Northern and southern China

Northern China and southern China[a] are two approximate mega-regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions is not precisely defined. Nevertheless, the self-perception of Chinese nation, especially regional stereotypes, has often been dominated by these two concepts, given that regional differences in culture and language have historically fostered strong regional identities (simplified Chinese: 乡土; traditional Chinese: 鄉土; pinyin: xiāngtǔ; literally: 'localism') of the Chinese people.[1]

Qinling Huaihe Line
The Qinling Huaihe Line, the line that separates China into northern and southern China.


Often used as the geographical dividing line between northern and southern China is the Qinling Huaihe Line (lit. Qin MountainsHuai River Line). This line approximates the 0 °C January isotherm and the 800 millimetres (31 in) isohyet in China.

Culturally, however, the division is more ambiguous. In the eastern provinces like Jiangsu and Anhui, the Yangtze River may instead be perceived as the north–south boundary instead of the Huai River, but this is a recent development.

There is an ambiguous area, the region around Nanyang, Henan, that lies in the gap where the Qin has ended and the Huai River has not yet begun; in addition, central Anhui and Jiangsu lie south of the Huai River but north of the Yangtze, making their classification somewhat ambiguous as well. As such, the boundary between northern and southern China does not follow provincial boundaries; it cuts through Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu, and creates areas such as Hanzhong (Shaanxi), Xinyang (Henan), Huaibei (Anhui) and Xuzhou (Jiangsu) that lie on an opposite half of China from the rest of their respective provinces. This may have been deliberate; the Mongol Yuan dynasty and Han Chinese Ming dynasty established many of these boundaries intentionally to discourage regionalist separatism.

The Northeast (Manchuria) and Inner Mongolia are conceived to belong to northern China according to the framework above. Historically, Xinjiang, Tibet and Qinghai were not usually conceived of as being part of either the north or south. However, Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Tibet are now regarded as being part of the north due to the spread of Northern Chinese culture and the use of Mandarin.


The concepts of northern and southern China originate from differences in climate, geography, culture, and physical traits; as well as several periods of actual political division in history. Northern China is too cold and dry for rice cultivation (though rice is grown there today with the aid of modern technology) and consists largely of flat plains, grasslands, and desert; while Southern China is warm and rainy enough for rice and consists of lush mountains cut by river valleys. Historically, these differences have led to differences in warfare during the pre-modern era, as cavalry could easily dominate the northern plains but encountered difficulties against river navies fielded in the south. There are also major differences in language, cuisine, culture, and popular entertainment forms such as opera.

China ling 90
The Qin Mountains and Huai River approximately separate northern Mandarin-speaking regions on the one hand, and southwestern Mandarin-, eastern Mandarin-, and non-Mandarin-speaking regions on the other. ("Mandarin" and "Southern" on this map refer to Sinitic languages, while other groups are not Sinitic.)[b]
China agricultural 1986
The Qin Mountains and Huai River also mark the approximate boundary between wheat and rice cultivation.

Episodes of division into North and South include:

The Northern and Southern Dynasties showed such a high level of polarization between North and South that northerners and southerners referred to each other as barbarians; the Mongol Yuan dynasty also made use of the concept: Yuan subjects were divided into four castes, with northern Han Chinese occupying the third-caste and southern Han Chinese occupying the lowest one.

For a large part of Chinese history, northern China was economically more advanced than southern China. The Jurchen and Mongol invasion caused a massive migration to southern China, and the Emperor shifted the Song dynasty capital city from Kaifeng in northern China to Hangzhou, located south of the Yangtze river. The population of Shanghai increased from 12,000 households to over 250,000 inhabitants after Kaifeng was sacked by invading armies. This began a shift of political, economic and cultural power from northern China to southern China. The east coast of southern China remained a leading economic and cultural center of China until the Republic of China. Today, southern China remains economically more prosperous than northern China.

During the Qing dynasty, regional differences and identification in China fostered the growth of regional stereotypes. Such stereotypes often appeared in historic chronicles and gazetteers and were based on geographic circumstances, historical and literary associations (e.g. people from Shandong, were considered upright and honest) and Chinese cosmology (as the south was associated with the fire element, Southerners were considered hot-tempered).[1] These differences were reflected in Qing dynasty policies, such as the prohibition on local officials to serve their home areas, as well as conduct of personal and commercial relations.[1] In 1730, the Kangxi Emperor made the observation in the Tingxun Geyan (《庭訓格言》):[1][2]

The people of the North are strong; they must not copy the fancy diets of the Southerners, who are physically frail, live in a different environment, and have different stomachs and bowels.

— the Kangxi Emperor, Tingxun Geyan (《庭訓格言》)

During the Republican period, Lu Xun, a major Chinese writer, wrote:[3]

According to my observation, Northerners are sincere and honest; Southerners are skilled and quick-minded. These are their respective virtues. Yet sincerity and honesty lead to stupidity, whereas skillfulness and quick-mindedness lead to duplicity.

— Lu Xun, Lu Xun Quanji (《魯迅全集》), pp. 493–495


GDP per capita China 2004
GDP per capita in 2004. Disparity in terms of wealth runs in the east-west direction rather than north–south direction. The map, based on provincial borders, also hides an additional sharp disparity between urban and rural areas. However, the southeast coast is still wealthier than the northeast coast in per capita terms.

In modern times, North and South is merely one of the ways that Chinese people identify themselves, and the divide between northern and southern China has been complicated both by a unified Chinese nationalism and as well as by local loyalties to linguistically and culturally distinct regions within province, prefecture, county, town and village isolates which prevent a coherent Northern or Southern identity from forming.

During the Deng Xiaoping reforms of the 1980s, South China developed much more quickly than North China, leading some scholars to wonder whether the economic fault line would create political tension between north and south. Some of this was based on the idea that there would be conflict between the bureaucratic north and the commercial south. This has not occurred to the degree feared, in part because the economic fault lines eventually created divisions between coastal China and the interior, as well as between urban and rural China, which run in different directions from the north–south division, and in part because neither north or south has any type of obvious advantage within the Chinese central government. In addition there are other cultural divisions that exist within and across the north–south dichotomy.

Stereotypes and differences

Nevertheless, the concepts of North and South continue to play an important role in regional stereotypes.

"Northerners" are seen as:

  • Taller.[4][5][6] According to the 2014 census, the average male height between the age of 20-24 was 173.4 cm in Beijing,[7] 174.9 cm in Jilin[8] and 177.1 cm in Dalian.[9]
  • Speaking Mandarin Chinese with a northern (rhotic) accent.
  • More likely to eat noodles, dumplings and wheat-based foods[6] (rather than rice-based foods).[5][10]

While "Southerners" are seen as:

These are only rough and approximate stereotypes among a large and greatly varied population.

See also


  1. ^ simplified Chinese: 华北; traditional Chinese: 華北; pinyin: Huáběi (northern China), and simplified Chinese: 华南; traditional Chinese: 華南; pinyin: Huánán (southern China), also referred to in China as simply (Chinese: 北方; pinyin: Běifāng) the north and (Chinese: 南方; pinyin: Nánfāng the south
  2. ^ Source: United States Central Intelligence Agency, 1990. The map shows the distribution of linguistic groups according to the historical majority ethnic groups by region. Note this is different from the current distribution due to age-long internal migration and assimilation.



  1. ^ a b c d Smith, Richard Joseph (1994). China's cultural heritage: the Qing dynasty, 1644–1912 (2 ed.). Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-1347-4.
  2. ^ Hanson, Marta E. (July 2007). "Jesuits and Medicine in the Kangxi Court (1662–1722)" (PDF). Pacific Rim Report. San Francisco: Center for the Pacific Rim, University of San Francisco (43): 7, 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  3. ^ Young, Lung-Chang (Summer 1988). "Regional Stereotypes in China". Chinese Studies in History. 21 (4): 32–57. doi:10.2753/csh0009-4633210432. Archived from the original on 2013-01-29.
  4. ^ Zhang, Xuan; Huang, Ze (July–August 1988). "The Second National Growth and Development Survey of Children in China, 1985: children 0 to 7 years". Annals of Human Biology. Informa Healthcare. 15 (4): 289–305. doi:10.1080/03014468800009761. PMID 3408235.
  5. ^ a b c d Fodor's (2009). Kelly, Margaret, ed. Fodor's China. Random House. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-4000-0825-4.
  6. ^ a b c d Eberhard, Wolfram (December 1965). "Chinese Regional Stereotypes". Asian Survey. University of California Press. 5 (12): 596–608. doi:10.2307/2642652. JSTOR 2642652.
  7. ^ 北京市2014年国民体质监测结果公报 Archived 17 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 北京市体育局
  8. ^ 2014年吉林省第三次国民体质监测公报, 吉林省体育局
  9. ^ 唐克. "大连人平均身高男177cm女165cm居全国前列-中国搜索大连". Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  10. ^ a b Regions of Chinese food-styles/flavours of cooking, University of Kansas
  11. ^ 2014年上海市第四次国民体质监测公报, 上海市体育局
  12. ^ 2010年贵州省第三次国民体质监测公报, 贵州省体育局
  13. ^ 福建省2014年国民体质监测公报, 福建省体育局


  • Brues, Alice Mossie (1977). People and Races. Macmillan series in physical anthropology. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-315670-0.
  • Lamprey, J. (1868). "A Contribution to the Ethnology of the Chinese". Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 6: 101–108. JSTOR 3014248.
  • Morgan, Stephen L. (July 2000). "Richer and Taller: Stature and Living Standards in China, 1979–1995". The China Journal. Contemporary China Center, Australian National University. 44: 1–39. doi:10.2307/2667475. JSTOR 2667475.
  • Muensterberger, Warner (1951). "Orality and Dependence: Characteristics of Southern Chinese." In Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences, (3), ed. Geza Roheim (New York: International Universities Press).

Further reading

  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley; Liu, Kwang-chang. (1999). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-66991-7 (ch. 4, 5)
  • Lewis, Mark Edwards. (2009). China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02605-6
  • Tu, Jo-fu. (1992). Chinese Surnames and the Genetic Differences Between North and South China. Project on Linguistic Analysis, University of California, Berkeley.

Year 1127 (MCXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Battle of Caishi

The Battle of Caishi (Battle of Ts'ai-shih; Chinese: 采石之戰) was a major naval engagement of the Jin–Song Wars of China that took place on November 26–27, 1161. Soldiers under the command of Wanyan Liang, the Jurchen emperor of the Jin dynasty, tried to cross the Yangtze River to attack Song China. Yu Yunwen, a civil official, commanded the defending Song army. The paddle-wheel warships of the Song fleet, equipped with trebuchets that launched incendiary bombs made of gunpowder and lime, decisively defeated the light ships of the Jin navy.

Starting in 1125 the Jin had conquered all Song territories north of the Huai River. In 1142, a peace treaty settled the border between the two states, putting the Jin in control of northern China and the Song in control of the south. Wanyan Liang was enthroned in 1150, and was intent on uniting northern and southern China under a single emperor. In 1158, he asserted that the Song had violated the 1142 treaty, a pretext for declaring war on the Song. He began preparations for the war in the following year. He instituted a draft in which all able-bodied men were required to enlist. The draft was unpopular, precipitating revolts that were later suppressed. The Jin army left the capital of Kaifeng on October 15, 1161, and pushed through from the Huai to the Yangtze River without much resistance from the Song.

The Song were fortified along the Yangtze front. Wanyan Liang planned to cross the river at Caishi, south of modern-day Nanjing. He embarked from the shore of the Yangtze on November 26, and clashed with Song forces led by Yu Yunwen in a naval engagement. Wanyan Liang lost the battle and retreated to Yangzhou. Wanyan Liang was assassinated in a military camp by his own men shortly after the Caishi battle. A military coup had taken place in the Jin court while Wanyan Liang was absent, enthroning Emperor Shizong as the new emperor. A peace treaty signed in 1165 ended the conflict between Song and Jin.

Song sources likely inflated the number of Jin soldiers and casualties at Caishi, but the 18,000 figure for the Song army is plausible. Modern studies suggest that the battle was smaller and that both sides were more evenly matched than traditional accounts suggest. Nonetheless, the victory boosted the morale of the Song infantry and halted the southern advance of the Jin army.

Central China

Central China (simplified Chinese: 华中; traditional Chinese: 華中; pinyin: Huázhōng) is a geographical and a loosely defined cultural region that covers the central area of China. This region includes the provinces of Henan, Hubei and Hunan, as Jiangxi is sometimes also regarded to be part of this region. Central China is now officially part of South Central China governed by the People's Republic of China. In the context of the Rise of Central China Plan by the State Council of the People's Republic of China in 2004, surrounding provinces including Shanxi, Anhui, are also defined as regions of Central China development zones.

Choe Bu

Choe Bu (Korean: 최부, 1454–1504) was a Korean official during the early Joseon Dynasty. He is most well known for the account of his shipwrecked travels in China from February to July 1488, during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). He was eventually banished from the Joseon court in 1498 and executed in 1504 during two political purges. However, in 1506 he was exonerated and given posthumous honors by the Joseon court.

Choe's diary accounts of his travels in China became widely printed during the 16th century in both Korea and Japan. Modern historians also refer to his written works, since his travel diary provides a unique outsider's perspective on Chinese culture in the 15th century. The attitudes and opinions expressed in his writing represent in part the standpoints and views of the 15th century Confucian Korean literati, who viewed Chinese culture as compatible with and similar to their own. His description of cities, people, customs, cuisines, and maritime commerce along China's Grand Canal provides insight into the daily life of China and how it differed between northern and southern China during the 15th century.

Han River (Hubei)

The Han River, also known by its Chinese names Hanshui and Han Jiang, is a left tributary of the Yangtze in central China. It has a length of 1,532 kilometers (952 mi) and is the longest tributary of the Yangtze system.

The river gave its name to the Han dynasty and, through it, to the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnicity in China and the most populous ethnic group in the world. It is also the namesake of the city of Hanzhong on its upper course.


Hanzhong (Chinese: 汉中; literally: 'middle of the Han (River)') is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Shaanxi province, China, bordering the provinces of Sichuan to the south and Gansu to the west.

Huai River

The Huai River, formerly romanized as the Hwai, is a major river in China. It is located about midway between the Yellow River and Yangtze, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east. Historically draining directly into the Yellow Sea, floods have changed the course of the river such that it is now a major tributary of the Yangtze. The Huai is notoriously vulnerable to flooding.

The Huai River–Qin Mountains line is generally regarded as the geographical dividing line between Northern and southern China. This line approximates the 0 °C January isotherm and the 800 mm isohyet in China. It also reflects the boundary established in 1142 by the Treaty of Shaoxing between the Jin dynasty in North China and the Southern Song in South China.

The Huai River is 1,110 kilometres (690 mi) long with a drainage area of 174,000 square kilometres (67,000 sq mi).

List of regions of China

This is a list of traditional top-level regions of China.


Nanquan (Chinese: 南拳; pinyin: Nán quán; literally: 'southern fist', or Chinese: 南派; pinyin: Nán pài; literally: 'southern school') refers to a classification of Chinese martial arts that originated south of the Yangtze River of China with emphasis on "short hitting" on the arms movement predominantly on southern styes such as Hung Kuen, Choi Lei Fut, Hak Fu Mun, Wuzuquan, Wing Chun and so on.

North China

North China (simplified Chinese: 华北; traditional Chinese: 華北; pinyin: Huáběi; literally "China's north") is a geographical region of China, lying North of the Qinling Huaihe Line.

The heartland of North China is the North China Plain, or the Yellow River Plain. North China is usually restricted to the northern part of China proper (inner China and excludes Xinjiang and often Manchuria and Northeast China.

The vast region in China from the Yellow River Valley south to the Yangtze River was the centre of Chinese empires and home to Confucian civilization. Historically, the language used in this area was Ancient Chinese of the Huaxia, Old Chinese of the Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties. In prehistory and early history, the plain (Henan in particular) is considered the origin of Chinese civilization in official Chinese history.

Rice domestication originated in this area at least 9000 years ago, although later on in Chinese history, cultivation of wheat took over as the soils became leeched with the arrivals of the Mongolians and Manchurians from the North, which greatly influenced the area culturally, politically, linguistically and genetically, while earlier scions and their descendants migrated South of the Yangtze River to flee from the invasion of the barbarians. Refugees have fled the area since the collapse of the Han dynasty established by Qinshihuang, especially the Royalty. Imperialty, as well as families of soldiers which formed the Hakka migration, in order to escape persecutions from the new dynasties of the barbarians.

In modern times, the area has shifted in terms of linguistic, cultural, socio-political, economic and genetic composition. Nowadays unique embracing a North Chinese culture, it is heavily influenced by Marxism, Communism, Leninism, Soviet systems of farming while preserving a Traditional Chinese indigenous culture. The region has been cultivating wheat, and most inhabitants here nowadays speak variants of Northern Chinese languages such as the standard (Mandarin), which includes Beijing dialect, which is largely the basis of Standard Chinese (Mandarin), the official language of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and its cousin variants. Jin Chinese and Mongolian are also widely spoken due to the political and cultural history of the area. Other than the British Colony of Hong Kong, the revival of Shanghai as financial center, the old imperial city of the Purple Forbidden Citadel of China's Last 24 Emperors known by Westerners as Peking, now modernized as Beijing City, this is the ancient and historical region which remains truly at the heart of Chinese civilisation. It remains the political, military, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China.

North China (disambiguation)

North China is a geographical region of China.

Northern China or North China may also refer to:

North China Craton, an ancient continent studied in geology

North China Plain

Northern and southern China, two approximate geographical, culture and language regions in China

North China, a fictional country in Full Metal Panic!

Northern Chinese dialects, or Mandarin Chinese

Northern and Southern dynasties, a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589

Northern and Southern dynasties

The Northern and Southern dynasties (Chinese: 南北朝; pinyin: Nán-Běi Cháo) was a period in the history of China that lasted from 386 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Wu Hu states. It is sometimes considered as the latter part of a longer period known as the Six Dynasties (220 to 589). Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese to the lands south of the Yangtze. The period came to an end with the unification of all of China proper by Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty.

During this period, the process of sinicization accelerated among the non-Chinese arrivals in the north and among the indigenous people in the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (introduced into China in the 1st century) in both northern and southern China and Daoism gaining influence as well, with two essential Daoist canons written during this period.

Notable technological advances occurred during this period. The invention of the stirrup during the earlier Jin dynasty (265–420) helped spur the development of heavy cavalry as a combat standard. Historians also note advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and cartography. Intellectuals of the period include the mathematician and astronomer Zu Chongzhi (429–500).


ParknShop (styled PARKnSHOP) (Chinese: 百佳; Jyutping: baak3 gaai1) is one of the two largest supermarket chains in Hong Kong, the other being Wellcome. ParknShop operates more than 300 outlets in Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China.

The first ParknShop store opened in Stanley, Hong Kong in 1973. For a decade the store remained a local retailer until the mid-1980s when it began to expand outside Hong Kong.

ParknShop is a member of the A.S. Watson Group, a subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited.

Qinling Huaihe Line

The Qinling Huaihe line (Chinese: 秦岭淮河线; pinyin: Qínlǐng huáihé xiàn) is a reference line used by geographers to distinguish between Northern and Southern China, corresponding roughly to the 33rd parallel. Qinling refers to the Qinling Mountains, and Huaihe refers to the Huai River. It divides China into two regions that differ from each other in climate, culture, lifestyle and cuisine.

Regions north of the line tend to be temperate or frigid, with snow being a regular feature in winter. Regions south of the line tend to be subtropical and tropical. The south is hotter and wetter than the north.

Historically, the North was more developed (employing the latest technology of that time) than the South. But much has changed in recent times, and half of the most developed Tier 1 cities of China are in the South. It was also in the Ming dynasty that the economy of the South outpaced that of the North.Nowadays, most people acknowledge that divisions within Chinese society do not fall neatly into "north and south" divisions, because of the significant overlap in many regions of China.

South China

South China or southern China (simplified Chinese: 华南; traditional Chinese: 華南; pinyin: huá nán) is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China. Its precise meaning varies with context.

In normal parlance and geography, it refers to the region south of the Qinling Huaihe Line.


A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.

Tangyuan (food)

Tangyuan or tang yuan (simplified Chinese: 汤圆; traditional Chinese: 湯圓; pinyin: tāngyuán; literally: 'soup ball') is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and then either cooked and served in boiling water with fermented glutinous rice, or sweet syrup (sweet ginger syrup, for example), or deep fried. Tangyuan can be either small or large, and filled or unfilled. They are traditionally eaten during Yuanxiao or the Lantern Festival, but also served as a dessert on Chinese wedding day, Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; pinyin: Dōngzhì), and any occasions such as family reunion, because of a homophone for union (simplified Chinese: 团圆; traditional Chinese: 團圓; pinyin: tuányuán)

Western China

Western China (simplified Chinese: 中国西部; traditional Chinese: 大陸西部; pinyin: Zhōngguó Xībù, or rarely simplified Chinese: 华西; traditional Chinese: 華西; pinyin: Huáxī) is the west of China. In the definition of the Chinese government, Western China covers one municipality: Chongqing; six provinces: Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Qinghai; and three autonomous regions: Tibet, Ningxia, and Xinjiang.

Xuzhou cuisine

The local cuisine in Xuzhou is a blend of many of the flavours of northern and southern China, as a result of the location of Xuzhou. It is known for a number of dishes, including those below, and various dog meat dishes.

Xuzhou's cuisine tends to be high in fat and salt. Restaurants use a lot of oil and salt in their cooking, including vegetable dishes and soups. Meat is often very fatty, and it tends to be chopped up with the bones still in it.

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