Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Rise of China and Spread of Mandarin in 21st Century

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Rise of China and Spread of Mandarin in 21st Century

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The word "China" is derived from Cin, a Persian name for China popularized in medieval Europe by the account of 13th-century Venetian explorer Marco Polo. The Persian word, Cin, is derived from Sanskrit word Cina, which was used as a name for China as early as AD 150. The first recorded use in English dates back to 1555. China is called "Zhonggud''' in Chinese, literally meaning "middle kingdom". China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is the world most populous country, with a population of over 1.3 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, China is second-largest country by land area, and the third- or fourth-largest in total area, depending on the definition of total area.

It is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China. China has 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 directly controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing), and 2 mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). Beijing is the capital of China. There is controversy over Taiwan, though China sees it as its 23rd province but it is governed by separate political entity, Republic of Taiwan. The current president of China, Hu Jintao, was elected on 15 March, 2003. As the President is legally China's head of state, he is responsible for China's image. Since 1993, the President has also been the General Secretary of the Communist Party who is generally responsible for establishing general policy and direction of the state and leaves responsibility for the implementation details to the Premier of the People's Republic of China, the head of government. The incumbent Premier of the People's Republic of China is Wen Jiaobao, elected on 16 March, 2003. The Premier is the highest administrative position in the Government of the People's Republic of China. The Premier is responsible for organizing and administering the Chinese civil bureaucracy. This includes overseeing the various ministers, departments, commissions and statutory agencies and announcing their candidacies to the National People's Congress for Vice-Premiers, State Councillors and ministry offices.

Chinese people celebrate October 1 as a National Day in honor of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. China has 56 recognized ethnic groups but 91.6% of Chinese people are from Han ethnic group. The non-Han population includes 55 ethnic minorities, of which are listed according to the population (from largest to smallest) Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibet, Mongol, Dong, Bouyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai, She, Lisu, Dongxiang, Gelao, Lahu, Va, Sui, Nakhi, Qiang, Tu, Mulao, Xibe, Kyrgyz, Jingpo, Daur, Salar, Blang, Maonan, Tajik, Pumi, Achang, Nu, Ewenki, Gin, Jino, De'ang, Bonan, Russian, Yugur, Uzbek, Monba, Oroqen, Derung, Hezhen, Gaoshan, Lhoba, Tatar. China has many languages but adopts only one language as standard language, Mandarin, which is also called "Putonghua".

BRIEF HISTORY OF CHINA

China has a long recorded history which dates back to 1600BC. Among the elements that characterize Chinese history are the consistent rise and fall dynasties, intermittent aggression from northern aliens, varying degrees of openness to the outside world, Cultural Revolution, invasions from other countries, opium war and the rest. Chinese history can be summarized in four parts: pre-history, ancient era, imperial era, and modem era. What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago (Zhu et al, 2003).

The early history of China is obscured by the lack of written documents from this period, coupled with the existence of later accounts that attempted to describe events that had occurred several centuries previously. In a sense, the problem stems from centuries of introspection on the part of the Chinese people, which has blurred the distinction between fact and fiction in regards to this early history. …

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