Brunhild Staiger

Preface to the German Edition

Since China dedicated itself to policies of reform and openness in the late 1970s, the country has been undergoing profound transformation, far exceeding the mere renunciation of the Maoist model of development and the construction of market-economy structures. The China-Lexikon seeks to contribute to an understanding of this complex process of transformation, with its wide-ranging implications for social, economic, and cultural life in China, and at the same time to meet the need for information which has, in general, grown in consequence of increased contacts with China. Its aim is to convey verified and academically up-to-date information on modern China from the mid-19th century to the present day. Where necessary for comprehension, it explores farther back in history, our particular concern being to illuminate the connections between traditional and modern China. This means that a headword will, whenever appropriate, also be treated in a historical perspective.

The Lexikon is intended for those interested in China in politics, business, and the media, as well as scholars and students working on China and requiring first information on a particular subject. For every headword, suggestions for further reading follow the text entry. Areas of particular focus are the state and politics, economics, and society, though history, education, literature, and art are also given due attention, not least because they continue to be of great political importance today. No biographical articles are included, since to do so would be to go beyond the scope of a single-volume reference work. Basic information is provided in a separate glossary giving Chinese personal names with the Chinese characters and birth and death dates.

The work is divided by alphabetical headwords, enabling rapid and direct access to a particular piece of factual content or individual aspect. The headword index was drawn up using a systematic division of the material into twelve subject areas. This systematic overview of entries prefaces the work, since not only does it depict the structuring of the Lexikon's content, it also enables subjects and subject areas to be ascertained independently of the headwords. The conception of the China-Lexikon is based on the China-Handbuch edited by Wolfgang Franke with my cooperation and published in 1974. This handbook, written in the years 1968-1973, was the first of its kind in the Germanophone world, and thus fulfilled an important function for a number of years, as the first comprehensive reference work on modern China. The difficulties in its preparation were immense. The most serious problem was the almost complete lack of existing works which we might have used as models. This meant that we were forced to build the conception, the systematics on which the handbook was based, and the index of headwords from scratch. Moreover, research on China with a focus on the present day was still undeveloped in Germany in the 1970s, and it was therefore difficult to find suitable authors for the individual headword articles. A third challenge was that, because of political conditions, we had no direct knowledge of the China of the time. In retrospect, the timing of the first handbook was essentially unfavorable - it could hardly then be foreseen that only a few years later, China would instigate its policies of reform and opening-up. For example, events of the 1980s and 1990s left the handbook's remarks on economics and politics in the People's Republic increasingly dated. Furthermore, the increase in contact with China through the 1980s and the possibilities for traveling within the country and developing scholarly cooperation created for the first time since 1949 the conditions for a realistic assessment. At the same time, Sinological research in the West began to grow markedly. Overall, the conditions for creating an encyclopedia of China are incomparably better today than they were in the 1970s.

Accordingly, in 1995, the Institute of Asian Studies at Hamburg made a proposal to the Volkswagen Foundation. This was accepted in spring 1996, so that work could begin in May. As scholars responsible for editing, it was possible to secure the services of, successively, Dr. Reinhard Emmerich (May 1996 - summer 2007, with interruptions), Dr. Stefan Friedrich (October 1997 to early 2001), and Dr. Hans-Wilm Schütte (August 2001 to May 2002).

While the new China-Lexikon is formally based to a considerable degree on the earlier handbook, content has been created completely anew. All headwords were newly authored, with the exception of six entries adopted with slight adaptations (Bibliography, Libraries, International Relations until 1949, Calendar and Chronology, Calligraphy, and Examination System). This reworking was indicated not only because of developments in China, but also because of progress in Sinological research over the past three decades, not least in respect of methodology. We have also imposed the rule, with few exceptions, of having headword articles written by new authors. Headwords have been added in all twelve subject areas to take account of recent developments. Headwords obsolete from a present-day perspective have been deleted. The number of entries has been considerably increased. Where the earlier handbook had 324 articles, there are now 441.

The focus of content is to a much greater degree on the present day than in the first handbook. The statements of authors on present-day China are based not only on their own observations and field research, but also on the results of Chinese research and the plethora of sources available today. Mention must be made of statistics, which, for all their faults, form an indispensable basis for China research. Added too is another new aspect, which affects most articles. It seems imperative today to view China not only in terms of mainland China, but of the entire Chinese cultural sphere, i.e. including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas Chinese communities. Three reasons in particular support this view. Firstly, these entities demonstrate alternative developments, which may also come to have significance for mainland China. Secondly, the comparative perspective may shed light on the issue of whether and how strongly different political and economic conditions determine the behavior and self-conception of the Chinese. Lastly, the Chinese within China and outside it must be viewed together, because they are connected by informal communication and networks, and this has many consequences, not least for the economy.

The individual encyclopedia entries were written over a period of five years, between 1997 and 2002. Accordingly, statistical data mostly reflects the conditions of the years 1997 - 2000, with occasional references also from 1996 and 2001. It is in the nature of an encyclopedia of this scale that not all data can be up to date. The usefulness of the work, however, should be sought less in its quantitative data than in its provision of basic knowledge, secured by scholarly research, on modern China.

Only the support and cooperation of numerous institutions and individuals have made this book possible. Thanks are owed in the first place to the Volkswagen Foundation, which has given the project generous financial support and, in doing so, has done an invaluable service to contemporary Sinological research. My thanks are also due to the 261 authors worldwide who have willingly provided their expert knowledge, and who have contributed to making it possible to compile in this form the results of research on the most diverse aspects of modern China. Help of great value has been provided by the scholarly advisory board, on which 18 renowned Sinologists from Germany and abroad are represented. The members of the advisory board have assisted us with all kinds of words and deeds, e.g. in editing the headword index and suggesting authors, but especially by contributing a great many entries of their own. I give them all heartfelt thanks. I owe special thanks to the Institute of Asian Studies at Hamburg. Without the multifaceted help of this institute, the project could not have been completed. This is true of the Institute Director, Werner Draguhn, who granted all the support imaginable to the project, as well as of my colleagues who were available at all times for questions on specialist issues. I would like to mention by name Margot Schüller, who clarified areas of difficulty with great patience and expert competence, and Günter Schucher, who solved innumerable bibliographical problems. I would also like expressly to thank Axel Kapteina for his help with all computer-related matters.

I must also thank my student helpers, Michael Arri, Martina Kothe, Katharina Niu, Susanne Ritter, Julia Thoma, Tanja Westerhagen, and Sandra Wirrmann. It was they who bore the main burden of the electronic text processing and endless correction work, and they accomplished the practical project work with great commitment. The technical creation of the index and the name glossary was in the hands of Susanne Ritter and Claudia Friedrich. The plates in the mid-section, the physical map, and the graphic on the Human Development Index were prepared most professionally by Matthias Scheibner, cartographer at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bremen, and thanks are due to him. My thanks also go to those translators who translated English and French entries into German, and who in doing so made an important contribution to the creation of the encyclopedia. Silke Felgentreu (Hamburg) and Svetlana Gorbunova (Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Moscow) helped with standardizing the transliteration of Russian names, and the same was done for Arabic names and terms by Schirin Fathi, and for Korean names by Werner Sasse (both Asia-Africa Institute, University of Hamburg).

Last but not least, I would like to thank my co-editors, Stefan Friedrich and Hans-Wilm Schütte, as well as Reinhard Emmerich, who was active on the project at its inception. Stefan Friedrich was for over three years the mainstay of the project. With his inexhaustible dedication, he above all surmounted the organizational side of the project work, with his database tailored to the encyclopedia's particular requirements. Hans-Wilm Schütte supported me with the final editing of entries with great expertise. Many others who helped deserve to be mentioned, but their numbers are too great to list them all here. However, I would like to honor one person in particular: Wolfgang Franke, my esteemed teacher, who has followed the project with great solicitousness and has offered me support in various respects. The editors and all those who have contributed in various ways to the appearance of this work hope that the new China-Lexikon will prove just as useful a tool as the old China-Handbuch. This would be the most welcome wage for all efforts.

Hamburg, November 2002

Brunhild Staiger