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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(2,320 words)

Author(s): Leutner, Mechthild
1. Women in Ancient China Early sources point to the existence of a society based on matriarchal law in archaic, pre-Confucian China, within which women possessed a high social status due to matrilineal succession and matrilocal families. This appreciation still persists today and is reflected in the myth of Nügua, the goddess that saved the world, as well as in the cultic worship of the queen mother of the west, of Guanyin, or of Mazu. The female principle (yin) and the male principle (yang) have been understood as complimentary and hence as equally important in philosophical…

Women's Literature

(2,181 words)

Author(s): Larson, Wendy
Women writers, or more specifically women who wrote, in imperial times were often either members of elite gentry households or courtesans connected with men in these households, although some writing by nuns and an occasional female official exists. There are records of poetry collections and some collections of prose writing or letters penned by women, and work started by a man but finished by his wife at his death, but rarely was a woman's work published by a commercial press. Rather, women's …


(1,856 words)

Author(s): Roux, Alain
Factory workers became a new social force only with the start of the 20th century. Their appearance on the historical stage dates back to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and granted industrial nations the right to build-up enterprises in China. 1. The First Generation of Workers In 1894 there were already about 100,000 workers in China. But these mechanics, smiths, metalworkers, carpenters, and stokers supplying the steam-boilers in arsenals and dockyards in Hong Kong, Hanyang (Wuhan), and Shanghai were a s…

World War I

(453 words)

Author(s): Samarani, Guido
Mounting international pressure and a bitter struggle for power between rival political-military factions after the death of Yuan Shikai (1916) led China to side with the Allies and declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary on August 14, 1917. Great Britain had from the very first made efforts to get China to join the Allies, even facing hostility from Japan, wary lest China acquire international autonomy. Events, however, changed swiftly throughout 1917: America declared war on the Central Powers, and Wilson himself applied press…

World War II

(949 words)

Author(s): Samarani, Guido
According to the vast majority of historians, the Second World War started on September 1, 1939, i.e. the day of the German invasion of Poland. This belittles the relevance of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45, which is then often viewed as a regional event. No central role is accorded to Asia until Pearl Harbor and the start of the Pacific War. 1939 was no doubt a significant year. Despite the Treaty of Munich (September 1938), British "appeasement policy" proved ineffective with regard to Germa…

Writing System (Script)

(2,959 words)

Author(s): Alleton, Viviane
1. Significant Characteristics of the Chinese Script Every script necessarily stands in a relationship with at least one spoken language and the Chinese script is no exception to this rule. The graphic element, the character, corresponds to one syllable, which carries a meaning, i.e. as a word or a part of a word. This is in contrast to those alphabets in which the graphical unit, the letter, corresponds to a phoneme which does not yet carry a meaning. The point of departure is not the same, but the pr…


(401 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Doris
The capital of Hubei province is situated where the Han River flows into the middle reaches of the Yangzi . With 7.32 million inhabitants in 1998 (2006: 8.19 million) on 8467 km², the 13 counties have a population density of 864 inhabitants per km²; within the actual metropolitan area, the density lies at approximately 2700 inhabitants per km². Considering its non-agrarian population of 4.28 million inhabitants, Wuhan is the fifth-largest city of China. It is China's most important inland port.…