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PROVINCES China has 23 provinces (including Taiwan), 5 autonomous regions— Guanxi, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Xianjing and Xizang. Taiwan and Macau are Special Administrative Regions.
HEAD OF STATE President Hu Jintao
ETHNIC GROUPS Han Chinese (91.9%), other 8.1% includes Zhuang, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Korean and other nationalities.
NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES China shares borders with 14 countries by land— North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Thailand and Mongolia. Macau and Hong Kong are regional borders.
RELIGION Officially atheist. Other religions include Taoism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. 10
LANGUAGES Mandarin (standard Chinese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei, Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Yue (Cantonese), Hakka dialects and minority languages.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER Northern China is extremely cold when compared to Southern China. In summer, most of the areas range above 20o C, such as Beijing and Shanghai. The famous â€˜Three Ovensâ€™ cities along the Yangtze River are extremely hot in summer: Chongqing, Wuhan and Nanjing. China has many seaside cities which mostly experience a favourable climate.
POLITICAL SITUATION The highlights of the political situation in China are:
TAIWAN After civil war in late 1940, the defeated Chinese Nationalist government relocated to Taiwan and
CURRENCY The Renminbi literally means ‘People’s currency’ abbreviated as RMB. The Unit for RMB is Yuan, Jiao and Fen. The names and relative values of the coins depicted above are, from left to right: 1 Yuan = 10 Jiao = 100 Fen Visit www.xe.com for the latest exchange rates
EVENTS China has numerous traditional festivals, which fall on different dates each year as they are based on the lunar calendar. Recently established festivals decreed by the government fall on fixed dates each year. Below are some of the better known and widely celebrated festivals, but there are also many more colourful celebrations held in local regions.
adghlklmnipoutre SPRING 1st Lunar month Jan/Feb
SPRING FESTIVAL (Chinese New Year week). Gifts are exchanged and red packets (hong bao) containing money are given to the young unmarrieds. A time to settle old debts. Public Holiday Special food: jiaozi (boiled dumplings). LANTERN FESTIVAL marks the end of New Year. Special food: yuanxiao (glutinous rice balls)
2nd Lunar month Feb/ Mar
HONG KONG ARTS FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY (8th Mar) TIBETAN NEW YEAR
3rd lunar month (Apr/May)
QING MING FESTIVAL . A day for tending family graves and honouring the dead. TIN HAU FESTIVAL (HK and coastal areas). This celebrates Mazu, the Goddess of the sea.
SUMMER 4th lunar month
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR DAY (May1). Public Holiday. YOUTH DAY (May 4th) celebrates the 1919 student movement which led to the political changes heralding modern China. FESTIVAL OF THE THOUSAND BUDDHAS (HK) celebrates the birth of Buddha.
PACKING LIST • • • • •
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Airline Tickets Passport Cash (in RMB, USD & AUD) Credit cards Copies of hotel and tour confirmations Contact numbers Chinese phrase book Guidebooks Maps Power adaptor Telephone charger Umbrella Non-perishable snacks Luggage locks and name tags Casual and Business attire Hat/Cap
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Shoes (size 8+ not available in China) Hand lotion Sanitary supplies Deodorant (Hard to find) Sun block Travel tissues Camera and charger Backup batteries Extra memory card First aid kit - Band aids, Anti-bacterial cream, Eye drops, throat lozenges and painkillers Insect repellent Scissors or tweezers Anti- diarrhoea medicines Broad spectrum anti biotic medication
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION China is well connected by air, rail and road. There are approximately 470 airports dotting various parts of China, in addition to 35 heliports. The rail network is the most popular way of travelling, stretching to a vast network of approximately 75,438 km with two main rail directions, North-South and East-West. A number of railway terminals link the entire country to major metro-centres such as Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei and Tianjin. China also boasts of 124,000 km of navigable waterways that assist in trade. The Shanghai Maglev train runs between Long Yang Road station in Pudong, to Pudong International Airport. The journey takes 7 minutes with the train reaching a speed of 430 km/h within few minutes.
BUSES Buses are the cheapest transport, but one has to be very careful with personal belongings.
This has been a fundamental part of Chinese culture and is based on reciprocity. It is crucial in maintaining good personal and business relationships. Always make sure that you reciprocate any favours to maintain good Guanxi (gwanchee).
MEETINGS When you attend any business meeting, remember to dress conservatively, be punctual and be sensitive about holidays and festival times. Do not discuss any business matters when you dine unless your host initiates it.
BUSINESS CARDS Cards should be printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other. Make sure you give and receive cards with both hands, with the Chinese side facing the recipient, as this is a mark of respect.
PERSONAL ETIQUETTE Keqi (kuhâ€”chee) is a cultural concept that defines the behaviour of a guest. You are expected to be polite, well mannered, humble and modest. Your host should 29
always be treated with respect and never be criticized publicly.
WATCH YOUR TONGUE! Talking about religion and government should be avoided. Tibet, Falun Gong and Taiwan are also controversial subjects.
APOLOGIES Apologies carry more weight than in the western cultures. An apology offered is usually enough to set wrong things right.
AFFIRMATIVE OR NEGATIVE Blunt responses such as “yes” and “no” are considered impolite. The Chinese tend to take a middle-path by agreeing to a request even if they are uncertain of fulfilling it. This is done to avoid disappointing anyone. Similarly “maybe” is best interpreted as a “no”.
MODESTY When a Chinese person is complimented for his good work, it is normal for them to downplay the praise by saying that they do not deserve it. The Chinese should still be praised as this will be appreciated but too much praise may be regarded as false.
INTIMATE BEHAVIOUR IN PUBLIC The older Chinese consider cuddling and kissing in public to be indecent, though the younger generation in the cities may view this differently. Always respect a senior person in any situation. 30
ADDRESSING EACH OTHER The Chinese address each other by their family names accompanied by a suitable prefix. In formal or business situations the family name is placed before the designation of the person. Women retain their maiden names after marriage, except in formal addressing. The senior most person must always be addressed first.
GESTURES AND BODY LANGUAGE While touching, arm holding, back slapping, and hugging are common in the western culture, it is not a part of Chinese culture. It is only acceptable amongst close friends, family and relatives although street vendors may cheerfully touch you. Pointing at someone with one finger is considered very rude. Chinese will unashamedly stare at foreigners. This is out of curiosity and should not be considered rude. When a Chinese person laughs or giggles it may indicate embarrassment rather than amusement.
HOME VISITS Foreign visitors are often entertained in restaurants rather than at home. However if you are invited to visit someone it is recommended that you bring gifts for your hosts. 31
SHOPPING AND LIFESTYLE Bargaining is a common practice in smaller shops. Local and international brands can be found in shopping malls. For local items, visitors can take a stroll through the business streets of major cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Xian.
TIPPING The Chinese do not generally expect tips, although the custom is increasing in hotels where tipping hotel staff will ensure good service. Drivers and tour guides are likely to expect tips.
QUEUING This is a western concept and not a part of Chinese culture. Although recently, the government introduced queuing exercises to prepare for Beijing Olympics, 2008. Many foreign visitors feel exasperated by the absence of the queueing system.
WATER If buying water from a street vendor check the seal on the bottle, as as they may fill bottles with tap water. Use bottled water for teeth cleaning. (available in most hotels) 33
SIED Pooja Mallik, Rusha Sharma and Suneina Kootharasan Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Published on Apr 8, 2009