H omeschooling is
illegal in China.
However, it is
By Terri Johnson
guo means “kin gdom,” u nheard of.
and it is by this na me that China "© Christopher Blackman | Dreamstime.com"
has been called s in ce the sixth century
Leaving behind the
of Canada, we now
spin our globe and
alight in the country of
China, an ancient land
of sagacious wisdom an d steadfast tradition. China is an extraordinary nation with
some impressive numbers. It is one of the
oldest civilizations on earth, with a history
dating back more than 6,000 years. One of
the largest countries in the world, China
ranks third in geographical area after
Russia and Canada, and first in population
size. In fact, one out of every five people
living in the world today resides in China—
that’s a total of 1. 25 billion residents.
On account of its size and central location in Asia, China has had a tremendous
sphere of influence on her neighboring
countries and on the world at large. Its rich
culture and technological achievements
have been very significant in East Asia. To
varying degrees, Japan, Korea, and
Vietnam have adopted China’s customs,
religion, and writing systems. And no
matter where in the world you live, “Made
in China” is a familiar phrase that most of
us see imprinted on products that we use in
our homes and places of business. Yes,
China has had a profound effect on our
world as we know it today.
The people who live in China do not
call their nation by the name that we use.
Zhōngguo is its proper name in Chinese.
The character zhōng means “central” and
B.C., around the time of the Zhou Dynasty.
The people of this time period literally l ordship that settled along the Huang He
believed that the y were the “center of civi- R iver (aka Yellow R iver) in eastern China
lization.” The English word C hina i s a round 1700 B. C . Following the Shang,
thought to be der ived from the name of the c ame the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Xin
Qin Dynasty, which ruled during the second Dynasties, which comprised the Ancient
century B.C., as the pronunciation of Qin is and Imperial Kingdoms of China. Then
similar to the phonetic sound “cheen.” ruled the families of the later Han, the Song,
Ancient China was one of the earliest Tang, Yuan, Ming, and Qing, which brings
centers of human society, and so it is no us up to the year 1912, when the modern
wonder that they considered themselves Republic of China was born. This republic
the “center of civilization.” The Chinese lasted only four years and then fragmented
people are among the few cultures that whenregionalwarlordsexertedtheircontrol
developed a writing system independently over their respective territories.
of other cultures, the others being the Following World War II and the Chinese
Sumerians, the people of the Indus Valley, Civil War of 1947, China emerged as a
the Ancient Egyptians, the Minoans, and socialist state headed by a “democratic
the Mayans. dictatorship.” The people of mainland
Through careful study of the written China endured a series of socioeconomic
records that have been preserved, along movements during the 1950s and 1960s
with artifacts that have been uncovered by (namely The Great Leap Forward and the
archaeologists, we can get a glimpse into Cultural Revolution), which left much of
ancient Chinese history, which began thou- its education system and economy in
sands of years before the time of Christ. shambles, as well as millions of its citizens
The history of China has been broken dead. With the death of first-generation
down into “dynasties,” which simply refers Communist Party leaders, such as Mao
to kingdoms or succession of rulers from Zedong, the People’s Republic of China
within the same family, of which there (PRC) implemented a new series of
were approximately fourteen. reforms that eventually led to its rapid
Chinese tradition names the first dynasty economic development in the final decade
“Xia,” and although there is some archaeo- of the twentieth century.
logical evidence of its existence, it is impos- Although reforms on the mainland have
sible to verify because of a lack of written led to some relaxation of control over many
records from this early time period. The areas of society, the government of the PRC
second dynasty, the Shang, was a feudal still has almost absolute power over politics
and continually seeks to eradicate perceived
threats to its social, economic, and political
well-being. Examples include the regulation
of religion and the press, random jailing of
political opponents and journalists, and
suppression of protests.
One out of every five people living
in the world today resides in China—
that’s a total of 1. 25 billion residents.