Simplified Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language; the government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore. Traditional Chinese characters are used in Hong Kong and the Republic of China. While traditional characters can still be read and understood by many mainland Chinese and the Chinese community in Malaysia and Singapore, these groups retain their use of simplified characters. Overseas Chinese communities tend to use traditional characters. Simplified Chinese characters may be referred to by their official name colloquially; the latter refers to simplifications of character "structure" or "body", character forms that have existed for thousands of years alongside regular, more complicated forms.
On the other hand, the official name refers to the modern systematically simplified character set, which includes not only structural simplification but substantial reduction in the total number of standardized Chinese characters. Simplified character forms were created by reducing the number of strokes and simplifying the forms of a sizable proportion of Chinese characters; some simplifications were based on popular cursive forms embodying graphic or phonetic simplifications of the traditional forms. Some characters were simplified by applying regular rules, for example, by replacing all occurrences of a certain component with a simplified version of the component. Variant characters with the same pronunciation and identical meaning were reduced to a single standardized character the simplest amongst all variants in form. Many characters were left untouched by simplification, are thus identical between the traditional and simplified Chinese orthographies; some simplified characters are dissimilar to and unpredictably different from traditional characters in those where a component is replaced by a simple symbol.
This has led some opponents of simplification to complain that the'overall process' of character simplification is arbitrary. Proponents counter that the system of simplification is internally consistent. Proponents have emphasized a some particular simplified characters as innovative and useful improvements, although many of these have existed for centuries as longstanding and widespread variants. A second round of simplifications was promulgated in 1977, but was retracted in 1986 for a variety of reasons due to the confusion caused and the unpopularity of the second round simplifications. However, the Chinese government never dropped its goal of further simplification in the future. In August 2009, the PRC began collecting public comments for a modified list of simplified characters; the new Table of General Standard Chinese Characters consisting of 8,105 characters was implemented for use by the State Council of the People's Republic of China on June 5, 2013. Although most of the simplified Chinese characters in use today are the result of the works moderated by the government of the People's Republic of China in the 1950s and 60s, character simplification predates the PRC's formation in 1949.
Cursive written text always includes character simplification. Simplified forms used in print are attested as early as the Qin dynasty. One of the earliest proponents of character simplification was Lufei Kui, who proposed in 1909 that simplified characters should be used in education. In the years following the May Fourth Movement in 1919, many anti-imperialist Chinese intellectuals sought ways to modernise China. Traditional culture and values such as Confucianism were challenged. Soon, people in the Movement started to cite the traditional Chinese writing system as an obstacle in modernising China and therefore proposed that a reform be initiated, it was suggested that the Chinese writing system should be either simplified or abolished. Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese author in the 20th century, stated that, "If Chinese characters are not destroyed China will die". Recent commentators have claimed that Chinese characters were blamed for the economic problems in China during that time. In the 1930s and 1940s, discussions on character simplification took place within the Kuomintang government, a large number of Chinese intellectuals and writers maintained that character simplification would help boost literacy in China.
In 1935, 324 simplified characters collected by Qian Xuantong were introduced as the table of first batch of simplified characters, but they were suspended in 1936. The PRC issued its first round of official character simplifications in two documents, the first in 1956 and the second in 1964. Within the PRC, further character simplification became associated with the leftists of the Cultural Revolution, culminating with the second-round simplified characters, which were promulgated in 1977. In part due to the shock and unease felt in the wake of the Cultural Revolution and Mao's death, the second-round of simplifications was poorly received. In 1986 the authorities retracted the second round completely. In the same year, the authorities promulgated a final list of simplifications, identical to the 1964 list except for six changes (including the restoration of three characters, simplified in the First Round: 叠, 覆, 像.
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang was the founder of the Qin dynasty and was the first emperor of a unified China. He was born a prince of the state of Qin, he became Zheng, the King of Qin when he was thirteen China's first emperor when he was 38 after the Qin had conquered all of the other Warring States and unified all of China in 221 BC. Rather than maintain the title of "king" borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty from 220 to 210 BC, his self-invented title "emperor", as indicated by his use of the word "First", would continue to be borne by Chinese rulers for the next two millennia. During his reign, his generals expanded the size of the Chinese state: campaigns south of Chu permanently added the Yue lands of Hunan and Guangdong to the Chinese cultural orbit. Qin Shi Huang worked with his minister Li Si to enact major economic and political reforms aimed at the standardization of the diverse practices of the earlier Chinese states, he is traditionally said to have banned and burned many books and executed scholars, though a closer examination renders the account doubtful.
His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into a single Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system, as well as the city-sized mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terracotta Army. He ruled until his death in 210 BC during his fourth tour of Eastern China, his achievements made him one of the most respected and influential individuals in world history, a legacy among the Chinese. Modern Chinese sources give the personal name of Qin Shi Huang as Ying Zheng, with Ying taken as the surname and Zheng the given name. In ancient China however the naming convention differed, Zhao may be used as the surname. Unlike modern Chinese names, the nobles of ancient China had two distinct surnames: the ancestral name comprised a larger group descended from a prominent ancestor said to have lived during the time of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of Chinese legend, the clan name comprised a smaller group that showed a branch's current fief or recent title.
The ancient practice was to list men's names separately—Sima Qian's "Basic Annals of the First Emperor of Qin" introduces him as "given the name Zheng and the surname Zhao"—or to combine the clan surname with the personal name: Sima's account of Chu describes the sixteenth year of the reign of King Kaolie as "the time when Zhao Zheng was enthroned as King of Qin". However, since modern Chinese surnames use the same character as the old ancestral names, it is much more common in modern Chinese sources to see the emperor's personal name written as Ying Zheng, using the ancestral name of the Ying family; the rulers of Qin had styled themselves kings from the time of King Huiwen in 325 BC. Upon his ascension, Zheng became known as King Zheng of Qin; this title made him the nominal equal of the rulers of Shang and of Zhou, the last of whose kings had been deposed by King Zhaoxiang of Qin in 256 BC. Following the surrender of Qi in 221 BC, King Zheng had reunited all of the lands of the former Kingdom of Zhou.
Rather than maintain his rank as king, however, he created a new title of huángdì for himself. This new title combined two titles—huáng of the mythical Three Sovereigns and the dì of the legendary Five Emperors of Chinese prehistory; the title was intended to appropriate some of the prestige of the Yellow Emperor, whose cult was popular in the Warring States period and, considered to be a founder of the Chinese people. King Zheng chose the new regnal name of First Emperor on the understanding that his successors would be successively titled the "Second Emperor", "Third Emperor", so on through the generations; the new title carried religious overtones. For that reason, Sinologists—starting with Peter Boodberg or Edward Schafer—sometimes translate it as "thearch" and the First Emperor as the First Thearch; the First Emperor intended that his realm would remain intact through the ages but, following its overthrow and replacement by Han after his death, it became customary to prefix his title with Qin.
Thus: 秦, Qín or Ch‘in, "of Qin" 始, Shǐ or Shih, "first" 皇帝, Huángdì or Huang-ti, "emperor", a new term coined from 皇, Huáng or Huang "shining" or "splendid" and most applied "as an epithet of Heaven", the high god of the Zhou 帝, Dì or Ti, the high god of the Shang composed of their divine ancestors, used by the Zhou as a title of the legendary Five Emperors the Yellow EmperorAs early as Sima Qian, it was common to shorten the resulting four-character Qin Shi Huangdi to 秦始皇, variously transcribed as Qin Shihuang or Qin Shi Huang. Following his elevation as emperor, both Zheng's personal name 政 and its homophone 正 became taboo; the First Emperor arrogated the first-person Chinese pronoun 朕 for his exclusive use and in 212 BC began calling himself The Immortal. Others were to address him as "Your Majesty" in person and "Your Highness"
Grand chancellor (China)
The grand chancellor translated as counselor-in-chief, chief councillor, chief minister, imperial chancellor, lieutenant chancellor and prime minister, was the highest-ranking executive official in the imperial Chinese government. The term was known by many different names throughout Chinese history, the exact extent of the powers associated with the position fluctuated even during a particular dynasty. In the Spring and Autumn period, Guan Zhong was the first chancellor in China, who became chancellor under the state of Qi in 685 BC. In Qin, during the Warring States period, the chancellor was established as "the head of all civil service officials." There were sometimes two chancellors, differentiated as being "of the left" and "of the right". After emperor Qin Shi Huang ended the Warring States period by establishing the Qin dynasty, the chancellor, together with the imperial secretary, the grand commandant, were the most important officials in the imperial government referred as the Three Lords.
In 1 BC, during the Emperor Ai, the title was changed to da si tu. In the Eastern Han dynasty, the chancellor post was replaced by the Three Excellencies: Grand Commandant, Minister over the Masses and Minister of Works. In 190, Dong Zhuo claimed the title "Chancellor of State" under the powerless Emperor Xian of Han, placing himself above the Three Excellencies. After Dong Zhuo's death in 192, the post was vacant until Cao Cao restored the position as "imperial chancellor" and abolished the Three Excellencies in 208. From until March 15, 220, the power of chancellor was greater than that of the emperor; this happened when a dynasty became weak some decades before the fall of a dynasty. During the Sui dynasty, the executive officials of the three highest departments of the empire were called "chancellors" together. In the Tang dynasty, the government was divided into three departments: the Department of State Affairs, the Secretariat, the Chancellery; the head of each department was referred to as the chancellor.
In the Song dynasty, the post of chancellor was known as the "Tongpingzhangshi", in accordance with late-Tang terminology, while the vice-chancellor was known as the jijunsi. Some years the post of chancellor was changed to "prime minister" and the post of vice-chancellor was changed to "second minister". In the late Southern Song dynasty, the system changed back to the Tang naming conventions. During the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty, the chancellor was not the head of the Secretariat, but the Crown Prince was. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, the post became the head of the Zhongshu Sheng again; the post was abolished after the execution of Hu Weiyong, accused of treason. Still, appointments of the people who held the highest post in the government were called "appointment of prime minister" until 1644. Jiang Ziya Duke of Zhou Duke Huan of Zheng Duke Zhuang of Zheng Guan Zhong of Qi state Bao Shuya of Qi state Yan Ying of Qi state Fan Li of Qi State and Yue state Wu Zixu of Wu state Bo Pi of Wu state Cheng Dechen of Chu state Sunshu Ao of Chu state Wu Qi of Chu state Lord Chunshen of Chu state Lord Mengchang of Qi state Tian Dan of Qi state Li Kui of Wei state Hui Shi of Wei State Lin Xiangru of Zhao state Su Qin of Yan state Yue Yi of Yan state Baili Xi of Qin state Shang Yang of Qin State Zhang Yi of Qin State Fan Ju Lü Buwei Lord Changping Kui Zhuang Wang Guan Li Si Feng Quji Zhao Gao Xiao He.
Zhang Juzheng, courtesy name Shuda, pseudonym Taiyue, was a Chinese reformer and statesman who served as Grand Secretary in the late Ming dynasty during the reigns of the Longqing and Wanli emperors. He represented what might be termed the "new Legalism," aiming to ensure that the gentry worked for the state. Alluding to performance evaluations, he said "Everyone is talking about real responsibility, but without a clear reward and punishment system, going to risk life and hardship for the country?" One of his chief goals was to reform the gentry and rationalize the bureaucracy together with his political rival Gao Gong, concerned that offices were providing income with little responsibility. Taking the Emperor Hongwu as his standard and ruling as de facto Prime Minister, Zhang's true historical significance comes from his centralization of existing reforms, positing the reformative agency of the state over that of the gentry - the "Legalist" idea of the sovereignty of the state; the Wanli Emperor respected Zhang as a mentor and valued minister.
During the first ten years of the Wanli era, the Ming dynasty's economy and military power prospered in a way not seen since the Yongle Emperor and the Rule of Ren and Xuan from 1402 to 1435. However, after Zhang's death, the Wanli Emperor felt free to act independently, reversed many of Zhang's administrative improvements. Zhang Juzheng was born in Jiangling County, in modern-day Jingzhou, Hubei province, in 1525, was renowned for his intelligence at an early age, passing the county shengyuan examinations at the age of 12 and enrolling for the provincial juren examinations the next year, where the chief examiner failed him to prevent his becoming complacent. In 1547, he passed the imperial examination and was appointed as an editor in the Hanlin Academy. Zhang was embroiled in deep political turmoil from the start of his career, owing to the factionalism prevalent in the Ming bureaucracy at the time, he was one of few officials who had cordial relations with both Yan Song and Xu Jie, the leaders of the respective factions, but assisted Xu in overthrowing Yan Song.
Subsequently, under Xu's patronage, Zhang became a Privy Secretary in 1567, outlasting Xu himself and sharing power with his political rival Gao Gong. Gao was ejected from office in 1572, shortly after the accession of the Wanli Emperor by Zhang and his ally, the eunuch Feng Bao, on charges that he had questioned the ability of the child emperor to rule; this left Zhang as the sole Grand Secretary, in effect controlling the entire Ming bureaucracy during the first ten years of the Wanli era. Zhang's reforms consisted of fiscal measures in order to address the persistent revenue shortages that plagued the government. At the same time, laws were instituted from 1573 onwards to tighten monitoring and assessment of officials, in an attempt to restore discipline to an corrupt bureaucracy. Other major measures included the large-scale retrenchment of officials to achieve savings, as well as efforts to reclaim tax-exempt lands and expand the revenue base. In 1580 the single whip law was instituted, commuting all taxes and labour obligations into silver payments, while an empire-wide land survey was ordered.
In military affairs, Zhang promoted and supported competent generals such as Qi Jiguang in order to strengthen the empire's northern borders. Zhang played a important role as mentor and regent during the early years of the reign of the Wanli Emperor, he influenced and guided the emperor through his teenage years. However, the strict upbringing he imposed on the emperor aroused resentment, while his attempts to centralise government and improve its finances affected the interests of large sections of the bureaucracy, leading to frequent controversy. One example of this was the death of Zhang's father in 1577. In the subsequent dispute over the propriety of Zhang's actions, several opposing officials were subjected to punishment by caning, which only increased the impression of Zhang's domineering nature. Zhang's fiscal policies met with only mixed success, due to the institutional resistance to his reforms. While the fiscal situation of the imperial government was much improved, the coffers were refilled with silver, most of the reforms he instituted either failed to achieve their aims, such as the empire-wide land survey, or were discarded after his death in 1582.
At the same time, his luxurious lifestyle - which included meals with over a hundred dishes, a palanquin carried by 32 men - exposed him to charges of hypocrisy as he imposed austerity measures on the rest of the bureaucracy. After his death, Zhang's political opponents accused him and Feng Bao of several major charges, including corruption and factionalism; as a result, his family was purged and his wealth and estate confiscated on the Wanli Emperor's orders, while several of his political allies were forced to retire. Zhang's reputation would only be rehabilitated more than half a century just before the downfall of the Ming dynasty. In 1573, Zhang presented the Wanli Emperor with a commentary on the Four Books of the Confucian canon, entitled "Colloquial Commentary on the Four Books", it was published some time between 1573 and 1584. The book was not destroyed during the posthumous disgrace of Zhang, enjoyed a measure of renown among the Chinese literati a century during the early decades of the Qing dynasty, when several editions of it
Li Kui (legalist)
Li Kui was an ancient Chinese government minister and court advisor to Marquis Wen in the state of Wei. In 407 BC, he wrote the Book of Law, the basis for the codified laws of the Qin and Han dynasties, his political agendas, as well as the Book of Law, had a deep influence on thinkers such as Han Feizi and Shang Yang, who would develop the philosophy of Legalism based on Li Kui's reforms. Li Kui was in the service of the Marquis Wen of Wei before the state of Wei was recognised, though little else is known of his early life, he was appointed as Chancellor of the Wei-controlled lands in 422 BC, in order to begin administrative and political reforms. The main agendas of Li Kui's reforms included: The institution of meritocracy, rather than inheritance, as the key principle for the selection of officials. By doing this, Li Kui undermined the nobility while enhancing the effectiveness of government, he was responsible for recommending Ximen Bao to oversee Wei's water conservancy projects in the vicinity of Ye, recommending Wu Qi as a military commander when Wu Qi sought asylum in Wei.
Giving the state an active role in encouraging agriculture, by'maximising instruction and agricultural productivity'. While the precise contents of this reform are unclear, they could have included the spreading of information about agricultural practices, thus encouraging more productive methods of farming. Instituting the'Law of Equalising Purchases', wherein the state purchased grain to fill its granaries in years of good harvest, to ease price fluctuations and serve as a guarantee against famine. Codifying the laws of the state, thus creating the Book of Law; the text was in turn subdivided, with laws dealing with theft, procedures of arrest and imprisonment, miscellaneous criminal activities. The direct result of these pioneering reform measures was the dominance of Wei in the early decades of the Warring States era. Leveraging its improved economy, Wei achieved considerable military successes under Marquis Wen, including victories against the states of Qin between 413 and 409 BC, Qi in 404 BC, joint expeditions against Chu with Zhao and Han as its allies.
At the same time, the main tenets of Li Kui's reforms - supporting law over ritual, agrarian production and bureaucratic government and an active role of the state in economic and social affairs - proved an inspiration for generations of reform-minded thinkers. When Shang Yang sought service in Qin, three decades after Li Kui's death, he brought with him a copy of the Book of Law, adapted and became the legal code of Qin. Along with his contemporary Ximen Bao, he was given oversight in construction of canal and irrigation projects in the State of Wei. Warring States Sunshu Ao Zhang, Guohua, "Li Kui". Encyclopedia of China, 1st ed. Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd
History of China
The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty, during the king Wu Ding's reign, recorded as the twenty-first Shang king by the written records of Shang dynasty unearthed. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals describe a Xia dynasty before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia; the Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River; these Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization; the Zhou dynasty supplanted the Shang, introduced the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule.
The central Zhou government began to weaken due to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, the country splintered into smaller states during the Spring and Autumn period. These states became warred with one another in the following Warring States period. Much of traditional Chinese culture and philosophy first developed during those troubled times. In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang conquered the various warring states and created for himself the title of Huangdi or "emperor" of the Qin, marking the beginning of imperial China. However, the oppressive government fell soon after his death, was supplanted by the longer-lived Han dynasty. Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly. In the 21 centuries from 206 BC until AD 1912, routine administrative tasks were handled by a special elite of scholar-officials. Young men, well-versed in calligraphy, history and philosophy, were selected through difficult government examinations.
China's last dynasty was the Qing, replaced by the Republic of China in 1912, in the mainland by the People's Republic of China in 1949, resulting in two de facto states claiming to be the legitimate government of all China. Chinese history has alternated between periods of political unity and peace, periods of war and failed statehood – the most recent being the Chinese Civil War. China was dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were assimilated into the Han Chinese culture and population. Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China. Traditional culture, influences from other parts of Asia and the Western world, form the basis of the modern culture of China. What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago. Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated to 1.36 million years ago. The archaeological site of Xihoudu in Shanxi Province has evidence of use of fire by Homo erectus, dated 1.27 million years ago, Homo erectus fossils in China include the Yuanmou Man, the Lantian Man and the Peking Man.
Fossilised teeth of Homo sapiens dating to 125,000–80,000 BC have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Dao County in Hunan. Evidence of Middle Palaeolithic Levallois technology has been found in the lithic assemblage of Guanyindong Cave site in southwest China, dated to 170,000–80,000 years ago; the Neolithic age in China can be traced back to about 10,000 BC. The earliest evidence of cultivated rice, found by the Yangtze River, is carbon-dated to 8,000 years ago. Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BC. Farming gave rise to the Jiahu culture. At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC have been discovered, "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, stars and scenes of hunting or grazing"; these pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BC, Dadiwan from 5800 BC to 5400 BC, Damaidi around 6000 BC and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BC.
Some scholars have suggested. Excavation of a Peiligang culture site in Xinzheng county, found a community that flourished in 5,500 to 4,900 BC, with evidence of agriculture, constructed buildings and burial of the dead. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a center of Yangshao culture, the first villages were founded. Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture, centered on the Yellow River from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Bronze artifacts have been found at the Majiayao culture site, The Bronze Age is represented at the Lower Xiajiadian culture site in northeast China. Sanxingdui located in what is now Sichuan province is believed to be the site of a major ancient city, of a unknown Bronze Age culture; the site was first discovered in 1929 and re-dis
Xu Guangqi or Hsü Kuang-ch'i known by his baptismal name Paul, was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, Catholic convert, agricultural scientist and mathematician under the Ming dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and assisted their translation of several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of Euclid's Elements, he was the author of the Nong Zheng Quan Shu, a treatise on agriculture. He was one of the "Three Pillars of Chinese Catholicism", his current title is Servant of God. On April 15, 2011, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced the beatification of Xu Guangqi. Xu Guangqi is the pinyin romanization of the Standard Chinese pronunciation of Xu's Chinese name, it was written Hsü Kuang-ch‘i using the Wade–Giles system. His courtesy name was Zixian and his penname was Xuanhu. In the Jesuits' records, it is the last, used as his Chinese name, in the form "Siù Hsven Hú". At his conversion, he adopted the baptismal name Paul.
In Chinese, its transcription is employed as a kind of courtesy name and the Jesuits sometimes referred to him as "Siù Pao Lò" or Ciù Paulus. More however, they describe him as "Doctor Paul", "Our Paul", or "Paul Siu" or "Ciu". Xu Guangqi was born in Shanghai in Southern Zhili's Songjiang Prefecture on April 24, 1562, under China's Ming dynasty. At the time, Shanghai was a small walled county seat in the old quarter around the present city's Yu Garden, his family, including an older and younger sister, lived in the Taiqing Quarter at the south end of the town. Guangqi's branch of the Xus were not related to those who had passed the imperial examinations and joined Shanghai's local gentry, his father Xu Sicheng had been orphaned at age 5 and seen most of his inheritance lost to "Japanese" pirate raids and insolvent friends in the 1550s. At the time of Guangqi's birth, his father worked less south of the city wall. About half of this would have been used to feed the family, with the rest used to supplement his income from small-scale trading.
By the time Guangqi was 6, the family had saved enough to send him to a local school, where a hagiographer records him piously upbraiding his classmates when they spoke of wanting to use their education for wealth or mystical power. Instead, he advised, "None of these things is worth doing. If you want to talk about the sort of person you want to become it should be to establish yourself and to follow the Way. Bring order to the state and the people. Revere the orthodox and expose the heterodox. Don't waste the chance to be someone who matters in this world." From 1569 to 1573, the family sent Guangqi to the school at the Buddhist monastery at Longhua. It is not recorded, but this school was a separate secular and fee-based institution for families too poor to hire private tutors for their sons, his mother died on May 8, 1592, he undertook the ritual mourning period in her honor. His whereabouts over the next few years are uncertain but he seems to have failed the provincial exam at Beijing in 1594, after the mourning period was over.
In 1596, he moved to Xunzhou in Guangxi to assist its prefect Zhao Fengyu, a Shanghai native who had passed the juren exams in 1555. The next year, he traveled to Beijing in the spring and passed its provincial exam, becoming a juren, he failed to pass. He returned to Shanghai around April, turning his attention to the study of military and agricultural subjects; the next year he studied under Cheng Jiasui. He first met Matteo Ricci, the Italian Jesuit, in Nanjing in March or April 1600, he collaborated with Ricci in translating several classic Western texts—most notably the first part of Euclid's Elements—into Chinese, as well as several Chinese Confucian texts into Latin. Ricci's influence led to Xu being baptized as a Roman Catholic in 1603, his descendants remained Catholics or Protestants into the 21st century.. From 1607 until 1610, Xu was forced to retire from public office and returned to his home in Shanghai, it was during this time. He experimented with the cultivation of sweet potatoes and the nu zhen tree.
He was called once more to serve the Chinese bureaucracy, where he rose to a high rank and became known late in his career as "The Minister". Yet he continued to experiment and learn of new agricultural practices while he served his office, promoting the use of wet-rice in the Northeast China. From 1613 until 1620 he visited Tianjin, where he helped organize self-sufficient military settlements. In 1629, memorials by Xu and his fellow convert Leo Li moved the court to permit the Portuguese captain Gonçalo Teixeira-Correa to bring 10 artillery pieces and 4 "excellent bombards" across China to the capital to demonstrate the effectiveness of Western artillery. An earlier demonstration in 1623 had gone disastrously, with an exploding cannon killing one Portuguese artillerist and three Chinese observers, but on this occasion the pieces were accepted and directed to Dengzhou in Shandong; the Christian convert Ignatius Sun, a protégé of Xu's, was governor there and had been a strong advocate of modernizing China's military.
Together with Captain Teixeira and his translator João Rodrigues, Sun used the pieces to train his troops to oppose the ongoing Manchu invasion. However, Sun's lenient treatment of a 1632 mutiny under Kong Yude and Geng Zhongming permitted them to capture Dengzhou, seize the artillery, establish an independ