Culture China

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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination China

China: life and culture

Literature

-'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' by Dai Sijie who narrates her life during the Cultural Revolution, a classic for understanding Chinese society in the 16th century.
-'Chinese Painting' by Emmanuelle Lesbre and Liu Jianlong. A rediscovery of Chinese painting with almost 300 unpublished works from Chinese collections. 2004 Art Book Prize - The Year of China.
-'Ancient China' by Emmanuelle Lesbre and Marie Laureillard. Archaeological excavation work has unearthed dozens of burial places for princes dating from 1,500 BC. Tombs constructed like funeral palaces.
-'Hot Wok' by Ken Hom. Published in February 2005. Culinary advisor to various restaurants in Asia and Europe, the author is well-known for his television cookery programmes broadcast in England by the BBC. The work presents simple recipes from basic and elaborate dishes.-'Yangtze Jiang' by Philip Wilkinson. The Yangtze Jiang crosses the whole of China. This work follows the course of the Long River, born in the mountains of Tibet, which extends to the plains of eastern China.

Available guides

-Mandarin Phrase Book
-Lonely Planet

Films

'Suzhou River' by Lou Ye, the first Chinese film to win a prize at the 2000 Paris Film Festival.
'Farewell my concubine' by Chen Kaige, Palme d'or in 1993.
'The blue Kite' on the tragic years of the cultural revolution, by Tian Zhuang-Zhuang.
'The Last Emperor' by B. Bertolucci.
'Ri Ri Ye Ye' (Day and Night) by the director Wang Chao (prizewinner in November 2004 at the 3 Continents Festival - F3C - in Nantes). A trip to the heart of rural China in a small mining town, reflecting the economic and social upheavals of contemporary China. Also see 'The Anyang Orphan' (2001), by the same director.
'Shower' by Zhang Yang. This film is about ancestral bathing customs, the 'Quingshui'.
'Women from the Lake of Scented Souls' by Xie Fei. Unusual portrait of a Chinese woman in the 80s (Golden Bear at the Festival of Berlin in 1999)
'An Answer From heaven' by Wang Junzheng. Youth prize at the Berlin Festival in 1993.
Work by Zhang Yimou: 'Red Sorghum', 'Wives and Concubines' and 'Qiu Ju, a Chinese woman'.
'Hero', an epic relating the history of China to the 'Period of the Warrior States' between 475 and 221 BC. This film won an award in Berlin (2004), and was nominated for an Oscar and the Golden Globe for the best foreign film.
'The House of Flying Daggers'

China: discover the country's history

historyDates

From 551 to 479 BC: Confucius and Lao-Tseu.
In 221 BC: Emperor Qin unified China. First draft of the Great Wall.
In 1271: the reconstructed Beijing became capital of the Yuan Mongol dynasty. Marco Polo visited China.
In 1839 and 1856: two Opium wars.
In 1912: first Chinese republic.
On 1 October 1949: Mao Tse Tung proclaims the People's Republic of China.
From 1966 to 1976: a catastrophic cultural revolution.
1976: death of Mao Tse-Tung.
1979: a wind of reform introduced by Deng Xiaoping.
1989: massacre at Tiananmen Square (Gate of heavenly peace).
1996: funeral of Deng Xiaoping.
1997: retrocession of Hong Kong.
1998: official visit by President Clinton to China.
1999: fiftieth anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
1999: fiftieth anniversary of the People's Republic. In December, Portugal gave back the archipelago of Macao.
2001: Peking was chosen to host the 2008 Olympic Games. China joined the WTO.
November 2002: 16th congress of the Communist Party. First peaceful transition by the leader Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao, the new Secretary General of the Communist Party and President of the Republic.
15 March 2003: Hu Jintao was officially elected as President of the PRC at the Congress of Deputies in Peking. Jiang Zemin continued to be Head of the Army after having handed over the position as Head of the Party and the State to Hu Jintao between November 2002 and March 2003.
September 2004: 4th plenum of the Central Committee, following which Mr Hu Jintao became President of the powerful Central Military Commission of the Party.

China: celebrations and events

Bank holidays and national celebrations

1st October: National Holiday. Anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
The Spring holiday (Chinese New Year) changes every year, depending on the lunar calendar, and is between the end of January and the beginning of February. The Chinese then take a week holiday to go and visit their family.
1st May: Labour Day.
1st June: National Children's Day.
1st July: Anniversary of Chinese Communist Party.
28 September: Confucius Day.
Mid-Autumn: Lantern Day
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