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121 votes

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

There were at least a couple of alphabetic script attempts developed for Chinese. However, none of them really caught on. There are significant barriers for adoption of any kind of phonetic writing ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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81 votes
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How do ancient Chinese "mirrors" such as these in the National Museum function?

They’re displaying the back of the mirrors. Here are a couple of images I found via Google that shows both sides: Chinese Museums typically exhibit the back of these mirrors, because doing so ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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60 votes

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

Yes, but neither by the Chinese nor only for Chinese. Kublai Khan ordered the Tibetan Sakya trizin Phagpa to create a universal alphabet to be used by the languages of his empire. It's usually known ...
lly's user avatar
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53 votes

If the Ch’in dynasty was so short-lived, why was China named for it?

The original question is a bit vague as to who exactly is calling China, well, "China." This also means that it's a bit tricky to pin down what exactly the word "China" refers to (e.g. is it the same ...
badcook's user avatar
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53 votes
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Did Chinese emperors wear a rectangular hat with suspended gems?

You're describing the mian (冕), a style of classical Chinese head dress that was indeed worn by successive Emperors of China. The basic design consisted of a hat secured to the head with a red string (...
Semaphore's user avatar
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52 votes
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Why was the US so pro-China and so anti-Japan before WW2?

Japan was a threat to the US's Pacific territories, and those of other European powers. China was not. Unlike China, and every other Asian nation at the time, Japan had defeated and humiliated a ...
Schwern's user avatar
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43 votes

Why did the Chinese Nationalist party members go to the island of Taiwan and not to any other island?

Taiwan was basically a part of China, and under Nationalist control at the time. (The Philippines were a foreign country.) Also,the Nationalist army, while weaker than the Communists, was far stronger ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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42 votes
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Why did the Republic of China retract its simplified Chinese characters?

Victor Henry Mair is an American Sinologist and professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, and this is what he wrote (emphasis mine): An English language report in The Quarterly ...
J Asia's user avatar
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41 votes
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Did people in China resort to cannibalism during the reign of Mao?

Yes we have at least one account of cannibalism. First source: A teenage orphan kills and eats her four-year-old brother. Guardian Second source: I didn't know that there were thousands of cases of ...
MCW's user avatar
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41 votes
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When and how did the Han ethnic group become by far the biggest ethnic group in China?

China is a continental scale country, thus "Han" is a category sorta like "European". One visit to Beijing or Shanghai will make it obvious that China is indeed a cosmopolitan, ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
39 votes
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Were Russians in the cold war era USA discriminated against for their ethnicity?

Because of emigration restrictions from the Soviet Union imposed from at least the 1920's on, there were very few ethnic Russians of recent arrival in the U.S., and the Western world in general, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
38 votes
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Why did China annex Tibet?

The other two answers speak in terms of Tibet's legal status; and these answers, while correct, don't properly explain why Tibet is important to China. This answer relates entirely to geography. The ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
36 votes

Why did the Chinese Nationalist party members go to the island of Taiwan and not to any other island?

Tom Au is right; his answer is the correct answer. I want to add two more data points: Hainan was closer to Mainland China and would be more difficult to defend against amphibious assault, Taiwan had ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
35 votes

Did people in China resort to cannibalism during the reign of Mao?

Jung Chang -author of bestseller Wild Swans (Harper Collins, London 1992) together with her husband, British sinologist, Jon Halliday, in their biography, Mao,The Unknown Story (Cape, London 2005) ...
WS2's user avatar
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35 votes

Why did the Soviet Union not "grant" Inner Mongolia to Mongolia after World War Two?

Actually some of the answer is found on Wikipedia, but in the pan-Mongolism article: In 1943, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office predicted that the Soviet Union would promote the idea of a ...
against very long user names's user avatar
29 votes

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

TLDR: Phonetic scripts won't work because of how the Chinese languages are structured. So it never really came up before Europeans arrived. Language Issues: There are several ways to answer this ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
26 votes
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Had there been instances of national states banning harmful imports before the mid-19th C Opium Wars?

"Banning harmful imports" was often done. Prime example being the satanic brew. Coffee was banned in Mecca, Italy, Contantinople/Ottoman Empire, Prussia. Similarly: tea was banned in East Frisia, ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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25 votes
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How did the First Emperor of Qin "burn the books" prior to the invention of paper?

The Chinese term for the Qin emperor's "burning books and burying scholars alive" is 焚書坑儒 (character by character: burn/book/bury [alive]/followers of Confucius). The character for book or ...
Jan's user avatar
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24 votes

Why was the US so pro-China and so anti-Japan before WW2?

One angle I think a lot of people miss (particularly non US people) is that, being a former colony that had to fight for independence itself, the USA during that period very much liked to identify ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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20 votes

If the Ch’in dynasty was so short-lived, why was China named for it?

The Chinese actually refer to themselves as the Han most of the time. Why do westerners refer to China as such then? Well, it is more complicated than you might think. China is either a Persian or ...
Andre's user avatar
  • 209
20 votes

Where can I find the original "On the New Rules for Destroying Countries" (1901) by Liang Qichao?

The essay is indeed originally in Chinese, with the title 滅國新法論, which may aid further searches. It is collected in full in 《飲冰室合集》, as well as the 《梁啟超文集》 in abridged form. The abridged version is ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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19 votes
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Why do some sections of Great Wall of China seem to be bidirectional?

The portions of the wall in your photos were rebuilt for tourism after 1970 or so. Looking at reconstructed wall is not a good method for determining the original design. You'd have to look at how the ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
19 votes
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Did drawbacks of egalitarianism or mismanagement cause the rural famine in the Great Leap Forward?

Incompetency and deliberate malice First of all, we should note that in years immediately after the end of civil war in 1949, China was still largely backward agricultural society. Apparently, only 3% ...
rs.29's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why do all my history books divide Chinese history after the Han dynasty?

Because the fall of Han is a traditional demarcation point in Chinese historical periodisation. The reason is actually less to do with the Han dynasty itself, than it is about what came afterwards. ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why did China decide to support Poland in 1956, but not Hungary?

Interpretations are called for here — and these are necessarily opinionated to a degree. From a recent Polish perspective, it might seem rather simple – and one-sided: There are strong indications ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
16 votes

Have sanctions ever stopped a nation from starting or continuing a war?

Yes, The Netherlands was fighting a brutal war against Indonesian rebels from 1945 until 1949 in (then) the Dutch East Indies. When America told The Netherlands they had to choose between receiving ...
Jos's user avatar
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15 votes

Why did China annex Tibet?

tl;dr Why invade? Because government, in order to be legitimate (I'm using the term "legitimate" in the same sense as Fukyama - that the citizens perceive the government's actions as ...
MCW's user avatar
  • 33.8k
15 votes
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Why didn't China vote in UNSC Resolution 344?

China did not participate in the voting as it has a long-standing policy of not participating in votes on resolutions of which it does not approve. The reasons for not participating or abstaining: ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
15 votes
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Which 'evidence' is there for a claim that 'Chinese discovered America in 636'?

Ironically enough, this is likely a case of Chinese whispers. There is a relatively established crackpot "theory" that the Chinese discovered America in the 5th century or so, and called the new land ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
14 votes

If the Ch’in dynasty was so short-lived, why was China named for it?

The Ch’in dynasty united modern China and greatly advanced Chinese culture; that's why modern-day China is named for this short but great dynasty. The remarkable Ch'in dynasty arose from the remains ...
George A. Solodun's user avatar

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