Manners Matter

Gānbēi (干杯) is the Chinese equivalent of "Cheers!" Chinese table manners have a long history and tradition dating back to centuries ago. Even today, people from some regions in China are still extremely strict when it comes to table manners. When taking part in or hosting a Chinese banquet, for example the first thing to pay attention to is the seating arrangements. Generally speaking, the Chinese believe that the left is the exalted position. The most honored guest is seated at the opposite of the door, and the guests who are at his or her left are guests of honor. The closer they are to the most honored one, the more important they are in this banquet. Another important manner one should k

The Green Cap

Get ready for memes. Green reminds people of nature, in that almost every plant you see is green. Sometimes it gets people upset for bringing back the bad memories of stock price fall. In China, green can also drive people mad, but in a completely different way. In fact, the color green can remind people of being cheated by their significant others. To understand this better, we need to start from the word lǜ màozi (绿帽子, green cap). Long, long ago there was a couple. The husband was a rich merchant who took business trips often, and the wife was charming yet a bit flirtatious. The wife was having an affair with a vendor. Every time her husband went away, she would invite the vendor to her ho

On this day... July 19th

Zhou Enlai and Norodom Sihanouk during the latter's first visit to China. On this day in 1958, the People’s Republic of China formally established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia. In April 1955, Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia met Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai at the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia, where the two men developed a liking for each other. During the 1950s and 60s, Zhou and CCP Chairman Liu Shaoqi frequently led delegations to Cambodia and Sihanouk visited China six times. On July 17th, 1958, Cambodia held a Cabinet meeting in which it decided to give up its "neutral" policy towards the Two Chinas question and recognize the PRC as the only legitimate gover

On this day... July 16th

The King himself. On this day in 2003, more than 50 radio stations across Asia declared July 16th as Jay Chou Day and simultaneously broadcast his latest song, 'In the Name of the Father', the first track in his fourth album Yeh Hui-mei. More than 800 million people tuned in to take part in the event. Jay Chou is a highly influential Taiwanese singer-songwriter who is known as the ‘King of Asian Pop,’ having sold 30 million albums to date. He is also a music and film producer, actor and director, having appeared in Hollywood blockbusters like Green Hornet and The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. He is well-known for composing techniques and is regarded as one of the greatest musicians in East

On this day... July 13th

The Beijing National Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held, is also known as the "Bird's Nest." On this day in 2001, Beijing was selected as the host city of the 2008 Olympics at the 112th IOC Session in Moscow. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch’s announcement of “Beijing!” brought millions of Chinese to tears as they celebrated the progress China achieved in just two decades. Beijing won the bidding process handily, beating Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka. After the first round of voting, Beijing had the most votes compared with other four candidates. And in the second round, a majority of voters gave their supports to Beijing, eliminating the need for another round. The IOC Ev

The Dreaded Sanfutian

Outdoors? No thanks. Today the weather rùfú (入伏), or enters the hottest period of the year in China. Rù means “ to enter” in Chinese, and fú refers to this period, called sānfútiān (三伏天). There is an old saying in Chinese, “the hottest days are the sānfútiān, and the coldest are the sānjiǔtiān (三九天, 27 days after the winter solstice).” Sānfútiān refers to the period between mid-July to mid-August, when the temperature and humidity are the highest. It is divided into chūfú (初伏, in mid-July), zhōngfú (中伏, in late July to early August), mòfú (末伏, in mid-August). But what exactly is fú? Fú refers to the “hidden pathogen” or “summer-heat pathogen” of the six pathogens in Chinese traditional medic

On this day... July 6th

A statue of Admiral Zheng He in Indonesia. On this day in 1433, Admiral Zheng He finished his 28 year-long ocean voyage and returned to China. It was the most expensive voyage in Chinese history, involving 27,000 sailors and 200 ships. Zheng He even set his foot on the Western Pacific and the Red Sea and had traveled to more than 30 countries, which was unimaginable during a time when sailing and navigation technologies weren’t advanced enough to support such an undertaking. Zheng He was a eunuch of the Yongle Emperor, the third Ming Dynasty sovereign. During his reign, Ming China reached its golden age, called Yongle’s Flourishing Age in historical records. It was during this period of time

Rainy Day? Enjoy a Hot Pot!

Mmm... bon appetite 😋 July is usually the hottest month of the year in China. For example in my hometown Beijing, the daytime temperature stays at a sweltering 95°F (35°C) all month long. But today was a lucky day for Beijingers because of heavy rain. We consider rain to be the biggest savior; people can enjoy coolness, something that is scarce during the hot summer, and above all, it is also perfect weather to enjoy the savory hot pot. Although hot pot is popular all over China, the hot pots from Chongqing – considered one of China’s “Three Furnaces” of oppressive heat – are the most famous. The local variety is known for its peppery and hot taste, scalding yet fresh and tender. People gat

We're Starting a Blog! But Why?

Beer in Chinese is 啤酒 (píjiǔ). Memorized it? Now read on. Welcome to the Beautiful Mandarin blog! Here we'll share good reads on Chinese language and culture that will expand your knowledge and understanding of China and the Chinese people. We believe that learning as much as one could about Chinese culture is as important as learning the language itself. A diplomat who spoke fluent German once told me that when he just started learning the language, his teacher would use German products to introduce new words, for example showing Krombacher instead of Budweiser when teaching how to say beer in German. The teacher also taught them as much as he could about German society, tradition and custo

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