Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of China Online is based on the originally a thousand-page reference work on China with a clear focus on the modern period from the mid-nineteenth century to the 21st century. Written by the world’s top scholars, Brill’s Encyclopedia of China is the first place to look for reliable information on the history, geography, society, economy, politics, science, and culture of China.

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(912 words)

Author(s): Scharping, Thomas
The Chinese concept of the cadre is rooted in Leninism and similarly refers to small elites of professional revolutionaries who operate in a partially conspiratorial fashion, who subject themselves to the principles of democratic centralism, and who possess the scientific world-view and knowledge of historical developmental principles that are required for leading the insufficiently politicized masses to revolutionary combat. The concept was adopted in China during the early 20th century, since …

Calendar and Chronology

(1,884 words)

Author(s): Yoke, Ho Peng
The traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar, i. e. it is based on both the movement of the moon and on what seems to be the orbit of the sun around the earth. The incommensurability of the lunar synodical period of 29.530587… days and the equinoctial year's 365.2421... days has always been the cause for numerous difficulties with respect to the establishment of a calendar in China. In order to replace the former calendars which after a time had lost their validity, roughly 100 different types …


(1,046 words)

Author(s): Ledderose, Lothar
The earliest known types of script are found in the form of characters carved onto the oracle bones of the late Shang period. The first inscriptions on bronze vessels also date back to the end of the Shang period. All types of bronze and stone inscriptions up to the end of the Zhou period are classified as seal script ( zhuanshu ). The chancellery script ( lishu ) was first found on bamboo strips which date back to approximately the 3rd century BCE; it replaced the seal script as a common form of writing during the 1st century BCE. Also found on bamboo platelets are the half-cursive script ( xingshu ) …


(932 words)

Author(s): Frick, Heike
The development of the genre of manhua in China is closely linked to the emergence of the modern press and a critical, politically interested public (public sphere and public opinion). Both emerged after 1895, above all in the Treaty Ports. The first attempts of caricatures in the modern sense date back to the end of the Qing period, when larger newspapers started to depict the conflicts and weaknesses of Qing officials graphically. Aside from Western and Japanese influences, caricature in China could…

CCP-controlled Areas

(1,357 words)

Author(s): Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Susanne
After the collapse of the coalition between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Guomindang (GMD) in 1927, the CCP sought to survive by withdrawing to rural areas and embedding itself in the fabric of rural society which has always been difficult to govern. This strategy ultimately facilitated the takeover of China, and consisted in occupying positions of administrative authority in autonomous areas, and using these as refuge from persecution and as the basis for further expansion. The first Soviets of this kind evolved in 1927 in the province of Guangdong ( Hai-Lu-Feng ). By 1930…


(1,806 words)

Author(s): von Senger, Harro
"Censorship" as a term with a negative connotation is roughly equivalent to the Chinese word xinwen jiancha, which is normally avoided in the legal language of the PRC and only used when criticizing enemy regimes. Neutral words used with reference to the PRC include shenhe, shenpi, shending, and shendu. Freedom of expression was not explicitly advocated by any of the relevant schools of ancient China. Confucianism, Mohism, and Legalism in one way or another all supported a unification of the different opinions on right and wrong. General laissez-faire tendencies with regard to exp…

Central Asia

(1,930 words)

Author(s): Wacker, Gudrun
According to the generally accepted political definition of the term, "Central Asia" encompasses the five states Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, which became independent Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) republics only after the fall of the Soviet Union, though their character as national units and carriers of national sovereignty originated in Soviet times. Strictly speaking, intergovernmental relations to the PRC were therefore not established until the…


(958 words)

Author(s): Vainker, Shelagh
Ceramics are one of China's chief technological achievements, and, as an export commodity, historically constituted one of the major forms by which China has been represented to the rest of the world. China's success in ceramic manufacturing is attributable to two main factors: an abundance of high quality raw materials, and (in this industry as in others) the application of a sophisticated organization of labor from an early period (handicrafts). In addition to their primary function as vessels, ceramics were produced for architectural purposes, as sculpture, and…