Today's Olympics Country Profile: China

As London prepares for the 2012 Olympics, Team looks at some of the cities that previously hosted the Olympics. Today, we’re off to Beijing (formerly named Peking) who hosted the Olympic Games in 2008. The National Stadium was nicknamed “the bird’s nest” and occupied 1000 acres in northern Beijing with at least 18 sports venues!

Would you like to work, live or move to China? Or maybe just find out about life in China? Here is some information on one of the world’s most populated country.

Located between chilly Siberia and tropical South China, Beijing offers distinct and memorable seasons. The autumn and spring are the most pleasant of the four seasons, with each offering a few weeks of bearable temperatures and beautiful blue skies. Unfortunately, in both summer and winter, unbearable temperatures can occur. Between the months of September and November, Beijing experiences what is called the "Golden Autumn". This is the best time to experience the city and to explore its wonders. Most Chinese residents take advantage of the balmy weather and enjoy outdoor activities.

Learning the language
In spoken Chinese, intonation as much as pronunciation is key to conveying meaning. The same word intoned differently can have a quite different meaning. If you want to make an effort to speak Chinese, be sure that you are taught accurately and that you are using the appropriate dialect. The Chinese written language, however it is pronounced, is standard throughout the country. The form of writing is ideographic, with individual characters representing words or else formed into strings to convey more complex ideas. The language of business is Chinese. Interpreters with varying levels of training may be hired through different agencies. English is spoken and written in the business community and by intellectuals, but not to a consistent standard across the country.

Understanding the people
The Chinese have a strong sense of belonging to a long and often intense history. Relationships of all kinds take time to develop. Families are close knit and relationships between and within families and institutions go back for generations. Nevertheless, the Chinese have learned through their long history that some flexibility is required to survive.

Greetings, titles and names
When meeting people, a handshake along with a slight bow of the head is appropriate. Over time and with increasing familiarity, this formality may ease somewhat, but the handshake is always given. When making introductions, start with the most senior representatives and progress down the scale to the most junior.

The expatriate community
There are many expatriates in China of differing nationalities. Expatriates mostly live in somewhat segregated compound or campus accommodation and tend to socialise primarily with each other. The language barrier, the fact that expatriates certainly enjoy a better standard of living and the remnants of the distrust of foreigners engendered during China's 20th century revolutionary periods means that it can be difficult to establish relationships with Chinese neighbours.

Attitudes towards foreigners
The Chinese can seem excessively polite and reserved, and relationships will take some time to build. There are many newly "opened" cities which until recently seldom if ever saw a non-Chinese face. If you or your family members happen to be blond and blue-eyed, you may be subjected to much staring and pointing when visiting these areas.

International schools
There are several international schools in Beijing, including a number whose language of instruction is English, as well as German, French, Swedish, and Japanese. The English-language, French, and German schools provide instruction from kindergarten through the secondary level. The International School of Beijing also offers nursery school.

Chinese government regulations state that foreign nationals in Beijing are only allowed to occupy villa compounds. The villa compounds are generally of a high quality, and avoid the problems of overcrowding and poor housing that the Chinese nationals face. Some of the expatriate villa compounds and townhouse developments are particularly impressive. They are mini-communities for expatriates, with restaurants, bars, swimming pools and fitness clubs. Although not too long ago availability of expatriate housing was in short supply, there is now an overabundance of properties available. Still the good quality expatriate developments continue to have high occupancies.

General conditions
China is a relatively healthy place to live, particularly in the cities. The most common ailments that visitors will experience are minor, such as stomach upsets and upper respiratory problems. If you are living in a hotel in Beijing, there will almost certainly be a nurse on the staff or a doctor on call who will visit your room if necessary.

Holidays and festivals
The Chinese or Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, marking the start of the new lunar year. When it falls varies from late January to early February, depending on the year.

Each Chinese year is represented by a different animal on a twelve-year cycle, and if the New Year animal is the same as that of your birth year, you are especially fortunate.

Year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit . The fourth sign in the zodiac, Rabbits are considered to be one of the luckiest signs. You're a Rabbit if you were born in 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, or 1999.

People born in Rabbit years are thoughtful, clever, and ambitious yet cautious.

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