China: Diversity in Unity

 

Paul Chong                                                                            Thursday, 5 October 2017

Have you heard of the greatest story ever revealed here on earth? It’s of a nation that was once historically great with a civilisation unmatched by any others, held in awe by all, conquered when weak followed by a period of humiliation & destruction not just by one enemy but a host of western power with superior war weapons of mass destruction. Worst were the Japanese calling China “the sick man of Asia” and the British publicly declaring the Chinese as equivalent to “dogs”. There are things which are forgivable but not forgettable, especially when the perpetrators keep on denying & unapologetic.

It is naturally believable that going downhill is easier & faster than going uphill.

However, for all the past humiliation, property ravages & war atrocities & sufferings, in the last three to four decades China has miraculously & surprisingly woken up to recapture its past glory. The dragon is wide awake & sleeps no more. Napoleon was wise to leave China alone in his many great conquests.

Japan is purely populated by Japanese, other nationalities are not permitted as permanent residents. China by contrast has some 55 official ethnic minority groups. The major minority ethnic groups in China are Zhuang (16.9 million), Uyghur (11.5 million), Hui (10.5 million), Manchu (10.3 million), Miao (9.4 million), Yi (8.7 million), Tujia (8.3 million), Tibetan (6.2 million), Mongol (5.9 million), Dong (2.8 million), Buyei (2.8 million), Yao (2.7 million), Bai (1.9 million), . . .Among them Han Chinese account for 91.59% of the overall Chinese population, all making up an overall population of close to 1.4 billion.

One interesting point to note is that Chinese has never been superimposed or influenced by any conquering cultures such as the Monguls or Manchurians. As a matter of fact, the reversed process took place naturally through “sinicization”. These foreigners converted themselves into Chinese by adopting Chinese language & culture, the Chinese way of life.

In this modern age, the minority groups still retain their culture & customs. In times of festivals, you can see them in their beautiful traditional attire, sing & dance according to their music rendering the atmosphere with true joy, peace & harmony. They all want to claim themselves as Chinese & in many cases you can hardly tell them apart from the Han Chinese. In Shenzhen, they have a cultural display centre where different groups assembled.

Taoping Minority from Sichuan Province

China has long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religio- philosophical types – Taoism, Buddhism, lslamism, Protestantism and Catholicism have all developed quite a following in this country. Freedom of belief is a government policy, and normal religious activities are protected by the constitution.

Geographically, China offers a unique landscape. In the vast western reaches of China – mountains, high plateaus and deserts dominate the landscape, while in the central and east areas, the land slopes into broad plains and deltas. The Gobi Desert runs west to east along the border with Mongolia. There’s a variety & diversity unifying China from snow to sand.

China is around the same size as Australia. Australia is approximately 7,741,220 sq km, while China is approximately 9,596,960 sq km.

China despite its size has only one time zone – same time as Singapore & Perth.

The great unifying factor is the language. Everybody speaks & writes  Mandarin. Communication is no problem. English is becoming more widespread. Great festivals like Spring Festival, Mid-Autumn Festivals etc are celebrated by all usually accompanied by a long spell of holidays.

To the foreign visitors, this vast continent is seen as many worlds in one. Seeing places & meeting faces all spell awe & admiration, a unique experience not to be found anywhere else . . . history & modernity, mystery & discovery contributing to one Big Picture!

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The Year of the Tiger

By P Chong                              Monday, 1 February 2010

Dragon Dance

Despite its ferociousness in the wild, the tiger really

is one of the most caring & thoughtful zodiac sign

in the Chinese Calendar.

This Gregorian Year of 2010 is Chinese Lunar Year 4708.


The Chinese Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Qin Shi Huang introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. By its cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.

In China, the Lunar New Year is celebrated as the Spring Festival on a grand scale with traditional fire-crackers, fireworks, dragon dance & lots of “Ang Pows” (Red Packets with Money) for the young & unmarried. The celebration usually lasts for 15 days culminating in “Chap Goh Mei” (The Night of the Full Moon). Chinese are known to be most assiduous in their economic pursuit, never relenting nor relaxing with holiday break from day to day, week to week or month to month. But with Spring Festival, they let down their tools, pack up for home coming & reunion.

Travelling during this peak season is most busy involving millions on the move. Most migrant workers are rushing to their home villages. Others are taking advantage of the long break for long awaited vacation. Most are travelling within national boundaries but with the rising affluence people are travelling abroad for their holidays. With two weeks to go, China is already geared up in preparedness for the holiday rush – the train, the bus & the plane. These days, of course, the more affluent will have their own transport. A staggering 210 millions are expected to travel by rail alone during the 40-day Spring Festival rush! According to CCTV, “over the next 40-days, it´s expected holiday-makers will take an unprecedented 2.54 billion journeys by road, water and air.”

Eating, drinking & merry-making are part & parcel of the Spring Festival. The food is especially good. Dishes not usually on the daily menu are on display with young & old in joyous celebration. I remember full well “love-letters” biscuits being everybody’s favourite, and how we would burn midnight oil baking them, enjoying savouring even the scraps of the goodies. Those were the days!

It’s the noisiest time of the year. Celebration always take on with all the boom & bang. Fire-crackers sound near & far. Teams of “kung-fu” experts will display their skills with the dragon dance and take on challengers with lion dance display. The noise is intended to drive out the evil of the past year and usher in good fortune & luck for the new.

Lion & Dragon Dance Combined


This year Spring Festival falls on Sunday, February 14, 2010 which happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day, making it a doubly auspicious day to celebrate in the West.

If you were born in 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998 or 2010 – you were born under the sign of the tiger. According to the Chinese Zodiac, you are one of the most caring & thoughtful person with the mission to right the wrong & defending children, loved ones & friends against all injustices.

Some of the famous people born under the Tiger Sign are: Emily Bronte, Tom Cruise, Leonardo Di Caprio, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jay Leno, Karl Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Marco Polo & Queen Elizabeth II.

The Year of the Tiger will roar!

Economy will soar!!

It will be a Good Year for ALL !!!

Unfortunately, Tiger Woods will fall short of the benefits.


WISHING ALL MY READERS

A HAPPY & PROSPEROUS CHINESE NEW YEAR!