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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April Fifth Movement

(499 words)

Author(s): Heilmann, Sebastian
On the occasion of the Chinese Qingming festival (Grave Sweeping Day) in late March and early April 1976, massive mourning and protest gatherings were held in at least 40 provincial cities and in Beijing. Hundreds of thousands mourned the death of Premier Zhou Enlai who had died in January 1976 and who had been perceived as exponent of a course towards political and economic consolidation within the Chinese leadership. At the same time, parts of the protesters directed vehement attacks against t…


(2,792 words)

Author(s): Zorn, Bettina
Archaeology ( kaoguxue) is considered an important part of history (historiography, pre-modern) in China. "The study of the examination of antiquity" is the translation of the Chinese term for archaeology and implies a historiographical approach that has been known in China since the Zhou dynasty. Simultaneously, there developed a nurture of antiquity in which, in addition to the written fixation of history, the cataloging and archiving of artifacts, primarily of bronzes from the Shang dynasty, pl…


(4,244 words)

Author(s): Warner, Torsten
1. Classical Architecture Traditional organization of space: Organizing space in classical China was based on a geometric vision of the world developed from Chinese cosmology which perceived the sky as round, and the earth as square. The latter was composed of square areas grouped hierarchically around a center. Accordingly, the earth formed a network of spatial correspondences to the "whole", which characterized the human living space. The macrocosm repeated itself in numerous microcosms so that e…


(836 words)

Author(s): Vogel, Hans-Ulrich
The oracle inscriptions of the Shang, the inscribed bamboo strips of the Han, and the documents found in Dunhuang can already be considered the remains of archives. The largest number of archival documents still extant today, however, date from the Qing period, the Chinese Republic, and the years after 1949. The most important central archives are the First Historical Archives of China in Beijing, the Palace Museum Archives in Taipei (late Ming and Qing periods), the Second Historical Archives o…

Art and Politics

(1,763 words)

Author(s): Köppel-Yang, Martina
The ability of art and culture to provide national identity can be viewed as a key issue of Chinese art since the end of the 19th century. Collecting and owning artifacts, as well as practicing the arts, has always been a sign of political authority in China. As a constitutive factor in every dynasty's value system, and as part of the standard repertoire of classical education, art and culture were the keys to being affiliated with the political elites. In addition, the arts constituted a privil…

Associations and Federations

(4,259 words)

Author(s): Heberer, Thomas
Social organizations are affiliations of persons for a certain purpose or for the pursuit of mutual interests. In the PRC, four groups of social organizations can be distinguished: state-run (such as the mass organizations), state-controlled (such as professional or entrepreneurial associations, social and hobby organizations), informal (such as territorial associations and clans), and illegal organizations (such as secret societies, as well as underground, oppositional, or criminal associations…


(705 words)

Author(s): Bréard, Andrea
Under the influence of the May Fourth Movement, the pioneers of modern astronomy fought for the advancement of astronomical research and for the popularization of astronomical knowledge. On October 30, 1922, the Chinese Astronomical Society (CAS) was founded in Beijing. Its offices were located in the Beijing Ancient Observatory ( Gu guanxiang tai), established in the 13th century, where observational instruments erected by the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries are still in place today. In 1932 the society's headquarters was moved to the Ast…


(1,138 words)

Author(s): Mackerras, Colin
As a non-threatening, rich and large, but not very populous country, Australia is fairly important for China. But at all times China has been very much more important for Australia than the other way around, because of its size and immense population.­ The fear of China was a dominant theme in Australia's attitude to China from the early period of the relationship until the early 1970s. Chinese immigration to Australia began in 1848; mostly miners for gold during the gold-rush decade of 1851 to 1861. In 1888 all Australian colonies restricted further Chinese i…

Automobile Industry

(3,175 words)

Author(s): Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten
1. General Conditions Since establishing contact with Daimler-Benz in 1935, the development of the production of automobiles in China has been characterized equally by intensive international cooperation and by considerable difficulties in creating a self-supporting industry. While the system of planned economy was responsible for these difficulties in the PRC after 1949, Taiwanese attempts soon reached the limits that came with an import-substituting strategy applied to a domestic market of too sm…

Autonomous Regions

(916 words)

Author(s): Mackerras, Colin
The concept of autonomy applies to places in the PRC where members of a minority nationality (national minorities) live in a compact community. There are three levels: regions (zizhi qu), prefectures (zizhi zhou), and counties (zizhi xian), regions being province-level. There are five autonomous regions (AR): the Inner Mongolian AR (established May 1, 1947); Xinjiang Uyghur AR (October 1, 1955); Guangxi Zhuang AR (March 15, 1958); Ningxia Hui AR (October 25, 1958); and Tibet AR (September 9, 1965). Including those within these fiv…