Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

Get access Subject: Asian Studies
Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese

Brill’s Encyclopedia of China Online is based on the originally a thousand-page reference work on China with a clear focus on the modern period from the mid-nineteenth century to the 21st century. Written by the world’s top scholars, Brill’s Encyclopedia of China is the first place to look for reliable information on the history, geography, society, economy, politics, science, and culture of China.

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Comic Books

(673 words)

Author(s): Seifert, Andreas
Comics have a long and varied tradition in China. Today, however, variations in form and chronology as well as in regional specialties make it difficult to find a suitable definition for comic books in China. The term lianhuanhua (lit.: "chain pictures") can be regarded as the established name for comics in the PRC; it is to be distinguished from the term manhua used for caricature. In Taiwan and Hong Kong, however, the term manhua primarily refers to comics. In the Chinese world, comic books are mainly read by children, yet classical lianhuanhua are mostly read by adult enthusiasts i…


(1,101 words)

Author(s): Felber, Roland
The Comintern (CI), founded in Moscow in March 1919, conceived itself as the party of the world revolution. Its task was the "organization of revolutionary mass movements against capitalism" (Stalin, 1925). The parties associated with the Comintern were subject to Moscow's directives, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was officially associated with the CI since 1922. From the beginning of the 1920s through the 1940s, the Comintern had a direct influence on the Communist movement in China. Th…

Computer Science

(265 words)

Author(s): Winkler, Roland
Computer science (the study of the systematic and automatic processing and transmission of information) is a very new area of knowledge. Since the 1950s it has been evolving from a variety of sub-disciplines which themselves belong to other disciplines (mathematics, logic, electrical engineering, and electronics), to which computer science was originally subordinated. Starting from the USA, this evolution has spread throughout the world in a similar way and at roughly the same time. In 1955 faculties of electrical engineering introduced "computers" ( jisuanji) as a course of …

Concessions and Settlements

(2,212 words)

Author(s): Osterhammel, Jürgen
1. Overview Territory controlled by foreign powers in China took various forms. A Treaty Port was not considered an urban colony until it possessed closed foreign residential areas in which the local population came into contact with foreign rulers. In contrast to the leased territories, they were small inner-city districts. In 1935, the International Settlement in Shanghai reached its largest expanse of 22 km²; the British leased territory of Weihaiwei, on the other hand, encompassed 735 km². Con…


(4,330 words)

Author(s): Roetz, Heiner
1. Concept and General Characteristics Confucianism is one of several philosophical and political currents, still important in modern China, that first developed in response to a profound political and social crisis in Chinese society during the middle of the 1st millennium BCE in the period designated the "Axial Age" by Karl Jaspers. "Confucianism," however, is a modern, Western expression without a precise Chinese equivalent. The linguistically closest Chinese expression is Kongjiao ("Confucius doctrine"), formed analogously to Fojiao ("Buddha doctrine") and Daojiao ("Dao…


(968 words)

Author(s): Heuser, Robert
All prerequisites for constitutionalism in its historical, European sense, as the limitation of the state through the separation of powers and the guarantee of human rights, were absent in early 20th-century China. Two constitutional drafts materialized at the central level during the last two years of the Qing dynasty that followed the model of the Japanese (Meiji) constitution. While the 1908 Principles of Constitution ( xianfa da gang) was little more than a system of norms as safeguards against pre-constitutional, absolute imperial power, the 1911 Nineteen Articles ( shijiu xin…

Constitutional Law

(3,374 words)

Author(s): Heuser, Robert
1. Historical Development The idea that China should also have a law to regulate the establishment and functioning of government bodies as well as the position of citizens was first voiced by politicians and publicists during the reform efforts of the late Qing period (i.e. during the first decade of the 20th century). Empress Dowager Cixi, who was ruling instead of the Guangxu Emperor, pretended to have the intention of establishing a constitutional regime in order to prevent the fall of the dynas…

Construction Industry

(745 words)

Author(s): Ziouziou, Sammy
The construction market in the PRC has established itself as the second-largest construction market in the world after the US market with a production value of approximately €361 billion in 2005. The demand for construction services varies strongly depending on the type of service. The most important branches of the Chinese construction market focus on the areas of housing construction, construction of transportation infrastructure (dock and airport construction, street, highway, and rail constr…


(1,321 words)

Author(s): Johanson, Perry
It has been proposed that, since the early 1980s, China has undergone a "consumer revolution". Looking at the statistics, this seems like a fair idea: between 1984 and 1994, the average expenditure per capita increased fourfold. More important than the sheer numbers, however, are the mental changes involved in this "revolution", from the frugal notion of "hard work and simple living" to an increasing hedonism of the contemporary urban consumer culture. In rural pre-modern China, a periodic-marketing system, with traveling merchants, satisfied the needs of a country…


(1,950 words)

Author(s): Heilmann, Sebastian
In imperial China, the control over the bureaucratic apparatus was in the hands of the Censorate. Its control agencies reached down to the county level, which was the lowest level at which central state power was represented. Below the county level, the population was supervised by a sub-bureaucracy of the county administration and by self-administrative agencies (local government). This pattern has changed in the People's Republic, due to the fact that all areas of the state, the economy, and o…


(1,634 words)

Author(s): Hana, Corinna
1. Republican Period (1912-1949) China's first consumer cooperative was founded at Beijing University in 1918. However, the idea of cooperatives was already familiar to Chinese intellectuals through their contact with the West since the early twentieth century. Xue Xianzhou (1871-1927), for example, had lived in Germany between 1905 and 1911 and had been deeply impressed by the development of German cooperatives. He saw in cooperatives a means to solve the economic and social problems of the common …


(1,521 words)

Author(s): Heberer, Thomas
The Chinese term for corruption, fubai, primarily refers to the negative aspects of a system, organization, structure, or policy. When used with respect to a person or government, fubai signifies (moral) decay. The term is therefore essentially a moral one and refers to anything that is not congruent with the dominant moral conceptions. This can include criminal delinquencies of party and state functionaries, but also political and ideological errors, and transgressions against party norms or the currently dominant party l…


(2,573 words)

Author(s): Defoort, Carine
1. "Cosmology," a Western Term The need to feel somewhat at home in nature and the construction of ordered world-views seem to be shared by most, if not all, human cultures. It is therefore appropriate and possibly instructive to ask about the importance and characteristics of Chinese cosmologies. But at the same time, this very question is itself problematic, since it implies approaching Chinese culture with a Western term that is alien to it. This makes it important for us to become aware at the ou…


(1,128 words)

Author(s): Zorn, Bettina
For centuries, some branches of Chinese crafts ( gongyi meishu) had a great influence on European crafts. All traditions of crafts had in common that they were labor-intensive, required a high degree of technical mastery, and that their products were specifically intended for the Chinese imperial court and the literati. Painting and calligraphy were both highly regarded art forms in Chinese culture, but porcelain, enamel, sculptures, and carvings made of jade, ivory, or other materials, also played an im…


(1,837 words)

Author(s): Dutton, Michael
Crime has been one of the biggest "growth industries" of the economic reform period. It has not only increased in the reform era but the underlying motivations spurring it on, together with changing criminal methods, changing demographics, and changes in the age of criminals have complicated the picture enormously since the Mao years. This, in turn, has shown the state's "mass-line" preventative policing techniques and "reform through labor" (laogai) rehabilitative methods to be inadequate to the tasks of crime prevention and criminal transformation. A police fo…

Criminal Law

(3,463 words)

Author(s): Richter, Thomas | Jianhong, Fan
1. Historical Development The development of Chinese law has been shaped by the conflict between two schools of thought. The school subsequently named after its main representative Confucius saw "virtuousness" ( li) derived from eternal natural laws as the recipe for a harmonious coexistence of the people (Confucianism). The ruler was supposed to govern by setting an example with his own moral behavior; state laws would no longer be necessary. Only for those members of society who did not submit to the rites, laws seemed nece…

Cultural Exchange with Germany

(1,186 words)

Author(s): Harnisch, Thomas
Cultural exchange between China and other countries in the sense of an exchange between equal partners has a short history. Cultural contacts between China and its neighboring countries have played an important role for China, but countries that were further away did not become important until the arrival of Christian missionaries (Christianity). In this regard, China's interest in the culture of foreign countries was low, whereas information on Chinese culture was received with great interest in Europe (China, images of). Owing to the military intrusions of Western powers …

Cultural Revolution

(3,866 words)

Author(s): Schoenhals, Michael
Mao Zedong, who launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966, never produced an extended systematic and credible explanation of what this political super-movement was meant to achieve. All he left behind were scattered and often conflicting remarks indicating a general sense of purpose. The Cultural Revolution was to prevent the emergence, in China, of what he called Soviet-style revisionism; it was to ensure that China remained forever "red"; it was to empower the "people", and purge the governmen…

Currency System

(2,358 words)

Author(s): Taube, Markus
In contrast to the monetary system, the currency system is here defined as the totality of all the institutional arrangements which serve to shape the monetary relationships to foreign currency areas, and to determine the value of a currency. The most important elements are the exchange-rate system and the complex of currency convertibility, as well as participation in supranational regulatory systems such as the gold or silver standard, or the Bretton-Woods system. In China, right up to the recent past, the stability of the real exchange ratio between goods produce…