Top 10 China tours 2023/2024 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more
Chinese Characters

Chinese Characters

Written by GavinUpdated Aug. 4, 2022
Chinese CalligraphyThe Shang Dynasty initiated the use of pictograms for writing.

Chinese characters are also known as '汉字(Han Characters)'. They are the oldest continuously used writing system in the world. Its history is dated back to as far as the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC), when they were ideographs inscribed on oracle bones.

Spoken Chinese

Spoken Chinese is in the form of tonal syllables, each syllable corresponds to a Chinese character. It can be written using the English alphabet in a pronunciation notation called pinyin (see Chinese Pronunciation).

Watch more videos about Chinese culture stories.

Chinese Characters - A Unified System

A unified system of characters has been used throughout China's history. One of the great advantages of using one single writing system is that people who speak different dialects can understand each other's writing, and thus communication can go on without much difficulty. People in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan still write traditional Chinese characters, while people on Chinese mainland adopt simplified Chinese characters, but it does not pose much difficulty in recognizing the characters.

Some scholars believe that Chinese characters are one of the important factors that keep South and North China unified for a very long time. Some scholars even consider Chinese characters to be the Fifth Great Invention of Ancient China, alongside the other Four Great Inventions, which are paper, the compass, gunpowder and movable typography. Though pronunciation marks are not the same, Chinese characters were used or are still being used in other languages, such as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, which indicates China's cultural influence on these countries since ancient times, especially during the Tang (618-907) and the Song (960-1279) dynasties.

Click here to know more interesting Chinese hip words.

Formation of Chinese Characters

Written Chinese is mainly composed of ideographs, which were standardized drawings of ideas. The drawings were developed and simplified over time, until they now only vaguely resemble the original drawings.

Popular tours
Make the most of your time
Choose the best time to visit
We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

The China Highlights Experience

1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
Featured on