Introduction to China

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I've stopped updating this website, though it's pages will remain for a while. See "current update" for details.

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Sub-pages:   Home Up Life in China Life in China (2) Chinese Medical Care(1) Chinese Medical Care(2) Health Issues in China Friendship Award 2008 Intro to China (中文) China Maps

(▲ Links to this page's sub-pages. If you can't see the label, put your mouse over a button and look at the bottom of your browser.)

The links above will take you to:

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A map of China, with links to our photo pages (actually, you'll find two maps of China, and one of the Xiamen area)

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Photos of "Life in China" for expatriate workers

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Student-written: The history and practice of medicine in China (page one and two)

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Student-written: essays on health-related challenges that face China

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Info about the Friendship Award I received in 2008

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This page is also translated into Chinese 介绍中国

Click here for  information about China or Chinese history from China's Xinhua news agency.

 

Introduction to China 介绍中国

      What do a hair dryer, mobile phone, shoe, shirt, and various toys all have in common? Look on the bottom. Chances are—they all came from China. Obviously, China is an integral part of each of our lives.

      The graphics on this page show China’s population and location. China has the world's largest population (close to 1.5 billion), and is slightly larger than the USA in area. Much of China is in the desert or mountains, so two-thirds of the people live in the eastern third of the country. Over 90% of the population is “Han” Chinese, but the nation also recognizes 56 ethnic groups.

      The Chinese trace their history back 6000 years - longer than almost any other culture. Her writing system was among the world’s first, and it remains among the most difficult to learn! The Great Wall is over 2000 years old and could stretch from Atlanta to Los Angeles (or London to Istanbul).

      Since we moved to China in 2000, we have lived in four cities. (Michael also lived in Xiamen and Beijing in the 1980s.)

      Shanghai (where we lived from 2000-2002) is a thriving industrial city near the mouth of the Yangtze River, complete with 21 million people (ChinaDaily 2013), two of the tallest buildings in the world, beautiful parks, continuous construction, modern shopping centers, a 400-year-old tea house, a proud past, and a promising future. The climate is often windy and/or hazy, and Shanghai's rapid growth also means there is plenty of dust and pollution in the air. Economically, if current trends continue it could soon outrank Hong Kong and Tokyo as the economic capital of Asia.

      Xi'an (where we lived from 2002-2005) is a former Chinese capital with a rich history and growing contemporary importance. Some 6000 years ago, a female-dominated tribe lived nearby. Over 2000 years ago, Emperor Qin Shi Huan buried hundreds of life-size clay statues around his tomb (discovered in the 1960s, this and other local tombs have provided important clues into China's past). With over 8.5 million people (Shanxi.gov 2012), Xi'an shares some of Shanghai's "growing pains," especially in terms of dust and pollution, but the city is also getting a lot of attention as a developing center for high-tech industries and the "door" to China's vast central and western regions.

(continued)

 

      Kunming (2005-2010) has a better climate than anyplace we've ever lived. Although it has a month of near-freezing weather (and no indoor heat), most of the year is closer to the max temperature of 24C/75F. “Spring City” has over 7 million people (Xinhuanet 2012), and we noticed increasing traffic jams and concomitant pollution. Yunnan Province borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, and is the proud home of 26 ethnic minorities. The area has been an important trade route for 2400 years, first as part of the "tea-horse road" (or southern Silk Road) and in World War 2 as the start of the Burma Road. Kunming's residents enjoy blue skies, the nearby Stone Forest, locally produced Pu-er tea and "Across the Bridge Rice Noodles."

 

      After a year in the US, we moved to Xiamen (2011-present), a growing center for learning, trade and tourism. Michael studied Mandarin here 1985-87, and his teachers say it's great to have a former student on the faculty of their top-ranked university! ChinaDaily (2012) said that the population grew from 1.5 to 4.5 million between 2000 and 2012; that kind of growth (plus the city's million-plus vehicles) is hard to manage, so roads are often clogged and the skies are increasingly hazy. But Xiamen is still considered a top investment & trade center, a popular tourist port, and one of China's “most livable cities.” Features include a Bahamas-like climate (sweltering summer, rainy typhoon season, but long spring and fall), beautiful beaches and flowers, historic architecture, a thriving economic zone, a famous trade fair, and high-speed rail service to both Shanghai and Shenzhen/Hong Kong.

 

 

      Experts worldwide agree that China's importance will continue to increase, but only “heaven knows” how that will affect the rest of the world. As China's economy continues to expand, it struggles to shift from being export-dominated to consumer-oriented. The signs of modernization are everywhere, from classrooms and factories to e-commerce and communications systems. But serious issues also face Chinese experts, including the cost of housing, stability in marriage, environmental pollution and sustainable growth. In 15-20 years—maybe less—China will have the largest economy in the world, as well as the world’s largest population.

 

       The kinds of relationships which are now being formed between China and the West will help determine whether they exist as mutual threats or valued friends. We believe that sowing friendship and seeking to help meet China's needs through service will help make the world a better place, and that's why we moved here to teach English! People all over China are begging for English teachers and English-language courses in recognition of the role English plays in trade, travel, medicine and technology. By touching key people on their way up the professional ladder, we believe we can play an important part in shaping the future. We feel that friendship, cooperation, and the Light of Love are our best hope for transpacific tranquility in these early decades of the new millennium.

 

Michael Krigline (2002, revised 2014)

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