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Chinese language ranks top among 20 major Chinese cultural symbols
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11:03, November 25, 2008

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Chinese language was selected as the most representative symbol of Chinese culture, according to the Newsweek, which recently collected votes from Internet users from countries including America, Britain and Canada. Internet users selected 20 cultural symbols from each of the 12 selected countries with rich cultural heritage.

Internet users voted on the countries America, China, Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Russia, Spain, India, Greece and South Korea. The 20 cultural symbols in these 12 counties are well known to the public and come from areas such as the economy, sports, music, cuisine, architecture, history and politics.

Among the symbols of Chinese culture, the Chinese language ranked first, followed by the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall, the Gardens of Suzhou, Confucius, Taoism, "The Art of War," the Terracotta Warriors, Mogao Grottoes, the Tang Dynasty, silk, Chinese porcelain, Peking opera, the Shaolin Temple, martial arts, "Journey to the West," the Temple of Heaven, Chairman Mao, acupuncture and Chinese cuisine/cooking.

"Although the selection of these 20 symbols of China does have its merits, on the whole it is still a bit biased and is worthy of debate. This is due to the fact that foreign understanding of Chinese culture is too limited," said Kong Zhengyi, vice curator of the Xi'an Museum.

Kong believes that since these symbols are representative of a country's culture, they must be items that carry a high historical and cultural significance that has already been acknowledged by the people for a long time. They should be of a national and representative nature.

These 20 symbols of Chinese culture were chosen by Newsweek based on votes from Internet users. The internet users' knowledge of Chinese culture is limited, and is acquired mostly through means such as movies and books. The symbols they recognize are more of a "popular" culture nature, such as martial arts, Peking opera, acupuncture and Chinese cuisine (and cooking); or symbols of China that have already enjoyed international fame, such as the Great Wall, the terracotta warriors, Chinese porcelain and Confucius.

"In the long history of the Chinese people, lasting thousands of years, these images can only partially represent Chinese culture." Kong said that origins of Chinese culture, such as the Yangtze River and the Yellow River Valley should have been selected. The Yellow Emperor – "the ancestor of all Chinese people" – should have also been selected, while "silk" should have been more aptly selected as "the Silk Road." The story "Journey to the West" is merely a myth, whereas monk Xuanzang is more accurately a cultural symbol.

By People's Daily Online



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