unusual artwork consisting of big heads.
The Huaxia would go on to form empires with the Qin Dynasty being the first unified Chinese empire. The Han Dynasty is considered one of the early great eras of the Chinese civilization thus the Huaxia would go on to call themselves "Han people" and are known as the "Han Chinese" in English. Well, that's some of the basics of early Chinese history which is still largely a mystery due to it being centred around the Yellow River which was a poor region for archaeological preservation and the details are still hotly debated today. Even what is "common knowledge" now may be outdated in the next few years.
What is far better recorded is the period known as Imperial China, starting from the Qin, China would have a dynastic imperial system of governance for the next 2000 years. The Chinese state would constantly alternate between periods of extreme chaos and peaceful golden eras as it fractured and reunited over time. China was the dominant cultural powerhouse of East Asia. Although ironically, the best known Chinese eras to Westerners were the foreign dynasties of the Yuan and Qing due to Marco Polo's adventures in Yuan China and because China was being brutally colonized by Western powers and Japan in the Qing — these were the periods when China was arguably at it's "least Chinese" and it contributed to the poor understanding the West had of the nation. Even today the West is largely ignorant of Chinese history with its preference to undervalue Chinese studies due to the bad blood that generated between China and the West starting from the late Qing.
In 2003, China became the third nation to have sent a man into space. The President and Vice President of the People's Republic of China serve for five year terms with no term limits; this, plus the lack of political opposition, basically allows them to serve for life. However, true authority lies with the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Chinanote while top military command goes to Chairman of the Central Military Commission, a role usually also hold by the General Secretary who's usually elected as the President (still known as the State Chairman in Chinese). Basically one has to hold these three positions to gain full power of the head of government of China. The General Secretary is secretly decided by the Communist Party.
- Ba Gua
- Chinese with Chopper Support (The People's Liberation Army)
- The Dragon's Teeth (Chinese Nuclear Weapons)
- Chinese Language
- Chinese Mythology
- Chinese Names
- Chinese Funerary Customs
- Eastern Zodiac
- Four Is Death
- Green Is Blue
- Peking Opera
- Tea And Tea Culture
- Beijing (北京/Peking)
- Hong Kong
- Taiwan (Governed by the ROC instead of the PRC)
- Imperial China
- No More Emperors (Republic of China, WWII and Civil War; ca 1912-1949)
- Red China (post-1949)
Works from China
The Chinese flag