Explaining China, Part I: The Scope of This Series, Which Includes the PRC, the ROC, the Han, and Greater China

China and environs

I’m bringing a new topic to my blog. I’m going to attempt to explain things about China, the largest nation in which the Han (that’s the way to write, in English, the Chinese name for the Chinese people, as an ethnic group) form the majority, as well as the largest nation on Earth, by population. The map above comes from this website. If you’re wondering why, in the map above, Taiwan is the same color as the People’s Republic of China, this series of blog-posts is definitely for you. In a future post, I will deal with the historical reasons for the China/Taiwan puzzle, and the current state of that interesting situation. (“May you live in interesting times” is not a nice thing to say directly to any of the Han, by the way, no matter where they live. It is considered by many people to be part of an ancient Chinese curse, although the veracity of this claim is disputed — a topic for another post, later in this series.)

If you find China, Taiwan, puzzles in general, mysteries which are not fictional, history, current events, and/or the Han to be interesting topics, then this irregularly-published series of blog-posts is for you. If you aren’t interested in any of those topics, my assumption is that you wouldn’t have read this far, anyway. To those who miss the other topics about which I blog, don’t worry: posts in this series will not be the only topic I blog about, by any means, for the fact that I am interested in many things, and blog on many topics, is not going to change.

The People’s Republic of China is also known as mainland China, Red China, the PRC, Communist China, or simply “China.” The government of the PRC is often referred to simply as “Beijing,” the city which is the capital of the PRC. Taiwan, by contrast, is officially known as the Republic of China, or the ROC, or even, by some people, “Taiwan, China” (a term I tend not to use). The ROC’s government can be referred to as “Taipei,” the ROC’s capital, to distinguish it from the government in Beijing. My preferred way to refer to the nation-state which is actually under the control of the Beijing government is to call it the PRC, and I use ROC, often, to refer to the nation-state actually under the control of the Taipei government, which most people call Taiwan, a term I also use. When I only write “China,” I mean the PRC. I also use the term “Greater China,” which is explained below.

The Han are in the majority in both the PRC and the ROC, and these two regions are collectively known as “Greater China,” which sounds like, and in some ways actually is, one nation with two governments, since both governments claim to be the only legitimate government of the nation which is all of Greater China (and, yes, that is confusing, along with “China Proper” on the map above). All of these topics: the nations, governments, regions, and people, are mysteries for most people on Earth — and topics for future posts in this series.

I am not of the Han. I do not speak, read, nor write any variety of the Chinese language. Also, I have yet to visit any part of Greater China. By contrast, I am known as a teacher of both science and mathematics, as someone who does “math problems for fun” (as my blog’s heading-cartoon, which I did not write, puts it), as well as a blogger on many topics that have previously had little to do with China, until this post, from yesterday, which analyzed current events worldwide, starting with recent developments in China. I do not want anyone to think I just started studying China yesterday, for that would not be correct. I do feel that I owe anyone who has read this far an explanation for exactly one thing: why should anyone care what I have to say on these subjects? I will explain that in Part II of this ongoing series . . . and tackling the PRC/ROC puzzle will be coming later, as will other topics.

About RobertLovesPi

I go by RobertLovesPi on-line, and am interested in many things. Welcome to my little slice of the Internet. The viewpoints and opinions expressed on this website are my own. They should not be confused with the views of my employer, nor any other organization, nor institution, of any kind.
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6 Responses to Explaining China, Part I: The Scope of This Series, Which Includes the PRC, the ROC, the Han, and Greater China

  1. Patrice Ayme says:

    China is the other great civilizational center. Much of what China uses as civilizational instruments was developed in situ, from writing, to the number system, to much philosophy. However, that philosophy was unbalanced, too much under the influence of Confucius (whose works have been under care from the same family inside the same city for 60 generations or more).

    China developed an examination system which, in theory, enabled the most cognitively qualified to rule. Thus Mandarins and not aristocrats were in command. At least in theory.

    This system, admirable in principle, was flawed in practice, as China got terminally invaded at least twice. The Mongol invasion came close to annihilation, when some of Genghis Khan’s generals proposed to exterminate the Chinese and change the ecology (!)

    The primary civilization center is the Indo-European ensemble (which crucially incorporated Egypt, where a lot of what came to be known as Greek mathematics, was discovered).

    Now we have basically just one civilization, worldwide, so the misadventures of China are highly instructive.

    To understand Europe, the last 500,000 years have proved necessary (Neanderthals started to burn coal, 80,000 years ago). In the case of China, the last 5,000 years are crucial.
    Now, granted all and any explanation can only be incomplete. What is important is to introduce new ideas, and that includes new hierarchy in what is more important, and what is not.

    Right now, China seems severely influenced by the Germany of the Second Reich, and its incredible fast scientific, technological, mercantilist, and economic expansion… At the cost of a more general, more pacific mood. That uncanny comparison is quite a bit spooky. An evidence is the madness about the south of the South China Sea.

    As in Germany, starting 165 years ago, increasing aggressiveness towards foreign powers seems to be the glue which keeps the dictatorship together. It went with the savage surprise attack on the world of August 1914, and then the encore of Nazism. Not a reassuring comparison.

    Thus, I will be waiting with interest for your next installments.


  2. swo8 says:

    I love the subject, Robert. My husband and I went back packing in mainland China in 2004. We do have friends who live there. One lady was a Phd. student of my husbands. It is an amazing culture.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Explaining China, Part III: Basic International Etiquette Involving the Chinese, the Koreans, the Japanese, and Westerners | RobertLovesPi's Blog

  4. Pingback: Explaining China, Part IV: A Response to “War with China” Hysteria | RobertLovesPi's Blog

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