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Definitions, Ditties, Odds 'n Ends

Here you will find a potpourri of interesting information and miscellaneous topics on China. Some are serious.... some are fun. Some are short, light hearted topics and quips. They are listed in alphabetical order to more easily find what you are looking for.


The earliest calculator in the world is the Chinese Abacus. The abacus is a tool for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. The Abacus has a rectangular frame with beads strung on rods and set up in rows and columns. with a top half an a bottom half. The bottom half is for counting in units of one and the top half for counting units of five. The numbering sequence starts from the right row which are for counting in ones. Moving by row to the left are tens, hundreds and so on all the way up to billions and trillions on the largest abacuses.

This ancient counting tool is still in common use in China today. It is seen in stores and businesses. In shops and stores the workers are more comfortable working with an abacus than a calculator. I once went to purchase some items and watched the sales clerk attempt several times to calculate the total. Finally, she gave up in frustration, picked up an abacus an promptly cam to the correct amount!. It can frequently (that's right frequently) be seen side by side with calculators and computers in an office environment.


Adoptions from China are common. After completing a lengthy re-approval process, U.S. citizens wishing to adopt a child in China can expect to spend at least two weeks in China. U.S. immigrant visas for adopted children are issued at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou. For additional information, contact :

Office of Children's Issues
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Department of State, Room 4811A
Washington, D.C. 20520
Telephone: (202)736-7000

Source: U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet- - July 2, 1997


Your chinese name stamp for use in formal documents. The term is: "Place your chop on it".

Dual Nationality/Citizenship:

China does not recognize dual citizenship. Although other countries, like the U.S. does. This poses problems as China will not let a Chinese citizen in on a U.S. passport. Using a Chinese passport does not afford the person U.S. support sand protections. In addition, U.S. citizens born in China are not recognized by the Chinese government as Chinese citizens.

Eastern Toilets

Yes, there is a major difference between Eastern and Western toilets. A western toilet is similar to a seat in that it is at a comfortable position for the user to sit on it as they would a chair. It has a lid and after use, waste is flushed away.

An Eastern toilet on the other hand, is simply a porcelain bowl, about three or four inches above the floor. The user squats when using the toilet. An eastern toilet has no flushing device. Usually, a small flow of water is continually removing waste.

Important: Paper is not available in the facility. Users must always bring their own!

Eastern plumbing is usually without traps and as a result odors can be quite strong.

Western toilet are beginning to gain popularity in China, but very slowly. A funny thing can happen when a local person uses a western toilet. The local person may likely step up and stand on the seat in a squatting position! They are as unfamiliar with Western toilets as as westerners are with eastern toilets.

For travellers: Don't worry, hotels catering to tourists will have western toilets.


Expatriate is a person employed and living in another country other than their home country. This has significant implications to the tax status of that individual in both the country of employee and the home country.


"Face" is an extremely important term in dealing with the chinese people. As a concept, face represents the credibility, integrity , and image of the person. In China, is is very important not to embarrass the person you are dealing with and maintain his image and credibility. More on Face.

Feng Shui:

The ancient way of defining good and evil forces in life.

Gan Bei:

In the literal, it means "Bottoms Up". Drinking and toasts is a common part business in many parts of China, especially when on the "Banquet circuit". It is most common in the more remote areas of the country and away from the big cities. There are several pronunciations of it depending on the language(Mandarin, Cantonese, etc) or dialect.


Food BoothGunpowder is believed to have originated in China around 600 to 900 A.D. It was brought to Europe in the 1300's. Fireworks and firecrackers are just as popular in China as they are in the U.S. The picture depicted here is a stand for shooting off firecrackers.

International Jacks:

A series of electrical outlet converter jacks to allow you to plug into the outlets in China. There are at least three different types of jacks you may encounter.

Jet Lag:

Jet lag is the physical and physiological effect of long distance travel on you. After a long distance flight, you are tired from the travel and most likely did not sleep well or at all. Your body has not adjusted to the new time zone. Both mentally and physically, day is night and night is day. The impact upon you can be significant for a number of days. For more on Jet Lag, read Travel Tips.

Lucky Numbers:

Every culture has its good signs or omens and it bad ones. Ditto with Lucky numbers. In America, it is lucky 7. In China the number eight is lucky. Use eight, sequences of eight or any derivation of it. A friend of in China is very lucky as his cell phone number has four eights in it!


Check out the PRC's military forces both pictorially along with detailed descriptions on types of equipment and weaponry and forces size.


Most people thoroughly enjoy beautiful Oriental music. Modern music in China takes on sound and characteristics similar to modern western music. While at a Karaoke bar, one of my friends asked me if I knew what kind of music was being played. The answer was easy as love songs sound the same wherever you go. With a little coaching, I even sang a few brief lyrics to this love song in Mandarin!

China also has and loves their MTV.

Peoples Republic of China(PRC):

This is the official name of the government of mainland China.

Special Economic Zones:

Special Economic Zones(SEZ's) are development zones established by the PRC to encourage foreign investment in China, bringing much need jobs, technical knowledge and future tax revenues in return for significant tax concessions

Silhouettes: A common form of street art(tourist trap) is paper silhouettes. Tourists are often approached by someone show is carrying a scissors and this paper. A positive nod of the head, and the "artist" quickly cuts your silhouette in paper. Ten or twenty RMBs later, the artist walks away to the next unsuspecting tourist.
Technical Services Agreements(TSA's):

Technical Services Agreements are legal transactions between two intercompany legal entities documenting the agreement on technical, engineering and other support services between the legal entities.TSA's often also cover allocations of administrative support.

Thousand Year Old Eggs:

Take a dozen or so duck eggs and add a couple of ingredients, including ashes. Then, bury them in the ground(a crock filled with soil) for a thousand years or so(the recipe calls for 100 days). Then, dig them up and munch away. Both the white and yolk will have a grayish color. The yolk will have a green hue or tint. Some fine the grayish green yolk unattractive, but they taste Thousand year eggs are common menu items. Did you ever wonder how forecasters could reasonably predict demand one thousand years in advance?!

Time Zone:

China is on Greenwich Mean Time(GMT) plus 8 hours. This is the time throughout China which crosses several timezones. As a result morning may come quite late in the western zones and daylight lasts well into the evening.


VAT tax applied to the goods or services based upon the value added to it in the assembly or manufacturing process.


A Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise or Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise is a subsidiary company which is wholly owned by a corporation outside of the People's Republic of China(PRC)


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