China Trip

4/5 China General

China General | 4/6 Tienanmen | 4/7 Summer Palace | 4/8 Great Wall | 4/9 Beijing Kung Fu | 4/10 Shanghai | 4/11 Suzhou | 4/12 Shanghai | 4/13 Yangtze | 4/14 3 Gorges | 4/15 Shennong Stream | 4/16 Wanxian | 4/17 Chongqing | 4/18 Xi'an | 4/19 Xi'an | 4/20 Guilin | 4/21 Li River | 4/22 Hong Kong | 4/23 New Territories | 4/24 back to the USA
press the forward arrow for Chinese music

map of our trip around China

We went to China with Grand Circle Travel and greatly recommend them and their sister company, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). We have now been on 8 trips with one or the other of these sister companies, and they all have been absolutely fabulous. We see and do much much more than we ever could have managed on our own. The groups are small (only 16 for OAT), about 30-60 for Grand Circle, so you don't feel like a huge herd of sheep and you can do many things that larger groups cannot. There is a large education and cultural component to each trip which I especially enjoy, including home hosted meals and visits to primary schools. Check it out!

CHINA: map


China - 4000 years at a glance

China is the third largest country in the world with a population of over a billion, It has a longer continuous history than any other country - over 4,000 years, during most of which the settled peoples of the “Middle Kingdom” along the Yellow, Wei, and Yangtze rivers have struggled against frequent invasions by nomadic people from the north.

From the earliest recorded times China was ruled by dynasties, or families of rulers who handed down power from one generation to another over hundreds of years. The earliest recorded dynasty, the Zhou, controlled the Middle Kingdom (Zhong Guo/China) between 1027 and 221 BC.

Power was centralized under the succeeding Qin dynasty, and the national identity began to emerge, The first Qin ruler, Shi Huangdi (“first emperor”) extended the road and canal network and standardized the written language, currency, and measures.

To keep out raiding Mongol and Hun tribes from the north, the Emperor had existing defenses joined up to form the Great Wall. The terrible hardships endured by the thousands of conscripted laborers working on the Wall caused rebellion and civil war.

During the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) an ideal of a united China was created. The “people of Han” is a name by which the Chinese are commonly known today.

China's Golden Age came with the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Commerce, poetry and painting flourished. A road network radiating from the capital at Xi'an served a state that was the largest in area and population (53 million) in the world at that time.

In the 13th century, merciless Mongol leader Ghengis Khan conquered all of China. Another Mongol, Kublai Khan, founded the Yuan Dynasty. The Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, served as an administrator at the Yuan court, Kublai Khan's court was farther north than previous Chinese capitals, on the site of present-day Beijing.

After years of unrest, Chinese Emperor Hung Wu took power and pushed the Mongols back to the northern plains. The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) was built during the Ming dynasty he founded. In 1644, Ming rule was ended by yet another invasion from the north by the Manchu tribe, The Manchus lasted until the founding of the Chinese Republic in 1911,

In the 15th century, China had sent expeditions to Africa and Arabia, Contacts with the outside world later eased, but other countries wanted to trade in China. From the 18th century onward, Portugal, Holland, Britain, and later Japan pressured China to allow access to its markets,

In 1911 revolution removed the last emperor, Pu Yi The first president of the new Chinese Republic was Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who was also the founder of the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party. Civil war soon broke out, as generals and warlords fought for power, After Sun Yat-sen's death, Chiang Kai-shek took over the Guomindang and drove out its Communist members.

In the south, the Communist leader, Mao Tse Tung, set up a peasant state in his native province of Hunan. To escape the Nationalist forces, Mao and associates like Zhou Enlai led 80-,000 people on the Long March, a 5,965-mile journey north to Yan'an. Hardship and battles reduced their numbers to 20,000 on arrival.

While civil war kept the rival Chinese armies busy, the Japanese invaded. Chiang Kai-Shek thought it more important to eliminate Communists than to fight the invading Japanese.

As the Japanese advance continued, the Communists organized guerilla resistance. After Japan's defeat in World War II, the Communist People's Liberation Army finally forced Chiang Kai-Shek to flee to Taiwan, where he set up the Republic of China. On the mainland, the People's Republic of China was officially established on October 1, 1949. Chairman Mao set about restructuring Chinese society along Communist lines.

China was poor, war-torn, and hungry. The Great Leap Forward was an attempt to boost food production and speed up industrialization. The USSR sent advisers and aid, but by 1960 relations had deteriorated because of border disputes and ideological differences. In 1966, Mao Tse Tung unleashed the Cultural Revolution, calling on the young to root out the “revisionists” whom he considered were “taking the capitalist road.” The Red Guards, as these young people came to be known, sent many talented people to prison or to work in the fields.

The late 1970s eventually restored stability after the death of Chairman Mao. Relations with the USA and the USSR improved. In recent years, the People's Republic of China has been experimenting with more liberal economic policies to boost production, by permitting greater financial incentives to workers. Modernization of the economy remains the goal of the PRC government, and to that end it has encouraged investment by foreign business. There is still some debate about whether modernization goals can be achieved by socialism or it must be led by capitalist methods.

770-476 BC Confucius preached a return to Zhou rituals and tried to stabilize warring states by insisting on obedience to the emperor, father, husband, etc. Beginning of feudalism, introduction of cylindrical tile sewer pipes steel, Knowledge of mathematics and astronomy
221-206 BC Building of the Great Wall. Unification of China for the first time, standardization of currency, weights and measures.
206 BC Invention of water wheels, windmills, plant fiber paper. First important medical text for Chinese, knowledge that moonlight is a reflection from the sun, elaborate use of jade.
A. D.
271 First use of the magnetic compass
400 Chinese inscriptions show presence of Buddhism.
581-681 Building of the Grand Canal -1,650 miles long.
732 Printing invented in China.
960-1279 Prosperous time under Song Dynasty. Creation of paper money, moveable type for printing, fine porcelains, red lacquer, acupuncture
1161 Chinese use gunpowder in warfare.
1275-1292 Marco Polo visited China, serving in the court of Kublai Khan
1368 Ming Dynasty is established in China.
1840-1842 Opium War, mainly over freedom to trade with China and the British' Objection to the government's opium policy (the Chinese had attempted to stop the opium trade in 1839, when they burned over 20,000 chests, nearly Half a year's trade. Britain needed to sell China opium to balance trade. British forces seized some coastal cities and threatened the capital, Nanjing. Chinese gave in, ceding Hong Kong to Britain and opening up foreign trade. This was the beginning of foreign exploitation.
1870 China begins sending 30 students a year to the U.S. to study
1900 Boxer Rebellion breaks out in China.
1912 Dr. Sun Yat Sen declared provisional president of the Chinese republic with its capital in Nanjing.
1912-1927 Period of the First Revolutionary War which failed when Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the revolution and massacred the communists.
1934 The Long March.
1937 The Japanese invade China.
1945 The Japanese surrender and civil war resumes in China until 1949, with the advent of the Socialism Society.
1949 The People's Republic is formed and Chiang Kai-shek goes to Taiwan.
1950 China enters the Korean War.
1951 Campaign to suppress counter-revolutionaries. Enter Chairman Mao Tse Tung
1958 Great Leap Forward. All work stopped to focus on production of steel, ignoring farming/food production.
1961 Great Famine accounting for nearly 30 million deaths.
1966 Cultural Revolution begins.
1972 Historic visit by President Richard Nixon.
1973 Deng Xiaoping rehabilitated and became Vice Premier in charge of planning.
1976 Zhou Enlai dies and Deng Xiaoping is ousted, Mao dies and Gang of Four is arrested.
1977 Deng is back in power.
1989 Tiananmen Square student revolt.
1997 Deng Xiaoping dies.

The Country
  • Size: 9.6 million square kilometers
  • Population: 1.3 billion
  • Language: Mandarin is the primary language, while dialects include Minbei, Gan, Hakka, Cantonese, and Wu.
  • Religion: most of the population is atheist, but there is also Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.
  • Education: In the cities, 6-15 grades are free and compulsory, University is subsidized, and teacher training is free. In farming communities few children go beyond 10 years of free and compulsory education.

The People's Republic of China, with a recorded history of 4,000 years, is the birthplace of four major inventions: the compass, papermaking, moveable type printing, and gunpowder. All are significant contributions to world civilization. Situated in the east part of Asia, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, China is the second largest nation in the world in land area, after Canada.

With a population of 1.3 billion, it comprises a quarter of the world's inhabitants. China's land boundaries measure over 12,000 miles in length (east to west and north to south are both about 3,000 miles long). On its border with Nepal lies the world's highest peak of Mt. Everest at 29,198 feet. China is made up of 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 3 municipalities.

The People
The Han nationality makes up about 94% of the total population with the remaining 6% divided among 50 minority nationalities. Beijing (Peking), the capital for over 800 years, covers an area of 6.87 sq. miles and has a population of about 9 million people. It has numerous historical sites including the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs and the imposing Great Wall.

Waterways and Resources
China has the Pohai Sea, Yellow Sea and the East China Sea to the east and the South China Sea to the south. There are a large number of rivers (approx. 1500), the longest being the Yangtze, (which is 3,828 miles long) then the Yellow River, and the Pearl River. The Yangzte River (Changjiang) is the world's 3rd longest river after the Amazon and Nile rivers. Mineral resources include coal, iron, petroleum, copper tin, lead, zinc and mercury. Agricultural products include cotton, rice, soybean, sorghum, wheat, corn, potatoes, sugar beets, tobacco and tea.
Archaeological Sites
In 1964, archeological discoveries showed primitive man living and working along the Yellow River as far back as 600,000 years. Peking Man inhabited caves nearby Beijing. In the areas around Xian, the Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered, protecting the tombs of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi from the Qin Dynasty of 200 years BC.

The Language
In 1958, the State Council adopted the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet System (Pinyin) for romanizing Chinese names and places. This new Pinyin system of spelling has replaced other systems including the English version referred to a "Wade Giles." The country's signs, posters, newspapers, etc. now show both the Chinese characters and the Pinyin spelling side by side.

The Government
The President and Vice President are elected by the National People's Congress (NPC). The NPC is the highest organ of state power with a 5 year term in office. The NPC is comprised of elected deputies from each of China's provinces one deputy each 400,000 people minimum. There is also a Standing Committee and a State Council. All citizens can vote at the age of 18 and women enjoy equal rights with men in all phases of life.

Chinese currency used by the local people is called "renmimbi" (RMB). This basic unit is also called yuan," which is divided then into jiao (like our cents) and then divided into "fen" (tiny amounts used on the street but you probably won't see them. There are approx. 8 rmb/yuan to one dollar.

Specialties in China include lacquer ware, enamel cloisonné, carved jade, embroidery, carpets, silk, terra cotta, and yard goods. When you make a purchase, the clerk will write up a receipt for you to take to the cashier. The cashier will then stamp your receipt "paid" and you take it back to the clerk to claim your purchase. Allow yourself plenty of time for this rather lengthy transaction.

Social Customs
If, on arriving someplace, the Chinese greet you by clapping, it is a nice gesture to clap in return as appreciation.

Using Chopsticks
The best way to master chopsticks is to be hungry with no tempting chopsticks nearby. Pick up one chopstick with the hand you write with, making sure the narrower end is touching the plate). Pretend it's a pencil and place it in the V shaped space between your thumb and forefinger, resting it on the middle finger. Pick up the second chopstick in your other hand and place it between your forefinger and thumb, keeping the lower chopstick in place. Try clacking the two ends together. The top chopstick, the one held between thumb and forefinger, has more control and leverage. Use it to pick up your first piece of food from your plate. Chopstick etiquette calls for taking one piece at a time from your dish (after using serving spoons to put several pieces on your own plate). Good luck and have fun!

Chinese Imperial Dynasties
Xia (Hxia) Dynasty
Approx. 21st - 16th centuries BC
First Chinese state evolves; silk produced, calendar devised.
Shang Dynasty
16th - 11th centuries BC
Written language developed; bronze is cast.
Zhou (Chou) Dynasty
11th 5th centuries BC
Confucius and Lao-Tse; development of painting, poetry and mathematics.
Warring States
5th - 3rd centuries BC
Navigational compass invented; iron tools in use
Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty
221 - 206 BC
Great Wall was built; weights and measures standardized.
Han Dynasty
206 BC - AD 220
Buddhism is introduced; paper invented; currency standardized
Three Kingdoms
AD 220-265
Tea drinking is reported in Southern China
Jin (Tsin) Dynasty
AD 265-420
Luoyang's temples, palaces and library burned down by invader
Northern Dynasties
AD 386-581
Construction of grottoes
Sui Dynasty
AD 581-618
Printing invented; Grand Canal construction project begins
Tang (Tang) Dynasty
AD 618-907
Gunpowder invented; civil service examination resumed
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
AD 907-960
Money economy encourages expansion of trade in China
Song (Sung) Dynasty
AD 960-1280
Moveable-type printing; paper currency in circulation
Yuan Dynasty
AD 1279-1368
Marco Polo in China in service of Kublai Khan; first world atlas
Ming Dynasty
AD 1368- 1644
Beijing's Imperial Palace built; Great Wall restored
Qing (Ch'ing or Manchu) Dynasty
AD 1644-1911
Rebellions, Opium Wars., decline of the monarchy; Dragon Lady Empress Dowager Cixi


The teacher, Kong Fu Zi "master Kong" was from Lu, in Shandong Province. He was born Kong Qiu in 551 BC. His teachings have had a major influence on Chinese culture for 2000 years, and determined all areas of social behavior. The 6th century BC was the period of "blossoming of the human spirit" At this same time Buddha was teaching in India and Socrates in Greece. China was not a unified country, and the various states constantly struggled for supremacy. Kong Qiu was a traveling teacher, who tried to influence the fate of the country through his pupils and through his contact, as an advisor to rulers. His ideal was that a virtuous ruler should be an example to his people and lead them to high moral standards. Otherwise he would fall. Natural catastrophes and bad harvests were signs that the ruler was not good "If the ruler is upright, the people will imitate him as grass bends before the wind."

The cornerstone of Confucian thought was the recognition of hierarchy; in family relationships, in loyalty to the ruling house, in relationships between all human beings. This was the focal point of his philosophy, not a god or higher power Man receives his "nature" from Heaven and God, he must act in accordance. Heaven and God to Confucius were synonymous, a Supreme Being or state. The ideals of a true gentleman were loyalty, faithfulness, wisdom, rightness and self-cultivation. The two virtues: "Li," proper conduct and "Ren", benevolent love or consideration of others. A gentleman must strive to be truly good. Nobility would not be determined by birth, but by attitude of mind and resulting actions. Nobility of mind and a hierarchical order of ruler and subject; ancestor and descendant; father and son; man and woman; old and young; teacher and student, was the basis for right action.

Confucius was a traditionalist. He tried to establish the customs and rites of the Zhou Dynasty. But also he was ahead of his times in that he practiced rationalism and enlightenment rather than mysticism. His teachings were not popular during his lifetime, but during the Han Dynasty they became state doctrine because they offered a problem-free system of administration and strengthened the power structure. Confucianism became bound to the imperial system, and formed the ethical base of Chinese society.

In 1687, the teachings of Confucius were published in Latin in Paris. This brought a China craze to the Age of Enlightenment, which lasted about one century.

Communism was a great opponent of Confucius, because his teachings opposed political change. It also degrades women since first she had to obey her father, then her husband, and then her son.


for info on the Chinese language, click here


for info on Chinese Traditional beliefs, click here

Click here for our Cast of Characters QuYi
our intrepid leader, Qu Yi
group photo at Tien An Men Square: Duane Purkey, Leonard Glowacki, Ed Jester, Willa Brown, Ann Craig, Sally Dow, Eugene Craig, Annette Friedner, Arthur Luehrmann, Sandy Kozma,
Nancy Ohlinger, Peggy Whigham, Charlie Ohlinger, Martha Luehrmann, Diane Grashoff, Tim Carlenius, Venice Carlenius, and Estelle Scott. Missing are Gene Coupe, Nancy Pollen, and Hazle Jay.
In front is our local Beijing guide, Jeung Feng Li, and our main guide, Qu Yi
click here for photos from the Science Education Delegation to China, June 23 to July 15, 1979

In 1979 a group of science educators from the USA was invited to visit Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an in exchange for a similar group of science educators from China.
Arthur Luehrmann was part of that group and took most of the pictures.


Jim Rutherford, the co-leader of the group, is in checked shirt, mustache, towards rear. Just behind him and to the right is Paul Hurd, the other co-leader The chief interpreter (Zhiang?) is the woman on the far right in about the middle row. At her left, in a hat, is Bart Bartholomew. Arthur Luehrmann is the 3rd from the left in the rear row. To his right is the director of the Franklin Institute. The black woman to the left of Arthur (and a bit in front) is Alice _, a teacher at the lab school at the Univ. of Chicago. To the right of Arthur, and in the next row in front, is Mary Budd Rowe, science education researcher at the University of Florida

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