China FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions About China

Geography

How many provinces are in China?

China has 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities, and 2 special administrative regions. Click the link below to see a full summary of every province in China including its’ specific population and religious climate. 

What are direct controlled municipalities?

A direct controlled municipality is the highest level of classification for cities used by the People’s Republic of China. These cities have the same rank as provinces, and form part of the first tier of administrative divisions of China. A municipality is often not a “city” in the usual sense of the term (i.e., a large continuous urban settlement), but is an instead an administrative unit. China has four different direct controlled municipalities.

What are autonomous regions?

Autonomous regions are regions that have a higher population of a particular ethnic minority group. They are like provinces in that they have their own local government. But unlike provinces they are allowed additional legislative rights.

What are special administrative regions?

The special administrative regions of China are regions of China which while under the Central People’s Government of China, enjoy an high degree of autonomy and have very little interference by either the Central Government or the Chinese Communist Party. China has two special administrative regions.

Does China have a lot of modern cities or little villages?

While China is still home to many villages, the majority of the overall population of the country lives in modern, urban cities. China is currently home to over 160 cities of at least 1 million people each, with more than 10 of those each having a population of over 10 million!


People

How many people groups are there?

China is home to 56 different ethnicities, or people groups. Of these 56, the Han are certainly the majority, making up over 90% of the population. Among the 55 ethnic minorities, notable ones include the Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, and Uyghur.

How many languages do they speak?

The Chinese people traditionally speak languages from eight basic language groups, but those can be divided into hundreds of different dialects and varieties. However, Mandarin Chinese is official language of the country and is therefore spoken by the vast majority of the population. Other languages include Wu, Min, Cantonese, and Hakka. In Southern China, where many of these languages originate, it is common to meet bilingual and even trilingual people–each of their languages being different types of Chinese.

What kind of food do they eat?

China has a wonderful food culture with a wide variety of traditional cuisine. The main staples of the Chinese diet are rice and noodles, and from there seasonings and cooking methods vary from region to region and even city to city. Common cooking techniques include stir-frying, pan-frying, boiling, braising, and steaming.

What is the size of Chinese people’s families

Most of the middle-aged and younger generations in China come from a home where they were an only child. They might have one sibling but hardly ever have more than one. This is because of the Chinese government’s one-child policy. This creates an interesting cultural phenomenon. Generally people that grow up as a single child are more spoiled and selfish and have more attention given to them growing up than children that have siblings. When nearly everyone in the country grows up like this, it makes for an interesting society. People are more inclined to look out for themselves and getting their own way. While this is true of every society, it seems to maybe be just a little more noticeable in China because of the majority of people being from only child homes.

What is Chinese people’s attitude towards government?

From the conversations I have had on the topic with a few different Chinese friends, it seems like most people do not have a hatred or love towards democracy. I think most see some positive things in democracy but do not think it is the best form of government or the best fit for China. People do not feel that their current communist, socialist government is oppressive or that it needs to be done away with. They think it is a good government. They may complain about some small things with the government just like any citizen would, but on the whole they seemed to be satisfied with their government the way it is.

What is Chinese people’s attitude towards North Americans?

Most people seem to see North Americans in a positive light especially the more educated people. I would say it is rare to meet someone that has a hatred for North Americans. Constantly on the street when I practice Chinese, I tell people that I am an American, and they respond by saying that Americans are good people. There is definitely not a general hatred present against North Americans, but some people may think that they are too arrogant or unfriendly.

What is Chinese people’s attitude towards missionaries?

People think that anyone involved with promoting Christianity is promoting an idea that comes from the West. They think good or bad that missionaries are teaching something that is not native to China, and that is a foreign idea for Chinese society. Their natural reaction to Christianity is not necessarily a negative reaction but rather that they think it is an interesting concept that doesn’t affect them. It is best to not call yourself a missionary while in China, but rather call yourself a Bible teacher. Because of things that have happened in the past the word missionary can have a negative connotation. It can cause people to think of someone that is trying to start a revolution or promote western capitalism.

Here are two reasons from the past why missionaries have gained a bad reputation in China

Christianity associated with revolt. 

In China’s history, there was a major revolt against the government started by a man, Hong Xiuquan that claimed to be Jesus` brother and promote a false form of Christianity. This civil war took place from 1850 to 1864. Hong Xiuquan started the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, which revolted against the reigning Qing Dynasty. It was a major war with the Qing dynasty eventually defeating the Taiping rebels, but not until after a serious death toll had taken place. Some sources put the death toll high enough to have been the fifth largest war in history. All of it started by a man that read a tract given to him by Christian missionaries and spent two months studying the Bible with an American Southern Baptist. Obviously from his claim to be Jesus’ brother he was not a real Christian, but many people that are not Christians may think he was actually a Christian. Understanding more about this rebellion helps me see why even to today the Chinese government is suspicious of Christian groups starting up. This group that started up calling themselves Christian was responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

Missionaries have sided with foreign countries in their wars against China. 

In many of the wars between western powers and China, missionaries have found themselves often against their will to be on the side of the western power attacking China. In the opium wars, missionaries found themselves associated with the British, who were illegally importing, getting people addicted to, and selling opium to the Chinese. In the Boxer Rebellion, missionaries were rightfully or wrongfully associated with the looting and other terrible atrocities committed by the western powers in the aftermath of the war. Missionaries have always been associated with western imperialism and foreigners trying to assert power over China.


Religious Climate

Is Christianity legal in China?

Yes, and No. Technically according to Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution, citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy the freedom of religious belief. The Constitution even says the state protects the rights of normal religious activities. They do not, however, define what “normal” activities are and also say that people cannot use religion to disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens, or interfere with the state education system.

This basically means that whenever you do evangelism or meet together to worship outside of government authorized places that you risk being stopped for disrupting public order or doing something that is outside of “normal” religious activities. The government decides what a “normal” religious activity is and therefore what is said to be religious freedom is not what we would consider true religious freedom. Doing these things does not mean that you will definitely be stopped for preaching the Gospel, but rather that you run a higher risk of it. Sharing the Gospel privately with friends or at people’s homes is not much of a risk and can be done freely. It is up to each to each person to decide what risks they are to take and what they think is best to get the Gospel out.

You can share the Gospel in China. Maybe not as open as you could in other countries, but there are many opportunities to tell people openly about Christ.

Can churches legally assemble in China?

There are two main types of churches in China. There are the churches registered with the government’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement commonly called government churches. The other kind of churches in China are known as house churches or family churches. These churches are churches that are not registered with the government. The teachings, sizes, buildings, outreach, etc. of both groups of churches varies widely among themselves, but I will outline the normal distinctions between each group of churches below.

Government churches:

  • Have the ability to openly be a church: They can have their own buildings and church signs. They can also freely organize the times they meet.
  • Are ultimately under the direct control of the Chinese government.
  • The government controls who teaches, what is taught, and what kinds of evangelism the church can do. Sometimes leniency is given the local church to decide these things but it is still under the government’s control. Also, the length to which these restrictions are enforced varies greatly by region.
  • The book of Revelation is often not allowed to be taught, and many times children under the age of 18 are not allowed to be baptized or even attend the church. 

House churches:

  • Meet without government permission: Therefore, they usually do not put out a sign, have a website, or advertise their church publically.
  • Becuase they meet without government permission, they do not follow what the Chinese government would say as to how to govern and run their church.
  • Each local church decides who their pastor is, what is taught, and how they evangelize others.
  • House churches do not have freedom to worship. They are in constant danger of being closed down by the government. While many times house churches are able to get away with meeting regularly, every year there will be house churches that are visited by the police and forcefully shut down. 

Doctrinal differences:

The doctrinal beliefs of both kinds of churches vary widely among themselves. It will depend on the individual church and pastor as to whether Bible truth is taught, and the Gospel is preached. Going to a house church does not guarantee that the Bible will be taught correctly nor does going to a government church guarantee the Bible will be taught incorrectly. That will depend on the individual local church. However, there are some general statements of faith that the two different kinds of churches follow that reveal the differences between the beliefs of the two. From reading them it is evident that the house church beliefs are much more in line with the Bible than the government churches. There are some grave concerns with the government church’s beliefs. They seem to mix works with grace, and do not clearly teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith. They allow baptism by sprinkling. The foundation of their faith is not based on the Bible alone, but also on the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. There are also other things that are out of line with the Bible, but these are three of the main things. This does not mean that every government church believes these things, nor does it mean that every house church is in line with the Bible either.

Are Bibles available in China?

Yes, Bibles are available in China! While it is not as easy to buy a Bible in China as it would be in America, Bibles are available.  Currently, you can buy them online or from Christian bookstores. There are Government authorized bookstores that sell Bibles but the quantity you will be allowed to buy is often small. The government has blocked Bibles from being sold online, but you can still find them online listed under different keywords or by privately contacting online sellers.


Government & History

What type of government does China have?

China is a self-declared socialist state that is run by the Communist Party of China. A socialist state is a state where the production and distribution of goods are owned and controlled by a centralized government that plans and controls the economy. This means that the government has direct control over the major industries and income sources. Private companies and individuals are not in control as in the United States, but instead the central government owns and controls them. In China, the centralized government is run by the Chinese Communist Party. The Communist Party is the only party that runs the government. Some other parties are allowed to exist, but they do not have any effective power.

What are some major conflicts in China?

Five of the ten deadliest wars in history took place in China. In addition to these wars, China also was heavily involved in World War II where it was invaded by Japan. Here is a list of these conflicts along with the estimated death tolls.

  • The Qing Dynasty Conquest Of The Ming Dynasty-25 Million Casualties 
  • The Taiping Rebellion-20 Million Casualties
  • The An Lushan Rebellion-13 Million Casualties
  • The Dungan Revolt-10 Million Casualties
  • The Recent Chinese Civil War-7.5 Million Casualties

What is interesting is that two of these conflicts were religious in nature. The Taiping rebellion was started by a man claiming to be Jesus` little brother who attempted to create a Christian millenarian state. The Dungan revolt was started by Muslims trying to create an independent Muslim state near the Yellow River. No wonder that the Chinese government today is weary of religion and religious groups.

What are the notable constitutions of China?

The first constitution of the People’s Republic of China was declared in 1954. The current version of the constitution was declared in 1982, and it has had four major revisions since then. The last major revision was in 2004. Articles 35 and 36 of the Constitution surprisingly on paper offer citizens many rights.

Article 35. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

Article 36. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

From the conversations on the topic with different Chinese friends, it seems like most people do not have a hatred or love towards democracy. I think most see some positive things in democracy but do not think it is the best form of government or the best fit for China. People do not feel that their current communist, socialist government is oppressive or that it needs to be done away with. They think it is a good government. They may complain about some small things with the government just like any citizen would, but on the whole they seemed to be satisfied with their government the way it is.

How did China get to where it is today?

Chinese Civil War

Even though China is a country with many centuries of rich history, the present-day People’s Republic of China was established recently in 1949. The Chinese Nationalist government was in charge of China in the early 1900’s. However, communism began entering China and in 1921 Mao Zedong, and a group of other Chinese men met and started the Chinese Communist party. The Communist party worked with the government for a few years, but the Nationalist government quickly turned on the Communist party and killed several of them. Mao Zedong survived the attack on the communists, and he and the party moved to the safety of the countryside. A civil war broke out between Mao, his communist followers, and the Nationalist government. In 1933, Mao led his followers – over 100,000 people – into the mountains to escape. They marched about 6,000 miles in over 370 days. The majority of people that started the journey died on the way. The communist army gained peasant support along the way. This march became known as the Long March. During WWII, Japan invaded and controlled much of China, but after Japan`s surrender in WWII there was a struggle between the communists and nationalist forces to seize the territory that was left behind. The Nationalist army quickly seized many thousand square milesof communist territory. However after WWII, the balance of power had turned in favor of the communists. In June 1946, a full-scale war between the communist and nationalist forces broke out again. The Nationalist Army had been spreading its troops all throughout the conquered areas, seriously thinning out the troops available to fight the Communist Red Army. As the Communist armies grew, they began to inflict heavier and heavier losses on Nationalist forces. In the last year of the civil war, the communists inflicted over a million and a half casualties on the Nationalist Army. In the face of such staggering losses, the Nationalist Army simply disintegrated. On April 21st, Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River, and on the 23rd of April they captured the Nationalist`s capital in Nanjing. On October 1, 1949, before all of China had been conquered, Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The Nationalists fled to Formosa (Taiwan) and set up their government there.

Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution

Mao tried to reorganize all of China along communist lines of collective ownership of farms and factories. Private ownership was done away with, and production quotas were set for agriculture and industry. In 1958, he decided to organize all farms into collectives, where the ownership and decision-making power would be in the hands of the government. Mao wanted to revolutionize agriculture by turning privately owned farmlands into communes where people would farm for the government. Millions of people were moved to work in steel production resulting in 20% of agricultural workers being lost to the steel industry. (Mao wanted to overtake British steel production) This policy was called the Great Leap Forward. Mao thought this policy would be extremely beneficial for the country, but it turned out to be a failure. The result was that there was a great shortage of food supplies. This policy caused the greatest famine of the 20th-century history. (over 27 million people died of hunger) From 1966-1976, Mao wanted to rid the Party of his rivals. He Ordered “Red Guards” to destroy the “four olds” in the Chinese culture; customs, habits, culture, and thinking. This was the start of the Cultural Revolution. Anything religious was to be destroyed. Red Guards were to single out and remove anyone who was preventing China from becoming a classless society. Mao wanted China to become a nation of farmers and workers, all of whom would be equal. Leaders that had seemingly high positions were attacked. Business managers, college professors, and government officials who were not in agreement with the Cultural Revolution were thrown out. Some of these people were put into prison; others were actually killed. Colleges were closed so students could concentrate on “revolution”. Many people were killed, or abused with public humiliation, torture, and forced displacement meaning they were required to move to another area of the country. The Cultural Revolution raged on for almost ten years. It caused much of China’s traditional culture and norms to be lost. In 1976, Mao died, and the Cultural Revolution also ended. By 1980, Deng Xiaoping was named the leader of China. Though Deng had been with Mao since the days of the Long March, he was more moderate in his ideas about the path China should follow. He began to allow farmers to own some of their own lands and make decisions about what they would grow. He allowed some private businesses to organize, and he opened China to foreign investment and technology advances. With this openness to western business came exposure to western ideas.

Tiananmen Square

In 1989, when communist governments were under siege in a number of places around the world, China went through a period of student protests that resulted in a huge demonstration in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Over 10,000 students gathered to protest what they felt was corruption in the Chinese government. They wanted more freedom and government accountability. The world watched as the Communist government on June 4th, 1989, ordered thousands of soldiers into Beijing to end the protest. They troops fired on the students and arrested thousands of people. The brief pro-democracy movement was destroyed as well, and Deng Xiaoping was left in control, until his death in 1997. Today, China is still run solely by the communist party. However with each year that goes by it seems like China is opening up to more foreign investment and ideas. The industry is slowly becoming more privatized, and China as a whole is focused on development and technology advancement.

Lessons to Learn

Probably the most interesting thing that can be learned from this history is that it is all modern. People in their seventies today were born around the end of WWII and at the break out of renewed fighting in the Chinese Civil War. They would have been a teenager during the great leap forward and been in their twenties during the cultural revolution. They have been through much societal change, upheaval, and development. War, famine, destruction, and killing are all very much a part of their lives. China is a country that is recovering from some very dark times. This history shows us that China is just recently developing and experiencing peace. It does not have a long history of peace and stability.

What is the history of missions in China?

Christian missions in China has a very exciting and unsettled history. There seems to be a pattern that always repeats itself. Missionaries come and gain access to China. They experience some success and growth. Then the government steps in and stands against foreign missionaries and usually forces them all to leave. Usually after a few years China will again open up, and missionaries will be allowed back in. This pattern keeps repeating itself throughout Chinese history. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He arrived in China in the year 1907. He and other missionaries that followed him slowly gained an entrance into China. Christianity began to spread. In the 1850’s Hudson Taylor arrived in China. He had much success and was able to start the China Inland Mission, which along with other mission`s agencies was able to reach many people in China for Christ. Missionary activities came to a sudden halt in 1900 with the Boxer rebellion. Foreigners in China during this war were targeted, and many were killed. In fact, 230 western missionaries had their lives taken. After the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, China again opened back up to missionaries. For nearly two decades missionaries were able to operate freely and experienced much success. However, the 1919 May 4th resulted in the start of increased opposition against missionaries. This was only increased with the advent of the Chinese Civil War and the Japanese invasion in WW2. Finally after the Communist takeover in 1949 missionaries were again forced to leave China. Many of them were harassed and persecuted. For nearly three decades, China remained completely closed to missionaries and outside influence. However, since the 1970s China has slowly been opening up to more and more outside trade and influence. This has allowed missionaries to slowly return back to China though they still are not allowed to work openly in China.

What is the church history of China?

The first form of Christianity to enter China was the Nestorian Church, which first entered China in 635AD. It lasted for not much longer than 250 years. However, Nestorian Christians returned in the 1200’s but were again extinct by 1368. The Roman Catholic church first came to China in the 1200’s. It slowly grew from there and despite much conflict with the different forms of Chinese government continued to remain in China, and by 1949 there were approximately 4 million Roman Catholics in China. However, the Roman Catholic church has struggled to coexist with the Chinese communist government. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes the authority of the pope while the communist government does not recognize any outside authority. Therefore, the Catholic Church is split with some Catholics following a government-controlled Catholic Church and others choosing to function illegally recognizing the authority of the pope over the Communist government. Today there are about 9 million people in China that are Catholic. Protestant churches were started after the coming of Robert Morrison to China in 1807. Most Protestant denominations started churches in China. Also in the 1st half of the 20th century different Chinese denominations were started such as The True Jesus Church and The Jesus Family. Shortly after the communist take over in 1949, all evangelical churches were required to register with the government’s three-self church movement. A movement they created to try to bring Christian churches under their control. Many churches registered with the three-self movement and many others went underground and continued assembling without the government’s permission. Today there is still this divide among evangelical churches. Many churches in China are registered with the three-self church, but many more operate without the government’s permission.


Daily Life In China

How do you communicate with friends and family in the USA? 

Thankfully, it is easy to communicate back with the United States from China. There are several different ways you can talk for free. Here are a few ways we have found:

  • Apple Devices: If the person you are trying to contact in the States has an Apple device then you can message them for free using iMessage. You can also do free video and audio calls via Facetime. You don’t even have to have a local Chinese phone number here. You can just talk anytime that you have WIFI.
  • WeChat: Currently in China, nearly everyone seems to have WeChat. It seems to be the favorite social networking platform that people use. But you can also use this app to talk back to people in the States. If someone you want to talk to in the States has a smartphone, they can download the WeChat app and add you as a friend. Once they add you, you can make free video and voice calls as well as send free audio and text messages.
  • Google Voice: If you use a VPN, you can choose to locate your IP address in the United States allowing you to make free calls inside the States. You just select to make a call through your Gmail account, and you can call landlines and cell phones in the US for free. This is helpful when you need to call a business or customer service center in the United States.

How will you get your mail?

Mail comes in different ways depending on what kind of mail it is and how it was sent. Here are three of the most common ways that you will receive your mail in Dalian.

  • Hand delivered: Whenever you order anything online here you will include your phone number along with the address. Many packages are hand delivered to you meaning the delivery company will call you before they deliver the package and will find out when you will be home so that they can bring your package by. You can tell them a convenient time or ask them to leave it with the guard or someone else you trust in your building. You don’t have to worry about checking for the package somewhere. They will notify you before they deliver it.
  • Put into a Community Mailbox: Most apartment complexes and residential buildings have a community mailbox center that packages are sent to. The delivery company will text you a code. You will enter the code on the delivery box computer touch screen. If it is correct one of the mailboxes will pop open, and you will be able to get your package.
  • Mail put on your door: Lots of adds and sometimes your utility bills will often be taped onto your door or stuffed into the door frame. It is not uncommon to come home and find some sort of paper stuck on your door. A lot of restaurants and businesses advertise by putting flyers on your door.

What kind of communication services are available: (internet, cell phones, radios, etc.)?

  • Cell Phones: There are only three different kinds of cell phone carriers in China. They are China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. All three carriers provide calling, SMS, and data plans so you will be able to communicate normally here just like you would in the United States.
  • 4G service: All three carriers offer 4G service, but the different carriers offer different kinds of 4G services. China Mobile offers TDD-LTE 4G and China Unicom and China Telecom offer FDD-LTE 4G. Many phones purchased outside of China may not be compatible with the TDD-LTE 4G offered by China Mobile. Therefore what kind of phone you have may determine which carrier you decide to use. Foreigners getting a Chinese SIM card and purchasing a calling/data plan will be required to bring their passport with them to the phone store. They government requires you to enter data from your passport when your phone is set up so that they can have a name to trace the phone number back to.
  • Internet: Broadband internet is available to set up in most buildings. Some older apartment buildings may not be set up to provide internet, so you should probably check before moving into a new place. Unless your place is extremely outdated, you will be able to get a router and internet service set up to provide WIFI for your apartment room. No matter how good of quality internet you purchase, the internet here in Dalian is usually fairly slow. Most of the time, it will be fast enough for you to get normal work done but it’s speed will not amaze you. China blocks some websites that we use in commonly in the United States. Google, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox are some of the main sites that are blocked. To test if a site is blocked you can go to http://www.blockedinchina.net On this website you can enter a web address and see if it is blocked in China. Most foreigners will use a VPN to access the blocked sites that they like to use. A VPN allows them to access the Internet of different countries around the world where these websites are not blocked. It is a good idea to get a VPN set up before you leave for China. There are many different kinds available and they all have different costs. A VPN I have used that I have found to be pretty good is Express VPN. You can find out more information about it at www.expressvpn.com
  • Radio: Radio is not extremely popular in Dalian. Some people still listen to it mainly in their cars, but since nearly everyone has a smartphone most people listen to media, music, and news through apps on their phone. A great many people do not drive a car so what they listen to on their commute to work using public transportation will always be through their smartphone.

How will I get money out and do banking in China?

You can easily withdraw money at a local ATM. Most ATMs will allow you to use your American bank’s debit card to withdraw money in the local Chinese RMB currency. Depending on your account type and what ATM you use there may be a small ATM fee as well as a percentage that your American bank charges to do a currency conversion. ATMs are located everywhere in Dalian and most of the time you can access them twenty-four hours a day.

You can also get a local bank account and debit card. You must bring your passport with you to the bank and have a local Chinese address. Not every bank will do an account for a foreigner so you must find a bank that will. ICBC and China Construction Bank both issue accounts for foreigners. The card you receive when opening an account is the only card that is issued for that bank account. The card number on the debit card will be the same number as your account number. You set a six digit password for the account, and you use that password whenever you use the card. You can deposit money into this account via a local ATM and use the card throughout China.

One of the advantages of getting a Chinese bank card is that you can link it to the wallet feature in the WeChat app. By using the card through WeChat, you can pay your phone bill, send money to someone, buy movie tickets, order a taxi, and in some cities even pay your utilities. All this can be done from your phone using your local bank card.

How is laundry done in China?

Washers: Washing machines are readily available in Dalian. There are all sorts of sizes and styles. Many people use a washing machine to wash their clothes and then hang them up to dry on a rack in their apartment or on a balcony. This seems to be the most common way that people do their laundry.

Dryers: Drying machines are also available for sale but are not as readily available as the washing machines. I walked into an appliance store to look at the machines they had for sale. About 90% of the machines were washing machines it seemed like, and only a few were dryers. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a dryer. If you want one, you can easily get one. You can custom order a dryer or find one that you like at a store. They just aren’t used near as much as washing machines by the local Dalian people. Probably because most people can’t afford them.

Dry cleaning: Dry cleaning is readily available in Dalian. There are many small dry-cleaning places scattered around the city at convenient locations. They even offer to pick up and drop off your clothes for you if you live close enough. I attached a photo of the price list of a local dry cleaners for reference. The prices seem fairly reasonable. Your average piece of clothing will cost about $3 based on an exchange rate of 6 to 1. While living here, if you need your clothes dry cleaned you will be able to get them done without any problem.

What kind of clothes can I get in China?

All kinds of clothing and styles are available for purchase in the many different malls and stores around the city. You will find little clothing stores scattered everywhere. You will have no difficulty in finding clothes that you can buy. The question is will they have the style you like and will your size be available.

Chinese people are generally smaller than people in America. Therefore, the big sizes of clothes and shoes needed by some Americans will not be readily available in China. According to extensive research done in 2008 by Alvanon, the global size and fit expert here is a list of the average sizes of Chinese people compared with Americans. 

— Average Chinese Female Height 5’4″; Weight 125 Pounds; Chest 31″; Waist 28″; Low Hip 35″-

– Average U.S. Female Height 5’4″; Weight 155 Pounds; Chest 37″; Waist 34″; Low Hip 42″


— Average Chinese Male Height 5’8″; Weight 145 Pounds; Chest 35″; Waist 31″; Low Hip 36″

— Average U.S. Male Height 5’9″; Weight 191 Pounds; Chest 41″; Waist 37″; Low Hip 41″


As you can tell from these statistics, Americans generally weigh a lot more than Chinese people and need much larger sizes. People that are above average American weight will probably have trouble finding clothes that fit or at least will have a limited selection. If this is your case, then you may want to consider bringing over all or the majority of your clothes from the states.

Can I buy a car in China?

Yes you can. Foreigners with a long term visa are allowed to get a driver’s license and purchase cars in China. Pretty much any kind of vehicle you want is available in China. You might not can find the exact model or style of car as a similar car in your home country, but you will be able to find something that is very similar. Most of your well-known car brands are available here. There are also Chinese car brands that make and sell many decent cars here in China. You may not have heard of these brands before. Some of the common Chinese brands are Chery, Geely, Dongfeng Motor, Foton, & BYD. I surveyed a local parking lot to see what brands of cars local people in Dalian were driving. In a small parking lot, I found among other brands of cars a Mercedes, Honda, Volvo, Volkswagon, Subaru, Chevrolet, BMW, Citroen, Toyota, Nissan, Audi, Buick, Ford, and Lexus. You do not have to worry about not being able to find a vehicle you like in China. There is an abundance of vehicles available.

What products are difficult to find or more expensive in China?

  • Expensive Electronics: Electronics such as Apple computers and phones though made in China are more expensive to buy in China than in the United States because of the import taxes. If you plan to buy expensive electronics, check to see if they are cheaper in your country or in China. You may want to bring these items with you when you come to China. 
  • Over the counter cold, allergy, pain, and other medications: Many of these medications will probably not be available at the local pharmacy in China, so you should bring them with you when you come to China.
  • Custom Kitchen Appliances: Appliances such as a food processor and stand mixer. These may not be available or will be very expensive to buy in China.
  • Tennis Shoes, Big Towels, and Large Size Clothes: (Most Chinese stores will not have your size if you wear large sizes). You may be able to find these items available, but it will be cheaper to bring these things with you to China.
  • Deodorant, Makeup, and Other Personal Care Products: You may not find the items you want or prefer in China, so it is best to bring these items with you to China.

Is a visa required to visit/live in China?

Do I need a visa to stay in the country long-term?

Yes! Everyone traveling to China from the United States is required to get a visa before traveling to China. Most visitors from other countries are required to get a visa as well. Under certain conditions though, visitors from countries that have visa agreements with China may not be required to have a visa for a short stay. Visitors from Singapore, Brunei, and Japan are not required to have a visa for visits of less than fifteen days not involving work or study.

There are a few unordinary situations in which travelers may not need a visa for a short visit to mainland China. Some travelers traveling to certain Chinese airports can stay visa-free in China for up to 72 hours. They have to have a confirmed flight itinerary to one of 51 approved countries and one of their layovers on the way to their destination has to be at one of the approved airports. The final destination of their flight itinerary cannot be these airports, but must be in another country. Certain other conditions may have to be met as well to get this 72-hour visa-free stay.

People that join certain authorized tourist trips in China are not required to get a visa. The visitors fall under the tour group’s authorization.

Outside of mainland China, US citizens traveling to the Chinese provinces of Macao, and Hong Kong for a short trip do not need a visa. If they plan to stay for work or study or for an extended period of time, a visa will be required.

So, in summary unless you plan to stay for just a day or two or are from a country with a reciprocal visa agreement with China, you will have to get a visa to visit mainland China. There is no way to get really around it. You are going to have to go through all the headache of getting a visa.

What kind of visa can I get? 

There are many types of visas that you can get for your trip and stay in China. The type of visa you will need to get will be determined by the length and purpose of your trip. Below are outlined some of the most common visa types that you can get.

Short stay visas:

Type L Visa: This is a visa for tourism. It is the most common visa and easiest to get for people making a short trip to China. This visa can be used to tour or visit friends in China. Generally with this visa you are given a thirty to sixty-day stay and the currently issued visas for US citizens are usually good for ten years.

Type F Visa: This visa allows you to come to the country for non-tourism, non-working type circumstances. This is the visa you get for non-commercial conferences, investigations, cultural exchanges, etc. If the purpose of your trip is not to make money but to gather information, attend a workshop, or other public event then this is the type of visa for you to get. This visa is generally good for only a thirty-day stay, but you can ask for sixty and ninety-day stays. You can apply for single or multiple entries. The length of stay and length of visa validity is determined by the consular officer based on his review of your application.

Type M Visa: This visa allows you to come into the country for commercial and business purposes. It is not a work visa, so it does not authorize you to work in China long term. Rather, it is like a business trip visa. It allows you to attend meetings, conferences, do training, etc. all for commercial purposes. It is possible for US citizens to get this visa with a validity of ten years. The duration of stay allowed by this visa is up to the consular office, but would probably be from thirty to ninety days.

Long stay visas:

Type X1: This is a visa for students studying long-term (longer than 180 days) at a university in China. This visa requires that you be accepted as a student from an accredited Chinese school. Some of the paperwork required for this visa must be filled out by the school.

Type Z: This is a work visa. This visa is for people working in China for pay. This visa requires that the employer and employee meet certain requirements. The employer will have to provide a work permit and visa notification letter to the applicant.

Type Q1: This visa is for relatives of Chinese citizens or foreigners with a permanent residence permit. This visa allows them to stay and live alongside their relatives in China. Relatives are defined as spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters, and parents-in-law.

Type S1: This visa is similar to the Type Q visa above except that is is for relatives wanting to live alongside a foreigner working or studying in China long term.

There are also other specialty visas issued for certain situations and occupations as well as short term versions of the X1, Q1, & S1 visas listed above. These long term visas are issued for a stay of thirty days. Thirty days gives the applicant enough time upon arriving in China to apply for a temporary residence permit. This permit is required and requires a physical exam along with other paperwork and usually an interview. This permit is usually good for the duration of the study time or work contract. In the case of a work contract, the maximum time allowed is five years.

What kind of paperwork is involved?

It depends on the visa, but you will always need a current passport, passport photo, filled out visa application, payment for visa, and related trip documents (flight itinerary for tourist visa, letter of invitation for business visa, etc).

How do I learn Chinese?

How long does it take to learn Chinese?

Mandarin Chinese is ranked among the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn. It takes an estimated 2,200 class hours to learn the language. At 25 hours a week of class, it will take approximately 88 weeks to gain a general proficiency in the language. Obtaining an advanced vocabulary and becoming fully fluent will probably take an even longer time. Other languages that are more similar to English such as Spanish or French take native English speakers an approximate 600 class hours to learn the language. This is almost one-fourth of the time that it takes to learn Chinese. Chinese is a tonal language meaning that the tone of a word is used to differentiate it from other words with the same sound. Also Chinese does not use an alphabet, but rather uses characters for reading and writing. There is a different character for each word meaning that in order to read or write the word you have to memorize it. Since there are thousands of words that means you have to remember thousands of characters which takes much time.

What is the best way to learn Chinese?

It is absolutely necessary to learn how to pronounce the tones correctly in Chinese. Speaking with correct tones requires much practice and correction. The best way to learn this is to read sentences to a teacher and have him or her constantly correct you when you say words with the wrong tone. To do this, you will need to use pinyin which is a transliteration of the Chinese characters. The pinyin sentences have tone marks that show you what tone to pronounce with each word.

It is helpful when learning the Chinese grammar to memorize sentences. When you memorize a sentence, you are naturally learning the grammar patterns. You are not just memorizing the words, but also the grammar.

Many people say that the hardest part of Chinese for them is listening skills. It is hard to pick out what other people are saying because so many words have such similar sounds. It can be very hard to distinguish what people are trying to tell you. Therefore, you need to practice listening constantly. You need to use whatever means are available; TV, radio, visiting people, etc.

Learning to read and write characters takes tons and tons of time. It is not necessarily difficult, as it is just using your memory skills, but it requires many hours of work. It is probably a good idea to start as soon as you can putting in the hours you need to learn the characters.

Is China a safe place to live?

Living in China has the advantage that the country as a whole is a relatively safe place to live. There is usually no reason to worry about violent crime. Guns, gangs, and drugs are banned, and most people feel very safe about going out on the streets even late at night. China is also a safe place for your children to live. You should of course exercise caution and make sure your children are close to you when you are out in public places. There have been some reports on the news of children being stolen in China. However, this is something that is more of a fear for Chinese parents and is not something you have to really worry about if you exercise normal caution while out in public. There is more danger to be found with just living in a big city. Buses, cars, tall buildings, escalators, and lack of guardrails pose more of a threat to your children’s safety than anything else. You must be careful when you are out with your children to avoid accidents with these kinds of things. These are some of the dangers your children will face, but I would say on the whole that if you exercise normal caution there is little chance of something really bad happening. China has a safe environment for your children to grow up in.