Sunday, March 29, 2015

Contents of this blog

[This blog was established on Sun, May 25, 2008, and last edited/updated on Aug. 23, 2016]
So far this weblog contains 19 posts under the following headlines:
Politicians in the Republic of China (Book)
The space program of the PRC
The Chinese Lunar Calendar
Nuclear power plants in Greater China
Overwhelming degrees of kinship
Hanyu Pinyin
Elections in Hong Kong at a glance
Greater China's Olympic gold
The 3000 most frequently used Chinese characters
Updates to The Greater China Factbook
Greater China = pro-unification? (Essay)
Chinese tongue twisters
Mine disasters and plane crashes in Greater China
ROC elections and referendums
Index of Chinese cities
The Greater China Factbook
Currencies in Greater China
Who's who in Greater China's politics
Earthquakes in Greater China
Files posted in this blog that were recently created, edited, or upgraded: 
2016, Aug. 23Greater China's Olympic gold
2016, Aug. 9Monthly and annual currency exchange rates, stock market indices
2016, Aug. 8—Overview over Japanese characters
2016, Aug. 8—Guide to the 214 Radicals
2016, July 7—Who's Who in ROC politics (Taiwan)
2016, May 30Inaugural addresses by ROC presidents since 1996
2016, April 21Errata in "Politicians in the Republic of China"
2016, April 11The "1992 Consensus" myth  
2016, March 1—Members of the ROC Legislative Yuan since 1993 
2016, Feb. 19Earthquakes in Greater China 
2016, Jan. 22—Democratic elections in the ROC 
2015, Dec. 6—Chronology of events in Greater China 1911-2014  
2015, Nov. 26Elections in Hong Kong at a Glance
2015, Nov. 23—Major accidents in the Greater China area since the 20th century  
2015, Nov. 4—The PRC's space program  
2015, July 15—Selected important texts and documents 
2015, May 24—City mayors and county magistrates in the ROC since 1989
The information presented on this blog comprises data files saved in PDF format and complements the contents of my books. Unless otherwise indicated, these PDF files have the format A4.
All my PDF files, including files not formally introduced on this blog like my M.A. thesis and related images, can be found on Google Drive and on my page at
If a file you want to look at is not properly displayed on your screen or cannot be downloaded, please feel free to contact me by e-mail so that I can send you the requested PDF file(s) as e-mail attachment. I will be glad to help, and I can also send you all future updates of such files.

Politicians in the Republic of China (Book)

The first edition of “Politicians in the Republic of China. Register and explanations” (ISBN: 978-957-43-0827-9) was published in September 2013 (274 pages), the second edition in July 2014 (338 pages). It is mostly a combination of four files that are posted on this blog:
Democratic elections in the ROC
Besides, it contains additional contents which cannot be found online, including the following:
• Information about the diplomatic relations of the ROC since 1971 (i. e. lists of the diplomatic allies in the years of 1970 and 2014; chronology of won and lost diplomatic allies since 1970 featuring the exact date), including lists of noteworthy diplomats.
• Details about the First Legislative Yuan, especially concerning elections/by-elections 1948–1989.
• A list showing all regular members of the ROC National Assembly 1992–2005.
• A list showing all Grand Justices since 1948.
• A list providing information about non-binding local referendums held between 1990 and the promulgation of the ROC Referendum Act in November 2003, plus an additional list about the results of four non-binding local referendums concerning the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant held between 1994 and 1998.
More information about the book can be found here.
This file here lists errata and misprints in the first and the second edition. Please note that during the upload process of the most recent file some kind of error occurred on the Google Drive website. As a result, clicking on the link may only show a bunch of random ASCII symbols. To view the file, try downloading it to your hard drive and open it in your PDF display program, e. g. Adobe Acrobat Reader. [3 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, April 21, 2016]
Reviews and sale
Reader comments and book reviews:
“The book is downright useful, and the effort which was put into it is very commendable. It is a helpful compendium which is certainly unique in this form.”—Prof. Gunter Schubert, director of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) in Tübingen (Germany)
Click on this link for a book review on Chinet written by Alex Calvo, guest professor at Nagoya University (Japan)
Book review by Günter Schucher in the magazine Asien (Vol. 132, July 2014, p. 141)German original / English translation  
Where to buy:
The book is on sale for US$38 (international shipping included) on eBay.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The space program of the PRC

The manned space missions of the PRC and their successful dockings in orbit have made international headlines. Less known to the public is the PRC’s satellite program, dozens of various types of satellites have been launched from the PRC’s three satellite launch centers over the past few decades. This file here provides a brief summary of those ambitious activities. [14 pages; file last edited/updated on Wed, Nov. 4, 2015]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Chinese Lunar Calendar

Every year colourful New Year celebrations of the Chinese lunar calendar are reported in the media around the globe. This file here provides a complete conversion table of the solar calendar to the lunar calendar between 1900 and 2100, including tables which help the user understand the patterns in the Chinese Lunar calendar. [218 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, Jan. 27, 2014]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nuclear power plants in Greater China

China and Taiwan both employ nuclear technology to generate electricity. Especially Communist China is showing a clear tendency to aggressively expand its nuclear power generating capacities. This file here lists the nuclear power plants which have already been completed as well as those under construction in China and Taiwan. [7 pages; file last edited/updated on Fri, May 17, 2013]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Overwhelming degrees of kinship

The combination of strong family ties with a distinct sense of social hierarchy in China resulted in a myriad of different words for relatives in Mandarin Chinese. Trying to overcome the confusion of the countless various titles for aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces poses a major challenge for people from the west. This file here lists degrees of kinship (English—Chinese, Chinese—English) in alphabetical order. [9 pages; file last edited/updated on Sun, Nov. 9, 2008]

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hanyu Pinyin

Most countries in the world have adopted Hanyu Pinyin as standard Romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. Before Hanyu Pinyin became the most common Romanization system, Wade Giles was widely used, and systems like Mandarin Phonetic Symbols (MPS) and Tongyong Pinyin exist in Taiwan. The variety of existing Romanization systems often causes confusion. This file here shows conversion tables comparing Hanyu Pinyin with Wade Giles, MPS and Tongyong Pinyin. [23 pages; file last edited/updated on Tue, Nov. 23, 2010]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Elections in Hong Kong at a glance

Hong Kong, which became a British colony after the Opium Wars in the 19th century, was given back to China in 1997 and has been under the control of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) ever since. Under the framework "one country, two systems", the authoritarian Communist regime in Beijing has so far allowed democratic elections in Hong Kong to a certain degree: parts of the Legislative Council (LegCo) and the District Councils are directly elected by registered voters. However, Hong Kong's Chief Executive is still handpicked by a committee which is largely loyal to Beijing.
This file here lists the results, material and information about the Legislative Council elections (1998, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012), District Council elections (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011) and Chief Executive elections (2002, 2005, 2007, 2012). [14 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, Nov. 26, 2015]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Greater China's Olympic gold

During the 29th Olympic Summer Games which took place Aug. 8-24, 2008 in the PRC's capital Beijing, the host nation by far collected the most gold medals of all participating countries, four years later in London the medal count of the PRC was second only to the US. This file here lists all Olympic gold medals ever won by athletes from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, along with interesting information and statistics. [22 pages; file last edited/updated on Tue, Aug. 23, 2016]

Monday, July 21, 2008

The 3000 most frequently used Chinese characters

Many people shy away from learning Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language because of the Chinese characters. Although there exist more than 47,000 characters, the knowledge of 3000 is regarded sufficient for daily use.
This file here includes these 3000 characters in order of their frequency, depicted in their traditional form and their simplified form, complete with the pronunciation in Hanyu Pinyin. At the end of the file you also find a list of single-character Chinese family names and single-character classifiers (measure words). Very helpful for people who want to learn how to write Chinese, and a useful tool for students whose first language is not Chinese and who want to check the level of their Chinese proficiency! [33 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, Jan. 1, 2015]
Alternative lists of the 3000 most frequently used Chinese characters:
Traditional characters arranged according to the 214 Radicals [29 pages]
Traditional characters with Hanyu Pinyin [16 pages]
Traditional characters only [7 pages] 
Many dictionaries containing traditional Chinese characters use the so-called 214 Radicals as their classification system. This file here provides an introduction to the 214 Radicals, including an overview plus a detailed list with the Chinese pronunciation of each Radical in Hanyu Pinyin and the meaning in English. [5 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, Aug. 8, 2016]
Japan's writing system is based on traditional Chinese characters. This file here gives an overview over Japanese characters (Kanji) and the two sets of syllabary (Hiragana and Katakana). The file also includes a comparative table of 201 Joyo Kanji which were simplified in a manner unique for Japan and therefore are different from traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters as used in the People's Republic of China (PRC). [17 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, Aug. 8, 2016]
This file here shows a complete comparative list of the 1945 Joyo Kanji with the equivalent traditional and simplified Chinese characters for each Kanji. [21 pages; file last edited/updated on Fri, June 18, 2011]

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Updates to The Greater China Factbook

After a reference book is published, it is unavoidable that at least part of the information it contains is outdated before long. "The Greater China Factbook" is no exception. For example, less than a year after publication, there was a transition of power with a new president and a new government in Taiwan.
Even after the book went to press, I have been collecting information and material, and I kept track of events in the Greater China area. Many of the files posted in this blog are supposed to provide updated data and information for the users of my book, e. g. the lists of politicians in the PRC and the ROC (see Who's who in China's politics, post published in May 2008).
This file here is an extended version of the "Chronology of Greater China 1911-2006" in the Greater China Factbook (p. 295-389) and now covers events in China and Taiwan from 1911 until the end of 2014. [186 pages; file last edited/updated on Sun, Dec. 6, 2015]
This file here is a revised and extended version of "The History of China: A Summary" in the Greater China Factbook (p. 208-294) with improved layout. [81 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, Feb. 26, 2015]
This file here is a revised, extended and updated version of "Excerpts from important documents" in the Greater China Factbook (p. 544-577) and shows more documents, most of them complete and unabridged. [116 pages, file last edited/updated on Thu, April 24, 2014]

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greater China = pro-unification?

The use of the term "Greater China" is often mistakenly regarded as an equivalent to a pro-China stance, to favouring unification of China and Taiwan. Because the title of my book is "The Greater China Factbook" and the book includes information about Taiwan, I discovered some people believed I am supporting an annexation of Taiwan by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and oppose Taiwan independence. I therefore see the urgent need to clarify my position.
First of all, when I was a student in the 1980s and 1990s, Taiwan studies were naturally regarded an integral part of sinology, there was no shred of doubt about it. This was based on the fact that the majority of the people living in Taiwan today are ethnic Han Chinese, speak Mandarin or the southern Fujian dialect and observe Chinese customs and holidays. Their ancestors may have come to Taiwan many generations ago, some as early as the 17th century, and many of them interbred with Taiwan's indigenous people so that most Taiwanese today have mixed DNA, but yet they raised their offspring as Chinese. Culturally, these descendants are definitely not aborigines but Chinese. At the beginning of the 21st century, less than three percent of Taiwan's population are officially categorized as aborigines (= members of one of the 14 indigenous groups officially recognized by the ROC government), more than 90 percent are ethnic Han Chinese, subdivided into "Taiwanese" (Taiwanren or benshengren [literally "people from this province"], i. e. descendants of early immigrants who arrived in Taiwan centuries ago, including the Hakkas who make up at least 15 percent of Taiwan's total population) and "mainlanders" (waishengren [literally "people from outer provinces"], i. e. Chinese from the mainland who moved to Taiwan after 1945).
So, making Taiwan studies a part of China studies was purely for cultural reasons and had nothing to do with the question unification of China or Taiwan independence. Many sinologists like myself chose to come to Taiwan to learn Mandarin. I maintain that Taiwan today is culturally a part of Greater China. It is, however, not a province of the PRC either, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.
Taiwan has left the time of authoritarian rule and bloody repression under dictator Chiang Kai-shek behind and evolved to a pluralistic democracy. Although Taiwan is a young democracy (martial law was lifted less than a quarter of a century ago in 1987) and its political system still has some way to go before it can be called a mature democracy, but nevertheless the differences to the conditions in the PRC are striking. Taiwan has freedom of speech and religion, there are no political prisoners, the government can be scathingly criticized without fear of persecution, there are more than 100 political parties, the media and the judiciary are free of state intervention, and so on. None of that is the case in the PRC.
Should China and Taiwan politically unite? Under the present circumstances I can only express a strong warning against such a step. An immediate unification with the PRC we know now would require Taiwan to give up its freedoms and surrender to CCP rule. Unification according to the terms of Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" (yiguo liangzhi) as proposed by the PRC would label Taiwan's democracy with an expiration date of fifty years. It would be tantamount to suicide—who could imagine that the CCP would tolerate free elections of Taiwan's leaders, judges who make their decisions according to the law instead of obeying CCP orders, outspoken opposition parties and free media? So far this is still unthinkable.
So what about Taiwan independence? Face it—Taiwan has been de facto independent since 1949. Declaring independence (changing the official name of the state from "Republic of China" to "Republic of Taiwan", that is) would merely be a formalization of the Status Quo, but doing it right now would be outright disastrous since the Communist regime of the PRC has reiterated over and over its threat to attack Taiwan and unite it with the PRC by force if Taiwan's leaders declare formal independence. Such an attack would inevitably lead to Taiwan's destruction, and the US would probably not come to Taiwan's help, since Washington could claim Beijing's attack was not unprovoked. But even in the unlikely case that the PRC did not react violently to a Taiwanese declaration of independence, the PRC would still step up its diplomatic pressure against Taiwan. There would be strong objection by a large part of the international community, fearing that the situation across the Taiwan Strait could get out of control. Taiwan would certainly not gain anything, at least not more diplomatic recognition than it has now. Personally I believe formal independence (i. e. Status Quo plus new name and recognition by the international community, including the PRC) would clearly be best for Taiwan, at least in the long run, but it cannot be realized without Beijing's approval.
What are the options? I believe the best approach would be maintaining the Status Quo—for now. Certainly that is not an ideal solution, but Taiwan has done fairly well in the last decade despite its frequent diplomatic setbacks, isolation in the international arena and exclusion from important international organizations as the UN and the WHO thanks to pressure from Beijing. While keeping the name "Republic of China" seems to be hard to stomach for independence activists who associate the ROC with Chiang Kai-shek's regime, it should be considered that the ROC has changed dramatically and the KMT in the 21st century is not the KMT of Chiang Kai-shek any more. More important than the official name of the state is which kind of freedoms the state can provide and whether its citizens can live the life they want. Not the label matters but what's inside the bottle.
Despite the huge differences of the respective political systems I still favour steps to improve the relations across the Taiwan Strait. The strict anti-China policy of Taiwan's DPP-led government between 2000 and 2008 might be interpreted as an understandable reaction to continuous threats, diplomatic pressure, military buildup by the PRC and more than 1000 missiles pointed on targets on the island, but it yielded no results other than increased tensions and alienation from important partners like the US. If the thorny sovereignty issue is temporarily set aside, the results of resuming direct talks could lead to valuable improvements like the three links, including regular direct cross-strait flights. The enthusiasm caused by direct charter flights during the Chinese New Year holidays in 2005 proves that the people both in Taiwan and China welcome closer ties. The formula "one China, respective interpretations" (yizhong gebiao) offers the chance for positive development of China-Taiwan relations.
While striving for better relations with China, Taiwan still needs to be on its guard. Although the PRC has sort of softened its rhetoric slightly ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and now calls for peaceful unification, and it has shown a bit more openness of the media in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake compared to the information policy during the 2003 SARS crisis, but the PRC's crackdown against separatists in Tibet is a clear sign that the PRC will not hesitate to use force if the CCP leadership believes the "integrity of the motherland" is threatened by "splittists".
Today, it is impossible to predict whether the further development will eventually lead to unification or Taiwan independence. But no matter which one it is going to be, it must be approved by the majority of Taiwan's population through referendum because it is the Taiwanese who will be affected most by a change of the circumstances. Taiwan independence is possible if a majority of Taiwanese wants it and the PRC drops its threat of violence. If China and the international community approve Taiwan independence and the people on the island want it, what would be wrong with it? China and Taiwan could thus develop close and excellent relations and might even form a federation of two sovereign and independent states, which would be a win-win situation. On the other hand, if China opens up, becomes a full-fledged democracy and accepts the values of freedom that have already been adopted in Taiwan, unification could be perfectly possible as well if the Taiwanese people want it and both sides can agree on terms of how the unification is realized. In any case the key for a peaceful solution lies in Beijing, like it or not.
Cross-strait relations have seen some improvement since 2008. This file here shows the complete and unabridged texts of cross-strait agreements signed between SEF and ARATS plus relevant material, the official English translation is followed by the Chinese original. [101 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, March 20, 2014]
On June 29, 2010, an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was signed by SEF and ARATS representatives in Chongqing. The following two files show the English translation provided by the ROC's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the Chinese original provided by the ROC's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), both complete and unabridged. [36 pages/31 pages, files last edited/updated on Thu, Oct. 21, 2010]
Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and its amendments. English translation followed by the Chinese original. [69 pages; file last edited/updated on Fri, Jan. 25, 2013] 
The four constitutions of the People’s Republic of China since 1954 and its amendments. English translation followed by the Chinese original. [76 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, Feb. 7, 2013]
The status of the ROC and the question of sovereignty over Taiwan have been controversial both in Taiwan and overseas, and sovereignty issues are at the center of the dispute concerning the Diaoyutai Islands (called "Senkaku Islands" in Japanese) in the East China Sea as well. Reference to international laws and treaties are often an important part of argumentation. Relevant documents and texts which are often quoted are shown in this file here. [122 pages, files last edited/updated on Wed, July 15, 2015]
Although the so-called "1992 Consensus" is known to be an invention of a high-ranking ROC politician, the term still appears in discussions about cross-strait issues. This file here contains material about that term. [12 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, April 11, 2016]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chinese tongue twisters

Thought you mastered the Chinese language already? Well, then try this! These tongue twisters are difficult even for native speakers. This file here [2 pages] provides the pronunciation and characters only, who cares what they actually mean…

Mine disasters and plane crashes in Greater China

China's mines are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, and aviation accidents make headlines occasionally as well. This file here lists major mine disasters and plane crashes in China and Taiwan since the 20th century. [9 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, Nov. 23, 2014]

ROC elections and referendums

After martial law was lifted in 1987 and constitutional reforms were subsequently implemented, elections in the ROC (Taiwan) could be regarded as free and democratic. This file here provides details about ROC elections on the central level—the names, birth years and party affiliations of all the presidential candidates and their running mates at the ROC direct presidential elections since 1996 plus election results (eligible voters, voter turnout, total votes cast, number of valid and invalid votes); results of ROC parliamentary elections on the central level (Legislative Yuan, National Assembly) since 1991 and the Taiwan provincial elections of 1989 and 1994; elections for the mayors of Taiwan's special municipalities since 1994, as well as details about the six referendums in the ROC since 2004 (submitted questions, figures about the results). [26 pages; file last edited/updated on Fri, Jan. 22, 2016]
The inaugural speech of a new ROC president is usually regarded as a major political statement about the concepts and plans the incoming head of state wishes to implement during his term. This file here shows the full text of four inaugural addresses delivered by ROC presidents: Lee Teng-hui (1996), Chen Shui-bian (2000, 2004), and Ma Ying-jeou (2008, 2012). The official English translation is followed by the Chinese original, all complete and unabridged. [44 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, May 30, 2016]

Index of Chinese cities

An alphabetical list of ca. 700 cities in China and Taiwan [8 pages; file last edited/updated on Mon, June 30, 2008].
Details and information about the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. [4 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, July 14, 2013]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Greater China Factbook

The Greater China Factbook is an English-language reference book which contains all the basic information about China and Taiwan, not too detailed but still comprehensive, concise and resourceful, with information about the Chinese provinces, about China's long history and so on, with all the personal and geographical names in Chinese characters. The whole book was checked by an excellent professional editor for mistakes in English grammar and style.
The book has 668 pages and comprises four parts: 1. China today [84 pages, with subchapters about population, geography, climate, government and politics, and the economy]; 2. The Chinese provinces [92 pages, including a detailed gazetteer]; 3. China’s history [272 pages, describing the history from the beginnings to the end of imperial China, plus a chronology from 1911 to 2006]; 4. Appendix [194 pages, providing information on a myriad of subtopics like the Chinese zodiac and lunar calendar, weights and measures, Chinese family names, degrees of kinship as well as excerpts from important documents]. Besides, it offers a comprehensive pronunciation guide to modern Chinese with conversion tables for the most popular Romanization and transliteration systems, and there are 54 maps.
It has now been more than eight years since the book went to press, and I keep collecting relevant information and data, and this blog is a way to share these new materials with interested users. The lists which I am posting on this blog mostly contain information I collected only after publishing my book. Downloading the lists in the blog and browsing my book would certainly be the most efficient way to get quick information about the basics in Chinese geography, history and so on.
The book was published in August 2007 by the Taiwan Elite Press in Taipei. ISBN-13: 978-986-7762-97-9; ISBN-10: 9867762975. Binding: paperback. Dimensions: 26 x 19 x 2.5 cm. Weight: ca. 1250 g.

The book online
More than two years after the contract with my publisher expired, I decided to put the entire book online for free, in its original form, including all errors and misprints.
Cover, dedication, table of contents, publishing information
Preface, acknowledgements, pronunciation guide to modern Chinese (p. 7-25)
Part 1—China Today (p. 26-109)
Part 2—The Chinese Provinces (p. 110-201)
Part 3—China’s History (p. 202-473)
Part 4—Appendix (p. 474-668)
Errata and misprints [3 pages; file last edited/updated on Thu, May 15, 2014]
For more information on The Greater China Factbook, please refer to Brian Asmus's article in the China Post (Nov. 3, 2007) and the book review from the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg, Germany (English translation; 2 pages / German original; 2 pages).
Another book review can be found in The China Quarterly, Vol. 198, June 2009, p. 474-475, written by Dr Lars Laamann, lecturer in the history of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. The China Quarterly is the leading scholarly journal in its field, covering all aspects of contemporary China including Taiwan. Unfortunately, I cannot publish the contents of Dr Laamann's book review on my blog for copyright reasons, but it can be purchased and downloaded from the CQY website.
Click here to go to the website of The China Quarterly. Click here for the table of contents of Vol. 198, June 2009.
Where to buy
Currently, the book is available in major Taiwanese bookstores like Eslite and Page One, and it can be ordered online via It can also be ordered in the US on Amazon. If unavailable in bookstores, on or Amazon, write me an email, I can still get copies.