Many of these attempts to apply an historical lens engage in gross simplifications and misreadings of the relevance and meaning of hundreds of years of Chinese thought and behavior. China is often viewed, incorrectly, as if it existed as a monolithic whole over centuries, possessed the same political and security outlook at each stage of its development, and behaved as a modern nation state does today. In particular, some observers blithely assert that China always sought to dominate its world in hard power terms, often succeeded in doing so, and will naturally seek such a position of dominance in the future. The reality is much more complex and nuanced.
The Chinese refer to their country as the Middle Kingdom, an indication of how central they have felt themselves to be throughout history.
There are cultural and linguistic variations in different regions, but for such a large country the culture is relatively uniform. However, fifty-five minority groups inhabit the more remote regions of the country and have their own unique cultures, languages, and customs.
It borders thirteen countries, including Russia and Mongolia to the north, India to the southwest, and Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam to the south. The climate is extremely diverse, ranging from tropical in the south to subarctic in the north.
In the west, the land consists mostly of mountains, high plateaus, and desert. The eastern regions are characterized by plains, deltas, and hills.
The highest point is Mount Everest, on the border between Tibet and Nepal, the tallest mountain in the world.
The Yangtze, the longest river in the country, forms the official dividing line between north and south China. Inner China and Outer China. Historically, the two have been very separate. The Great Wall, which was built in the fifteenth century to protect the country against military invasions, marks the division.
While the areas of the two regions are roughly equal, 95 percent of the population lives in Inner China. The country is home to several endangered species, including the giant panda, the golden monkey, several species of tiger, the Yangtze alligator, and the red-crowned crane.
While outside organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund have made efforts to save these animals, their preservation is not a top priority for the government. Sichuan, in the central region, is the most densely populated province. Many of the minority groups live in Outer China, although the distribution has changed slightly over the years.
The government has supported Han migration to minority territories in an effort to spread the population more evenly across the country and to control the minority groups in those areas, which sometimes are perceived as a threat to national stability.
Mandarin Chinese is the official language. It is also called Putonghua and is based on the Beijing dialect. Modern spoken Chinese, which replaced the classical language in the s, is called bai hua. The writing system has not changed for thousands of years and is the same for all the dialects.
It is complex and difficult to learn China and consists of almost sixty thousand characters, although only about five thousand are used in everyday life. Unlike other modern languages, which use phonetic alphabets, Chinese is written in pictographs and ideographs, symbols that represent concepts rather than sounds.
The communist government, in an attempt to increase literacy, developed a simplified writing system. There is also a system, called pinyin, of writing Chinese words in Roman characters. Chinese is a tonal language: Many of the dialects are so different that they are mutually unintelligible.
Some minority groups have their own languages.INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS. At the request of the Government of British Guiana, the International Commission of Jurists appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and make recommendations in regard to certain problems concerning racial balance in the public services of British Guiana.
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