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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Taiping Rebellion

(3,545 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Rudolf G.
The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace ( taiping tianguo) was a state which was inspired by Christian millenarianism, existed in central and southern China between 1851 and 1864, and for quite a few years appeared to be able and ready to overthrow the Qing dynasty. It was initiated by Hong Xiuquan, who in a vision had learnt that he was God's second son and that he would have the task of initiating the Millennium of Heavenly Peace. After a civil war of almost 15 years (whose death toll of about 30 million …


(4,387 words)

Author(s): Schubert, Gunter
The term Taiwan can mean one of three things today: first, the island of Formosa; secondly, the province of Taiwan which includes further (smaller) islands - particularly, the Pescadores (Penghu Qundao) which are situated 50 km to the west; and thirdly, the state that is usually called "Taiwan", with the official designation "Republic of China", the territory of which includes the province of Taiwan as well as a few small islands off the mainland coast which are considered to form part of the pr…

Taiwanese Literature

(2,621 words)

Author(s): Martin, Helmut
The literature of Taiwan merits consideration for artistic and cultural-political reasons, because of its nearly one hundred years of special development within the various Chinese regional literary scenes. The decisive aspects of Taiwan's authors were rebellion against foreign rule, sometimes coupled with melancholic self-restraint, and the central question of their own Taiwanese identity. In the 17th century there were insignificant beginnings in the classical written language in this southern emigration region, i.e. the later boundary province of the Qing dynasty . The N…

Taiwan Question

(2,532 words)

Author(s): Trampedach, Tim
After Hong Kong (1997) and Macau (1999), the government in Beijing also wants Taiwan to "return" to the motherland as soon as possible. In the view of Beijing, incorporation of the island into the PRC would solve the Taiwan Question ( Taiwan wenti), and thus the question of sovereignty would be resolved at last and the sacred unity of the nation completed. For the Taiwanese government in Taipei, however, there is no Taiwan Question. Rather, the partition of the country since 1949 is regarded as a China Question ( Zhongguo wenti) and can ultimately only be resolved by way of negotiati…

Tang Dynasty

(1,055 words)

Author(s): McMullen, David
The Chinese of today look back at the the Tang dynasty (618-907) with a pride that they reserve for no other period. Two achievements, Tang imperial government itself and Tang poetry, are seen as unrivalled by those of any other dynasty. But achievements in government and in culture did not run neatly in parallel. Tang poetry, novellas, painting, architecture, sculpture, metalware, and ceramic art developed under a government that was largely stable and expanding up to the middle of the 8th cent…


(1,797 words)

Author(s): Taube, Markus
The oldest and until fairly recently common forms of levies in China were the provision of manpower and military service. The origins of the tax system can be traced back to the 7th century BCE, when a salt tax was raised for the first time. It was raised until 1973 and has been one of the most important sources of revenue for the state for long periods of time. Soon, the first forms of an agricultural tax were introduced. On the basis of a system which made peasants pay one tenth of their harve…


(1,127 words)

Author(s): Ceresa, Marco
Cha, the current Chinese word for tea, refers both to the botanical item (Camellia Sinensis) and to the drink. Before the character cha came into use in the Han dynasty, the plant was known under different names, such as tu, jia, ming, and chuan. Among these early names, tu, a general name for bitter tasting plants, was the most common until the character cha was created by subtracting a horizontal stroke from the character tu itself. The new character was read cha, which was the alternative reading of the character tu (probably in those circumstances where it meant "tea"). The tea plant is g…


(1,091 words)

Author(s): Paine, Lynn
China's teachers have a long and complex history. Confucius, the intellectual architect of the traditional system of social relations, is also remembered as the country's preeminent teacher. With this tradition, China has long officially recognized the importance of teachers. Yet teaching in China has often been a less distinguished profession than its proponents would hope or claim. In modern China, national development goals hinge on education, and teachers and their training stand at the cent…


(957 words)

Author(s): Fan, Frank Xing
China's economic advances have been paralleled by a spectacular "revolution" in communications and information, which, taking place at an ever accelerating pace, is highlighted especially in the area of telecommunications. The industry's substantial investment, fast expansion of networks and services, and expeditious upgrading of technology have brought to the country better communications capabilities and greater access to information resources. China's communications system used to be characterized by the use of such technologies as high frequency poi…


(1,053 words)

Author(s): Klaschka, Siegfried
From the mid-1950s, the People's Republic of China began constructing a television network with the aid of Soviet technicians, and in May 1958, Beijing TV broadcast the first test programs. Soon after that, 15 stations were established in the larger cities and began broadcasting the first regular programs. Since the early 1960s, television broadcasting has steadily expanded. The introduction of color television, based on the German PAL system, began in 1973, and since the mid-1980s all stations have been able to transmit programs in color. Broadcasting capacities were expanded d…

Textile Industry

(1,984 words)

Author(s): Kuhn, Dieter | Hammer, Ramona
The production of food and textiles was always understood in China to be the basis of the prosperity and economy of the people. The adage had always been: "the man who does not till the soil, shall go hungry; the woman who does not weave her cloth, shall suffer from cold". In China, the manufacture of textile structures and products can be traced back to the 5th millennium BCE. Production of genuine silk cloth ( cansi) probably began long before the 3rd millennium BCE, when the earliest archeological findings appear. The raw materials for textiles such as silk, ramie, …