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Overview of China

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Cultural Characteristics > Overview of China > Home

Cultural Characteristics

Based on roots as an ancient civilization, Chinese culture is the integration of cultural elements of every region and ethnicity in China. It is also a reflection of the nation’s society, politics, economy, science, technology, and more. From the inventions and creations of the Paleolithic Age to the reforms of Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao in the Qin Dynasty, from the democratic revolution of Sun Yat-sen in the 13th century to the social transformation of the 21st century, all the events and social changes in the nation’s history create the driving forces behind China’s social development. In the history books of the Pre-Qin Dynasty, it is recorded that the Chinese civilization can be traced back to the ancient age of four great ancestors; who were, Chao, Sui, Xi, and Nong. Since the first Imperial state was established in the Xia Dynasty, China, with her long history and splendid culture, has been one of the greatest civilizations in the eastern hemisphere of the world.

East Asian counties and regions, such as Japan and the Korean Peninsula, have been widely influenced by Chinese culture. The tradition and culture of China have also exerted a profound influence on Southeast Asia, South Asian countries, like Vietnam and Singapore, and even the American continent. China’s advanced technologies and innovations in the fields of shipbuilding, navigation, and compass were revolutionary to seafaring. These advancements led to the formation of the “Blue Civilization” and the Pacific Rim cultural circle. Zheng He’s voyage to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean during the Ming Dynasty expanded the influence of Chinese culture in these areas, which contributed to the formation of the world-recognized East Asian cultural circle with Chinese culture as its hub. With the improvement of China's national strength and international status countries around the world, including throughout Asia and Europe, have given high recognition and attention to Chinese culture.

With its continuing development for centuries, Chinese culture has formed a variety of unique characteristics and symbols in many aspects. Chinese Opera is represented by Beijing Opera, Henan Opera, Sichuan Opera, Huangmei Opera, Kunqu Opera, and some other folk operas. Traditional Chinese medicine culture includes specialty Chinese traditional therapies, Chinese herbal medicine, and medicinal techniques that have been passed down long enough to become classics. Chinese martial arts or Chinese Kungfu enjoys great popularity all over the world, including different styles of Shaolin Boxing, Wudang, Tai Chi, and Wing Chun. A great deal of Chinese music is played with traditional musical instruments, such as the Erhu, Guzheng, Guqin, Pipa, Matouqin, Xun, etc. Calligraphy culture is special due to the characters themselves being an art form. It is represented in a wide array of crafts such as calligraphy, the Four Treasures of the Study, and seal carving. Chinese ink painting, silk painting, and cliff painting are remarkable examples of Chinese painting culture. Chinese people have as well made great achievements in traditional literature including ancient myths, the Book of Songs, poetry from the Pre-Qin Dynasty, Yuefu folk songs (songs of the Music Bureau from the Han Dynasty), Southern and Northern Dynasty folk songs, Chu Ci (Songs of the South from the Han Dynasty), poetry of the Tang Dynasty, lyric poetry from the Song Dynasty, poetic dramas of the Yuan Dynasty, and four large full-length novels created during the Qing Dynasty.

As a multi-ethnic nation, there are many celebrations and festivals celebrated by people of different ethnicities. Some of the most popular ones are the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Tomb Weeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Water Splashing Festival for the Dai Minority, March Third Festival for the Dai Minority, Naadam Festival for Mongolians, Shoton Festival for Tibetans, etc. Chinese traditional folk crafts include paper-cutting, kite making, embroidery, and carving. The diverse culinary culture of China can be represented by various regional cuisines: Shandong cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Guangdong cuisine, Fujian cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine, Zhejiang cuisine, Hunan cuisine, and Hui cuisine, etc. Chinese philosophy, from the Hundred Schools of Thought in the Spring and Autumn period, to present classics studies, is the soul of traditional Chinese culture and has developed over several thousand years.

As an essential part of tourism, Chinese culture with its many prosperous aspects can hardly be represented by words only. The tourists from overseas are warmly welcomed to China and to experience and enjoy the feast of Chinese culture in person.