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Bits and Pieces

China Sage News

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We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are some news stories, visit our news page for more stories and also follow us on Facebook .

Fri 10th Feb 2023
Selfless teacher mourned

Song Wenwu was a teacher in one of the poorer parts of Anhui province. It was only when he recently died aged 48 that it was discovered that he had been helping students in financial difficulties over many years. A great many of these grateful students have played their part in mourning his loss by traveling from all over China.

Song Wen mourners
Mourners for Song Wen who traveled great distances to show their gratitude (source Weibo).
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Wed 18th Jan 2023
Chinese New Year 2023

The new Chinese New Year begins on 21st January 2023 - the start of Chinese year 4721 in the traditional calendar.

In Chinese astrology the rabbit or hare holds a position of honor as it is considered a friendly, gentle animal that is good at getting along with people. People born in a year of the rabbit/hare are gifted, elegant and ambitious as well as being proficient at business.

With the relaxation of Covid restrictions there is likely to be a very busy time of annual migration of millions of Chinese as they visit their families after years of restrictions. The public holidays last from 21st January for the full week until 27th January. Many will take extra leave to extend the holiday. Noted anniversaries in 2023 include the death of the first great Chinese poet Qu Yuan in 278BCE (2,300 years ago), and the first Chinese moon landing back in 2013 (10 years ago) which launched the Yutu ‘Jade Rabbit’ robot .

Wishing everybody xīn nián kuài lè – A happy and prosperous new year.

Rabbit Year 2023
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Wed 9th Nov 2022
Drought brings in treasure hunters

While some parts of China have experienced flooding others have experienced drought this year. In Jiangxi province the lack of rain has led to the river beds of tributaries of the Yangzi river (Zhang and Gong rivers) to be exposed for the first time in many years. The river beds have revealed a good deal of treasure in the form of bronze coins and artifacts. Locals have been out treasure hunting while officials are rather keen that any finds are handed in for analysis. A stone tablet of the Qing dynasty has been found along with many coins, some dating back a thousand years.

Chinese bronze coins. Image by Plismo available under a Creative Commons License

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Thu 3rd Nov 2022
Brother excluded from wedding

An incident at Zunyi in Guizhou province has sparked much online debate. It is here that a couple has chosen to go back to some age-old traditions for marriage.

One of the strangest of the many customs is that if you have a younger sibling (brother or sister) who marries before you do then you are excluded from the marriage ceremony. You are expected to hide away while everyone else was having fun.

Perhaps this tradition provides a strong encouragement to anyone delaying become married. Remaining single used to be a fairly rare event as marriages were typically arranged by parents without their children’s approval.

So in 2022 people are debating whether it is appropriate to bring this custom back again. What do you think?

marriage, couple, people
Chinese wedding couple Not the actual married couple

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Mon 10th Oct 2022
Republic of China day

The 10th October celebrates a key date in the foundation of modern China. In Wuhan on this date in 1911 the revolution that had rumbled on for decades finally took hold and soon all southern China declared independence from the Qing imperial dynasty.

However it has come to have a modern political significance because the People Republic celebrates National day on 1st October rather than the 10th as that was the date when Mao Zedong proclaimed victory over the forces of the Republic in 1949.

Today the Republicans is celebrated only in Taiwan as their 'National Day'- the last hold-out after their defeat and withdrawal to the island. Recent tensions after Nancy Pelosi's visit have not resulted in a reduced fervor of celebration. Indeed the mainland's threats of military invasion have hardened the vast majority of the population's aim to retain semi-independence from 'China' - with peaceful trade for mutual benefit.

Wuhan, pavilion, Hubei, city
Wuhan city view

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Wed 28th Sep 2022
It's the birthday of Confucius

Today marks the official birthday of China's great sage Confucius. 2022 is also somewhat special as it marks 2,500 years since he died.

Traditionally the birthday of the great sage and philosopher Confucius was celebrated on the 27th of the 8th lunar month (in 2022 this fell on 22nd September). It is now tied to a specific day, the 28th September each year.

The town of Qufu, Shandong was the home of Confucius ( Kǒngfūzǐ ) and descendents now in the 83rd generation still live there. The size and grandeur of the buildings rival that of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Arguably the most important Chinese book is the 'Analects of Confucius'. It sets out the ethics and philosophy using incidents from the life of the great sage. Written around 300BCE a long time after his death, it admonishes the reader to obey the state rituals and know ones place in the order of things. It is not spiritual - Confucians do not believe in the after-life and does not include cosmology or the natural world. The system of ethics that are set out continue to guide the lives of many people in China.

One of the key tenets of Confucianism is that everyone should live in a spirit of benevolence rén. A follower of Confucius should be a person of empathy and humanity who believes it is correct to help those in need. This is not to be done on the basis of future reward (in life or death) but rather it is the virtuous way to behave.

Qufu, Confucius
Statue of Confucius at Qufu, Shandong

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Tue 6th Sep 2022
Locals drain lake to find invasive 'monster' fish

The search for a suspected invasive 'monster' fish (probably a pet let loose after outgrowing its tank) in a lake near Ruzhou, Henan province has grown into a major operation. The Alligator Gar fish can grow to 10 feet long and weigh up to 350lb comes from the southern states of the US and Mexico and so is a threat to local Chinese wildlife. After attempts to catch the fish by conventional means failed, it was decided to take the drastic action of draining the whole lake. The fish has still not been found and may be hiding in inflow pipes. It gets its name because it looks rather like an alligator as it has a squashed snout ( “gar”comes from Anglo-Saxon meaning spike or lance). Some fear that the fish could attack children and this has added to the priority of the operation. Millions have been watching the story unfolding online. It's expected that the lake will soon be refilled with little long-term ill-effects to local wildlife.

Aligator Gar fish (Atractosteus spatula)
Alligator Gar fish (Atractosteus spatula).
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Tue 23rd Aug 2022
China feels the heat

It's been an exceptionally hot summer in most of the northern hemisphere.

Europe still suffers from drought and high temperatures but China has been affected just as badly; Japan also had record braking temperatures in June. The main area of concern at present is the inland province of Sichuan. This province is often hot in summer but usually has high rainfall. Sichuan is one of the main crop growing areas in China and so this will be a worry for the coming months. Large wildfires have been seen close to Chongqing near Sichuan's southern boundary. China has built many hydro-electric dams and these are now struggling due to increased demand but lower river flows - rationing of electricity is forcing some businesses to partially close.

Chongqing wildfire
©Image courtesy CNN/Getty.
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modern housing, Xian, skyscraper, architecture
Building new flats in Xi'an 2012


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