A Country Guide to China

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Overview

China has been a mystery to the world partly because of the country’s closed-door policy towards other countries till the recent past, and partly due to the sheer size of the country that hosts plenty of cultural treasure. China is a giant East Asian country that has a turbulent history of more than 5,000 years.

The world is enriched by China by some of its own wonders, like The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace, and X’ian’s Terracotta Army. Each of these possesses a significant historical significance that magnifies their importance to the country and to the world.

It’s not just historical monuments that enrich China’s treasures. The country is fast developing into a modern behemoth that is expected to surpass almost every developed country in the world within the next 2-3 decades. However, at present, there is immense disparity in the lifestyle of people in urban and rural centres. While cities, like Shanghai, are developing into ultra-modern cosmopolitans, the rural folks are still to get the benefits of economic and technical development.

Till 1945, the country witnessed violent struggles for power with Japanese Imperial Army perpetrating atrocities on the Chinese during 1937-1945. But after the Civil War of 1945, China is on a steady development path. The Nationalists who were defeated in the Civil War fled to Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) and the victorious Communists ruled the country and renamed it as People’s Republic of China. However, the relations between China and Japan are still to be normalised.

Liberal economic reforms in the absence of political reforms led to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The situation came to a flashpoint in 1989 when the protesters occupied Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Army’s efforts to clear the Square led to stiff resistance and loss of many lives. However, the Government managed to assert its control over the country in a much stronger manner.

Turbulent history and several paradoxes notwithstanding, China has some of the marvellous natural wonders to show to the world. These include the mighty Yangtze River, the ancient Silk Route, the Giant Panda’s abode in Bamboo Forests, and Misty Peaks that are more famous for their traditional ink paintings. In fact, the country has 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are simply treasure-troves of its glorious past.

Chinese Food is gourmet’s delight. Equally popular is Chinese Martial Arts, Acrobatics, Calligraphy, and Chinese Opera.

However, if there is one negative aspect about China that is condemned by almost every country is its occupation (since 1950) of Tibet (Xihang). Though Tibet is open to tourists since 1980, the Cultural Revolution of 1960s had a damaging impact on its unique culture. The Buddhist way of life in Tibet is still looked upon with hope and expectation by the Westerners. The Chinese have linked Tibet with Mainland China via architectural marvel in the form of a train at imposing altitudes. Although tourism has benefited from this train, Tibet’s culture faces a renewed threat from Han immigrant settlers.

The successful organisation of 2008 Beijing Olympics has shown to the world that the country is ready to don the mantle of world leader in a few years’ time.

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