China has one of the oldest histories in the world. Its history can be dated
back to the Xia Dynasty in B.C 21st Century. Its modern time started in 1840,
when western power invaded Chinese territory during the Opium War. China has
changed since then. Followed by the domestic corruption and foreign invading,
many rebellious groups including Dr. Sun Yet-Sen formed to end the monarchical
system that had been in place in China for more than 2,000 years by founding
the provisional government of the Republic of China. Not for long period, the
influence of the October Revolution in Russia, China's May 4th Movement arose.
In the period of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal system, the Marxism-Leninism
idea has won the popularity of the people under the leader Mao, ZeTong in the
1921. Democratic party has forced to retreat to Taiwan and China has ruled by
the communist party since then.
Despite the per capital of income is low, China's GDP has quadrupled since the
economy reform in 1978. China's economy has maintained rapid growth at average
annually 11.7% GDP, while the inflation has steadily declined. It dropped
steadily from over 21 percent in January 1995 to below one percent by September
1997. Foreign trade has contributed 30.5 billion in global trade surplus, along
with large foreign investment inflows also helped push official foreign
exchange reserves to over $134 billion by the end of September 1997. Due to
rapid growth of economy, the unemployment rate has increased over 8% (estimated
actual rate) during past decade. It is unavoidable for the unemployment rate
and income disparity to occur during its early stages of economy grow. The
average per capita of income is in US$750. Deng, Shaoping's economy reforms
have lifted more than 130 million people out of poverty line in 1995.
China is the third largest country in the world after Russia, and Canada. It is
about the same size as U.S. Total area is 9,596,960 sq km bordering the East
China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and
Vietnam. Its border countries including Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma
2,185 km, Hong Kong 30 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea
1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Macau 0.34 km, Mongolia 4,673 km,
Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia
(northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, and Vietnam 1,281 km. Its terrain is
mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in
The climate in China varies throughout the country, mostly is dominated by the
monsoon. It is generally warm and humid in south while east, central, north and
northeast are relatively dry, mostly subtropical in south and subarid in the
north. In the southeastern near the Nanling Mountains, rains are plenty and the
temperature is high all year round. Raining season occurred from June to
September with occasional typhoons. Winter is extremely cold and dry in the
northern part of China while summer can be really hot and humid in south
Temperature varies from region to region, it could be below minus 15 degree C
(5 degree F) in the winder, while over 100 degree F in summer.
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For more than 1.2 billions people (one-fifth of world population) reside in
china, it is most populous area with only 7% arable land in the world. Annual
report 12 million new born add to the population. Followed by the one-child
policy implemented in 1979, the sex disparity has occurred with ratio of 117
boys born comparing to 100 girls, it is way above the international norm of 106
boys for every 100 girls. Chinese age-old preference for boys is being
exacerbated, also by modern technology, which can detect the sex of a child
early in pregnancy. China government has aimed to control the population grow
within 1.4 billion by 2010 and 1.6 billion at the middle of next century. More
than 90% of people in China are descendants of Han, and about 6 to 8% of
population are ethnic groups of 55 minority nationalities (MinZu). Overall,
literacy rate is 84.1% with illiteracy population 116.3 millions estimated in
The Chinese religious belief system has a guardian deity for almost every
aspect of human life. Notably Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, and Matsu Goddess of
the Sea, all had their origins on the Chinese mainland. Religion in China is
influenced by three major schools of thought: Taoism, Confucianism and
Buddhism. While Confucianism is a major philosophy and Buddhism originated in
India, and Taoism is truly a Chinese religion. Regardless of their origin, all
three major religions are ancient and when practiced today are deeply
intertwined in China's communist ideology. A large proportion of ethnic
minorities (about 90 millions) belong to some religions, mainly Islam and
Buddhism. There are five officially recognized religions including Buddhism,
Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. For each faith there is a
government-affiliated association to monitor and supervise its activities.
Membership in many faiths is growing rapidly; however, while the Government
generally does not seek to suppress this growth outright, it tries to control
and regulate religious groups to prevent the rise of groups or sources of
authority outside the control of the Government and the Chinese Communist Party
There are 202 dialects listed under Chinese languages system, of those, 201 are
living languages and one extinct. Chinese has seven major language groups of
which the Mandarin chinese is the most spoken language in China as "common
language-putonhwa". The Mandarin group consists of a wide range of
dialects in the northern, central, and western regions. The Cantonese dialects
are spoken in Hong Kong, Guangdong, Southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,
parts of Hainan, Macau, and in many overseas settlements. The Hakka (Kejia)
languages are spoken in Guangdong, southwestern Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Yunnan,
Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hainan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, many
overseas Chinese communities, and in pockets throughout Southeast Asia. Most of
the inhabitants of the south central region, in Hunan use the Xiang dialects,
also known as Hunanese. The Min dialects are spoken in most of Fujian, large
areas of Taiwan and Hainan, parts of Eastern Guangdong and the Leizhou Bandao
Peninsula, and in areas of Southeast Asia. Most of the people living in
Jiangxi, eastern part of Hunan, and the southeastern corner of Hubei use the
Gan dialects. The majority of the inhabitants of Zhejiang, as well as people
living in southern areas of Jiangsu and Anhui, speak the Wu dialects. The Wu
dialects share marginal mutual intelligibility with the Mandarin and Gan
dialects. Most of people can speak basic English in China.
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Most of schools will provide accommodation near school if not within campus
for teachers. The standard of living has improved over last decade, but do not
expect all the comforts back at home. There are three types of housing in
China, Foreign Diplomatic Housing Apartment Complexes, villa home or Chinese
housing. The first two are more close to western standard of living, thus they
are more expensive than the traditional Chinese housing. Most of apartments
have one or two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and bathroom. Chinese
apartments usually furnished. Typical drawbacks include unreliable plumbing and
wiring, some places don't run hot water 24 hours. You can have Chinese real
estate agent to help with apartments hunting, the commission usually is half to
one month of the rent. Normally the landlord will ask for two to six months
advance rent payments as well as security deposit. Beware some landlords will
ask for rents paid in U.S. dollars. Knowing what you are getting into before
you sign the contract. Built in closet is uncommon, mostly are wardrobes.
Floors are usually concrete, although some apartments (specially provide for
foreign teachers) have carpet and linoleum. The living condition can be varied
throughout the country depending on where you are located.
Keep in mind that 80 percent of public toilets in China are traditional asian
style (squat) and do not have toilet papers, also water is unsafe (always have
hand sanitizer and tissue with you). Sometimes you even have to pay for using
restroom in a rural area.
Electricity & Water
Electricity in China runs on 220V, 50 cycles AC. Two-pin sockets and some
three-pin sockets are in use. Most of the hotels have a socket in the bathroom
for using both 110V and 220V. While outside of the bathroom, only 220V socket
is provided. Tap water is not safe in China, people usually boil the water or
you can simply buy bottled mineral water for around 3 yuan.
Paying utility bills can be hassle in China. Utility company do not mail
monthly invoices to subscribers, instead, users have to collect and pay their
bills at designated utility offices. However, in major cities, China
Construction Bank has provided automatic transfer payment services for monthly
phone, rental, and utility bills. In addition to that, China Merchants Bank
provides phone payments services as well. Often, tenants simply give their
bills along with payment to their landlords. This is the easiest method. You
are charged according to how much you use.
The commonly use currency in China is Renminbi - RMB which is issued by the
People's Bank of China. Travelers check and foreign currency can be exchanged
at hotels, banks and airports. Major credit cards are accepted in the major
retail stores or department stores, however, it is not always accepted for the
purchase of rail and air tickets. Traveler's checks may be cashed at some
tourist-oriented businesses or at the international tourist hotels. It is good
idea to keep your currency exchange receipts for the future reference when you
exchange the currency from RMB to your country's currency. Also, keep in mind
Foreigners may only carry RMB 6000 yuan at the time of their entrance into or
departure from the country.
Normally working hours are from 8a.m to 5p.m with one hour lunch break.
Most of government offices or schools do not open on Saturday and Sunday while
hospital, postal offices, banks, monuments or museums usually open seven days a
week from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Many restaurants are close relatively late,
around 11p.m. or 12 a.m. weekend is even longer. Lots of 24-7 Convenient stores
can be seen in the major cities.
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Adjusting to a total different cultural environment is not easy, so be prepared
to get sick here if you have low immune system. So expect it, it won't be so
depressing. You will almost certainly get sick several times over your first
few months in China. This is due to several reasons. First, you're in a new
place and your body is adjusting to all sorts of new conditions. Second, no
matter how you try to avoid it, you will probably eat something that disagrees
with you. Third, if you are going to be a teacher of kindergarten or elementary
school, you'll be exposed to dozens of children everyday, carrying germs and
viruses that are new to your immune system. Fourth, air pollution is severe in
China, so it will take some time to build up the proper defenses. This happens
to new teachers all the time in China. Don't worry - you will get better. If
you need medicine, in major cities like Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, there
are all kinds of small pharmacies, with both Western and Chinese medicines.
There are also some larger chain-stores (like Wastons) that are like "drug
stores" or "chemist's" back home. Some of prescription drugs are
quite difficult to get in the smaller cities, you might arrange to have them
sent from your country regularly while in China.
Most of regions in China are hot and humid in summer. Your skin might feel
irritated with all the dirty and polluted air. There are several steps that can
be taken to avoid these problems. Frequent bathing, making sure to thoroughly
dry yourself after bathing and the use of baby powder or other drying powders
can significantly decrease the risk of these kinds of irritation. Medicinal
creams of various sorts are also commonly available for combating these
irritation should they occur. Be careful with your health, take care of colds
when you get them, and if you smoke, quit or cut down. Throat irritations are
also common as teachers depend heavily on, and sometimes over-use their voices.
Everyone has their own ideas about the use and efficacy of vitamins and other
food supplements. In general though, it probably can't hurt, and the use of
vitamins may help you fight off colds and generally stay healthier in this new
environment where your body will be under new stresses. If you take vitamins,
or plan to take vitamins while here, it's not a bad idea to stock up before
coming. Suggested vitamins are C, E and zinc for general maintenance of the
immune system, and Echidnae for fighting off colds and flu when they threaten.
Other vitamins are a matter of personal choice, and it may be worthwhile doing
some of your own research on this subject.
Pharmacies and western toiletries are available in big cities, but the brands
are quite limited. Sanitary towels, tampons, infusion shampoo and conditioner
are not widely available in China. Here, they have Renu, Pantene, and Herbal
Essence, etc. If you are brand specific, it is good idea to pack some before
the trip and also more cost efficiency. Other items to consider: dental floss,
deodorant, hair products, facial cream, anti-bacterial gel, bug spray with feet
(Cutters or Off) and anti-itch cream (lots of mosquitoes). Medicine (Tylenol,
cold medication, anti-diarrhea, Cipro, cough syrup, etc).
To obtain an employment certificate, you will have to take a medical exam at
the government assigned hospitals or clinics with the hospital's stamps on the
Physical Examination Record for Foreigner form. Most of the times, the employer
will take you to the exam. The residency status medical exam includes a check
for sexually transmitted diseases, a chest X-ray, a vision exam, an EDG and a
general health Q&A. Blood is drawn using a disposable syringe, unwrapped in
front of you.
No special vaccinations are required. However, inoculations for Hepatitis A and
B, Tetnus/DT, and Cholera are recommended. If you do not have enough time to
get all of the injections before coming to China, you can either bring the
vaccine for the remaining injections with you and have a doctor here administer
it or get them here for less money, just make sure gamma globulin you get is
imported. Talk to your doctor regarding transportation and storage of the
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The dress code for teaching is quite casual, but there are certain basic
requirements that must be met. Teachers cannot wear shorts or open toed shoes
while teaching. Any long pants, including jeans are fine, though cotton pants
would be much more comfortable in the hot weather. Skirts (for women) are
acceptable as long as they are not too short. T-shirts are also acceptable. The
overall image of the teachers should be clean and presentable at all times, so
pants or shirts with holes in them are not acceptable.
The clothes in China are smaller than those in western country. The clothes are
cheap here but if you have a large build, you may have trouble finding clothes
in your size. A size XL T-shirt in China is smaller than a large in Canada or
the U.S. It's easy to buy shoes because they're cheap in China, but it is
difficult to find size 11 or larger.
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Historically, pork(zhurou)was the most popular meat, followed by chicken
(jirou)and beef(niurou). Fish is also popular. A host of culinary exotica makes
its way onto tables in China , including tortoise, sea snails, snakes, bear
paws, cicadas, scorpions, and rats. If you are presented with a menu
exclusively in Chinese, one way to avoid these is to look at the prices; exotic
food tends to be more expensive. Dog meat (gourou)is also eaten, especially in
the colder winter months.
Vegetable and Fruit
Vegetables were traditionally served in greater abundance than meat for
economic reasons, although this is changing. Popular vegetables include Chinese
cabbage, spinach and potatoes. Apples, oranges and tangerines, bananas, pears,
watermelons, and grapes are seasonal. Tofu is eaten for its versatility and as
a meat substitute. Rice accompanies most meals, usually in small bowls. Peanuts
are often served at the start of a meal and feature in a range of dishes.
Watermelon seeds are also widely eaten, and pistachios and cashew nuts can be
found in most shops and supermarket.
Fast food chain has strong foothold in China, those stores including,
McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Domino's Pizza, and Pizza Hut. Prices are relatively
cheap than those in Western countries but quite expensive compared to Chinese
food alternatives. Up market diners will find a number of good steakhouse,
Thai, Italian, Mexican and French restaurants.
Many traditional markets still can be seen in the streets. The produce and meat
are relatively fresh, but sometimes, the price can be more expensive than those
in supermarkets. Some supermarkets even carry imported meats, cheeses and
wines. There are few amount of western foods grocery stores in China, there you
can find most kinds of western foods, such as spaghetti, cream soup, etc.
Those enjoy different kind of cousins will find a bounty of dishes to discover.
From cafeteria-style 'lunch box' eateries and dumpling and noodle shops to
night markets and street vendors featuring all manners of nutrition. The
choices are plentiful.
Many vegetarian restaurants can be found on the streets. It serves all kind of
vegetables but most of them are Chinese flavor oriented. The price is variance
over the places and location. But do not worry, you will find your favorite
veggie either in the traditional market or supermarket. In the food stands you
can find tofu, bean and other vegetarian centric-meals abound. For most
vegetarians currently living in China, the words 'bu yao rou' (I don't want
meat) are a daily utterance. One warning for those who are strict in their
avoidance of meat: many restaurants use pork lard in place of vegetable oil
when frying. Strict vegetarians can find completely animal-product free food at
vegetarian restaurants, which are easily distinguished by the inverted swastika
displayed out front.
Four groups divide the major atlas of cuisines: northern, southern, eastern and
western. Beijing and Shandong typify northern cooking, embracing salty flavors
and wheat-based staples. Pork-filled dumpling, dipped in soy sauce and rice
vinegar, are enormously popular, as are noodles and stead bread. The most
famous Beijing dish is Peking duck. A rich preparation of oily duck flesh, plum
sauce, and onion, which you eat, rolled into a wafer-thin pancake.
Stir-frying is the hallmark of southern Cantonese cooling, along with boiling
and steaming. Lightly fried dim sum snacks and pastries are wheeled around
restaurants, served on plates and steamers. Chaozhou cuisine, another southern
style, is sweet and based on seafood.
Eastern cooking is typified by Shanghai cuisine, reveling in soups and seafood.
Quite oily. Sichuan , the heartland of western Chinese cooking, introduces a
galaxy of searing dishes. In Sichuan cooking, an idiosyncratic herb called
chuancai numbs the mouth, while the rest of the herbs and spices blister the
taste buds. Famous Sichuan dishes include suancaiyu, a pickled vegetable and
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Keeping in touch with the folks back home is not a problem, as long as they're
on-line. Internet cafe is a very popular place for the people who love internet
or PC games but do not have own computer. Many internet cafes have high speed
broadband connection and latest software. At a department store or China
Telecom office you can surf the net, send and receive email for an hourly fee.
For those do not feel like to fight with traffic or like to have privacy while
surfing the net, can purchase PC with fairly amount of money in the computer
mall at the provincial capital or larger cities. It is also good idea to bring
your own laptop with you to China, but keep in mind, parts and maintenance for
some laptops are not easily available in China, and sometimes not available at
Standard telephone connections and DSL or ISDN lines are also available in major
cities. China telecom, the state monopoly telephone system, offers standard
phone connections for about 6 yuan per hour plus local telephone charge, so
total costs usually come to about 10 yuan per hour. ISDN service has two
options, you can run 64 kb/s for 2 yuan per hour plus local phone charge
(normally 8 mao-8 cents/min) or 128 kb/s for the same internet fee but the
local phone charge is double. The rate is cheaper in the nights and holiday.
The charge is varied among providers and regions. In either case, there will be
set-up and installation fees on top of this. The installation and set up fee is
around RMB 2000 for ISDN. 1000 yuan is deposit and is refundable when the
account is close. The set up fee for phone connection can be ranged from RMB
200 to 1500. Recently, with the privatization of much of the telecommunications
industry in China, competing companies have been sprouting up that offer
various package deals for Internet access. A little bit of research once you
arrive will allow you to find the best deal.
On the private phone, directly dialing is available as "00-(country
code)-(area code)-(telephone number)". You can also use IC or IDD 200
cards to make directly international calls at the private and public phones.
The rate is cheaper during holiday and off peak time, usually before 7 a.m. for
9 yuan per minute to most of countries, otherwise it normally costs 18 yuan.
The rates do vary from country to country, you can find out the current rates
in the city main post office. AT&T USA Direct Service is also available
from most of public phones in China by dialing 10811. You can simply pick up
the handset of most public phone and dial the access number with no need to
insert a phone card or coin, wait a few seconds and you will be connected to
AT&T USA Direct Service. Use your AT&T calling card or call collect -
easy and fast.
Domestic Long Distance
These calls may be made on private phones or pay phones directly, or through
the telephone bureau.
Public Pay Phones
Most public telephones in China are IC telephones. Generally IC telephone cards
are available in amount of 20 RMB, 30 RMB, 50 RMB and 100 RMB. The rate for
local call is 0.20 RMB/3 minutes while a call exceeding 3 minutes is charged
0.10 RMB per 6 seconds for the extra. Long distance call rate varies according
to the distance. Emergency calls 112 (weather), 119(fire), 120 (hospital), 110
(police) are free and require no phone cards. IC card is solely issued by China
The rate for cell phone tends to be expensive in China. Only 13 percent of
population have cell phones. Also the company charges both incoming and
outgoing calls. The standard rate is RMB 0.30 per minute. You can also purchase
GSM SIM card with no requirement for any document for RMB 100 and prepaid
charging card in amount of 50 RMB and 100 RMB are available in post offices,
stores and newsstands.
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In major cities, buses, trains, subway, and taxis are available everywhere.
There are 6 types of trains in China, some are for long distance travel while
the others are recommended for traveling within the cities. Train tickets can
be purchased at the hotel, ticket boxes, the office of planning &
coordination, or travel agencies near the train station. Bus is good choice to
get around within the city, information sheet for bus services can be picked up
at the hotel, or bus station. Subway is good alternative, there are two lines,
a belt line and east-west line. The fare is 2 yuan for each station and the
trains arrive every 10 minutes. If you prefer taxi, make sure the taxi has a
meter system and it is turned on and off appropriately because the taxi drivers
tend to overcharge the fare.
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Avoid Such Items
Some items are restricted to bring to China, such as, gun, arms, imitation arms,
ammunition, explosives of all kinds, dealy poison of all kinds, handcuffs,
drugs, meat, plants, food or medicines that come from epidemic-stricken areas
or those easy to spread the disease. Some forms of media that are detrimetal to
the political, economic, cultural and ethic of China, may not bring to China as
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