Some 5000 years ago,
according to Chinese tradition, the earth was ruled by three kings
and five emperors, from whom the people of China learned the secrets
of Chinese traditional medicine, the use of the plough and the hoe,
and the skill of Chinese scripting. From the time of the mythological
Yao Emperor to the days of Chairman Mao, ‘The Last Emperor’, a
lot of water has flowed down the Yellow River.
Confucian society, which had long observed the rest of the world from
a distance, and not been part of it, became a communist country that
opened its gates to the West only towards the end of the last
millennium. With this opening-up, known in China as the ‘opening of
the Great Wall’, and the growing influx of visitors from all over
the world, the Chinese initially feared that ‘when you open the
doors, the flies come in’. However, small villages have now turned
into vast cities, bicycles have been replaced by luxury cars, and the
will to become a mega-power has replaced the ‘closed-door policy’
that had prevailed for generations. Since this change of attitude,
China has constantly been going through massive changes, to the
extent that we can now expect tomorrow's China to be very different from today's.
China covers an
enormous area and a wide range of topographical regions. It has
several differing climate zones and a great variety of flora and
fauna, some of them endemic. The country is also an unimaginable
ethnographic mosaic. Its inhabitants call it ‘The Middle Kingdom’.