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In ancient China,Guo referred to city or state.Zhonguo (now it means China) meant the central city or the central state. According to historical books, Zhongguo had five connotations: fist, the capital city; second, the state ruled by the emperor; third, the Central Plains; fourth, the upland region and last, the region dwelled by Han and Xia nationalities.

Since the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), people often referred the state established by the Han nationality as Zhongguo; however, other nationalities also call their own states as Zhongguo. Neither of them would acknowledge other Zhongguo.

Strictly speaking, Zhongguo in ancient times was an adjective rather than a proper noun. None reigning dynasties tookZhongguoas their name, and they all had their own titles.

After the 1911 Revolution (the Chinese bourgeois democratic revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen which overthrew the Qing Dynasty), Zhongguo was taken as the shortened form of Republic of China. And in 1949, Zhongguo became the shortened form of the People’s Republic of China.

Now, the only one Zhongguo in the world is thePeople’s Republic of China with its capital in Beijing.

The China National Silk Museum, opened to the public in February 1992, is located in Hangzhou City of East China’s Zhejiang Province. It is a special museum dedicated to the exhibition of China’s more than 5,000 years of silk culture and history.

The museum completed renovation in September 2003 and has been open to the public for free since January2004.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” is the museum’s main display, divided into the Prelude Hall, the Display of Silk Stories, the Display of Silk Craft, and the temporary exhibition hall.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” won the Prize of Elaborate Works in the Sixth National Top Ten Museums (2003-2004) competition.

In the early 1900s, the Shikumen lanes were considered among the younger generation as the ultimate examples of dilapidated, crowded and wretched urban living. Luckily for the generations to follow, a few literary masterpieces were written by writers infatuated with the lane’s architecture which introduced people to the hidden beauty of Shikumen.

The Stone-hooped doors and Shikumen

In the Shanghai dialect, wrapping or bundling is called ‘hooping’, giving rise to phrases like ‘hooping a bucket’, so doors ‘hooped’ by stone bars were called Stoned-hooped doors, and later the name changed to Shikumen. Generally, the Shikumen-style buildings have long bars of stones as doorframes and burly wooden planks as doors, each fixed with a huge bronze ring.

The origin of Shikumen buildings can be traced back to the 1860s. In 1860, the Taiping Revolution led by Li Xiucheng advanced east, conquering a string of important towns in easternChina, causing an influx of refugees from southernJiangsuand northernZhejianginto the foreign settlements inShanghai. To accommodate this inflax of refugees, local merchants were encouraged to invest in housing for these people. To use the limited land more efficiently, the houses built were in most cases rows of Shikumen-style buildings

These buildings reflect a mix of Chinese and foreign styles of architecture. Shikumen-style buildings have certain elements of the west, but most of the design and layout is in line with that of the “Jiangnan” area of easternChina. Behind the Shikumen door is a courtyard, and further inside is a living room, locally known as a parlour, and then there is the back courtyard, kitchen and back door. To the sides of the courtyard and the parlo
ur are the right and left wing rooms. The layout of the second storey is similar to the one below, but above the kitchen is the garret, above which is a flat roof. The typical buildings of the Shikumen style can be seen within Xingrenli – an area of 1.33 square kilometers defined by the east side of Henanzhong Road, Ningbo Road and Beijing Road; and also within Dunrenli, Mianyangli and Jixiangli, all near the Xinmatou Street close to Zhongshannan Road.

After the early 1900s,Shanghai’s households became smaller in size and the residents’ living patterns underwent major changes. The structure and layout of the Shikumen-style houses also changed as a result. Smaller units, without wing rooms and suitable for small households, appeared, together with somewhat larger units with one parlour and one wing room. These new two-or-three-storey Shikumen houses were separated by lanes four meters wide. Humble “Tingzijian” rooms were found at the turn of the staircases while verandahs were added to the facades. After the 1920s, sewerage systems were installed. Typical examples of such Shikumen buildings are the Jingan Villa onNanjingxi Road, and the Daluxin Villa onShanyin Road.

After the 1930s,Shanghaifaced a housing shortage, so the owners of Shikumen-style buildings rented out some of the rooms. Since then most Shikumen-style buildings have had their original layouts altered and became mansions housing more than one family.

Life in the Lanes

Shikumen-style houses formed the basis of the “Li Long” (lane) community where private spheres and public spaces overlapped. In this community, everyone knew everyone else’s business. As the density of the community rose, some family activities were often moved to public spaces.

A valuable Architectural Legacy

At their peak, the Shikumen-style neighbourhoods numbered more than9000 inShanghaiand took up 60 per cent of the total housing space of the city. The Shikumen style, which has survived for more than a century, is however no longer suitable for modern urban living. Since the 1990s,Shanghaibegan a new wave of renovation and development, demolishing many Shikumen-style buildings. It was only when more and more of these houses were replaced by skyscrapers that people began to realize such monuments of Shanghai’s past deserve to be preserved.

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As the biggest developing country of the world and the popular travel destination for numerous foreigners,China has a long history of more than 5000 years, which brings up the resplendently rich modern civilization. So,Chinais a great county with its own culture and civilization.

 What should you have to experience for your China tour, and what are the ones that can be mostly symbolize China, helping you know much more about China and its culture. 

Here, we list the top 10 Chinese symbols for your convenience, including, China Great Wall, China Giant Panda, Lantern, Beijing Opera, Jiaozi, Red Flag, Qipao, Knotting, Kungfu, Sedan Chair.

 1. The Great Wall

There is an old saying: “You are a real man until you climb up the Great Wall”, which reflects the Chinese People’s spirit of courage and persistance. TheGreat Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus. It is a remarkable piece of engineering and is the most famous symbol ofChina.

 2. China Giant Panda

The giant panda, regarded as one ofChina’s National Treasures, is on the verge of extinction. Today there are fewer than 1,000 giant pandas living in the world. The giant panda is the symbol of eco-environmental conservation. Visitors toChinacan see this reclusive animal inSichuanProvince’s Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. We hope, with their cute faces, unusual beauty and grace, giant pandas can bring visitors toChinapleasure and enjoyment.

 3. Chinese Lantern

Lanterns play an important and irreplaceable role in Chinese long history and symbolize the brilliant culture ofChina. The art of lanterns, as the precious traditional culture of Chinese, is also inherited and continues among folks.

 The craftwork of lantern is still widely used in current society which can be seen in some happy days such as the Lantern Festival, wedding and celebration ceremonies. Besides, lanterns have some other functions in daily life. For example, at ancient time, when there was no electricity, lanterns were used as a tool of illumination, which brought great convenience to everyday life.

 4. Beijing Opera (Bianlian)

Beijing Opera is the quintessence ofChina. As the largest Chinese opera form, it is extolled as ‘Oriental Opera’. Having a history of 160 years, it has created many ‘firsts’ in Chinese dramas: the abundance of repertoires, the number of artists, opera troupes and spectators.

 The costumes in Beijing Opera are graceful, magnificent, elegant and brilliant, and mostly are made in handicraft embroidery. As the traditional Chinese pattern are adopted, the costumes are of a high aesthetic value.
The types of facial make-ups in Beijing Opera are rich and various, depicting different characters and remarkable images, therefore they are highly appreciated. Moreover there are numerous fixed editions of facial make-up.

 5. Chinese Jiaozi

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumpling) is a traditional Chinese food, and is greatly loved by most foreigners.

 Dumplings are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year, and year round in thenorthern provinces. Traditionally, families get together to make jiaozi for the Chinese New Year. In rural areas, the choicest livestock is slaughtered, the meat ground and wrapped into dumplings, and frozen outside with the help of the freezing weather. Then they are boiled and served for the Chinese New Year feast. Dumplings with sweet, rather than savoury fillings are also popular as a Chinese New Year treat.

 

6. Chinese Red Flag

The flag of the People’s Republic ofChinais a red field charged in the canton with five golden stars. The design features one large star, with four smaller stars in a semicirc
le set off towards the fly. The red represents revolution; the five stars and their relationship represents the unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC). Sometimes, the flag is referred to as the “Five Star Red Flag”.

 7. Chinese Qipao

The cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion. The name “cheongsam,” meaning simply “long dress,” entered the English vocabulary from the dialect ofChina’sGuangdongProvince(Cantonese). In other parts of the country includingBeijing, however, it is known as “qipao”, which has a history behind it.

 8. Chinese Knotting

Chinese knotting is a decorative handicraft arts that began as a form of Chinese folk art in the Tang and Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) inChina. It was later popularized in the Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368-1911 AD). The art is also referred to as Chinese traditional decorative knots. In other cultures, it is known as “Decorative knots”.

 In February 2008, Corra Liew from Malaysia seek possibilities out from the traditional Wire Jewelry Making technique, Chinese knotting is then merged and presented in wire form. Corra addressed the technique as Wired Chinese Knot.

 9. Chinese Kungfu

Kung fu and wushu are popular terms that have become synonymous with Chinese martial arts. However, the Chinese terms kung fu and wushu have very different meanings. The Chinese literal equivalent of “Chinese martial art” would be zhongguo wushu.

 In Chinese, kung fu can be used in contexts completely unrelated to martial arts, and refers colloquially to any individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long and hard work. In contrast, wushu is a more precise term for general martial activities.

 10. Chinese Sedan Chair

A sedan chair is a human or animal-powered transport vehicle for carrying a person, once popular acrossChina. It has different names like “shoulder carriage”, “sleeping sedan” and “warm sedan” etc due to the time, location and structural differences. The sedans familiar to modern people are warm sedans that have been in use since the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The sedan body is fixed in the wooden rectangular frames on the two thin log poles. The top and four sides of the seat are enclosed with curtains, with a chair blind that could be rolled open in the front and a small window on each side. A chair is placed inside the enclosed space.

 Related story

HeilongjiangProvinceis a popular destination, if you’re after tourism combined with a little bit of history. As the birthplace of many ethnic cultures,Heilongjiang is taking advantage of its rich cultural legacy to attract curious visitors. Let’s head to a museum inChina’s northernmost province, to check it out.

TheJinShangjingHistory Museum in Harbin is the only museum inChinahousing cultural relics from the Jin dynasty.

Among the over 2,000 exhibits, 19 are category one National historical Relics.

For many young visitors or students on vacation, the exhibition offers something they can’t find in textbooks.

Wang Yue, visitor, said, “There are many excavated relics, showing what the capital city of the Jin Dynasty was like and the people’s customs. It’s very interesting.”

In around 1000 AD, nomads in northernChinastarted gathering in small tribes, eventually growing together to build the Jin Dynasty.

The Jin people are said to be the ancestors of the Manchu, who hundreds of years later founded the Qing Dynasty and ruled the whole ofChina.

Wang Yongnian, director ofHarbinIntangibleCulturalHeritageCenter, said, “The main feature of Jin culture is persistance and progress, bravery and modesty. Many aspects of our modern life actually date back to Jin nomadic culture.”

Cao Xiao, college student, said, “I know Jin culture is very good, so I come here to learn something about it.”

During last year’s Qingming Festival, the museum received 15 hundred visitors. Now, with a free ticket policy in museums all over the country,JinShangjing History Museum is expecting to see those numbers rise by around 20 percent.

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1.ethnic minorities

As a large united multi-national state,Chinais composed of 56 ethnic groups. Han People and the other 55 Chinese ethnic minorities are living under harmony.Like

The largest concentration of Koreans is in theYanbianKoreanAutonomousPrefecturein easternJilinProvince…

Like the Han people, the majority ethnic group inChina, over 70 per cent of the Manchus are engaged in agriculture-related jobs…

Of the 1,598,100 Bai people, 80 per cent live in concentrated communities in theDaliBaiAutonomousPrefectureinYunnanProvince, southwestChina…

2.Businessmen

Compared to other business groups, theWuxigroup advanced with the times and demonstrated unity and mutual aid…

3.sportsmen

China’s Liu Xiang began his new season and Olympic year by beating arch-rival Dayron Robles of Cuba to win the men’s 60-meter hurdles final at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday…

Li Ning is a well-known and well-respected Chinese gymnast and entrepreneur…

Yao, 31, announced his retirement from the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in front of billions of Chinese fans on July20 inShanghai…

4.Artists

The New Culture Movement started from the May Fourth Movement which at the beginning of the 20th century started a revolution against imperialism and feudalism in Chinese cultural fields…

An introduction to Peking Opera would not be complete without mentioning female impersonator Mei Lanfang (1894-1961)…

The artists normally sit before a wooden stand where there is a polished slab of marble in the middle…

Beijinghas both excellent and classical architecture but few distinguished modern buildings…

5.Vistors

Here are 10 top destinations to visit inChinafor 2012. No panda-watching is involved — but there will be tigers, camels and yaks…

6.Persons with the spirit of “Leifeng”

Many people in the West or China would take it for granted that Mao Zedong handpicked Lei Feng to be a role model devoted to the Communist Party and the people of China by writing, “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng,” launching a nationwide propaganda…

7.Persons like Kungfu

The origins of Chinese Kung Fu can be found over 6,000 years ago, when men were taught to hunt and fight…

Which kind of costume do you think deserves such adjectives? Qipao, the classic dress for Chinese women. Definitely. As a combination of the elaborate elegance of Chinese tradition and unique elements of style, Qipao is one of the most versatile costumes in the world. It can be high-necked or collarless, long or short, some with full, medium, short or even no sleeves at all – to suit different occasions, weather and individual tastes.

Though straight tailoring from top to bottom, the Qipao can fully display all women’s modesty, softness and beauty. A suitable Qipao is like an intimate friend of a women, from which you can know her temperament, her graceful and refined manner. Qipao is a tale of elegant and gentle.

 The cheongsam, or Qipao in Chinese, is evolved from a kind of ancient clothing of Manchu ethnic minority. In ancient times, it generally referred to long gowns worn by the people ofManchuria,Mongoliaand the Eight-Banner.

In the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), long gowns featured collarless, narrow cuff in the shape of a horse’s hoof, buttons down the left front, four slits and a fitting waist. Wearers usually coiled up their cuff, and put it down when hunting or battling to cover the back of hand. In winter, the cuff could serve to prevent cold. The gown had four slits, with one on the left, right, front and back, which reached the knees. It was fitted to the body and rather warm. Fastened with a waistband, the long gown could hold solid food and utensils when people went out hunting. Men’s long gowns were mostly blue, gray or green; and women’s, white.

 Another feature of Manchu cheongsam was that people generally wore it plus a waistcoat that was either with buttons down the front, a twisted front, or a front in the shape of lute, etc.

When the early Manchu rulers came toChinaproper, they moved their capital toBeijingand cheongsam began to spread in the Central Plains. The Qing Dynasty unifiedChina, and unified the nationwide costume as well. At that time, men wore a long gown and a mandarin jacket over the gown, while women wore cheongsam. Although the 1911 Revolution toppled the rule of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty, the female dress survived the political change and, with succeeding improvements, has become the traditional dress for Chinese women.

 Till the 1930s, Manchu people, no matter male or female, all wore loose-fitting and straight-bottomed broad-sleeved long gowns with a wide front. The lower hem of women’s cheongsam reached the calves with embroidered flower patterns on it, while that of men’s cheongsam reached the ankles and had no decorative patterns.

 From the 1930s, cheongsam almost became the uniform for women. Folk women, students, workers and highest-tone women all dressed themselves in cheongsam, which even became a formal suit for occasions of social intercourses or diplomatic activities. Later, cheongsam even spread to foreign countries and became the favorite of foreign females.

 After the 1940s, influenced by new fashion home and abroad, Manchu men’s cheongsam was phased out, while women’s cheongsam became narrow-sleeved and fitted to the waist and had a relatively loose hip part, and its lower hem reached the ankles. Then there emerge various forms of cheongsams we see today that emphasize color decoration and set off the beauty of the female shape.

 Why do Han people like to wear the cheongsam? The main reason is that it fits well the female Chinese figure, has simple lines and looks elegant. What’s more, it is suitable for wearing in all seasons by old and young.

 The cheongsam can either be long or short, unlined or interlined, woolen or made of silk floss. Besides, with different materials, the cheongsam presents different styles. Cheongsams made of silk with patterns of flowerlet, plain lattices or thin lines demonstrate charm of femininity and staidness; those made of brocade are eye-catching and magnificent and suitable for occasions of greeting guests and attending banquets. When Chinese cheongsams were exhibited for sales in countries likeJapanandFrance, they received warm welcome from local women, who did not hesitate to buy Chinese cheongsams especially those top-notch ones made of black velour interlined with or carved with golden flowers. Cheongsam features strong national flavor and embodies beauty of Chinese traditional costume. It not only represents Chinese female costume but also becomes a symbol of the oriental traditional costume.

 Patterns on Qipao

 Blossom peony

 The peony, also known as (fuguihua) “flower of riches and honour” , is one of the smallest living creature national emblems inChina. The peony is usually patterned on Qipao, not only because of its splendid blooms but also its mysterious connection with the renowned Chinese ancient Beauty Xi Shi. Xi Shi sacrificed herself for her beloved Yue people, who finally turned their back on her and discarded her cruelly. There is a similarity between peony and Xi shi, the same holy, brave and sympathetic beauty. The peony ranks a unique place in all flora, just like Xi Shi in all ancient belles. As a famous peot in Dang Dynasty, Bi Juyi, put it, only Xi Shi deserves the crown of Beauty, and peony of flora. When a women wear peony Qipao, doesn’t it have a feeling of irreplaceable sense of beauty?

 Dragons

The dragon is a legendary creature of which some interpretation or depiction appears in almost every culture worldwide. The physical description and supposed abilities of the creature vary immensely according to the different cultures in which it appears. However, the unifying feature of almost all interpretations is it being a serpentine or otherwise reptilian monster (or at least possessing a serpentine, reptilian part or trait), and often possessing magical or spiritual qualities.

 Chinese Myth

Chinese dragons, and Oriental dragons generally, are usually seen as benevolent, whereas European dragons are usually malevolent though there are exceptions.

 Dragons are particularly popular inChinaand the 5-clawed dragon was a symbol of the Chinese emperors, with the phoenix or fenghuang the symbol of the Chinese empress. Dragon costumes manipulated by several people are a common sight at Chinese festivals.

 Phoenix

 A phoenix is a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage (or purple and blue, by some sources ). It has a 1,000 year life-cycle, and near the end the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in theEgyptcity ofHeliopolis(sun city in Greek). The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible—it is also said that it can heal a person with a tear from its eyes and make them temporarily immune to death; a symbol of fire and divinity.

 How to wear

As for daily casual wear, in summer, you can choose some thin fabrics such as pure cotton delaine printed with little flowers, sack and yarn cloth, silk, and poplin.

In spring and winter, there is chemical fiber or blended cloth like gleaming silk and thinner woolen cloth.

If for formal affairs like ceremonies or performances, in summer, you should select pure silk crape de Chine, thin silk, which are soft, light and cool since it won’t stick to your body.

For spring and winter, satin and velour are the best: tapis, treasures, crape and spun gold damask.

Qipao is about imagination, characterized by estern mysterious culture. It tightly fitted women’s figure, just like a gentle watery eastern belle. The texture of silk implies the softy glossy skin of the beauty. When you feel it with your heart, you can even sense the body temperature.

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Chicken feet, pig knuckles or cow tripe are hardly items that set the cash registers ringing at the export turnstiles. But in the global food markets, it is these leftover animal parts that are shaping the market trends as strong demand fromChinais providing the much-needed prop to meat and grain farmers.

Despite its humble nature, imports of pig offal – including pig’s head and knuckles, often served as a cold, fun snack with beer – stood at 882,200 tons in 2011 and accounted for more than 65 percent of the total pig products imported inChina.

Along with its robust economic growth and dietary enrichment, demand for meat has also been growing steadily inChina. The nation is one of the world’s largest consumers of pork, and its huge demand had a cascading effect on animal feed prices last year, particularly that of corn and soybean.

In 2011,Chinaimported agricultural products worth nearly $95 billion, compared with just $12 billion in 2001. The 2011 figures also represented 30 percent year-on-year growth, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Along with the rising trade volumes, there has also been a growing trade deficit in the agricultural sector. In 2011, the trade deficit rose 47.4 percent to $34 billion, whereas in 2004,Chinawas still a net agricultural exporter.

“Chinawill become the world’s largest agricultural product importer within the next five to 10 years,” said Cheng Guoqiang, a senior researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Chinais already the world’s largest importer of soybeans and cotton, and has been the largest agricultural export market for theUSsince 2010, with a total value tripling over the past six years to $17.8 billion. High onChina’s list of imports from theUSare corn, soybeans, cotton and processed animal feed.

But countries with vast arable land for expansion, such asBrazilandArgentina, are also racing to meet demand fromChina.

Chinaimported 19.8 million tons of soybeans fromBrazillast year, accounting for 38 percent of the total imports of 52 million tons from all sources. This helpedBrazilsurpass theUSas the biggest soybean exporter toChina.

Cheng said that rising incomes and the growing number of middle class people inChinaare contributing to a growing demand for food imports. “More than 1 million people every year move into the middle class segment inChina. The higher disposable income will help them to buy more meat, oil and milk. So it is natural that food imports will continue to grow,” he said.

Another reasonChina needs to import more agricultural goods is that the increased output of meat and grains will lead to a decrease in the amount of arable land, water supplies and other natural resources. Grain imports are often seen as a better approach for the wiser use of environmental resources.

“I don’t think self-sufficiency is something that holds in good stead nowadays, as the world is more developed and countries more specialized in what they can produce with good value for the global society,” said Marcos Neves, professor of strategic planning and food chains at the School of Economicsand Business,UniversityofSao Pauloin Brazil.

“Development inChinarequires a tightrope walk between green causes and the need to secure food supplies for the growing masses,” Neves said. “TakeBrazil, for instance. It is already the largest food exporter, and has at least 100 million hectares that can be used for agriculture and biofuel production, in a sustainable manner, being able to supply the needs ofChinain a safe and reliable way.”

Li Guoxiang, a senior researcher on rural development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expects a golden window of five to 10 years for food imports, considering that the nation has some $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and a strong purchasing ability for imports, coupled with healthy trade balances.

But of late, there has been considerable speculation in the international trade community that China’s inability to feed itself may have long-term consequences on the global food system. Some experts have even predicted that increased imports may lead to global food shortage and hunger.

Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu had earlier remarked that China’s grain imports are primarily to enrich crop varieties in the domestic market, and he stressed that the nation “will not and cannot” rely on imports to feed its 1.3 billion population.

Chinafeeds more than 20 percent of the world’s population despite having less than 10 percent of the world’s agricultural land and less than 6 percent of the water resources. The government has reiterated that it intends to meet about 95 percent of its food requirements from domestic sources.

Li saidChinaaccounts for a very small share of the global grain imports, and hence hardly in a position to shape global grain market trends, and least of all hunger in some less developed countries.

“It is actually a win-win situation rather than some evidence of a faltering agricultural sector,” he said.

“On the one hand, increasing agricultural imports will help China ease pressure on natural resources and increase the country’s grain security,” Li said. “But at the same time, the growing demand for farm food consumption also creates opportunities for international food manufacturers, as the unit prices increase in tandem with consumption patterns.”

Hogging the limelight

Pork imports have already hit the nadir and there seems to be no letup in demand, considering that domestic supplies are likely to remain constrained for some time.

“The gap between supply and demand is bound to increase within the next few years, despite an expected recovery from diseases and the reduction of small-scale pork farmers,” said Wang Xiaoyue, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd.

“China’s pork imports will continue to rise due to strong demand and competitive pricing on imports,” he said.

The sharp decline in pork production last year led to record imports.China’s imports of pork and pork offal reached 1.35 million tons, up 50 percent over 2010, with theUSbeing the largest exporter, accounting for more than half of the total volume, according to the General Administration of Customs.

At the same time,Chinahas also become a top lure for meat exporters as demand has been climbing steadily. Most of the major pork exporting nations from Europe, North and South America are knocking onChina’s doors.

China’s imports of pork and pork offal reached their peak in 2008 with a volume of 910,000 tons. In 2010, the country imported 900,000 tons of pork, withDenmarkbeing the major supplier, followed by theUnited States,CanadaandFrance.

“As a country develops economically, the first quality of life aspect that improves at the household level is the carbohydrate to protein ratio on the daily diet. Greater economic prosperity among consumers on the mainland has directly translated into higher shares of animal protein such as pork,” said Jorge Sanchez, director of agricultural trade office at theUSconsulate inGuangzhou.

“An increase in pork consumption creates opportunities for US pork farmers, because the unit price increases are fueled by consumer demand.”

Ma Chuang, deputy secretary-general of the China Animal Agriculture Association, said that the country’s surging demand for pork and pork offal implies an optimal export scenario because Chinese consumers tend to place higher value on pork offal, which is not eaten in Western countries. As a result, overseas farmers can profit considerably from pork offal exports.

Pork imports stood at 467,000 tons last year, and pork offal stood at 882,200 tons. Pork offal such as pig’s heads, knuckles and haslet (a form of meatloaf), accounted for 65 percent of the total volume.

Not just tofu

Soybean imports byChinaare expected to maintain an uptrend in the next 10 to 15 years with growth being driven primarily by the demand from urban residents.

“Soybean imports are expected to grow substantially in the long term propelled by growing demand for oil and livestock feed,” said Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, a major agricultural consultancy.

According to a US Department of Agriculture forecast,China’s imports of soybean are expected to go up by 62 percent to 90 million tons over the next 10 years.

“Soymeal, produced inChinalargely from imported soybeans, is an integral protein component of the feed necessary to supportChina’s burgeoning pork, poultry and aquaculture industries,” said the US Department of Agriculture in its first forecast 2012-13.

“Their rapidly maturing animal husbandry and feed industries, including aquaculture, expansion in crushing capacity and growing consumption of vegetable oils, are all driving demand which cannot be met by domestic supplies.”

In recent years, each person inChinahas been consuming 5 percent more meat, 10 percent more milk, and 8 percent more cooking oil annually compared with five years ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Chinais the largest importer of US soybeans, and buys a quarter of the country’s soybean production. In February, when Vice-President Xi Jinping made a visit to theUS, a Chinese trade delegation signed a deal to buyUSsoybeans with a total value of $4.31 billion and volume of 8.62 million tons.

The nation became a dominant force in the international soy markets in the late 1990s and is now the world’s largest importer and consumer, taking in 55 million tons in 2010, more than 50 percent of the annual global trade. Total soybean consumption has risen 64 percent since 2005, but the self-sufficiency rate stands at about 20 percent, according to Customs.

Ma said it is more efficient forChina to import soybeans than to produce them, as soybean production needs more land and water supplies.

“China will be more susceptible to price fluctuations in the international food market with more soybean imports,” he said. “But during unfavorable weather conditions, the soybean imports will keep the country insulated from international speculation and food-price fluctuations in the global market.”

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Little New Year, which falls about a week before the lunar New Year, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household. In one of the most distinctive traditions of Spring Festival, a paper image of the Kitchen God is burnt on Little New Year, dispatching the god’s spirit to Heaven to report on the family’s conduct over the past year.

The Kitchen God is then welcomed back by pasting a new paper image of him beside the stove. From this vantage point, the Kitchen God will oversee and protect the household for another year. The close association of the Kitchen God with the Lunar New Year has resulted in Kitchen God Festival being called Little New Year. Although very few families still make offerings to the Kitchen God on this day, many traditional holiday activities are still very popular.

Studies of popular Chinese religion indicate that the Kitchen God did not appear until after the invention of the brick cooking stove. The cooking stove was a fairly late development in the history of human civilization. Ancient writings indicate that the Fire God, the earliest form of the Kitchen God, was worshipped long before the stove was invented.

Zhu Rong,China’s ancient Fire God was a popular folk deity and had many temples built in his honor. Stone lined firepits, an early form of the brick stove, are still commonly used amongChina’s ethnic minorities. People in these regions make offerings to the Firepit God. The Firepit God appeared between the Kitchen God and the Fire God in the history of Chinese folk deities. The Kitchen God appeared soon after the invention of the brick stove. The Kitchen God was originally believed to reside in the stove, and only later took on human form.

Legend has it that during the Later Han Dynasty, a poor farmer named Yin Zifang was making breakfast one day shortly before the Lunar New Year, when the Kitchen God appeared to him. Although all Yin Zifang had was one yellow sheep, he sacrificed it to the Kitchen God. Yin Zifang soon became rich. To show his gratitude, Yin Zifang started sacrificing a yellow goat to the Kitchen God every winter on the day of the divine visitation, rather than during the summer as had been customary. This is the origin of the Kitchen God Festival, or Little New Year.

There are numerous customs associated with honoring the Kitchen God and determining the date of the Kitchen God Festival, or Little New Year. The date of this holiday was sometimes assigned according to location, with people in northern China celebrating it on the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month, and people in southern China celebrating it on the twenty-fourth. The date of Little New Year was also traditionally determined according to profession. Traditionally, feudal officials made their offerings to the Kitchen God on the twenty-third, the common people on the twenty-fourth, and coastal fishing people on the twenty-fifth. The person officiating at the sacrificial rites was generally the male head of the household.

The evening before Little New Year, the image of the Kitchen God that has been overseeing the household for the past year is taken down from its position by the stove. While the image is dried in preparation for burning, offerings and firewood are prepared. The firewood may include bundles of pine, cypress, holly, and pomegranate twigs. A new image of the Kitchen God is purchased, and figures of horses and dogs are plaited out of sorghum stalks. The offerings include pig’s head, fish, sweet bean paste, melons, fruit, boiled dumplings, barley sugar, and guandong candy, a sticky treat made out of glutinous millet and sprouted wheat. Most of the offerings are sweets of various sorts. It is thought that this will seal the Kitchen God’s mouth and encourage him to only say good things about the family when he ascends to Heaven to make his report. The Kitchen God will be invited to sit in a sedan chair for his trip to Heaven. Consequently, the day before Little New Year, streets and alleyways everywhere are full of vendors selling papermache sedan chairs and paper gold and silver ingots for the Kitchen God’s journey, and singing songs in his honor.

When a family makes offerings to the Kitchen God, it is in the hopes that he will ask Heaven to protect their household. According to an old maxim, “In Heaven good deeds are reported, on Earth safety is ensured.” The new image of the Kitchen God is not pasted up until Lunar New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, in a ceremony known as “welcoming back the Kitchen God.” According to a saying from southernChina, “On the twenty-fourth day he ascends to Heaven; on New Year’s Day he returns to Earth.”

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The term“tang suit”is originated from abroad. AChinatownis a section of an urban area associated with a large number of Chinese within a city outside the majority. The local people always named the Chinatown as“town of people from Tang Dynasty”(唐人街)and called these Chinese“people from Tang Dynasty”(in Chinese唐人) since Tang dynasty was the most thriving, prosperous, splendid, and glorious period of ancient Chinese. Thus, the clothing worn by the Chinese is called“tang suit”.

 Actually“tang suit”is not the clothing of Tang Dynasty. They are totally different. The origin of Tang suit or Tang jacket can be traced back to Qing Dynasty. It is evolved from Magua from Qing Dynasty, a traditional Chinese costume worn by males. It is a short tunic with high and round collars and lapels, which are fasten down the front. By the 1940s, what we now know as the Tang suit became prevalent for all classes inChina. Compared with the ancient style, the sleeves had become longer and wider. Patch pockets were added and the number of frog buttons became standard at seven. This jacket was worn with matching pants.  

 The unified and prosperous Chinawas established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In China’s history, the Tang Dynasty was a period when the polity and economy were highly developed and the culture and art were thriving.

 Women’s dress and personal adornments of the Tang Dynasty were outstanding inChina’s history. The clothing materials were exquisite, the structure was natural, graceful and elegant, and adornments were splendid. Though the forms of garments were still the continuation of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and the Sui Dynasty (581-618), they were influenced by cultures and arts of the Western Regions. Especially, the national power of the High Tang was strong. The trades and cultural exchanges withKorea,Vietnam,Japan,Persiaand other countries gradually became frequent, and they mutually dispatched emissaries and accepted students of other countries. In this way, a special open and romantic style of dress and personal adornments was formed.  

 Because of communication with the Western Regions, the influence of dressing culture of other minorities on the Tang court also reflected the change of thoughts and concepts. The social status of ancient women was very low: they often served as Jileren (music performer), Guanji (official performer), Gongji (palace performer) and Jiaji (family performer), and were regarded as the playthings and goods that can be sold and bought by rich people. Some females had rebel spirit in the Tang Dynasty, so they climbed or jumped over the walls and went to the nature to view the beautiful scenes and/or go sightseeing in the spring by riding horses with men. Just as recorded by many historical materials, some girls therefore dressed as boys in order to go out.

 The garments in the Tang Dynasty also greatly affected the garments of neighboring countries. For instance, Japanese kimono adopted the elites of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty in terms of colors, and the Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) also adopted the advantages of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty were mainly made of silk, so dresses were famous for softness and lightness. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty boldly adopted the features of foreign garments in terms of forms and adornments; i.e. they mainly referred to the garments of other countries (such as the Central-Asia countries,India,Iran,Persia, northern countries and the Western Regions) and used them to improve the culture of the Tang Dynasty.

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